Tales from Srimad Bhagavatam: The Plight of Prithvi – IX

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Nilanjana recounts the tale of the Mother Earth, Prithvi, tracing its plight to the rule of the wicked king, Vena, who abused the bounty of nature. Sunita, Vena’s mother was too to her son. She did not allow Vena’s body to be cremated and preserved it with herbs and magical powers that she possessed. From the body of Vena, the wise proceeded to create life. When they churned the thigh of Vena, an evil person was born. He was an embodiment of the evil aspects of Vena and was called Nishada. Then they churned both the arms. From both the arms a man and woman took birth. It is believed that they were the incarnations of Narayana and Lakshmi. The man was named Prituh, and the woman, Archis.  Prituh had the marked on his hand and the lotus on his feet. Read more about it, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.

This story commences when complete anarchy had overtaken righteousness. Robbers took their turns to loot people in the absence of a king. Eventually, the wise men realised that they were partly responsible since they had been instrumental in getting rid of the previous king, the wicked Vena. Eager to help out the city in distress, they reached the palace.

Sunita, Vena’s mother was too attached to her son. She did not allow Vena’s body to be cremated and preserved it with herbs and magical powers that she possessed. From the body of Vena, the wise men proceeded to create life. When they churned the thigh of Vena, an evil person was born. He was an embodiment of the evil aspects of Vena and was called Nishada. Then they churned both the arms. From both the arms a man and woman took birth. It is believed that they were the incarnations of Narayana and Lakshmi. The man was named, Prituh, and the woman, Archis.  Prituh had the chakra marked on his hand and the lotus on his feet.


The were very happy with the birth of Prituh. The devas (divine beings) sang in praise and offered him fabulous gifts. In course of time, Prituh was crowned the king, the protector of the world.

Prituh took his title, ‘Protector of the world’ very seriously. But the plight of his subjects pained him. They were weak and undernourished. There was a scarcity of food in his country. On introspection, he realised that Mother Earth was not producing any nourishing and healthy seeds and plants.

Prituh was very angry with Mother Earth. With his divine bow and arrow, he planned to hurt her. The sacred Mother Earth took the form of a cow and fled from him. With her tail aloft and trembling legs, she ran as far as she could. But Prituh did not give up. He followed her relentlessly with his bow and arrow.

Finally, she gave up and requested him, “Please protect me. You are known to be a righteous king and you should not harass a woman like this. You cannot kill a woman, especially when she has no fault. If you kill me, how will you survive?”

Prituh replied, “You have been unfair. You are not doing your duty, not producing healthy crops. My people are . How can you justify that?”

Mother Earth replied, “Yes, I was born with the purpose of nurturing and nourishing. But then wicked people like Vena became powerful. They began to harass me and used my gifts for wrong purposes. I have been abused time and again. People are unworthy and because of that, I have swallowed the nourishing herbs and seeds. I have hidden them because those people do not deserve them at all. But, if you use the proper techniques with respect, they can be born again.”

Prituh was listening to her intently as she continued, “Provide me with a calf that will make me yield milk. Get a proper vessel where the milk can be collected. Find out the most appropriate person to milk me. Level the surface of the earth – my surface, so that the rains will accumulate on my surface and not flow away.”

Prituh understood the pain of Mother Earth. He dropped his bow and arrow. Thoughtfully he addressed her, “You are absolutely right. I will have to figure the best out of you. We have  your worth and have abused you. Naturally, you have lost your patience. I will set it all right.”

Prituh made Manu the calf and he was the milker. He milked out herbs and seeds from Mother Earth. He then extended this courtesy to others. The rishis (wise ones) made Brihaspati their calf and milked the Vedas. The devas (divine beings) made Indra their calf and milked out soma (nectar), virya (mental strength), ojas (strength of the senses) and bala (physical strength). Similarly, daityas () made Prahlada their calf and milked out the wines named Sura and Asava.

This process continued and each clan milked out what they wanted. Prituh was very happy with Mother Earth. He announced that she was her daughter. From then on, Mother Earth is addressed as Prithvi.

With the top of his bow, Prituh crushed the top of the mountains, made ravines on the surface of the earth and leveled her, so that rainwater could easily flow around and create more greenery.  He won the heart of his subjects and was lovingly called Adiraja.

As an able king, Prithuh also managed to inculcate a sense of respect amongst his subjects to nurture nature responsibly. In some parts of India, Mother Earth is respectfully also called “Bhudevi” (where Bhu means the earth and devi means goddess).

Footnote: is often called the Bhagavad Purana. Authored by Ved Vyasa, the stories are about the various avatars (incarnations) of Lord Vishnu, also known as Narayana.

©Nilanjana Dey

Photos from the internet.

Nilanjana Dey

Nilanjana Dey

A story-teller at heart, Nilanjana Dey is on a journey to experiment with fiction and poetry. Her first novel, largely aimed towards children, is titled ‘The Adventures of Puti – The Cheese Trail’. Her poems have been published at various prestigious portals. An alumni of English Literature from Jadavpur University (Kolkata), she is a marketing and communication professional based in Mumbai. She volunteers with a Mumbai based NGO working with the marginalised sections of the society.
Nilanjana Dey