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Identification of Shaligram

Wherever Shaligram is kept Lord Vishnu lives there along with Goddess Laxmi. The umbrella shape Shaligram has power to give kingdom and the one having elliptical shape gives lots of wealth. Shaligram purifies a person and gives success in all walks of life. The benefits that one get by reading all the Vedas and doing penace (tapasya) is obtained by a person who worships Shaligram. The one who does Abhishek of Shaligram with water gets lots of benefits and happiness. It is said that if a dying person is given the water of Shaligram then he is purified from all the sins committed by him and goes to Vishnu Lok and get Nirvan.

From different puranas that in former days Shalagrams were divided into 24 varieties, their names according to the Skandapurana being as follows: Keshava, Madhusudana, Shankarshan, Daamodara, Vaasudeva, Pradyumna, Vishnu, Maadhava, Ananta, Purushottama, Adhokshaja, Janaardan , Govinda, Trivikrama, Shridhar, Hrishikesha, Nrisimha, Vishvayoni, Vaamana, Naaraayana, Pundarikaaksh, Upendra, Hari, Krishna. (Skanda Purana, Nagarckhanda, 244. 3-9)

In the Brahmavaivarattapurana (Prakrtikhanda, chapter21.) we get the following description of the different varieties of Shaligrams:
1. Lakshminarayana : In colour he resembles a new cloud and has a single opening marked with four circular prints. A linear mark resembling a vanamala (a particular kind of garland held by Lord Vishnu, or series of forests) is also printed on his body.
2. Lakshmijanaardan: The above type without the mark of vanamala.
3. Raghunatha: He has two openings with any mark of vanamala. his body also is marked with the footprint of a cow, but not with any mark of vanamala.
4. Dadhivamana: Very small in size with two circular marks, and having the colour of a new cloud.
5. Shridhar : The above type with an additional mark of vanamala.
6. Daamodara : Big in size with a round shape and two circular marks, but not having the mark of vanamala.
7. Ranarama : round and middle in shape with prints of arrows all over hid body. He must have two circular marks and prints of a quiver with arrows on his body.
8. Rajarajeshwara : Middle in size, having seven circular marks and also the marks of an umbrella and grass (or quiver) on his body.
9. Ananta : Big in size with the colour of a new cloud and having 14 circular marks on his body. 10. Madhusudhan : Round in shape, middle in size and charming to look at. He has two circular marks and a footprint of a cow on his body.
11. Sudarshan : With single circular mark.
12. Gadadhara: With a hidden circular mark.
13. Hayagriva : with two circular marks and having the shape of the face of a horse.
14. Narsimha : having a large opening with two circular marks, and glittering to look at.
15. Laxminarsimha : Having a big opening with two circular marks, and also marked with a vanamala.
16. Vaasudeva : Evenly shaped and charming to look at, having two circular marks at the front of his opening.
17. Pradyumna : with the colour of a new cloud, and having a small circular mark and several small holes on his body.
18. Shankarshan : He has two circular marks joined with each other on the top side o his body.
19. Aniriddha: Round in shape, glaced and charming to look at, and having the yellowish or black colour.

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