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Shankha

General

The word Shankha comes from the two Sanskrit words Shum which means something good and Kham meaning water. So Shanka means a conch shell containing holy water. The Latin name of Shankha is Turbinella Pyrum. As per geology, Shankhas are specimens of marine fossil remains of the large gastropods.

Mythology

In Indian mythology, a shankha is regarded to be very auspicious. It is blown to initiate religious ceremonies. The resonance of the shankha after blowing is considered to be a divine sound. The Shankha used in Vedic Puja has smooth contours and three horizontal lines at the inside center of the opening. It is believed to combat negative energy and evil spirits.

Mythology traces the conch to the great ocean-churning or Ksheera Sagara samudra manthan. It is regarded as the brother of Goddess Lakshmi, the ruler of wealth.

In India, a Shankha is one of the five classical musical instruments known as the pancha-vadyas.

In Buddhism, it is one of the eight auspicious signs known as Ashta mangala. Blowing of the conch signifies victory over suffering. In Chinese Buddhism, the conch shell signifies a prosperous journey. In Tibetan Buddhism it is known as Tung. In Islam it represents the hearing of the divine word. In Christianity, the shankha earlier symbolized a pilgrimage. Later on, it symbolized resurrection and baptism. In Greek mythology, Triton the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite, is depicted using a trumpet made from a shankha which he used to raise or calm storms.

In India every Bengali household has a shankha placed near the deity in their place of worship. It is blown before ritualistic worship and also while performing aartis. It is also used to sprinkle holy water over devotees, to elevate their mind to the highest truth. During, weddings, it is blown loudly to drive away evil spirits.

Scientific significance

The significance of shankha can be corroborated by science. If you try holding a shankha near your ear, a humming sound can be heard. This is actually the natural vibration or cosmic energy of the earth which gets magnified on entering the conch shell. The vibrations from these conch shells can overpower evil forces from the Earth, clear environmental pollution, and can close the hole in the ozone layer which results in global warming.

Dakshinavarti Shankha

Dakshinavarti Shankha
  • Dakshinavarti Shankha
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The shankhas with right-ward convolution and that open towards the right hand are called Dakshinavarti or Turbinella pyrum Sinistral. In Tamil they are known as valam-puri. These shankhas are rare and are available in white color with brown lines on them that run towards the right or South. The right handed conch bestows prosperity when worshipped. It is placed on a red cloth and worshipped with white sandalwood mixed with camphor and saffron, flowers, rice, incense, and light. The conch can be worshipped as Vishnu and Lakshmi and helps to solve financial problems

This shankha also represents Lord Kubera (God of wealth and prosperity. The sizes differ and can be from the size of a wheat grain to as large as a coconut. Dakshinavarti shankhas are found in the deep seas and are very rare. Dakshinavarti Shanka is available in four sizes viz. tiny, small, medium and large.

It is considered to be very auspicious when kept at any sacred place, or the place of worship, or the locker in the house. It should be kept after being wrapped in a white cloth. This shankha is said to bring good luck and prosperity to the individual and his family. It is the symbol of Goddess Lakshmi and is said to remove sorrow and give intelligence, success, and worldly freedom. Its piousness equals the blessings of the earthly incarnation of Vishnu or Lakshmi themselves. Dakshinavarti shankhas not only bring wealth, but also purify the atmosphere. All the negatives energies are swept out of the place.
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