Janaka (राजा जनक, Raja Janak) was king of Mithila (Videha) and the father of Sita, the key character of the Hindu epic Ramayana. Janak’s name was Seeradhwaja. He was regarded as an enlightened soul and ruled his kingdom with wisdom and courage. Kushdhwaja was his brother and had two daughters Mandavi and Shrutakirti who were married to Rama’s younger brothers Bharata and Shatrughna respectively.
King Janaka Story
Janaka was childless when once he found a baby in a furrow when he was ploughing a field as part of a yagna. Because of this Sita was described as the daughter of the earth goddess Bhumi. Sita was raised by Janak and his wife Sunaina.
While Sita was a young girl, she once playfully picked up the mighty bow of Shiva that was placed in the royal armory. At that time Janak decided that the bow of Shiva would be used to pick the best husband for Sita. When Sita reached adulthood, Janak organized a Swayamvara with the condition that Sita would get married to only that individual who will be able to string Pinaka, the bow of the god Shiva. He knew, the bow of Shiva was not even liftable let alone stringable for ordinary mortals.
Rama lifted up the bow of Shiva, fastened the string tightly and finally break the bow. He fulfilled Seeradhwaja’s condition to marry Sita. Later on Vivaha Panchami, a marriage ceremony was conducted under the guidance of Satananda. Rama married Sita, Bharata married Mandavi, Lakshmana married Urmila and Shatrughna married Shrutakirti.
Janak was a very religious and spiritually inclined man and he was usually surrounded by sages and Rishis. He was also known as ‘Rajarshi‘ as he was a king and Rishi (sage) at the same time. Raja Janak’s guru name was Ashtavakra. King Janaka and Ashtavakra conversation is documented as Ashtavakra Gita, where in he is depicted as one realized and this tested by the sage.
At the time of his death, Raja Janak remembered the Lord. His soul was liberated and descended to heaven on a heavenly chariot.