Tamil Hindu Encyclopaedia 7 (ஆதி சேஷன், ஆதிசேடன்)- Post No.11,350)


Post No. 11,350

Date uploaded in London – 12 OCTOBER 2022                  

Contact – swami_48@yahoo.com

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Adi sesha (aathi seshan or aathi setan) ஆதி சேஷன், ஆதிசேடன் is the thousand headed snake that acts like the couch and umbrella of Lord Vishnu. All that is said about this snake is found in Sangam Tamil book Paripatal (paatal).

First let me list the information found in Puranas:-

In Hindu Puranas it is called Aadhi Sesha or Sesha Naga (naaga). He was the king of the serpents as well as the Patala Loka (paataala loka). That is the infernal region.

It has got 1000 heads. Lord Vishnu sleeps on this during the interval between creations. It is the couch cum canopy at that time.

It upholds the earth and the 7 infernal regions. There are seven lokas up and seven lokas down. The lokas or regions below the earth are generally called Pataala lokas. But there are seven different names for them.

Whenever Adi sesha yawns, the earth shakes and that is what we call earth quake.

At the end of each creation , he vomits poison which destroys all creation.

When Devas and Asuras churned the ocean to get Amrita (ambrosia), Adi Sesha was used as a rope which was tied around the Mandara mountain.

He is represented clothed in purple and wearing a white necklace, holding in one hand a plough and  in the other hand a pestle.

He is also called Ananta(endless) as the symbol of eternity. His wife’s name is Ananta seersha

He is identified with Vasuki.

He is the son of Rishi Kashyapa and Kadru.

He is the incarnation of Balarama, brother of Lord Krishna

His hood is called Mani dwipa- Island of Jewels and his palace Mani Bhiiti- Jewel walled or Mani Mandapa- Hall of Jewels.


Almost all these are found in Sangam book Paripatal (Pari)

Pari= Paripaatal; பரிபாடல் திரட்டு Pari.T= Paripaatal Thirattu= This is a collection from the quotations in the commentators’ notes. The original poems are lost.

Thousand head- ஆயிரம்தலைப் பாம்பு Pari 1-1; 3-59; 13-27; Paripatal Thirattu 1-79

His tongue is split- Pari 13-27 (Puranas say the snake tongue was split when he licked the Amrita.)


Adi sesha is the reincarnation of Baladeva—Pari. T 15-19

Temple of Adi sesha- Kulavaay—Pari.T 1-44; 1-63 குளவாய்


Snake upholding the earth—Pari.T 1-58; 1-74

Brahma gave this boon to Adi Sesha.


Used as a rope for churning the ocean to bring out Amrit—Pari  T 1-67


When Siva burnt the Tri-Pura (three Asura forts hanging in the sky), Adi sesha became the string in the bow of Lord Siva—Pari.T 1-75


Another story about Adisesha is that there was a contest between the 1000 headed snake and Vayu, the God of Wind. Both decided to test their strength on the peak of Mount Meru. Whoever that shakes that peak  is the winner, said the Devas. They were the Mediators. Adi sesha covered the head/peak of Meru with all his strength. But Devas partiality made the snake’s defeat. When the Devas asked Adi Sesha to lift it head slightly, Vayu, the wind blew hard, and the top of the Mount Meru flew away and fell in the ocean that became Sri Lanka.

This anecdote is in Pari.T 1-72


In the ancient Tamil Nadu all the Vishnu temples had two shrines- one for Krishna and another for his elder brother Baladeva/Balarama.

The custom is to first worship Baladeva, being elder brother of Lord Krishna.

This custom is referred to in Pari.T 1-79

Those who visit old dilapidated temples can still see it. All the Vaishnavite devotional poems also sing the glory of Baladeva பலதேவன் and his worship disappeared slowly and mysteriously.


Another description about Adi sesha snake is that the earth will be destroyed by the fire and poison emitted from the 1000 heads.

To be continued………………………….

Tags Adi Sesha ஆதி சேஷன், ஆதிசேடன், 1000 head sake, ஆயிரம்தலைப் பாம்பு , பரிபாடல் , Kulavay குளவாய் பரிபாடல் திரட்டு, பலதேவன் Baladeva

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