Videha and other kingdoms of the late Vedic period
|Capital||Janakpur of Nepal|
|Historical era||Iron Age|
|•||Established||unknown (~1100 BCE)|
|•||Disestablished||unknown (~500 BCE)|
|Today part of|| India
Videha (Nepali: विदेह) was an ancient South Asian kingdom between Ancient India and Ancient Nepal, now located in a region that overlaps with what is now Mithila federal state in eastern Madhesh of Nepal and the eastern Indian state of Bihar. The borders of Videha cannot be identified with certainty because the Videha rivers mentioned in the Vedic literature have changed course and shifted by a few hundred kilometers over their history.
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. Late Vedic literature such as the Brahmanas and the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad both mention Janaka, as a great philosopher-king of Videha, renowned for his patronage of Vedic culture and philosophy, and whose court was an intellectual centre for Rishi (sages) such as Yajnavalkya. Raychaudhuri suggests 14th- to 8th-century BCE range, while Witzel suggests 11th-8th century BCE for this Brahmanas and Upanishads composition period in Videha. The Vedic school of Aitareyins probably moved to Videha and other centers of scholarship, during the late Vedic period.
The region and culture of Videha is often mention in Hindu literature, states Samuel. The texts mention the idea of royal dynasty and the tradition of philosopher-kings who renounce, with examples including Nami (or Nimi in some texts), Janaka and other kings. Their stories are found in ancient surviving Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina texts, suggesting that renunciation by kings was a respected tradition before the birth of Buddha, and that this tradition was also broadly accepted in regions other than Videha, such as in Pancala, Kalinga and Gandhara. King Nimi or Nami of Videha is included as the 21st of the twenty four Tirthankaras in Jainism (not to be confused with closely spelled Nemi, the 22nd Tirthankara).
Towards the end of the Vedic period, Videha likely became part of the Vriji (Pali: Vajji) confederation and subsequently into the Magadha empire. The Videha kingdom is also mentioned in the Sanskrit epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. In the Ramayana, Sita is the princess from Videha, who marries Rama creating an alliance between the kingdoms of Kosala and Videha. The capital of Videha was in Dhanusa district, identified with the modern town of Janakpur in Southern Nepal.
- Michael Witzel (1989), Tracing the Vedic dialects in Dialectes dans les litteratures Indo-Aryennes ed. Caillat, Paris, pages 13, 116-124, 141-143
- Michael Witzel (1989), Tracing the Vedic dialects in Dialectes dans les litteratures Indo-Aryennes ed. Caillat, Paris, pages 17
- Michael Witzel (1989), Tracing the Vedic dialects in Dialectes dans les litteratures Indo-Aryennes ed. Caillat, Paris, pages 13, 141-143
- H. C. Raychaudhuri (1972), Political History of Ancient India and Nepal, Calcutta: University of Calcutta, pp.41–52
- Michael Witzel (1989), Tracing the Vedic dialects in Dialectes dans les litteratures Indo-Aryennes ed. Caillat, Paris, pages 13, 39-46, 141-143
- Michael Witzel (1989), Tracing the Vedic dialects in Dialectes dans les litteratures Indo-Aryennes ed. Caillat, Paris, pages 76-77, 125
- Geoffrey Samuel, (2010) The Origins of Yoga and Tantra: Indic Religions to the Thirteenth Century, Cambridge University Press, pages 69-70
- H.C. Raychaudhuri (1972), pp. 70-76
- Raychaudhuri (1972)
- Mahabharata of Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa, translated to English by Kisari Mohan Ganguli
- The Geography of India: Sacred and Historic Places. Britannica Educational Publishing.