SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CONCH SHELL -SHANKHA - Stephen Knapp,
This is not only a symbol, but an instrument used in worship in the temple. When blown, it is said to produce a sound like the sacred Om,. It is also said that an adept yogi can subliminally hear the Sankhanadi (sound of the perfect blowing of a shankha) within himself during the higher stages of meditation in Nadayoga Sadhana. When the conch is blown with controlled breath, the primordial sound of Om (Aum), the vibration of the universe, emanates from it. This eternal sound is said to be the origin of all Vedas. All knowledge enshrined in the Vedas is an elaboration of the omnipresent sublime sound of Om. It was this sound that was chanted by the Lord before manifesting the cosmos. It represents the creation and the Truth behind it. It represents Dharma or righteousness that is one of the four noble goals of human life.
According to Vedic terminology, that which leads to welfare is also called shankha. It is also with the sounding of the conch that the doors of the temple sanctums are opened. Another well-known purpose of blowing the conch is that it produces auspicious sounds, and can ward off negative vibrations or noises that may disturb the ambience or the minds of the devotees.
Even now, in some places, when the village temple begins its worship, the conch is blown, and everyone who can hear it stops for a moment or even pays their mental obeisances to the deity in the temple.
The shankhas that open towards the left hand (vaamavarti), when the narrow end is pointed toward you, are commonly available, but rare are the ones that open towards right side (i.e., facing South) when the pointed end is toward you. This kind of shankha is called dakshinavarti. South is the direction of Kubera, the God of wealth. Tantra Shastra has also given great importance to such types of shells. These shells are very rare and are found only in a very few places. Dakshinavarti shankhas not only bring wealth but also purify the atmosphere. All the negative energies are swept out of the place. Dakshinavarti shankhas are available in white color and with brown lines on them. Their sizes differ, starting from the size of a wheat grain to as large as a coconut. Mostly these shells are available only at Kanya Kumari. A completely white colored shankha is indeed rare.
Dakshinavarti shankha is the symbol of Goddess Lakshmi. Her deities and pictures always depict dakshinavarti shankha in one of Her hands. Dakshinavarti shankha should be kept at the place of worship or, after being wrapped in a white cloth, at any sacred place in the house. It is said to bring good luck and prosperity to the individual and his family. In the Puranas, the gods and goddesses are depicted as holding a shell, whenever they are happy or setting out on a fight against evil forces. Whenever the shell is blown it is said to purify the environment from all evil effects. Blowing of a shankha enhances the positive psychological vibrations, such as courage, hope, determination, willpower, optimism, etc., in the blower as well as those around him/her.