SADHVI KAMAL VAISHNAV writes of the significance of the conch, chakra, padma and mace depicted in the murtis of Vishnu, the preserver
Sanatana Dharma means eternal, that which has neither beginning nor an end. Deity invocation is an integral part of Sanatana Dharma. Followers of Sanatana Dharma form a personal connection with God through the deity worship. The deities, in the form of paintings, sculptures and other media, are symbols of a devotee’s faith in divinity. By giving forms to the formless Divine Consciousness, we tend to create an emotional bond with the divine force that invariably emits positive energy.
There are 33 categories of deities who are believed to keep the wheels of the world rolling, a wide variety of powerful beings who come to the aid of humankind, as and when they are invoked.
Brahma creates the universe and Vishnu preserves and manages it. Murtis of Vishnu depict him with four arms, holding a conch, Sudarshan Chakra, padma and mace, one in each hand.
Conch: The conch signifies naad, the cosmic sound. The sound that emanates from the conch is considered to be similar to that of Aum. It is believed to transmit positive energy and destroy negative energy.
It is also suggested that our bodies too have such a sound, the self-sound, that can also be called the voice of the soul. This sound resonates within before we commit an action — good or bad karma. If we listen to this sound within and then carry out all activities, our lives will become truthful, meaningful, easy and simple. The conch shell symbolises the deep connection of prana shakti, life force, with the innate sound of the soul. It reminds us to remain connected with the soul and introspect and then act in the outer world. Experts have proved that blowing the conch has scientifically-backed therapeutic benefits. For example, the lungs of a conch-blower remain strong and efficient. Such a person enjoys enduring memory and hearing power.
Sudarshan Chakra: The Sudarshan Chakra is the unique weapon of Vishnu. It is a symbol of foresight and determination. A determined person walking on the righteous path is always victorious in achieving his goals.
The chakra also symbolises the never-ending cycle of karma that is ceaseless. It teaches all beings to be aware of this cycle of karma. They must strive to be determined and to be watchful of all their actions.
Padma: The lotus flower is a symbol of truth, concentration, and detachment.
?Just as the lotus keeps itself clean and floats above the mud, all living beings too should stay afloat despite the swamps of maya, often referred to as materialism, which, in fact, is a world of illusions. Like the lotus flower, we too should keep ourselves detached from materialism and be honest with others. This means that we should not be engrossed in the illusory world and not let the hunger for ill-gotten maya reside in us.
In simpler terms, the lotus flower teaches us to dissociate ourselves from attachment to the impermanent world and connect with the Divine Consciousness within — our Atman, Soul. Just like mud is required to fulfil the physical sustenance of the lotus, similarly worldly substances or materials are needed only to support the physical existence of human beings. These should not overwhelm our connection with the divine force.
Mace: It is a symbol of the eternal power of God. According to our good or bad deeds, evil doers are penalised, thereby establishing the divine system of justice.
The symbols of conch, chakra, padma and mace inherently expound the significance of karma in connecting the human soul with the divine force that is all-pervasive and omnipotent. ■