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What is Shaligram | Why Hindu Worship Shaligram | Importance of Shaligram
SHALIGRAM THE DIVINE GIFT
Worship Shree Shaligram for six values of life
Righteous living, Wealth, Protection, good health, pleasures and Spiritual "AKYAS CA IVA DESE CA SALAGRAMA STHALAM MAHAT
SANAM TAD BHAVAM YAT TAT SALAGRAMAM ITI SMRTAM"
The Shaligram is the most sacred stone worshipped by the Vaishnavas and is used to worship Vishnu in an abstract form i.e., God without form as a 'Saligrama'. The use of the Shaligram is similar to the use of 'Lingam' as abstract symbol of Lord Shiva. The stone is not an 'ammonite fossil' as written in many websites about the Shaligram. The Shaligram is found in river Gandaki near Muktinath in Nepal.
GANDAKYAS CAIVA DESE CA SALAGRAMA STHALAM MAHAT
PASANA TAD BHAVAM YAT TAT SALAGRAMAM ITI SMRTAM
(HARI BHAKTI VILASA 5/296 From GAUTAMIYA TANTRA )
वैज्ञानिक अनुसंधान के अनुसार शालिग्राम एक प्रकार का जीवाश्म पत्थर है। धार्मिक आधार पर शालिग्राम/ सालिग्राम/ शालाग्राम/ सालाग्राम का प्रयोग परमेश्वर के प्रतिनिधि के रूप में भगवान का आह्वान करने के लिए किया जाता है। आमतौर पर आप पवित्र नदी गंडकी के तट से सालिग्राम को इकट्ठा कर सकते हैं। शालिग्राम चमत्कारिक है तथा शालिग्राम की कृपा जीवन को अलग दिशा देती है.
Now a days the Shaligrams are on the verge of extinction. They are no longer found in river Gandaki but few Shaligrams are found Damodar Kund which is 15 days up-tracking from the river Gandaki. The best source of Shaligrams, Saligrams, Salagrams is www.shaligram.com or www.shaligram.org
In Hindu Mythology, How does Shaligram Emerge?
As per Gautamiya Tantra, near the kali - Gandaki river, there is a big place called Shalagram.The stones which appear in that place are called shalagram shila. According to the Hindu tradition this stone is the shelter for a small insect known as "Vajra-Keeta" that has a diamond tooth which cuts through the Shaligram stone and stays inside it. The Saligram stones are hundreds of million years old when the Himalaya was an ocean floor.
The marks on the Shaligram gives it a special significance, with the pattern often representing that of Sudarshan Chakra, the Discus of Lord Vishnu. The Shaligrams come in different colours, such as red, blue, yellow, black, greeen. All the varities are considered very sacred. The yellow and golden colour Shaligrams are considered most auspicious and bestow immense wealth and prosperity to the devotee. The Shaligrams of different shapes are often associated with different incarnations of Lord Vishnu such as Narasimha Avatar, Kurma Avatar and so on.
According to the Vaishnavas the Shaligram is the "dwelling place of Lord Vishnu" and any one who keeps it, must worship it daily. He must also adhere to the strict rules such as not touching the Shaligram without bathing, never placing the Shaligram on the ground, avoiding non-vaishnavaite (or non-satvic) food and not indulging in the bad practices.
The Lord Krishna himself mentions the qualities of Shaligram to 'Yudhishtra' in the Mahabharta. Most of the Shaligrams are considered auspicious, some are very sacred, while others are considered to bring good luck, money, peace, sons and so on. The temples can use any kind of Shaligrams in their rituals. The place where the Shaligram stone is found is itself known by that name and is one of the 108 sacred pilgrimage places for the " Vaishnavas" outside India. In fact such is the auspiciousness of this place that the Puranas mention that any stone from this land is equally sacred to Shaligram.
Among the Shalagram stones, some are from the waters (jalaja) and some are from the mountainside (sthalaja). This classification is found in Varaha purana (SK page 111)
Why we worship Shaligram?
Among the natural objects held in extraordinary veneration in India, the salagrama-stones (black stones in which fossil ammonites are embedded) are the most celebrated universally. The worship of these stones is widespread and dates back to a distant past. They are worshipped in temples, monasteries and households all over the country, as visible and natural emblems of Vishnu. The sipping of water in which these stones are bathed is a daily ritual for the pious Hindu belonging to the old and traditional families.
The presence of these stones is indispensable while performing daily and occasional ceremonies and festivals of a religious nature. They are also worshipped in quasi-religious functions like house-warming (grha-pravesa, vastu-puja), pacificatory rites of different sorts (santi), marriages and funerary rituals. A salagrama is worshipped by householders as well as by ascetics.
The famous image of Vishnu in the Himalayan Badri-nath is said to be carved out of a salagrama, as also the image of Krishna in Udupi (in Karnataka). During the image-changing ceremony (nava-kalevara) in Puri-Jagannatha, the salagrama-stone is the essence (padaratha) that is concealed within the main wooden icon of Jagannatha. A salagrama-stone officiates as the snapana-murti (icon for bathing) in the shrine of Natha-dvara.
Like the worship of Siva in the form of a linga, the worship of Vishnu in the shape of a Salagrama is aniconic in character. However, the linga may be a natural object like the white quartz (known as bana-linga) found in the river Narmada, or carved in stone by man. Natural stone forms of Linga are called ‘svayambhu’ lingas, while those made by man are ‘manusha’.
There is also the practice of making temporary lingas out clay (mrt), cow-dung (go-maya), flowers (pushpa) or grain-flowers (pishta), which are dispensed with when rituals of worship is completed. The stone-lingas are usually found only in temples, and white quartz or crystal emblem represents Siva in household worship.
But Salagramas are always only those which are naturally found in the river Gandaki; they are never made by man. And Vishnu has iconic images (like the incarnations, emantory and sportive forms; Rama, Krishna, Narasimha, Varaha, Kesava, Vasudeva, Hayagriva, Venkatesa, Ranganatha and so on), made by human sculptors.