Of the seven regions of Patala, below the earth. Narada s praises of Patala. Account of the serpent sesha. First teacher of astronomy and astrology.
Parasara. The extent of the surface of the earth has been thus described to you, Maitreya. Its depth below the surface is said to be seventy thousand Yojanas, each of the seven regions of Patala extending downwards ten thousand. These seven, worthy Muni, are called Atala, Vitala, Nitala, Gabhastimat, Mahatala, Sutala, and Patala 1. Their soil is severally white, black, purple, yellow, sandy, stony, and of gold. They are embellished with magnificent palaces, in which dwell numerous Danavas, Daityas, Yakshas, and great snake gods. The Muni Narada, after his return from those regions to the skies 2, declared amongst the celestials that Patala was much more delightful than Indra s heaven. "What," exclaimed the sage, "can be compared to Patala, where the Nagas are decorated with brilliant and beautiful and pleasure shedding jewels? who will not delight in Patala, where the lovely daughters of the Daityas and Danavas wander about, fascinating even the most austere; where the rays of the sun diffuse light, and not heat, by day; and where the moon shines by night for illumination, not for cold; where the sons of Danu, happy in the enjoyment of delicious viands and strong wines, know not how time passes? There are beautiful groves and streams and lakes where the lotus blows; and the skies are resonant with the Koil s song. Splendid ornaments, fragrant perfumes, rich unguents, the blended music of the lute and pipe and tabor; these and many other enjoyments are the common portion of
the Danavas, Daityas, and snake gods, who inhabit the regions of Patala 3."
Below the seven Patalas is the form of Vishnu, proceeding from the quality of darkness, which is called sesha 4, the excellencies of which neither Daityas nor Danavas can fully enumerate. This being is called Ananta by the spirits of heaven, and is worshipped by sages and by gods. He has a thousand heads, which are embellished with the pure and visible mystic sign 5: and the thousand jewels in his crests give light to all the regions. For the benefit of the world he: deprives the Asuras of their strength. He rolls his eyes fiercely, as if intoxicated. He wears a single ear ring, a diadem, and wreath upon each brow; and shines like the white mountains topped with flame. He is clothed in purple raiment, and ornamented with a white necklace, and looks like another Kailasa, with the heavenly Ganga flowing down its precipices. In one hand he holds a plough, and in the other a pestle; and he is attended by Varuni (the goddess of wine), who is his own embodied radiance. From his mouths, at the end of the Kalpa, proceeds the venomed fire that, impersonated as Rudra, who is one with Balarama, devours the three worlds.
sesha bears the entire world, like a diadem, upon his head, and he is the foundation on which the seven Patalas rest. His power, his glory, his form, his nature, cannot be described, cannot he comprehended by the gods themselves. Who shall recount his might, who wears this whole earth, like a garland of flowers, tinged of a purple dye by the radiance of the jewels of his crests. When Ananta, his eyes rolling with intoxication, yawns, then earth, with all her woods, and mountains, and seas, and rivers, trembles. Gandharbas, Apsarasas, Siddhas, Kinnaras, Uragas, and Charanas are unequal to hymn his praises, and therefore he is called the infinite Ananta(), the imperishable. 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.
The ancient sage Garga 6, having propitiated sesha, acquired from him a knowledge of the principles of astronomical science, of the planets, and of the good and evil denoted by the aspects of the heavens.
The earth, sustained upon the head of this sovereign serpent, supports in its turn the garland of the spheres, along with their inhabitants, men, demons, and gods.