Bhumi (the earth) was a Puranic addition to the Hindu pantheon. There are a number of versions of her birth, and her children had so many different gods and demons as fathers that another myth had to provide a curse from Parvati to explain this flaw in her character.
Some of the versions of Bhumi’s birth in the Puranas involved a physicalearth that then became a goddess. But in others she is the daughter of Brahma. In one version of the first kind, during the period of floods, the earth was in a liquid state. Siva cut his thigh and let a drop of blood fall into the waters. It coagulated as an egg (anda), which Siva split open. Man (purusha, the cosmic man) emerged, and from him was made nature (prakriti). One half of the eggshell became the sky and the other the earth. In another such version, in the beginning Mahavishnu lay on the surface of the waters. A lotus sprang from his navel, and on its blossom sat Brahma. From Vishnu’s earwax was born two demons who tried to harm Brahma, so Vishnu killed them. The demons’ fat hardened into the earth.
Another myth began in the Varaha Kalpa (the age of Vishnu’s incarnation as a boar), with the demon Hiranyaksha abducting Bhumi and taking her under the waters. However Vishnu took the form of a boar and brought Bhumi to the surface on his tusks. Bhumi stood up on a lotus leaf on the surface of the waters in her most charming shape. Vishnu was so overcome by her beauty that he made love with her for one Deva-varsha (a god’s moment of three hundred human years). Mangala was born from this contact. From that time Bhumi-devi became Vishnu’s wife.
Nevertheless, it was assumed by many of the myths that, if the demon Hiranyaksha abducted her, she would have become his “wife.” These accounts stated that the mere touch of his tusk made Bhumi the mother of the sage Naraka and, therefore, the mother of the asuras (rather than Diti). Therefore, she was referred to as the wife of Hiranyaksha. Her marriages to Vishnu and to Hiranyaksha with children from each was explained by a curse from Parvati. It was said in the Valmiki Ramayana that Parvati and Siva’s love play rocked the foundations of the heavens and the earth, so both the gods and Bhumi complained to Siva. He stopped, but Parvati became angry. She cursed Bhumi-devi that she would become many forms and the wife of many. Parvati also stated that, since she had been prevented from having a son, Bhumi-devi would have no more children.
In various Puranas Bhumi received a number of minor roles. Bhumi-devi was turned into a cow and milked dry by the magic of the sage Prithu. She appeared in the Narasimha myth to catch Prahlada, the demon devotee of Vishnu, when Prahlada was thrown from a high building by his father Hiranyakasipu. And Bhumi got Parasu-Rama to stop killing ks’atriyas before all were eliminated from the earth during that incarnation of Vishnu. Finally, in Vishnu’s incarnation as Rama, Sita was Bhumi’s daughter. It was to her that Sita returned when life with Rama became unbearable