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. It extends into the eastern Terai of Nepal.
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. 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. Mithila comprises Tirhut, Darbhanga, Kosi, Purnia, Munger, Bhagalpur and Santhal Pargana divisions[a] of India and some adjoining districts of Nepal.
Mithila first gained prominence after being settled by Indo-Aryan peoples who established the Videha kingdom. 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. The Videha Kingdom was later incorporated into the Vajji confederacy, which had its capital in the city of Vaishali, which is also in Mithila.
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.
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.
Seven major rivers flow through Mithila: Mahananda, Gandak, Kosi, Bagmati, Kamala, Balan, and the Budhi Gandak. 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.
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.
The following are notable residents (past and present) of Mithila region.
- Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar' was an Indian Hindi poet, essayist, patriot and academic. He was born in present-day Begusarai district of Mithila region of Bihar, India.
- Bindheshwari Prasad Mandal was an Indian parliamentarian and social reformer who served as the chairman of the Second Backward Classes Commission (popularly known as the Mandal Commission) from Saharsa district of Mithila region of Bihar, India.
- Phanishwar Nath 'Renu', influential writer of modern Hindi literature in the post-Premchand era, born in present-day Araria district of Mithila
- Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, Indian politician, born in Supaul
- Bhagwat Jha Azad was the Chief Minister of Bihar and a member of Lok Sabha. He was born in Godda district of Mithila region of present-day Jharkhand, India.
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. 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.
Demands for administrative units
Proposed Indian state
There is an ongoing movement in the Maithili speaking region of Bihar and Jharkhand for a separate Indian state of Mithila.A likely candidate for the capital of the proposed state is Darbhanga, while other potential sites include Muzaffarpur, Purnia, and Begusarai.
Proposed Nepalese province
There is a movement in the Maithili speaking areas of Nepal for a separate province.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'.
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|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Mithila.|