History of Mithila Region
Mithila (IAST: mithilā, also known as Mithilanchal, Tirhut and Tirabhukti) is a geographical and cultural region located in the northern part of South Asia. The native language is known as Maithili and its speakers are referred to as Maithils. The majority of the Mithila region falls within modern-day India, more specifically in the state of Bihar. Mithila is bounded in the north by the Himalayas, and in the south, west and east by the Ganges, Gandaki and Mahananda respectively. It extends into the southeastern Terai of Nepal. This region was also called Tirabhukti, the ancient name of Tirhut.
- 1 Ancient history and myths
- 2 Vedic period, Videha Kingdom
- 3 c. 600 BCE–c. 300 BCE, Vajji Mahajanapada
- 4 6th century to 11th century: Pala and Sena rule
- 5 11th century to 14th century: Simroon/Karnata Dynasty
- 6 14th to 16th century: Oinwar dynasty
- 7 1526 to 1577: Period of Anarchy
- 8 16th century to 20th century : Raj Darbhanga
- 9 References
Ancient history and myths
The name Mithila is believed to be derived from the mythical King Mithi. He established Mithilapuri. Since he was born out of body of his father, he was called Janak. After this, the Kings of Mithila were called Janak. The most famous Janak was Seeradhwaja Janaka, father of Sita. There were 52 kings in the dynasty of Videh Janak. However, archaeological evidence is lacking to realistically assess the period of their migration.
The region was also known as Videha. The kingdom of Videha is mentioned for the first time in Yajurveda Samhita. Mithila, the capital of Videha is mentioned in Buddhist Jatakas, the Brahamanas the Puranas (described in detail in Brhadvisnu Purana and various epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata. A list of Kings is mentioned in Mahabharata and Jatakas. All the kings we known as Videha or Janak. There were total of 52 kings in this dynasty.
Vedic period, Videha Kingdom
Lineage of Janaks
- Nimi - Nimi was son of King Ikshvaku and grandson of Manu.
- Mithi - Founder of Mithila.
- Janaka(1) was the founder of Janaka dynasty.
- Seeradhwaja or Janaka(2) - Father of Sita.
The list of Janaks has been compiled from Valmiki Ramayana.
Janaks after Ramayana
c. 600 BCE–c. 300 BCE, Vajji Mahajanapada
Following the fall of the Videhas, Mithila came under the control of the Vajji mahajanapada which was a confederacy of clans the most famous of which was the Licchavi. The capital was in the city of Vaishali in modern-day Bihar. Mithila under the Vajji's was eventually conquered by the king of Magadha, Ajatashatru.
6th century to 11th century: Pala and Sena rule
Mithila was a tributary of the Pala Dynasty for almost three centuries. The Pala Dynasty were followers of Buddhism and according to some texts they were Kayasthas. Their capital is believed to be located at present town of Balirajgarh (Babubarhi-Madhubani district). The last king of Pal Dynasty was Madanpal. Madanpal was a weak king, as he was defeated by Adishur Samant Sen’s army.
The founder of the Pala Empire was Gopala. He was the first independent Buddhist king of Bengal and came to power in 750 in Gaur by democratic election, which was unique at the time. He reigned from 750 to 770 and consolidated his position by extending his control over all of Bengal. His successors Dharmapala (r. 770-810) and Devapala (r. 810-850) expanded the empire across the northern and eastern Indian subcontinent. The Pala Empire eventually disintegrated in the 12th century under the attack of the Sena dynasty.
Sena Dynasty were followers of Hinduism (Gaud Kayasthas) and hence people of Mithila, being followers of Hinduism, helped Samant Sen in defeating Madanpal. Eminent scholar Vachaspati Mishra (from Village Thardhi in Madhubani district) was from this period,
11th century to 14th century: Simroon/Karnata Dynasty
In the court of Hari Singh Deva the Royal Priest was Jyotirishwar, the author of Varna Ratnakar. Upon Ghiyasuddin Tughlak's invasion of Mithila (Tirhut), King Harisimhadeva, along with many Maithil Brahmins, fled to Nepal and founded a new dynasty in Nepal.
The dynasty had five kings of note:
- Nanya Singh Deva - Nanya Singh Deva apart from being a great warrior, also had a keen interest in music. He classified and analyzed the Ragas and opines Madhya Laya is chosen for Hasya (humorous) and Sringar (libido) rasa, Bilambit is chosen for Karun (compassion) rasa and Drut is chosen for Veer (brave), Rodra (anger), Adbhut (marvellous) and Bhayanak (fearful) rasas. He wrote a treaty on music 'Saraswati Hridayalankar' which is preserved in the Bhandarkar Research Institute of Pune. Nanya Dev is also considered to be the "forgotten King of Mithila".
- Gang Singh Deva
- Narsingh Deva
- Shakti Singh Deva
- Hari Singh Deva - King Hari Singh Dev is the most famous. He was instrumental in initiating and implementing Panji Vyavastha or Panji Prabandha in Maithil Brahmins and Maithil Kayasthas (Karn Kayasthas). He was also great patron of art and literature.
14th to 16th century: Oinwar dynasty
In 1326, Ghyasuddin Tughlak attacked and conquered Mithila region. The last king of Karnata Dynasty Harisingh Dev fled to Nepal. In 1353 Firoz Shah Tughlak appointed Pt. Kameshwar Thakur as Karad Raja (Tax Paying King - they were appointed as Kings by Emperors and had to collect and pay taxes, and to maintain army for the Emperor.
Kameshwar Thakur, being of scholarly nature, was unable to collect and pay tax to Firoz Shah Tughlak. Thus, Kameshwar Thakkur was dethroned and his son, Bhogishwar Thakur was made next King of Mithila region. This dynasty was ruled by natives of Mithila who where Maithil Brahmins and belonged to the Kashyap gotra.
The list kings of Oinwar Dynasty is as under:
- Jayapati Thakur
- Hingu Thakur - a great scholar and ascetic. Once served karnata kings and he was granted the village Oini in Muzaffarpur district.
- Oini Nath Thakur
- Atirupa Thakur
- Vishwarup Thakur
- Govinda Thakur
- Lakshmana Thakur
- Kameshwar Thakur - In 1353, Pt. Kameshwar Thakur was appointed by Firoz Shah Tughlak himself as KARAD RAJA (Tax Paying King).
- Bhogishwar Thakur - Kameshwar Thakur did not prove to be able ruler and was unable to collect and pay tax to Firoz Shah Tughlak. Thus, Firoz Shah Tughlak dethroned him and made Bhogishwar Thakur the King in place of Kameshwar Thakur.
- Ganeshwar Singh - Ganeshwar Singh became king after death of his father Bhogishwar Thakur. He was mortally stabbed by a person named Aslan in 1361 AD in a conspiracy to usurp the throne. Aslan wanted to kill his two sons, Vir Singh and Kirti Singh as well, but did not succeed since they had been safely hidden.
- Kirti Singh - Kirti Singh enlisted help of Tughlaks, who send his army to recapture Mithila. In the battle that ensued, Aslan and Vir Singh were killed. Kirti Singh became King but died after shortly thereafter.
- Bhavesh Thakur – He was younger son of Kameshwar Thakur. Since Kirti Singh died issueless, the kingdom passed over to Bhavesh Thakur.
- Dev Singh
- Shiva Singh – He declared himself to be independent King and stopped paying taxes to Tughlak empire. Due to his decision to challenge authority of Tughlaks empire, Ibrahim Shah Tughlak attacked Mithila. In the battle, Shiv Singh was killed.
- Padma Singh – He was younger brother of Shiv Singh.
- Queen Bishwas Devi – Padma Singh died issueless at an early age. After his death, his wife Queen Bishwas Devi ruled Mithila region, but she too died soon after taking over reign of Mithila.
- Hari Singh – He was cousin of Padma Singh. Since Padma Singh died issueless, the throne passed to Hari Singh.
- Nar Singh
- Dhir Singh (ruled 1459 to 1480)
- Bhairav Singh (ruled 1480 to 1515) _ He was a very popular king and initiated several development works like digging of ponds construction of roads, wells, temples, etc. He was a great patron of art and culture as well.
- Rambhadra Singh Dev
- Laxminath Singh Dev – He was the last King of the dynasty. Sikandar Lodhi attacked Mithila region in 1526 and Maharaja Laxminath Singh Dev was killed in the ensuing battle.
1526 to 1577: Period of Anarchy
Sikandar Lodhi made his son-in-law, Alauddin, the ruler of this area. During this period, Mughal Empire was beginning to take its root in Delhi. Alauddin was not a successful ruler and for next 50 years, anarchy prevailed in Mithila region. During this period the Gandhawaria Rajputs acquired power ruling various estates in the area particularly in Saharsa.
When Akbar became emperor, he tried to bring normalcy to Mithila region. He came to the conclusion that only after a Maithil Brahmin was made King, peace can prevail and rent can be collected in Mithila. In 1577, Emperor Akbar declared Pt. Mahesh Thakkur as the ruler of Mithila. Pt. Mahesh Thakkur was of the mool, Kharaure Bhaur and hence that dynasty was called ‘Khandwala Kul’ and the capital was made at Rajgram in Madhubani District.
16th century to 20th century : Raj Darbhanga
- Raja Mahesh Thakur (expired 1558).
- Raja Gopal Thakur He was eldest Son of Raja Mahesh Thakur. He died suddenly and was king for a very small period only.
- Raja Parmanand Thakur He was second son of Raja Mahesh Thakur. He too ruled for a brief period before his death.
- Raja Subhankar Thakur (expired 1607) - He was fifth son of Raja Mahesh Thakur. He was a great patron of music and art. He wrote a treatise on music Sri Hastamuktavali that deals with a companion art of dance.
- Raja Purushottam Thakur (ruled - 1607 to 1623)
- Raja Narayan Thakur (ruled 1623 to 1642)
- Raja Sundar Thakur (ruled - 1642 to 1662)
- Raja Mahinath Thakur (ruled - 1662 to 1684)
- Raja Nirpat Thakur (ruled - 1684 to 1700)- He shifted his capital to Darbhanga from Rajgram. Darbhanga remained their seat of power till independence of India.
- Raja Raghu Singh (ruled - 1700 to 1736)
- Raja Bishnu Singh (ruled - 1736 to 1740)
- Raja Narendra Singh (Ruled 1740–1760 AD) :- Notable for taking part in the Battle of Battle of Kandarpi-Ghat.
- Raja Pratap Singh (ruled - 1760 to 1776)
- Raja Madho Singh (ruled - 1776 to 1808)
- Maharaja Chhatra Singh Bahadur (ruled - 1808 to 1839)
- Maharaja Rudra Singh Bahadur (ruled 1839 to 1850)
- Maharaja Maheshwar Singh Bahadur (ruled - 1850 to 1860)
- Maharaja Lakshmeshwar Singh Bahadur (ruled 1860 to 1898)
- Maharaja Rameshwar Singh Bahadur (ruled 1898 to 1929)
- Maharaja Kameshwar Singh Bahadur (ruled 1929 to 1947, i.e., till independence of India on 15 August 1947 when all the kingdoms merged with Union of India)
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