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. Salagramas are naturally found in the river Gandaki and are never made by man.
They do not require primary rituals of cleansing and consecrations 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 or Sudarshan Chakra must be intact
What is a Shaligram Shila? Scientific Origins of Shaligram Shila
Shaligrams are natural stones which exist in nature from a period of approximately 400 to 67 million years. Shaligram is a commonly a fossil of the shell of the ammonite which hail from the period of Devonian-Cretaceous. Shaligram Shilas also known as the Saligram, Salagram and Shaligrama are highly revered as they are considered manifestations of Lord Vishnu Himself. Shaligram are fossil ammonite stones which are millions of years old and were formed due to massive geological ; the movement of Mega Rocks & Sea Water which created high pressure and formed not only the Himalayan Mountain Ranges But also compressed organic matter into ammonites fossils which we call Shaligrams.
The Shaligrams are associated with Lord Vishnu, they are considered to be Divine and auspicious. Shaligram Shilas are natural and not manmade.
Where and How are Shaligrams found in Nature?
As per the Skanda Purana, Padam Purana, Agni Tantra and many other Vedic texts Shaligrams are found only in the Gandaki River in Nepal. The source of Shaligrams in the Gandaki River is Damodar Kund, it takes around 15 days of trek to reach Damodar Kund from Muktinath where the Gandaki river flows.
Damodar Kunda is located at a place known as Damodar Himal. The Damodar Kund is located at a distance which is a few km away from the Muktinath Temple. The exact location where original and authentic Shaligram Shilas are found is known as Muktikshetra and Shaligram kshetra. This area extends from the Northern-region which is in the Upper-Mustang to the Southern-part of Nepal.
Here one will find millions of Shaligrams in the kund but due to elevation of the place from the sea-level it remains frozen most of the year. One can trek to the Damodar Kund only during 2 – 3 summer months in a year. When the ice melts in the Damodar Kund due to the gush of water the Shaligrams roll down into the Gandaki River and the tributary Triveni River. Here the locals dive and collect these precious Divine pieces for the devotees for the bed of the river. When the Shaligrams tumble down from the Damodar Kund to Gandaki River many of them crack or break-open to reveal patterns, Chakra markings and even gold deposit. As per scriptures it is absolutely fine to worship the broken Shaligrams (other than if the Chakras are broken.)
Story of Origin of Shaligram : Vishnu’s Betrayal & Tulsi’s Curse
The story of origin of Shaligram is mentioned in many Vedic scriptures such as the Shiva Purana, Devi Bhagavata Purana, Brahmavaivarta Purana amongst others. Once there was king named Vrishadhvaja who was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He revered only Lord Shiva and worshipped no other Deities. This enraged Lord Surya (Sun God) and in rage he cursed the king that he would lose all his wealth and lead a life of poverty. King Vrishadhvaja lost all his riches but still unperturbed continued to worship only Lord Shiva. Time lapsed and later his grandsons namely Kusadhvaja and Dharmadhvaja decided to worship Goddess Laxmi to break the curse. They underwent hard penance and strict austerities, pleased Goddess Lakshmi blessed them, which restored their wealth and riches and also both were blessed with baby girls. The baby girl of Kusadhvaja was named Vedavati and that of Dharmadhvaja was names Tulsi.
Tulsi was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu; she wanted Him as her husband. So, she worshipped Lord Brahma. Pleased with her worship Lord Brahma requested her to ask for a boon in which she asked that she wanted Lord Vishnu as her husband. Lord Brahma told her that you are destined to marry asura Shankhachuda before you can marry Lord Vishnu. Shankhachuda was rebirth of Sudama, friend of Lord Krishna who was born as an asura due to a curse by Maa Radha. Tulsi accepted Shankhachuda as Her husband and was a devoted and loving wife. Shankhachuda although an asura, was pious and a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Through his strict penance of Lord Brahma he gained an armor (Vishnu-Kavach) which made him invincible. Soon, he conquered the heavens and earth and drove the Gods away from the celestial abode.
All the Gods went to Lord Vishnu for help, Lord Vishnu told them that Lord Shiva as bound to kill Shankhachuda. In the wake of learning this, every one of the divine beings and Gods went to Lord Shiva to seek His help. Lord Shiva obliged and there was a legendary battle that took place between Lord Shiva alongside His ganas and Shankhachuda with his army.
However as per Brahma’s boon Shankachuda would be invincible as long as he wore the armor and his wife’s chastity was not violated. Thus Both Shankachuda and Shiva were indomitable as ever
Lord Vishnu knew that to defeat and kill Shankhachuda his armor and the devotion of his wife towards him will have to be taken away. Lord Vishnu took the form of a poor Brahmin and went to Shankhachuda and asked from him his armor as alms. Shankhachuda being pious and follower of Dharma obliged. Then Lord Vishnu took the form of Shankhachuda went to Tulsi in the armor. Unable to recognize Lord Vishnu, Tulsi though Shankhachuda is back from the battle and cohabited him which violated her chastity and Lord Shiva killed Shankhachuda in the battle with His trident.
As soon as her husband was killed in battle, Tulsi understood that the person in front of her was not Shankhachuda. She asked the Lord to show who He really was, Vishnu assumed his true form. In anguish and anger of her husband’s death, Tulsi cursed Lord Vishnu. She said that both she and her husband were His devotees yet the Lord tricked them so He will turn into a stone. Lord Vishnu accepted the curse and told Tulsi that He will take the form of a big rocky mountain on the banks of River Gandaki and will be known as Shaligram. She will reincarnate as river Gandaki and from hairs an auspicious plant, which will henceforth be called Tulsi will originate. In their next birth, Lord Vishnu as Shaligram and Tulsi as the Tulsi plant will get married thus restoring her chastity and fulfilling Lord Brahma’s boon. Also that on the bank of River Gandaki will be a worm known as Vajrakita. This worm with solid and sharp teeth will cut out the stones of the Shaligram mountain. The cut stones will fall into the River Gandaki and will be known as Shaligram Shilas, which will be Lord Vishnu Himself personified.
Shaligrams are Divinity incarnate; there is no other article as sacred as a Shaligram especially for a devotee of Lord Vishnu or Vaishnavite. As per Vedic scriptures different types of Shaligrams bless devotees with different type of benefits such as spiritual, mystic, astrological, health and many other benefits. Top benefits of Shaligram are mentioned below:
As per scriptures the Sacred Salagram offers six blessings namely spiritual elevation, good health, harmony, prosperity and riches, righteous living and all the worldly and spiritual comforts.
- Worshipping the Shaligrama Sila is said to wash away the sins of all the past lives
- According to many Puranas, the worship of Saligram is said to bless the worshipper with material comforts, longevity of life, good health and success in all undertakings
- Keeping and worshipping the Shaligram at home blesses a devotee with peace of mind, helps in calming the mind and provides clarity of thoughts
- By worshipping a Shaligram a devotee is blessed with confidence and fearlessness and is also protected against evil eye and negative energies of all sought
- As per Padma Purana, Skanda Purana and other Vedic Scriptures, a devotee who worships Shaligram is blessed with health, wealth, prosperity, good spouse and children
- As per Padma Purana, devotees who worship the Salagrama will utmost devotion will break the cycle of life and death and attain Vaikuntha or Moksha
- Shaligram helps in removal of all hurdles and obstacles and helps in wish fulfilment
- Worshipping the Salagrama is said to elevate one spiritually
- Drinking the water with which Holy Shaligram has been bathed is said to provide relief from all diseases and ailments. If the water is given to a dying individual, he/she is said to die peaceful and is liberated from the all sins of this and past lives
According to Vedic Astrology and as mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatam (2.6.42), Lord Vishnu is the Lord of all creations; he is the one who controls the Navgraha, time and space. He is the divine power that maintains the balance and equilibrium in the universe and between all the celestial bodies. Thus, if there is any planetary dosha in the natal charge of an individual, it is suggested to worship Lord Vishnu in form of Salagrama Sila. Offering prayers to the Saligrama offers relief from planetary doshas, removes obstacles in life, offers healing benefits and also paves way to lead a healthy, wealthy, successful and harmonious life.
Different Shaligrams are recommended to different people for varied benefits. In Vedic Astrology individual born under various zodiac signs are recommended to worship various Shaligrams. Individuals born under :
Mesha Rashi/Aries zodiac are recommended to worship Matsya Shaligrama
Vrishabha Rashi/ Taurus zodiac are recommended to worship Kurma Avatar Saligrama
Mithuna Rashi/ Gemini zodiac are recommended to worship Vamana Salagrama
Karka Rashi/ Cancer zodiac are recommended to worship Narsimha Salagrama
Sinha Rashi/ Leo Rashi are recommended to worship Varaha Saligrama
Kanya Rashi/ Virgo zodiac are recommended to worship Rama Shaligrama
Tula Rashi/ Libra zodiac are recommended to worship Lakshmi Narayan Shaligrama
Vrishchika Rashi/ Scorpio zodiac are recommended to worship Parshuram Salagram
Dhanu Rashi/ Sagittarius zodiac are recommended to worship Buddha Saligrama
Makar Rashi/ Capricorn zodiac are recommended to worship Krishna Salagrama
Kumbha Rashi/ Aquarius zodiac are recommended to worship Kalki Salagrama
Meena Rashi/ Pisces Rashi are recommended to worship the Vishnu Salagrama
- Saligrama is known to remove negativity from the house and cleanse the energy of the house. It fills the house with divine vibrations of positivity and bliss. It safeguards the dweller and the dwelling from evil eye, unpleasant energies,
- Saligrama attracts abundance and paves way for success and prosperity
- Shaligram helps in cleansing the aura of the worshipper and wipes out all the negative energies present in the house and in the life of the worshippe
- Worshiping the Salagrama by offering Tulsi leaf and installing a conch shell alongside are known to offer great boons and blessings from Lord Vishnu Himself. It is believed that doing so will not only appease Lord Vishnu but will lead in having the presence of the divine in the house.
Famous Shaligram Temples
Shaligram Shila is worshipped as a manifestation of Lord Vishnu both in homes as well as temples. There are numerous Vishnu temples in which the presiding Deity is Lord Vishnu in His Shaligram form. Mentioned below are few famous Shaligram temples:
Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple (Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala) – One of the most iconic Shaligram temple in India is the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple. Here the presiding Deity Lord Vishnu is made up of 12000+ Shaligram stones.
Radha Raman Temple (Vrindavan, UP) – The temple of Sri Radha-Ramanji located in Vrindavan has one of the oldest installed Shaligram as presiding Deity. The Shaligram was installed by Sri Gopala Bhatta Goswami (1503–1578) one of the foremost disciples of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the year 1542.
Muktinath (Nepal) – Muktinath temple is a Vishnu temple located in the Muktinath Valley in Mustang, Nepal. The Gandaki River which is the only source of the Saligram shila is located nearby from the temple. The presiding Deity at the Muktinath temple is Lord Vishnu in His Shaligram manifestation.
Iskcon Temples – There are numerous other Iskcon and other temples such as Sri Ugra Nrsimha Temple (Mayapur), Sri Ranganath ji of Sri Rangam, Sri Udupi Krishna - Udipi, Karnataka where the presiding Deity is Lord Vishnu as Shaligram. Also in many temples, even in Jaganath Puri Shaligrams are kept and worshipped along with the Deity idols.
Puja of Shaligram at Home
Shaligram is the formless Swaroop of Lord Vishnu. This sacred stone holds the divine energies of Lord Vishnu and if one installs the Salagrama Sila in the puja altar of their home than, a daily puja of the Salagrama must be performed. As Shaligram is ‘Jagrut’ in nature (awakened), one need not perform the rituals of invocation or Pran Prathistha Puja. But one needs to offer a small worship and do obeisance daily. This helps in making the energy present in Shaligram more active and helps in spreading positivity and bliss in the dweller’s life. When an individual installs Shaligram at home, ensure that you install it in the copper plate and offer prayers to it. Also ensure that you place fresh Tulasi leaf, besides the Salagram and offer fresh flowers and fruits after the puja.
Do obeisance (Namaskar) to the Shaligram, sprinkle Gangajal or Gandaki river water on oneself and surrounding to purify it. Bath the Shaligram in Gangajal and apply a tilak of sandalwood paste on the Shaligram, offer fragrance of incense sticks or dhoop to the Shaligram, Offer fresh Tulsi leafs and mala and offer other flowers and prasad. After which you may chant the any or all of the following mantras:
1. Dhyayami Devam Lakshmisam Shankha-chakra-gadhadharam Peethambara paridhanam Padhmasannibha lochanam Mandasmitha mukhambhojam madhanayutha Sundaram Maayanirmitha lokaougam megasyamala vigraham Sri Lakshmi Naaraynam dhyayami
2. Namo Namasthe Karunalaya Namo Namasthe KamalAdhavaya Namo Namasthe Jagatham chasrashtre namo namasthe nathsoka harthre Thrahi maam Karunasindho! Paahi maam Kamalapathe! Thvayi bhakthi: sadhaivasthu mama sarvarTadhayini (Om) Namo Naarayana Subhamasthu
You can also chant the Shaligram Mantra which is given below
Shaantaakaaram Bhujagashayanam Padmanaabham Suresham
Vishwaadhaaram Gaganasadrasham Meghavarnam Shubhaangam
Lakshmikaantam Kamalanayanam Yogibhirdhyaanagamyam
Vande Vishnum Bhavabhayaharam Sarvalokaikanaatham ||
A mere sight of the Shaligram is considered meritorious and beneficial. Thus, even if you do not get time to perform daily puja rituals of the Shaligram, simply bow your head and join your hand and call out to the Lord and He shall answer your prayer and shower His blessings.
Shaligram Frequently Asked Question
Q. Is daily worship of Shaligram necessary/compulsory if you are keeping it at home?
Answer: No, the sacred Shaligram Shila does not require consecration (pran prathishta ritual) or daily puja because the stone is endowed with its Source energy. It is a Swaroopa, or formless Lord Vishnu, who manifests itself as a stone. This means that the energy present in the Shaligram is more active than in a regular stone and contributes to the spread of positivity and bliss in the lives of those who live with it, whether it is worshipped or not. The Shaligram has a high vibrational frequency, and its mere presence at home removes negative energies, forms a protective shield around the house and its inhabitants, and corrects Vastu Doshas, too. Therefore, it is not compulsory to worship it on a daily basis, though the Skanda Purana recommends offering Namaskar (salutations) or Darshan to it. A single glance at the Shaligram is said to bring blessings to the devotee.
Q. Should one keep/worship Shaligram if one consumes non-veg?
Answer: Yes, as per authentic ancient scriptures there is no prohibition whatsoever regarding the consumption of non-veg while keeping or worshipping sacred objects such as Shaligram. One can still keep and worship it while having any kind of food. Furthermore, the presence of the holy Shaligram creates a Sattvic atmosphere around us leading to a healthier habits and in the long-term it can become beneficial for adopting a Sattvic lifestyle
Q. Can we keep broken Shaligram at Home?
Answer: Yes, in most cases. Shaligram is Lord Vishnu's formless Swaroop. The stone is endowed with Lord Vishnu's divine principles in a high vibrational form of energy. The stone is so sacred that even if it breaks, its powers remain intact and it can still be worshiped. God is present in all beings and all that exists, and all are equally loved by the Divine. Having a Shaligram stone means being in constant contact with Lord Vishnu, even if it is broken down into pieces. However, as Skanda Purana suggests, it is best to have the stone with its chakra as completely encircled as possible, with as few breakages as possible. As a result, unless the stone is so badly broken that it has lost its entire form, it can be kept. Popularly deity forms are carved in Shaligram stones and worshipped. It is said that the idol of Lord Tirupati in the famous Tirupati Temple is made from a single large Shaligram Sila.
Q. Is it a Sin to trade, buying or selling Shaligram as per Skanda Purana?
Answer: No, Skanda Purana doesn't mention about "trading" but rather is telling us that one cannot try to value or put a value to what is invaluable, like Shaligram stone. This is unearthed when it is found for the benefit of mankind. Making this possible entails a cost which has to be paid to those who collect and clean them, who distribute them, and all those involved in the supply chain as in any other type of job those who do it, have to be paid in the real world for them to be able to perform their work, otherwise Shaligrams would not be available for us. Therefore, all interpretations from Skanda Purana about not buying or selling Shaligrams is wrong. The Purana mentions about “assigning” value not about trading. Scroll Down to read more
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