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History of Mithila Region

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Mithila (IAST: mithilā, also known as Mithilanchal, Tirhut and Tirabhukti) is a geographical and cultural region located in the Indian subcontinent, comprising Tirhut, Darbhanga, Kosi, Purnia, Munger, Bhagalpur and Santhal Pargana divisions[a] of India[1] and some adjoining districts of Nepal. The native language is known as Maithili and its speakers are referred to as Maithils.[2] The majority of the Mithila region falls within modern-day India, more specifically in the state of Bihar.[3] Mithila is bounded in the north by the Himalayas, and in the south, west and east by the Ganges, Gandaki and Mahananda respectively.[4][5] It extends into the southeastern Terai of Nepal.[6][7][8] This region was also called Tirabhukti, the ancient name of Tirhut.[9]

Ancient history and mythsEdit

The name Mithila is believed to be derived from the mythical King Mithi. He established Mithilapuri.[10] Since he was born out of the body of his father, he was called Janak.[clarification needed]

After this, the kings of Mithila were called Janak. The most famous Janak was Seeradhwaja Janaka, father of Sita. There were 52 kings in the dynasty of Videh[clarification needed] Janak.[11] However, archaeological evidence is lacking to realistically assess the period of their[who?] migration.[where?]

The region was also known as Videha. The kingdom of Videha is mentioned for the first time in Yajurveda Samhita. Mithila, is mentioned in Buddhist Jatakas, the Brahamanas, the Puranas (described in detail in Brhadvisnu Purana) and various epics such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.[citation needed]

A list of kings is mentioned in Mahabharata and Jatakas. All the kings were known as Videha or Janak.[10]

Vedic period, Videha KingdomEdit

During the Vedic period, Mithila was the centre of the Videha kingdom.[12] The rulers of the Videha kingdom were called Janakas.

c. 600 BCE–c. 300 BCE, Vajji MahajanapadaEdit

Following the fall of the Videhas, Mithila came under the control of the Vajji mahajanapada which was a confederacy of clans the most famous of which was the Licchavi.[13] The capital was in the city of Vaishali in modern-day Bihar.[14] Mithila under the Vajji's was eventually conquered by the king of Magadha, Ajatashatru.

6th century to 11th century: Pala and Sena ruleEdit

Mithila was a tributary of the Pala Dynasty for almost three centuries. The Pala Dynasty were followers of Buddhism and according to some texts they were Kayasthas. Their capital is believed to be located at present town of Balirajgarh (Babubarhi-Madhubani district). The last king of Pal Dynasty was Madanpal. Madanpal was a weak king, as he was defeated by Adishur Samant Sen's army.

The founder of the Pala Empire was Gopala. He was the first independent Buddhist king of Bengal and came to power in 750 in Gaur by democratic election, which was unique at the time. He reigned from 750 to 770 and consolidated his position by extending his control over all of Bengal. His successors Dharmapala (r. 770-810) and Devapala (r. 810-850) expanded the empire across the northern and eastern Indian subcontinent. The Pala Empire eventually disintegrated in the 12th century under the attack of the Sena dynasty.

Sena Dynasty were followers of Hinduism (Gaud Kayasthas) and hence people of Mithila, being followers of Hinduism, helped Samant Sen in defeating Madanpal. Eminent scholar Vachaspati Mishra (from Village Thardhi in Madhubani district) was from this period,

11th century to 14th century: Simroon/Karnata DynastyEdit

The Karnata or Simroon dynasty was founded by Nanyadeva with the capital being in Simraon in Mithila.[15][16][17][18][19][20]

In the court of Hari Singh Deva the Royal Priest was Jyotirishwar, the author of Varna Ratnakar. Upon Ghiyasuddin Tughlak's invasion of Mithila (Tirhut), King Harisimhadeva, along with many Maithil Brahmins, fled to Nepal and founded a new dynasty in Nepal.[21]

The dynasty had six kings of note:[22]

  • Nanya Singh Deva - Nanya Singh Deva apart from being a great warrior, also had a keen interest in music. He classified and analyzed the Ragas and opines Madhya Laya is chosen for Hasya (humorous) and Sringar (libido) rasa, Bilambit is chosen for Karun (compassion) rasa and Drut is chosen for Veer (brave), Rodra (anger), Adbhut (marvellous) and Bhayanak (fearful) rasas. He wrote a treaty on music 'Saraswati Hridayalankar' which is preserved in the Bhandarkar Research Institute of Pune.[23] Nanya Dev is also considered to be the "forgotten King of Mithila".
  • Gang Singh Deva
  • Narsingh Deva
  • Ramsingh Deva
  • Shakti Singh Deva
  • Hari Singh Deva - King Hari Singh Dev is the most famous. He was instrumental in initiating and implementing Panji Vyavastha or Panji Prabandha in Maithil Brahmins and Maithil Kayasthas (Karn Kayasthas). He was also great patron of art and literature.

14th to 16th century: Oiniwar DynastyEdit

In 1353, following the collapse of the Karnat dynasty in 1324,[24] Nath Thakur became the first Maithil ruler. The dynasty that followed from him was called Oiniwar Dynasty, and comprised a further 20 rulers.[25]

1526 to 1577: period of anarchyEdit

Sikandar Lodhi made his son-in-law, Alauddin, the ruler of this area. During this period, Mughal Empire was beginning to take its root in Delhi. Alauddin was not a successful ruler and for next 50 years, anarchy prevailed in Mithila region. During this period the Gandhavariya Rajputs acquired power ruling various estates in the area particularly in Saharsa.[26]

When Akbar became emperor, he tried to bring normalcy to Mithila region. He came to the conclusion that only after a Maithil Brahmin was made King, peace can prevail and rent can be collected in Mithila. In 1577, Emperor Akbar declared Pt. Mahesh Thakkur as the ruler of Mithila. Pt. Mahesh Thakkur was of the mool, Kharaure Bhaur and hence that dynasty was called 'Khandwala Kul' and the capital was made at Rajgram in Madhubani District.

16th century to 20th century : Raj DarbhangaEdit

The Khandwala dynasty ruled as the Raj Darbhanga, beginning with Mahesh Thakur, who died in 1558. The last ruler was Kameshwar Singh, whose reign from 1929 came to an end in 1947 with the independence of India, when all the kingdoms merged with Union of India.



  1. ^ Santhal Pargana division is headquartered at Dumka and the cited source mentions the division as "Dumka division"
  1. ^ Jha, Pankaj Kumar (2010). Sushasan Ke Aaine Mein Naya Bihar. Bihar (India): Prabhat Prakashan.
  2. ^ "Anthropology of Ancient Hindu Kingdoms: A Study in Civilizational Perspective". p. 27. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  3. ^ Mishra, V. (1979). Cultural Heritage of Mithila. Mithila Prakasana. p. 13. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Mishra, V. (1979). Cultural Heritage of Mithila. Allahabad: Mithila Prakasana. p. 13. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Kumar, D. (2000). "Mithila after the Janakas". The Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 60: 51–59.
  8. ^ Radhakrishna Choudhary. "A Survey of Maithili Literature". Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  9. ^ Yadav, Yogendra P. date missing. Reading Asia: New Research in Asian Studies; Frans Hüsken, Dick van der Meij; Chapter 12 – The Maithili Language at page 240
  10. ^ a b Encyclopaedia of Hinduism. Nagendra Kumar Singh, p. 3239.
  11. ^ Dr. Kamal Kant Jha, Pt. Sri ganeshrai Vidyabhushan, Dr. Dhanakar Thakur. "A Brief History of Mithila State | Bihar Articles". Archived from the original on 1 March 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2008.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Michael Witzel (1989), Tracing the Vedic dialects in Dialectes dans les litteratures Indo-Aryennes ed. Caillat, Paris, pages 13, 17 116-124, 141-143
  13. ^ Raychaudhuri, Hemchandra (1972), Political History of Ancient India, University of Calcutta, Calcutta, pp. 106–113, 186–90
  14. ^ "Milestones Social Science – 6 (History, Geography, Social and Political Life)". p. 80. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  15. ^ "Complex Societies and Other Anthropological Essays". p. 14. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  16. ^ "The Journal of the Bihar Purävid Parishad, Volumes 4-5". p. 414. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  17. ^ "Mithila Under the Karnatas, C. 1097-1325 A.D". p. 55. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  18. ^ "History of Muslim rule in Tirhut, 1206-1765, A.D." p. 28. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  19. ^ "The Journal of the Bihar Research Society, Volume 46". pp. 22–25. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  20. ^ "Publications, Volume 33". p. 193. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  21. ^ "Mithila, Maithili and Maithil: the Field in Historical Context" (PDF). ShodhGanga. Inflibnet. pp. 88–89, 101–102.
  22. ^ Jha, M. (1997). Anthropology of Ancient Hindu Kingdoms: A Study in Civilizational Perspective. M.D. Publications. p. 153. ISBN 9788175330344. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  23. ^ accessed on 25 January 2008
  24. ^ Jha, Makhan (1997). Anthropology of Ancient Hindu Kingdoms: A Study in Civilizational Perspective. M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd. pp. 52–53.
  25. ^ Jha, Makhan (1997). Anthropology of Ancient Hindu Kingdoms: A Study in Civilizational Perspective. M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd. pp. 55–57.
  26. ^ "Saharsa [1966]". p. 18. Retrieved 28 January 2017.