Mithila, the modern Tirhoot was a renowned kingdom in ancient India. It was the centre of earliest Brahmanical civilisation. The Videhans had their capital at Mithila
Legends of Mithila
The origins of Videha and Mithila
are purely mythical. According to Vishnu Purana
gives the following origin of Mithila-"Nimi, the son of Ishvaku, instituted a sacrifice and asked Vashishta to preside. Vashisha replied that he had already been engaged by Lord Indra
in a sacrifice. Nimi made no answer and Vashishta
thought that he had agreed and went away. Nimi employed Gautama and other rishis and started his sacrifice. Vashishta came in all haste to Nimi but finding Gautama and others employed, he cursed Nimi that he should thenceforth cease to exist in a corporal form. He cursed Vashishta in turn and both abandoned their human bodies." After Nimi`s death, the Rsis agitated his body and a boy was produced and was named Mithi (product of churning) who succeeded his father and his country came to be known as Mithila. Mithi was self-born, so his successors came to be known as Janaka
, meaning, self born. According to Mithilakhand of Brihad Vishnu Purana
, Videha means one whose body is gone. According to Panini
, Mithila is the town where the enemies are crushed.
Legends of Mithila
During the time of king Janaka, Videha was at the apex of its glory. He was a contemporary of king Dasrath of Ayodhya
and king Pramati of Vaishali. He concluded a matrimonial alliance with the king of Ayodhya
. Janaka was the most popular king of his time. The Brahmanical system was fully stabilized in Videha. His court was thronged with Brahmanas from the Kuru-Panchal country.
In the mantra period, Videha took a leading part in the development of Vedic culture. Mithila alo finds its mention in Mahbharata
, after the consent of Yudhisthir
defeated the king of Videha in course of his Digvijaya. Kama is also said to have conquered Mithila. In the war of Mahabharata the
Maithil king Ksemdrmrti had fought from the side of Duryodhana
against the Pandavas
, the father of the Pandavas, had conquered Mithila and had incurred the wrath of Maithil king. Bhima and Karna
had also once attacked Mithila. All these acts of aggression had infuriated the Maithil king. Hence he took the side of the Kauravas
in the Mahabharata war.
According to Mahamallaummagga Jataka, the great city of Mithila was composed in part of four suburbs extending beyond each of its four gates, and called not Gamas but Nigamas. These were named respectively east, west, south and north "market-towns". The kingdom of Videha had 10,000 villages. It was visited by merchants and during the time of Buddha, people came from Sravasti to sell their wares in Videha.
Culture of Maitha
According to Jataka the system of marriage was polygamy. The Maithil kings were men of high culture. The Videhan prince used to be educated at Taxila. Videha was famous for sword manufacture.