Prithivi

For other uses, see Prithvi (disambiguation).


Prithvi (Sanskrit: पृथ्वी pṛthvī, also पृथिवी pṛthivī) is the Sanskrit name for earth and its essence Prithivi Tattwa, in the form of a mother goddess or godmother. Prithvi is also called Dhra, Dharti, Dhrithri, meaning that which holds everything.

As Prithvi Mata "Mother Earth" she contrasts with Dyaus Pita "father sky". In the Rigveda, Earth and Sky are frequently addressed in the dual, probably indicating the idea of two complementary half-shells. She is not the wife of Dyaus Pita ('father Dyaus'). (The widespread belief that these two were originally a single deity appears to be mistaken. See Dyavaprthivi). She is associated with the cow. Prithu, an incarnation of Vishnu, milked her in the cow's form to get food from her. She is a national personification in Indonesia, where she is known as Ibu Pertiwi ('Mother Earth').

Ephithets

Category Transliteration Gloss
Provider Bhumi Soil
Dhatri Nursing Mother
Dharitri Nurturer
Janitra Birthplace
Medini Nurturer
Prshni Mother of Plants
Vanaspatinam Grbhir Osadhinam Womb of Forest Trees and Herbs
Vishvadhaya All-Nourishing
Vishvagabha World's Womb
Vishvamshu Producer of Everything
Vishvasvam Source of Everything
Sustainer Dhara Upholder
Drdha Steady One
Ksama Patient One
Sthavara Stable One
Vishdava All-Preserving
Vishvadharini All-Supporting
Vishvamhara All-Bearing
Enricher Ratnagarbha Repository of Gems
Ratnavati Abounding in Jewels
Vasundhara Bearer of Treasure

Buddhism

Prithvi also appears in Early Buddhism where she appears in the Pali Canon, dispelling the temptation figure Mara by attesting to Gautama Buddha's worthiness to attain enlightenment.[1]

The Arts

Pṛithvī Sūkta (also Bhūmī Sūkta) is a celebrated hymn of the Atharvaveda (AVŚ 12.1), dedicated to Prthivi (the Earth). It consists of 63 verses.

In art she is represented as a woman with four arms and a green skin.

References

Further reading

  • Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (ISBN 0-500-51088-1) by Anna Dallapiccola
  • Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Traditions (ISBN 81-208-0379-5) by David Kinsley
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