The Sacred Lakshmi Conch
BY: RICHARD S. BROWN
Aug 9, USA (SUN) Conch Shells which spiral to the right are very rare and considered especially sacred. In Buddhist Dharma the right spiral mirrors the motion of the sun, moon, planets and stars across the sky. Also, the hair whorls on Buddha's head spiral to the right, as do his fine bodily hairs, the long white curl between his eyebrows and the conch like swirl of his navel.
The Lakshmi Conch shell is a sacred manifestation of Supreme Goddess Lakshmi, and is most effectively used to bath a genuine Gandaki vajra-kita Shalagram Shila (pictured above), an ammonite from Gandaki River in Nepal having chakra cut by Vajra-kita worms 140 million years ago.
'Valampuri' Dakshin Conch and Normal Shank
QUESTION: Most temples have "Lightning Whelks" on the altar. I have heard from some that this is an accepted exception but I have very serious doubts. Any information about other kinds of sea shells besides conch shells. Maybe you could write a detailed article on the subject sp people could know the truth.
REPLY: Shastra says "bone" is impure, BUT, Conch Shell (Indian Turbinella Pyrum) is super-pure, even to bathe the Deities. Even Lakshmi Devi and Her Lord Narayana carry one in Their hand. Shastra doesn't say ANY SHELL or EVERY SHELL is pure, it's only Indian Shank (Turbinella Pyrum) that is pure. And these come in two types, normal left side opening AND special right side opening (Valampuri Dakshin-varti Turbinella Pyrum). Both are ruled by Goddess Lakshmi. It is not required to have right-side opening. Left side (normal) opening Shank is perfect for puja. And Lakshmi Shank is even better than perfect. It is said by Conchologists that only one Lakshmi Shank is found among 1,000 normal Indian Shanks. And ALL Indian shanks are pure and auspicious.
BUT common Lightning Whelk (busycon contrarium), with no internal formation and no ridges in the conch cavity - is a bogus non-pure shell. And as you mention so many temples use this non-conch shell, and they're doing puja with an impure non-conch shell simply because they have been hoodwinked by con men. It is embarrassing that temples use the wrong shell. And in many temples they openly display the fact that they have been cheated on a bogus Conch. And worse, they tell the public that they have a REAL Sri Lakshmi Conch, even though that is untrue.
Fact: The left side opening OR the right side opening Turbinella Pyrum Indian Conch - with 3 to 7 ridges in the conch cavity, and special internal structure is the ONLY Shank that is Vedic. The normal left-side opening Conch is very low price, even less than the bogus ones (Lightning Whelk), and only the Indian Shank is correct for puja.
Genuine Valampuri Lakshmi Shank Turbinella Pyrum Conch shells sell by the gram. Normal size is about 60-120 grams. Depending on quality and number of ridges in the conch cavity they sell for between Rs. 1,000 up to Rs. 3,000 per gram. This means that a genuine Lakshmi Shank can be had for a few thousand dollars ONLY. So no one has any excuse to use a non-conch shell. Everyone can use either a $2 normal Shank OR a $2,000 Lakshmi Shank. BUT, USE A SHANK, ONLY!
Shown on the left is genuine Sri Lakshmi Conch (sinistral turbinella pyrum), and on the right is a Lightening Whelk (busycon contrarium), which is not a Lakshmi conch.
Many temples and puja dealers mistake a Lightning Whelk as a Lakshmi Conch. They are wrong. There is ONLY one true Lakshmi Shank, viz., sinistral turbinella pyrum, and the photos here are a darshan of the REAL thing....
It is far better to use a normal left-handed white smooth shank, rather than another type of shell, like a Lightning Whelk, that is not even a Shank, and which is NOT recommended as pure. Only a Shank is auspicious for puja, what to speak of a shank that opens on the right side, viz., A Lakshmi Shank.
Amazing two and a half foot long ancient Sri lakshmi Conch
This beautiful Sri Lakshmi Conch has been in human use for at least 800 years. The metal covering is at least 500 years old. It was being worshipped by a Tanjore based Brahmin family before coming to its current owner. The previous owner was a follower of the Ramanujacharya cult. The Conch has been transferred from father to son for 12 to 15 generations. The ancestors of the previous owner used to be State Priests of Tanjore. Prior to being in the hands of the State Priests, it belonged to the Kings of Tanjore.
For more information on conches, visit the Planetary Gemologists Association.