From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

The king Vena of the Suryavañśa or the solar race was an atheist and an inveterate sinner. Hence the sages killed him by the power of their tapas or austerity and created the king Pṛthu out of his dead body, also by using the same power. Pṛthu was crowned as the emperor of the whole earth. He was the first king who organised a State and a government. After he became the emperor, the people of the earth who had been famished, approached him for food. When he learnt that the earth had been swallowing all the seeds sown, instead of allowing them to grow,[1] he was about to attack it and punish it. The earth appeared before him in the form of a cow, apologized and requested him to milk her and get whatever he wanted.

Pṛthu and also other sages like the ṛṣis[2] devas,[3] daityas,[4] gandharvas[5] and others ‘milked’ her and got whatever they wanted. The ‘milk’ thus got was:

  1. Agricultural crops
  2. Vedas
  3. Soma juice
  4. Strength
  5. Alchoholic drinks
  6. Music
  7. Offerings fit for śrāddha ceremonies
  8. Yogic powers
  9. Others

In other words, the earth or the created world gave all things to all the persons. From that day the earth came to be known as Pṛthvī or Pṛthivī, the daughter of the emperor Pṛthu.

Other Achievements of Pṛthu[edit]

Other achievements of Pṛthu were:

  1. Making the uneven earth into a plane ground
  2. Creation of villages and towns with all the facilities for civilized living
  3. Protection from fears and dangers
  4. Performance of many Vedic sacrifices

His hundredth Aśvamedha sacrifice was disrupted by Indra, the king of gods in heaven. Hence he got angry and was about to destroy him when Brahmā[6] appeared and brought about a reconciliation between them. Lord Viṣṇu also appeared in his Yāgaśālā[7] and was worshiped by him.

After giving suitable advice to his subjects and receiving spiritual instructions from the great sage Sanatkumāra, Pṛthu coronated his eldest son Vijitāśva as the next king. Then he retired to the forest along with his queen Arci, performed tapas or austerities, ultimately attaining the highest divine world. This story of Pṛthu is given in detail in the Bhāgavata[8] and in the Viṣṇupurāṇa.[9]


  1. It happened because if earth being angry with the evil people then living on earth.
  2. Rṣis means sages.
  3. Devas means gods.
  4. Daityas means demons.
  5. Gandharvas means demigods.
  6. Brahmā was the four-faced creator.
  7. Yāgaśālā means sacrificial shed.
  8. Bhāgavata 4.15-23
  9. Viṣṇupurāṇa 1.13
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

Contributors to this article

Explore Other Articles