Maithili language (मैथिली, মৈথিলী, Maithilī) is spoken in the eastern part of India, mainly in Bihar, Jharkhand and parts of West Bengal, with cultural and linguistic centers in the cities of Madhubani and Darbhanga. Maithili is also spoken in the Terai region of Nepal, in particular east of the Narayani Zone.
Linguists have classified Maithili as one of the Indo-Aryan languages . It is an offshoot of the Indo-Aryan languages, which are part of the Indo-Iranian, a branch of the Indo-European languages. Linguists consider Maithili to be a Eastern Indic language, and thus a different language from Hindi, which is Central Indic in origin.
According to the 2001 census in India, 12,179,122 people speak Maithili, but some have argued that the number of Maithili speakers is much higher. In 2003, Maithili was included in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, which allows the language to be used in education, government, and other official contexts. Maithili has a rich literary and cultural heritage.
It had been believed that the language spoken in Bihar (Maithili) was a corrupt form of Hindi until the Maithili grammar appeared in the year 1880-81. [A. F. R.] published a Grammar of the Eastern Hindi from London in 1880 and compared with the other Gaudian Languages. In this Grammar, Dr. Hoernle recognized Maithili as a dialect distinct from Hindi. He was able to give some specimens of its grammatical forms, but no published materials were then available. Beames (1872/reprint 1966: 84-85), considered Maithili as a dialect of Bengali. Grierson, however, gave a false notional term “Bihari” language; it has been a fictional term as rightly pointed out by the later day linguists. 
The wrong classification of earlier linguists led to language politics in respect of Maithili.
Maithili is derived from Avahattha, the Maithil Apabhramsha, which is derived from Magadhi Apbhramsha.  Maithili was traditionally written in the Maithili script (also known by the names Tirhuta and Mithilakshar) and Kaithi script. Nowadays, Devanagari script is most commonly used. An effort is underway to preserve the Maithili script and to develop it for use in digital media by encoding the script in the Unicode standard, for which proposals have been submitted.
The term Maithili comes from Mithila, which was an independent state in ancient times. Mithila has a very important place in Hindu mythology, since it is regarded as the birth place of Goddess Sita, the daughter of King Janak of Mithila; who eventually gets married to Lord Rama.
The most famous literary figure in Maithili is the poet Vidyapati. He is credited for raising the importance of ‘people’s language’, i.e. Maithili, in the official work of the state by influencing the Maharaja of Darbhanga with the quality of his poetry. The state’s official language used to be Sanskrit, which distanced common people from the state and its functions. The name Maithili is also one of the names of Sita, the consort of Rama.
History of Maithili Language
The name Maithili is derived from the word Mithila, an ancient kingdom of which King Janaka was the ruler (See Ramayana). Maithili is also one of the names of Sita, the wife of King Rama and daughter of King Janaka.
It is a fact that scholars in Mithila used Sanskrit for their literary work and Maithili was the language of the common folk (Abahatta). The earliest work in Maithili appears to be Varna(n) Ratnakar by Jyotirishwar Thakur dated about 1324.
Early Maithili Period (1300-1600)
With the fall of Pala rule, disappearance of Buddhism and establishment of karnāta kings under patronage of Harasimhadeva (1226-1324) of karnāta dynasty, Jyotirisvara Thakur (1280-1340) wrote a unique work Varnaratnākara in pure Maithili, the earliest prose in any Indian language. The cultivation of literature in Maithili for long in the past, the fruit of which is lost in oblivion.
In 1324, Ghyasuddin Tughluq, the emperor of Delhi invaded Mithila, defeated Harasimhadeva , entrusted Mithila to his family Priest Kameshvar Jha, a Maithil Brahman of the Onibar family but disturbed era did not produce any literature until Vidyapati Thakur (1360 to 1450), an epoch making poet came up under the patronage of the like-minded king Shiva Simha and his queen LakhiMā Devi. He produced over a thousand of immortal songs in Maithili on the theme of erotic sports of Radha and Krishna and the domestic life of Shiva and Parvati, besides a number of treaties in Sanskrit on various subjects. His love-songs spread far and wide in no time and enchanted saints, poets and youth in general. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu saw divine light of love behind these songs, and soon these songs became themes of Vaisnava sect of Bengal. Rabindranath Tagore, out of curiosity, imitated these songs under the pseudonym Bhanusimha. Vidyapati influenced the religious literature of Asama, Banga and Utkala.
After the invasion of Mithila by the Sultan of Johnpur, Delhi and the disappearance of Shivasimha in 1429, Onibar rule grew weaker and the literary activity shifted to present Nepal.
Middle Maithili period (1600-1860)
The earliest reference to Maithili or Tirhutiya is in Amaduzzi’s preface to Beligatti’s Alphabetum Brammhanicum, published in 1771. This contains a list of Indian languages amongst which is ‘ Tourutiana.’ Colebrooke in his famous essay on the Sanskrit and Prakrit languages written in the year 1801, is the first to describe Maithili as a distinct dialect.When Mahesh Thakur, a great pandit of the Khandvala family of Maithil Brahman was installed as a feudal chief of Mithila under the Mughal empire, literary activity in Mithila language gained momentum in three dimensions: dance, drama and music. After a gap of about two centuries, Umapati Upadhyaya wrote a drama entitled pārijātaharaṇa in Maithili. A number of professional troupes, mostly from dalit class known as Kirtania, the singers of bhajan or devotional songs, started to perform this drama in public gatherings and the courts of the nobles.
Voluminous devotional songs were written by some famous vaisnava saints, Govendadas was the brightest in the mid-17th century, next to Vidyapati in the past, chaitanya Gaudiya Vaisnava cult as well as in literary merit.
Rāgatarangni of Lochana (Cr. 1575-1660) wrote a significant treatise on the science of music, describing the rāgas, tālas and lyrics prevalent in Mithila.
The rulers of Malla dynasty’s mother tongue was Maithili, which spread far and wide throughout Nepal from the 16th to the 17th century. During this period, at least 70 Maithili dramas were produced. Curiously, in a drama, namely Harishchandranrityam of Siddhinarayanadeva (1620-57) some characters speak pure colloquial Maithili, while others speak Bangla, Sanskrit or Prakrit.
The Nepal tradition may be linked with the Anukiya Nāta in Assam and Jatra in Bengal.
Modern Maithili Period (1860 onwards)
After the demise of Maheshvar Singh, the ruler of Darbhanga Raj, in 1860, the Raj was taken over by the British Government under Courts of Wards Act. The return of the Darbhanga Raj to his successor, Maharaj Lakshmishvar Singh, in 1898, was marked by renewed use of the language by Ganganath Jha, Parameshvar Mishra, Chanda Jha, Munshi Raghunandan Das and others.
Publication of Maithil Hita Sadhana (1905) and Mithila Moda (1906), Mithila Mihir (1908), further encouraged writers. The first social organization, Maithil Mahasabha was established in 1910 for development of Mithili and Maithili, and it was followed by a number of such organizations. Maithil Mahasabha campaigned for official recognition of Maithili as a regional language. Calcutta University recognized Maithili in 1917, and other universities followed suit.
In 1965, Maithali was officially accepted by Sahitya Academy, an organization dedicated to the promotion of Indian literature. Since the language’s inclusion, works in Maithili (including translations of works from other languages) have often been recipients of its awards.
In 2003 Maithili was recognized on the VIII schedule of the Indian Constitution as a major Indian language; Maithili is now one of the 22 national languages of India.
The early period of the growth of literary tradition from about 900 to 1350 is in the from of ballads, songs, and dohas. An important writer of this era was Sidha Sarahpad (700 AD-780 AD).
In the medieval age between 1350 to 1830, some theatrical writings were published. Some important Maithili writers of of this era were:
* Jyotirishwar Thakur (1290 to 1350) whose ‘Varnartnakar’ is a the first prose and encyclopedia in any north Indian language;
* Vidyapati (1350 to 1450)
* Srimanta_Sankardeva (1449 to 1568)
* Mahesh Thakur
* Karn Jayanand
Modern Maithili Literature 1830 to date
Modern Maithili came into its own after Sir George Abraham Grierson, an Irish linguist and civil servant, tirelessly researched Maithili folklore and transcribed its grammar. Paul R. Brass wrote that “Grierson judged that Maithili and its dialects could fairly be characterized as the language of the entire population of Darbhanga and Bhagalpur districts and of a majority or a significant minority of the populations of Muzaffarpur, Monghyer, Purnia and Santhal Parganas.” In April 2010 a translation of the New Testament into Maithili was published by the Bible Society of India under joint copyright with Wycliffe Bible Translators.
The development of Maithili in modern era was due to various magazines and journals. Some notable journals, which led to the resurgence in moderm writing, are Maithili Hit Sadhana (Jaipur—), Mithila Moda (Kasi-), Mithila Mihir (Darbhanga—)(Patna—), Shri Maithili (Laheriasarai—), Mithila (Laheriasarai—), Maithila Bandhu (Ajmer—), Bharati (Laheriasarai—), Bibhuti (Muzaffarpur—) Sahitya Patra (Darbhanga—)Vaidehi (Kasi-) (Sitamarhi—)(Darbhanga—), Satyasandesha (Kasi—), Swadesha(Darbhanga—), Maithila Jyoti (Patna—), Mithilascvaka (Calcutta—), Mithila Darshan (again Maithili Darsana and now again Mithila Darshan)(Calcutta—), Chaupadi (Patna—), Mithila (Darbhanga—), Pallava (Nehra), Abhivyanjana (Patna,Saharsa), Dainik Swadesha (Darbhanga), Sanjiwani (Laheriasarai), Akhar (Calcutta), Mithilabani (Darbhanga—), Mithila Mitra (Sultanganj), Tatka (Jamshedpur), Batuk (Allahabad), Dhiyaputa (Lohna), Sishu (Darbhanga), Ijot (Darbhanga), Janak (Darbhanga)Nirman (Laheriasarai) Matribani (Tharhi)Matribani (Darbhanga)Nutan Vishwa (Laheriasarai), Maithili Samachar (Allahabad), Mithila Amar(Aligarh), Mithila Doot (Kanpur), Mithili Alok (Ferozabad), Sonamatl (Patna), Swadeshvani (Deoghar), Anama (Patna), Sannipata (Patna), Maithili (Biratnagar), Foolpat (Kathmandu), Agnipatra (Calcutta), Maithili Prakash (Calcutta), Mithila Bharati (Patna), Apan Desha (Laheriasarai), Mithila Bhumi (Latheriasari), Mithila Times (Darbhanga), Changur (Saharsa), Sakti Bhumi Maithili Kavita (Calcutta), Ego Rahathi Raja Lai Dhuan (Shivanagar), Bhumhar (Laheriasarai), Shikha (Calcutta), Mahur Darbhanga), LokemanchFarak (Patna), Karnamrit (Calcutta), Desil Bayana (Calcutta), Desh kosh (Calcutta), Aarumbha (Patna) ,Matipani (Patna), Videha ejournal, Videha-Sadeha (Delhi), Antika (Ghaziabad), Mithila srijan (Madhubani), Samay saal (Patna), Ghar Bahar (Patna), Vidyapati Times (Darbhanga), Gamghar (Janakpur), hilkor (Khagaria), Dachhin Mithila (Begusarai). Some important writers of this era are:
* Chanda Jha (1831 – 1907)
* MM Parmeshwar Jha (1856 – 1924)
* Lal Das (1856 – 1921)
* Munshi Raghunandan Das (1860 – 1945)
* Rasbihari Lal Das (1872 – 1940)
* Dinbandhu Jha (1878 – 1955)
* Pt. Ramji Chaudhary (1878 – 1952)
* Acharya Ramlochan Saran (1889 – 1971)
* Sitaram Jha (1891 – 1975)
* Badrinath Jha (1893 – 1973)
* Babu Dhanushdhari Lal Das (1895 – 1965)
* Bhola Lal Das (1897 – 1977)
* Kumar Ganganand Singh (1898 – 1971)
* Damodar Lal Das Visharad (1904 – 1981)
* Babuaji Jha “Agyat” (1904 – 1996)
* Ramanath Jha (1906 – 1971)
* Kashikant Mishra “Madhup” (1906 – 1987)
* Kanchinath Jha ‘Kiran’(1906-1988)
* Isnath Jha(1907-1965)
* Bhuvneshwar Singh “Bhuwan”(1907-1944)
* Hari Mohan Jha (1908 – 1984) published the collection Khattar kaka
* Subhadra Jha(1909-2000)
* Tantranath Jha(1909-1984)
* Surendra Jha ‘Suman’ (1910 – 2002) represented Maithili in the Sahitya Akademi
* Baidyanath Mishra ‘Yatri’ (June 30, 1911 – November 4, 1998) wrote Hindi as Nagarjun, awarded Sahitya Akademi Fellowship in 1994
* Arsi Prasad Singh(1911-1996)
* Vaidyanath Mallik “Vidhu”(1912-1987)
* Upendra Thakur “Mohan(1913-1980)
* Ramcharitra Pandey “Anu”(1917-2010)
* Upendra Nath Jha “Vyas” (1917 – 2002), an engineer by profession, “Doo Patra”, his most famous work, exhibited the goods and the evils of the Maithili society.
* Manmohan Jha(1918-2009)
* Brajkishor Varma “Manipadm”(1918-1986)
* Budhidhari Singh “Ramakar”(1919-1991)
* Radha Krishna Choudhary (1921 – 1985)
* Sudhanshu Shekhar Chaudhari (1922 – 1990)
* Jaykant Mishra (20.12.1922 – 3.2.2009) represented Maithili in the Sahitya Akademi
* Chandrabhanu Singh(1922- )
* Govind Jha(1923- )
* Yoganand Jha(1923-1986)
* Ramkrishna Jha “Kishun”(1923-1970)
* Umanath Jha(1923-2009)
* Prabodh Narayan Singh(1924-2005)
* Anima Singh(1924- )
* Jayamant Mishra (15.10.1925 – 7.9.2010)
* Chandranath Mishra “Amar” (1925- )
* Anant Bihari Lal das “Indu”(1928-2010)
* Rajkamal Chaudhary (1929 – 1967)
* Durganath Jha “Sreesh(1929- )
* Shailendra Mohan Jha(1929-1994)
* Gopaljee Jha “Gopesh” (1931 – 2008)
* Lili Rey(1933- )
* Kalikant Jha “Buch” (1934 – 2009)
* Rajmohan Jha(1934- )
* Dr. Dhirendra(1934-2004)
* Mayanand Mishra(1934- )
* Somdev(1934- )
* Ramanand Renu(1934- )
* Rambhadra(1935- )
* Kedarnath Chaudhary(1936- )
* Jeevkant(1936- )
* Balram(1936- 2008)
* Ramdev Jha(1936- )
* Binod Bihari Verma (1937 – 2003)
* Birendra Mallik(1937- )
* Kirtinarayan Mishra(1937- )
* Praphulla Kumar Singh “Maun”(1938- )
* Kulanand Mishra(1940-2000)
* Bilat Paswan “Vihangam”(1940- )
* Fazlur Rahman “Hashmi”(1940- )
* Saketanand(1940- )
* Prabhas Kumar Chaudhary(1941-1998)
* Gangesh Gunjan(1942- )
* Premshankar Singh(1942- )
* Markandey Pravasi(1942-2010)
* Shanti Suman(1942- )
* Upendra Doshi(1943-2001)
* Uday Chandra Jha “Vinod”(1943- )
* Revati Raman Lal(1943- )
* Mohan Bhardvaj(1943- )
* Shefalika Varma(1943- )
* Mantreshwar Jha(1944- )
* Bhimnath Jha(1945- )
* Prabhavati Jha(1945-1999)
* Ilarani Singh(1945-1993)
* Ushakiran Khan(1945- )
* Nirja Renu(1945- )
* Mahendra Malangia(1946- )
* Veena Karn(1946- )
* Mahaprakash(1946- )
* Jagdish Prasad Mandal (1947 – )
* Subhash Chandra Yadav(1948- )
* Siyaram Jha Saras(1948- )
* Agnipushp(1948- )
* Ramanand Jha “Raman”(1949- )
* Ramlochan Thakur(1949- )
* Naresh Kumar Vikal(1950- )
* Harekrishna Jha(1950- )
* Sukant Som (1950- )
* Udaya Narayana singh “Nachiketa”(1951- )
* Rambharos Kapari Bhramar(1951- )
* Kunal(1951- )
* Shailendra Kumar Jha(1952- )
* Shivshankar Sriniwas(1953- )
* Ashok(1953- )
* Vibhuti Anand(1953- )
* Kamla Chaudhary(1953- )
* Laxman Jha Sagar(1953- )
* Arvind Thakur(1954- )
* Shyam Darihare(1954- )
* Yoganand Jha(1955- )
* Narayanji(1956- )
* Kumar Pawan(1958- )
* Maneshwar Manuj(1958- )
* Vibha Rani(1959- )
* Kedar Kanan(1959- )
* Ramesh(1961- )
* Meghan Prasad(1961- )
* Susmita Pathak(1962- )
* Devshankar Navin(1962- )
* Jyotsna Chandram(1963- )
* Pradip Bihari(1963- )
* Vidyanand Jha(1965- )
* Taranand Viyogi(1966- )
* Ramesh Ranjan(1966- )
* Dhirendra Premarshi(1967- )
* Analkant(1969- )
* Daman Kumar Jha(1969- )
* Krishna Mohan Jha(1968- )
* Anmol Jha(1970- )
* Gajendra Thakur (1971 – )
* Munnaji (1971- )
* Shiv Kumar Jha(1973- )
* Sri Dharam(1974- )
* Anand Kumar Jha(1977- )
* Vinit Utpal(1978- )
* Umesh Mandal(1980- )
* Amarendra Yadav
* Shankardeo Jha
* Roshan Janakpuri
* Rajdeo Mandal
* Bechan Thakur
* Ashish Anchinhar
* Rupesh Kumar Jha ‘Teoth’
* Durganand Mandal
* Ravi Bhushan Pathak
* Jyoti Sunit Chaudhary
Chanda Jha was famous as “Kavichandra”, he wrote Ramayan in Maithili (Mithila bhasha Ramayan), Geeti Sudha, Maheshvani Samgraha,Chandra Padavali,Laxmishwar Vilas,Ahilya Charit and he translated from Samskrit into Maithili the Purush ParikSha of Vidyapati. Mahakavi Laldas wrote Rameshwar Charit Ramayan, strishiksha,savitri satyavan, chandi charit and virudavali.
Some other modern Maithili writers and their works are: Dhirendra (Bhorukba, Kado Aa Koila), Sudhansu Sekhar Chaudhary (Tarpatta upper Patta, E Bataha Sansar), Somadeva (Hotel Anarkali/Chano Dai), Manipadma (Vidyapati, Ardhanariswara, Raja Salhesa, Lorika Vijaya, Naika-Banjara, winner of Akademy award, Dulara Dayal, Kobra Girl, Kanki, Analapatha), Prabhas Kumar Choudhary (Abhispta/ Yugapurusha/ Hamara Lag Rahab), Jivakant (Du Kuhesa Ka Bat, Panipata, Aginaban, Piar Gulab Chhal, Nahi, Katahu Nahi), Ramanand Renu (Dudh-Phool ) , Lalit (Prithviputra), Raj Kamal (Andolana), Mayanand Mishra (Khota Aa Chirai), Shashikant (Girahkatta, Akasadeepa), Trilokanath Mishra (Ranjana), Bindeshwar Mandal (Bat Ka Bhent, Jindagi Ka Genth), Gangesa Gunjan (Appana Loka), Gauri Mishra (Chingi), Laliteshwar Mallik (Dain), Gajendra Thakur (Sahasrabadhani, Sahasrashirsha, Sahasrabdik Chaupar Par, Tvanchahanch, Asanjati Man,Sankarshan), Jagdish Prasad Mandal (Gamak Jingi), Kalikant Jha Buch (Kalanidhi), RasBihari Lal das (Sumati), Nachiketa (No etrt :maa pravish, pratyavartan), Bechan Thakur (Betik Apman aa Chhinardevi), Umesh Mandal (Nistuki), Shankardeo Jha (Sandhi samas), Ravi Bhushan Pathak (Rehearshal), Shiv Kumar Jha (Anshu, Kshanprabha), Preeti Thakur (Gonu Jha aa aan Maithili Chitrakatha), Devanshu Vatsha (Natasha), Subhash Chandra Yadava (Ghardekhia, Banait-Bigrait), Kedarnath Chaudhary (Chamelirani), Dhoomketu (Mor par), Saketanand (Sarvashvant),Vibha Rani (Bhagrau aa Balchanda), Taranand viyogi (Tumi chir sarathi, Karmdharay, Pralaya Rahasya), Narendra Jha (Vikas o Arthatantra), Panna Jha (Anubhuti), Vinit Utpal (Ham Puchhait Chhi), Jyoti Sunit Chaudhary (Archis), Nagendra Kumar (Sasarphani), Prabodh Narayan Singh (Hathik daant), Gopalji Jha Gopesh (Makhanak paat, Gumma Bhel tharh chhi), DeoShankar navin (Aadhunik Sahityak Paridrishya),Satyanand Pathak (Hamar Gaam), Madaneshwar Mishra (Ek Chhalih Maharani), Brikhesh Chandra Lal (Malha) .
Websites links of Mithila
* Mithilaonline.com online maithili library
* Know Details About Maithili Language
* Indian Poets Writing In Maithili
* Ethnologue: Maithili
* Maithili at the Rosetta Project
* National Translation Mission’s (NTM) Maithili Pages
* The Linguist List: The Maithili Language
* Samad e-paper in Maithili language
* videha e-paper in Maithili language
* Maithili Books