Bhagawatam 221: Prithu milks the Earth; he creates livelihoods and settlements for all citizens

Janārdhanāya namah

Mother Earth continued, “O King, kindly level the surface of the earth, which currently is full of highs and lows. Due to this even after the rainy season ends, I will continue to hold water and remain moistened. May you be blessed with auspiciousness”.

In this way, Mother Earth uttered pleasing words in a melodious voice. Emperor Prithu respected her advice. He converted Swāyambhuva Manu into a calf. Using his cupped hands as the milking vessel, he milked all herbs and food grains from her.

Wise persons absorb the essence at every juncture. After he had milked the Mother Earth, many others followed him and milked her freely. It means they obtained from earth whatever they desired.

In addition to food grains, Earth also supplies minerals, gems, other precious stones and even sustains life. It is said that she remains in the form of a cow. She is an embodiment of righteousness and also protects it.  In this way, she protects the living beings.

Maharishis converted Brihaspati into a calf. Using mind, speech and ear as the milking vessel, they extracted from her the milk called Vedas.

Devatas transformed Indra into a calf. In a golden pot they milked nectar which energizes the senses, mind and body.

Demons used Prahlada, who was the most supreme amongst them, as a calf. Using an iron vessel they extracted intoxicating substances.

Gandharvas and Apsarasas milked the earth using Vishwāvasu, the supreme Gandharva as the calf. Using a lotus flowered vessel they extracted melodious musical knowledge and beauty.  With this they achieved great fame.

Fore-fathers (pitr-devatas) made Aryama into a calf and extracted the milk called Kavya.

Using Kapila as the calf and space as the milking vessel, accomplished siddhas extracted the milk called supernatural powers known as Anima and others.

Vidyadhāras and other celestials extracted the mystical powers such as the art of making oneself invisible etc.

Kimpuruṣās who possess illusory capacities, used the demon Māyasura as the calf. They extracted illusory mystical capacity from earth. Due to this capacity they are able to disappear from one place, assume any form per their wish etc.

Yakshas, demons, witches and meat-eating ghosts used Rudra, their leader, as the calf. They collected blood in skulls. This blood causes intoxication in them.

Snakes without hood, snakes with hood, other varieties of poisonous snakes, scorpions and other insects that sting used Takshaka as the calf. Using their mouths as the milking vessel, they extracted the milk called poison.

Animals used Nandi bull as the calf. Using the forests as the milking vessel, they extracted the milk called grass, which is their fodder. Tiger and other wild carnivorous animals used lion as the calf. In the milking vessel known as their body, they extracted the milk called raw flesh/ meat. The birds used Garuda (eagle) as the calf. In the milking vessel called their body, they extracted the milk called insects and fruits.

Trees used the Banyan tree as the calf. They extracted the milk called various juices. Mountains used Himavan as the calf. In the milking vessel known as mountain peaks, they extracted gold and various other types of minerals.

Likewise, every species of living beings used the leader of that species as the calf. In their milking vessels they extracted their food.  In this way, earth which was subdued by Prithu fulfilled the desire of every living being through its milk. Every living entity in the creation, be it an insect, wild animal, bacteria, obtained from earth the type of food suitable to it.

Emperor Prithu was immensely pleased with this result. He then accepted this Mother Earth, who had fulfilled the desire of every living entity, as his daughter. He showered her with fatherly affection.

Thereafter this king of kings, the supremely valiant Prithu used the sharp ends of his bow to hit the high mountains and thus broke them. He leveled all the rough edges and evened most of earth’s surface.

Athāsmin bhagavān vainyaḥ prajānāṁ vttida pitā

Nivāsān kalpayāṁ cakre tatra tatra yathārhataḥ


The venerable Prithu, who was the son of Vena, created livelihoods for all people. He protected them with a fatherly attitude. In accordance with the climate of the region he had houses built for them.

Grāmān puraḥ pattanāni durgāṇi vividhāni ca

Ghoṣān vrajān sa-śibirān ākarān kheṭa-kharvaān

He constructed villages, towns, cities and other forms of settlements everywhere. He built different types of forts, mining territories, layouts earmarked for pasture, residences for the cowherds, cattle-sheds, stables, agricultural settlements and mountain villages. He created living quarters for the army soldiers.

Prior to Prithu’s rule the concept of villages, towns and other types of settlements did not exist. He was the first king to define these territories and undertake town planning. Prior to this people lived in places of their choice. After Prithu outlined the settlements and undertook town planning, people moved into these settlements wherein they could live comfortably without any fear.

With this the eighteenth chapter comes to an end.

Fourth Canto Chapter Nineteen

In this chapter, the following are covered: Prithu’s 100th Ashwamedha Yāga, Indra repeatedly stealing the sacrificial horse, Prithu’s son repeatedly retrieving the horse, the priests trying to offer Indra into the sacrificial fire, Brahma’s intervention and Brahma causing friendly relations between Indra and Prithu.

Maitreya Maharishi continued, “O Vidura, Emperor Prithu was determined to complete 100 Ashwamedha Yāgas in the Brahmavarta region. In the past Swāyambhuva Manu had performed Yagnas in this very same place. Here River Saraswati flows towards the east.

Indra was jealous that Prithu would, through completion of 100 Ashwamedha yāgas, would rise above him in superiority. He could not tolerate the grandeur of Prithu’s Yagnas”.

Janārdhanaya namah

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