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Ramayana character
Janaka welcomes Rama.jpg
Janaka welcoming Rama and his father Dasharatha in Mithila
Spouse(s) Sunaina
Children Sita, Urmila (Daughters)
Birth place Videha Kingdom
Death place Videha Kingdom

Janaka was a king of Videha, approximately in the 8th or 7th century BCE,[1], who later appears as a character in the Ramayana. He is revered as being an ideal example of non-attachment to material possessions. As a king, he had access to luxuries and pleasures far beyond the ordinary, but his internal state was closer to that of a sadhu.[citation needed] He was intensely interested in spiritual discourse and considered himself free from worldly illusions. His interactions with sages and seekers such as Ashtavakra and Sulabha are recorded in ancient texts. His relationship with adopted daughter Sita led her to be called Janaki Mata. The Nepalese city of Janakpur is named for him and daughter Sita.[2] The Videha (or Mithila) kingdom was located between east of Gandaki River, west of Mahananda River, north of Ganga river and south of Himalayas.[3][4] The region is now divided between the present day Indian state of Bihar and a small part of Terai Region in Nepal.

Janaka in Vedic literature[edit]

Videha and other kingdoms of late Vedic India
Yajnavalkya teaches Brahma Vidya to King Janaka.

Late Vedic literature such as Shatapatha Brahmana and Brihadaranyaka Upanishad mention a certain King Janaka (c. 8th or 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 center for Brahmin sages such as Yajnavalkya, Uddalaka Aruni, and Gargi Vachaknavi.[1] Under his reign, Videha became a dominant political and cultural center of the Indian subcontinent.[5]

In other Literature[edit]

Janaka is the father of Sita, the wife of God Ram in the Hindu epic Ramayana. His conversation with Ashtavakra is recorded as Ashtavakra Gita, wherein he is depicted as one realised and this tested by the sage Ashtavakra. Many spiritual teachers have referred to this writing often translating and deducing its meaning.[6][7]

See also[edit]




  1. ^ a b Raychaudhuri 2006, pp. 41–52.
  2. ^ Raychaudhuri 2006, p. 44.
  3. ^ Jha, M. (1997). "Hindu Kingdoms at contextual level". Anthropology of Ancient Hindu Kingdoms: A Study in Civilizational Perspective. New Delhi: M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd. pp. 27–42. 
  4. ^ Mishra, V. (1979). Cultural Heritage of Mithila. Allahabad: Mithila Prakasana. p. 13. Retrieved 28 December 2016. 
  5. ^ Michael Witzel (1989), Tracing the Vedic dialects in Dialectes dans les litteratures Indo-Aryennes ed. Caillat, Paris, 97–265.
  6. ^ Vanita, Ruth (2009). "Full of God:Ashtavakra and ideas of Justice in Hindu Text". Religions of South Asia. 3 (2). Retrieved 22 February 2017. 
  7. ^ Mukerjee, Radhakamal (1971). The song of the self supreme (Aṣṭāvakragītā): the classical text of Ātmādvaita by Aṣṭāvakra. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. ISBN 978-81-208-1367-0.