Anantashayana Vishnu, Odisha

The depiction of Anantashayana Vishnu in the idolatry of this Hindu shrine is so powerful that it incites primal devotion within the visitors. The proprietor god is seen reclining on the rocky pedestal covered by his ever devoted great serpent. This magnificent sculpture made out of a single piece of rock formed from sandstone was carved during the early 9th Century and lies in the Saranga village, in Dhenkanal district of Odisha in India. The terms Anantashayi Vishnu and Anantashayana Vishnu used to denote this particular depiction of the Creator and Preserver in the Hindu pantheon of divinity literally translates to “Vishnu sleeping on a serpent Shesh".

The Shesh Naga or the serpent Shesh is a mythological character and is believed to be the chosen vehicle or abode of the Lord Vishnu. It is seven headed and balances the world on its hoods while singing praises of the Lord Vishnu from each of its mouths constantly. Although the Gomateshwara claims the incredible feat of being the largest and longest standing image of a deity, this open air rock relief art is the largest rock relief art on a single piece of sandstone measuring 15.4 metres in its horizontal position while Gomateshwara stands at 57 feet in the vertical position. The Anantashayana Vishnu image of Lord Vishnu in the reclining position with four arms is very much an active spot for offering worship and is spread over an area of fifteen metres in length and seven metres in width and a thickness of seventy centimetres.

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