Ananta

- July 2, 2021


By Sanjana Kapur and Aparna Kapur 

Illustration: Adarsh Achari and Ritoparna Hazra

Kashyapa, one of Brahma’s prajapatis, had two wives, Vinata and Kadru. Vinata gave birth to Garuda, and Kadru became the mother of all snakes or Nagas, including Takshaka, Vasuki and Ananta. One day, an argument broke out between Vinata and Kadru over the colour of Airavata’s tail. While Vinata insisted that Airavata’s tail was pure white, Kadru said that the tail had a few black hairs. (Another version says the argument took place regarding Uchhaisravas’ tail.) A wager was placed between Vinata and Kadru to determine the truth. The loser would become the slave of the other for the rest of her life.

Kadru did not want to lose. She went to her serpent sons and told them to suspend themselves from Airavata’s tail so it would look like the elephant had black hair. Ananta and a few others refused to be part of this dishonest act. Enraged at the disobedience of her sons, Kadru cursed them. She said that they would die in King Janmejeya’s snake sacrifice. Perturbed by his mother’s curse, Ananta sought help from Brahma. Brahma told him to go to the netherworld and support Mother Earth on his hood. Ananta readily agreed.

The mighty snake carries the entire world on his hood, maintaining its balance! Ananta is also known as Sheshnag. Vishnu is said to rest on his mighty coils.

Read the stories of celestial creatures of Indian mythology in our title Divine Beings, now available on the ACK Comics app, Kindle, Amazon, and other major e-tailers. 

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