(‘the endless’)

Literally the word means ‘that which is endless,’ hence ‘infinite’. It is one of the epithets frequently used to describe or praise God in the Hindu scriptures. The Upaniṣads hold that Brahman is satya, jñāna and ananta (truth, knowledge or consciousness and infinite).

In the mythological lore, Ādiśeṣa the great serpent on whom Lord Viṣṇu is resting, is named ‘Ananta.’ He is ‘Ananta’ since he has an infinite number of hoods on which he is supporting the worlds. He represents cosmic time which is infinite and endless. Created worlds come into being in time and are sustained in time. This is the meaning of the hoods of Ananta supporting the worlds.

See also ĀDIŚEṢA.