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Mithila (region)

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Mithila (IAST: mithilā), also known as Tirhut and Tirabhukti, is a geographical and cultural region of the Indian subcontinent, mainly located in the Indian state of Bihar. This region is bounded by the Mahananda River in the east, the Ganges in the south, the Gandaki River in the west and by the foothills of the Himalayas in the north.[1][2] It extends into the eastern Terai of Nepal.[3][4]

The native language in Mithila is Maithili, and its speakers are referred to as Maithils.[1]

The name Mithila is commonly used to refer to the Videha Kingdom, as well as to the modern-day territories that fall within the ancient boundaries of Videha.[4] In the 18th century, when Mithila was still ruled in part by the Raj Darbhanga, the British Raj annexed the region without recognizing it as a princely state.[5][6] Mithila comprises Tirhut, Darbhanga, Kosi, Purnia, Munger, Bhagalpur and Santhal Pargana divisions[a] of India[7] and some adjoining districts of Nepal.


Vedic period

Mithila first gained prominence after being settled by Indo-Aryan peoples who established the Videha kingdom.[8] During the late Vedic period (c. 1100–500 BCE), Videha became one of the major political and cultural centers of South Asia, along with Kuru and Pañcāla. The kings of the Videha Kingdom were called Janakas.[9] The Videha Kingdom was later incorporated into the Vajji confederacy, which had its capital in the city of Vaishali, which is also in Mithila.[10]

Medieval period

From the 11th century to the 20th century, Mithila was ruled by various indigenous dynasties. The first of these were the Karnatas who were of Parmar Rajput origin, the Oiniwar Dynasty who were Maithil Brahmins and the Khandavalas of Raj Darbhanga who were also Maithil Brahmins. It was during this period that the capital of Mithila was shifted to Darbhanga.[11]


Mithila is a distinct geographical region with natural boundaries like rivers and hills. It is largely a flat and fertile alluvial plain criss-crossed by numerous rivers which originate from the Himalayas. Due to the flat plains and fertile land Mithila has a rich variety of biotic resources; however, because of frequent floods people could not take full advantage of these resources.[12]

Seven major rivers flow through Mithila: Mahananda, Gandak, Kosi, Bagmati, Kamala, Balan, and the Budhi Gandak.[13] They flow from the Himalayas in the north to the Ganges river in the south. These rivers regularly flood, depositing silt onto the farmlands and sometimes causing death or hardship.[citation needed]


Maithili language speakers are referred to as Maithils and they are an Indo-Aryan ethno-linguistic group. There are an estimated 35 million Maithils in India alone. The vast majority of them are Hindu but there is a small Muslim minority.[14]

The people of Mithila can be split into various caste/clan affiliations such as Brahmins, Rajputs, Kayasthas, Ahirs, Kurmis, Koeris, Baniyas and many more.[15]

Notable people

The following are notable residents (past and present) of Mithila region.


Madhubani/Mithila Painting

Madhubani art (Mithila painting) is practiced in the Mithila region of India and Nepal. It was traditionally created by the women of different communities of the Mithila region. It is named after Madhubani district of Bihar, India which is where it originated.[27] This painting as a form of wall art was practiced widely throughout the region; the more recent development of painting on paper and canvas originated among the villages around Madhubani, and it is these latter developments that may correctly be referred to as Madhubani art.[28]

Demands for administrative units

Proposed Indian state

Indian Mithila

There is an ongoing movement in the Maithili speaking region of Bihar and Jharkhand for a separate Indian state of Mithila.[29]A likely candidate for the capital of the proposed state is Darbhanga, while other potential sites include Muzaffarpur, Purnia, and Begusarai.[citation needed]

Proposed Nepalese province

Nepalese Mithila
Nepalese Province No. 2

There is a movement in the Maithili speaking areas of Nepal for a separate province.[30]Province No. 2 was established under the 2015 Constitution, which transformed Nepal into a Federal Democratic Republic, with a total of 7 provinces. Province No. 2 has a substantial Maithili speaking population and consists most of the Maithili speaking areas of Nepal. It has been demanded by some Mithila activists that Province No. 2 be named 'Mithila Province'.[31]

See also


  1. ^ Santhal Pargana division is headquartered at Dumka and the cited source mentions the division as "Dumka division"


  1. ^ a b 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.
  2. ^ Mishra, V. (1979). Cultural Heritage of Mithila. Allahabad: Mithila Prakasana. p. 13.
  3. ^ Ishii, H. (1993). "Seasons, Rituals and Society: the culture and society of Mithila, the Parbate Hindus and the Newars as seen through a comparison of their annual rites". Senri Ethnological Studies 36: 35–84. Archived from the original on 23 August 2017.
  4. ^ a b Kumar, D. (2000). "Mithila after the Janakas". The Proceedings of the Indian History Congress 60: 51–59.
  5. ^ Singh, U. N. (1986). "The Maithili Language Movement: Successes and Failures". Language Planning: Proceedings of an Institute: 174–201.
  6. ^ Jha, M. (1997). "Hindu Kingdoms at textual level". Anthropology of Ancient Hindu Kingdoms: A Study in Civilizational Perspective. New Delhi: M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd.
  7. ^ Jha, Pankaj Kumar (2010). Sushasan Ke Aaine Mein Naya Bihar. Bihar (India): Prabhat Prakashan.
  8. ^ Michael Witzel (1989), Tracing the Vedic dialects in Dialectes dans les litteratures Indo-Aryennes ed. Caillat, Paris, pages 13, 17 116–124, 141–143
  9. ^ Witzel, M. (1989). "Tracing the Vedic dialects". In Caillat, C. Dialectes dans les litteratures Indo-Aryennes. Paris: Fondation Hugot. pp. 141–143.
  10. ^ Hemchandra, R. (1972). Political History of Ancient India. Calcutta: University of Calcutta.
  11. ^ "Anthropology of Ancient Hindu Kingdoms: A Study in Civilizational Perspective". pp. 55–56.
  12. ^ Thakur, B.; Singh, D.P.; Jha, T. (2007). "The Folk Culture of Mithila". In Thakur, B.; Pomeroy, G.; Cusack, C.; Thakur, S.K. City, Society, and Planning. Volume 2: Society. pp. 422–446.[dead link]
  13. ^ "Rivers of Bihar | Bihar Articles". Archived from the original on 23 July 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
  14. ^ James B. Minahan. "Ethnic Groups of South Asia and the Pacific: An Encyclopedia: An Encyclopedia".
  15. ^ Makhan Jha. "Anthropology of Ancient Hindu Kingdoms: A Study in Civilizational Perspective". pp. 33–40.
  16. ^ Biography and Works Archived 13 July 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ "Special Postage Stamps on Linguistic Harmony of India". Latest PIB Releases. Press Information Bureau of the Government of India. September 1999. Archived from the original on 24 October 2008. Retrieved 26 September 2008.
  18. ^ Nitish Kumar and the Rise of Bihar. Penguin Books India. 2011-01-01. ISBN 9780670084593.
  19. ^ Nitish Kumar and the Rise of Bihar By Arun Sinha page 53
  20. ^ Jaffrelot, Christophe (2010-01-01). Religion, Caste, and Politics in India. Primus Books. ISBN 9789380607047.
  21. ^ Religion, Caste, and Politics in India By Christophe Jaffrelot page 475
  22. ^ Phanishwar Nath 'Renu' Profile Archived 14 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Seasoninindia.
  23. ^ IANS (10 December 2013). "BJP's Shahnawaz Hussain on IM hit list". Archived from the original on 26 October 2017. Retrieved 26 October 2017 – via Business Standard.
  24. ^ "BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain's impersonator arrested". Archived from the original on 19 December 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  25. ^ "PM's 'lack' of leadership has made UPA 'sinking ship': BJP". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  26. ^ "8th Lok Sabha – Members Bioprofile – AZAD, SHRI BHAGWAT JHA". Archived from the original on 6 October 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
  27. ^ "Madhubani Painting". p. 96. Archived from the original on 28 October 2017. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  28. ^ Carolyn Brown Heinz, 2006, "Documenting the Image in Mithila Art," Visual Anthropology Review, Vol. 22, Issue 2, pp. 5-33
  29. ^ "Small States Syndrome in India". p. 146. Archived from the original on 17 February 2017. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
  30. ^ Burkert, C. (2012). "Defining Maithil Identity". In Gellner, D.; Pfaff-Czarnecka, J.; Whelpton, J. Nationalism and Ethnicity in a Hindu Kingdom: The Politics and Culture of Contemporary Nepal. London, New York: Routledge. pp. 241–273. ISBN 9781136649561. Archived from the original on 20 August 2017.
  31. ^


  • Tukol, T. K. (1980). Compendium of Jainism. Dharwad: University of Karnataka.

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