The Conch is one of the most auspicious symbols in Sanatan Dharm. ‘Shankh’ is a Sanskrit word which means, a meter, a mantra, temple, conch etc. Shri Vishnu holds a conch named ‘Panch-janya’ in one of his hands. ‘Panchajanya’ is a Sanskrit word which broadly means the ‘one born by the union of the five’. These 5 can mean the 5 tanmantra, the 5 Gnyan-Indriya, the 5 Karma-Indriya or the 5 Panch-bhoot or the 5 Kosh/sheaths of the body etc. This divine conch is one of the 14 jewels which came out of the Eternal Ocean of Consciousness (Samudra Manthan). All gods, goddesses, major warriors from Ramayan, Mahabharat etc have their own conches, each with its specific name.
The conch that we use in our pujas is the shell created by the marine gastropod/snail Turbinella pyrum. These commonly found conches are all right handed, they coil dextrally, the aperture is towards the right side (Photo of the Shankh I use). These are used for all routine pujas and rituals and are blown in all auspicious ceremonies. The Shankh itself is also worshipped as a symbol of the Nada-Brahma, the creative power of the Ultimate Reality expressed as Sound.
Now there is the odd conch with the aperture towards the left side, sinistrally coiled. This is very rare and is not worshipped neither used for routine pujas. These are not used for blowing in auspicious ceremonies. This Conch represents energy moving inwards, it is destructive for the manifested. Just like the Swastik moving anticlockwise, or the Ganapati moorthi with his trunk coiled to the right, it represents involution, dissolution, Nivrutti. Only tantriks and people who know exactly what they are doing, will keep, worship, use and blow such a Shankh.
Blowing a Shankh requires that you pucker your lips in a typical way and have some lung power! Both men, women (except the 5 days of the monthly cycle) or children can blow it. However do remember that it requires some skill and lung power. Smaller conches are a bit easier to blow as lesser air is needed. There is only one note felt/heard when you blow, OM. Next time you blow your Shankh, keep your eyes closed and focus on your third eye. Initially you will see bursts of light, if you are on your spiritual path you will see the Shri yantra and as you advance, just the one Bindu. The cymatics of a conch-sound is the Shri-yantra. i.e. if you blow a conch in front of a liquid film or a sand film placed on a metal sheet which can freely vibrate, it will rearrange into the Shri-yantra.
When you do your Dhyan and progress spiritually, there will come a point where you will hear the sound of the conch (Shankh-nada), it can be so deafening that you might feel that after hearing this you have gone deaf. But even in the initial phases of your spiritual practice if you sit in a silent environment you will hear a deep sonorous OM/conch-sound continuously throughout your Dhyan.
So if you have a conch in your puja ghar/home altar, use it actively. Blow it thrice everyday. The vibrations produced are ‘OM’ and are not only heard by the ears but felt in every part of your bodies (all the 5 sheaths). This sound entrains your bodies to the highest possible vibrational frequency of OM. And your soul feels refreshed as it is entrained briefly with who you really are. You will feel fresher mentally as well as spiritually. You will be healthier and fall ill less. This sound of the Shankh will also clean your house of negative energies.
Then the water stored in the Shankh acquires positive energies and can be used regularly. Keep some water in your Shankh overnight, this is one of the best ways to increase the vibrational levels of water. Drink it for overall health and vitality. If you have skin problems rub this water on the affected part. If there are hair problems, put this water in your scalp. Wash your eyes in this water to keep them disease free and your vision clear.
The conch is a symbol of the Ultimate reality and is used to generate the sound of OM. It is an essential part of your puja ghar, so buy one and use it.
There was a question on the Hindu deities, so answering it here.
There is a common idea that the ‘God’ of Sanatan Dharm/Hinduism is Shri Vishnu. It is incorrect. The ‘God’ of Hindus is Energy, i.e. Parabrahma or the Singular Intelligence. Creation of the individual soul+universe, is a game of the three Gun, personified as deities. (Your soul and universe is different from mine.) Raja Gun is the creator principle, Brahma ब्रह्म and Sarasvati सरस्वती. The passion/urge is Raja Gun. Brahma is the potential and Sarasvati is the active principle of Raja Gun. Then Laxmi लक्ष्मी and Vishnu विष्णु are personified Satva Gun who maintain equilibrium. The active and potential principles of Tama Gun are Shakti शक्ति and Shiv शिव, who cause involution/destruction of the created.
As Raja Gun gets spontaneously excited, it immediately puts Satva and Tama out of balance too. They are interconnected. As Satva gets unbalanced by the action of Raja, it manifests as Mahat-Buddhi. i.e. Mahat-Buddhi is created from Satva Gun, this is the basic foundation on which further differentiated tattvas are created. And Satva Gun is depicted as Vishnu and Laxmi.
There is this line from the Tantra-ukta Ratri Sukta, recited by Brahma, विष्णुः शरीरग्रहणमहमीशान एव च, this broadly means “Brahma and Ishan (Shiv), ‘take up’ or ‘put on’ a part of Vishnu’s body/ strength/ solidity/ lowered energy. This action is then seen as both the stillness and movement of the world”. i.e. Raja and Tama gun interact with Satva gun. When Raja and Satva interact, the world moves, evolves. When Tama and Satva interact the world stills, it is involution or ultimately Moksh. Here ‘world’ means an individual soul and his personalised universe.
Neither of the three Gun are greater or lesser than the other, they are equal. To say that Vishnu is greater than Shiv or Brahma is the lowest of the three, is an unintelligent statement.