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Vishnu resting on Ananta-Shesha, with Lakshmi massaging his "lotus feet."

In Hindu (Vedic) tradition, Shesha (Śeṣa in IAST transliteration, Devanagari: शेष) or Adi-shesha (Sheshanaag) is the king of all nagas, one of the primal beings of creation, and according to the Bhagavata Purana, an avatar of the Supreme God[1] known as Sankarshan. 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. He is sometimes referred to as "Ananta-Shesha" which means "Endless Shesha" and as "Adishesha", which means First snake.

A dasa (servant) of Lord Vishnu, he is said to have incarnated in two of his Avatars: Lakshmana, brother of Lord Rama, and Balarama, brother of Lord Krishna.

Contents

Form

Shesh shaiya of Vishnu.
Ananta vishnu

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 śiṣ, because when the world is destroyed at the end of the kalpa, Shesha remains as he is.

Other details

Balarama, Lakshmana,Ramanuja and Nityananda Prabhu, are considered avataras of Shesha (or vice versa). Patañjali is also considered an emanation or incarnation of Shesha and is iconographically depicted in naga form with naga canopy.

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".

Quotations

Narasimha, the man-lion inacarnation of Vishnu seated on the coils of Shesha, with seven heads of Shesha forming a canopy. statue at Vijayanagara.
Vishnu sheltered by the five-headed Shesha, Parsurameswar Temple, Bhubaneswar.
  • "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." (Bhagavata Purana 10.1.24)
  • "That Ananta Sesha is the devotee incarnation of Godhead. He knows nothing but service to Lord Krishna." (Sri Chaitanya Caritamrita Adi-lila 5.120)
  • "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." (Bhagavata Purana 5.25.1)
  • "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." (Srila Jiva Gosvami, in his Krishna-sandarbha)
  • "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." (A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)
  • In the Bhagavad-Gita, when in the middle of the battlefield Kurukshetra, Krishna explaining his omnipresence, says: "Of Nāgas, I am Ananta" indicating the importance of Ananta Shesha. [2]

Other names

  • Sheshanaga (Sesha the serpent)
  • Adisesha (the first Sesha)
  • Anantasesha (Endless Sesha)
  • Ananta (endless/infinite).
  • Nagashayana
  • Alternative spelling: Sesa, Sesha, Śeṣa.

See also

Avatars of Shesha

Footnotes

  1. ^ Bhag-P 5.25.1
  2. ^ Bhagavad Gita 10.29 "Of the many-hooded Nagas I am Ananta"

External links

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