Definition - What does Ananta mean?

Ananta is a Sanskrit word which can be translated as “infinite,” “endless” or “limitless.” It refers to the concept of anything which expands into infinity.

According to yogic teachings, Ananta is also the name of the serpent of infinity who listened in on the teachings of the secrets of yoga, which Lord Shiva was giving to Parvati. According to one myth, when Shiva discovered Ananta’s eavesdropping, he commanded him to share that teaching with all humankind. To do this, Ananta took on human form and was called Patanjali (author of the Yoga Sutras). He fell from heaven to Earth and landed in the hand of Gonika, a virtuous woman.

Yogapedia explains Ananta

"The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali" is the central text of yoga philosophy. In it, Patanjali emphasizes the importance of following the Eight Limbs of Yoga.

Part of the guidance given in the Sutras includes using the breath to find a steady, comfortable posture in which to meditate and progress along the eight-limbed path. This relates back to Ananta being the "serpent sofa" of Vishnu's because the seat of this deity needed to be both infinitely comfortable, infinitely firm and infinitely strong. In this way, Ananta has been described as the ideal yogi.

Ananta is also a term for something which cannot be destroyed because it is endless and beyond birth, growth and death. In Vedanta philosophy, ananta can denote one of the attributes of Brahman, the Absolute Reality. It is infinite space and has a beginning, but no end.

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