shalagrama
   The shalagrama is a small stone sacred object, usually three or four inches across with several holes, used by devotees of VISHNU in their home worship. It is made of black ammonite, from Mount Gandaki in Nepal. A story in the BHAGA-VATA PURANA (c. 1200 C.E.) explains why this black stone is used for worship; another account is in the TULSIDAS Ramcharitmanas (c. 1600 C.E.).
   In the worship, water is dripped on the stone and collected beneath. The water is later drunk by the worshipper. Sometimes the shalagrama is shown to dying persons to ensure that they go to Vishnu’s heaven Vaikuntha, as it is seen to have sacred power.
   Further reading: Abee J. Dubois, A. Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies. Translated and edited by Henry K. Beauchamp, 3d ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959); W. J. Wilkins, Hindu Mythology, Vedic and Puranic, 2d ed. (Calcutta: Rupa, 1973).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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