Śaṅkha

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Sankha, ZaGkha, shankha


Śaṅkha literally means ‘that which pacifies evils’.

The śaṅkha or conch is one of the common objects seen in the hands of images of many deities, especially those associated with Viṣṇu, and sometimes with the Devī.

As per Brahmavaivartapurāṇa

The śaṅkha according to the Brahmavaivartapurāṇa, Prakrtikhanda chapter 18, was produced from the bones of the demon Śaṅkhacuḍa after he was killed by Śiva. There are two types of śañkhas:

  1. Vāmāvarta - spiraled from the left
  2. Dakṣiṇāvarta - spiraled from the right

The latter is considered extremely auspicious.

As per Bhagavadgitā

The Bhagavadgitā[1] gives the names of the śaṅkhas of Kṛṣṇa,[2] Arjuna[3] and others.

Types of Śaṅkha

Sometimes four types of śaṅkhas are distinguished as suitable for the four varṇas. White śaṅkhas are considered as the best for use in worship.

Usage of Śaṅkhas

Śaṅkhas are used in ritualistic worship of the deities and the water contained in them is considered extremely holy. A śaṇkha may also be used to blow and thus make sound which is auspicious to hear. Warriors used to keep their own śaṅkhas and blow them loudly as a challenge for the enemies.

Other Meanings

  • It is is also the technical name for an immensely large number, one lakh crores (1012).
  • Śaṅkha and his brother Likhita were the authors of a well-known smṛti that goes by their name.
  • One of the nine great treasures of Kubera[4] is known as Śañkha.


References

  1. Bhagavadgitā 1.15, 16
  2. He is also called as Pāñcajanya.
  3. He is also called as Devadatta.
  4. Kubera means the god of wealth.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore