he was a very poor man and had to depend upon doles of others
for keeping his body and soul together, his face always radiated
a glow of contentment
to the legend, the holy Shrine of Vaishno Devi Ji was
first discovered by Pandit Shridhar, about a thousand
years ago. The story of the discovery is something like
A Brahman named Shridhar used to live in village Hansali
at the foot hills of the Trikuta mountain. This village
is adjacent to the present town of Katra. Shridhar was
a devotee of Shakti in her benign form.
Playing with the girl
used to spend most of his time in meditation and prayers.
In fact, he would be chanting paens in praise of Shakti even
when he took the cows and goats of the villagers for grazing
on the mountain. One day, while he was grazing the cattle,
a very pretty young girl aged between 8 to 10 years, met him
on the hill. Shridhar felt strangely attracted towards her
and the two of them became friendly. The girl told him that
her name was Vaishnavi and she lived on the other side of
the mountain. Thereafter, Shridhar would often meet the young
girl on the mountain and the two of them would spend the day
in playing, laughing and talking.
Entering the Cave
day Shridhar wistfully mentioned to Vaishnavi that he had
been to a Bhandara a couple of days ago which had been organised
by a wealthy man of the area. A very large number of people
had participated in the Bhandara, partaken of the food and
before departing had blessed the man. Shridhar felt that the
man who had organised the Bhandara would as a consequence
have earned enormous spiritual merit. Hearing this, Vaishnavi
urged Shridhar to organise a Bhandara too. Well aware of his
own precarious financial position, Shridhar demurred. However,
Vaishnavi continued to exhort him. After a few weeks she was
able to coax him, against his better judgement, to organise
the Bhandara. A date was agreed upon and then Shridhar left
in order to make the arrangements for the function.
invited all the people living in nearby villages to the Bhandara.
Thereafter, he began to go from door to door requesting his
neighbours and acquaintances to give him the provisions which
could be cooked and served to the guests on the day of Bhandara.
A few people obliged but many others turned down his request.
They, in fact, taunted him for having the temerity to hold
a Bhandara without having the wherewithal for organising it.
As the day of the Bhandara drew near and Shridhar realised
that he was finding it extremely difficult to organise the
provisions that would be needed for feeding the huge number
of people he had invited, he began to spend sleepless nights.
His distress reached such proportions that he stopped taking
the cattle for grazing on the mountain. He became sick with
worry and found it difficult to concentrate even on his prayers