One of the recent posts was titled "Shree Pruthvivallabha" (Click here to read it). The word Pruthvivallabha is actually a title, which means "Lord Paramount". This title was used by many Kings of yesteryears who had vast geographical areas under their command and control. Other kings who controlled smaller territories accepted such Kings as their superior and sought their protection in running the affairs of their respective kingdoms. These smaller kings known as "Saamanta" (subordinate) kings were required to make annual payments to the Lord Paramount in the form of gold, grains, soldiers to the army and other similar and mutually agreed items in lieu of the protection so received. The smaller kings enjoyed freedom of administration within their territories, but were required to aid the Lord Paramount when called upon in case of war with a powerful adversary. The Lord Paramount also was benefited by the indirect power and thus able to concentrate on wider issues in his command area. Such arrangement between the Lord Paramount and the Saamanta kings ensured that there was lasting peace and social order for a reasonable length of time. There were inevitable wars, but peace had a chance at least as long as the personal equation between the two forces was politically sustainable. This arrangement is somewhat similar to the present Central and State Government structure, though modifications can be seen in some areas in line with the requirements of the present times.
While the word "Pruthvivallabha" means "Lord Paramount", the word "Pruthvi" itself means Earth or part thereof. The word "Vallabha" denotes one who owns the land. But how does the word "Pruthvi" come to mean "Earth"? There is an interesting story behind it, which can be found in Bhagavata and Puranas.
Long time ago, there was a King by name Vena. He was a descendent in the lineage of Dhruva. Dhruva was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu and ruled the lands with distinction. The pole star which is used as a direction giver (North Star) by those at sea is named after him. Vena was also a good King to start with, but in due course of time developed all bad traits and ended up as an evil King. Everyone under his rule suffered and the level of sin reached astronomical proportions. Bhoodevi, Earth Goddess became frustrated and decided that she will not support vegetation, hid all vegetation and life supporting items inside her and went into hiding. Everything came to a standstill and life became very difficult for all. This enraged the usually kind and pious Rishis. They went in a group and killed Vena in a fit of rage. Vena was lying dead but then it dawned on them that there was no successor to the throne as Vena was childless.
The Rishis churned the body of the dead king. First a dwarf hunter emerged from the body who was personification of all evil present in the body of Vena. After all the evil was gone and the dwarf emerged, churning of Vena's body continued. From the arm of the dead Vena emerged a fully grown handsome man (see the picture alongside). The new born was named Pruthu (or Prithu), which means great or big. He is believed as an incarnation of Lord Mahavishnu and that Lord Vishnu's bow, Sharanga, slipped from heaven and fell to his hands. Pruthu was anointed as the King. Pruthu took charge and was firmly in saddle now.
Pruthu found that all vegetation and life supporting items had disappeared. He realized that Bhoodevi had taken the form of a cow and gone into hiding. Pruthu went to Bhoodevi in cow's form, but the cow started running away. Pruthu chased the cow with an arrow on the Sharanga, deciding to kill the cow if she did not heed his orders (see picture at the top) and take the items hid in the cow's belly. The cow requested Pruthu not to kill her and in turn she would release all the vegetation and life supporting items inside her belly, in the form of milk. Pruthu accepted the request and lowered the arrow. As he reneged from killing her, it was as good as he gave a second life to Bhoodevi. Bhoodevi was now like his daughter as Pruthu became equal to a father, the life giver. Then, Earth became Pruthvi (Pruthu's daughter).
Meru, the golden mountain, took the form of a calf and all the representatives of various sections of people were able to draw whatever they required from the cow, in the form of milk. Order was restored and life went on thereafter as usual. Pruthu was considered as the first King who ruled the entire Earth. Earth (Bhoodevi) was henceforth referred as "Pruthvi". Pruthu flattened many mountains with his arrows and made the ground even and hence fit for agriculture. His reign was marked by wellbeing and happiness of all subjects. There was no hunger or calamity in his rule. It is believed that proper application of agriculture, animal husbandry, trade and commerce came into existence only from the time of Pruthu.
Subsequent Kings were indebted to King Pruthu for restoring order on earth. Both Pruthu and Pruthvi became an integral part of life on the earth and history thereafter!