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Why King Janaka Was Known As Videha?

This story of Yajnavalkya explains why the famous King Janaka was known as Videha.

Yajnavalkya was to address an assembly of sages in Janaka’s palace. Though it was time to begin the discourse, Yajnavalkya waited for Janaka’s arrival. The audience whispered among themselves about Yajnavalkya’s trying to curry favour with the king. Yajnavalkya thought here was an opportunity to demonstrate Janaka’s greatness. The king arrived shortly and the discourse began.

Suddenly, with his yogic power, Yajnavalkya made fire engulf the palace. The sages started running helter-skelter with their staffs and water pots in hand. Janaka was the only one calmly seated.

Yajnavalkya asked Janaka, ‘O king, don’t you see your palace burning and the all the sages have taken to their heels?’ Janaka smiled and said, ‘Nothing in this world is mine. The palace may burn but it cannot burn me, the real, immortal Self.’ Yajnavalkya withdrew the fire by his power and the sages returned to their seats, now wiser about the king’s spiritual wisdom.

Janaka was called Videha, meaning ‘one who was devoid of body consciousness’. Janaka was not called a rajarshi for nothing.