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 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. It is said that when Adi-Shesha uncoils the time moves and creation takes place. When he coils back, the universe ceases to exist.
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.
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.
Sesha was born to sage Kashyapa and his wife Kadru.
Kadru gave birth to a thousand snakes, of which Sesha was the eldest. After Sesha were born Vasuki, Airavata and Takshaka, in order.
A lot of Sesha’s brothers were cruel in nature and were bent upon inflicting harm on others. They were even unkind to Garuda, who was Kashyapa’s son through Vinatha, sister of Kadru. (Kadru and Vinatha were daughters of Daksha)
Sesha, disgusted by the cruel acts of his brothers, left his mother and kin, and took to austere penances. He lived on air, and meditated in various places including Gandhamadhana, Badrikāshrama, Gokarna, Pushkara and Himalayas. His penances were so severe that his flesh, skin and muscles dried up and merged with his frame.
Brahma, satisfied with his penances, asked Sesha to request a boon. Sesha asked that he be able to keep his mind under control so that he could continue to perform ascetic penances. Brahma gladly accepted the request.
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