Contribution Of Mithila To Indian Culture

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India has been a diverse country since ages. It is a unique blend of several religions, castes, cultures and languages. Every region has its own uniqueness and enriches the Indian culture in its own way. One of the lesser known, but extremely important region influencing the Indian culture is Mithilanchal.

Mithila kingdom was spread over Bihar and Nepal province. It was the centre of Indian and Nepalese histories during the first millennium and has contributed to various literary and scriptural work. Mithila was ruled by different dynasties like Pal, Sen, Krnat, Oinwar dynasties as well as by the Tughlaqs, Bengali, Mughals and British rulers. These different dynasties practiced different religions like Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Christianity etc. Hence there has been a spectrum of influence on the culture of Mithila. Legends talk about Gautama Buddha and Vardhaman Mahavir living here during their times. The 21st Tirthankara Naminatha, was also born here. Mithila was also without a king for several years (due to some moral conduct issues regarding its last king) making it the first region to practice democracy.

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Mythology knows Mithila best as the birthplace of goddess Sita, daughter of one of the kings, Janak and later; Lord Rama’s wife (as mentioned in Ramayana). Mithila has also harboured an enriched literary history. Vidyapathi, one of the greatest Indian poets was born here. His works Padavali (written in maithili, the local language) and Purush Pareeksha (in Sanskrit) are very well-known. Also, due to the Jain and Buddhist influence, some of the Buddhist scriptures or dohas are also written in  kamrupi and Maithili (the local language).

Indian Art has also seen a magnificent contribution from Mithila in the form of Madhubani paintings. This art is one of the most ancient and classical art form which is still practiced prominently by women and girls of Mithilanchal. The paintings are done using fingers, twigs, brushes, nib pens, and matchsticks, using natural dyes and pigments. The vibrant colours used and recurring geometric patterns show that these women try to inculcate the colours found in and around themselves in their paintings. This also shows the vibrancy of their mind and love for the art. Also another beautiful aspect of these paintings is that they revolve around perfectly normal traditions or rituals like wedding ceremony, birth of a child and festivals like Holi & Deewali . And yet the artists do their best to fit all the rituals in one mere piece of paper.

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In spite of all this richness Mithilanchal has and the diverse impact it has imparted on Indian Culture as a whole, the Maithili culture has suffered the negligence of Government in power and opposition as well. The development of Mithilanchal is only a political agenda which most of the political parties start every five years at the time of election. But the good news is that intellectuals and bureaucrats are coming on one platform to work towards the the development of Mithila with the help of people from mithilanchal. eMithilaHaat has been playing it’s role fairly from over past 3 years by it’s various workshops, events and products. We hope that Mithila will regain its glory soon and will keep contributing the Indian culture as it has been doing since ages.

Mithila Young Achiever : Priyank Aryan

eMithilaHaat has initiated a series called ‘Mithila Young Achievers’ to recognize the youths from Mithilanchal who are doing commendable work in their respective fields. Today we will introduce you to a very talented and famous novelist, Priyank Aryan. Started with a little knowledge about writing and this industry, Priyank wanted to fulfill the last wish of her beloved girlfriend and hence his debut novel “I Am Dead But My Heart Beats”. Just a few days back he released his second novel “God And His Girlfriend”.

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eMithilaHaat: Tell us a bit about your upbringing and education.

Priyank Aryan: Amethi in Uttar Pradesh is my birthplace, pretty historical place politically, yet on a lighter note I have no personal interest in getting a ticket from that constituency. But major part of my childhood days was spent in a small town ‘Ghatsila’ in Jharkhand, located very close to the steel city Jamshedpur. I hail from a normal middle class Maithil Brahmin family, with parental roots in Bihar. My entire 16 years of schooling till class 10th happened from Ghatsila only, a very serene town but I observed a very affectionate mindset & thinking process in the people there. In a small town, mostly everyone knows each other and so was my childhood days filled with lots of family care with the solo objective of studying to achieve something big in life. Childhood days were spent amidst books and self owned resources at home. Exposure to outside world was less. Later, I moved to Jamshedpur to avail better educational resources to complete my 12th and to prepare for engineering entrance exams. This preparation is what 90% kids from Indian family does after their 10th boards, with the zeal to get into IIT, NIT or other prestigious engineering schools. Well, I couldn’t make it to IIT, just reached the cut off stage and got calls from Marine engineering colleges which select candidates based on JEE score. But family member’s experience with a mix of my decision, I opted to go for Electrical engineering from BIT Sindri (Dhanbad), a very well known govt institution in that region. I completed my engineering last year. That’s how my upbringing and education has been so far.

eMithilaHaat: Where is your native? How often do you visit your native? Jamshedpur or Native? And Why?

priyank-emithilahaatPriyank Aryan: Native is a small village in Saharsa district of Bihar. Maithil readers must have heard of ‘Lalganj’, close to Sihaul, it’s a small peaceful village and that’s my native. When I was in school, we used to visit the native twice every year. Later, for me it got reduced to once a year. As of now, my parents do visit twice or thrice and I get a chance when there is some family function. Actually, hectic lifestyle doesn’t allow making multiple visits. But yes I have been fortunate enough to feel the essence of my native, somehow I have been making a visit in a year’s gap easily. Visiting Jamshedpur is always having a higher frequency because my parents stay there, that’s my hometown, so but obvious I visit there more frequently compared to my native. But yes, I will always prefer to balance my stay at my hometown and at my native. Both have their own beauty.

eMithilaHaat: Do you have any memories of your native place?

Priyank Aryan: Yeah of course. As I mentioned above, I have been to my native often. Last visit was in 2014, so it’s not about any long gap. Memories are still fresh and I look forward to be there again in few months. But yeah, all those moments spent during my childhood vacations are still fresh and it’s a pleasure to recall them. Those memories are very beautiful and soothing to heart.

eMithilaHaat: Tell us about your mother, father and siblings.

Priyank Aryan: My father is a teacher at a college based out in Ghatsila. He has been into teaching profession since the start of his career. My mother is a graduate from Jamshedpur and is a house-wife. I have got an elder sister who did her engineering and then worked for IT corporate for few years and is currently settled in Maldives with her husband.

eMithilaHaat: Being a writer; a gift or curse? How did your writing journey start?

Priyank Aryan: Definitely, being into writing is always a gift. And that’s the reason you are interviewing me today. This journey started because I had some tough incidents in my life at the age of 19. I had to come out of that personal trauma. It was all about me and my girlfriend Payal’s love story. Sadly, I lost her in an incident in March 2011 and then to come out of those painful memories I recalled one of her Valentine’s day wish and it was her desire that I should pen down a book to highlight the issues faced by youngsters in love when they are upfront against the social norms, family and traditional thoughts existing on love & marriages. So, writing happened for two reasons mainly. One was to give a positive and happy ending to my love story so that I can recover from that sudden setback and secondly, this happy ending would have resulted in the completion of my beloved’s wish made on Valentine’s day. So, I started writing once my engineering’s first year got over.

eMithilaHaat: What inspires you to get out of bed and write each day?

Priyank Aryan: Honestly speaking, I don’t write daily. And in fact, I rarely write during early morning hours. I prefer writing during late night hours and I get that strong feeling from inside that today I must write. It doesn’t come with that strong force daily. So, I choose to go with my heart. When the urge to pen down something comes in, I prefer writing. Mostly, I write for 4 to 5 days in a week.

eMithilaHaat: How has been your writing journey so far? Tell us about your first publishing experience.

Priyank Aryan: This journey of writing has been full of ups and downs. Initially, I didn’t i-am-dead-but-my-heart-beats-emithilahaatknow how to write a book. I had rarely read any fiction book till that date. Gradually, I started writing on paper, and then read it myself. I found them to be very poor during the starting days. All those papers were then into dustbins. With time, I moved from pen and paper mode to laptop and by then I was able to write with a decent touch. So, it took almost a year to get into the groove of writing which is acceptable in the making of a book. Publishing experience was no easy. More than 15 publishers rejected my first book. After a year one publisher got ready to publish my work. Every publisher had their own reasons for rejecting. This went on for a long time. And now today when my second book has come out, I decided to be with the publisher who gave me my first break. It’s all about ethics, honesty and trust. But yes, one thing what I have achieved is that for my second book all those publishers who rejected me once came upfront and discussed on my second book’s plans. But I chose to go with the publisher of my first book.

eMithilaHaat: Which is your favorite writing spot? Corner window seat of home or countryside?

Priyank Aryan: I prefer sitting window side at home. Countryside has its own beauty and is an amazing place to write but I prefer countryside stay to think on my work but execution happens at home, sitting besides the window.

eMithilaHaat: Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm.

Priyank Aryan: I prefer writing on topics which exists or happens in a person’s day to day life. In simple words, I write on non fictional topics in a mode of fiction. So, my writing process & brainstorming involves observing the people around, analyzing the way people think and acts on certain issues. And then I think of some fictional elements which can be incorporated with those real life observations. This blend of reality poured with fictional art is basically my way to write. My stories, characters and my writing process involve all real life places, dialogues, incidents. It is not huge imagination; it’s more of an amalgam of two forms on which I brainstorm.

eMithilaHaat: How difficult or easy is it to manage the livelihood when you are a writer and that’s the only source of income?

Priyank Aryan: Well, for me writing is not the only source to manage my livelihood. I deliver motivational talk or may be a session of fun filled story telling at colleges, universities and organizations. So, that’s another means to manage my livelihood. Also, I was in a job for a year and currently am looking forward to kick start working on some projects (can’t reveal that as of now). So, managing a livelihood is pretty smooth if you take up multiple activities along with your passion.

eMithilaHaat: What is the best advice you have been given?

Priyank Aryan: “To move out of the comfort zone and strive to fight for my dream. And god-and-his-girlfriend-emithilahaatto do these, this is the correct age.” This was the best advice which I got from Imtiyaz Ali (Bollywood Movie Director & Writer) when I met him at Zashn-e-Rekhta literary event at Delhi. During the conversation, he talked about his life and asked me for how I came into writing, what’s my professional front and at the end he just told me that this is the age to take risks, you can’t do it after 10 years with a brave mind. So, that advise touched me and I am following it till date.

eMithilaHaat: What quote do you live by?

Priyank Aryan: “Live your Love with Passion”. This is what I believe in and I have been doing since a year.

eMithilaHaat: What is that one thing you wish you knew when you were younger.

Priyank Aryan: Well, am still young buddy. I am just 23. On a serious note, I wish that when I finished my 10th standard, had I been mature enough to observe, analyze and predict things the way I am doing now I wouldn’t have ever opted for engineering. I don’t know why I went for engineering. I would have surely loved to make a career in journalism or events. So, when I was younger I didn’t know my real field of interest. I wish I knew these in 2008.

eMithilaHaat: Who is your favorite actor, favorite actress?

Priyank Aryan: Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone. Well, there are many other actresses as well, you know a boy’s heart. It’s always widely open for girls and for actresses, it has immense space but Deepika is the best out of the entire lot.

eMithilaHaat: That one thing people would be amazed to know about you?

Priyank Aryan: Initially I wanted to be a cricketer, then I wanted to crack UPSC and serve the nation. These were the two dreams which I had when I was a kid. I guess nobody knows this apart from my family. But today, am into an entirely different industry and work profile. And also, I had my first girlfriend at the age of 17. So, for a studious guy, this also sounds unexpected and for my readers, they would be amazed, 🙂 🙂

eMithilaHaat: What are your future plans?

Priyank Aryan: To write more books and to see the change in negative or traditional social ideologies against which I am trying to spread the ideas of change through my writing & my talks across the colleges. I also seriously wish to kick start my own business idea which is currently not in function.

eMithilaHaat: How would you prefer your readers and fans to get in touch with you (Facebook page, Twitter, Personal website etc)?

Priyank Aryan: Facebook, Twitter, Website, Emails, all these medium are perfectly fine for me. They can connect with me by any convenient means for them.

eMithilaHaat: What would you like to convey to the people of Mithila and all of your fans worldwide?

Priyank Aryan: Just want to say them, follow your heart. And start chasing your dreams at the right age, in the right direction. And always work to bring positive changes in the society. Spread love, peace, humanity and togetherness. Special thanks to all my lovely fans, amazing readers, friends and family for their extended support. And for Mithila people, I seriously wish to have my sessions with those lovely Mithila audience, right in the heart of Bihar, in the cities like Darbhanga, Bhagalpur, Madhubani etc. I wish to go deep between them and share my thoughts, vision and ideas. Want to see more people from Mithila background coming out to work for positive changes. Thanks to everyone and my Love to all of you.

Revisiting Ahalya Sthan

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Ahiyari village situated in Darbhanga district is also famous as ‘Ahalya Sthan’ or ‘Ahalya Gram’ is believed to be the first Ram Janki temple of India. This placed is situated 3kms  south of Kamataul railway station in Jale Block. The temple is considered a masterpiece of Indian architecture built between 1662-1682 during the reign of Maharaja Chhatra Singh and Maharaja Rudra Singh. The temple is said to contain a stone with footprints of Goddess Sita. Twice a year grand fairs are held at this place, once on the occasion of Ramnavmi and other on the occasion of Vivah Panchami.

The story goes that Ahalya was a beautiful lady created by the greatest craftsman Brahma.Ahalya-ByRajaRaviVerma-eMithilaHaat Some say he did it to shatter the pride of celestial nymph, Urvashi. Ahalya was much younger to sage Gautama with whom she was married. The legend goes that one day attracted by her beauty, Lord Indra came disguised as sage Gautama in his absence. He seduced her and established a physical relationship with her. When sage Gautama found out that his wife had slept with another man, in his wrath he cursed her and she turned into a stone. The only way she could be liberated was by the pious touch of Lord Rama. AhalyaRedemption-eMithilaHaatWhen Lord Rama, along with Lakshmana and sage Vishwamitra was wandering through the forests, Vishwamitra told him the story of Ahalya’s curse and asked Rama to touch the stone. On being touched by Lord Rama, Ahalya was finally redeemed and turned back into her real self.

What is interesting in this story and what fascinates the people who revisit these mythological stories or the modern feminists, is the way a woman is portrayed in mythology. There are various versions of the story stating that Ahalya was well aware of the fact that it was Indra disguised as her husband and yet she commits adultery because she was proud of her beauty and sexually unsatisfied by her ascetic husband. While there are also other versions of the same story which represent Ahalya as innocent and unaware of the fact that Indra is actually deceiving her. But in any case the three notable points are that Ahalya is a female figure who is a part of a patriarchal society and totally dependent on male figures for her existence. Lord Brahma, a male, is her creator.ahalyadevi-emithilahaat She faces the fury of her husband and has no choice but to become a stone simply because she took a step out of the societal norms which dictate that for an ideal wife her husband is her world and no matter who commits the crime the woman has to bear the brunt of it. Her ultimate redeemer is also a male figure, Lord Rama. Thus right from her birth to her redemption she is solely dependent on one or the other man. The story seems to be a warning for the women of the society that if they dare to cross the societal norms, that’s the harsh punishment they should expect.

Ahalya Sthan thus is place with very dynamic importance and significance. On one hand it signifies holiness and purity, a place where the piousness of Lord Rama cleanses all the sins of Ahalya and redeems her and on the other, a place that when put in larger historical context reminds the society of the position the women have held since ancient ages. No matter what it signifies to different people yet it’s place in Indian history is indeed unique and important. Do plan a visit to this ancient place which has witnessed a historic event of Hindu mythology. We would love to know your experience of the visit to Ahalya Sthan.

Mithilanchal: A Cradle For Jainism

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Mithilanchal is perhaps one of the most blessed and pious lands that has seen the confluence of three religions- Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. This land holds different but equal importance in the spiritual life of the people belonging to all the three religions. People and wisdom-seekers might come from diverse backgrounds to Mithilanchal but all come to seek the same; the truth of life and knowledge.

Mithilanchal has been a cradle for the 19th Jain Tirthankara Mallinatha and 21st Jain Tirthankara Naminatha. In 6,584,980 BCE a phenomenal event occurred in the history with the birth of 19th Tirthankara Mallinatha to King Kumbh and Queen Prabhavati in Mithila. mallinatha-emithilahaat-comWhile the Shvetambars believe that Mallinatha was a female, giving her the distinction of being the only female Tirthankara; the Digambars disagree and believe that Mallinatha was a male perhaps because nakedness and non-attachment are the two most import things that help in liberation and women are assumed to be dearly attached to their family and their children and the idea of nudity associated with women is quite alien. The legend goes that Mallinatha was king Mahabal in previous life. He along with other six kings who were his best friends embraced asceticism. But his desire to be better than his friends propelled him to practice penance secretly. Since he was deceptive, he was reborn as a woman. It is also believed that when Queen Prabhavati was pregnant she had a strong urge to smell the fragrance of flowers and slept in a bed of five different flowers and thus when she gave birth to a girl, the child was named Malli Kumari. She preached about equanimity and showed the world that the path for liberation and Nirvana was open to all irrespective of their gender.

Equally interesting are the legends about the birth of 21st Tirthankara Naminatha who was born to the rulers of Mithila King Vijaya and Queen Vipra in 584,979 BCE. tirthankara-emithilahaat-comQueen Vipra had seen 14 auspicious things in her dream during conception and thus the soothsayers predicted that the child born would be a Tirthankara. When he was still in his mother’s womb, Mithila was attacked by a group of kings and King Vijaya was perplexed as he had no idea about the situation. A soothsayer advised the queen to glance at the enemies. As suggested she complied with the advice and it is said that the aura of the unborn child was so powerful that it pacified the entire army and the kings bowed and surrendered before King Vijaya. Naminath was married and became the ruler of the kingdom but later on in his life Naminath quit the kingship and became an ascetic. After nine months he attained Nirvana under a Bakul tree. He taught the world about right perception and indulged in numerous spiritual activities.

Mithilanchal shall bear a unique place in history for cradling the two important and powerful spiritual souls who were the followers of Jainism and has changed the course of world history forever. Their teachings and philosophies still inspire and form the core principles of the life of many who are still in search of the true essence of their existence.

You might also consider going through this wiki and BBC page about Jainism. Do let us know your views in the comments below.