In Hinduism, Shesha (Sanskrit: Śeṣa), also known as Sheshanaga (Śeṣanāga) or Adishesha(Ādi Śeṣa) is the nagaraja or king of all nāgas and one of the primal beings of creation. In the Puranas, Shesha is said to hold all the planets of the universe on his hoods and to constantly sing the glories of the god Vishnu from all his mouths. He is sometimes referred to as Ananta Shesha, which translates as endless-Shesha or Adishesha “first Shesha”. It is said that when Adishesa uncoils, time moves forward and creation takes place and when he coils back, the universe ceases to exist.
Vishnu is often depicted as resting on Shesha. Shesha is also considered a servant as well as a manifestation of Vishnu. He is said to have descended to Earth in two human forms or avatars: Lakshmana, brother ofRama; Balarama, brother of Krishna.
“Shesha” in Sanskrit texts, especially those relating to mathematical calculation, also implies the “remainder” – that which remains when all else ceases to exist.
Shesha is generally depicted with a massive form that floats coiled in space, or on the ocean of milk, to form the bed on which Vishnu lies. Sometimes he is shown as five-headed or seven-headed, but more commonly as a many thousand-headed serpent, sometimes with each head wearing an ornate crown.
His name means “that which remains”, from the Sanskrit root śiṣ, because when the world is destroyed at the end of the kalpa, Shesha remains as he is.
In the Bhagavadgita of Chapter 10, verse 29, Shri Krishna while describing 75 of his common manifestations, declares, “anantaś ca asmi nāgānāṁ”: Of the nagas, I am Ananta.
As per the Mahabharata, Shesha was born to sage Kashyap and his wife Kadru. Kadru gave birth to a thousand snakes, of which Shesha was the eldest. After Shesha, were born Vasuki, Airavata and Takshaka, in order. A lot of Shesha’s brothers were cruel in nature and were bent upon inflicting harm on others. They were even unkind to Garuda, who was Kashyapa’s son through Vinatha, sister of Kadru.(Kadru and Vinatha were daughters of Daksha). Shesha, disgusted by the cruel acts of his brothers, left his mother and kin, and took to austere penances. He lived on air and meditated in various places including Gandhamadhana, Badrikashrama, Gokarna, Pushkara and Himalayas. His penances were so severe that his flesh, skin and muscles dried up and merged with his frame. Brahma, convinced of his Shesha’s will, asked Shesha to request a boon. Shesha asked that he be able to keep his mind under control so that he could continue to perform ascetic penances. Brahma gladly accepted the request. Brahma then asked a favour of Shesha, that of to go beneath the unstable earth and stabilize it. Shesha agreed and went to the netherworld and stabilized her with his hood. He is known to support her even today, thus making Patala his perennial residence.(Mbh, Adi Parva)
Maha Vishnu & Maha Lakshmi
Shesha is also depicted as floating in the ocean of the changing world, forming the bed of Maha Vishnu. Since he is also known as Adishesha(the foremost of snakes) and because he is Anantashesha or simplyAnanta(endless, as he is known to remain in existence even after the end of the Kalpa, when the whole universe is destroyed). (Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya)
Lakshmana and Balarama are considered avatara of Sheshanaga(or vice versa).
In a story from the Puranas, Shesha’s younger brother Vasuki loosens Mount Mandara, to enable it to be used in the churning of the ocean by the devas and asuras.
According to the Mahabharata(Adi Parva), his father was Kashyapa and his mother Kadru.
The city of Thiruvananthapuram is named after him as the “City of Lord Ananta.”
- “The foremost manifestation of Lord Vishnu is Sankarṣana, who is known as Ananta. He is the origin of all incarnations within this material world. Previous to the appearance of Lord Shri Krishna, this original Sankarsana will appear as Baladeva, just to please the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna in His transcendental pastimes.”(Bhāgavata Purāṇa 10.1.24)
- “Sri Anantadeva has thousands of faces and is fully independent. Always ready to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He waits upon him constantly. Sankarsana is the first expansion of Vasudeva and because he appears by his own will, He is called svarat, fully independent. He is therefore infinite and transcendental to all limits of time and space. He Himself appears as the thousand-headed Shesha.”(Srila Jiva Gosvami, in his Krishna-Sandarbha)
- “Sankarsana of the quadruple form descends with Lord Shri Rama as Lakshmana. When Lord Shri Rama disappears, Shesha again separates himself from the personality of Lakshmana. Shesha then returns to his own abode in the Patala regions and Lakshmana returns to His abode in Vaikuntha.” (A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)
- In the Bhagavad-Gita, when in the middle of the battlefield Kurukshetra, Shri Krishna explaining his omnipresence, says: “Of Nāgas, I am Ananta” indicating the importance of Ananta Shesha.
Narasimha, the man-lion incarnation of Vishnu seated on the coils of Shesha, with seven heads of Shesha forming a canopy. statue atVijayanagara.
Maha Vishnu sheltered by the five-headed Shesha, Parsurameswar Temple,Bhubaneswar.
- Sheshanaga(Sesha the serpent)
- Adishesha(the first Sesha)
- Anantashesha(Endless Sesha)
- Alternative spelling: Sesa, Sesha, Śeṣa.
- Shesha Sayana or Nagar Syana means Vishnu who sleeps(Sayana) on Sheshanaga
- Naga-Abharana means Shiva who has the Nagas worn as Ornaments
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Shesha.|
- The Glories of Lord Ananta (from Śrimad Bhagavatam)
- Ananta Sesha – The Legendary Serpent
- Maha-Vishnu & Ananta Sesha
- Image of ancient Vishnu and Sesha deity form
Creation by Brahma-After a period of 1000 Maha-Yugas, a lotus bud emerges from the navel of the Lord, inside which is Brahma or Ka, the First MORTAL Being in each Universe. The stem of this cosmic lotus connecting Brahma to the Navel of the Lord, signifies the Umbilical Cord that binds a baby to its mother! In a sense, Lord Garbhodak-shayi Vishnu is the Father as well as Mother of ALL creation beginning first and foremost with Lord Brahma.
Brahma, the First in this Trinity and is the Creator and Master of all Divine Ceremonies. Shiva, the Cosmic Dancer, Nataraj who through his celestial dance, sustains the endless rhythm of the Universe. Vishnu, the Preserver god who incarnates to help mankind face the challenges posed whenever Evil forces become too dominant in the Universe.: 33 Devas-Devas in the Universal Form of Lord Vishnu.
the 14 LOKAS here: Higher Lokas – Lower Lokas Satyaloka 1 Atal Tapoloka 2 Vital Janloka 3 Sutal Maharloka 4 Rasatal Swargaloka 5 Talatal Bhuvarloka 6 Mahatal Bhuloka 7 Patal All these planets are within the material world and under the control of Devi Durga, therefore the Material Creation is also known as Devi-dham.
In the Puranas, Shesha is said to hold all the planets of the Universe on his hoods and to constantly sing the glories of Vishnu from all his mouths.
“Adishesha”, which means First snake.
Shesha is generally depicted with a massive form that floats coiled in space, or on the universal ocean, to form the bed on which Vishnu lies. Sometimes he is shown as five-headed or seven-headed, but more commonly as a many hundred-headed serpent, sometimes with each head wearing an ornate crown.
He is closely associated with Vishnu. His name means “that which remains”, from the Sanskrit root sis, because when the world is destroyed at the end of the kalpa, Shesha remains as he is.
So he is refered as “Ananta-Shesha” which means “Endless Shesha”.
Lord Vishnu is seen resting on the coils of the serpent Shesha, also called Ananta. Sheshanaga is the expansion of Lord Balarama, Lord Krishna’s brother, and serves the Lord in this way as the Lord’s support and paraphernalia. Shesha has a thousand heads swinging to and fro over the form of Lord Vishnu, creating a shelter and couch for the Lord.
Ananta is endlessly singing the praises and glories of the Lord from His thousand hoods without ever reaching the end. His hoods are also supporting the many planetary systems in the cosmic creation that are orbiting throughout the universe above His heads. Ananta also means endless in terms of the endlessness of cosmic time. This is also represented by His thousand hoods as divisions of time. The material worlds are created within the element of time, and are thus sustained by time. During the process of the universal annihilation, time ceases to exist, in which case the material planets are also forced into obliteration.
Lord Shesha is often seen floating on the causal waters of the Garbhodaka Ocean, which exists on the bottom of the universe. Lord Vishnu is thus resting on Sheshanaga as They float on the ocean. At other times, They are viewed floating on the Kshiramudra, or an ocean of white milk. This represents the Prakriti or the ingredients of the unmanifest material nature in its purest form.
3) Ananda Sesha as incarnation of Godhead:
(i) Srimad Bhagavatam 10.1.24:
“The foremost manifestation of Krishna is Sankarshana, who is known as Ananta. He is the origin of all incarnations within this material world. Previous to the appearance of Lord Krishna, this original Sankarshana will appear as Baladeva, just to please the Supreme Lord Krishna in His transcendental pastimes.”
(ii) Srimad Bhagavatam 5.25.1:
“My dear King, approximately 240,000 miles beneath the planet Patala lives another incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the expansion of Lord Vishnu known as Lord Ananta or Lord Sankarshana. He is always in the transcendental position, but because He is worshiped by Lord Siva, the deity of tamo-guna or darkness, He is sometimes called Tamasi.
Lord Ananta is the predominating Deity of the material mode of ignorance as well as the false ego of all conditioned souls. When a conditioned living being thinks, ‘I am the enjoyer, and this world is meant to be enjoyed by me,’ this conception of life is dictated to him by Sankarshana. Thus the mundane conditioned soul thinks himself the Supreme Lord.”
(iii) Sri Chaitanya Caritamrita Adi-lila 5.120:
“That Ananta Sesha is the devotee incarnation of Godhead. He knows nothing but service to Lord Krishna.”
(iv) Srila Jiva Gosvami, in his Krishna-sandarbha:
“Sri Anantadeva has thousands of faces and is fully independent. Always ready to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He waits upon Him constantly. Sankarshana is the first expansion of Vasudeva, and because He appears by His own will, He is called svarat, fully independent. He is therefore infinite and transcendental to all limits of time and space. He Himself appears as the thousand-headed Sesha.”
(v) A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada:
“Sankarshana of the quadruple form descends with Lord Rama as Lakshmana. When Lord Rama disappears, Sesha again separates Himself from the personality of Lakshmana. Sesha then returns to His own abode in the Patala regions, and Lakshmana returns to His abode in Vaikuntha.”
(vi) Bhagavad-Gita, Chapter 10, Verse 29:
In the Bhagavad-Gita, when in the middle of the battlefied Kurukshetra, Krishna explaining his omnipresence, says: “Of Nagas, I am Ananta” indicating the importance of Ananta Shesha.
4) Avataras of Adishesha:
Balarama, Lakshmana, and Nityananda Prabhu, are considered avataras of Shesha.
Patañjali is also considered an emanation or incarnation of Shesha and is iconographically depicted in naga form with naga canopy.
5) More on Adishesha:
In a story from the Puranas, Shesha loosens Mount Mandara, to enable it to be used in the churning of the ocean by the devas and asuras.
According to the Mahabharata (Adi Parva), his father was Kashyapa and his mother Kadru.
The city of Thiruvananthapuram is named after him as the “City of Lord Ananta”.
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