Prithvi-Sukta: Hymn to the Earth (Atharva Veda)

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Truth, high and potent Law, the Consecrating Rite, Fervour, Brahma, and Sacrifice uphold the Earth.
May she, the Queen of all that is and is to be, may Prithivī make ample space and room for us. || 1

Not overcome by the crowd of Manu’s sons, she who hath many heights and floods and level plains;
She who bears plants endowed with many varied powers, may Prithivī for us spread wide and favour us. || 2

In whom the sea, and Sindhu, and the waters, in whom our food and corn-lands had their being,
In whom this all that breathes and moves is active, this Earth, assign us foremost rank and station! || 3

She who is Lady of the earth’s four regions, in whom our food and corn-lands had their being,
Nurse in each place of breathing, moving creatures, this Earth, vouchsafe us kine with milk that fails not! || 4

On whom the men of old before us battled, on whom the Gods attacked the hostile demons,
The varied home of bird, and kine and horses, this Prithivī, vouchsafe us luck and splendour! || 5

Firm standing-place, all-bearing, store of treasures, gold-breasted, harbourer of all that moveth.
May Earth who bears Agni Vaisvānara, Consort of mighty Indra, give us great possessions || 6

May Earth, may Prithivī, always protected with ceaseless care by Gods who never slumber,
May she pour out for us delicious nectar, may she bedew us with a flood of splendour. || 7

She who at first was water in the ocean, whom with their wondrous powers the sages followed,
May she whose heart is in the highest heaven, compassed about with truth, and everlasting,
May she, this Earth, bestow upon us lustre, and grant us power in loftiest dominion. || 8

On whom the running universal waters flow day and night with never-ceasing motion,
May she with many streams pour milk to feed us, may she bedew us with a flood of splendour. || 9

She whom the Asvins measured out, o’er whom the foot of Vishnu strode,
Whom Indra, Lord of Power and Might, freed from all foemen for himself,
May Earth pour out her milk for us, a mother unto me her son. || 10

O Prithivī, auspicious be thy woodlands, auspicious be thy hills and snow-clad mountains.
Unslain, unwounded, unsubdued, I have set foot upon the Earth,
On earth brown, black, ruddy and every-coloured, on the firm earth that Indra guards from danger. || 11

O Prithivī, thy centre and thy navel, all forces that have issued from thy body
Set us amid those forces; breathe upon us. I am the son of Earth, Earth is my Mother.
Parjanya is my Sire; may he promote me. || 12

Earth on whose surface they enclose the altar, and all-performers spin the thread of worship;
In whom the stakes of sacrifice, resplendent, are fixed and raised on high before the oblation,
may she, this Earth, prospering, make us prosper. || 13

The man who hates us, Earth, who fights against us, who threaten us with thought or deadly weapon, make him our thrall as thou hast done aforetime.  || 14

Produced from thee, on thee move mortal creatures: thou bearest them, both quadruped and biped.
Thine, Prithivī, are these Five human Races, for whom, though mortal, Sūrya as he rises spreads with his rays the light that is immortal. || 15

In concert may these creatures yield us blessings. With honey of discourse, O Earth, endow me. || 16

Kind, ever gracious be the Earth we tread on, the firm Earth, Prithivī, borne up by Order, mother of plants and herbs, the all-producer. || 17

A vast abode hast thou become, the Mighty. Great stress is on thee, press and agitation, but with unceasing care great Indra guards thee.
So make us shine, O Earth, us with the splendour of gold. Let no man look on us with hatred. || 18

Agni is in the earth, in plants; the waters hold Agni in them, in the stones is Agni.
Agni abideth deep in men: Agnis abide in cows and steeds. || 19

Agni gives shine and heat in heaven: the spacious air is his, the God’s
Lover of fatness, bearer of oblation, men enkindle him. || 20

Dark-kneed, invested with a fiery mantle, Prithivī sharpen me and give me splendour! || 21

On earth they offer sacrifice and dressed oblation to the Gods.
Men, mortals, live upon the earth by food in their accustomed way.
May that Earth grant us breath and vital power. Prithivī give me life of long duration! || 22

Scent that hath risen from thee, O Earth, the fragrance which growing herbs and plants and waters carry,
Shared by Apsarases, shared by Gandharvas therewith make thou me sweet: let no man hate me. || 23

Thy scent which entered and possessed the lotus, the scent which they prepared at Sūryā’s bridal,
Scent which Immortals Earth! of old collected, therewith make thou me sweet: let no man hate me. || 24

Thy scent in women and in men, the luck and light that is in males, that is in heroes and in steeds in sylvan beasts and elephants,
The splendid energy of maids, therewith do thou unite us, Earth! Let no man look on us with hate. || 25

Rock earth, and stone, and dust, this Earth is held together, firmly bound.
To this gold-breasted Prithivī mine adoration have I paid. || 26

Hither we call the firmly held, the all-supporting Prithivī,
On whom the trees, lords of the wood, stand evermore immovable. || 27

Sitting at ease or rising up, standing or going on our way.
With our right foot and with our left we will not reel upon the earth. || 28

I speak to Prithivī the purifier, to patient Earth who groweth strong through Brahma.
O Earth, may we recline on thee who bearest strength, increase, portioned share of food, and fatness. || 29

Purified for our bodies flow the waters: we bring distress on him who would attack us.
I cleanse myself, O Earth, with that which cleanseth. || 30

Earth, be thine eastern and thy northern regions, those lying southward and those lying westward.
Propitious unto me in all my movements. Long as I tread the ground let me not stumble. || 31

Drive us not from the west or east, drive us not from the north or south,
Be gracious unto us, O Earth: let not the robbers find us; keep the deadly weapon far away. || 32

Long as, on thee, I look around, possessing Sūrya as a friend,
So long, through each succeeding year, let not my power of vision fail. || 33

When, as I lie, O Earth, I turn upon my right side and my left,
When stretched at all our length we lay our ribs on thee who meetest us.
Do us no injury there, O Earth who furnishest a bed for all. || 34

Let what I dig from thee, O Earth, rapidly spring and grow again.
O Purifier, let me not pierce through thy vitals or thy heart.  || 35

Earth, may thy summer, and thy rains, and autumn, thy winter, and thy dewy frosts, and spring-time.
May thy years, Prithivī! and ordered seasons, and day and night pour out for us abundance. || 36

The purifier, shrinking from the Serpent, she who held fires that lie within the waters,
Who gives as prey the God-blaspheming Dasyus, Earth choosing Indra for her Lord, not Vritra, hath clung to Sakra, to the Strong and Mighty. || 37

Base of the seat and sheds, on whom the sacrificial stake is reared,
On whom the Yajus-knowing priests recite their hymns and chant their psalms,
And ministers are busied that Indra may drink the Soma juice || 38

On whom the ancient Rishis, they who made the world, sang forth the cows,
Seven worshippers, by session, with their fervent zeal and sacrifice; || 39

May she, the Earth, assign to us the opulence for which we yearn,
May Bhaga share and aid the task and Indra come to lead the way. || 40

May she, the Earth, whereon men sing and dance with varied shout and noise,
Whereon men meet in battle, and the war-cry and the drum resound,
May she drive off our foemen, may Prithivī rid me of my foes. || 41

On whom is food, barley and rice, to whom these Races Five belong,
Homage to her, P arjanya’s wife, to her whose marrow is the rain! || 42

Whose castles are the work of Gods, and men wage war upon her plain
The Lord of Life make Prithivī, who beareth all things in her womb, pleasant to us on every side! || 43

May Earth the Goddess, she who bears her treasure stored up in many a place, gold, gems, and riches,
Giver of opulence, grant great possessions to us bestowing them with love and favour. || 44

Earth, bearing folk of many a varied language with diverse rites as suits their dwelling-places,
Pour, like a constant cow that never faileth, a thousand streams of treasure to enrich me! || 45

Thy snake, thy sharply stinging scorpion, lying concealed, bewildered, chilled with cold of winter,
The worm, O Prithivī, each thing that in the Rains revives and stirs,
Creeping, forbear to creep on us! With all things gracious bless thou us. || 46

Thy many ways on which the people travel, the road for car and wain to journey over,
Thereon meet both the good and bad, that pathway may we attain without a foe or robber.
With all things gracious bless thou us. || 47

Supporting both the foolish and the weighty she bears the death both of the good and evil.
In friendly concord with the boar, Earth opens herself for the wild swine that roams the forest. || 48

All sylvan beasts of thine that love the woodlands, man-eaters, forest-haunting, lions, tigers,
Hyena, wolf, Misfortune, evil spirit, drive from us, chase the demons to a distance. || 49

Gandharvas and Apsarases, Kimīdins, and malignant sprites,
Pisāchas all, and Rākshasas, these keep thou, Earth, afar from us. || 50

To whom the winged bipeds fly together, birds of each various kind, the swans, the eagles;
On whom the Wind comes rushing, Mātarisvan, rousing the dust and causing trees to tremble, and flame pursues the blast hither and thither; || 51

Earth, upon whom are settled, joined together, the night and day, the dusky and the ruddy, Prithivī compassed by the rain about her,
Happily may she stablish us in each delightful dwelling place. || 52

Heaven, Earth, the realm of Middle Air have granted me this ample room,
Agni, Sun, Waters, all the Gods have joined to give me mental power. || 53

I am victorious, I am called the lord superior on earth,
Triumphant, all-o’erpowering the conqueror on every side || 54

There, when the Gods, O Goddess, named thee, spreading thy wide expanse as thou wast broadening eastward,
Then into thee passed many a charm and glory: thou madest for thyself the world’s four regions. || 55

In hamlets and in woodland, and in all assemblages on earth,
In gatherings, meeting of the folk, we will speak glorious things of thee. || 56

As the horse scattereth the dust, the people who dwelt upon the land, at birth, she scattered,
Leader and head of all the world, delightful, the trees’ protectress and the plants’ upholder. || 57

Whate’er I say I speak with honey-sweetness, whatever I behold for that they love me.
Dazzling, impetuous am I: others who fiercely stir I slay. || 58

Mild, gracious, sweetly odorous, milky, with nectar in her breast,
May Earth, may Prithivī bestow her benison, with milk, on me. || 59

Whom Visvakarman with oblation followed, when she was set in mid-air’s billowy ocean
A useful vessel, hid, when, for enjoyment, she was made manifest to those with mothers. || 60

Thou art the vessel that containeth people, Aditi, granter of the wish, far-spreading.
Prajāpati, the first-born Son of Order, supplieth thee with whatsoe’er thou lackest. || 61

Let thy breasts free from sickness and Consumption be, Prithivī, produced for our advantage.
Through long-extended life wakeful and watching still may we be thy tributary servants. || 62

O Earth, my Mother, set thou me happily in a place secure.
Of one accord with Heaven, O Sage, set me in glory and in wealth. || 63

Atharva Veda 12.1-63 (trans. by Maurice Bloomfield, Sacred Books of the East, Vol. 42, 1897)

Photo credit: © Kulasundari Devi