Encyclopedia for Epics of Ancient India

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Read about Śesha at Wikipedia or the Urday website.

SESHA, SESHANAGA. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] King of the serpent race or Nagas, and of the infernal regions called Patala. A serpent with a thousand heads which is the couch and canopy of Vishnu whilst sleeping during the intervals of creation.

Sometimes Sesha is represented as supporting the world, and sometimes as upholding the seven Patalas or hells. Whenever he yawns he causes earthquakes. At the end of each kalpa he vomits venomous fire which destroys all creation.

When the gods churned the ocean they made use of Sesha as a great rope, which they twisted round the mountain Mandara, and so used it as a churn.

He is represented clothed in purple and wearing a white necklace, holding in one hand a plough and in the other a pestle. He is also called Ananta, 'the endless,' as the symbol of eternity. His wife was named Anantasirsha.

He is sometimes distinct from Vasuki but generally identified with him. In the Puranas he is said to be the son of Kasyapa and Kadru, and according to some authorities he was incarnate in Balarama. His hood is called Manidwipa, 'the island of jewels,' and his palace Manibhitti, 'jewel-walled,' or Manimandapa, 'jewel palace.'

ANANTA. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] ' The infinite. ' A name of the serpent Sesha. The term is also applied to Vishnu and other deities.

Modern Languages MLLL-4993. Indian Epics. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. The textual material made available at this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. No claims are made regarding the status of images used at this website; if you own the copyright privileges to any of these images and believe your copyright privileges have been violated, please contact the webmaster. Page last updated: October 16, 2007 12:22 PM