Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakura
Srila Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada
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Avadhuta Ramesh Babaji Maharaj
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(C) 1995 by Richard S. Brown All rights reserved.
Sri Lakshmi Conch Shell & Sri Shalagram Shila
CONCH SHELL (Valampuri Turbinella Pyrum)
Conch Shells which spiral to the right are very rare and considered especially sacred, the right spiral mirroring 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 (ammonite from Gandaki River in Nepal having chakra cut by Vajra-kita worms 140 million years ago). The TOP picture showing a genuine Lakshmi Conch with a genuine Shalagram Shila is one of a kind. VERY RARE PHOTO.
RARE LAKSHMI CONCH: Dakshin Shank: The Right-Spiralling Conch Shell
last 30 Years we have been looking for the truth about the fabled Lakshmi
Conch Shell (sinistral turbinella pyrum). They are so rare that only
a few temples in India have them. We only found several, one in Pashupati
Nath Temple Museum, and one in the London Museum of Natural History.
In fact they are the same kind of Shank or Conch shell that we bath
the Sri Murti with but they open on the right side (opposite of normal).
collectors refer to the reversed Shank as left-handed or
"sinistral turbinella pyrum," the Indians call the valampuri
right-handed, because they orient it with the apical spire downwards
and the aperture or siphon (mouth) uppermost and, consequently, on the
right side of the shell.
Note: there are many species in Conch family, but in India "Shank" always refers to the normal smooth white conch shells. They alone are called "Shank" --- and it is ONLY such a shell, if it opens on the right side, that is a real Lakshmi Shank. No other right-sided shell is ever Lakshmi Shank (sinistral turbinella pyrum).
Cyber example pictured: 'Valampuri' Dakshin Conch (right) & Normal Shank
QUESTION: Most Hindu 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 and I could circulate it to pujari types in ISKCON who should
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!.