Vishnu tells Narada in the Narayaniya portion of the Shanti Parva in Mahabharata:

Assuming a form that is manifest, I dwell, at present, in the heavens. At the end of a thousand Yugas I shall once more with-draw the universe into myself. Having withdrawn all creatures, mobile and immobile into myself, I shall exist all alone with knowledge only for my companion. After the lapse of ages I shall again create the universe, with the aid of that knowledge. That which is my fourth form creates the indestructible Sesha. That Sesha is called by the name of Sankarshana. Sankarshana creates Pradyumna. From Pradyumna I take birth myself as Aniruddha. I create (myself) repeatedly. From Aniruddha springs Brahma. The latter takes birth from Aniruddha's navel. From Brahma spring all creatures mobile and immobile. Know that Creation springs in this way repeatedly at the beginning of every Kalpa.

At the end of 1000 yugas, Vishnu withdraws everything into himself including Adi Sesha as he says only after starting the creation process again, does he create Adi Sesha once more. So from the above it can be inferred that after the universe is withdrawn, Adi Sesha does not exist for a particular time period. He does mention that he exists alone with his companion, which in itself is a contradictory statement as if he exists alone, then there cannot be any companion and if there is companion, then he cannot exist alone.

But here is what Vishnu Purana says:

Janárddana, invested with the quality of darkness, assumes the awful form of Rudra, and swallows up the universe. Having thus devoured all things, and converted the world into one vast ocean, the Supreme reposes upon his mighty serpent couch amidst the deep: he awakes after a season, and again, as Brahmá, becomes the author of creation.

Vishnu Purana says after Vishnu swallows the universe, he reposes on his serpent - Adi Sesha. But as per Vishnu's own statement, Adi Sesha cannot exist once the universe is swallowed as everything from mobile to immobile is also withdrawn and Adi Sesha is only created once the creation process starts again.

The above two statements from Mahabharata and Vishnu Purana seem contradictory, how to resolve this contradiction?

  • There are two adiseshas: one created, and another eternal. There are also two garudas: one created, and another eternal.
    – Ikshvaku
    Apr 10, 2019 at 14:58
  • @Ikshvaku That view is not supported by Mahabharata and Vishnu Purana.
    – Pinakin
    Apr 10, 2019 at 15:02
  • I believe that the Pancharatra Agamas say that there is a Garuda eternal in Vaikuntha, and one that is created in Shvetadvipa.
    – Ikshvaku
    Apr 10, 2019 at 15:03
  • @Ikshvaku But Sri Hari says in Mahabharata - "I shall exist all alone"
    – Pinakin
    Apr 10, 2019 at 15:04
  • Sri Vaishnavas interpret that to mean Narayana along with his seshas like Lakshmi, Adisesha, Vishvaksena, his sword, etc.
    – Ikshvaku
    Apr 10, 2019 at 15:05

2 Answers 2


As per Gita :

सर्वभूतानि कौन्तेय प्रकृतिं यान्ति मामिकाम्।

कल्पक्षये पुनस्तानि कल्पादौ विसृजाम्यहम्।।9.7।।

O son Kunti, all the beings go back at the end of a cycle to My Prakrti. I project them forth again at the beginning of a cycle.(Tr. by Sw. Gambhirananda)

So Sri Vishnu's Prakiti is referred to in the sloka given by you as Adishesha or His companion.But as there is no real distinction between Shakti and Shaktimaan, He remains alone in real sense.

The statement quoted is NOT contradictory. It seems contradictory because something is being expressed in language which can not be expressed. Sri Ramakrishna called this stage 'ek dui er paar' ie beyond Advaita and Dvaita and so it can not be expressed by kanguage as per His Kathamrita ('mukhe bala jai naa').

Taking the Nasadiya Sukta (Rig-Veda, 10/129). It describes the situation of pralaya

There was no existence(sat), nor non-existence(asat) (1)

There was no death(mrityu), nor non-death(amarana).(2)

From Whom the variety is created, He holds it or does not hold.(7)

Therevwas only darkness (tamas) covered by darkness.

Sri Ramanujacharya in the commentary of the above sloka of Gita says of 'tamas' which reminds the Nasadiya Sukta :

9.7 All the mobile and immobile entities enter into My Prakrti at the end of a cycle, namely at the end of Brahma's life in accordance with My will. This Prakrti, constituting My body, is designated by the term Tamas, as it cannot be differentiated into name and form. I again send forth the very same beings at the beginning of a cycle. Manu declares accordingly: 'This universe became Tamas ৷৷. by an act of will. He produced it out of His body' (Manu, 1.5.8). The Srutis also declare thus: 'He whose body is Avyakta' (Su. U., 7); 'The Avyakta merges into Aksara, the Aksara into Tamas' (Ibid., 2); and also 'There was Tamas; the intelligence was concealed by Tamas' (Tai. Br., 1.8.9).

These apparent contradictions are quite normal to express that state which was there before the creation of thought and language.

Darkness is also an expression which is opposed to light.So darkness also must merge into something inexpressible or unspeakable. Sri Vishnu in Mahabharat is referring to that state.While the Vishnu-Puran isnstating the 'Tamas' state.

To conclude, there are no contradictions.

  • 6
    This does not answer the question. What you have posted is probably related to Advaita.
    – Pinakin
    Feb 9, 2019 at 11:40
  • 3
    @Partha I do not understand your answer at all. What is your point?
    – Wikash_
    Mar 12, 2019 at 6:56
  • 1
    @ChinmaySarupria So Ramanujacharya was also referring to Advaita? :D
    – user17294
    Apr 11, 2019 at 3:20
  • 2
    Your answer is about what happens at the end of cycle, my question is specifically about Adi Sesha.
    – Pinakin
    Apr 11, 2019 at 4:28
  • 1
    Still the question is about Vishnu reposing on serpent which is not addressed in your answer.
    – Pinakin
    Apr 11, 2019 at 10:27

When we say 'There goes the king', we understand not only the king but also his palanquin, retinue, and so on, although they are not explicitly mentioned.

By the word 'I', [we] understand Vaikuntha, His associates and so on as well since they are His subsidiary parts. [This is] like [a statement] `There goes the king'. And thus we understand that they [i.e. Vaikuutha and His associates] exist [eternally) just like Him.

In the same way, when the Lord says 'I alone', it is to be understood that His retinue and abode also existed.

"That king is not presently performing any duty", only the duty related to the kingdom is being set aside but not [the activities] such as sleeping and eating.' When there is no creation, it is simply that the Lord is not engaged in any activity in relation to creation. However, this does not mean that He statically exists without any engagement.

The Skanda Purana, Kashi Kanda says(quoted by Jiva Goswami in catuh shloki bhagavata)

na cyavante hi yad-bhaktā mahatyāṁ pralayāpadi ato ’cyuto ’khile loke sa ekaḥ sarva-go ’vyayaḥ

"Therefore, He only is imperishable, omnipresent, and undecaying in the entire world. Neither do His devotees perish when there is a great calamity of dissolution.'

Also, Bhagavata 3.7.37 supports this.

The creation of Sesha as said in Mahabharata could be Sesha who holds up the the universe on the hoods.

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