“What is Ananta” has so much in its definition, from an infinite loop of beginning to no end, from a concept beyond the cycles of birth and death to the understanding of Absolute Reality. In this blog post, we will explore the meaning of Ananta, its mention in various scriptures and the practice of Ananta in Yoga and more about the concept.
What is Ananta in Yoga?
The concept of Ananta holds a special place in the ancient art of yoga. It is a Sanskrit word meaning “endless” or “eternal,” Its reference is found in many Hindu scriptures. Ananta is the cosmic serpent which stands for the eternal cycle of creation and destruction, as well as for the infinite potential of the universe.
Ananta is also seen as a symbol of the spiritual journey of yoga, and it is often used to represent the idea of non-attachment or detachment from the material world. In yogic philosophy, Ananta symbolizes the eternal nature of the soul, and its presence is seen in many aspects of the yoga practice, from the postures, breathing exercises, and meditation. In this way, the idea of Ananta allows practitioners to approach their practice with a sense of detachment, allowing them to focus on self-enlightenment and spiritual growth.
Definition of Ananta
Ananta is a Sanskrit word (अनन्त) with a variety of meanings, depending on the context. In its most basic definition, “Ananta” means “endless” or “eternal.” In other contexts, it can also mean “unending” or “infinite.”
Ananta is the name of several Hindu deities, such as Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna and Lord Vishnu. Ananta is also the name of AdiShesha, the thousand-headed serpent, which lies at the bottom of the cosmic ocean, on which Lord Vishnu reclines. The concept of Ananta is also used for the infinite potential of the universe, with infinite space with a beginning but no end.
According to yoga teachings, Ananta is also the name of the serpent who overheard Lord Shiva teaching goddess Parvati the secrets of yoga. When Lord Shiva learned of Ananta’s eavesdropping, he ordered Ananta to share that learning with the entire human race. Therefore, Ananta assumed human form as Sage Patanjali and taught the Eight Limbs of Yoga for the well-being of mankind.
Ananta is often used to denote the path of yoga and the idea of detachment from the material world. In yogic philosophy, Anant represents the eternal nature of the soul, which is timeless and beyond birth and death.
Symbology of Ananta
Ananta is represented by the symbol infinity (∞).The idea of Ananta extends beyond the realm of yoga, appearing in Hindu myths and stories. However, its particular symbolism has also been explored in yogic philosophy.
In this context, Ananta is often seen as a symbol of detachment. The endless serpent can be seen as a reminder that everything in the universe is transitory and that nothing remains the same forever.
The Ananta mantra (a special chant used by yogic practitioners) also symbolizes such an idea. It goes as follows: This Sanskrit mantra translates as “May I be free of attachment” or “May I be free of attachment to the material world.” It speaks to the idea of detachment, and the Ananta symbolism can be found in many yogic practices.
In this way, Ananta represents the journey of yoga, reminding practitioners that they should take everything slowly and with detachment, allowing them to focus on self-enlightenment and spiritual growth.
Presence of Ananta in Yoga
Ananta is found in almost all yogic practices, from asanas (postures) to pranayama (breathing exercises). One of the most common ways of introducing the concept of Ananta in yoga is by practising the “Ananta-asana, also known as Sleeping Vishnu Pose. The Anantasana is performed by following the below-mentioned steps:
1. Begin by lying on your left side. Gently bend your knees. Fold your left arm and place your left hand above your left ear so as to rest your head on your hand and place your right hand in your front to maintain balance on the floor.
2. Keep your drishti or gaze straight ahead, at eye level.
3. Straighten your left leg along the floor. Slightly bend your right knee. Lift the toe with the thumb and first finger of the right hand to straighten the right leg upwards.
4. Keep your balance firmly on the ground by holding onto your thigh bone and upper arm for stability.
5. Release your toes and roll onto your back. Repeat the pose on the other side as well.
Anantasana helps us look inward to understand our innate instincts and experience a deep sense of peace and calm.
Ananta-pranayama is a breathing exercise that is performed with a seated position. In this exercise, the practitioner focuses on a word or phrase that helps him to enter meditation or a deep state of relaxation.
Ananta-bhakti is a type of yoga that focuses on devotion and selfless service. Ananta yoga is a form of meditation that is performed in a seated position, and it focuses on the exploration of one’s inner world.
Representation of Detachment
The concept of Ananta can be seen as a representation of detachment from the material world. In this context, the yogic journey is likened to a process of detachment from the material world, allowing the practitioner to focus on self-enlightenment and spiritual growth.
Yet, detachment does not have to be seen as a negative thing, as it can also be seen as a form of resistance to the negative influences of the material world. In this way, the concept of detachment from the material world also involves resistance towards negativity and a focus on positive ideals and spiritual growth.
The material world is a place of imperfection and suffering, representing an endless cycle of change and transformation. It is a place filled with numerous illusions, desires, and attachments. Therefore, yogic practices attempts to detach from such attachments and the negative influences of the material world.
Yoga Practice with Ananta in Mind
Yoga can be a powerful tool for self-enlightenment and spiritual growth and can be a route to detachment from the material world. When approaching yoga, be aware of the journey towards self-enlightenment rather than focusing on the destination.
• Try to approach yoga with an attitude of detachment, asking yourself: “What is the purpose of this posture?” rather than “How can I do this posture perfectly?”
• When performing breathing exercises, use words or phrases that symbolize detachment (such as “Ananta”).
• When meditating, try to focus on the journey towards self-enlightenment rather than an expectation of reaching a particular destination.
• Explore the inner world, focusing on the journey towards self-enlightenment rather than attempting to reach a certain destination.
• Focus on the journey towards self-enlightenment rather than attempting to reach a certain destination.
Remember the presence of Ananta in yoga, and try to approach yoga with a focus on self-enlightenment and detachment from the material world.
Self-Enlightenment and Spiritual Growth
The concept of Ananta can be used as a reminder of the journey toward self-enlightenment and spiritual growth. It reminds us that everything is transitory and nothing remains the same forever. The endless serpent reminds us that everything changes and that nothing is permanent.
It reminds us that we should not get attached to one thing or one way of doing things because nothing is everlasting. Instead, we should be open to change, be open to new things, and be open to different ways of doing things.
It also reminds us that we should not expect things to be the same forever and should not be surprised when they don’t last. It also reminds us that we should not get attached to outcomes and results because they are constantly changing and always temporary.
It reminds us that we should not be attached to outcomes because they will constantly change and never last. The Ananta symbolizes the journey towards self-enlightenment and spirituality, reminding us that it is a journey, not a destination.
Ananta in Hindu Scriptures
Ananta appears in many Hindu scriptures and epics, either as a character or a symbol. In the Mahabharata, Ananta is a deity who once appeared to King Yudhisthira and offered him advice on spirituality.
In the Bhagavata Purana, Ananta is the thousand-headed serpent that lies at the bottom of the ocean and supports the earth. In the Bhagavad Gita (a sacred Hindu text), Ananta symbolizes the spiritual journey of yoga.
The Ananta symbol is used in the Hindu epics to depict an eternal cycle of creation and destruction, as well as the infinite potential of the universe.
Ananta in Hindu Mythology
Ananta is also used as a name for Hindu deities and mythological figures. For example, Ananta is the name of a thousand-headed serpent that assumes the form of a serpent couch on which Lord Vishnu rests at the bottom of the ocean.
According to the Vishnu Purana, Ananta’s body, which was that of a serpent, was used as a churning rope by the Devas and Asuras to extract amrita, the elixir of eternal life, from the ocean.
Many myths and stories surround Ananta, but they all focus on the same concept of the endless serpent. In Hindu mythology, Ananta is depicted as a giant snake at the bottom of the ocean and supports the earth with his coils. This myth is often used to illustrate the idea of non-attachment and eternal cycles of creation and destruction.
In this way, Ananta can be used to approach the practice of yoga with a focus on non-attachment and the idea of the eternal cycle of creation and destruction.
Hope this article has given you an idea of what is Ananta in yoga and helped you develop this innate sense of contentment and timelessness.