Shaligram Shila is considered the very form of Lord Vishnu and is worshipped in homes
1. Shaligram Shila
Shaligram Shila is considered the very form of Lord Vishnu and is worshipped in homes. They are formed naturally (self manifest) and are sourced from the place called Shaligram which is located at about 60 kilometres from Kathmandu in Nepal on the banks of Gandaki River. A Sanskrit verse says those homes that do not have Shaligram Shila are equal to smashan or crematory grounds, thus attesting the importance of Shaligram Shila.
2. What you must know regarding Shaligram Shilas
It is enough if you have one Shaligram Shila at home. If you have a few, then it is good to donate them to others. If you choose having more than one at home, then have in odd numbers (but never three). In such cases, do regular puja to one Shila and just do offering alone to the others. A home having 12 Shaligram Shilas or more is considered as a Divya Desam where Lord Vishnu has manifested. Black hued ones are preferred for worshipping at homes and red ones are to be worshipped only at temples by priests.
3. Who can worship Shaligram Shila
People who are initiated into the Vishnu Mantra are called Vaishnavas. Once initiated thus, people become qualified to worship Shaligram Shila irrespective of their gender and caste.
4. Useful points to bear in mind
Nitya Aradhana or daily puja is to be performed to Shaligram Shila under any circumstances whatsoever. Though the puja procedure can be simple one, it is important that puja and offerings are made to the Shila without a break. If you are in a hurry, at least spend a few minutes chanting the two Slokas prescribed and making a simple offering. If this is not possible, then the ladies or children of the home can sit in front of the Shila, chant and slokas and make the offering.
5. Is an elaborate puja must to worship the Shila ?
Though there are several elaborate procedures advocated for Shialigram Shila Puja, you might follow the one that is very simple. After all, the most important ones in this regard are your devotion, sincerity, faith and love for God. A simple mantra imbued with love can address the divine better than an expensive puja spending lot of time, effort and money.
6. Shaligram Shila Dhyan Slokas
dhyAyAmi Devam Lakshmisam Shankha-chakra-gadhAdharam PeethAmBara paridhAnam Padhmasannibha lochanam Mandasmitha mukhAmbhojam madhanAyutha Sundaram MaayAnirmitha lokaougam megasyAmala vigraham Sri LakshmI NaarAyaNam dhyAyAmi.
7. Shaligram Shila Dhyan Slokas
NamO NamasthE KaruNAlaya NamO NamasthE KamalAdhavAya NamO NamasthE JagathAm cha srashtrE namO namasthE nathsOka harthrE ThrAhi maam KaruNAsindhO ! Paahi maam KamalApathE! Thvayi bhakthi: sadhaivAsthu mama sarvArTadhAyini (Om) NamO NaarAyaNa ….Subhamasthu.
8. The simple puja procedure
Take holy bath in the morning. Clean the altar. Light the lamp. Begin the puja by chanting the two Dhyan Shlokas. Chant Om Namo Narayanaya mantra accompanied by a holy bath to the shila with milk. Wash the shila with pure water. Decorate it as you please and offer the Nivedan. Offering could be milk rice, raw rice mixed with ghee or anything you will prefer. At times, even pure water will do. Conclude the puja with the waving of camphor flame. Prostrate before the Shila and partake the Prasad.