śatakatrayam 1.27: vahati bhuvaṇaśreṇiṃ śeṣaḥ (the thousand-headed snake śeṣa)

by Jahnabi Barooah

वहति भुवनश्रेणिं शेष: फणाफलकस्थितां
कमठपतिना मध्येपृष्ठं सदा स च धार्यते ।
तमपि कुरुते क्रोडाधीनं पयोधिरनादरा-
दहह महतां नि:सीमानश्चरित्रविभूतय: ।।२७।।
नीतिशतके

the thousand-headed snake śeṣa,
bears a multitude of worlds
on his expanded hoods.
he is in turn eternally carried
on the tortoise-lord kūrma’s back.
with utter disregard the waters of dissolution
drowned the latter too in its lapping waves
until the cosmic boar came to his rescue.
wow! there is no limit
to the greatness of the great. ||27||
nītiśataka

Comprehension of this verse depends on familiarity with several figures and myths of the sanskritic univese, but chiefly that at the time of dissolution, when all the worlds and all the the beings in were drowning in the ocean, Viṣṇu descended in the form of a boar and saved the earth. Below, a 19th century painting that illustrates this myth. For more on the painting’s style, see1398511703

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