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Different forms of Lord and identification

Each shligrama represents a specific form of Lord. There are guidelines to identify the form of Lord present in the stone. They physical characteristics of the stones indicates the specific form.  The different forms of shaligramas and their attributes are defined and recorded in many puranas (padma, skanda, narasimha, varaha, brahmavaivartaka etc). Shaligramas have a unique circular marking on or inside them. They appear like hollow objects with 1 or more openings and circular marks (called chakras) inside them.  The number of chakras, opening, color and the markings on them indicate the form.

Attributes to consider in identification

Shaligramas occur in many sizes, shapes, colors and texture. All these attributes put together along with the markings, no of opening, type of opening, number of chakras, type of chakras and position of chakra determines a specific form of Lord.

Each shaligrama can or give specific benefit (phala) to the worshipper. If worshipped without any expectation (nishkAma), it can give both, the specific benefit and help us in liberation (moksha marga). Worshiping the shaligrama with the knowledge of His specific form is more beneficial. However, as there are innumerable forms of Lord, some of the stones identification may not be possible.

chakra types marks

There is a well-defined procedure for worship. Some of the shaligramas have restrictions in worship. Few forms require celibacy in order to worship them. Some of them should be worshiped in a temple rather than a house. An even, black, smooth, small or medium size one with or without a vanamala will be a safe bet. Most of the narasimha shaligramas require celibacy for worship and they can be easily identified. Avoid the ones that are big in size, tawny (muddy) colored. However there are some pleasant ones even with those attributes but one should know what type he is.

There is an age old custom of engraving different avatars of Lord on the shaligramas. In the past, the carvings were done on the broken shaligramas (sudarshan) and the intact shaligramas were worshiped as is. In the recent years people tend to carve on intact shaligramas as well.

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