Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Ananta included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Ananta

(ĀDIŚEṢA).

Genealogy.

Mahāviṣṇu begot Brahmā and he the Prajāpatis and Ananta (Ādiśeṣa) is one of the Prajāpatis. (Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Araṇyakāṇḍa, Canto 14, Verse 7). Ananta is also referred to as the son of Kaśyapa, one of the Prajāpatis born of Kadrū. (Mahābhārata, Ādi Parva, Chapter 105, Verse 41). Also Balabhadrarāma, elder brother of Śrī Kṛṣṇa was a partial incarnation of Ananta.

Differences with mother.

Vinatā and Kadrū were two wives of Kaśyapa prajāpati. Garuḍa was born as Vinatā’s son and numerous serpents like Ananta, Vāsuki, Takṣaka, Kārkkoṭaka were sons of Kadrū. Once a controversy developed between Vinatā and Kadrū, the latter saying that there were a few black hairs on the tail of Airāvata and the former denying it. It was agreed that she who proved wrong in the argument would become the slave of the other. To prove herself to be right Kadrū, the same night, asked her sons to go and stay suspended in the hairs of Airāvata’s tail. Some of the sons agreed to do so, while her other (prominent) sons like Ananta expressed their disincli nation to do such an unethical act. Kadrū cursed these disobedient children of hers to die at the serpent yajña of Janamejaya, whereupon Ananta and his supporters departed in sorrow. (Mahābhārata, Ādi Parva, Chapter 65).

Ananta’s new engagement.

Departing thus from his mother Ananta visited sacred centres like Gandhamādana, Badarī and practised austerities. And, Brahma appeared before Ananta and asked him not to worry, but to go to the nether world and support the world on his hoods. Brahmā also told him that Garuḍa would render him all help in the new task. Blessed thus by Brahmā, Ananta gladly took up the new job. (Mahābhārata, Ādi Parva, Chapter 36, Verse 24).

4) Ananta has another abode in the palace of Varuṇa in the west. (Mahābhārata, Udyoga Parva, Chapter 110, Verse 18).

Ananta’s prowess.

About Ananta’s prowess Viṣṇu Purāṇa has the following to say: At the bottom of Pātāla there is a base (Tāmasic) form of Viṣṇu called Ādiśeṣa. Even the Dānavas and the Daityas are not able to describe the attributes of that form. The Siddhas call this Ādiśeṣa Ananta who is worshipped by Devas and ṛṣis. Ananta has 1000 heads and the Svastika mark which is clearly visible is his ornament. The 1000 gems in his head illuminate all regions, and he renders the Asuras powerless for the good of all the worlds. Ādiśeṣa whose eyes ever rotate due to the overflow of his prowess, and who wears blue apparel and garlands of white gems shines forth like another Mount Kailāsa beautified with garlands of clouds and by the flow of the Gaṅgā. Śrī Devī and Vāruṇī Devī serve Ananta who holds in one hand a lāṃgala and in the other a mace (mūsala). As the deluge (end of a yuga Kalpānta) approaches Rudra emanates from the faces of Ananta and consumes the three worlds. Ādiśeṣa dwells in the nether world wearing the whole earth as a crown. Even the Devas cannot gauge his nature, shape, prowess etc. When he yawns the earth and waters shake and shiver. The Gandharvas, Nāgas, Cāraṇas etc. fail to understand the real extent of his attributes, and that is why this strange being is called Ananta (endless). It was by worshipping Ananta and by his grace that sage Garga was able to master the sciences of astronomy and causation (nimitta). (Viṣṇu Purāṇa, Part 2, Chapter 5).

The land of Ananta.

Pātāla is Ananta’s world, and at its bottom there is a spot called Ananta. That spot is 30000 yojanas in extent, and here lives Ananta. He is known as Saṅkarṣaṇa also. He bears the whole nether world as though it were a mustard seed. And, when he thinks of destroying the entire world the Rudra called Saṅkarṣaṇa will appear with other Rudras and weapons like tridents (Triśūla). Other serpents bow at the feet of Ananta, who is supremely beautiful with divine lustre. (Devī Bhāgavata, Skandha 8).

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