400th Prakash Utsav Year: From Alakshyeshvari to Mata Roop Bhawani

Dr. Monika Raina                                                                                                      Born early morning of mag Jyaistha Paurnamasi of 1621 AD to adherent devotee of Mata Sharika (Durga Mata) Pandit Madav Joo Dhar of Diddamar Safakadal, who knew that his new born is the boon granted to him by Mata Sharika. He named her Alakshyeshvari, which means one who is unnoticeable, formless; it refers to the Goddess in unnoticeable form. In her father’s house, Alakshyeshvari’s years of childhood were passed in the company of devotees. Alakshyeshvari’s spirituality blossomed early in these favourable conditions. Her spiritual ‘Guru’ was her father Pandit Madhav Joo Dhar who initiated her into the mysteries and practices of yoga.
Married at very young age as per the prevailing customs of the time, Alakshyeshvari spent very less time as married life and moved out of house to dedicate completely to meditation and tapasya. Seeking an isolated place, she selected a location to the north-east of Srinagar, known as Chashme Shahibi. Here she did intense tapasya for twelve and a half years, and began to glow with the fire of spirituality. At this point, people, attracted by her spiritual radiance, began to come to her in such large numbers that she decided to leave the place for a more remote area, away from general public.She moved to a place called Wutshan in the dense forest of village Manigam, in north Kashmir. On her way to Manigam she stopped by at Tulmulla to pay her obeisance to Mata Ragiyna. At Wutshun, there is spring of sweet and crystal-clear water on the mountain terrain. Mata after descending towards east of this spring, selected her mediation place under a chinar tree, known as Gossianbouin (Chinar of saints). As heard from my ancestors that this slopy foot hill area had a dense forest of wild mulberry and pomegranate trees, so the place is locally called as Dheenlabar bhooth as well as Gossian bhooth (Sloppy area of Saints) means sloppy area of Pomegranates.

Dr. Monika Raina

For a long time, she remained in solitude, deep in spiritual practices.
It is said that none of the villagers at Manigam knew of Alakshyeshvari’s existence, until a certain miraculous incident revealed her presence to them. A cowherd boy used to take his cows to graze at a place which, unknown to him, was close to where Alakshyeshvari was absorbed in meditation. The boy noticed that one of his cows left the herd every day at noon, and when he followed her one day, he was stunned to see a tapasyi woman, her face wasshining with a heavenly lustre, and her eyes filled with a divine light. When cowboy saw that cow of her own wish poured its milk into the tapasyi’s bowl until it was full, he was astonished. He narrated this incident to the village head Pandit LalChand Razdan of Manigam who took no time to understand that she cannot be any ordinary women but the Bhawani herself. He started visiting the Mata’s hut and to serve her in whatever way he could. After some time when he was not able to climb uphill, he requested her to stay with his family in his house. By the time she has completed her second 12.5 years of mediation. She was never interested to stay in a domestic chaos; however, she could not disregard the request from her first devote and moved to Lal Chand house. While in the house of Pandit Lal Chand she showed some miracles like climbing of fishes on the walls on Shivratri etc. She created an illusion of fire in house so that Pandit Lal Chand can take her out of the house. She went to dwell in a hut on the bank of the Shahkol river and had started attracting lot of attention from people. It was that this Manigam Taposathal we can assume that people started following Alakshyeshvari and recognized her as a divine soul. Alakshyeshvari was now Mata Bhawani (Goddess), it was then she planted a half-burnt twig of chinar which turns out into giant chinar tree and is still standing tall with the burnt mark at the tip as a witness of Mata’s spirituality and divine power. News of her spiritual power spread through out the Kashmir and devotee from far flung started visiting her to take her blessing. After Manigam Mata went to Lar followed by Vaskura spending approximately 12.5 years at each place. At these places also Mata continued to show various miracles and helping her devotee with her blessings. After twelve and a half years had elapsed in Vaskura, Bhawani returned to Safakadal, Srinagar, where she stayed till Magha, Saptami Tithi in the year 1721 AD,the day when she decided to leave the earthly body and merge with the supreme power as one.
This year 2021 marks the 400th Prakash year (Utsav) of Mata Roop Bhawani. We need to imbibe and emulate her messages in life and live a sacred life. New generations should be informed and educated about her teachings and her divine power.