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Mithila, Maithili, Mithilanchal - The Soul of Maithils by Santosh Kumar Jha

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Welcome To The Mithila Group - The Mithila Group Mein Apnek Swagat Achhi.:- Santosh Kumar Jha


One thing that should be remembered is that in this universe nothing is useless or meaningless. Each word, each existence has a certain meaning; perhaps that meaning is not known to you, but whether you know it or not, there is a meaning. Take for example the colour white. You see white colour with your eyes; the vibration of this colour enters your brain, and there this vibration emits a sound wave, "dhab, dhab, dhab." From this sound came the Sam'skrta' root verb dhav, and from this root verb came words like dhavala ("white" in Sam'skrta) and dhavla' ("white" in Hindi). So you see, from a particular acoustic vibration has evolved a word with a particular meaning.

On the north of this land of Mithila stands the Himalayas; to the west the Na'rayan'ii-Gan'd'aka river; in the south the Ganges, and to the east, the old Kaoshii river. The ancient name for Mithila was Videha. When the Aryans first entered India from Central Asia to the west, in the first stage they advanced up to Allahabad, and then they proceeded to Varanasi. In Central Asia there was neither sufficient land nor water; but after arriving in India they found that the land there was very fertile; there were plenty of resources for food, clothing, etc. Thus they first named the country Jambudviipa ("an island with an abundance of stones of the colour of blackberries") and later renamed it Bha'ratvarsa. The root verb -bhr means "to feed" or "to maintain"; ta means "that which helps in expansion", and vars'a means "land". So the name Bha'ratvarsa means "the land where there is an abundance of resources for existence and expansion." 



However, as the Aryans advanced eastward from Varanasi, they noticed that the people of the eastern regions did not lag behind in culture. Some minor clashes occurred between the indigenous population and the advancing Aryans; and the Aryans' sense of superiority and vanity of culture was increasingly deflated as they moved eastward from Allahabad.

Allahabad was originally named Praya'ga; pra means "well" and ya'ga means "activity"; so Praya'ga means "the place where the different activities of life are performed in a very nice way." After coming to Varanasi, the Aryans found it futile to fight with the virtuous people there, because the entire land was a Tantrik area. So they declared that those who would advance eastwards would be degenerated. The purpose behind this declaration was to prevent people from moving eastward in order to avoid any struggle with the people of eastern India; for such a struggle would certainly mean the Aryans' defeat. Thus Mithila, Magadha, Bengal and Assam were declared as non-Aryan land, and all Aryans were prohibited from going there.  

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But the land of Mithila was extremely fertile, and the Aryans were greedy to possess it. So the Aryans were in a dilemma: whether or not to advance and occupy the land. Those of them who crossed the Sarayu river and entered the non-Aryan land were declared to be of an inferior caste ; they were called Sarayu'pa'r'ii Bra'hman. But as their greed increased more and more, they crossed the Nara'ya'nii Gan'd'aka and entered Mithila. Those who came to Mithila became quite prosperous, and those who stayed behind began to feel extremely envious. So they declared that those who crossed the river were of an inferior caste. 

The inhabitants of Mithila were of Aryan-Austriko-Mongoloid stock. Those who crossed the Nara'ya'nii-Gan'd'aka river were hated by the others, and behind this psychology of hatred was the instinct of greed. In those days there was a rule that during the period of performance of a sacrifice, five scholars were required to be present: one of them was a scholar of the Atharva Veda who was called Bra'hmana ; another was a scholar of the Yajur Veda who was called Adhvarju; one was a scholar of the Sa'ma Veda called Udga'ta, and the fourth was a scholar of the Rg Veda who was called Rtvika. The supervisor of all the four scholars was called Hota'. In those days the land of Mithila was called Videha. The king of Videha declared that if the people perform yajinas or sacrifices, they would become holy (ignorant people think like this). The king thought, "Well, I will perform a sacrifice according to the injunctions of the Vedas, and then people can no longer declare this country as unholy, non-Aryan land. So he assembled three prominent hota's or sacrificial supervisors, and performed the sacrifice; and thus the land where the sacrifice was performed with the help of those three hotas became known as Trihotriiyabhu'mi. Gradually the word became transformed into Tirhotiiyabhumi in Ma'gadhi Pra'krta, and in old Maithili it became Tirhut. So the second name of Mithila became Tirhut. The king who performed the sacrifice was King Mithi, and in Sam'skrta' the root verb la means "to hold"; so Mithi+la+suffix d'a+t'a' (feminine suffix) = Mithila'. Thus Mithila means, "the land which holds, or which is held by, King Mithi". This is the history of Mithila in a nutshell. 

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The inhabitants of Mithila are of Aryan-Austriko-Mongoloid stock. The percentage of Aryan blood is less than the percentage of Austrik and Mongoloid blood. It is natural that the number of dark-complexioned people should be more than that of the fair-complexioned people. These are the original inhabitants of Mithila. 

Different countries have different kinds of pronunciation. For example, the Chinese people cannot pronounce the sound 'r' properly. In Mithila also there is a special kind of pronunciation; the sam'vrta style of pronunciation is more common than the vivrta style. For instance, in certain parts of India ka, kha, ga and gha are pronounced somewhat like ka', kha', ga' and gha', which is commonly known as the vivrta style of pronunciation. In some places it is pronounced as ko, kho go, and gho. This is called tiryak style of pronunciation. Another speciality of the pronunciation in Mithila is that the vowel sounds ending in long "ii" become changed into short "i", and the last vowel is pronounced before the consonant ; for instance, ma't'i is pronounced as ma't'. Similarly pa'nii is pronounced as pain. 

Mithila is situated in the eastern part of India. The system of astrological calculation of western India and that of Mithila are not the same. Those of you who are the students of geography know that the time of a clock changes according to the longitude of a place. In those days saptasindhu (the land of the seven rivers) was the centre of the land of the Aryans, The system of astrological calculation will not apply in Mithila.

After coming to Benares the Aryans found that the Tantrik system of astrological calculation was in vogue there. Further eastward, that is in Mithila, the system of calculation was supposed to be different. So the almanac that was used in the Mithila area did not conform to that of northern India or Varanasi -- Mithila has its own almanac. In the Patna and Gaya areas of Magadha, the Varanasi almanac can be used, but not in Mithila. There the tirhutii almanac was in wide use, because Mithila is situated in the eastern part of India, at a different longitude, and as such it should, and does, have its own almanac. 


Due to ethnic differences, it is natural that there should also be some difference in social systems and customs, and in fact there were different social customs in the Mithila area. Manu was an illustrious author of social treatises among the Aryans. The social code written by Manu was popular throughout India, but the people of Mithila found that some alterations were necessary according to local situations. Thus in Manu's social code there were certain local variations. For example, the Tamil variation of Manu's social code which has certain specialities of its own, is popular in Tamilnadu and Madras. The second variation is that of Maharashtra, with its own distinct specialities as well. The third variation is that of the Punjab. According to Mann's social code, sons are entitled to paternal property ; but according to the Punjabi variation, although sons have the birthright to their paternal property, they cannot claim it during their fathers' lifetime. This is the speciality of the Punjab school of Manu's social code. The fourth variation is that of Varanasi, and the fifth is that of Mithila. Mithila has its own code of inheritance which is prevalent from the Nara'ya'nii Gand'haka to the Kaoshii river. Thus we see that in all respects Mithila has its own specialities. 



In ancient India three scripts arose upon the death of Bra'hmii and Kharos't'hi scripts. The Sa'rada script was used to the northwest of Allahabad ; the scholars of Kashmir even today write Sam'skrta' in Sa'rada' scripts. To the southwest of Allahabad the Na'rada' script is used ; for example, in Gujarat, in Rajasthan, etc.; and those who use this script are known as Na'gara Brahmins. The Brahmins of Gujarat are called Na'gara Brahmins, and their script is known as Na'grii script. The script which is used east of Allahabad -- that is, in Bihar, Bengal, Assam and Orissa -- is known as Kut'ila' script. All this took place about 3000 years ago. Naturally the Mithila script of Tirhut script is Kut'ila' script. All the rock inscriptions or copper inscriptions which have been unearthed in these areas are all written in the Kut'ila' script. Thus this proves that Mithila has all along had its own script and its own alphabet.

All this indicates that Mithila had all the special characteristics that an independent state should have. Thus you, the children of the present-day Mithila, should remember that even five or six thousand years ago there was a great civilisation at Mithila, and it was a pre-Aryan civilisation : that is, it existed even before the Aryans migrated to India. Thus you can easily understand how ancient was the civilisation of Mithila. 

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Prior to the Aryan migration to India, the ideas of the common people were based on the science of Tantra. Tantra means the practical process of intuitional science, of spiritual realisation; it does not mean any external rituals. The very land of Mithila is the land of Tantra. Here the Nyaya school of philosophy attained prominence only 700 years ago, but prior to that, Tantra enjoyed the dominant position. According to Buddhist Tantra, this Mithila school of Tantra had a close relation to that of China, Kamrup, Bengal, and Kashmir. It is one of the very ancient traditions of Tantra. 

The people of Mithila are very rational-minded and intellectual by disposition. There was no differentiation of caste among them even as far back as in the post-Buddhist age. The discrimination of caste arose during the British rule, and it was injected in people's minds for political reasons. These matters of caste are not very old. You must completely root out these sorts of discriminatory feelings arising from external sources and try to become people of elevated standard, as your ancestors were.

Now I would like to say a few words about language. This discourse will be incomplete if nothing is said about the history of the Mithila language. According to the system of astrological calculations, sometimes people's longevity is counted at 108 years, and sometimes 120 years. The first system is known as a's't'ottariiya, and the second one is called vitwshottariiya. Similarly, each language emerges after 1000 years and a script emerges after 2000 years. Here script means letters (ABC, etc). About 4000 years ago, the Aryan or Vedic language died, and in its wake emerged its seven daughters. In eastern India, that is, east of Allahabad, appeared the Magadhi Pra'krta. In central north India arose the Shaorasenii Pra'krta ; in central west India arose Paesha'cii Pra'krta ; in the far-off Northwestern Frontier Province, Pa'shcha'ttya Pra'krta ; in Sind and Baluchistan, Pahlavii Pra'krta in Rajasthan, west Madhya-Pradesh and Gujarat, Ma'lavii Pra'krta ; and Maha'ra's'tra and Goa, Maha'ra's't'rii Pra'krta. Prakrta language means "people's language"; that is, the language of the common masses. Lord Buddha and Lord Maha'viira preached their religions in eastern India using the Magadhii Pra'krta, which many people call Pali language. One thousand years after its birth, Magadhii Pra'krta also died a natural death, because as I have said earlier, the average life-span of any language is roughly one thousand years. Magadhii Pra'krta left behind its two daughter, eastern demi-Magadhii and western demi-Magadii. One thousand years later, these languages also died out. The languages born out of this eastern demi-Magadhii are still alive ; Oriya, Bengali, Assamese, Angika and Maithili. Western demi-Magadhii also left behind two daughters, Magahi and Bhojpuri.

The languages descended from eastern demi-Magadhii have certain characteristics. One is that the sound ca appears at the end of a verb, for instance, ham ja'yche ("I am going) in Angika, ham ja'ycham in Maithili, ami jacchi in Bengali, mo ja'yche in Assamese, and mu a'uchi in Oriya. Similarly, there is the sound la as the verb ending in the past tense ; for example, for "I went": ham ga'ylii in Angika, ham ga'yliiye in Maithili, a'mi gela'm in Bengali, man galo in Assammese. Similarly, in the future tense, the va sound occurs as a verb ending; for example, ham ja'ybo in Angika, ham jaybae in Maithili, a'mi ja'bo in Bengali. In this way in the two languages of western demi-Magadhii, Magahi and Bhojpuri, there is the sound -la in the past tense, for instance, tun gaila in Angika, tun gailun in Maithili. But in the present tense there is no ca sound. In Magahi people say ham ja'hii, in Bhojpuri hamja'tahii. That is, in the verb endings of the present tense, ca is not used at all.

Thus this Maithili language is born from the Vedic language, which left behind two daughters--eastern demi-Magadhii and western demi-Magadhii, and Maithili belongs to the eastern demi-Magadhii group. This language is approximately 1200 years old. Sometimes a language has a number of branches or dialects. Even in the villages there are differences between the spoken or colloquial languages. Maithili language has three main dialects. One is Kaoshii dialect of Sahars'a' : in this dialect people pronounce chae instead of aich. In pure Maithili the word bat'uk is used for a minor boy, whereas in the Kaoshii dialect people say bedra'. There are some local variations like this.

The second dialect is Madhubanii dialect, which is spoken in central Mithila; this is the standard Maithili, in which books are written. The third dialect of Maithili language is Bajjaka' Maithili. The western part of Mithila, that is Muzzafurpur and Hazipur regions, was previously known as Vajrabhuma'. This is the reason why the local language of this area is known as Vajika' Maithili. There are some minor differences between Vajika',Maithili and standard Maithili ; for example, in standard Maithili the word chatha is used, but in Vajika' Maithili hathii is used. In some places there is difference in the use of words, also ; for instance, in standard Maithili, sugar cane is called kushiya'r, but in Vajika' Maithili it is called ukh. In Vajika' Maithili, guava is called amrud, but in standard Maithili it is lata'm. All the words are Maithili, but there are local variations in the spoken dialects.

Maithili language also has a history behind it ; in fact, it can be said that the Maithili language has the oldest history of all the Sam'skrta-derived languages in India. The most ancient language is Tamil, about 3500 years old, and Maithili is the second most ancient. This language is at least 1200 to 1300 years old, and its literature is 900 years old.

Santosh Kumar Jha
Founder The Mithila Group

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