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Where Maithili is Mithila, Mithila is Maithili.

 The emergence of Maithili Thakur as the scintillating voice from Mithila, almost has the same degree and magnitude in penetrating the mind space of the nation, the way Vishwamitra’s chanting of Gayatri Mantra reverberated across the ethereal world, transcending the earthly firmament into the metaphysical domain. Significantly, at such a tender age, the rise of phenomenon called Maithili Thakur, from the Punyabhoomie of Mithila, is the glowing tribute to the glory of Mithila finding its expression through the melodious voice of the young celebrity.

Maithili Thakur, the legendary singer launching the pioneer book The Living Legends of Mithila along with Sri Saryu Roy, politician, Dr Rajendra Sigh, Waterman, Sri T.N. Chaturvedi, former C&AG, Madhu Keshwar, professor, writer and activist, Author of The Living Legends of Mithila, Vivekanand Jha, on 11th of November, 2017, in Gandhi Peace Foundation, Delhi.

Vivekanand Jha Ranchi:  Maithil Thakur, I had heard of her, as a child prodigy way back in the year 2017. Significantly, it was the grand occasion of the book launch of my pioneer book on ‘ living legends’, The Living Legends of Mithila, which was about to be launched in Gandhi Peace Foundation in Delhi. Hence against the backdrop, I felt like inviting her to burnish the book launch with her song, especially on immortal Vidyapatjee. However when I wrote a mail to her, I was little tentative, not sure, whether she would accept my invitation. Lo and behold! Maithili Thakur replied in affirmative: she sent me her acquiescence to be the part and parcel of the unique and spectacular bandwagon of The Living Legends of Mithila. Unequivocally, the very inaugural session which went with her song penned by immortal Vidyapatijee, invariably added lusture to the whole launching process: ‘ Jai Jai Bhairav asur bhayavani pashupati bhamini maya’, one of the finest invocations of Bhagvati( the feminine manifestation of divine) the cause of Maya, which is the inevitably trigger for the manifestation of this universe. No wonder, her invocation of Mother divine as the prelude to kick-starting the proceedings of the book launch of The Living Legends of Mithila, contributed towards the mega success of the book launch. Small wonder then, I had requested her to be among our esteemed guests to spearhead the book launch. Which she did significantly, during my speech as an author introducing his book, I had prophesied that, she was destined to be the next Lata Mangeshkar of India, if her feet remained grounded. Barely into the passage of five years in the wake of the mega book launch of The Living Legends of Mithila, Maithil Thakur, as the ground reality suggests, has vindicated me. Moreover, it was my first and last meeting with her till date. Maithil Thakur, ever since then, remained etched in my memory, and her phenomenal rise as the fast emerging voice of the nation, is the glowing tribute to her unfathomable talent which continues to blossom day by day.

Over time, Maithil Thakur, has evolved as a singer who wears several hats: apart from churning out the songs on every aspect and dimension of Maithili culture–from Bhajans to Samdaun, Maithili had set the community of Maithils into some form of feast of frenzy–she had sung the songs in Bhojpuri, Bengali and other languages too. However, her remarkably scintillating songs, on the occasion of the laying the foundation stone for the reconstruction of Ram Janma Bhoomie in Ayodhya, which had caught the global attention. Her very selection to illuminate the grand occasion, by her scintillating voice doing wonders, where she glorified Sri Ram and Mother Sita, was an inevitable recognition of Mithila to the global community. Significantly, the befitting occasion invariably warranted someone from Mithila to set the ball rolling for the occasion. No wonder, the very selection of Maithili Thakur to be the brand ambassador of Mithila to the global community, Importantly, Mithila, despite being the harbinger of the dawn of human civilisation–the famous debate between Yajnavalkya and Gargi, on Brahman, is the exemplification of Mithila, notwithstanding its contemporary decline, has always evoked respect and commendation from India and abroad. The scholastic supremacy of Mithila, its pivotal hallmark, where such great scholars like Mandan Mishra, Vachaspati Mishra, Udanacharya, Shankara Mishra and other world class scholars were born to consecrate the Punya Bhoomie of Mithila by writing the exhaustive Karma Kandas. Also, the poet of poets like Vidyapati, who was instrumental behind the rise of Kabir, Mira Bai and, even, Tulsi, had brought the global scholarly glory to Mithila as the progenitor of knowledge. In other words, Mithila was considered as the bastion of knowledge where even great Adi Shankaracharya had gone to get the Bhasya of Brahma Sutra written– the belief doing rounds that Adi Shankara had gone for a scholarly debate with Mandan–is a fallacy, for a young boy of eighteen years to engage in a debate with an octogenarian, seldom makes sense.

Mithila, in the wake of the massive agony brought about by Kosi and Kamla, adversely impacted its inhabitants. Maithils, smitten by the humongous sorrow, ran helter skelter in search of earning livelihoods, finally ended up as a migrating community. Thus the community, ever in search of moorings, got eventually sequestered from them. Unequivocally then, the community, despite its glorious legacies and rich pedigree, stood economically emasculated as the ‘people who lacked the spine’. Worse still, the justifiable demand of Mithila for a separate state, on account of its distinct identity, culture and language, it was illegitimately denied the right for a separate state, contributing towards Mithila losing its lustre and vibrancy, as the apathetic attitude of Bihar government towards it, further hurtled the land of Mithila towards utter deprivation. However, the recognition of Maithili language–one of the sweetest languages in the world–in the 8th schedule of Indian constitution, was the only saving grace. Hence against this adverse backdrop, Maithils continued to struggle for decades without any iconic figure or a celebrity in their midst. Reprehensible enough, whereas other communities within India, would showcase plethora of their icons and celebrities, Maithils despite boasting of legion of icons, sincerely lacked any celebrity worth naming and celebration. Small wonder then, the deprivation of the same, agonised Maithils living across India and the world.

The rise of Maithili Thakur as a celebrity singer, is the latest glory to Mithila– straddling both India and Nepal. Interestingly, Maithili Thakur is hardly twenty two years, yet the spotlight that she engenders with her every song, is certainly an unprecedented phenomenon in India. Apparently, the cultural glory of Mithila, which was almost fading, if not extinct, was evocatively sought to be resurrected from the ruins of time and pages of history, the credit for the same should go to Maithili Thakur, a child prodigy who has graduated into a celbrity in no time. Moreover, the recent unsavoury incident involving her at Delhi Airport, where she was shabbily treated notwithstanding, she has come to be recognised, Unequivocally though, as the new age celebrity of the nation. Small wonder then, whereas she fulfills the void of Mithila lacking any celebrity, she has also emerged as the new brand ambassador for peddling the glory of Maithili culture to the global community. Significantly, her overseas tours for concert, one of which was to Germany, had evoked lot of enthusiasm as well as the attention. Decades ago, Indira Gandhi was equated with India, which smacked of raw fascism in the political firmament of the nation( India is Indira, Indira is India, the slogan coined by Devkant Barooah) however, the rise of a cultural icon like Maithil Thakur, whose phenomenal contribution towards catapulting Mithila, yet again on the global map as the formidable culture and one of the sweetest languages, ushers in a rightful place for her: a brand ambassador of Mithila today. She staunchly reminds the global community that, Mithila, despite its contemporary setbacks, and given its priceless cultural finesse, cannot be held back for a long time. She, Unequivocally today, can be equated with Mithila. Also, being a self-made girl, having come from the remotest part of the village from Mithila, to graduate into a celebrity singer, is a glowing tribute to her as well as her father who took such a stupendous risk to shape her destiny. Hence, ‘Maithili is Mithila, Mithila is Maithili’, is the very apt and befitting description of the phenomenon called Maithili Thakur, in contemporary times. In short, Mithila hardly has the dearth of talents, however, Maithili Thakur alone has reached the stature of a celebrity singer, whose phenomenal contribution has heralded the rise of Mithila as a prominent culture in the global arena.

Vivekanand Jha, author of Delhi Beckons: RaGa for NaMo, 56 Inches and The Making of Narendra Modi, Unmaking of Jawaharlal.

Vivekanand Jha is an author of The Living Legends of Mithila, a pioneer book on ‘ living legends’. He is an author, academician and a Public Intellectual.

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