According to my parents, Shalagrama worship is forbidden to non-Brahmins. Is this true? There is also a possibility that people who are not initiated with the Yajnopavita are forbidden to worship Shalagrama since only Brahmins in Bengal initiate.
No. It is not forbidden.
The importance of Gandaki river is explained in chapter 20 of Patala Khanda of Padma Purana. In that chapter, the importance of śālagrāma is also said.
The disc born (i.e. found) in Dvaravati and the stone born (i.e. found) in Gandaki, destroy in a moment men's sins earned during a hundred existences. Even if a man would have committed a thousand sins, he would be purified by drinking the water of (i.e. flowing from) a śālagrāma.
ब्राह्मणः क्षत्रियो वैश्यः शूद्रो वेदपतिस्तथा ।
शालग्रामं पूजयित्वा गृहस्थो मोक्षमाप्नुयात् ॥
A brahmana, ksatriya, vaiśya or śudra householder, who is on the path of the Vedas (i.e. behaves according to the Vedic injunctions), would obtain salvation on worshipping a śālagrāma.
However, the worship of śālagrāma is mostly done by those who have a tradition of worship among them. We should be of good conduct and very pious while worshipping a śālagrāma because it is considered form of Lord Viṣṇu.
Yes, it is forbidden to Shudras according to Varaha Purana.
Varaha Purana in Chapter 186 says that Shudras cannot worship the Salagrama directly by themselves.
All deities can be worshiped in idols by people of all castes. Crystal lingas can also be done similarly.
But a Salagrama should not be touched by men of inferior caste or by women and Sudras.
If a woman or Sudra touches it even out of curiosity, the result will be torment in hell till deluge.
But if a woman or Sudra has devotion (for me through the Salagrama), then worship may be got performed by others without oneself touching it. The drinking of that water (used for worship) removes all sins.
It says if a Shudra or woman (including Brahmin woman) has devotion to worship Varaha (indirectly refers to Vishnu here) through Salagrama, the worship needs to be performed by others (Others may denote men from upper castes) without touching it.
Yes, its forbidden. Because
Shaligrama has to be bathed by the Purusha Sukta mantra : Sahasrasirshaah purusah etc which is a veda mantra. So it is restricted to the brahmins only (as nonbrahmins do not get upanayana these days).
As per Tantra, By Chanting OM, performing homa, saligrama worship, and having sex with a brahmin female, a sudra becomes a chandala.
The mantra of offering tulasi to Shalgram is: Idang sachandana-tulasipatrang namaste vahuroopaya vishnave paramatmane swaha-- Swaha can be uttered only by the trivarnas as sudras are not allowed to do homa.
As shown already in another post, the Varaha Purana is also of the same opinion that its meant only for the brahmin males (who perform sandhyavandana regularly).
- The sloka quoted in another answer from the Padma Purana lacks clarity. Our smritis dont give the sudras any authority to do any pujas.They are to serve the three varnas alone and are not required or authorised to follow any vedic rituals. So what is meant by a Vedapati Sudra? To me the word has no meaning. And 'Pujayitwa' means just worshipping.Worshipping can be done from a distance also without touching the sila at all. But for Salgram, regular bathing wiping and tulasi giving on both sides are essential.
Its said that even if Lord Brahma says something illogical, that has to be discarded. So unless we throw away the Varnashrama system upheld by the smritis, we cant say that Saligram can be touched by all.
I do admit that those who have obtained real love of God are not bound by any scriptural orders. Some women saints worshipped Salgram.Exceptions prove the rule.
Some Vaishnava Babajis convert nonbrahmins to brahmins by initiation, mala and tilaka and call them daikshya brahmins.These babajis have the rules and regulations of their own sect. Smarta pundits do not give recogntion to these rules and do not accept these daikshya brahmins. But they as a sect has every right to follow their own rules. There is evidence that Sri Krishna Himself did recognise birth based varna system though.
So, my answer should be stated as; yes, non-brahmins and non-babajis are forbidden.
(References:1. Ma-kar baba, Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath,Omkarnath Rachanavali, vol 7, 3rd ed, page 94 2. Vishddha Nityakarma Paddhati)