Anga Prajapati was a worried king. His was an illustrious line. Right from Daksha Prajapati to Dhruva who were his ancestors and who had ruled the kingdom wisely and well, the kingdom had grown and flourished well.
Through their hunting and fighting skills they had expanded the kingdom well. Anga Prajapati was worried thinking about the future.
Like every king, he had to put his people before himself and taken really good care of them. It was the welfare of the people that worried him now. His son….Anga Prajapathi though wryly…The problem did not start with his son…it actually started with his father-in-law…Anga was married to Queen Sunitha whose father was Mrityu.
Mrityu was just the sort of person whom the Prajapathis did not associate themselves. The man was immoral and filled with vice….But still because Sunitha herself was a very good woman, Anga had agreed to marry her.
Anga decided that that had been a very wrong thing for him to do. Sunitha was still a very good woman, but their son – Prince Vena…Anga Prajapathi sighed. Vena was increasingly being influenced by Mrityu. Though Anga had repeatedly tried to correct the boy, Vena had become more and more incorrigible. Vena’s teachers, Vena’s mothers….and Anga himself….All of them had realized that trying to correct Vena was a lost cause. He was selfish and arrogant.
Anga realized with despair that that was not all. When he was with Vena, Anga sensed that the behaviour exhibited by the boy was not his true self. The boy was actually capable of being more evil than what he was right now….And this caused constant anxiety to Anga. Anga realized that Vena would become a full fledged tyrant if he was given more power…..But Anga did not know what to do….
Unfortunately for the people in Anga’s kingdom, Vena who was plagued with constant worry died before he could actually do anything about his son. And then Vena became the king and showed his true colours. He became a full fledged tyrant. The subjects of the kingdom hated him but were afraid of standing up against him.
Looking at all this, Vena realized that as long as he had power over his people they would never stand up against him and grew more and more tyrannic. He neglected all his kingly duties and refused to address any of the problems faced by the people and indulged himself in hurting the people…..
King Vena realized that the people of the kingdom were paying too much importance to the worship of Gods and they derived lots of power from the yagnas which were conducted….This suddenly worried the despot…What if my people suddenly get enough power from the yagnas and are able to stand up against me….? Worried Vena banned the performing of any yagnas from his kingdom.
This was the final straw. A few sages from the nearby forests decided to go and talk to the king and change his mind regarding the conducting of the yagnas….
When Vena saw the sages before him, he looked at them contemptuously. Filthy beggars! They do not have any of the luxuries which can even be afforded by the poorest man in my kingdom and they claim to tell me what I should and should not do….How dare they…Thinking thus, Vena listened as the sages spoke to him.
‘King! Please reconsider! The yagnas performed by us…they are a source of great hope to the people. The people genuinely believe that the bad times which have been plaguing the kingdoms would be removed by the performing of the yagnas! Please king….do not stop the performing of the yagnas!’
Vena smirked as he shook his head. ‘There is a reason I do not want my people to worship those Gods!’ Vena said softly.
The sages frowned as they listened to Vena. ‘I am the God to my people!’ said the mad king. ‘For the people in my kingdom, I am everything! They should not waste their time worshiping other Gods! They should worship only me!’
For a few seconds there was complete silence in the court. Neither the people in the court nor the sages could believe what they had just now heard. Vena looked at all of them, his arrogance shining through….Now the people would bow only to him and no one else….
However Vena had gone too far…He had not realized that the people he was talking to were not ordinary men and woman. They were sages who had spent their entire lives performing penance. Vena had not yet realized the power held by such men….
‘You wish that we worship you?’ One of the sages came forward and spoke to the king softly. The king did not even bother to reply when another sage continued. ‘Such an arrogant man like you does not even deserve to live, let alone be king! This kingdom would be better off without you!’
King Vena watched horror stuck as all the sages closed their eyes as one. They opened their eyes together and muttered a powerful curse. Before the king even knew what the sages had said, Vena fell dead…..
The entire kingdom watched as the sages walked back to the forest without a backward glance…. They were leaving behind a kingdom without its despotic king…
‘Sir! I am sorry sir! I may not be able to provide you with any of the things required for the yagna! I do not think even I may be able to come for it!’ The villager said looking at the sages miserably.
The sages looked surprised. ‘Why? Why would you not be able to come to the yagna?’ The sage studied the villagers before them. They looked tired and haggard…
The villagers took a deep breath and continued speaking. ‘Sir! When you people came to the kingdom…you cursed King Vena and because of your curse the king died! For a short while we all rejoiced. The man who was tormenting us was no more alive….But sir, we have bigger problems now. We are without a king now. No one to protect us from the bandits and the thieves who have been running riot in our country! Without a king, the bandits have become more and more bold….They commit daylight robbery and none of us can stop them….We are all afraid to leave our homes unprotected for long. If we come out we may be killed by these bandits and they may take away whatever pitiful belongings we do have!’ The villager spoke fast. ‘That is the reason, none of us would be able to come to the yagna sir!’
The sages were silent for a long time. A tiny tinge of guilt ran through them….The villagers were paying the price for their action…..Finally one of the sages spoke. ‘Through the power of my mind, I have divined that King Vena’s mother, Sunitha, has preserved the body of King Vena! Ask her to bring the body!’ The sage said finally.
The villagers frowned. ‘Even if the Queen mother was preserving the body, sir, what good would bringing it here do?’
The sage smiled. ‘Just bring the body!’
Bewildered the people went to Queen Sunitha. She had been preserving the body with the help of some special herbs and the surprised people in the kingdom brought it to the sages….
The sages sat around the body and using the powers of their mind, they churned the body of the dead king….The villagers watched with horror as something dark and hideous emerged from the body of the king. Looking at it, the villagers felt the same fear they had felt when the king had been with them…They all shivered when the sages banished the ‘thing’ from the kingdom. Once it was gone, the people felt it…A feeling of euphoria…as if something bad had been removed far away from them ….
After this the sages this time churned the right hand of the king. This time the villagers were surprised when they saw something illustriously bright and shining emerge from the hand.
The people watched in surprise as the shining thing finally became into a handsome and powerful man. Probably what was striking about the man was the fact that he looked like a born leader….just and kind. The man looked at the sages and bowed to them.
The sages blessed him and said. ‘Son! You are Prithu! You are meant to rule these people…and take good care of them!’
Prithu looked at the people and then back at the sages and nodded his head.
(It is also said that the sages again churned the body of the king and from it emerged a beautiful and intelligent woman called Archi. She is said to have married Prithu.)
Prithu assumed the kingship of the country and ruled it well. Prithu immediately destroyed all the bandits and the thieves in the kingdom….However he realized that there was a bigger problem. The people could not depend just on hunting in the forest and the fruits and vegetables from their forest for their living….they needed some other form of sustenance.
Prithu thought about it and realized that in the days bygone, the earth had provided enough sustenance for the people to live. But now not only was hunting in the forests not sufficient, it was as if the Earth itself had withdrawn from providing any food to the people.
Prithu decided that the only way he could stop this was to fight with Earth and then make her see reason. He pulled out his weapons and battled with the embodiment of Earth.
Prithu was a powerful king and he was made by the sages which added to his power. When he had decided to fight with the Earth, Earth realizing that Prithu had the power to destroy her took the form of a cow and ran from him. Prithu chased her and finally caught up with her.
He pulled out his weapons. ‘What sort of a mother are you?’ He demanded angrily brandishing his weapons at her. ‘Your children are dying there and you provide them nothing to live! Don’t you care about them?’
Earth shook her head. ‘When Vena ruled over me, the people here were scared and terrified. They were not willing to fight back and have become weak! Vena and a lot of people engaged in many immoral things. I decided that such people need not live! That is the reason I decided not to give them any sustenance!’
Prithu looked at Earth realizing the truth of her words. He thought for a long time and spoke finally. ‘The people have changed now! These people deserve to live! You cannot just let them die!’
Earth nodded her head finally. ‘Ok! If the people are willing to work hard and honestly, I will give them what they want! Flatten out the areas near the kingdom….plant seeds in them and take good care of the plants…It will feed the people….’
So Prithu went back to his people and he flattened the mountains and planted the grains to feed the people. The people followed the example of the king and did the same…
After the rains came that year, the people were jubilant. The field had yielded more than enough for them, and they could store a lot for the future. The people no longer relied only on hunting for their survival….They grew trees and plants which provided sustenance to them.
Slowly under the rule of Prithu, the kingdom flourished and the people grew prosperous. The people started worshiping the Earth because she was now their mother…a mother who took care of them. Because King Prithu had in essence made the Earth his daughter, it was from that time that Earth was called Prithvi!