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Mata Maha Kali, Mata Maha Lakshmi, Mata Maha Saraswati::History of Mata Vaishno Devi, Katra

During the period when the Goddess was busy in destroying the various Asuras, one day her three main manifestations viz. Mata Maha Kali, Mata Maha Lakshmi and Mata Maha Saraswati got together and pooled their collective Tejas or spiritual strength. A stunningly bright light emanated from the place where the Tejas of the three manifestations coalesced and a beautiful young girl emerged out of this Tejas. The young girl asked them, “ Why have I been created?’ The Devis explained to her that they had created her so that she would live on earth and spend her time in upholding righteousness. The Devis added, ‘Now, go and take birth in the house of one Ratnakar and his wife who are great devotees of ours and who reside in the southern part of India. Live on earth. Uphold righteousness and evolve yourself spiritually so that you reach higher levels of consciousness you will merge into Lord Vishnu and become one with him.’ So, saying they blessed the girl. Sometime later a very beautiful girl child born to Ratnakar and his wife.

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The couple named the child Vaishnavi. Very soon Ratnakar realized that not only was his daughter extra ordinarily pretty but she appeared to be endowed with an uncommonly inquisitive and sharp mind. Realising the prodigious intellectual capability of his daughter, Ratnakar made arrangements for the best teachers in the area to come and teach her the sacred Vedas and other religious works of the period. Vaishnavi mastered these texts in a very short time and wanted her teachers to impart more and more knowledge. Unfortunately, however, her teachers were unable to quench her intense thirst for knowledge. Both Vaishnavi and her father, Ratnakar, were disappointed. Ratnakar advised his daughters to immerse her mind in contemplating upon the creator of the Universe so that she could obtain the answers to some of the questions which seemed to vex her. Vaishnavi agreed and soon learnt the art of going into deep meditation.

More on History of Shri Vaishno Devi Ji- Part-2
Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji Cave Shrine Pilgrimage in Katra, Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir

As a result of her meditation, Vaishnavi increased her latest spiritual power considerably. One day Vaishnavi told her father,’ Father, I have lived long enough in your house and the time has now come for me to go into the forest and meditate upon the creator with even greater devotion and intensity so that I can attain him’. Ratnakar and his wife had realized a long time ago that the Goddess had blessed them with an uncommon child. Vaishnavi went deep into the forest and immersed herself in intense Tapasaya. After some time attained a very high level of spirituality and word spread around that a sage of great accomplishment was residing in the forest. Soon people began to trickle into the forest in order to meet her and seek her intervention in resolving their mundane problems. When the flow of people coming into the forest to meet her became unending, Vaishnavi decided to leave the forest and go to other place where she could continue her Tapasaya undisturbed. One night, Vaishnavi quietly left her Ashram in the forest and went to a far off place along the sea in the general area of modern day Rameshwaram. There, away from prying eyes, she once again immersed herself in Tapasaya. The objective behind her intense devotion was her desire to merge her being in Lord Vishnu. Some time later she realized through her spiritual attainments that Lord Vishnu had been incarnated on earth and was living as Lord Rama. Vaishnavi was verey happy because she felt that now she would be able to fulfill her desire of merging in Lord Vishnu very soon.

Meanwhile, Lord Rama was sent to the forest for fourteen years by his father under the influence of his favourite wife Kaikayee. During this period, Ravana, the Asura king of Lanka, abducted Lord Rama’s wife, Maa Sita and carried her to Lanka. Lord Rama mobilized an army in order to wage war upon Ravana and rescue His wife. He decided to launch his campaign from the place known in the present day as Rameshwaram. While Lord Rama was preparing for war, his advisors suggested to him that he should propitiate all the Gods and Goddesses and also seek the blessings of the holy men and women living nearby before starting his campaign so that he could be victorious in the war. Lord Rama learnt that there was a very spiritually advanced Sadhavi who resided nearby and thought that it would be appropriate to seek her blessings too. Lord Rama accordingly went to the Ashram of Vaishnavi in order to seek her blessings.

Vaishnavi was immersed in her prayers when Lord Rama went to meet her. When she opened her eyes and found Lord Rama standing in front of her, she immediately recognized Him. Lord Rama asked her to bless his proposed campaign against Ravana so that he could be victorious in the war that lay ahead. Vaishnavi happily told him that all her good wishes were already with him because she had decided to merge herself in Him a long time ago. When Lord Rama appeared surprised on hearing Vaishnavi. She laughed and said,’I know who you are Lord Rama. You are Vishnu’s incarnation and have come to the world to rid it of the evil that is personified by Ravana. That is your aim and I bless you for it. However, my aim is different. It is to merge myself in you so that I can become one with the choice but to accept me because I have been praying very for a long time for this’. When Lord Rama found that Vaishnavi could not be discussed from the stand she had taken, he left after promising that He would return to her Ashram after the end of the war and if she was successful in recognizing him, he would consider her wish. After Lord Rama left the Ashram, Vaishnavi once again busied herself in her prayers. Ram defeated Ravan and rescued Sita.

More on History of Shri Vaishno Devi Ji- Part-2
Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji Cave Shrine Pilgrimage in Katra, Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir

After the war over, Lord Rama remembered his promise to Vaishnavi. So he decided to visit her Ashram once again. This time Ram went to her Ashram disguised as an old man. Vaishnavi was unable to recognize him. While leaving her Ashram Ram revealed himself to Vaishnavi and said that since she had been unable to recognize him, he was freed from his promise to her. When Vaishnavi realized the enormity of her lapse she was inconsolable with grief. Lord Rama gently told her, ‘Vaishnavi, you have not yet attained the spiritual level that is required before you can merge your being into Lord Vishnu. You still have a long way to go. However, do not lose heart. Continue your Tapasaya. In time you will be rewarded. If you are able to keep up with your Tapasaya then in my incarnation as Kalki during Kaliyug, I shall accept you as my Shakti.’ Lord Rama then urged her to go to the northern region of India and set up her Ashram at the base of the Trikuta Mountain. The peculiarity of this mountain, he said, was that it had three peaks like huts or three Kutias. Lord Rama added, ‘Vaishnavi! In contemplating upon me, when the time is opportune, I shall come and accept you and allow you to merge into me.

Meanwhile, as you keep on advancing spiritually, mankind will learn about you. They will then start coming to your abode to seek your blessings and favours. Be kind. Bless them. Grant them their wishes. Your presence on the Trikuta Mountain will, over a period of time, render the place so holy that people will elevate it to the status of a Tirath Sthan and a constant stream of humanity will flow to your abode. Do not get vexed with this never ending flow of people. Remember, that each one of them contains a spark of me. Thus they will in reality be I who will be worshipping you constantly. Be generous and help them over come their frailties soon that gradually they are able to raise themselves high enough in the wheel of life and death and attain Moksha. Always remember that you are already blessed. So, it is they who need your help and forbearance. As you grant more and more boons, your fame will spread far and wide till a stage will arrive when the entire world will come to you and pay obeisance. That is the time I shall come and accept you. So, do not waiver. Remain steadfast and worship me. I bless you’. So saying, Lord Rama left.

Vaishnavi decided to proceed northward as directed by Lord Rama. After a lot of adventures she finally reached the Trikuta mountain and set up her Ashram at the place known today as Bhumika near the present day town of Katra and immersed herself in intense Tapasaya in order to overcome whatever spiritual shortcomings she still had. Vaishnavi continued to perform her Tapasaya in this manner for thousands of years and attained extra ordinary spiritual heights. In fact, she evolved her latent spiritual capabilities to such an extent that she came at par with her creators Goddesses Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Sarswati. Thousands of years later a person by the name of Gorakh Nath was able to achieve a very high level of spirituality through his mastery of the Tantric art. One day while he was immersed in his prayers the entire episode of Vaishnavi and Lord Rama flashed before his mind’s eye. He then became curious to find out whether the young woman, Vaishnavi, had been able to continue to lead a life of piety and devotion or had fallen by they way side. Gorakh Nath took some of his disciples along and began to roam around in search of Vaishnavi. One day, while he and his disciples were moving around near the river Devak which flows quite close to the present day city of Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir they learnt about the presence of a Sadhavi who had attained extra-ordinary spiritual power and who lived somewhere at the base of the Trikuta mountain. Gorakh Nath felt that this Sadhavi must be none other than the Vaishnavi he had been looking for. So, he sent his chief disciple Bhairo Nath to go to the Ashram of this Sadhavi to find out whether she was still pious and holy and return with a full report. Then Gorakh Nath departed of his own Ashram.

More on History of Shri Vaishno Devi Ji- Part-2
Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji Cave Shrine Pilgrimage in Katra, Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir

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