Shree Shaligram is a sacred stone found in the Gandaki River near the Muktinath area of Nepal and is worshipped as the aniconic representation Lord Vishnu (just as Lingam is worshipped as aniconic Lord Shiva). The marks on the Shaligram are natural with the design often signifying that of Sudarshan Chakra, which is the Discus of Lord Vishnu. The reverence of these stones is prevalent and dates back to a distant past.
The linga (bana-linga) may be a natural object found in the river Narmada, or carved in stone, gems or clay; but Salagramas are naturally found in the river Gandaki and are never made by man.
They do not require primary rituals of cleansing and consecrationas they naturally contain the vibhuti of the Godhead, and hence may be worshipped right away. No initiation is required in the worship of Salagrama and it can be worshipped anyhow, but it will bestow the benefits. If, however, it is properly worshipped with all the details carefully observed, the welfares procured are unlimited.
The Salagramas are called as fossil-stones as they have taken shape in the Gandaki-river, and are branded by the presence of discus marks. The tale tells us that Gandaki, a lady-devotee, did reparations for many years, and she got a boon from Vishnu, which made Him reside in her womb as her offspring. The Salagramas are thus the aspects of Vishnu. The existence of holiness in the Salagrama is for the well-being of the followers.
An even number of salagrama stones has to be worshipped; however they must not be only two. An odd number of salagramas are never worshipped, but one is regarded best.
If a person daily worships twelve salagrama-stones with dedication, his merits will increase, and sins will decrease.
A salagrama-stone can be worshipped even when it is broken, split or cracked. It does not lose its auspiciousness. But the mark of the discus must be there in the stone.