Videha

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Videha Kingdom
Sanskrit: विदेह
c. 850 BC–c. 500 BC
 

Videha and other kingdoms of the late Vedic period
Capital Mithila (modern Janakpur)
Languages Vedic Sanskrit
Religion Hinduism
Brahmanism
Government Monarchy
Historical era Iron Age
 -  Established c. 850 BC
 -  Disestablished c. 500 BC
Today part of  India
   Nepal

Videha (Sanskrit: विदेह) was an ancient Indian kingdom, located in what is now southern Nepal and the northern Indian state of Bihar. During the late Vedic period (c.850-500 BCE), it became a dominant political and cultural centre of South Asia.[1] Late Vedic literature such as the Shatapatha Brahmana and the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad both mention Janaka (c. 7th century BCE) as a great philosopher-king of Videha, renowned for his patronage of Vedic culture and philosophy, and whose court was an intellectual centre for Brahmin sages such as Yajnavalkya.[2]

Towards the end of the Vedic period (c. 500 BCE), Videha was absorbed into the Vajji confederation and subsequently into the Magadha empire.[3][4] The Videha kingdom is also mentioned in the Sanskrit epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. The latter mentions a marriage alliance between the kingdoms of Kosala and Videha.[5] The capital of Videha was Mithila, identified with the modern town of Janakpur in Southern Nepal.[6]

References in the Ramayana[edit]

In the Ramayana, Videha was the kingdom of the royal sage Janaka, father of Sita, Rama's wife. Rama's brothers married Sita's sisters, so Videha was closely allied to Kosala. The rulers of Videha were called Janakas and in Hindu tradition are thought to have been great scholars. It is believed that they were the oldest among the clans migrated from the river Saraswati as the river started drying up. According to the epics, the name came from a dead king (Videha, one devoid of body or dead) whose sons were created by sages who performed magical rites upon the king's dead body.

References in the Mahabharata[edit]

Alliances with Videha Princesses[edit]

Devatithi's Marriage to a Videha Princess[edit]

  • Mahabharata, Book 1, Chapter 95

Extract from the lineage of kings in the Lunar Dynasty.

...Ayutanayi took for a wife Kama, the daughter of Prithusravas. And by her was born a son named Akrodhana, who took to wife Karambha, the daughter of the king of Kalinga. And of her was born Devatithi, and Devatithi took for his wife Maryada, the princess of Videha. And of her was born a son named Arihan.

Janamejaya's son married Videha Princess[edit]

  • Mahabharata, Book 1, Chapter 95

Extract from the lineage of kings in the Lunar Dynasty.

..Parikshit married Madravati, thy mother, O king, and thou art born to her, O Janamejaya! Thou hast also begotten two sons on thy wife Vapushtama, named Satanika and Sankukarna. And Satanika also hath begotten one son named Aswamedhadatta upon the princess of Videha.

Military Campaigns through Videha[edit]

Pandu's Military Campaign[edit]

  • Mahabharata, Book 1, Chapter 113

Pandu then marched into Mithila and subjugated the Videhas. And then Pandu led his army against Kasi, Sumbha, and Pundra, and by the strength and prowess of his arms spread the fame of the Kurus.

Bhima's Military Campaign[edit]

  • Mahabharata, Book 1, Chapter 28

Bhima, going first into the great country of the Panchalas, began by various means to conciliate that tribe. Then that hero, within a short time, vanquished the Gandakas and the Videhas. That exalted one then subjugated the Dasarnas.

.... the hero next vanquished, by policy alone, the Sarmakas and the Varmakas. He then defeated with comparative ease, Janaka the king of the Videhas. And the hero then subjugated strategically the Sakas and the barbarians living in that part of the country. And the son of Pandu, sending forth expeditions from Videha, conquered the seven kings of the Kiratas living about the Indra mountain.

Karna's Military Campaign[edit]

  • Mahabharata, Book 7, Chapter 4

Many kings, amongst whom Nagnajit was the foremost as also the Amvashthas, the Videhas, and the Gandharvas, were all vanquished by Karna while staying in Girivraja.

Panchali's Self Choice Event[edit]

  • Mahabharata, Book 1, Chapter 189

Then those princes:

  1. Karna
  2. Duryodhana
  3. Salwa
  4. Salya
  5. Aswatthaman
  6. Kratha
  7. Sheep Vava
  8. Vakra


the ruler of Kalinga and Banga, Pandya, Paundra, the ruler of Videha, the chief of the Yavanas, and many other sons and grandsons of kings, sovereigns of territories, one after another began to exhibit prowess for winning that maiden of unrivalled beauty (Panchali).

The Gate of Videha[edit]

  • Mahabharata, Book 3, Chapter 130

Yonder is the gate of the Manasasarovara. In the midst of this mountain, a gap hath been opened by Rama. And here is the well-known region of Vatikhanda, which, although adjacent to the gate of Videha, lieth on the north of it.

Ramayana inside Mahabharata[edit]

  • Mahabharata, Book 3, Chapter 272

Dasaratha had four sons conversant with morality and profit known by the names, respectively, of

  1. Rama
  2. Lakshmana
  3. Satrughna
  4. and the mighty Bharata

And Rama had for his mother Kausalya, and Bharata had for his mother Kaikeyi, while those scourge of their enemies Lakshmana and Satrughna were the sons of Sumitra. And Janaka was the king of Videha, and Sita was his daughter.

  • Mahabharata, Book 4, Chapter 21

Bhima to Panchali:- Thou mayst have heard that Janaka’s daughter Sita, the princess of Videha, followed her lord while living in dense woods.

  • Mahabharata, Book 5, Chapter 117

Enumeration of best couples

  1. Nala with Damayanti
  2. Narada, with Satyavati
  3. Jaratkaru with Jaratkaru
  4. Pulastya with Pratichya
  5. Urnayus with Menaka
  6. Tumvuru with Rambha
  7. Vasuki with Satasirsha
  8. Dhananjaya with Kamari
  9. Rama with the princess of Videha Sita
  10. or Janardana with Rukmini.

Raghava Rama slew in Janasthana fourteen thousand Rakshasas for the protection of the ascetics. While dwelling there, the Rakshasa called Ravana, beguiling both him and his companion (Lakshmana) abducted his wife, the princess of Videha.

The 18 Wicked Kings mentioned by Bhima[edit]

  • Mahabharata, Book 5, Chapter 74

Bhima speaks words of peace, enumerates 18 bad kings

Even as, when Dharma became extinct, Kali was born in the race of Asuras flourishing with prosperity and blazing with energy, so was born:

  1. Udavarta among the Haihayas
  2. Janamejaya among the Nepals
  3. Vahula among the Talajanghas
  4. proud Vasu among the Krimis
  5. Ajavindu among the Suviras
  6. Rushardhik among the Surashtras
  7. Arkaja among the Valihas
  8. Dhautamulaka among the Chinas
  9. Hayagriva among the Videhas
  10. Varayu among the Mahaujasas
  11. Vahu among the Sundaras
  12. Pururavas among the Diptaksha
  13. Sahaja among the Chedis and Matsyas
  14. Vrishaddhaja among the Praviras
  15. Dharana among the Chandra-batsyas
  16. Bigahana among the Mukutas
  17. Sama among the Nandivegas

These vile individuals, spring up, at the end of each Yuga, in their respective races, for the destruction of their kinsmen.

The List of Provinces of Bharata Varsha[edit]

  • Mahabharata, Book 6, Chapter 9

Videha is listed as Nepalese kingdom along with many other Indian kingdoms like the Mallarashtras, Keralas, Varatrasyas, Apavahas, Chakras, Vakratapas, Sakas, Magadhas, Swakshas, Malayas, Vijayas, Angas, Vangas, Kalingas, Yakrillomans etc. as a kingdom of Ancient India (Bharata Varsha).

Videhas in Kurukshetra War[edit]

  • Mahabharata, Book 6, Chapter 118

Hearing these words of Duryodhana with bow in hand, many mighty combatants, excited with rage, belonging to the Videhas, the Kalingas, and the diverse tribes of the Daserkas, fell upon Arjuna.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Michael Witzel (1989), Tracing the Vedic dialects in Dialectes dans les litteratures Indo-Aryennes ed. Caillat, Paris, 97–265.
  2. ^ H.C. Raychaudhuri (1972), Political History of Ancient India, Calcutta: University of Calcutta, pp.41–52
  3. ^ Geoffrey Samuel, (2010) The Origins of Yoga and Tantra: Indic Religions to the Thirteenth Century, Cambridge University Press, pp. 58
  4. ^ H.C. Raychaudhuri (1972), pp. 70-76
  5. ^ Raychaudhuri (1972)
  6. ^ Raychaudhuri (1972)
  • Mahabharata of Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa, translated to English by Kisari Mohan Ganguli