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Mithila (IAST: mithilā) located in Janakpur in the Dhanusa district of Nepal was the capital city of the Videha Kingdom ruled by King Janak. With its name commonly used to refer to the Videha Kingdom itself, as well as to the modern-day territories that fall within the ancient boundaries of Videha (Mithila (India) and Mithila (Nepal)), The Mithila kingdom existed on the eastern Indo-Gangetic Plain, an area which today is spread over more than half of India's Bihar state and parts of adjoining Nepalese Mithila province.
The legend of Mithila extends over many centuries. Both Gautama Buddha and Vardhamana Mahavira are said to have lived in Mithila. It also formed the centre of Indian history during the first millennium, and has contributed to various literary and scriptural works.
The name Mithila is derived after mythical King 'Miti' which in Dhatki language means "Soil". He was supposed to have been created from the body of his father King Nimi. He established the capital of his kingdom at Mithilapuri and hence the region came to be called Mithila. Since he was born out of body of his father, he took the title Janaka. After this, the Kings of Mithila were called Janaka. The best known Janaka was Seeradhwaja, father of Sita. He was 21st Janaka of Mithila. This dynasty was also called Videha Janaka. There were 57 kings in the dynasty of Videha Janaka.
Ancient history and myths
The most important reference to Mithila is in the Hindu epic Ramayana, whereby Lord Rama's wife Sita is said to have been the princess of the land, born to King Janaka, who ruled Mithila. Other kings of Mithila during the ancient period were Bhanumath, Satghumanya, Suchi, Urjnama, Satdhwya, Kriti, Anjan, Arisnami, Srutayu, Supasyu, Suryasu, Srinjay, Sourmabi, Anena, Bhimrath, Satyarath, Upangu, Upgupt, Swagat, Snanand, Subrachya, Supraswa, Subhasn, Suchurut, Susurath, Jay, Vijay, Critu, Suny, Vith Habya, Dwati, Bahulaswa and Kriti Tirtiya.
It is said that the last king of the Janakas was of bad character.[who?] He was deposed by the public under the leadership of acharyas or learned men. Thereafter, Mithila remained without a king for hundreds of years. During this period, instead of a monarchy, a democratic system was followed under which the ruler was elected by the people and decisions taken in a collective manner. This continued for several centuries until the region was attacked and conquered by the Magadh kingdom. Thereafter, it came to be included under some of the janapadas (oligarchies ruled by guilds such as Vajji sangha, Licchavi) until after the conquest by successive Magadha dynasties (Shishunaga, Nanda, Maurya, Shunga, Gupta, and Vardhan), who ruled the area at various times.
According to Jain Agamas, 21st Tirthankara Naminatha was born in Mithila to King Vijaya and Queen Vapra. Mithila was ruled by King Vijaya of Ikshvaku dynasty and after him, by Lord Naminatha.
- Tukol, T. K. (1980). Compendium of Jainism. Dharwad: University of Karnataka.
- Shah, Umakant Premanand (1987). Jaina-Rupa Mandana: Jaina Iconography:, Volume 1. India: Shakti Malik Abhinav Publications. ISBN 81-7017-208-X.