Worshipped by devotees for the grant of divine protection, good health, wealth and prosperity, righteous living and spiritual liberation
AKYAS CA IVA DESE CA SALAGRAMA SHALAM MAHAT
SANAM TAD BHAVAM YA TAT SALAGRAMA ITI SMRTAM
What Are Shaligrams?
Shaligrams are sacred 'shilas' or stones representing the abstract form of Lord Vishnu. His followers, the Hindu Vaishnavas, place these stones in their puja altars for daily worship. Just as the abstract form of Shiva is the stone ‘lingam’ which the Shaivites worship in their temples and homes, so is the ‘shila’ of Lord Vishnu.
According to Hindu tradition, the Shaligram stone is the shelter for a small insect known as the 'vajra-keeta' that cuts through this stone and lives inside it. In actuality, however, these stones are the fossils of the common ammonite that lived millions of years ago when the Himalayan mountain range formed the bed of a vast ocean floor.
Where Are Shaligrams Found?
Deep in the recesses of the high Himalayas in the region north-west of Nepal, the Shaligrams are found in the bed of the Gandaki river that flows through Mukti Chhetra and Damodar Kunda.
The actual place where Shaligrams are found is itself known by that very name and is regarded as one of the 108 sacred pilgrimage spots for the Vaishnavas, outside India. In fact, so sacred is this place that the Puranic scriptures make a special mention that any stone from this place is equally sacred as a Shaligram.
Characteristics Of Shaligrams
The marks made by the shell of the ammonite give a Shaligram its characteristic appearance, with the pattern often resembling and representing the 'Sudarshan Chakra' or the discus with a sharp-toothed edge which rests on the index finger of Lord Vishnu.
Shaligram stones come in dfferent colors such as red, blue, yellow, brown, green and black. Of these, the yellow, blue and black varieties are considered more sacred. The yellow and golden-colored Shaligrams are considered most auspicious and are believed to bestow great wealth and prosperity on its worshippers.
Shaligrams of different shapes are often associated with the different ‘avtars’ or incarnations of Lord Vishnu such as: Matsaya avtar, Kurma avtar, Narasimha avtar and so on. In the epic Mahabharata, Lord Krishna while giving a discourse to Yudhistra refers to the qualities of Shaligrams.
The Vaishnavas believe that a Shaligram is the dwelling place of Lord Vishnu and any one who owns it must worship it daily. He must also adhere to strict rules while handling a Shaligram. He must not touch it without bathing, never place it on the ground, avoid intake of non-Vaishnavite food and should not indulge in bad habits or practices.
All Shaligrams are considered auspicious: some are very sacred, others are considered to bring good luck, good fortune, peace and happiness, spiritual enlightenment and so on. Individual worshippers can choose the Shaligram that will bring them the most beneficial effects based on the positioning of the planets in their horoscopes. Temples can, however, use any kind of Shaligram in their prayers and rituals.
Shaligrams Of Other Deities
Although Shaligram stones are generally considered to be various forms of Lord Vishnu, there is an elaborate attempt made at times to further identify certain individual shapes and forms. Thus, there are Shaligrams representing some forms of Shiva, Shakti, Surya, and Ganesha. On close inspection, the stones reveal characteristic differences.
The marks of identification are many - like the number, location and shape of the 'chakras' or spirals present in them, the color and hue of the stones, the precise source of the stones, the lines and scratches on the surface of the stone representing the ayudhas of Lord Vishnu. The devotee needs to be acquainted with the form of the deity that a particular Shaligram symbolizes, before he proceeds to worship it.
Shapes Of Shaligrams
- The Matsya-murti Shaligram is shaped like a fish.
- The Hayagriva-murti Shaligraml is shaped like the head of a horse.
- The Varaha-murti Shaligram has a snout-like protuberance.
- The Narasimha-murti Shaligram has a gaping mouth of a lion with sharp teeth.
- The Hayagriva Shaligram has marks of a rosary, lotus and book, besides being shaped like a horse’s head.
Since Shaligrams are natural stones and not man made, the size of each shaligram will very. Howerver, Shaligrams are usually not bigger than the size of your plam.
How To Get Your Shaligram :
Locate a reliable source
We are now offering our services to bring you Shaligrams, which are otherwise very hard to obtain, so that you may also have the opportunity and good fortune to worship them in your home. Over the years, we have gained specialized knowledge from the ancient scriptures about Shaligrams and have the experience to identify the various types of these ‘Stones of Vishnu’.
The cost factor
In the Skanda Purana, it is said that there is not enough gold in the whole 'brahmand' or universe to equal the worth of even a single Shaligram. As such, there can never really be a price put upon the worth of a Shaligram. But since these 'shilas' or stones are so very difficult to obtain and bring from the treacherous mountainous terrains in the high Himalayas, we have to charge a price to cover the wages of people who go in search of these sacred stones, pay for their board and lodging, cover the high risk to life involved in bringing them from heights of over 12,000’ above MSL, and pay for travel, transportation and shipping costs to bring these Shaligrams to devotees around the world.
Beware of fake Shaligrams
If you seek to obtain a Shaligram, be advised that there are spurious, artificially carved black stones which are sold, at very low cost, as genuine Shaligrams by unscrupulous people. It is best to identify a genuine dealer or respected organization when you wish to obtain an absolutely authentic Shaligram. You can then be assured that the Shaligram you choose to worship will bear fruitful and beneficial results. Now a days , few people are selling Shaligramas made up from Chemicals . Some people even sell Agate black colored oval lingams as Shaligrams.