Kali Gandaki, also known as Gandaki River, is one of Nepal’s major rivers and a tributary to the Ganges River in India. It is also known as Krishna Gandaki in Nepal.
Gandaki River is an important river for Hindus because of several reasons.
- Here Valmiki Rishi wrote Ramayana, the great epic. Today, the ancient Valmiki Ashram is still in existence and serves as a pilgrimage site.
- This is believed to be the birthplace of Luv (the two sons of Lord Rama and Sita)
- The hermitage is also home to the ‘Falahar’ (eating spot) of Sita.
- It was believed that the Ashwamedh horse was tied here.
- In the epic Mahabharata, it is mentioned as a river
- Its development is described in Shiva Purana and Kumarakhand, as well as in the chapter on the killing of Shankhachuda.
The river’s most notable feature is the Shaligram Shala, a group of smooth, shining, black and egg-like stones found along the banks of Gandaki. These dark Himalayan fossils could be anywhere from 140 to 165 million years old.
These stones, also known as shilas or shivas, are worshiped and revered by Hindus. Saraswati once cursed Lakshmi, transforming her into a tulsi-flower and forcing her to live forever on Earth. Vishnu intervened to modify the curse and said that Lakshmi would live on earth as tulsi until Gandaki flows from her body. He would, in the meantime, remain at the riverside as a stone until he could take her back to his abode. This is why the tulsi plants and shila deities are worshiped together as Vishnu and Lakshmi.
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Every Shaligram piece has its own unique characteristics and is worshiped according to the stone’s shape and markings. Some stones look like Vishnu’s paraphernalia, such as conch, lotus, conch and mace. There are many colors available for Shaligram stones, including red, yellow, green, black, and blue. The most sacred are the yellow, black, and blue varieties. The most auspicious Shaligrams, which are yellow-colored and golden-colored, are thought to be the most fortunate and bestow wealth and prosperity upon its worshipers.
Different shapes of Shaligrams are often associated with different avatars or incarnations of Vishnu. They are believed to bring with them different energies when worshipped, such as:
MatsyaVishnu’s Incarnation in the form of a fish. It grants the worshipper a peaceful environment, austerity, and philanthropy.
Incarnation in Tortoise of Vishnu. He is blessed with great perseverance, strength, will power, patience and wealth.
Incarnation in the Boar of Vishnu. It brings immense protection and eliminates negativity.
Vishnu was incarnated as a half-man and half-lion during the Incarnation. Instills confidence and success in all endeavors.
Vishnu’s Incarnation in the form of a small dwarf. It gives you the strength to defeat all evils and foes.
The society will respect the worshiper of Krishna shaligram with great dignity.
Lord Vishnu is depicted. Brings the sun’s quality – to reign and move with radiant radiance and strength. It is a source of happiness, popularity, and material gain.
This symbol of auspiciousness brings peace and health. Family harmony is enhanced by the worship of the shaligram.
It bestows wealth and good health on the devotee. Man can make a career out of business or service, and he can live happily and avoid loss.
All endeavors are possible when you remove obstacles and achieve success.
It brings eternal peace, has influence over all ten incarnations, and is considered the most powerful Shaligram.
It is a rare Shaligram and the direct representation of Lord Narayana and goddess Lakshmi. It brings wealth, protection, and very good health.
It is a Shaligram that represents Narasimha and goddess Lakshmi. It brings protection, good fortune and peace, as well as all the worldly comforts.
The following mentions Shaligram:
- Lord Krisha is referring to Shaligram’s qualities while giving Yudhisthira discourse.
- Padma Purana says that any home you find a Shaligram is better than any place of pilgrimage.
- Shiva, Skandpuran’s narrator of Shaligram’s importance, has spoken.
- The Prakritik Hand in Brahma Vaivarta Purana says that Vishnu is located wherever Shaligram is found.
- Through his works, particularly in Taittiriya Upanishad, and Brahma Sutras (both from Adi Shankara), Shaligram worship can be traced back to the time when Adi Shankara was writing. This suggests that Shaligram’s use in Vishnu worship is a well-known Hindu practice.
Jagannath Temple is home to the largest and heaviest Shaligram. Karuna Bhavan, the main ISKCON temple located in Scotland, is known for having the largest number outside of India of Shaligram Shilas.
Shaligrams are often hereditary and passed down through many generations. Skanda Purana prohibits the sale and purchase of Shaligram Shilas.