Updated: Aug 9, 2021
Mithila is a land of many extraordinary people whose work and contributions have strongly influenced the course of events of the history of Mithila. It may say that the place is known for its people. The place give the person identity and the person give the place popularity. When the person become a personality , it reflects the essence of the place. Nationalist, writers, poets, artists, musicians, theater artist, all have their fair share of contribution to the place.
Here is a constantly edited list of famous maithils/maithilanis whom you should be familiar with as you engage here. If you have more suggestions, please leave them in the comments below.
1. King Janaka - The Rishi King of Mithila
King Janaka (राजा जनक, Raja Janak) was king of Mithila (Videha) and the adoptive father of Sita, the key character of the Hindu epic Ramayana. Janak’s name was Seeradhwaja. He was regarded as an enlightened soul and ruled his kingdom with wisdom and courage.
Janaka was an ancient Indian king of Videha which was located in Mithila region, approximately in the 8th or 7th century BCE. The rulers of the Videha kingdom were called Janakas. He also appears in epic Ramayana as father of Sita. His original name was Seeradhwaja and he had a brother named Kushadhwaja. His father name was Hroshhoroma. King Nimi was the first ruler of Videha kingdom. Then king Mithi, supposed the name Mithila came after him. His son king Janaka(1st), he was the first janaka. Then after three successor came king Devraat and after Devraat the 15th successor was Hroshhoroma.
Janaka is revered as being an ideal example of non-attachment to material possessions. He was intensely interested in spiritual discourse and considered himself free from worldly illusions. His interactions with sages and seekers such as Ashtavakra and Sulabha are recorded in ancient texts. His relationship with adopted daughter Sita led her to be called Janaki Mata. The city of Janakpur is named for him and daughter Sita. The Videha (or Mithila) kingdom was located between east of Gandaki River, west of Mahananda River, north of Ganga river and south of Himalayas.
2. Devi Siya (Sita)
Devi Sita is the consort of Lord Rama, the seventh avatar of Sri Maha Vishnu, in Hindu mythology. Sita Devi is one of the main characters in the Ramayana, a major Hindu epic. Born in Sitamarhi (Punaura) in Bihar (India), Sita was taken to Janakpur (in the present day Nepal) soon after her birth by her father, Maharaja Janak. Sita is considered to be one of the Sreshta Naris (most chaste women) and is respected as the epitome of all womanly virtues for Hindu women. Devi Sita is also considered an avatar of Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and the consort of Sri Vishnu during the Treta Yuga.
Devi Sita is indeed the ideal example of a woman and possesses all the good qualities that a traditional Indian woman is expected to possess. She was the ideal daughter to her parents, ideal wife to her husband, Rama, and the ideal mother to her twins, Luv and Kush.
Devi Sita had to undergo a lot of trials and tribulations in her marital life and it was her courage, chastity and adherence to Dharma (righteousness) that finally made her emerge the ultimate winner. Through her life story, Sita showed how a strong woman should be and that she need never let go of her principles in life. Probably, the whole mission of Sita's birth on Earth in human form was to destroy the arrogant Ravana, the demon King of Lanka.
3. Baba Vidyapati
Baba Vidyapati (c. 1352 – 1448), also known by the sobriquet Maithil Kavi Kokil (the poet cuckoo of Maithili), was a Maithili and Sanskrit poet, writer and polyglot. Vidyapati’s influence was not just restricted to Maithili , he was the great poet of Sanskrit too. His influence is extended to other Eastern literary traditions also. Born to Shaivite Brahmin family in the village of Bisfi in the Madhubani district . He is known as the ‘ Man of Knowledge‘ as his name derived from two sanskrit words, Vidya means knowledge and Pati means master i.e, master of knowledge. He is mainly known for his love songs and prayers for Lord Shiva. He also wrote on other topics including ethics , history , geography and law. He has also did great works in Odia literature and Bengali literature. His works include – Purusa Pariksha( moral teachings) , Likhanabli, BHU parikrama, Danavakyavali, Varsakrtya.
Harisimhadeva (also called Hari Singh Deva) was a King of the Karnat dynasty who ruled the Mithila region of modern-day North Bihar in India and parts of South Nepal.
He reigned from 1304 to 1324. He was the last king to belong to the Karnata dynasty of Mithila. His minister of war and peace was Caṇḍeśvara Ṭhakkura who composed the famous treatise, the Rajanitiratnakara. His reign came to an end after an invasion by Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq forced him to move to the hills of Nepal. His descendants eventually became the founders of the Malla dynasty of Kathmandu who were known for being patrons of the Maithili language.
The reign of Harisimhadeva was considered a landmark point in the history of Mithila with many events taking place during his four decade reign. He introduced many social changes such as the four-class system for Maithil Brahmins and developed the Panji system. The scholars that thronged his courts left a permanent imprint on Mithila.
Inscriptions detail that the Karnats of Mithila under Harisimhadeva had several battles with invading Muslim kings and were victorious in many instances but were eventually defeated.
5. Gonu Jha
Gonu Jha was the prominent personality, ready – witted character of Mithila. He was the contemporary of king Hari Singh of Mithila in the 13th centuary C. E. He was born at "BHARWARA". a village in Darbhanga District. There are several humorous Maithili language folktales about him, depicting him as a witty and wise man.
He was a Military Scholar of Mithila. There are several humorous Maithili language folktales about him . His works include Gonu Jha ki anokhi duniya, Gonu Jha ki rochak kathayein, Gonu Jha ke manoranjak Kisse.
7. King Sahlesh: The lesser known legend of Mithila
King Sahlesh is believed to have reigned over the Mithila region about 1,500 years ago and is widely revered in Mithila folklores and imagination. Legends and folklores associated with the king center around his initiatives for delivering justice, social and economic development, cohesion in society and his immortalized love story. He was the king of the Dusadhs and worked for the welfare of his community in Mithila in ancient times.
6. Ramdhari Singh Dinkar
Ramdhari Singh Dinkar is considered as one of the most important modern Hindi Poets. Other than writing poetries , he was also an essayist and a patriot. He wrote various Nationalist poetries at the time of Independence . Born in Simaraya , he had a vision of patriotism and nationalism.
Dinkar was elected three times to the Rajya Sabha, and he was the member of this house from 3 April 1952 to 26 January 1964, and was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1959. He was also the Vice-Chancellor of Bhagalpur University (Bhagalpur, Bihar) in the early 1960s.
His works include Rashmirathi, Hunkar, Renuka, Mitti Tilak, Urvashi. For his great literary works he was awarded by Padma Bhushan, Sahitya Akademi Award and janpith Award.
7. Baba Nagarjun (Vaidyanath Mishra)
Among the great poets of Mithila Vaidyanath Mishra (30 June 1911 - 5 November 1998) who is famous by his pen name Nagarjun is a treasure of Mithila. He is a great poet of Hindi and Maithili language. He is known as Janakavi- the People's Poet. He is regarded as the most prominent protagonist of modernity in Maithili.
Born in Tarauni village in Darbhanga district but recognised by the native of Satlakha village of Madhubani . Nagarjun is regarded as the most prominent protagonist of modernity in Mithila. He is well known for writing Novels, Short stories , literary bio graphics and travelogues. His literary work Yatri is something which is considered as one of the best collection of writeups. It includes poetries. Some of them are : Bharat Mata, Antim Pranaam, Vandana, Vilaap. For his work he has been awarded by Sahitya Akademi Award and Sahitya Akademi Fellowship.
4. Acharya Ramlochan saran
Acharya Ram Lochan Saran (11 February 1889, Muzaffarpur–14 May 1971, Darbhanga) a Hindi litterateur , grammarian and publisher is one of the great personalities of Mithila.
He founded Pustak Bhandar, a publishing enterprise, in Laheriasarai in 1915 and moved his publishing office to Patna in 1929. He also founded a number of magazines: Balak Magazine (1926–1986), Himalaya (1946–1948) and Honhar (Hindi and Urdu) (1939).
His Hindi primer Manohar Balapothi attempted to teach the Devanagari alphabet to beginners. He also published Some Eminent Behar Contemporaries by Sachchidananda Sinha, books by Mahatma Gandhi, and other Gandhian literature in both Hindi and English. He published Tolstoy and Gandhi by Dr. Kalidas Nag in English and produced a Maithili language version of the books of Tulsidas. Having edited and published Sidhant Bhasya, a four-volume commentary on Tulsidas's medieval retelling of the Ramayana, the Ramacharitamanasa, he was first to start printing Maithili books in Maithili script (Mithilakshar).
Through his publishing efforts he encouraged many other Hindi and Maithili littérateurs like Ramavriksha Benipuri, Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar', Acharya Shivpujan Sahay, and Pt. Harimohan Jha. He guided Upendra Maharthi the artist to develop his talents through work under him for over a decade.
8. Sharda Sinha
Sharda Sinha (1 October 1952) born in Hulas, Raghopur, Supaul district, Mithila region of Bihar, is an Indian Maithili-language folk-singer. She also sings in Bhojpuri and Magahi languages. She is known for her Maithili version of the Chhath Puja themed song "Ho Dinanath". She was awarded Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian award, on the eve of Republic Day, 2018. In 2015, she received the Padma Shri award for her contribution to music.
In Bollywood her songs Kahe Toh se Sajna from the film Maine pyaar kiya(1989) , Taar Bijli from Gangs of Wasseypur part 2, Babul from Hum aapke hain kaun are some of the popular songs.
9. King Kameshwar Singh Gautam Bahadur
Maharaja Sir Kameshwar Singh Goutam, K.C.I.E. (28 November 1907 – 1 October 1962) was the Maharaja of Darbhanga. He held his title over his family estates in the Mithila region from 1929 – 1952, when such titles were abolished following the Independence of India.
He was the son of Maharaja Sir Rameshwar Singh Goutam, the King of Darbhanga Raj. He was born on 28 November 1907 at Darbhanga in a Maithil Brahmin family. He succeeded, to the throne of his estate of Darbhanga Raj, upon death of his father on 3 July 1929.
He was patron of the All India Football Federation which was founded at Darbhanga in 1935. He had started the Darbhanga cup tournament at calcutta (Kolkata) in which teams from Lohare, Peshawar, Madras (Chennai), Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai (Bombay), Afghanistan and England participated. He built 4 indoor and outdoor stadiums including lahariasarai polo stadium. None of these stadiums now exist, due to a lack of maintenance.
Kameshwar Singh, who inherited some of his father's legacy, further expanded his stake in varied industries. He controlled 14 businesses producing sugar, jute, cotton, coal, railway, iron and steel, aviation, print media, electricity and other products.
Some of the major companies controlled by him were : Darbhanga Aviations (an airlines company owned by him); The Indian Nation and Aryavatra – newspaper, Thacker Spink & Co; a publishing company; Ashok Paper Mills, Sakri Sugar Factory and Pandaul Sugar Factory, Rameshwar Jute Mills, Darbhanga Dairy Farms, Darbhanga Marketing Co, Darbhanga Lahoriasrai Electric Supply Corporation, Walford, an automobile showroom at Calcutta. Further, he held controlling or major stakes, among others, in British India Corporation, which owned several mills in Kanpur & other parts, Octavius Steel (a large conglomerate having varied interests in Steel, Jute and Tea); Villiers & Co (colliery), through his company, Darbhanga Investments.
10. Gangesha Upadhyaya
Gangesha Upadhyaya (first half of the 14th century) born at Karion village on the banks of the river Kamala, 19 km south-east of Darbhanga in a Brahmin family, was an Indianphilosopher and mathematician from the kingdom of Mithila.
According to tradition, he was illiterate in his early years but later he acquired the knowledge of logic as a boon from the goddess Kali. His son Vardhamana Upadhyaya was also a noted philosopher of the Nyaya school. Beyond this, nothing else is known of his life.
He established the Navya-Nyāya ("New Logic") school. His Tattvacintāmaṇi (The Jewel of Thought on the Nature of Things), also known as Pramāṇacintāmaṇi (The Jewel of Thought on the Means of Valid Knowledge), is the basic text for all later developments. The logicians of this school were primarily interested in defining their terms and concepts related to non-binary logical categories.