Prithu is the name of several legendary kings of ancient India. It is, however, especially one king of this name who is the favorite hero of the Pusrdnas. His father was Vena, an embodiment of the Hindui divinity Vishnu (q.v.). Vishnu perished through his wickedness; for when he was inaugurated monarch of the earth, he caused it to be everywhere proclaimed that no worship should be performed, no oblations offered, and no gifts bestowed upon the Brahmins. The Rishis, or Saints, hearing of this proclamation, entreated the king to revoke it, but in vain; hence they fell upon him and slew him. But the kingdom now being without a king, as Vena had left no offspring, and the people being without protection, the sages assembled, and consulted how to produce a son from the body of the dead king. First, then, they rubbed his thigh; from it, thus rubbed, came forth a being called Nishada; and by this means the wickedness of Vena having been expelled, they proceeded to rub the right arm of the dead king, and by this friction engendered Prithu, who came forth resplendent in person, and in his right hand appeared the mark of the discus of Vishnu, which proved him to be a universal emperor, one whose power would be invincible even by the gods. The mighty Prithu soon removed the grievances of the people; he protected the earth, performed many sacrifices, and gave liberal gifts to the Brahmins. On being informed that in the interval in which the earth was without a king all vegetable products had been withheld, and that consequently the people had perished, he in great wrath marched forward to assail the earth. The earth, assuming the figure of a cow. fled before him, but seeing no escape from the power of the king, at last submitted to him, and promised to renew her fertility, provided he made all places level. Prithu therefore uprooted mountains, levelled the surface of the earth, established boundaries of towns and villages, and induced his subjects to take up their abode where the ground was made level. Then Prithu caused the earth to appear before his throne in the shape she had assumed, and commanded that any one who should apply to her with a wish, and bring a calf with him to milk her, should be granted his wish. This is the celebrated wonder-cow, about which the Brahmins and the Kshatrias fought such tremendous battles that the gods found it necessary to intervene. Now the earth resumed her former liberality, the people were relieved of their want, and the young god, presented by Vishnu and Shiva with never-missing weapons, by the sun-god with an all-illuminating crown, by the sea-god with a parasol trimmed with pearls, walked through the world a conqueror in every battle, bestowing rain or sunshine at his will. He now prepared for invading the empire of India, and for that purpose offered ninety-nine great sacrifices of horses; but when he was going to offer the hundredth, Indra managed to steal the horse, as the last performance would have secured victory. Prithu's son pursued the robber, who could not otherwise escape him than by changing himself into the form of a penitent strewed with ashes and hung all round with bones. Indra succeeded in stealing the horse a second time, and only escaped the unerring weapons of his foe by the intervention of Brahma. Prithu resigned power in favor of his son, and retired to a solitude, where he was absorbed by the divinity. The legend of Prithu evidently records some historical fact regarding the civilizing influences exerted by a great king of Hindu antiquity.

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