Conch shell or Shankha or Shankh is one of the auspicious things of traditional India. It is an inseparable part of Hinduism and almost all the rituals of this religion.
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I’ll present top 10 information about the significance of conch shell in Hinduism through a set of ten questions and answers in this article.
Why is a conch shell so significant in Hinduism?
From the Vedic period to the present day, the position of a conch shell in a Hindu house or temple is unwavering. So a conch shell is also revered. Apart from that, in ancient times a war was started by playing a conch shell. It is also mentioned in ‘Mahabharata‘. Even today, when there is an earthquake, or a disaster, the sound of conch shells comes from almost every Hindu house or temple. The sound of a conch shell is also essential for happy marriage. The bangles worn by a married Hindu woman is made of a conch shell. According to Hindu scriptures, a conch shell is a symbol of an auspicious musical instrument. The sound of a conch shell brings a good sign in our lives. Hindu deities are worshipped by sounding a conch shell during or at the end of any puja(worship). To accomplish a good deed, the sound of a conch shell is a must. During Nitya Puja (Daily worship), everyone sounds a conch shell.
Why is a conch shell considered so auspicious in Hinduism?
A conch shell is very auspicious in Hinduism. It said that a conch shell is the abode of many deities. During the churning of the cosmic ocean, the conch shell came up from the depth of the ocean. And this conch shell later got a place in the hands of Lord Vishnu. Lord Shiva drank poison in it. It is mentioned in the scriptures that by the suggestion of Lord Vishnu, Chandra Deva, Surya Deva and Varun Deva reside at the base of the conch shell, god Prajapati on its surface and all the sites of pilgrimage like Ganga and Saraswati in its front portion. So, a conch shell is very auspicious to all Hindu devotees.
What does the modern science say about conch shell?
According to Astrology and modern science, the sound of a conch shell increases the effect of auspicious energy. In other words, it destroys all bad energy and establishes good energy in life. When a conch shell is blown, the influence of all evil forces is reduced. As a result, human life is filled with happiness, peace and prosperity. If one blows a conch shell, his/her heart also remains free from danger.
Many researchers say that the sound of a conch shell removes the germs of bacteria in the environment. A powder made from the conch shell is used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine to cure some diseases.
How many types of conch shells are seen in nature?
There are two types of conch shell in nature – left handed conch conch shell and right handed conch shell. Left handed conch shell is destructive in nature and it is called the conch shell of Lord Shiva, the Destroyer; right handed conch is constructive in nature and it is called the conch shell of Lord Vishnu, the Preserver. It is also believed that right handed conch shell fills one’s house with wealth and the blessings of goddess Lakshmi.
Which species of conch shell are found in Indian scriptures and books?
Among many species of conch shell, the names of the following are usually got in different Indian scriptures and books.
Kauri Shankha or conch shell: Kauri conch shell is a small- sized conch shell. In ancient time, Kauri conch shell was used as the currency in barter trade.
Ganesha Shankha or conch shell: It is a large-sized conch shell. Ganesha conch shell is used to honour Lord Ganesha.
Gomukha Shankha or conch shell: This is a ‘conch shell with cow face’. Gomukha conch shell is very auspicious in Hinduism.
Heera (diamond) Shankha or conch shell: This conch shell is found in the mountainous regions.
Moti (pearl) Shankha or conch shell: Moti conch shell looks like a Moti. This conch shell is rarely seen in nature.
Shri Shankha or Shankhini: Shri Shankha or Shankhini is actually a female conch shell. Its surface is rough and thorny.
How is a conch shell associated with Lord Vishnu?
Conch shell is one of the four weapons of Lord Vishnu. These are Shankha (conch shell), Sudarshana Chakra (a divine weapon), Gada (mace) and Padma (lotus). He holds these four things (Shankha, Chakra, Gada and Padma) in his four hands. So he is also called Shankha-Chakra-Gada -Padmadhari. Conch shell is also considered as the symbol of Lord Vishnu. During the churning of the cosmic ocean, conch shell emerged from the ocean and then Lord Vishnu blew it. A conch shell is blown to invoke Lord Vishnu, the consort of Lakshmi, to bring wealth and prosperity. So, a conch shell is closely associated with Lord Vishnu and his incarnation, Lord Krishna.
How to maintain a conch shell in a temple or a house?
A conch shell kept in a house or temple needs to be worshipped two times (morning and evening) regularly. If you want to keep conch shells at home, you should keep at least a pair of conch shells and they should be kept separate. The conch shell that is blown requires regular watering. And it needs to be put on a yellow cloth. Ganges water is the best for cleaning a conch shell. After that it should be wiped off with a white cloth. A conch shell should be kept on an elevated place or altar. It should never be kept on the ground. The conch shell that is worshipped should not be blown. And the conch shell kept for blowing should not be worshipped. A conch shell should not be placed on top of a Shivlinga. In the worship of Shiva and the Surya Deva, water should never be poured through conch shells. The conch shell should be blown three times. Besides, always keep a conch shell facing deities.
How is a conch shell associated with Lord Shiva?
Conch shell is also associated with Lord Shiva. Shankara, another name of Lord Shiva, derived from the words, ‘Shankha'(conch shell) and ‘Kara'(blower). According to Hindu mythology, poison was one of the byproducts during the churning of the cosmic ocean. Lord Shiva drank it in a conch shell to save all humanbeings from destruction. Then his throat turned Neel (blue). So, he was named Neelkantha.
How many types of conch shells were used in the Kurukshetra war?
A large number of mighty warriors took part in the Kurukshetra war. At the beginning of the war, many of these warriors blew conch shells as an ancient Indian tradition of war. We can know about it clearly from the following Bhagavad gita slokas.
“paanchajanyam hrishikeesho devadattam dhananjayaha |
paundryam dadhamau mahaashankam bheemekarmaa vrikodaraha ||Chapter:1, Verse:15 ||
Translation:Hrishikesha (Lord Krishna)blew his conch shell named Paanchajanya, Arjuna blew his conch shell Devadatta, and the fearsome Bheema blew his mighty conch shells named Paundra.
anantavijayam raaja kuntiputrau yudhistiraha |
nakulaha sahadevashcha sughoshamanipushpakau || Chapter:1, Verse:16 ||
Translation:King Yudhishtira, son of Kunti, blew his conch shell named Anantavijayam, Nakula and Sahadeva blew their conch shells named Sughosha and Manipushpaka.
kashyashcha parameshvasaaha shikhandi cha mahaarathaha |
dhristhadyumno viraatashcha saatyakischaparaajiataha ||Chapter:1, Verse:17 ||
Translation:The King of Kashi, a supreme archer, the mighty warriors Shikhandi, Dhristadyumna, King Viraata and Satyaki…..
drupado draupadeyascha sarvashaha pruthiveepate |
saubhadrashcha mahaabaahuh shankhaandadhmuh prithakprithak || Chapter:1, Verse:18 ||
Translation:King Drupada, the sons of Draupadi and Abhimanyu, the mighty armed son of Subhadraa, all blew their respective conch shells, O King.”
What type of conch shell should not be used in houses?
Shri Shankha or Shankhini (female conch shell) should not be used in houses. It does not emit pleasant sound. Shri Shankha or Shankhini (female conch shell) is neither supposed to be blown nor used in the puja (worship) ritual.
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