Vishnu reclining on the serpent Ananta
Museum no. D.419-1889
The Hindu deity Lord Vishnu is often depicted laying on the many-headed serpent Ananta floating on the ocean, while he dreams the universe into existence. Ananta, meaning 'Endless', represents the eternal and the cycle of cosmic birth and death repeated forever. The serpent is also called Shesha, meaning 'Remainder', representing that which 'remains' when the universe ends, and which fuels the start of the next cosmic cycle.