Saturday, November 03, 2012

13. Bhagavatham   Prithu and the Earth.

In the lineage of Dhruva, was the Emperor Vena. He was a wicked and he strayed from the path of virtue. Blinded by his limitless power, he became cruel and tyrannical. Rituals and sacrifices were banned. There was torture aplenty. Thieves flourished by gross exploitation of the earth's natural resources. Disrespected and abused, Bhoomi, the ultimate symbol of tolerance, shaking with fear, withdraws in herself the crops and all that is required for the subsistence of the people. Vena would not listen to sane advice and reasoning of the sages. The sages decide that if Vena would continue any longer, it would be disastrous for mankind. So, with a mere incantation of 'hum', they despatch him. His body was kept preserved by his wife Sunitha, through various means available then.
The sages know that without a king, the State would weaken further, with anarchy and lawlessness all around. They consider it their bounden duty to use their divine knowledge to help the afflicted. They churn with great velocity, the arms of the lifeless emperor Vena.  Out of the electrifying friction, sprang up a male, considered a divine incarnation of Vishnu, Prithu, and a female, Archi, an embodied process of radiation, a god of wealth and prosperity.
Prithu was showered with various gifts by the gods to help him protect and rule the earth according to dharma. But the starvation remained.  Prithu ponders the reasons for it. He realises that the Earth had held up the food-grains within her.  Angered, he aims an arrow at the earth. The earth, runs scared in the form of a cow. Prithu chases until she surrenders and pleads for mercy.  Extolling Prithu as the Supreme person, she reasons that the herbs and annual plants created by Brahma, were being used improperly by the unrighteous. These plants have been assimilated in her over a long process of time.  Hence she found it necessary to absorb into herself all that was precious, to protect herself from exploitation. She advices Prithu to find a calf, a proper vessel for the milk and one who would draw the milk.  Then, full of affection for the calf, she would yield whatever would be desired of her. 
Accepting the advice of the Earth, Prithu makes Swayambhuva Manu the calf and himself draws all the species of herbs and annual plants. Similarly, the sages, the gods, the gandharvas etc., extract from the earth all that they needed.
Prithu, happy with the bounteous gifts of the Earth, fondly adopts her as his daughter. Hence she was called Prithvi. With loving care Prithu levels the surface of the earth to hold water after the rains. He also builds individual dwellings, villages, towns and cities, castles and forts and also digs mines. The people began to live comfortably with a sense of security.  Atharva veda gives Prithu the credit for inventing the plough.
In a huge gathering after a sacrificial session, Prithu elaborates to his subjects the concept of Dharma. The elders were delighted that how one attained to the higher worlds through a worthy son.
The Sanaka sages appear on the occasion and Prithu accepts them as his guru. They answer Prithu's questions on the nature of the self and the Supreme. The King takes to a life of asceticism and departs to the forest alongwith his wife Archi.

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Srimad Bhagavatham