Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sacred Saligramam ( Saligrama )

If you ever happened to have a look inside a Vaishnavite's Pooja room, you might have had a glimpse of a black stone called Saligramam being worshipped. It is usually black in color with the symbol of sudarshana chakra. The chakras can be seen both outside and inside. The Saligrama stone is not believed to be just another stone found in the nature. It is found only at Gandaki River situated high in the Himalayas in Nepal. It is believed that the chakra symbols are formed by river worms called Vajra Keeta. It is believed that these worms drill the stones, get inside and use the stones a dwelling place.
There is a legend behind the origin of Saligramam. Once upon a time, Lord Siva was waging a war with an asura called Jallundhara. The war seemed to be between two equals and not just another war of a God with a demon. It was in fact a test of chastity of their consorts. (It is a Hindu belief that chastity of the wife protects her husband even from death) Lord Siva knew that unless the chastity of Vrinda, Jallundhara's wife is spoiled, he cannot be killed as he will be protected by the power of her chastity. But it was against the nature of Gods to indulge in a heinous act like spoiling a woman's chastity.

But there was no such taboo for the demon Jallundhara. He thought that by spoiling the chastity of Goddess Parvati he could defeat Lord Siva. But Goddess Parvati could see through Jallundhara's trick and ended his guise. She signaled Lord Krishna (Avatara of Lord Vishnu) that it was now just to spoil the chastity of Jallundhara's wife and it will not be a sin. Lord Krishna approached Vrinda in the guise of Jallundhana. She could not understand that it is not her husband and lost her chastity.

Later when she came to know about this, she cursed Lord Vishnu to turn into grass, stone, tree and plant. It is believed that Kusha-grass, Saligram-stone, Pipal-tree and Tulsi-plant are incarnations of Lord Vishnu and worshipped henceforth. (There is another version of the story for the origin of Tulsi and Saligrama shila which will be posted later.)

Padma purana states that resident of a salagrama is Lord Kesava himself and along with him reside all the devatas, asuaras, yaksas and the fourteen worlds. Hence, giving a salagrama, is the best form of charity. It also states that Lord Siva himself stays in the salagrama sila and hence worshipping it is of importance to both Vaishnavites and Saivites. Even if a salagrama is cracked, split, or broken it will have no harmful effect if it is worshiped with attention and love by a devotee. Gautamiya Tantra states that merely by touching a shalagrama one becomes freed from the sins of millions of births. In Skanda purana, it is said that that any person who has seen salagrama stone, paid obeisances to it, bathed and worshipped it, has achieved the results of performing ten million sacrifices and giving ten million cows in charity. According to Garuda Purana, The Lord resides in many places in which he may be worshipped, but of all the places Salagrama is the best.


  1. Very interesting. In Chennai there is a place called Saligramam. Are any of these legends pertinent to the naming of that area, I wonder...

  2. that was very interesting.. in fact, there is a temple near kumbakonam where shiva is said to have killed is one of the ashtha veeratta sthalams and you can read about it here..

  3. @Jennifer: I was also wondering whether Saligramam in Chennai had to do anything with the worship of saligrama shila. But I could not find find anything relevant on the internet. I hope someone reading this blog might post the answer to it. Saligrama stones are worshipped in many temples. So I guess there could have been such a temple at Saligramam too.

    @Anu: Thanks for the input. Your blog is very interesting and informative. It makes a huge impact if one knows the legends about the temples before a visit. I wonder if Tulsi is Brinda or Lord Vishnu himself. According to another story it is Goddess Lakshmi.

  4. Excellent tutorials. The best so far i have seen related to Saligrama. Even i got one, when i went there. Please take a look at the picture::

    I have more pics here::

  5. Hey Guys,
    I dont mean to question any of this from a religious standpoint. But, Saligrams are not stones but fossils. They are the remains of a sea creature called ammonites. Like crabs they have a calcium cell that hardens after being fossilized. They lived under the sea 160 million years ago. They are now found in the Himalayas because the sea bed they died in, rose to form the mountains when the indian land mass merged with asia. These fossils can be found in other parts of the world too, but under the sea instead of rivers.

  6. @ragdogs: Saligramas are NOT fossils, they are STONES. There are different saligramas of different gods with distinct symbols on them like the one with sudharshan chakra is of lord vishnu, one with horse hoof is of lord hayagreeva, one with linga is of lord shiva etc.

    From wikipedia, "Ammonites (/ˈæmənaɪts/) are an extinct group of marine invertebrate animals in the subclass Ammonoidea of the class Cephalopoda. These molluscs are more closely related to living coleoids (i.e. octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish) than they are to shelled nautiloids such as the living Nautilus species.

    Ammonites are excellent index fossils, and it is often possible to link the rock layer in which they are found to specific geological time periods. Their fossil shells usually take the form of planispirals, although there were some helically-spiraled and non-spiraled forms (known as heteromorphs)."

    Note the usage, "shells". They may completely of spirals and helicals, not the parts or impressions on any. I have seen around 13 different saligramas of gods in different temples on special requests to there priests; told all they got from himalayas.

  7. Tulasi is not Vishnu but its Godess Lakshmi. That is the reason we do marriage of Tulasi and GooseBerry (Usiri) after diwali.

  8. Happy to read history about Saligram

  9. Paleontologists say that Saligramam is ammonite fossil. Ammonite was a prehistoric sea-creature. :-)

  10. Can any one tell me where saligramams would be available to purchase in Chennai please?

    1. Pl visitthe web site"

  11. I believe that along with touching or seeing or worshiping saligramam one should have i UN-shakable faith in lord Vishnu, who's name means the one who pervades the entire worlds.That is to say we should Love all and serve all then by mere touching or seeing or worshiping a saligramam will bestow everything that is said about It.

  12. Sounds Interesting... It is very informative and I Like this Post....

    Shaligram Shilas