Friday 14 September 2007

The Legend of Mata Vaishnodevi


According to a legend, about a thousand years ago a Brahmin, Pandit Sridhar, discovered the holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi. He used to live in Hansali village at the foothills of the Trikuta Mountains. One day he met a beautiful child, Vaishnavi, on the hills. She urged him to invite the people of his village to a feast. By mid-day when his guests arrived he had still not made any arrangements for the feast. Suddenly, he saw Vaishnavi coming out of his hut and she asked Sridhar to call his guests, as the food was ready. He watched in amazement as all the villagers went inside his small hut and had their meal. After they left, he called out to young Vaishnavi to know the mystery behind the episode. But she was not to be found. His search for her led him to a cave up a cliff where he thought he spied her; but in vain. As he wept in anguish, a light shone on him and he had a vision: Vaishnavi was transformed into a transcendental beauty with eight arms! and astride a lion. She told him she was Shakti and in this cave she was manifested in her three forms of Kali, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Sridhar's progeny have been worshipping the Goddess in this Holy Cave ever since!
Vaishno Devi is one of the most revered holy sights of India, visited by the people of almost all the religions from every part of the world. It is believed that devotees visiting the Mata or Mother for the fulfillment of their wishes, never return empty handed. She is our Family Goddess & I for one have been visiting the shrine annually for the last 18 years or so. I used to walk up or even run up & down the steep path (all of 13-14 kilometres one way) in my younger days. Today, unfortunately because of my poor physical shape, I use the hardy mountain ponies to go up. This time, I went up one way by the Air Deccan Helicopter. which is a shame. village folklore says that only the pilgrims who walk up get their wishes fulfilled. The shrine environs are in a very bad condition today. I will write about this maybe on the weekend.

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