Just as Rudraksha is an object of veneration to the Saivaites, the Shaligrama is of tantamount importance to the Vaishnavaites. The sacred black stones are used for worship as an abstract form of Lord Vishnu and are found in abundance in the Gandaki River, which is close in antiquity to the Himalayas, near Mukthinath in Nepal. The stone shelters a minuscule insect called Vajra-Keeta which cuts through the stone and the marks give significant patterns in the form of the Lord’s paraphernalia – the Sudharshana Chakra. It is reckoned as the dwelling of Vishnu and its possessor should perform regular pujas and adhere to strict code of conduct.

Legends elucidate that Vishnu was cursed to become a stone, grass, tree and plant by Vrinda for violating her chastity in order to vanquish her husband, a demon by the name Jallundhar. So the Lord turned into Shaligrama, Kusha, Pipal and Tulsi.

No preliminary ritual is required for its consecration for all the god-power is nested within itself.  The Shaligramas are usually inherited or given free of cost by a guru, never being purchased or sold. These Shilas should never be placed on the ground and touched with a besmirched hand. Only an even number of Shaligrams should be worshipped. Unlike Rudraksha which should not be used even if it has a single flaw, shaligrama can never be inauspicious albeit it is cracked, chipped or even broken asunder, according to the Brahma Purana.

Shaligramas are worshipped in Vaishnavite households and temples. The largest and heaviest Shaligrama is found in Puri Jagannath temple.

When worshipped scrupulously with all due obeisance, the benefits procured are boundless. The worshipper is ridden of all fears and blessed with materialistic comforts, health, immense wealth, progeny and spiritual peace. The water in which the shaligrama is bathed in is called Charanamrita and it expiates all the sins one has committed even in his previous births.


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