(Last Updated on : 19/03/2010)
In ancient India, Janaka was king of Mithila and the father of Sita, the beautiful central character of Ramayana. Janaka was remarkable for his great knowledge, good works and sanctity. Janaka is also known as Siradhwaja(one, who is plough banner). When king Janaka was ploughing the ground and preparing for a sacrifice to have offspring, Sita sprang up from the furrow and thus he got a child.
When Sita grew up, Janaka arranged a Swayambhara, where he proposed a test of strength to string the great bow of Shiva called 'Haradhanu'. He decided that one, who will be able to do it, would be able to have Sita's hand. Lord Rama passed the test and was married to Sita. Janaka had three other daughters namely Mandavi, Urmila and Shrutakirthi who were married to three brothers of Rama, Bharat, Lakshman and Shatrughna respectively.
Janaka was a brave king as well and was versed in all the Shastras and Vedas like a sage or Rishi. Janaka was the dearest student of Yaajnavakya, who was also a wise person. In Bhagavad Gita Srikrishna cites Janaka as an example of Karma Yoga.
King Janaka was also known as 'Rajarshi' as he was a Raja (king ) and Rishi (sage) at the same time. He administered the kingdom of Mithila (Videha) and at the same time he attained the spiritual advanced state of a Rishi. Sage Ashtavakra instructed Janaka about the nature of 'Atman'(self).This instruction together are written in the famous treatise of 'Astavakra Gita'.