There are different types of Shilas (Holy stones or idol of god) that are highly revered in Hinduism. First of all, of course, the Shaligram Shila, (also called Shalagram, Salagram, Saligram), is an incarnation and representation of Lord Vishnu (Protector of the universe).
Shaligram is Found in Kali Gandaki River, Muktinath, Damodarkunda, Nepal which is very much a sacred place and has great importance and is considered as a great religious site for every Hindus.
Shaligram is worshipped in all devotee houses and Temples throughout India, Nepal, and all around the world to please Lord Vishnu. We Can find about Shaligram in most of the religious texts and Scripture like Padma Puran, Srimad Devi Bhagwat, Skanda Purana, etc. Mainly in Kaliyug(present time), we should worship Shaligram. It is said that Lord Hari (Lord Vishnu) is directly present in the form of Shaligram and protects, blesses, pleases easily with devotees who worship God Vishnu in the forms of Shaligram. Shaligram has a natural mark of lord Vishnu like Chakra(wheel cycle like beautiful mark on shaligram), Shankha(conch shell), Padma(lotus flower), etc. Shaligram is the divine manifestation of Lord Vishnu to protect his devotee and the entire universe from sorrow, sins and problems.
We should establish and keep Shaligram Shila, Tulsi plants(holy basil), Gomati chakra, and Shankha(Conch shell) together in the house if we really want to please God Vishnu (Lord Narayana). There is the great importance of worshipping Shaligram by offering tulsi leaves in every Puran(scripture). It is said that offering a single tulsi leaf to Lord Shaligram(Lord Vishnu) pleases God Vishnu.
The word Shaligram comes from a Sal Tree (Shorea robusta) which is named after great devotee of Lord Vishnu who meditate lord vishnu below sal tree and lord vishnu shows his appearance in same tree. Shaligram is millions of years old and Sri Shaligrams also has a long story & history.
Those who worship Sri Shaligrams (Saligram Shila) should not see the door of hell. He/she is not touched by the attendant of hell god or god of death (Yama Duta). He/she is treated separately. He/She will get Mukti(salvation). So Shaligram is also known as Muktinath Shaligram. In Hinduism, Mukti means Salvation and Nath means God. God who provides Salvation(Mukti). Shaligram is also found in Muktinath itself.
Swarna(golden) Matsya Sudarshan chakra Shaligram. Lord Vishnu as fish incarnation appeared at the end of ‘Satya-yuga‘. Matsya(Fish) is 1st incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Origin Story of Shaligram
There was a demon name Jalandhar. His wife name was Vrinda. They were talking each other. The demon describes the beauty of his wife. Vrinda says to her husband that my beauty is nothing if you see ‘Parvati’ wife of Shiva. What would you think?. The demon went to Kailash(home of lord shiva) with a bad intention and to capture mother Parvati. At that time Lord Shiva was not at home. Jalandhar turned himself in form of a shiva and went to meet mother Parvati.
Mother Parvati comes by taking water in her hand to wash duplicate shiva feet. Arghya(washing feet of husband and ascetics) is one of the cultures in Hinduism.
Demon Jalandhar faints on the ground when Jalandhar see mother Parvati face. Mother Parvati remembers Lord Vishnu for help. Just by remembering in a second lord Vishnu arrive in Kailash. Mother Parvati says to lord Vishnu “Shiva should not faint by seeing my face”. Lord Vishnu thinks for a while and says mother he is not lord shiva. He is the demon name ‘Jalandhar’. Mother Parvati becomes very afraid and requests help from Lord Vishnu to bring shiva.
Lord Shiva was swimming by being swan in “Mansarovar Lake”. Lord Vishnu finds Lord Shiva. Lord Vishnu informs Lord Shiva about the arrival of the demon in Kailash and demon forms.
Shiva becomes very angry and plans to kill the demon. Lord Shiva fight with this demon for more than 1000 years but could not win him. God Shiva realizes the demon is saved from the power of his chaste wife. Lord Shiva orders Lord Vishnu to destroy the chaste of demon Jalandhar wife Vrinda.
Lord Vishnu went to the demon Jalandhar’s house in the form of Jalandhar and destroy the chaste of Vrinda. Vrinda realizes he is not my husband but Lord Vishnu when lord Vishnu shows his original form. Vrinda gives four curses to Lord Vishnu and surrenders herself to fire. Vrinda is also believed to be Lord Vishnu’s great devotee. The four curses Vrinda gave to Lord Vishnu are to be a stone (Shaligram), to be a plant (tulsi/holy basil), to be a grass (kush), and to be a tree (peepal tree /Ficus religiosa/ sacred fig).
Lord Shiva killed the demon Jalandhar from his Trishul (Trident).
Some holy books mention the same story but named Demon as Shankhachud. Most of the holy books mentioned as Jalandhar.
According to Devi Bhagwat, the demon gets salvation when he dies from shiva hand. Before Vrinda sacrifices to fire, Lord Vishnu says Vrinda the fact of Jalandhar and his final birth.
Vrinda is a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hence, Lord Vishnu boon Vrinda that her body will be Gandaki river and hair as a tulsi plant. Everyone worship her and be famous and finally she attains Mukti(salvation). Tulsi plants have a residence of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Tulasi(Vrinda Devi). Lord Vishnu says – Every year in the month of Kartik Sukla Dwadashi (oct-nov) Shaligram Tulasi marriage ceremony will be celebrated. I will reside in the Gandaki river as Shaligram. The favorite place of Lord Krishna Vrindavan is named after Vrinda Devi. Meaning the Vrinda-tulsi and ban- the jungle. The jungle of Tulsi plant/tree(holy basil). Those who worship Lord Vishnu(God Vishnu) with tulsi leaves (holy basil) with them lord Vishnu becomes happy.
Lord Vishnu’s five wives are said to be Laxmi(main), Ganga, Saraswati, Tulsi, and Bhu Devi(mother earth). Goddess Saraswati is the wife of Lord Brahma. It is believed that Goddess Saraswati originally married to Lord Vishnu. Three god and goddesses are the Hindu trinity. Parvati(shiva), Laxmi(Vishnu), and Saraswati(Brahma). Goddess Parvati(goddess of power), God Shiva(destroyer of ignorance), God Vishnu(preserver of universe), Goddess Laxmi(goddess of wealth), God Brahma(creator of the universe), Goddess Saraswati(goddess of education).
Shaligram worship Process – Shaligram Puja Vidhi.
The simple Shaligram worship(Puja) can be done in the following ways. Shaligram is also worshipped with our own ways like our process of worship to different gods like God Vishnu, Shiva, Krishna, Ram, Goddess Durga, and any gods.
- First, be pure(bath or be fresh) and enter the worship room.
- In the morning, Bath(abhishek) Shaligram with pure water by Saying “Om Namo Narayanaye” while bathing God Shaligram.
- Tulsi leaves are very dear to Lord Vishnu. Offering single tulsi leaves (holy basil) to God Shaligram/god vishnu please lord Vishnu. There is no doubt upon it.
- Offer the flower and fruits. Or Any food items that are vegetarian(without onion, garlic, egg, and meat) and pure (which is not used by others).
- After it lamps a Diya (oil lamp).
- offer the incense.
- Sound the bell. After it do a namaste or namaskaram (respectful greeting by folding both hand 🙏). Remember and meditate Lord Vishnu, Krishna, Lord Shiva closing both eyes.
- If you wish to chant mantra through mala(garland) you can also do it. Specially mantra (hymn) is recited through Tulasi or rudraksha mala. These malas or rosaries have a total of 108 number of beads. 108 number is considered as very auspicious and chanted/recited 108 times. This process is also known as jap or japa which is done by remembering God
- We have mentioned mantra for a specific god below. If you donot have mala do it with mouth or heart. The auspicious number is 108,54, 27, 10.
At evening pooja(worship). GOD Shaligram is worshipped in a similar way like morning. The only difference is that we will not bath (abhishek) god shaligram in the evening. And we will not offer tulsi leaves to shaligram in evening. Other all same procedure is followed but does not remove Tulasi leaves which are offered in the morning if it is attached together with shaligram. Taking off tulsi leaves from plants in the evening or night time is prohibited. In the morning too we should only offer tulsi leaves which have fallen itself in the ground or pot by washing it is good.
- Some of the mantra(hymn) for reciting/chanting is as follows. 1) ‘om Krishnaye Namah’ for Lord Krishna, 2) ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ For Lord Shiva, 3) ‘om Namo Narayanaye’ For God Vishnu 4) om namo bhagvate vasudevaya for Lord Vishnu, etc.
Regarding the gandaki river, Once when all gods could not find not Lord vishnu. All god went to Lord shiva for help. And ask Lord shiva about lord vishnu. Lord Shiva agreed to take gods to god vishnu. Lord vishnu was meditating in shaligram place(gandaki river). Lord vishnu describe the importance of this place. There are diffferent kinds of sacred pond(kund), gods place and triveni sangam(meeting points of gandaki,saraswati and ganga river). Other important sangam is prayag raj where three holy rivers yamuna,saraswati and ganga meets, etc.
Things we do not know about Shaligram Shila(shaligram) – Shaligram is also referred with different names in different places. Some of the names are Salagram, Salagrama, Saligrama, Saligram, Ammonite fossil stone(Considered as Scientific name of Shaligram). The most used word is ‘Shaligram’. We can’t find Nepal like sacred, divine Natural shaligram in other places.