Janaka; 13 Definition(s)


Janaka means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Itihasa (narrative history)

[Janaka in Itihasa glossaries]

Janaka (जनक) refers to the name of a Tīrtha (pilgrim’s destination) mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. I.61.36). Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Janaka) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.

(Source): JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places
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Itihasa (इतिहास, itihāsa) refers to ‘epic history’ and represents a branch of Sanskrit literature which popularly includes 1) the eighteen major Puranas, 2) the Mahabharata and 3) the Ramayana. It is a branch of Vedic Hinduism categorised as smriti literature (‘that which is remembered’) as opposed to shruti literature (‘that which is transmitted verbally’).

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[Janaka in Purana glossaries]

1) Janaka (जनक):—Son of Nimi (one of the sons of Ikṣvāku). He was born from the remains of his father’s (Nimi) material body, during a sacrifice. Because he was born in an unusual way, the son was called Janaka. Because he was born from the dead body of his father, he was also known as Vaideha. Because he was born from the churning of his father’s material body, he was known as Mithila. He had a son named Udāvasu. (see Bhāgavata Purāṇa 9.13.13-14)

2) Janaka (जनक):—Another name for Śīradhvaja (son of Hrasvaromā, who was a son of Svarṇaromā). (see Bhāgavata Purāṇa 9.13.18)

(Source): Wisdom Library: Bhagavata Purana

Janaka (जनक).—Genealogy. Janaka was descended from Viṣṇu in the following order:—Brahmā,—Marīci—Kaśyapa—Vivasvān—Vaivasvata—Ikṣvāku—Nimi—Mithi—Udāvasu—Nandivardhana—Suketu—Devarāta—Bṛhadratha—Mahāvīra—Sudhṛti—Dhṛṣṭaketu—Haryaśva—Maru—Pratvantaka—Kīrtiratha—Devamīḍha—Vibudha—Mahīdhraka—Kīrtirāta—Mahāroman—Svarṇaroman—Hrasvaroman—Sīradhvaja (Janaka). (See full article at Story of Janaka from the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani)

(Source): archive.org: Puranic Encyclopaedia

1a) Janaka (जनक).—(king of Mithīlā) one of the twelve sages who knew the nature of the dharma ordained by Hari. Son of Nimi, born by churning his dead body and hence known Mithila. He was Vaideha, born of a videha. He founded the city of Mithilā. His son was Udāvasu. Father of Sītā.1 In his sacrifice Yājñavalkya won a prize for learning while Śākalya was humbled for pretended superiority. Father-inlaw of Rāma.2 In the Aśvamedha Yajña of his, Sākalya was ruined on account of his conceit by taking part in a disputation; Janaka wanted to know the best among the learned assembled and set apart 11,000 crores, much gold, villages and servants to be given as present to him; in the disputation each took part but Yājñavalkya ultimately threw out the challenge. Sākalya questioned this and put to him a number of questions which were all answered. Yājñavalkya in his turn put him a single question, a wrong reply to it inviting instantaneous death; Sākalya agreed, and unable to answer his question, was gathered to his ancestors;3 told by the sage Asita what the Earth narrated to him about the ignorance of kings who without subduing themselves, try to subdue others.4

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa VI. 3. 20; IX. 13. 13-14; X. 71. 9; Vāyu-purāṇa 89. 2; Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 5. 22-4; 13. 103.
  • 2) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 34. 33-68; III. 37. 22; 64. 2;
  • 3) Vāyu-purāṇa 60. 32-62; 89. 5; Viṣṇu-purāṇa III. 18. 85-90.
  • 4) Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 24. 127-136.

1b) King of Videhas, and an ally of Balarāma. Welcomed Balarāma to his capital.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa X. 57. 24-26.

1c) A son of Viśākhayūpa and father of Nandivardhana.*

  • * Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 24. 5-6.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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Katha (narrative stories)

[Janaka in Katha glossaries]

Janaka (जनक) is the father of Sītā, according to in the Kathāsaritsāgara, chapter 51. Accordingly, “... he [Rāma] was a partial incarnation of Viṣṇu for the overthrow of Rāvaṇa, and he had a wife named Sītā, the daughter of Janaka, the lady of his life. As fate would have it, his father handed over the kingdom to Bharata, and sent Rāma to the forest with Sītā and Lakṣmaṇa”.

The story of Janaka was narrated by the Vidyādharī Kāñcanaprabhā to Naravāhanadatta while in a Svayambhū temple of Śiva, in order to demonstrate that “people who possess firmness endure for a long time mutual separation to which no termination is assigned”, in other words, that “heroic souls endure separation for so long a time”.

The Kathāsaritsāgara (‘ocean of streams of story’), mentioning Janaka, is a famous Sanskrit epic story revolving around prince Naravāhanadatta and his quest to become the emperor of the vidyādharas (celestial beings). The work is said to have been an adaptation of Guṇāḍhya’s Bṛhatkathā consisting of 100,000 verses, which in turn is part of a larger work containing 700,000 verses.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Kathāsaritsāgara
Katha book cover
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Katha (कथा, kathā) refers to narrative Sanskrit literature often inspired from epic legendry (itihasa) and poetry (mahākāvya). Some Kathas reflect socio-political instructions for the King while others remind the reader of important historical event and exploits of the Gods, Heroes and Sages.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

[Janaka in Hinduism glossaries]

Janaka was the king of the Videha kingdom. He had no children and therefore wished to perform a great sacrifice to obtain the blessing of the Devas to yield children. While plowing the ground for the sacrificial altar, he found a girl child in a casket. This girl was Sita, who was the daughter of earth. He adopted as his daughter. When she came of age, he declared that he will marry her only to the most valorous of princes, and set a tough task to all the suitors. They had to string an immense bow, which had been given to him by Shiva. Nobody could even lift the bow, let alone string it.

(Source): Apam Napat: Indian Mythology

Janaka is the name used to refer to the kings of Videha. The Janaka Dynasty ruled the Videha kingdom from their capital Janakpur in Mithila region of Nepal. A certain King Janaka, who probably reigned during the 7th century BCE, is mentioned in the late Vedic literature as a great philosopher-king. A King Janaka is also mentioned in the Ramayana epic.

Late Vedic literature such as the Shatapatha Brahmana and the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad mention a certain King Janaka (c. 7th century BCE) as a great philosopher-king of Videha, renowned for his patronage of Vedic culture and philosophy, and whose court was an intellectual center for Brahmin sages such as Yajnavalkya. Under his reign, Videha became a dominant political and cultural center of South Asia.

According to the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, the Janakas were a race of kings who ruled Videha Kingdom from their capital Janakpur, Nepal, which was an ancient state in the foothill of Himalayas before its unification into Nepal by Prithvi Narayan Shah. The father of Nepali princess Sita was named Seeradwaja Janaka. These epics mention many other Janaka kings who were all great scholars and lead the life of a sage, though they were kings. They engaged in religious conversations with many sages.

etymology: Janaka (Nepali: जनक, Sanskrit: जनक).

(Source): WikiPedia: Hinduism

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

[Janaka in Theravada glossaries]

1. Janaka - King of Mithila, a previous birth of the Bodhisatta. For his story, see the Maha Janaka Jataka. J.i.268; J.vi.59.

2. Janaka - King of Benares. His minister was Senaka, whose story is related in the Sattubhasta Jataka. J.iii.341, 348.

(Source): Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names
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Theravāda is a major branch of Buddhism having the the Pali canon (tipitaka) as their canonical literature, which includes the vinaya-pitaka (monastic rules), the sutta-pitaka (Buddhist sermons) and the abhidhamma-pitaka (philosophy and psychology).

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Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

[Janaka in Pali glossaries]

janaka : (m.) a producer; father. (adj.), producing; generating. || jānaka (nt.) knowledge; recognition.

(Source): BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

Janaka, (to janati) 1. producing, production Vism. 369; adj. (-°) producing: pasāda° Mhvs. I, 4 (=°kāraka); a species of karma Vism. 601; Cpd. 144 (A. I).—2. n. f. °ikā genetrix, mother J. I, 16; Dhs. 1059≈(where it represents another jānikā, viz. deception, as shown by syn. māyā & B. Sk. janikā Lal. V. 541; Kern, Toev. p. 41). (Page 278)

(Source): Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary
Pali book cover
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Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.

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Marathi-English dictionary

[Janaka in Marathi glossaries]

janaka (जनक).—a (S) Creative or productive; a causer, former, maker. In comp. Ex. hāsyajanaka, prīti- janaka, mṛtyujanaka, aniṣṭajanaka, kalyāṇajanaka. 2 Used as s m A father.

(Source): DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

janaka (जनक).—a Creative; a causer. m A father.

(Source): DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
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Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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Relevant definitions

Search found 93 related definition(s) that might help you understand this better. Below you will find the 15 most relevant articles:

Janakātmajā (जनकात्मजा).—epithets of Sītā, daughter of king Janaka.Janakātmajā is a Sanskrit co...
Janakanandinī (जनकनन्दिनी).—epithets of Sītā, daughter of king Janaka.Janakanandinī is a Sanskr...
Janakasutā (जनकसुता).—epithets of Sītā, daughter of king Janaka.Janakasutā is a Sanskrit compou...
Janakatanayā (जनकतनया).—epithets of Sītā, daughter of king Janaka.Janakatanayā is a Sanskrit co...
garbhakara-karttā-kāraka-janaka (गर्भकर-कर्त्ता-कारक-जनक).—&c. a (S) Causing conception, impreg...
Khyātijanaka (ख्यातिजनक).—a. glorious.Khyātijanaka is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the ter...
Svāmijanaka (स्वामिजनक).—the father-in-law. Derivable forms: svāmijanakaḥ (स्वामिजनकः).Svāmijan...
Indujanaka (इन्दुजनक).—1) the ocean (the moon being produced amongst other jewels at the churni...
Umājanaka (उमाजनक).—Name of the Himālaya (as the father of umā). Derivable forms: umājanakaḥ (उ...
Janaka Kamma
'regenerative karma'; s. karma.
Cula Janaka Jataka
-The stories, both past and present, are the same as in the Maha Janaka Jataka (q.v.). J.i.268
Śīta (शीत, “cold”) refers to one of the eight kinds of Vīrya (potency), representing characteri...
Mithilā (मिथिला).—General information. A celebrated country of ancient Bhārata. This is situate...
1) Videha (विदेह).—Another name of emperor Nimi. (See under Janaka.2) Videha (विदेह).—The kingd...
Yājñavalkya (याज्ञवल्क्य) is the name of a Ṛṣi (hermit) that knew the magic science of bewilder...

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