Before lunch England, who won the series opener at Lord's by 196 runs, saw the back of Rahul Dravid, who made 117 in India's first innings, for just six when he was caught behind off a lifting delivery from Stuart Broad.
And after the interval Venkatsai Laxman, another of India's star batsmen, was clean bowled by a superb James Anderson delivery for four.
Opener Abhinav Mukund, dropped first ball, struggled to three off 41 balls before falling to Bresnan's fifth ball, a bouncer that he gloved to England captain Andrew Strauss at first slip.
And Bresnan succeeded with the short ball again when Suresh Raina miscued a hook straight to substitute Scott Elstone at long leg.
Tendulkar had struck some typically sublime straight drives off Anderson but he could only look on helplessly as Bresnan struck twice in two balls.
First Yuvraj Singh, already hit a painful blow on the glove by Bresnan, recalled in place of the injured Chris Tremlett, gloved another rising delivery to Alastair Cook in the unusual position of backward silly point and was out for eight.
Next ball India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, inexplicably playing no shot, was lbw for a golden duck to leave the tourists 55 for six and Bresnan on a hat-trick at the start of his next over.
Harbhajan survived the hat-trick with a cover-driven four but it was scant consolation for India.
England resumed Monday on 441 for six with Ian Bell having made 159 after being sportingly reprieved by Dhoni following his run out for 137 on Sunday when incorrectly assuming the ball had gone dead.
Matt Prior, again frustrating India, was 64 not out and Bresnan 47 not out.
Wicketkeeper Prior's entertaining innings of 73, and a seventh-wicket stand of 119 at nearly a run-a-ball, ended when he was caught by opposing gloveman Dhoni off Praveen Kumar, who led the attack with four for 124.
Broad, who'd top-scored with 64 in England's first innings 221 and had then taken a hat-trick on his way to Test-best figures of six for 46 in India's 288, ensured the runs kept coming with 44 on his Nottinghamshire home ground.
But a ball after Broad was run out, Bresnan fell within sight of a maiden Test hundred when he fended at a lifting delivery from Kumar and saw the ball loop to Dravid in the gully.
Bresnan, whose Test-best score remains the 91 he made against Bangladesh in Dhaka last year, faced 118 balls with 17 fours.