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Vishwakarma, AKA Tvashta, is the architect of the gods. He built, among other things, Indra's city of Amaravati, Krishna's city of Dwaraka, and Ravana's city of Lanka. His daughter Sanjana married Surya the sun god, as I discuss here, and his son Trisiras temporarily served as the guru of the gods, as I discuss here and here. And he's responsible for the creation of Vritrasura, a famous demon that Indra is known for defeating.

But I'm interested in another story involving Vishwakarma. This excerpt from the Aitareya Brahmana of the Rig Veda describes the benefits that various kings have derived from performing the Rajasuya Yagna, and here is what it says about Vishwakarma:

With this great anointing of Indra Kashyapa anointed Vishvakarman Bhauvana. Therefore Vishvakarman Bhauvana went round the Earth completely, conquering on every side, and offered the horse in sacrifice. The earth sang, they tell:

'No man whatsoever ought to give me,

O Vishvakarman Bhauvana, thou hast been fain to give me;

I shall plunge into the middle of the water;

Vain was this thy compact with Kashyapa.'

(Bhauvana means son of the Earth.) This chapter of the Shatapatha Brahmana of the Yajur Veda says the same thing:

Visvakarman Bhauvana once performed this sacrifice, and having performed it he overpassed all beings, and became everything here; and verily he who, knowing this, performs the Sarvamedha, or who even knows this, overpasses all beings, and becomes everything here.

It was Kasyapa who officiated in his sacrifice, and it was concerning this that the Earth also sang the stanza;--'No mortal must give me away; thou wast foolish, Visvakarman Bhauvana: she (the earth) will sink into the midst of the water; vain is this thy promise unto Kasyapa.'

So it seems that Vishwakarma, as part of a Sarvamedha Yagna, gave away all his possessions, which included the Earth itself, to the sage Kashyapa who had conducted the Yagna. But Bhumidevi the goddess of the Earth told him that no one was allowed to give her away, so she said she would submerge herself into the water so that Vishwakarma wouldn't fulfill his promise to Kashyapa.

My question is, what ultimately happened? Did the Earth get submerged, and if so how did emerge from the water? Was this similar to the occasion that Vishnu's incarnation Varaha retrieved the Earth from the water?

Are there any other scriptures that discuss this story?

  • If Tvashtar is AKA Vishwakarma, why do we need two tags for the same deity? – Sarvabhouma Apr 23 '18 at 6:53
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Kashyapa was able to retrieve the Earth. I found the answer in this excerpt from the Shankhayana Shrauta Sutras, a text associated with the Rig Veda:

Visvakarman the son of Bhuvana performed this as his last sacrifice. Him the Earth addressed, "Let no mortal give me away, O Visvakarman son of Bhuvana, thou hast wished to give me away! I shall dive into the midst of the ocean, vain is thy promise unto Kashyapa." Her (the earth) Kashyapa lifted up (out of the ocean).

This chapter of the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata provides more detail on this. When the Pandavas were in exile, they visited a variety of holy places. In particular, they visited the forest of Vishwakarma, which the sage Lomasha told them the story of:

O king, this is the divine forest of the Self-existent One, which hath now come to our view. There, O king, Viswakarma of a dreaded name performed religious rites. On the mighty occasion of that sacrifice, the Self-existent One made a gift of this entire earth with all its hilly and forest tracts, to Kasyapa, by way of gratuity, for ministering as a priest. And then, O Kuru's son, as soon as that goddess Earth was giving away, she became sad at heart, and wrathfully spake the following words to that great lord, the ruler of the worlds, 'O mighty god, it is unworthy of thee to give me away to an ordinary mortal. And this act of gift on thy part will come to nothing; (for) here am I going to descend into the bottom of the nether world.' Then when the blessed saint Kasyapa beheld the goddess Earth, despondent and sad, he, O protector of men, performed a propitiatory act calculated to appease her wrath. And then, O Pandu's son, the Earth was pleased with his pious deed. And she uprose again from within the waters, and showed herself in the form of a sacred altar. This, O king, is the spot which distinctly manifests the form of an altar.

I'm not sure where this forest is located, though.

By the way, surprisingly this is not the only occasion when Kashyapa raised the Earth back up! As I discuss in this answer, when Parashurama killed the kings of the Earth, the Earth sank because Bhumidevi couldn't stand all the evil that was being done in the world in the absence of kings. So the sage Kashyapa lifted the Earth up and then he gave the Earth to the rule of kings again. (Kashyapa had been gifted the Earth by Parashurama.)

  • Kashyapa was able to lift earth from Garbhodaka Ocean?! I didn't knew that even a sage could lift earth from the depths of the great ocean for which even Vishnu had to take avatar. – Chinmay Sarupria Oct 31 '15 at 5:59
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    @ChinmaySarupria Well, it's more like the Earth lifted itself up because of Kashyapa's prayers. – Keshav Srinivasan Oct 31 '15 at 13:19
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    Then there was no need for Varaha avatar if Earth could lift itself on its own. If Earth has the power to lift itself then demon Hiranyaksha wouldn't had been successful. – Chinmay Sarupria Oct 31 '15 at 13:27
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    @ChinmaySarupria Hiranyaksha forced mother Earth to remain submerged without her own will that is why Varaha Avatara was needed to allow mother earth to act according to her own will. At the Start of ShwetaVaraha Kalpa, also rishi's prayed to Shriman Narayana and he responded so ultimately we can make Rishis responsible for Varaha avatara. – Yogi Aug 27 '16 at 20:51
  • I think you should accept this answer if it answers your question, this is showing up as modified by Community. – sv. Sep 25 '16 at 16:52

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