When the Earth does not yield grains, the people suffer, and King Prthu is troubled by the suffering of the people. He ponders over the reason for the famine, and comes to the conclusion that Mother Earth has hidden away grains, and this has resulted in a long drawn famine. Wanting to relieve the people of their suffering, Prthu decides to attack the Earth. But the Earth assumes the form of a cow and tries to escape him. Unable to do so, she finally addresses the king, and wonders how he can harm a woman. The King says that when it comes to establishing dharma, such considerations do not matter. The Earth says she is the one who sustains all life forms, and therefore she must not be harmed. This concern for every life form is seen in all religious literature.
The Mahabharata says that forests must thrive. All the denizens of the forest, lions, elephants etc must live without hindrance. When a recitation of the Ramayana ends, the following line is recited: lOkAh samastAh sukhinO bhavantu — Let the entire world be happy. While the Ramayana is recited to usher auspiciousness, as seen from the above prayer, there is no element of selfishness in the prayer, said Akkarakkani Srinidhi, in a discourse. An Upanishadic prayer says: Om sarvE bhavantu sukhinah sarve santu NirAmayAh | sarvE BhadrANi Pashyantu. The prayer here is for everyone to be happy, for everyone to be free of illness, for everyone to experience auspiciousness. The welfare of all is the focus of prayers. The prayer is not for an individual, but for all of mankind. When the tarpaNa is done on Amavasya (new moon), it is said that it is also done for those who do not have progeny. There are some who, on Amavasya, do a tarpaNa for Bhishma. This broadmindedness characterises every ritual.