Page:History of India Vol 1.djvu/154

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Kosalas lived to the west of it, and the Videhas to the east of it.

In course of years, probably of centuries, the kingdom of the Videhas rose in power and in civilization, until it became the most prominent kingdom in Northern India, and Janaka, King of the Videhas, is probably the most important figure in the history of the Brahmanic and Epic Period in India, for he not only established his power in the farthest confines of the Hindu dominions, but also gathered round him the most learned men of his time, entered into discussion with them, and instructed them in holy truths about the Universal Being. But Janaka has a still higher claim to our respect and admiration. While the priestly caste was multiplying rituals and supplying dogmatic explanations for each rite, the royal caste seems to have felt some impatience at this course, and learned Kshatriyas, while still conforming to the rites laid down by priests, began to inquire about the destination of the soul and the nature of the Supreme Being. So bold, so healthy, and so vigorous were these new and earnest speculations, that the priestly classes at last felt their inferiority and came to Kshatriyas to learn something of the wisdom of the new school. The Upanishads contain these speculations of the warrior caste, and King Janaka of Videha is honoured and respected more than any other king of the time as one of those who inspired the Upanishads, the culmination, in many ways, of the philosophy of India.

These are real claims of Janaka, King of the Vide-