Viṣṇu Purāṇa | Book 4 - Chapter 5

Chapter V

Kings of Mithilā. Legend of Nimi, the son of Ikṣvāku. Birth of Janaka. Sacrifice of Sīradhwaja. Origin of Sītā. Descendants of Kuśadhvaja. Kriti the last of the Mithilā princes.

THE son of Ikṣvāku, who was named Nimi, instituted a sacrifice that was to endure for a thousand years, and applied to Vasiṣṭha to offer the oblations.

Vasiṣṭha in answer said, that he had been pre-engaged by Indra for five hundred years, but that if the Rājā, would wait for some time, he would come and officiate as superintending priest.

The king made no answer, and Vasiṣṭha went away, supposing that he had assented.

When the sage had completed the performance of the ceremonies he had conducted for Indra, he returned with all speed to Nimi, purposing to render him a similar service.

When he arrived, however, and found that Nimi had retained Gautama and other priests to minister at his sacrifice, he was much displeased, and pronounced upon the king, who was then asleep, a curse to this effect,

that since he had not intimated his intention, but transferred to Gautama the duty he had first entrusted to himself, Vasiṣṭha, Nimi should thenceforth cease to exist in a corporeal form.

When Nimi woke, and knew what had happened, he in return denounced as an imprecation upon his unjust preceptor, that he also should lose his bodily existence, as the punishment of uttering a curse upon him without previously communicating with him.

Nimi then abandoned his bodily condition.

The spirit of Vasiṣṭha also leaving his body, was united with the spirits of Mitra and Varuṇa for a season, until, through their passion for the nymph Urvaśī, the sage was born again in a different shape.

The corpse of Nimi was preserved from decay by being embalmed with fragrant oils and resins, and it remained as complete as if it were immortal.

When the sacrifice was concluded, the priests applied to the gods, who had come to receive their portions, that they would confer a blessing upon the author of the sacrifice.

The gods were willing to restore him to bodily life, but Nimi declined its acceptance, saying:

"O deities, who are the alleviators of all worldly suffering, there is not in the world a deeper cause of distress than the separation of soul and body: it is therefore my wish to dwell in the eyes of all beings, but never more to resume a corporeal shape!"

To this desire the gods assented, and Nimi was placed by them in the eyes of all living creatures; in consequence of which their eyelids are ever opening and shutting.

As Nimi left no successor, the Munis, apprehensive of the consequences of the earth being without a ruler, agitated the body of the prince, and produced from it a prince who was called Janaka, from being born without a progenitor.

In consequence of his father being without a body (videha), he was termed also Videha, 'the son of the bodiless;' and the further received the name of Mithi, from having been produced by agitation (mathana).

The son of Janaka was Udāvasu; his son was Nandivarddhana; his son was Suketu; his son was Devarāta; his son was Vrihaduktha; his son was Mahāvīrya; his son was Satyadhriti;

his son was Dhṛṣṭaketu; his son was Haryyaśva; his son was Maru; his son was Pratibandhaka; his son was Kritaratha; his son was Krita; his son was Vibudha;

his son was Mahādhriti; his son was Kritirāta; his son was Mahāroman; his son was Suvarṇaroman; his son was Hraswaroman; his son was Sīradhwaja.

Sīradhwaja ploughing the ground, to prepare it for a sacrifice which he instituted in order to obtain progeny, there sprang up in the furrow a damsel, who became his daughter Sītā.

The brother of Sīradhwaja was Kuśadhwaja, who was king of Kāśī; he had a son also, named Bhānumat. The son of Bhānumat was Satadyumna; his son was Śuchi;

his son was Ūrjjavāha; his son was Śatyadhwaja; his son was Kuni; his son was Anjana; his son was Ritujit; his son was Ariṣṭanemi; his son was Śrutāyus; his son was Supārśva;

his son was Sanjaya; his son was Kṣemāri; his son was Anenas; his son was Mīnaratha; his son was Satyaratha; his son was Sātyarathi; his son was Upagu; his son was Śruta;

his son was Sāswata; his son was Sudhanwan; his son was Subhāsa; his son was Suśruta; his son was Jaya; his son was Vijaya; his son was Rita; his son was Sunaya;

his son was Vītahavya; his son was Dhriti; his son was Bahulāśva; his son was Kriti, with whom terminated the family of Janaka.

These are the kings of Mithilā, who for the most part will be proficient in spiritual knowledge.