‘Shankh’ is of greater importance in Hinduism and Buddhism. In Hinduism the ‘Shankh’ is dedicated to Lord ‘Vishnu’. ‘Shankh’ is highly praised in Hindu scriptures as a giver of fame and prosperity. ‘Shankh’ is of two types one is for blow sound and other for the worship purpose. The daily blowing of the ‘shankh’ does save the person from the heart diseases.
Importance of conch (shankh) as per scriptures
First of all let us see the importance of shankh. According to our ancient scriptures that is Puranas, the shankh was originated during the Churning of ocean by the Deities and Lord Vishnu held it in the form of weapon. As per a holy verse which is regularly chanted during the Pooja ritual it is mentioned that by the command of Lord Vishnu the deities Moon, Sun and Varun are stationed at the base of the shankh, the deity Prajapati on its surface and all the places of pilgrimage like Ganga and Saraswati in its front portion. Yet another specialty of shankh is that the vibrations emanating on blowing it destroys the disease causing germs in the atmosphere. That is the reason it has a important place in Ayurved and medicine.
Blowing of Shankh in Pooja ritual
The shankh is used in two ways in a pooja ritual. One for blowing before the start of ritual & the other for pooja ritual. The shankh which is used for blowing should not be kept for pooja. Blowing of shankh has special significance in pooja ritual. It has been mentioned in ‘Varaha Puran’ that one should not open the door of temple without first blowing the shankh. The left sided shankh is blown before the start of pooja or performance of arti. There are three types of frequencies in the atmosphere namely sattva dominant, raja dominant and tama dominant. Among them the raja dominant and tama dominant frequencies generate distressing vibrations. The sattva dominant frequencies get attracted to the place of pooja ritual but these frequencies are opposed by the raja and tama dominant frequencies so that they do not reach the place of pooja and thus the flow of sattva frequencies is hindered.
When the shankh is blown before the start of pooja energy is emitted from the shankh. This energy reduces the strength of distressing frequencies. Besides a protective armor of chaitanya (divine consciousness) is formed around the articles of pooja. There is another benefit too. That is when the shankh is blown the activated energy of Lord Vishnu in the universe gets attracted towards the place of worship which is not only beneficial to the person who is blowing the shankh but also to all those who hear it.
Just as the shankh is blown before the start of pooja, it is also blown before an arti. The objective behind this being to sustain the deity’s chaitanya attracted to the place of pooja ritual and the pure atmosphere generated because of the sattvik frequencies, for a long period.
Correct method of blowing Shankh
We have seen that because of blowing of shankh the frequencies consisting raja-tama particles are destroyed and at the same time the savior and destroyer principle of a deity is awakened. Now let us see the correct method of blowing the shankh.
First slightly raise your neck and bend it little backwards and keep the mind focused. Take a deep breath and start to blow with increasing intensity. One should keep in mind that blowing of shankh should be completed in one single breath. When the shankh is blown in this way Sushumna channel of the individual gets activated and it helps in keeping a correct balance of raja and sattva particles related to Tej and Vayu elements. This awakens the savior and destroyer principle of a deity according to the need.
Ritualistic worship of Shankh
During pooja ritual the shankh is kept in a specific way. The pointed portion is directed toward the deity.
The frequencies of chaitanya and energy emanating from the images of deities get attracted to the pointed portion of shankh. You can also see the blue colored Lord Krushna principle getting attracted towards shankh which is producing a amour of of Krushnatattva around shankh. The yellow coloured chaitanya is also attracted and spreads inside the shankh. The red coloured frequencies of energy are revolving in the space of shankh in a circular fashion. The frequencies of energy and chaitanya are emitted from the other end of shankh which purifies the atmosphere and thus benefits the worshipper.
When the shankh is kept with its pointed portion towards the deity then the house gets the energy emitted from the other end in required amount. Now let us know about ritualistic worship of shankh. A shankh is filled with water prior to actual pooja of a deity and following the pooja of kalash. Then it is ritualistically worsipped by offerings of sandalwood paste, flowers and Tulsi leaves. After the shankh pooja the worshipper sprinkles the water filled in shankh on himself and the articles of pooja. The water filled in shankh is considered as pure as water of Ganga River. It is also used for giving holy bath (Abhishek) to the deities.
Important points to be noted while using a Shankh
Now let us now see some useful points about shankh.
- Never use shankh meant for blowing in a pooja ritual. They should be separate.
- Never offer water to the deity by shankh used for blowing.
- Do not keep two shankhs for worship in a temple room.
- Never touch the Shiva pindi with shankh during a pooja ritual.
- Never use shankh for giving holy bath to deities Shiva and Sun.
- A Dakshinavarti Shankh: This is the very rare form of the species, where the shell coils or whorls expand in a counterclockwise spiral if viewed from the apex of the shell.
- The Vamavarta (“left-turned” as viewed with the aperture uppermost): This is the very commonly occurring dextral form of the species, where the shell coils or whorls expand in a clockwise spiral when viewed from the apex of the shell. In Hinduism, a dakshinavarta shankha symbolizes infinite space and is associated with Vishnu. The Vamavarta shankh represents the reversal of the laws of nature and is linked with Shiva.
The Dakshinavarti shankh is believed to be the abode of the wealth goddess Lakshmi – the consort of Vishnu, and hence this type of shankh is considered ideal for medicinal use. It is a very rare variety from the Indian Ocean. This type of shankh has three to seven ridges visible on the edge of the aperture and on the columella and has a special internal structure. The right spiral of this type reflects the motion of the planets. It is also compared with the hair whorls on the Buddha’s head that spiral to the right. The long white curl between Buddha’s eyebrows and the conch-like swirl of his navel are also akin to this shankh.
The Varaha Purana tells that bathing with the Dakshinavarti shankh frees one from sin. Skanda Purana narrates that bathing Vishnu with this shankh grants freedom from sins of seven previous lives. A Dakshinavarti shankh is considered to be a rare “jewel” or ratna and is adorned with great virtues. It is also believed to grant longevity, fame and wealth proportional to its shine, whiteness and largeness. Even if such a shankh has a defect, mounting it in gold is believed to restore the virtues of the shankh. The sound of the shankha symbolises the sacred Om sound. Vishnu holding the conch represents him as the god of sound. Brahma Vaivarta Purana declares that shankh is the residence of both Lakshmi and Vishnu, bathing by the waters led through a shankh is considered as like bathing with all holy waters at once.