Etymology of Prithvi
Prithvi or Prithvi Mata, the ‘Infinite One’ is the Sanskrit name for the planet earth as well as the name of a Devi (goddess) in Hinduism, especially Bhumi Devi.
Legends of Prithvi
There are several legends associated with Prithvi. She is always a part of Dyaus who is the male God associated with the heavens. Both these deities are equally dependent. They are considered as the parents who created the world. As a consequence, Dyaus is often called the father and Prithvi is known as the mother. Once, Prithvi and Dyaus were parted by Lord Varuna. However, they united in Heaven with rain.
Prithvi is also known for her kind nature. She holds the whole thing and is fixed all. Prithvi, along with Heaven is prayed for wealth and power. The water produced by the duo is considered as pure, healthful and profitable. People also worship them together for the protection against danger and to balance sin. Generally in a funeral, the dead person is asked to go to the lap of mother earth. She is often requested to cover the dead kindly.
Bhagavada Purana demotes to a king called ‘Vena’ who robbed earth so much that the earth ran away in hatred as the appearance of a cow. This resulted in chaos. Plants refused to bear fruit and seeds did not grow, animals cried and humans wept. There was hunger all over. Worried sages picked up a blade of grass, hymned magical hymns, turned it into a missile and killed the greedy king. Then they churned Vena’s dead body, removed all that was savage and untamed in it, created a new king from the distilled and purified positive elements. This king was called Prithu, a form of Vishnu. The gods gifted him with a bow. Prithu went to the earth-cow and requested her to present milk for his people but the cow refused as she was still upset. So Prithu raised his bow and threatened to shoot her down with his arrow. She ran, he pursued her and finally caught up her. Prithu agreed to establish dharma through rules that permits culture to flourish without destroying environment.
In Buddhist texts and visual signs, Prithvi is described as both shielding Gautama Buddha and as being his spectator for his enlightenment. Prithvi appears in Early Buddhism in the Pali Canon. Buddha is very regularly illustrated in metaphorical art wielding ‘bhumisparsa’ or ‘earth-touching’ mudra. In Rig Veda, Prithvi is never addressed alone.