Rameswaram - Shells and conches

Hindu religious art often shows deities carrying a conch shell, although both the Vamavarti and Dakshinavarti Shankha are important within Sanatana Dharama.   The right-handed conch, also known as the "Sri Lakshmi Conch", is held to bring abundant blessings on the possessor. The Dakshinavarti Shankh is a kind of calling card for Sri Lakshmi (or Padma), the consort of Lord Vishnu; she removes sorrows and gives intelligence, success, and worldly freedom.  According to tradition, a living right-handed conch is conceptually indistinguishable from an earthly incarnation of Vishnu or Lakshmi themselves; the blessings of Lakshmi literally flow out of the remaining shell on their own.

Conch shells have a significant place in Indian mythology. "Even in the great epic Mahabharata, these were given a lot of importance. Each conch shell had a specific name. Krishna's conch shell was known as Paanchajanya, Arjuna's Devdutta, Bhima's Paundra, Yudhisthira's Anantavijaya, Nakula's Sughosa and Sahadeva's was known as Manipushpaka."

Belief in mythology apart, the conch shell's significance is corroborated by science. Says Reddy: "Try holding a conch shell to your ear, the sound of the ocean humming gently can be heard. It is actually the natural vibration or cosmic energy of the earth that gets magnified on entering the conch shell. These unique whorls are directed clockwise in perfect synchronization with universal harmony. That is why a conch shell is blown during sacred rites to get rid of negative energy. The vibrations from these conch shells can dispel evil forces from the earth and also clear environmental pollution including healing the hole in the ozone layer which causes global warming!"

Ritual treatment includes bathing deities, offerings of incense, white rice and milk, and applying water from the conch, which can remove sin, evil entities, and the power of other's curses.  Other important conchs include the Ganesha Shankh and the Krishna Shankha, which are of completely different character and tradition.

The significance of the number 1008, his total collection, he believes, is that the aura of each conch shell extends to a certain distance. All of them put together in symbolic rite will extend to the ozone layer of the earth! "This is my pollution control plant which is more powerful than an atomic plant,"

There have been heated opinions observed in international debate about what may constitue a "true" Dakshinawarti Shankh, similar to domestic notions that only a Queen (or Caribbbean) Conch can form a Conch Pearl.  A few consider that only a rare right-hand anomaly of the East Indian Shankh (or Sinistral turbinella pyrum) could possibly be a Sri Lakshmi Conch.  The question is less scientific than a matter of religious understanding between sects of Sanatana Dharm.
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