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In Hindu (Vedic) tradition, Shesha (Śeṣa in IAST transliteration, Devanagari: शेष) is the king of all nagas, one of the primal beings of creation, and according to the Bhagavata Purana, an avatar of the Supreme God known as Sankarshan. In the Puranas, Shesha is said to hold all the planets of the Universe on his hoods and to constantly sing the glories of Vishnu from all his mouths. He is sometimes referred to as "Ananta-Shesha" which means "Endless Shesha" and as "Adishesha", which means First snake.
The serpent or dragon eating its own tail can be traced back to Ancient Egypt, circa 1600 BC. However the pig dragons of the Hongshan culture (4700–2200 BC) of China are older. From ancient Egypt it passed to Phoenicia and then to the Greek philosophers, who gave it the name Ouroboros ("tail-devourer").
In Norse mythology it appears as the serpent Jörmungandr, one of the three children of Loki, who grew so large that it could encircle the world and grasp its tail in its teeth. In the legends of Ragnar Lodbrok, such as Ragnarssona þáttr, the Geatish king Herraud gives a small lindorm as a gift to his daughter Þora Town-Heart after which it grows into a large serpent which encircles the girl's bower and bites itself in the tail. The serpent is slain by Ragnar Lodbrok who marries Þora. Ragnar later has a son with another woman named Kráka and this son is born with the image of a white snake in one eye. This snake encircled the iris and bit itself in the tail, and the son was named Sigurd Snake-Eye.
Snakes are sacred animals in many West African religions. The demi-god Aidophedo uses the image of a serpent biting its own tail.