SHESH NAG (the serpent god) comprises an important part of Hindu mythology. As the reclining couch and the roofing canopy of the god Vishnu, it has been a god venerated by all and worshipped by many for centuries.
It is considered to be the king of the serpent race and the ruler of the infernal regions called PATAL. God Vishnu sleeps over the bed of its coils during intervals of creation. Shesh Nag is also represented as one supporting the world on its hood.
The Nags have three Kings, VAASUKI, TAKSHAK and SHESH. Shesh is said to represent the ‘remainder’ when the universe is destroyed and the power of creation (Lord Vishnu) rests on its coils. The Nags are dwelling in an underworld, called NAG LOKA, which is an immense domain crowded with palaces, houses, towers and pleasure gardens.
According to Varaha Purana, three of the lower worlds, PATAL, ATAL and SUTAL belong to the Nags. Their favorite places of visitations are the banks of river, IKSHUMATI, the NAIMISH forest on the shores of the GOMATI, the northern banks of the GANGA and the NISHAD land. They also dwell under the sea.
These nags are not always the enemy of man and they even inter marry with them. Arjun of Mahabharata married a Nag girl named Uloopi. Shesh Nag is the serpent with a thousand heads and is also called ‘ANANTA ‘, the timeless, because it does not die with destruction of the universe.
All serpents are of divine extraction, because they are the children of Kadru, who herself is the descendant of Kashyap. The main city of Nags is Bhogvati (the city of pleasures), where Shesh appears like the White Mountain adorned with gems. The later Purana identify Shesh even with Krishna as Vishnu. Shesh is said to be the soul of Krishna’s brother Balrama. Thus Shesh emerged from the body of dying Balrama and entered the earth, where he received a warm welcome by all other serpents.