On July 11, 2022, the unveiling of the National emblem atop the new parliament building of India took place amidst chanting of the sacred mantras. Among others, the chanting of Bhumi gayatri mantra was seen as a reflection of what the Indian civilization has always stood for.
The pancha-tattva have held a very significant position in our civilization. Agni, Vayu, Jal, Prithvi and Aakash are the five elements that encompass the entire universe in some way or the other. It is undoubtedly a feature of the Indian civilization that has kept the five elements so close to it.
This also underlines the fact that since time immemorial, nature has been an integral part of India. Through Agni Sukta and Bhumi Sukta, the Rig Veda has portrayed the beauty of our civilization in the most magnificent way. Delving into the realms of our itihas, we see how Govardhan puja, Gau puja, Puja of rivers have acted as a reminder that without nature, the civilisation would not have been what it actually has been.
Nature and nature worship have been close to Indian civilization. Since there was a talk in the nation about the prayers offered to mother earth, it is also a time to revisit our vedic texts and realize that Bhumi vandana has been inherent to India and its thriving civilization.
The Indian tradition of waking up and offering prayers to mother earth right in the morning: samudra vasane devi parvatastanamaṇḍale / viṣṇupatni namastubhyaṁ pādasparśaṁ kṣamasvame marks the inherent feature that exists in the tradition.
Sanatan thought has focused on two elements of existence: The Purusha and The Prakriti. The Purusha being the soul, the prakriti being the mother. Bhumi is considered a mother and the chants at the unveiling of the National Emblem are like an offering of our prayers to the divine mother.
The bhumi sukta, which is a part of the twelfth canto of Atharva Veda, is a hymn that offers salutations unto Mother earth. The hymn entails prayers and ascertains the virtues, the character traits that one is expected to inculcate.
The Bhumi Sukta carves a divine image of bhumi devi. The very first verse of the hymn emphasizes on how the earth holds the past and the future along with the living beings. She is called the giver of the medicinal plants, portraying her as the nurse of the living beings.
Prayers are offered to the mother who holds rivers and oceans together and carries the crops when they grow. The hymn describes earth as Vishvambhara Vasudhani underlining earth’s compassionate nature of protecting all beings.
The hymn has emphasized on the way mother earth has held dharma– Prthiviim Dharmannaa Dhrtaam. The hymn contains 63 verses that praise mother earth. The verses in the hymn glorify mother earth and serve as a reminder for the people to know the origin or the source of everything. References are made to stress on the omnipotent power of mother earth.
She carries fire and is present even inside the water; it is she who facilitates the creation of roads, making way for the movement of the living beings. These prayers are a powerful portrayal of the dedication towards nature that the civilization has upheld since ages.
From bearing the absolute truth to sustaining mankind, the hymn invokes a very strong statement on the magnanimity of earth. The continuous stream of prompts that the sukta provides is enough to describe the civilizational thought that has been guided by sharing a close bond with nature. Earth is referred to as the mother of the elements that have been a part of the universe.
In contemporary times too, bhumi pujan is considered mandatory and is performed at the beginning of building a structure. In the bhumi pujan ritual, mother earth and the vastu purush (deity of directions) are worshiped to drive away all the evil impacts and pave the way for a smooth construction process.
Bhumi has a major role to play in our lives. Considered as the consort of Sri Vishnu, bhumi devi. It was Hiranyaksha in Satyuga who displaced Bhumi devi, the earth from her orbit and placed her in the Garbhodaka ocean. It was for her protection that Sri Vishnu took the incarnation of Varaha, a giant boar. He placed bhumi devi on her orbit and killed Hiranyaksha. Protection of mother earth has been given a priority in our civilization and it is for this reason that matrabhumi has been given too much emphasis.
Bhagwaan Vishnu resides in kshirasagar that again brings us close to the jal-tattva. His incarnations ranged from Matsya avatar, Kurma avatar to Narsimha avatar– all pointing at the civilisation’s close bond with prakriti.
Bhumi putri Sita has been one of the central figures of treta yuga. She is called ayonija because King Janak found Devi Sita while plowing the field. She is the daughter of bhumi. Bhumi devi herself took her back by the end of Tretayuga.
In the dwapar yuga, Most parts of Sri Krishna’s life revolved around forests– in the forests of Vrindavan. His life in the village of Gokul and then Vrindavan was all about life as a cowherd and living amidst nature.
The modern world and especially the west have, for a long time, boasted their love for nature but in actions, a concrete outcome has been a far cry.
It is significant to see how bhumi devi has constantly been a part of Indian civilization and the chants amidst which the National emblem cast was unveiled bears the testimony of this fact.