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Matavaishnodevi , Vaishnodevi, Mata, Vaishnodevi, Vaishno, Vaishnomata, Katra, Jammu, Jammu Kashmir,India,  Sherawali, Mherawali, Jai, mata, di, Jai Mata Di, Phadawali, Trikuta, Himalaya

A poor priest Pandit Shirdhar lived approximately seven centuries ago. He was a devout follower of the Maa Vaishnodevi and made it the point to continue with daily pujas and prayers for her pleasure for that he also sang regularly. Another regular practice of him was unfailing worshipping to the little girls or the Kanya Pujan practice he did. This childless priest would love children as he was not bestowed with that pleasure to have children. His practice of worshipping for Maa Vaishnodevi on daily basis was nonstop for several years. His nonstop devotion appealed to Maa Vaishnodevi who took the shape of a little innocent girl and appeared before him one day to check his devotion. As he used to do ever, Pandit Shridhar was well engaged in the daily Kanya Pujan and by the time a few little girls had already gathered. Appearance of Maa Vaishnodevi in the form of a little girl amongst them all couldn’t be easily recognizable once she mingled with the rest. He would follow the Hindu tradition and washed the feet of all little girls by his own in the course of worshipping. This farsighted priest easily differentiated between the feet of Maa Vaishno and others in a single sight itself. What captivated him was the heavenly beauty of the little girl’s feet having vermilion attire made him understand the divineness. Another notable factor was his observation about that girl who didn’t belong to his village.

He continued worshipping little girls like he did previously. Once his worship completed all girls went back to their homes upon being presented offerings by this priest but the one in the manifestation of Maa Vaishnodevi didn’t move from there. He was in catch22situation and couldn’t think what to do and how to move ahead for a new step like enquiring anything from Maa Vaishnodevi while she herself expressed something to him in the words "An important task is awaiting for you from me.” He was literally surprised and prepared himself with curiosity to let the “little girl” command her that seemed totally devotional.

The first instruction for him from Maa Vaishnodevi was that he must collect the masses from nearby localities and villages and ask them to join the Bhandhara or collective lunch for them all. He was too much confused and failed to take any decision and by the time he could ask her anything Maa Vaishnodevi had already disappeared. Thinking process of Pt. Shirdhar increased further with his key focus on the “little girl” and her unusual command besides her existence. He failed to come at conclusion although he understood that there was no doubt in it that she was eternal. By then he assumed that perhaps she was Maa Vaishnodevi who had visited in the form of a little girl. His increased thinking level about the girl reminded him of her command for the Bhandhara that was huge and he couldn’t make it possible due to lack of funds for it. At last he thought not to worry much and assumed the command a divine order to follow for that he started preparation. By the time he approached neighboring villagers for that special purpose.

Next step he took was inviting people from his and nearby villages as was he being instructed. While doing so he met some saints on the way. Upon seeing them all he respectfully bowed down and invited to join the Bhandhara next day he would arrange. He did it with respectful gesture. Group leader of the saints present, Gorakhnath guided him that perhaps invitation to them was a mistake as they are called to join at home because unfortunately Lord Indra too had failed to keep them satisfied. Panditji got worried literally after listening arguments from them but gathered courage to explain them the whole story about the divine girl with whom he encountered. Finally Gorakhnath accepted his invitation but his anxiety didn’t wane. His curiosity was about a girl who had claimed to prepare food for so many people and most importantly his interest was to know her charismatic personality. By the time Panditji returned back to home after inviting people in surrounding villages for Bhandhara he was already too much exhausted so slept instantly after returning. His worries to make arrangements continued the next morning as well.

People had started gathering outside his tiny hut while he was busy in deep thought how to make the arrangements. Saint Gorakhnath alongside his disciple Bhairavnath too came to attend as they were invited. The hallucination of Panditji hadn’t lessened as he was not in the position to take any decision what to do. Surprisingly though he saw the same little divine girl—Maa Vaishnodevi—arrived inside the hut that was rarely seen by anybody as to from what direction she had entered inside. She dictated sermon to him once again about not worrying anymore as she assured for all the arrangements. You needn’t worry and gear up for the next step, she said. She further advised him to suggest the guests to enter inside his hut.

Such divine directions proved optimistic and he came out instantly to communicate with the crowd that was waiting outside eagerly. He advised the guests to enter inside where food would be served to them. I can’t sit inside your tiny hut, Gorakhanth expressed it clearly. Your hut don’t have sufficient space as well. Panditji once again folded his hands and obediently requested them to come inside. The guests being invited to attend Bhandhara entered inside the hut one by one to eat. They were amazed to see that even though they entered inside a tiny hut and were in groups but still ample space was left out inside it. It was indeed a sort of miracle they were witnessing. More charismatic was the step of Maa Vaishnodevi who served food to people present there from a tiny vessel which she held. Interestingly the food served were of the choice and liking of masses invited. It surprised all and equally was it awe-inspiring scene for Pt. Shirdhar who understood the power of Maa Vaishnodevi through such happenings. By that time Gorakhnath and his principal disciple Bhairavnath started communicating with each other after observing the charisma that it seemed the small girl was divine power. Questions haunted them about her existence.

The moment she came before Bhairavnath to serve food his instant question was that “should he get food of his choice from her.” Her polite response to him was that sure but she must know his choice of food. He asked her to serve meat and wine but her gentle advice to him was that as he had arrived at the home of a pious Vaishnav Brahmin the guests won’t get anything except vegetarian food. He hardly listened to her because intended to crosscheck the girl’s divinity. By that time his evil desire had already been assessed by Maa Vaishnodevi.

The moment Bhairavnath could catch her hand with bad intention in mind, Maa Vaishnodevi disappeared instantly. As tantric Bhairavnath was an expert in the meditation sciences he could chase Maa Vaishnodevi for that he simply closed his eyes and used the yogic power to find out where she had actually moved. He came to know through that about her preceding to Trikuta Hills where she disguised as air and went. She was chased by Bhairavnath upon his understanding her movements. As he was chasing Maa Vaishnodevi, she felt thirstiness hence used her bow and arrow on the land to take out water. It took few moments to start a water stream from the land instantly. This place became famous as Ban Ganga later on. Upon seeing Bhairavnath chasing Maa Vaishnodevi from behind, she stopped at that place for a while to understand the situation. The location where she had stopped still has her feet impression whose print on the stone remains. It has been preserved in the temple and can be seen today. This place is famous as Charan Paduka or the place with holy footprint.

Beautiful plateau Ardhkwarilocated nearby the Charan paduka is a place where Maa Vaishnodevi arrived and saw one meditator busy in meditation in opposite direction of small tunnel there. One meditator was given divine power and on that basis he was hypnotized not to reveal anything about her arrival at that place. She then entered inside the tunnel and rested there for nine months which in itself is symbolic of mother’s womb for childbirth. As Maa Vaishnodevi devoted this long period there this tunnel is known more as Garabh Joon even to this day. Bhairavnath reached at that location while continuing search for Maa Vaishnodevi and enquired from that meditator upon arriving that plateau. The mendicant literally rebuked him saying that why was he chasing the supreme power of the world. She can’t be assumed an ordinary girl as she was divine—and an Adikumari whose virginity was pure since earth had taken its shape. He further advised Bhairavnath to prefer moving away from there and or beg for pardon.

She kept her virginity pure since the universe was formed and her purity is ultimate so it is better for him to flee from this place. Bhairavnath once again ignored the pious statement and moved ahead to enter inside the tunnel while chasing her.As Maa Vaishnodevi knew of everything including the movement of Bhairavnath she used her divine power and made one more opening in the cave for new path to reach at the tunnel’s end till Darbar or Bhavan. She finally reached the Holy cave at the Darbar Maa Vaishno. She used her divine power while looking at the MAHA KALI and used the Trishul to cut Bhairavnath’s head and threw it forcefully in far of mountain area. Bhairav Temple exists at that place today where the head had fallen. As per the katha descriptions, the entrance of the Holy cave witnessing big rock is considered Bhairavnath’s rest body part. He pleaded to her and begged for pardon by confessing for the sins he did. The merciful Maa Vaishnodevi listened to his plea and forgave him for the sins he did. She not only forgave him but also bestowed him the wish that every time the large chunk of devotees would come to worship and her Darshan the pilgrimage won’t be considered full until they pay respect to Bhairavnath temple as well while returning back. Digressing to the situation of Pt. Shirdhar; the situation post sudden Maa Vaishnodevi disappearance was unfathomable so was his worries and tension about her. He fasted for several days and even didn’t take food or water due to the shock he was in. Merciful Maa Vaishnodevi appeared before him once again through the medium of dream and told her about the shrine—the holy cave besides explaining him to choose route for arriving there. Panditji then followed instructions to reach up to that divine cave.

His tension and mental imbalance waned once he got up happily the next morning. Panditji started searching for that Holy Cave since that day which she had witnessed in dream previous night. His patience was uncontrollable and the only intention was that the cave must be found out at the earliest without any more delay.

The recounting continued and he desperately followed the route having been directed through dream while he climbed up that hill. Finally he could discover that as seen in the dream and reached there instantly. Once Panditji reached inside the Holy Cave he could feel and see the Maa Vaishnodevi abode which could flabbergast him for his life had become successful upon seeing DEVI MAA having been projected through the goddesses—Maa Maha Laxmi, Maa Mahakali and Maa Maha Saraswati who were purveyors of beauty, wealth), evil vanquishers and art amongst others.

All three PINDIS are worshipped every day. Pt. Shirdhar continued reading hymns and verses to praise Maa Vaishnodevi. He folded his hands to offer Aarti and kept bowing while worshipping her. Such activities pleased Maa Vaishnodevi too much. Her boon to him was for the birth of four sons.She further bestowed him that his descendants would keep worshipping her over the centuries. This trend continues till day and descendants of Pt. Shirdhar worships Maa Vaishnodevi oer Pindi Swaroopa which is located inside that holy cave.