Table of Content What are Conch Shells?History of the Conch ShellSymbolism and MeaningConch’s Link with Hindu Deities The Om SoundThe Conch and FertilityThe conch in BuddhismScientific Theories Involving the Conch ShellThe Conch Shell in AyurvedaOther Uses of the Conch ShellThe Conch Shell in JewelryWhat do conch shells mean in Buddhism and Hinduism?Is a conch shell a seashell?Is it Okay to keep a conch shell at home?How do you blow a conch shell (shankh)?
Table of Content
What are Conch Shells?
History of the Conch Shell
Symbolism and Meaning
Conch’s Link with Hindu Deities
The Om Sound
The Conch and Fertility
The conch in Buddhism
Scientific Theories Involving the Conch Shell
The Conch Shell in Ayurveda
Other Uses of the Conch Shell
The Conch Shell in Jewelry
What do conch shells mean in Buddhism and Hinduism?
Is a conch shell a seashell?
Is it Okay to keep a conch shell at home?
How do you blow a conch shell (shankh)?
Conch shells are
beautiful objects from the sea, known for their distinctive pink color. While
conch pearls and shell are popular in jewellery and decorative items, the shell
itself is a significant symbol in many cultures and religions. Let’s take a
look at why the conch shell is considered important and what makes it unique.
Conches are a species
of extremely large mollusc which belong to the Strombidae family. They’re
considered ‘shy’ creatures since they usually come out during the night to feed
and spend the day buried deep in the sand. If the lip of the conch shell is
well flared, it means that the shell is fully developed. The conch uses the lip
of its shell to dig itself into the seabed where it usually stays and hides.
The meat of the conch is a great source of nutrition since it contains a high
amount of protein and the shell is much coveted around the world. Conch shells
also produce pearls, but these are extremely rare and very expensive. The
surface of a conch shell is hard, shiny and translucent, rather like porcelain.
The shape of the shell is oblong and similar to that of a cone, with a bulge in
the middle and tapering at the ends. Just like all normal snail shells, the
interior of the conch is hollow. The shiny, soft, white conch with the pointed
ends is heavier than the others, and is the most desired and sought after.
10" Mahishasur-Mardini Conch In Brass | Handmade | Made In India
The history of conch
shells dates far back to about 65 million years ago. There’s also evidence that
3,000 years ago they were used by people as cooking pots, hooks, knives and
pendants in various parts of the world. In India, the conch was first mentioned
as the ‘shankha’ in the Atharvaveda (an ancient religious text) around 1000
BCE. It’s also stated in the Mahabharata that Lord Krishna blew a conch shell
when announcing the start and the end of battles. After this, the conch shell
became a commonly used sacred item. Conch shells was used as war trumpets and it’s
still used as a trumpet to sound off in almost all Hindu rituals.
The conch is also an
important feature in Buddhist culture. It’s often seen in certain rituals and
marriage ceremonies not only in India but also in Pacific Island countries as
well as in Southern Asia and South America.
There are many
interpretations of the conch shell, depending on the type of shell.
Left-turning conch shells have been used by Hindus as objects of prayer and
vessels to hold holy water. The right-turning conch, which are typically white
in color, is sacred to the Hindus and Buddhists as it symbolizes the Dharma,
the teachings of Lord Buddha. Since the conch is seen as a symbol of purity,
many Hindu households have one. These are kept very carefully, usually placed
on a clean, red cloth or in a clay or silver pot. Some people keep water in the
conch, which is sprinkled when performing religious rituals, much like how a
Catholic priest would sprinkle holy water.
According to Hindu
mythology, the conch shell is a revered and sacred emblem of the Hindu god
Vishnu, known as the Preserver. When blown, the sound heard from the conch
shell is said to be symbolic of the sacred ‘Om’ sound and Vishnu, who’s always
portrayed holding it in his right hand, is the god of sound. The shell also
represents the home of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth who was also the consort
of Lord Vishnu.
The sound that’s heard
from the conch shell is said to be symbolic of the sacred ‘Om’ sound which is
believed to be the very first sound of creation. This is why the conch is blown
before any ritual or ceremony since it represents good luck and marks the start
of any positive or auspicious work. Even today it’s believed that when the
conch shell is blown, the environment around it will be purified from all evil
and good fortune will enter. Though many comprehend sound as merely something
to be heard, its mechanism is a little more complex. Sound is made up of
vibrations. These vibrations are produced from a source, travel through the
air, and then are picked up by the ear before being interpreted by the brain,
which assigns them some value. The number of vibrations per second is known as
frequency. Because all matter is composed of atomic material, which is in
constant motion, everything and everyone vibrates on some frequency. The word
Om is defined by Hindu scripture as being the primordial sound of creation. It
is the original vibration of the universe. From this first vibration, all other
vibrations are able to manifest.
The conch shell is a
symbol of water associated with female fertility since water is a symbol of
fertility and the shell is aquatic. Some say that it resembles a vulva, making
it an important part of Tantric rites.
In Buddhism, the conch
is said to be one of the 8 auspicious symbols (known as the Ashtamangala). It
represents the melodious voice of the Buddha. Even today in Tibet, it’s used
for religious gatherings, as a musical instrument and a container to hold holy
water during rituals. Devotees believe that blowing it can enhance the positive
vibrations of the mind such as hope, optimism, willpower, and courage.
Aside from the
religious and mythological aspects of the conch shell, its significance can
also be verified by science. If you try holding a conch shell to your ear, you
can clearly hear the sound of the ocean waves humming gently. The sound you
hear is the vibration of the Earth’s cosmic energy which is magnified once it
enters the shell.
The conch shell is
popularly used in powder form as an ayurvedic treatment for stomach problems.
This is done by soaking the conch in lime juice and heating it to extremely
high temperatures in oxygen or air around 10 or 12 times, before it’s reduced
to powder ash. The ash, known as ‘shankha bhasma’ in Sanskrit, contains iron,
calcium and magnesium and is also said to have digestive and antacid
Here are some of the
most popular uses for conch shells in different countries.
Conch shells are used
in Mayan art as paint or ink holders.
In some cultures, like
in Papua New Guinea, conch shells have been used as a type of shell money to
purchase goods. The Japanese use the conch as a type of trumpet in special
ceremonies like royal cremations. In Grenada the conch was blown to announce to
the public that fish was available for sale. As is obvious, the conch is highly
popular and used all over the world for various reasons. However, it’s only in
Hinduism and Buddhism that the shell is held so dearly and highly revered as a
positive, religious symbol.
Nowadays, shell jewelry
is a craft on its own and there are numerous types of jewelry made from all
kinds of shells. The conch shell is one of the most popular materials used for
making bracelets, bangles and other jewelry designs and is in high demand due
to its natural and unique look. People wear all types of conch shell jewelry
for luck, prosperity, wealth or sometimes just as a fashion trend.
Conch pearls are known
for their pink color and unique patterns. They’re highly luxurious products and
are often seen in big brand collections. Because conch pearls haven’t been
successfully cultured, the only conch pearls on the market are those found
naturally. Hence, these pearls are extremely rare and expensive.
The conch shell
(Sanskrit shankha; Tibetan dung dkar) has survived as the original horn trumpet
since time immemorial. Ancient Indian epics describe how each hero of mythical
warfare carried a mighty white conch shell, which often bore a personal name. It
is one of the main emblems of Vishnu, and his conch bears the name of
Panchajanya, meaning 'having control over the five classes of beings.' Arjuna's
(hero of the Mahabharata) mighty conch was known as Devadatta, whose triumphant
blast brought terror to the enemy. As a proclaiming battle horn, the conch is
akin to the bugle. It is an emblem of power, authority and sovereignty whose
blast is believed to banish evil spirits, avert natural disasters, and scare
away poisonous creatures.
An important Buddhist
symbol, conch shells are often used to call assemblies together. The white
conch shell symbolizes the popularity of the Buddhist teachings spreading
around the world, much like the loud sound of the conch shell. Today, in its
greatly tamed avatar, the conch is used in Tibetan Buddhism to call together
religious assemblies. During the actual practise of rituals, it is used both as
a musical instrument and as a container for holy water.
Ancient Indian belief
classifies the conch into male and female varieties. The thicker-shelled
bulbous one is thought to be the male (purusha), and the thin-shelled slender
conch to be the female (shankhini).
The fourfold division
is also applied as follows:
Additionally, there is
a fundamental classification of conch shells occurring in nature: those that
turn to the left and those which turn to the right. Shells which spiral to the
right in a clockwise direction are a rarity and are considered especially
sacred. The right-spiralling movement of such a conch is believed to echo the
celestial motion of the sun, moon, planets and stars across the heavens. The
hair whorls on Buddha's head spiral to the right, as do his fine body hairs,
the long curl between his eyebrows (urna), and also the conch-like swirl of his navel.
absorbed the conch as a symbol which fearlessly proclaimed the truth of the
dharma. Among the eight symbols, it stands for the fame of the Buddha's
teaching, which spreads in all directions like the sound of the conch trumpet.
In addition to Buddha's
throat, the conch also appears as an auspicious mark on the soles, palms,
limbs, breast or forehead of a divinely endowed being.
Because of the
association of the shankha with water, nagas are often named after the shankha.
The list of Nāgas in the Mahabharata, the Harivamsha and the Bhagavat Purana
includes names like Shankha, Mahashankha, Shankhapala and Shankachuda. The last
two are also mentioned in the Buddhist Jataka Tales and the Jimutavahana. A
legend states that while using Shankha as part of meditative ritual, a sadhu
blew his shankha in the forest of village Keoli and a snake crept out of it. The
snake directed the sadhu that he should be worshipped as Nāga Devata (Serpent
God) and since then it has been known as Shanku Naga. Similar legends are
narrated at many other places in Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh.
Yes, a conch is a type
of seashell that ranges from medium to large sizes. It’s much more elaborate
than most other seashells and is known for its beautiful color, large size and
There’s no reason not to
keep a conch shell at home. Many people have them as decorative items while
others keep them for religious or spiritual reasons. Right-handed conch shells
are considered auspicious to have at home and are believed to bring in good
fortune and wealth.
Blowing a conch shell
takes skill and practice. It can be a difficult instrument to blow. The buzzing
sound made from a person's lips gets amplified by the conch shell, much like a
Takeaways 1. The Shankha or conch shell is a sacred symbol in
Hinduism, and is used in various religious rituals and ceremonies. 2. The Shankha is believed to have originated from the
churning of the ocean in Hindu mythology. 3. It is also associated with Lord Vishnu and is one
of his primary weapons, and is often depicted in his hands. 4. The Shankha has various medicinal and therapeutic
properties, and is used in Ayurvedic medicine. 5. It is also believed to have purifying properties
and is used to purify spaces and objects during religious ceremonies. 6. The different types of Shankha and their specific
characteristics and uses are discussed in the blog.
Your email address will not be published *
Email a Friend