Vaishno Devi Temple

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.[1][2][3] The temple is one of the 108 Shakti Peethas dedicated to Durga, who is worshipped as Vaishno Devi.[4] It is one of the most visited pilgrimage centers of India. Every year millions of visitors visit the temple.[5][6] During festivals like Navaratri, the count even increases to one crore visitors.[7] 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 million, mainly from offerings by devotees".[8]

Vaishno Devi Temple
Vaishno Devi Bhavan.jpg
Religion
AffiliationHinduism
DeityVaishno Devi
FestivalsNavratri, Diwali
Location
LocationJammu and Kashmir
CountryIndia
Vaishno Devi Temple is located in Jammu and Kashmir
Vaishno Devi Temple
Location of Vaishno Devi in Jammu and Kashmir
Vaishno Devi Temple is located in India
Vaishno Devi Temple
Vaishno Devi Temple (India)
Geographic coordinates33°01′48″N 74°56′54″E / 33.0299°N 74.9482°E / 33.0299; 74.9482Coordinates: 33°01′48″N 74°56′54″E / 33.0299°N 74.9482°E / 33.0299; 74.9482
Architecture
TypeCave Temple
Completed0028 Vikram Samvat
Specifications
Temple(s)4
Elevation1,584.96 m (5,200 ft)
Website
maavaishnodevi.org

The temple is sacred to all Hindus and Sikhs. Many prominent saints such as Guru Govind Singh and Vivekananda have visited the temple.[9]

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

HistoryEdit

The temple, at a height of 1,584.96 m (5,200 ft), 12 km from Katra on Trikuta hill. It is about 61 km from Jammu city.[10][11] There is no historical record about the temple, but there is a mention of the Trikuta hill in Rigveda, the place where the temple is located.[12]

The Mahabharata, which gives the account of the Pandavas and the Kurukshetra War, does mention the worship of goddess Vaishno Devi. Before the Kurukshetra War Arjuna is said to have worshipped Devi by the advice of Lord Krishna for the blessings. Pleased by his devotion, Mother Goddess appeared in front of him in the form of Vaishno Devi. When goddess appeared, Arjuna started praising her with a stotra, in which a Shloka goes by saying ‘ Jambookatak Chityaishu Nityam Sannihitalaye ’, which means ‘you who always dwell in the temple on the slope of the mountain in Jambhu’ — probably referring to the present day Jammu.[13] Former Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Jagmohan says, "the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine is an ancient one whose antiquity is pre-Mahabharathan, Lord Krishna is believed to have advised Arjuna to go up in the hills of 'Jambhu' and seek the blessings of Vaishno Devi before taking up arms in the battlefield. 'Jambhu' is identified with present-day Jammu. Arjuna while worshipping Vaishno Devi, calls Her, the highest Yogin who is free from decrepitude and decay, who is the Mother of the Vedas and the Science of Vedanta and who is giver of Victory and personification of victory itself".[14] It is also generally believed that the Pandavas were the first to build the temples at Kol Kandoli and Bhawan in reverence and gratitude for the Mother Goddess. On a mountain, just adjacent to the Trikuta Mountain and overlooking the Holy Cave are five stone structures, which are believed to be the rock symbols of the five Pandavas.[15][16][17]

The Appearance of Vaishno Devi to Shridhar and the story of Bhairo
 
Bhairo Temple, where the head of Bhairo fell on hill

Vaishno Devi was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu and she used to meditate in a cave. It is said that Bhairaonath, a famous Hindu 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.[18] Professor and author Tracy Pintchman narrates the story as, "About nine hundred years ago Vaishno Devi appeared in the form of young girl and commanded a Brahmin named Shri Dhar 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, Bhairo, a disciple of Goraknath, appeared and demanded meat and liquor. But Vaisno Devi told him he would get only vegetarian food, since this was a Brahmin's feast. Seeing her, Bhairo lusted after her. To escape him, she ran away stopping at various places on the trail up Trikunta mountain. These places are now known as Banganga, Charan Paduka, Adi Kumari —the place where she is said to have remained for nine months in a cave, — and finally Bhavan, the cave that is now known as her home. There taking the form of Camunda (a form of Kali), she beheaded Bhairo. His body held at the entrance to the cave, and his head landed further up the mountain at a place where a Bhairo temple is now located. Bhairo then repented, and the goddess granted him further salvation. In so doing, however, she laid down the condition that unless pilgrims coming for her darshan did not also get his darshan— that is, darshan of his head— there pilgrimage would not be fruitful. Shri Dhar began doing puja to the pindis at the cave, and his descendants continue to do so even today".[19]

Professor and author Manohar Sajnani says, According to Hindu mythology, the original abode of Vaishno Devi was Adkanwari, a place about halfway between Katra town and the cave. The Vaishno Devi is said to have been a Virgin since the creation of the universe.[20]

DeitiesEdit

 
The idols of Mahalakshmi, Mahakali and Mahasaraswati in the temple.

The three idols — Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati, all images of Vaishno Devi are worshipped at the temple. The feet of the idols are washed by the water brought from the perennial flowing river Banganga.[21]

WorshipEdit

Author Tracy Pintchman says, "Of the three main Hindu sectarian orientations— Vaishnava, Shaiva and Shakta— only shakta devotion promotes a single, Great Goddess, standing alone, as the highest creator. Vaishnavas subordinate the Goddess, known in such contexts as Lakshmi or Shri, but with other forms as well with Vishnu, their first ranking god; Shaivas subordinate the goddess known in such contexts as Uma, Parvati, Gauri, and so forth, to Shiva".[22] Authur Pintchman also says that, "Pilgrims identify Vaishno Devi with Durga— whome Punjabis (and others) also name Seranwali, "the Lion-rider"— more than with any other goddess".[23]

FestivalsEdit

The most prominent festivals held at Vaishno Devi Temple are Navaratri, a nine nights festival celebrating Devi's victory over evil demons and Diwali, a festival of lights symbolizing the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.[24][25][26]

The Navaratri festival is a festival celebrated during the month of Ashvin, which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October.[27] The festival lasts for nine nights (ten days); artists from all over the country perform during the function at Vaishno Devi darbar. Due to COVID-19 pandemic Shrine Board also started delivering Prasāda for the devotees who are unable to come to the temple by collaborating with Postal Department of India.[28]

Devotees of all faiths and all schools of thought of Hinduism visit the Vaishno Devi Temple.[29]

Administration and visitEdit

 
Vaishno Devi Temple during winter

The Vaishno Devi Temple was included in the Jammu and Kashmir Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Act No. XVI/1988 and also part of Article 26 of the Constitution of India.[30] The board name is Shri Mata Vaishno devi Shrine Board. There are nine members in the board; all are nominated by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir, particularly by Governor of Jammu and Kashmir. The Governor of Jammu and Kashmir is the ex-officio Chairman of the Board.[31] In 1991, Shri Mata Vaishno devi Shrine Board management also took the control of Shiv Khori, a famous Shiva temple.[32]

Shrine Board have also constructed guest houses such as Vaishnavi Dham, Saraswati Dham, Kalika Dham, Niharika Yatri Niwas, Shakti Bhawan and Ashirwad Bhawan near the Railway station and Bus stand at Katra.[33]

During the winter season from the month of December to January the Vaishno Devi Temple will be covered with snow. Even though temple will not be closed during there days, people visiting the temple are recommended to bring heavy woollens, wind-cheaters, caps and gloves, although the temple management provides free blankets during the climb.[34][35]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Rindani, Kirit (2016). Indian Himalaya: Story of a 100 Visits. Partridge Publishing. p. 47. ISBN 978-1482858860.
  2. ^ S. S. Negi (1998). Discovering the Himalaya, Volume 1. Indus Publishing. p. 429. ISBN 9788173870798.
  3. ^ Kuldip Singh Gulia (2007). Mountains of the God. Gyan Publishing House. p. 15. ISBN 9788182054202.
  4. ^ "Famous Durga temples in India for religiously inclined souls". Times of India. 5 April 2019.
  5. ^ "Vaishno Devi pilgrim footfall in 2019 lowest in 3 years: Shrine Board". Business Standard. 2 January 2020.
  6. ^ "Vaishno Devi likely to receive 8.5 mn pilgrims by Dec 31; highest in 5 yrs". Business Standard. 29 December 2018.
  7. ^ "Vaishno Devi-Bhairon Mandir ropeway service starts from today". Times of India Travel. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  8. ^ Michael Barnett; Janice Gross Stein (3 July 2012). Sacred Aid: Faith and Humanitarianism. Oxford University Press. p. 140. ISBN 978-0199916030.
  9. ^ Dipankar Banerjee; D. Suba Chandran (2005). Jammu and Kashmir: Charting a Future. Saṁskṛiti. p. 61. ISBN 9788187374442.
  10. ^ Aggarwal, J. C.; Agrawal, S. P. (1995). Modern History of Jammu and Kashmir: Ancient times to Shimla Agreement. Concept Publishing Company. p. 10. ISBN 978-8170225560.
  11. ^ "Six toughest treks that pilgrims undertake". The Economic Times. 23 June 2015.
  12. ^ "President visits Vaishno Devi, inaugurates two new facilities". India Today. 2 September 2014.
  13. ^ "Sri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine". Times of India. 15 March 2018.
  14. ^ Jagmohan (2005). Soul and Structure of Governance in India. Allied Publishers. p. 334. ISBN 978-8177648317.
  15. ^ "President visits Vaishno Devi, inaugurates two new facilities". India Today. 2 September 2014.
  16. ^ "Maiden master plan for Vaishnodevi shrine area". The Economic Times. 12 April 2017. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  17. ^ "Vaishno Devi-Bhairon Mandir ropeway service starts from today". Times of India Travel. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  18. ^ Journal of Religious Studies, Volume 14. Department of Religious Studies, Punjabi University. 1986. p. 56.
  19. ^ Pintchman 2001, p. 60.
  20. ^ Manohar Sajnani (2001). Encyclopaedia of Tourism Resources in India, Volume 1. Gyan Publishing House. p. 158. ISBN 9788178350172.
  21. ^ Aggarwal, J. C.; Agrawal, S. P. (1995). Modern History of Jammu and Kashmir: Ancient times to Shimla Agreement. Concept Publishing Company. p. 11. ISBN 978-8170225560.
  22. ^ Pintchman 2001, p. 62.
  23. ^ Pintchman 2001, p. 63.
  24. ^ "Vaishno Devi board organises Diwali function in Katra". The Tribune. 11 November 2015.
  25. ^ "Maha Yagya at Vaishno Devi shrine as Navratri begins, Vedic hymns fill air". Hisdustan Times. 18 October 2020.
  26. ^ "Special arrangements for Navratri at Mata Vaishno Devi temple". India Times. 16 October 2020.
  27. ^ James G. Lochtefeld 2002, pp. 468–469.
  28. ^ "Vaishno Devi temple: Helicopter services to Covid tests, all details explained". Livemint. 16 October 2020.
  29. ^ Kuldip Singh Gulia (2007). Mountains of the God. Gyan Publishing House. p. 15. ISBN 9788182054202.
  30. ^ "Control of Vaishno Devi Shrine: HC issues notice to J&K, shrine board over Hindu Baridars plea". Hindustan Times. 26 August 2020.
  31. ^ THE JAMMU & KASHMIR SHRI MATA VAISHNO DEVI SHRINE ACT,1988 (Act No. XVI of 1988) (PDF). Government of Jammu and Kashmir. 31 August 1988.
  32. ^ Pintchman 2001, p. 75.
  33. ^ "How to book a room at Vaishno Devi bhawan". India Today. 5 September 2019.
  34. ^ "Everything you wanted to know about visiting Vaishno Devi". India Times. 5 April 2019.
  35. ^ "Snowfall at Mata Vaishno Devi shrine; rains lash Jammu". Hindustan Times. 28 December 2020.

BibliographyEdit

External linksEdit