II Yam rakshantyaswapna vishwadaanin
deva bhumim Prithvimpramadam
Sa no madhupriyam
duhyamatho ukshatu varchasa II
(The earth, whom never-sleeping cosmic powers protect without erring, may she pour on us riches in many forms and endow us with lustre.)
A few months ago I was watching the epic movie Interstellar. I vividly remember moments where I had to remind myself to breathe, especially when the visuals of vast spaces loomed large on the screen. The gargantuan watery planet, the gas giants like Saturn and Jupiter, wormholes and so much more ... all places and concepts of places and entities that questioned my very understanding of time and space and of what was actually real!
It inspired awe for what exists beyond the planet that we live on, and gratitude for the ground beneath our feet... for that truly, in the moment, is what is "real". It is the ground that allows grounding, causes rootedness in the now. It is the element that gives us a toehold on perceived reality or else the flotsam and jetsam of fantasy would have us completely scattered. The earth is the essential form giving substance.
Prithvi is the clay that shapes you and me. The clay that forms the substratum on which we build our homes, our lives. That on which we grow our food and that in which we bury our dead. That which makes the vessel from which we eat and that with which we build our hearths.
It's the mother element whether you know her as Gaia or Terra Mater or Bhu Devi! It's the sustenance of nature. Prithvi, the element, comprises our earth with layers upon layers -- some raging with fire, some incubating the myth of the Nagas and their world, some with nuggets of precious metals and gemstones and some replete with relics of human history.
"A highly creative person struggling to give form to an idea can harness the earth element to find strength and grounding."
One can't help but remember Kabir's couplet, in which a clump of earth mocks the potter, saying, you are kneading and working on me today, a day will come when I will be kneading and working on you! From the dust we have come and to the dust shall we return!
Ancient texts are replete with wisdom about the earth element. In fact, Prithvi Sukta or Bhumi Sukta, a 63-verse ode to Goddess Earth, forms a part of the Atharvaveda. Prithvi or earth is not only revered as one of the panch mahabhootas but is also deified.
Here are some qualities of earth that we should assimilate into our own lives.
It is the great binder
Earth is that powerful glue that holds in place the tiniest microbes, the most gigantic trees and even man-made superstructures. An individual can harness his or her own earthiness and stand steady and firm. All that is required is a willingness to plumb the depths of the psyche, find the centre and remain rooted in one's essence.
It is the womb of all things
The creative force behind everything is dependent on the strength of its nurturing element -- the earth. Whether it is a seed or an idea, once planted, it needs steadfastness, a stable environment and sustained nurturing to come forth to life. A highly creative person struggling to give form to an idea can harness the earth element to find strength and grounding.
"When children play in the mud or walk barefoot on the ground, it affirms their connection with earthly reality."
It is a great leveller
The sombre phrase "sands of time" somewhere conveys the power of this great element as the leveller. The power of the earth element to decimate and pulverise comes through here. The earth has the power to contain great fires in its belly; it holds great volumes of water too! It is a master at balance. It is gentle most of the time but its greatest depths conceal unmatched power.
It is solid
Anything that has to do with "form" has earth or prithvi as a major component. Prithvi is solid and dependable. When children play in the mud or walk barefoot on the ground, it affirms their connection with earthly reality. It is an element directly connected to the mooladhara chakra or the root chakra. So if you have a have a tendency to suddenly disconnect with a situation by mentally escaping it rather than facing it, try connecting to the earth to be more in the here and now. It is an element that can give you a personal sense of security, no matter what situation you find yourself in.