The association of the conch shell with Buddha's melodious voice, sweet with the tenor of his uplifting message, has both an archetypal simplicity and universal appeal. It is a hard-hitting symbol which associates a primordial object (deemed sacred in all ancient traditions) with the actual physical body of the Buddha. Indeed, though much of Buddhist philosophy is esoteric, when it comes to aesthetics, Buddhist art is justly famous for giving a physical, easily recognizable representation to abstract philosophical truths.
Buddhism has evolved over the centuries a complex, yet discernable scheme of symbolism which has found adequate expression in Buddhist art. Undoubtedly, the most popular of such symbols is the group of eight, known in Sanskrit as 'Ashtamangala,' ashta meaning eight and mangala meaning auspicious. Each of these symbols is also individually associated with the physical form of the Buddha.
These eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism (Tib. bkra shis rtags brgyad) are:
1). A Conch Shell
2). A Lotus
3). A Wheel
4). A Parasol (Umbrella)
5). An Endless Knot
6). A Pair of Golden Fishes
7). A Banner Proclaiming Victory
8). A Treasure Vase
This article by Nitin Kumar