Interesting Stories from Mithila, Sita’s Birth Place (Post No.5190)

Sita Mandir, Janakpur, Nepal.

COMPILED  by London swaminathan

 

Date: 7 JULY 2018

 

Time uploaded in London –   7-17 am  (British Summer Time)

 

Post No. 5190

 

Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Wikipedia, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks. Pictures may be subject to copyright laws.

 

There are many interesting stories about the City of Mithilaa.
The most famous story is from the Upanishad about the philosopher king Janaka discussing the meaning of the Veda when Mithila was on fire.
Janaka was not only a great king and a great sacrificer but also a great patron of culture and philosophy. His court was adorned with learned Brahmanas from Kosala and Kuru Panchala regions. Some of them are named , Asvala, Jaratkarva, Artabhaga Miss Garki Vacaknavi, Uddalaka Aruni, Vidagdha Sakalya and Kahoda Kausitakeya A Brahmin named Brahmayu who was well versed in history, grammar and worldly wisdom lived in Mithilaa.

In the Mahabharata,12-17, there is a saying attributed to Janaka of Mithilaa. Seeing his city burning in a fire the king of Mithilaa sang thus
“In this world, nothing of mine is burning
Mithilaayaam pradtaayaam na me dahyati kincana”

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But there are other stories not that popular.
Mithilaa was the capital of the kingdom of Videha also called Tirabhkti, modern Tirhut.

Mithila has been identified with the modern Janakapura, a small town within the Nepal border.

During the reign of Janaka, it took Visvamitra together with Rama and Lakshmana four days to reach Mithilaa from Ayodhyaa to. On the way they rested for one night at Visala (Valmiki Ramayana)

(My comments: the road distance today is 450 kms. They must have travelled by a short cut route and they could have walked at least 50 miles a day or by horse ride it is quicker)
According to Satapata Brahmana, Videha was so named after Madhava, the Videha who colonised it. Videha was famous for handsome people and horses of noble breed
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Narendra Modi in Janakpur, Nepal.
Mahabharata on Mithilaa
Bhima and Arjuna visited it with Krishna on his way from Indraprastha to Rajagriha.

Mahabharata points out that Karna conquered  Mithilaa during his digvijaya.

 

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Jain literature on Mithilaa
Mahavira 24th Tirthankara of Jainism Mahavira was born in Videha and he lived there for thirty years. He was called Videha and his mother was called Videhadattaa.

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Story of Nimi
Vasisthta having performed a fire sacrifice of Indra proceeded to Mithilaa to commence a sacrifice for King Nimi. On reaching there he came to know that the king had engaged Gautama to perform the sacrificial rites. Seeing the king asleep he cursed him thus king Nimi will be bodiless. (Videha =vigata Deha) because he rejected me. The king on awakening cursed Vasistha saying that he too would perish as he cursed a sleeping king.
The sages churned the body of Nimi and as a result of the churning a child was born, afterwards known as Mithi. After Mithi, Mithilaa was named and the kings were called Maithilas.
This is in Vishnu Purana
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Jataka stories
MIthila had at each of it’s four gates a market town. They formed for suburban towns. Videha contained 16000 villages 16000 store houses and 16000 dancing girls.

 

A disciple of the Buddha who was an inhabitant of Sravasti took cart loads of articles and went to Videha for trade. There he sold his articles and filled the carts with articles got in exchange.

King Videha had four sages to instruct him in law. The son of this king was educated at Taxila. A young named Pinguttara living in Mithilaa went to  Taxasiila and studied under a famous teacher. He soon completed his education. Then after diligent study he proposed to take leave of his teacher and go back home. But in the teacher’s family there was a custom if there be any daughter ripe for marriage, she should be given to the eldest pupil. So the teacher said,
I shall give you my daughter and you shall take her with you. He went home as a married man.
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Sumedha and Buddha


Sumedha, a childless widow of Suruchi, king of Mithilaa prayed for a son. She took the eight fold vow (Ashtasiilaani), and sat meditating upon the virtues. Sakka  in the guise of a sage came to fulfil her desire. He was entreated by her to grant her the boon of a son. She was asked by him to sing her own praises in fifteen stanzas, which she did to his satisfaction. Afterwards she was blessed with a child.

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Videha was ruled by Cedaga, Mahavira’s maternal uncle. He was an influential leader of Lichchavi confederacy. His daughter Cellanaa or Vaidehi was married to Srenika Bimbisara of Magadha and became the father of Kunika Ajatasatru

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Vedas mentioned a king named Namiisaapya
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600000 pieces a day!
King Saadhina of Mithilaa lived in happiness for many years. He ruled this city righteously. Six alms halls were built by him. Daily sixth thousand pieces were spent in alms.
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Bodhi sattvaavadana kala of Kshemendra refers to Mithilaa ruled by Pusphadeva who had two pious sons named Chandra and Surya. The munificent king Vijitavi of Mithilaa was banished from his kingdom. He took shelter in a leaf hut near the Himalayas. Mithilaa was governed by the descendants of a Nagadeva, Sagaradeva, and Mahadeva
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3000 Kings of India!!!

Sita Stamp.

Some time back I started posting the names of 3000 Kings of India. After 1500 plus, kings I got one here and one there. So I stopped posting them Here in  Mithilaa, we come across following new names:

Mostly from Jataka stories

Mahajanaka,

King Saadhina,
Namisaapya, Vedic index I, 436
Pushpadeva,
Vijitaavi
Cedaga, jain sources
King Angati,
Mithi
King Mahadeva (Madhva)
King Pabhata
King Suruci

Nagadeva
Sagaradeva

(other kings are already covered in the Purana list of Kings)
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Polygamy
Brahmadatta, king of Benares, had a daughter named Sumedha whom he declined to give in marriage to a Videha king who had large number of wives, fearing that her cowives wold make herself life miserable. Polygamy appears to have been in vogue among some Videha kings.

 

Source- India Antiqua, Leyden, 1947

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Tale of Two Cities: Complaint & Compliment

Tale of Two Cities: Complaint & Compliment

Rome burned, Nero fiddled; Mithila burned, Janaka Unperturbed.

Tale of Two ‘Burnt’ Cities indeed! Rome and Mithila!

 

Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita (III-20) praised Janaka as an illustrious king. Tamil poet Subramanya Bharathi praised him sky high for being unperturbed while his capital city Mithila burned. All compliments!!Mithila is identified with the modern Janakpur in Nepal. Janaka ruled the country of Videha with Mithila as its capital at least 2600 years ago.

 

While Rome burned, Nero fiddled. This expression is used in English with a negative connotation. It is used for heedless and irresponsible behaviour in the midst of a crisis! All complaints!! Nero ruled Rome in the first century. Rome burned in 64 AD.

What is the logic? One king is accused of inaction and another was complimented for inaction .First, we must know the truth behind the anecdotes. Rome burned in 64 AD for six days. Nero took action to control the fire and to mitigate the miseries of the people according to Tacitus. There is no truth in the saying that he ‘’fiddled’’. Because there was no fiddle in the world at that time!! It was invented 1500 years after Nero. But he did play on some instrument. Cassius Dio said that Nero sang  “Sack of LLium’’ in the stage costume when the city burned. But Tacitus says it was a rumour that he played his lyre at that time. One thing is clear that he annoyed the people by doing something. There is no smoke without fire.

If someone doesn’t take decisive action to control the fire and avoid the miseries of people, one will be condemned. We hear this type of complaint even today during major fire accidents.

What about Janaka who ruled from Mithila? Let us hear the story in the words of Swami Sivananda:

Raja Janaka was a full-blown Jnani though he worked in the world. His Jnana was tested. He was in the Durbar hall when a messenger brought the news that there was fire in the city. Janaka said: “My wealth is unlimited, and yet I have nothing. Even if the whole of Mithila is burnt, yet nothing is lost to me.”

The name of Raja Janaka is always associated with Karma Yoga and Karma Nishtha. In the Gita also Lord Krishna speaks to Arjuna: ‘Janaka and others indeed attained perfection by action; then, having an eye to the welfare of the world also, thou should perform action. Whatever a great man does, that other men also do; the standard he sets up, by that the people go. Therefore, without attachment, constantly perform action which is duty, for by performing action without attachment, man verily reaches the Supreme.’ Ch. III- 19, 20, 21.

Another scholar Sri Chinmoy of Bengal narrated the same anecdote in the following words:

“Possession is no satisfaction, so long as ego breathes in us. The great King Janaka knew it. No wonder Janaka was loved by the Sage Yagnyavalka most. His Brahmin disciples felt that Janaka received preference just because he was king. It is obvious that God would not let the Sage Yagnyavalka suffer such foul criticism. So, what happened? Mithila, Janaka’s capital, began to burn in mounting and devouring flames. The disciples ran, left their preceptor, hurried to their respective cottages. What for? Just to save their loin-cloths. All fled save Janaka. He ignored his riches and treasures burning in the city. Janaka stayed with his guru, Yagnvavalka, listening to the sage’s ambrosial talk. “Mithilayam pradagdhayam namekincit pranasyati”.. “Nothing do I lose even though Mithila may be consumed to ashes.” Now the disciples came to learn why their Guru favoured Janaka most. This is the difference between a man of wisdom and a man of ignorance. An ignorant man knows that what has is the body. A man of wisdom knows that what he has and what he is the soul. Hence to him the soul’s needs are of paramount importance.

Sri Krishna disclosed to Arjuna the secret of Janaka’s attainment to Self-realisation and Salvation. Janaka acted with detachment. He acted for the sake of humanity, having been surcharged with the light and wisdom of divinity. Indeed, this is the path of the noble”.

 

Of course no loss of life was reported from both the fires. Officials in charge would have taken the necessary action. This shows the different approaches for the same problem. Even in the case of Nero, no one can blame him if he was as serene and calm as Janaka; as  detached as Janaka.

 

If one knows the background of Janaka, one can appreciate his approach more: “Raja Janaka once commanded a Brahmin who committed a serious crime to leave his dominion at once. The Brahmin said: “O Rajan, kindly tell me the extent of your dominion. Then I will leave your state and settle down in the dominion of another Rajan”. Janaka did not say anything in reply. He sobbed heavily. He reflected seriously. Then he swooned suddenly. He came back to his senses after fifteen minutes. He then said: “I have inherited the state of my father. It is under my control, but nothing belongs to me exclusively. I cannot find my exclusive dominion anywhere, not even in Mithila and in my own progeny. Now real wisdom has dawned in me. I am now under the impression that either I have no dominion at all or all is my dominion. Either this body is not mine or the whole world is mine, and similarly that of others too. O best of the twice-born! This is my firm conviction. Stay in my dominion as long as you like and enjoy.”

The Brahmin asked: “O king! What has made you regard this kingdom as not yours or all as yours? How have you renounced the feeling of ‘mine-ness’ in this kingdom of your ancestors, which you are ruling?” Janaka replied: “Everything is perishable on the physical plane. Life is evanescent. Everything passes away. I could lay my finger on nothing which I could call as mine. I remembered the Vedic text: ‘It was anybody’s property.’ I reflected in this manner and so I have given up the idea of ‘mine-ness’. Hearken carefully now as to how I see my dominion everywhere. I have no desire for the objects that give good smell: so I have conquered the earth. I have no desire for tasty things, beautiful forms, soft cushions or beds, or music: therefore I have conquered water, fire, air and ether. I do not desire anything for the mind, it is therefore under my perfect control. I do actions for the Devas, ancestors, for all beings and for those who come to my door.”

 

Then the Brahmin smiled and said: “O king! I am Dharma in disguise. I have come to learn something about you. You are the only person to turn this wheel, the name of which is Brahman, the spoke of which is reason, which never turns back and which is kept to its course by the quality of goodness as its circumference.” (Anugita: Ch. 17). (Excerpt is from Swami Sivananda)

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