Vidura continued, “O Mahatma, Srikrishna, the Lord who is invisible to the mind and senses incarnated as Prithu and milked the Earth. Please also narrate other noteworthy divine deeds of his which I have missed out. I have deep love towards the Lord and towards you, O Mahatma”.
In this way, Vidura who was yearning to hear divine stories pertaining to Lord Vāsudeva encouraged Maitreya Maharishi to continue his narration. Maitreya Maharishi was thrilled with Vidura’s inclination towards divine stories. Mentally appreciating him, he replied,
“O Vidura, Maharishis crowned Prithu as the emperor. At the time when Prithu began to rule, the kingdom was afflicted by severe famine. Due to absolute paucity of food grains, people were starving. They had become weak and emaciated. They approached the king and begged,
“O King, just as the tree burns due to fire in its trunk, we are burning as our stomachs are on fire. This is because of lack of food grains. You protect those who seek refuge. We seek refuge in you. O King, Maharishis churned the arms of Vena and have given you to us. They appointed you as our king. O supreme king, for the past many days we have had no food to eat. Before we lose our lives, please organize some food for us. As our king, please give us food and also please give us a livelihood”.
Hearing their pleas, Prithu pondered the reason for the famine. When he figured out the reason, he was deeply angered with Mother Earth. Just as the angry Rudra aimed the arrow upon the Tripurasura demons, Prithu took up his bow and aimed at Mother Earth.
Mother Earth trembled in fear when she saw that Prithu was about to hit her. She took on the form of a cow and just as deer hastily runs away trying to escape the hunter’s arrow, she ran speedily.
Emperor Prithu observed this and his eyes reddened with anger. Fixing the arrow to his bow he chased the cow and followed her wherever she went. The cow ran throughout earth, space and heavens. Wherever she went she could see Prithu chasing her.
There is none in this Earth who can save a person from death. Likewise, Mother Earth could not find anyone in the creation who could save her from Prithu. She was agitated. Helplessly she turned back and returned.
Uvāca ca mahā-bhāgaṁ dharma-jñāpanna-vatsala
Trāhi mām api bhūtānāṁ pālane ’vasthito bhavān
Addressing the pious Prithu, Mother Earth said, “O King Prithu, you are well-versed in the rules of righteousness. You show feelings of love and sympathy towards living beings who are in trouble. Hence kindly protect me. Why are you, the protector of living beings, trying to kill me who am totally helpless? I am sinless. You are renowned for your adherence to dharma. Isn’t it against the tenets of dharma to kill a woman?
O king, even foolish men do not use their weapon upon ladies who have sinned. Then isn’t it but natural that compassionate persons like you, who are filled with sympathy towards the downtrodden, never use their weapons against women?
I am like a powerful boat within which this entire world rests. If you break me, living beings that are resting using me as the support will drown. How can you do this?’ – asked the helpless Mother Earth who was in the form of a cow.
Prithu replied, “O bhudevi, if you disobey my commands I will break you. You are accepting the share of offerings given to you in the Yagna. Thereafter you are not increasing our wealth and prosperity. Is it wrong to punish the cow that eats plentiful grass but refuses to yield milk? Since this is your mistake, punishing you is not a sinful offence.
In the beginning of creation, Lord Brahma created food grains such as rice and wheat. Being dull-witted and foolish, you have hidden these grains within your body and are not letting them out. Through this mistake you have insulted me, your king.
People are suffering. Unable to bear the pangs of hunger they have become weak. Therefore, this very instant I will shred your body using my powerful arrows. Through your flesh I will reduce their hunger. I will help them.
Be it a man, woman or eunuch, whoever heartlessly seeks to fill only his/her stomach without having feelings of compassion for others, is a very lowly person. The king has the right to kill such a person and it is a righteous deed.
Due to pride, you are intoxicated. Pretentiously you have assumed the form of a cow. Using my arrows, I will now shred you into bits. Then with my supernatural powers I will protect my citizens and rule them”.
Seeing this king, who in fury could be compared to the lord of death, Mother Earth panicked. She folded her hands and worshipfully said to him,
Namaḥ parasmai puruṣāya māyayā vinyasta-nānā-tanave guṇātmane
Namaḥ svarūpānubhavena nirdhuta- dravya-kriyā-kāraka-vibhramormaye