Salagram kosha
by SK Ramachandra Rao

(typed up by Kirtida Sundari - thanx)

Chapter Two
Legends about Salagrama

There are the following legends concerning the origin of the sacred stones recounted in the Puranas.

Gandaki, a pious lady of undaunted will, performed severe austerities in the Himalayan heights. The strange purpose of her penance was to obtain all the gods as her offsprings. At long last, the austerities were appreciated, and the three principle gods, Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Rudra the destroyer, appeared before her, and asked her to choose a boon that she desired most. Gandaki forthwith expressed the wish that they should be born as her own children in order to make all the people on earth happy and prosperous ('suckham daatum janaanaam').

The Gods, however, demurred. How could the immortal gods be born as offsprings of a human mother? It was unthinking of this ambitious woman, who little understood the nature of gods. The three principal gods pleaded with her that she should not press for this unreasonable and impossible boon; and asked her to express some other desire of hers which they would satisfy.

But Gandaki insisted that her only wish was to have these gods as her children. When the gods flatly refused to grant this boon, she became indignant and cursed them to become lowly worms ('kita-yonim prapadyeyaah'). The gods thereupon got angry and cursed her to become a dark and inert river on earth. She had thoughtlessly cursed the very gods who were pleased with her peanances and had appeared only to grant her desires; she was most unreasonable in her demands and was unworthy of human  form.

This curse laid by the woman and the counter-curse by the three principal gods naturally sent strong waves of concern among the gods. The woman had acquired great and occult power owing to the penances that she had performed, and her curse would not go in vain. And the curse of the three great gods would certainly bear fruit. She would become a river, and all the gods would become lowly worms ! There was unprecedented consternation ('mahaan kolaahalah') among the celestial denizens, whose glory and might would soon be lost irrevocably.

They all rushed to Brahma, the creator, and begged him to intervene and prevent the catestrophe ('brahman traahi mahaa-shapaadanyonya-patitaad krudhaa'). Brahma, unable to think of a solution, took them to Rudra. Rudra, however, told them; "Brahma is only creator, and I am but a destroyer. Help can come from neither of us. It is Vishnu who is the preserver; to protect us from misfortune would therefore be his task. Let us then approach Vishnu".

When the gods headed by Rudra and Brahma approached Vishnu for a solution, the resourceful god reassured them; "I do have a solution. The curse cannot be undone; they have to run their course. But there is a plan whereby the curse and the counter-curse can be pressed for the good of mankind, whose welfare must be the chief concern of all the gods. Our curse on Gandaki has already taken shape. She has become a river, rendered holy by her austerities, in the Himalayan region. Two of my attendant-devotees, the holy brahmanas, have had to assume the forms of marine monsters ('graha-matangau'), owning to some curse. I will liberate their spirits and enter their cadaver (kalevara). When their corpses decay and shrivel, you gods can become  worms born out of the bone-marrow and fat of the withering cadaver, and enter into the stoney parts of the cadaver. Although worms, you willhave admantine bodies, and hence you will be known as 'vajra-kita'. I will immerse the cadaver of marine monsters, into which I would have entered, in the river Gandaki. And when  you appear as worms inside the cadaverous recesses, you would be regarded as the offsprings of the river Gandali. Thus Gandaki's curse that you should be born as worms would come true; and she would also have the satisfaction of having you as her children, for this was the boon that she asked for"

Vishnu indicated also the precise spot where this drama would be enacted. The river Gandaki began flowing ten yojanas (80 miles) distant on the southern side of the Himalayan mountains. There was a part of this river known as Chakra-tirtha, which was especially holy and dear to the  gods. The cadavers of Vishnu's attendant - devotees would be placed here, and the gods would appear as Vajra-kitas in them. Vishnu himself would appear as a disc (chakra) in Dvaaravati, and mingle with the gods in the river Gandaki. A bath in this spot, and worship of the fossilized gods inscribed with the mark of Vishnu's discus would make for instant emancipation.

Thus the Salagram stones were formed out of the cadaverous fossils, inhabited by the gods as worms (vajra-kita) and by Vishnu in the form of discus (chakra). This legend occurs in the 'Asura-khanda' section of the Skanda purana.






Thus ends Chapter Two:

Chapter One - What are Salagrams 1- 26

Chapter Three - Vishnu and His Forms
Chapter Four - Details of Shaalagraama page 107 - 136.
Chapter Five - Identification of Shaalagraama pages 137 - 174.

Salagram Kosha  - SK Ramachandra Rao. 1996. Kalpatharu Research Academy, Bangalore India.

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