Shesha Naga – the concept explained
Hindu culture worships Nagas or the powerful serpents. Welcome back to 8metals. Today we will speak about Sesha Naga and what he is symbolic of. Lord Vishnu sleeps on Sesha Naga. He is even worshipped as a God and is very powerful. So let’s unfold the tale of Sesha Naga.
History: Sesha Naga means endless. His name is derived from the Sanskrit word Sis meaning one who remains. This suggests that Sesha always remains no matter what comes. It is also the name of Vishnu or Krishna. He is the King of the serpent race inhabiting the Patala. He never ceases to exist in both light and dark forces even in periodical destruction of the universe. Even the Devas worship him. He is also known as Shankarshana or Aham. He is the thousand headed controlling all moving and non moving. He is infinite called Ananta Sesha Naga. This universe has been held as a mustard bean on his head. He represents intelligence and bliss. He is self manifested. When he wants to destroy all this during the Pralaya, the very powerful Sankarsana, well arrayed with the eleven Vyuhas, military (squadrons) arrangements, springs up from Him. From His Central Eyebrow, looking wide with His Three Eyes and raising His Trident, resplendent with three flames. All the (prominent) principal snakes, ruling over many others, come to Him during the nights filled with devotion and surrounded with Bhaktas (devotees) and bow down to Him with their heads bent low and look at each other’s faces, enlightened with the lights from the jewels shining with clear lustre, on the nails of the red toes of His Lotus-Feet. His strength is boundless with infinite qualities. He is the repository of all Sattvica qualities. Anantha Shesha Naga is the Source of this Leela of the Universe and the Controller of the Devas. Anantha Deva is the Ruling Principle in the Fourth Dimensional Space. He has many abilities including production of venom and fire. He is capable of spreading perfume all through the skies and the Devas and Gandharvas worship him alike. The sandal paste, that is ground by the wives of the snake-gods, is scattered abroad by his breath, and sheds perfume around the skies. He is infinite and imperishable.
Vishnu Purana: In Soddhala a Naga named Sesha is mentioned. He is the King of Nagas. His 1000 hoods carry the earth easily as a bunch of flowers. Lord Vishnu rests on him in the Sheersagara and his hoods from Vishnu’s canopy. Sesha Naga is the force of Lord Vishnu. Anantha, a Tamasa form of Vishnu down below the Patala regions with 1000 jewelled heads, purple garment, white necklace. He is portrayed with the plough and mace. When the deluge sets in, he vomits venomous fire devouring the three worlds. Sage Garga learnt astrology and astronomy from him. According to Hindu beliefs, that Sesha Naga with his thousand heads holds the earth. According to the Mahabharata, Shesha was born to Rishi Kashyapa and his wife Kadru, one of the daughters of Daksha. Sesha had cruel brothers and so he left them to perform penance. He lived merely on air and meditated in a number of places, including Gandhamadana, Badrikashrama, Pushkara, Gokarna and the Himalayas. Brahma was delighted by his devotion and gave him the responsibility of holding the earth on his head. The cosmic serpent Shesha who upholds the golden egg of the universe on his many hoods and whose coiled body is composed of the sediments, the calcine residue of past creations. He is sometimes referred as the tamasic energy of Lord Vishnu itself. He was present even before the creation of the universe. Toward the end of each epoch, he creates 11 Rudras from himself, in order to destroy the current Universe and create a new one. Shankarshana is the aspect of Lord Vishnu itself. He has no beginning and end and forms the prime material of this world. At the very beginning of the Universe, Sankarshana expanded himself as Garbhodakshayi-Vishnu, in order to create Brahma. According to Puranas, Lord Sesha Naga was the narrator of the Bhagavata. Sankarshana constantly waits upon Vishnu and is always ready to serve the Supreme lord. He is also called Swarat as he is wholly independent. He is also totally transcendental and the limits of time and space do not apply to him. Sankarshana is also one of the four Vyuha (army formation of troops while in battle) forms of Vishnu or Krishna. During Samudra Manthan, Sesha Naga lifted the whole mountain on his hoods to help the Devas churn the ocean. Sesha is remainder that is he will remain even though everything ceases to exist. He is endless. He is also representative of the time which is endless. Adi Shesha is generally depicted with a massive form that floats coiled in milky way to form the bed on which Vishnu lies. Every creature of the universe will be drawn into the whirlpool of this time. And it is under the control of Lord Vishnu who saves every one. Shesha Naga is considered to be responsible for the concept of gravitational force which makes sure that all planets and stars revolve around each other. Lord Vishnu who is said to pervade, sustain, and support this universe sleeps upon the Remainder, meaning what remains after the Destruction, as this gigantic serpent Shesha who has one thousand heads. Something must remain after the Dissolution and the serpent Shesha is the principle of the Remainder of destroyed universes. Sesha Naga is a great devotee of Lord Vishnu and accompanies him in all his avatars. He was Balrama in Krishna avatar and Laxmana in Rama Avatar. Once Vishnu was enjoying the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva. He grew so overjoyed that the weight on Sesha increased. Later when everything was normal and the weight lessened, Shesha questioned Lord Vishnu about this. Vishnu smiled and replied that he had enjoyed Shiva’s dance so much that he had harmonized with his great, unending cosmic and Yogic energy. Adishesha was intrigued and asked Vishnu if he could learn this dance too. Vishnu blessed him, saying that he would one day attain the grace of Shiva and learn the art from him. He also predicted that Shesha would incarnate as a human being and would shower the entire humanity with peace and wisdom. Accordingly, Shesha took the form of Patanjali and descended from the Heavens. The word “Patanjali” consists of the two words “Pata”(to fall) and “Anjali” (mudra or gesture of salutation or prayer). Adishesha took birth in the world as Maharishi Patanjali. When Gonika was praying for a suitable son whom she could teach her knowledge, a baby snake had fell from heaven to earth landing in the palm of a virtuous woman. Thus the name Pat(fall) Anjali(folded hands). As per Shiva’s advice, Patanjali went to a place called Vyaghrapuram to meet rishi Vyaghrapada, an ancient and powerful sage, who was half-human and half-tiger. The former sought his blessings and told him of his desire to watch the Shiva Tandava. InIn due course of time, Shiva appeared before them and performed his Tandava, thus fulfilling Patanjali’s desire. Even today, Patanjali and Vyaghrapada are depicted together, offering homage to Nataraja, the God of Dance. Lord Anantha is the predominating Deity of the material mode of ignorance as well as the false ego of all conditioned souls.
Kundalini Shakti and Yoga: Kundalini is one’s consciousness. It is also called the serpent power. The serpent, in Indian philosophy, is often associated with the Kundalini energy, which usually lies dormant within the seven Chakras of the Sukshma Sharira (subtle body) of every person. The Kundalini is often represented as a figure of a coiled serpent Goddess, which is believed to be residing in a slumbering state in the first of seven Chakras; near the base of the spine. Sri Maha Vishnu symbolizes the Supreme Brahman in its entirety – the One who rests on the Kundalini Shakti, in the form of Adishesha. This represents the kundalini of the whole Universe. As per the Bhagavad Gita, the entire creation stemmed from the Swabhava (nature) of the Atman (Supreme Self). Vishnu rests on that shakti and harnesses it to manifest the creation that he imagines. The 1,000 hoods of Shesha is an allegory for the sahasrara. Sahasrara meaning “a thousandfold “, is different from other chakras in constitution and effect. When Kundalini (coiled snake) reaches this level it no longer belongs to the realm of the animal or human awareness, it is purely divine. It is the thousand-petalled lotus leading into eternal, infinite, supreme existence. It is the seat of pure consciousness. When the Kundalini rises from the Base Chakra to Sahasrara, energy and consciousness unite and illuminations dawns.
Thus Sesha Naga cannot be explained in words merely. He is the centre of Yoga Shakti and this universe. Keep following us for more. We will be back soon. Till then stay safe and healthy.