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Prthivi, earth mother, is the female aspect of the creator god Dyaus Pitar as mention in the Rg Veda and other Vedic texts including the Atharva-Veda. The two formed the once inseparable primordial cosmos until Varuna separated it. According to one legend Prthivi is the daughter of Prithu who had granted the blessing of life on earth and who, in her turn, emerged from the arm of the corpse of King Vena.
Prthivi is a chthonic, or earth, goddess with whom the sky god Dyaus Pitar couples fertilizes her with rain. She is said to kiss the center of the world and she symbolizes the eternal patience and resilience of the earth, permitting herself to be abused without rancor. She also is a vegetation goddess, the source of plant life. In some legends Prthive is seen as the consort of Indra, the rain god, who protects her. She also is associated with lesser known creation deities. Vishnu strides over her body. As the inseparable partner of Dyaus Pitar she is rarely addressed alone, though in the Atharva-Veda Dyaus Pitar is not mentioned. Usually the pair is referred to as Dyavaprthivi. Though the goddess presence was known in early Indian culture, she persists in late Hinduism and may be associated with Vishnu as one of the personifications of his Shakti.
Many Hindus worship Prthivi at dawn before beginning to plow or sow. In the Punjab, the cow's first milk is offered to the goddess by allowing it to soak into the earth. With similar sentiment a dying man may be laid on the earth to be received by Prthivi. A.G.H.
Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, pp. 210-211