Vaishno Devi

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Vaishno Devi
Mother Goddess; Goddess of hills
Inside view of the Holy Cave, the 3 Pindis; Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati
Other namesVaishnavi, Mata Rani, Ambe, Trikuta, Sherawali, Jyotawali, Pahadawali, Durga, Bhagavati, Jagdamba
Devanagariवैष्णो देवी
AffiliationMahadevi, Durga, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati, Lakshmi
AbodeVaishno Devi Temple, Katra, India
MountLion and Tiger

Vaishno Devi (also known as Mata Rani, Trikuta, Ambe and Vaishnavi) is a manifestation of the Hindu mother goddess Durga (a form of Lakshmi). Vaishno Devi is worshipped as a combined avatar of the goddesses Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, and Mahasaraswati according to Durga Saptashati in the temple. The temple is known as Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine and is situated in Katra, India.


Shrine board token from the 1990s, depicting the 3 pindis that represent Vaishno Devi.

Author Pintchman identifies with great goddess Mahādēvī and says Vaiṣṇō Dēvī contains all powers and is associated with the entire creation as Mahādēvī.[1] Pintchman further states that, "Pilgrims identify Vaiṣṇō Dēvī with Durgā (a form of Lakshmi)— whom North Indians (and others) also name Sheranwali, "the Lion-rider"— more than with any other goddess".[2]


According to Dēvī Mahābhāgavata Purāṇa, she is mentioned as "Viṣṇupriyā".[3]

The Lakṣmīnārāyaṇa Saṃhitā's Kṛtayuga Santāna calls her "Māṇikī" as she resides on Māṇika Parvata (another name of Trikūṭa).

Vaishno Devi or Devi Trikuta is regarded as the combined incarnation of Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati as mentioned in Durga Saptashati. The temple claims Vaishno Devi's main appearance to be Mahalakshmi. This is Mahalakshmi Durga as mentioned in the second chapter of Durga Saptashati who killed Mahishasura and was called Mahishasura Mardini. She is the consort of Vishnu, the other two Mahakali and Mahasaraswati also being the same, according to the scripture. In addition, the temple worships 8 handed goddess Durga idol as Vaishno Devi along with the three main pindis (pindikas) dedicated to the three goddesses. The worship and mantras are chanted at the temple alone of goddess Durga according to Durga Saptashati or the Devi Mahatmyam. This Mahalakshmi Durga (Vaishno Devi) is Vishnu's consort Lakshmi.


The Appearance of Vaishno Devi to Shridhar and the story of Bhairav Nath

It is said that Bhairav Nath, a famous Tantric, saw the young Vaishno Devi at an agricultural fair and fell madly in love with her. Vaishno Devi fled into Trikuta hills to escape his amorous advances, later she assumed the form of Mahakali and cut off his head with her sword in a cave.[4] Professor and author Tracy Pintchman narrates the story as, "About nine hundred years ago Vaishno Devi appeared in the form of a young girl and commanded a Brahmin named Shridhar from the village Hansali (next to present day Katra) to hold a feast (bhandara) for local people near Bhumika stream. At the time of feast, Bhairav Nath, a disciple of Goraknath, appeared and demanded meat and liquor. But Vaishno Devi told him he would get only vegetarian food, since this was a Brahmin's feast. Seeing her, Bhairav Nath lusted after her. To escape him, she ran away stopping at various places on the trail up the Trikuta mountain. There places are now known as Banganga (Ganga river emerged from arrow), Charan Paduka (Holy footprints), Ardha Kunwari —the place where she is said to have remained for nine months in a cave, — and finally at Bhavan, the cave that is now known as her home. There taking the form of Chamundi (a form of Kali), she beheaded Bhairav Nath. His body held at the entrance to the cave, and his head landed further up the mountain at a place where a Bhairav Nath temple is now located. Bhairav Nath then repented, and the goddess granted him further salvation. In so doing, however, she laid down the condition that unless pilgrims coming for her darshana did not also get his darshana— that is, darshana of his head— then their pilgrimage would not be fruitful. Vaishno Devi later manifested into 3 small rocks (pindikas) and stays there to the present day. Shridhar began doing puja to the pindikas at the cave, and his descendants continue to do so even today".[5]

Pilgrimage route[edit]

Pilgrims travel from the city of Jammu in Jammu and Kashmir to the village of Katra which is well connected by helicopter, rail and road. From Katra, starts the uphill journey to the Vaishno Devi Temple on foot. While on the way near the Trikuta mountain is the Banganga River. It is said that Vaishno Devi shot an arrow at the ground and brought forth the Ganga river to quench Hanuman's thirst. After Hanuman disappeared, Vaishno Devi washed her hair in the water. The Banganga river is also known as the Balganga river, since "Bal" means hair and "Ganga" is synonymous with the Holy Ganga river. Pilgrims must have a bath in the Banganga river to prove their purity. After Banganga is the Charan Paduka temple. Vaishno Devi stood on a rock to look at Bhairavnath before her escape and this rock supposedly contained her footprints. Her footprints are worshipped in this temple. After having a darshan of Charan Paduka, Pilgrims come across the Ardha Kunwari Temple. Vaishno Devi meditated in this cave for 9 months, just like how a baby stays in its mother's womb for 9 months, to escape Bhairav Nath. After having a darshan of Ardha Kunwari, the pilgrims go to the Bhairav Nath temple. It is said that after Vaishno Devi killed Bhairav Nath, Bhairav Nath realised his mistake and pleaded for forgiveness. Vaishno Devi blessed him by saying that if pilgrims did not have darshan of his head, their pilgrimage will not be fruitful. Pilgrims have a darshan of Bhairavnath's head after having Vaishno Devi's darshan at the Vaishno Devi's Temple, i.e. Bhavan. Pilgrims go inside the temple to have a darshan of the 3 pindikas (rocks) which represent Vaishno Devi.

Professor and author Manohar Sajnani says, According to Hindu beliefs, the original abode of Vaishno Devi was Ardha Kunwari, a place about halfway between Katra town and the cave. She meditated in the cave for 9 months just like how a baby stays in its mother's womb for 9 months.[6] It is said that when Bhairav Nath ran after Vaishno Devi to catch her. The Devi reached near a cave in the hill, she called up Hanuman and told him that "I would do penance in this cave for nine months, till then you should not allow Bhairav Nath to enter the cave." Hanuman obeyed the mother's orders. Bhairavnath was kept outside this cave and today this holy cave is known as 'Ardha Kunwari'.[7]


The Vaishno Devi temple in 2008

The Vaishno Devi Temple is an important Hindu temple dedicated to Vaishno Devi located in Katra at the Trikuta Mountains within the Indian Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.[8][9][10] The temple is one of the 108 Shakti Peethas dedicated to Durga, who is worshipped as Vaishno Devi.[11] It is one of the most visited pilgrimage centers of India. Every year millions of visitors visit the temple.[12][13] During festivals like Navaratri, the count even increases to one crore visitors.[14] Vaishno Devi Temple is one of the richest temples in India. Authors Michael Barnett and Janice Gross Stein says, "Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine in Jammu has an annual income of about $16 billion, mainly from offerings by devotees".[15]

The temple is sacred to all Hindus. Many prominent saints such as Vivekananda have visited the temple.[16]

Navratri and Diwali are the two most prominent festivals celebrated in the Vaishno Devi Temple. The temple was included in the Jammu & Kashmir state government Act No. XVI/1988, and known as Shree Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Act. The committee nominated by the state government administers the temple and has nine members on its board.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pintchman 2001, p. 62.
  2. ^ Pintchman 2001, p. 63.
  3. ^ "Dēvī Mahābhāgavata Purāṇa, English Translation".
  4. ^ Journal of Religious Studies, Volume 14. Department of Religious Studies, Punjabi University. 1986. p. 56.
  5. ^ Pintchman 2001, p. 60.
  6. ^ Manohar Sajnani (2001). Encyclopaedia of Tourism Resources in India, Volume 1. Gyan Publishing House. p. 158. ISBN 9788178350172.
  7. ^ Virodai, Yashodhara (5 October 2017). "Story of Mata Vaishnodevi". (in Hindi). Newstrend Network Communication Pvt Ltd. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  8. ^ Rindani, Kirit (2016). Indian Himalaya: Story of a 100 Visits. Partridge Publishing. p. 47. ISBN 978-1482858860.
  9. ^ S. S. Negi (1998). Discovering the Himalaya, Volume 1. Indus Publishing. p. 429. ISBN 9788173870798.
  10. ^ Kuldip Singh Gulia (2007). Mountains of the God. Gyan Publishing House. p. 15. ISBN 9788182054202.
  11. ^ "Famous Durga temples in India for religiously inclined souls". Times of India. 5 April 2019.
  12. ^ "Vaishno Devi pilgrim footfall in 2019 lowest in 3 years: Shrine Board". Business Standard. 2 January 2020.
  13. ^ "Vaishno Devi likely to receive 8.5 mn pilgrims by Dec 31; highest in 5 yrs". Business Standard. 29 December 2018.
  14. ^ "Vaishno Devi-Bhairav Mandir ropeway service starts from today". The Times of India. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  15. ^ Michael Barnett; Janice Gross Stein (3 July 2012). Sacred Aid: Faith and Humanitarianism. Oxford University Press. p. 140. ISBN 978-0199916030.
  16. ^ Dipankar Banerjee; D. Suba Chandran (2005). Jammu and Kashmir: Charting a Future. Saṁskṛiti. p. 61. ISBN 9788187374442.

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