Odia literature

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Odia (also known as Oriya) is the predominant language of the state of Odisha in India. The language is also spoken by minority populations of the neighbouring states of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. The region has been known at different stages of history as Kalinga, Udra, Utkala or Koshala. Odisha was a vast empire in ancient and medieval times, extending from the Ganges in the north to the Godavari in the south. During British rule, however, Odisha lost its political identity and formed parts of the Bengal and Madras Presidencies. The present state of Odisha was formed in 1936. The modern Odia language is formed mostly from Pali words with significant Sanskrit influence. About 28% of modern Odia words have Adivasi origins, and about 2% have Hindustani (Hindi/Urdu), Persian, or Arabic origins. The earliest written texts in the language are about thousand years old.

Odia is the only Indo-European language of India other than Sanskrit and the sixth Indian language that has been conferred classical language status and forms the basis of Odissi dance and Odissi music.[1][2][3]

Historians have divided the history of the Odia language into five main stages: Old Odia (8th century to 1300), Early Middle Odia (1300 to 1500), Middle Odia (1500 to 1700), Late Middle Odia (1700 to 1850) and Modern Odia (1850 to present). Further subdivisions, as seen below, can more accurately chart the language's development.

Age of Charya literature (7th-8th centuries AD)[edit]

The beginnings of Odia poetry coincide with the development of Charyapada or Caryagiti, a literature started by Vajrayana Buddhist poets.[4] This literature was written with a certain metaphor called "Sandhya Bhasha", and some of its poets like Luipa and Kanhupa came from the territory of Odisha. The language of Charya was considered to be Prakrit. In one of his poem, Kanhupa wrote:

Your hut stands outside the city
Oh, untouchable maid
The bald Brahmin passes sneaking close by
Oh, my maid, I would make you my companion
Kanha is a kapali, a yogi
He is naked and has no disgust
There is a lotus with sixty-four petals
Upon that the maid will climb with this poor self and dance.

In this poem shakti is replaced by the image of the "untouchable maid". The description of its location outside the city corresponds to being outside the ordinary consciousness. Although she is untouchable the bald Brahmin, or in other words so-called wise man, has a secret hankering for her. But only a kapali or an extreme tantric can be a fit companion for her, because he is also an outcast. The kapali is naked because he does not have any social identity or artifice. After the union with the shakti, the shakti and the kapali will climb on the 64-petalled lotus Sahasrara chakra and dance there.

This poet used images and symbols from the existing social milieu or collective psychology so that the idea of a deep realization could be easily grasped by the readers. This kind of poetry, full of the mystery of tantra, spread throughout the northeastern part of India from the 10th to the 14th century, and its style of expression was revived by the Odia poets of the 16th to the 19th century.

Pre-Sarala Age (12th-14th century AD)[edit]

In the pre-Sarala period, Natha and Siddha literature flourished in Odisha. The main works of this period are Shishu veda (an anthology of 24 dohas), Amara Kosha and Gorakh Samhita. Shishu veda is mentioned in the works of Sarala Das and the later 16th century poets. It is written in Dandi brutta.[5][6][7][8] Raja Balabhadra Bhanja wrote the love story, Bhagabati known for its emotional content.[9][10][11] The other important works of this period are the Kalasha Chautisha (By Baccha Das)[12][13], Somanatha bratakatha, Nagala chauthi, Tapoi and Saptanga.

Rudrasudhanidhi is considered the first work of prose in Odia literature written by Abhadutta Narayan Swami.[14][15]

Markanda Das composed the first Koili (an ode to cuckoo) in Odia just before the beginning of the age of Sarala Das. His composition Kesava Koili describes the pain of separation of Yasoda from her son Krishna.[16][17][18][19] He is also known to compose the epic Daasagriba badha, Jnaanodaya koili etc.[10]

Age of Sarala Das[edit]

In the 15th century, Sanskrit was the lingua franca for literature in Odisha and Odia was often considered the language of the commoners and shudras (Untouchables), who had no access to Sanskrit education. The first great poet of Odisha with widespread readership is the famous Sarala-Das, who translated the Mahabharata.[20][21][22][23] This was not an exact translation from the Sanskrit original, but rather an imitation; for all practical purposes it can be seen as an original piece of work. Sarala Das was given the title Shudramuni, or seer from a backward class. He had no formal education and did not know Sanskrit.

This translation has since provided subsequent poets with the necessary foundation for a national literature, providing a fairly accurate idea of the Odia culture at the time. Sarala-Das, born in the 15th century Odisha of the Gajapati emperor Kapilendra Deva, was acclaimed as the "Adikabi" or first poet. The reign of the Gajapatis is considered the golden period for Odisha's art and literature. Kapilendra Deva patronized Odia language and literature along with Sanskrit unlike his predecessors who used only Sanskrit as their lingua franca. In fact a short Odia poem Kebana Munikumara is found in the Sanskrit Drama Parashurama Vijaya ascribed to none other than the emperor Kapilendra Deva himself.[24][25][26][27][28][29][30] It is believed[who?] that Sarala Das's poetic gift came from the goddess Sarala (Saraswati), and that Sarala-Das wrote the Mahabharata as she dictated it. Though he wrote many poems and epics, he is best remembered for the Mahabharata. His other most known works are Chandi Purana and the Vilanka Ramayana. He also composed the Lakhsmi-Narayana Bachanika.[23]

Arjuna Das, a contemporary of Sarala-Das, wrote Rama-Bibha, which is a significant long poem in Odia. He is also the author of another kavya called Kalpalata.[31]

Age of the Panchasakhas[edit]

Five Odia poets emerged during the late 15th and early 16th centuries: Balaram Das, Atibadi Jagannath Das, Achyutananda Das, Ananta Das and Jasobanta Das. Although they wrote over a span of one hundred years they are collectively known as the "Panchasakhas", since they adhered to the same school of thought, Utkaliya Vaishnavism. The word "pancha" means five and the word "sakha", friend.

The Panchasakhas are Vaishnavas by thought. In 1509, Chaitanya came to Odisha with his Vaishnava message of love. Before him, Jaydev had prepared the ground for Vaishnavism through his Gita Govinda. Chaitanya’s path of devotion was known as Raganuga Bhakti Marga. He introduced chanting as a way to make spiritual connection & taught the importance of Hare krushna mantra. Unlike Chaitanya, the Panchasakhas believed in Gyana Mishra Bhakti Marga, similar to the Buddhist philosophy of Charya literature stated above.

The Panchasakhas were significant not only because of their poetry but also for their spiritual legacy. In the holy land of Kalinga (Odisha) several saints, mystics, and devotional souls have been born throughout history, fortifying its culture and spiritualism. The area uniquely includes temples of Shakti, Shiva and Jagannâtha Vishnu. Several rituals and traditions have been extensively practised here by various seers - including Buddhist ceremonies, Devi "Tantra" (tantric rituals for Shakti), Shaiva Marg and Vaishnava Marg. There is hardly any "Sadhak" who did not pay a visit to the Shri Jagannâth temple.

There is an interesting description of the origin of the Panchasakhas, in Achyutananda's Shunya Samhita. As per his narration, towards the end of Mahabharat when Lord Krishna was leaving his mortal body, Nilakantheswara Mahadeva appeared & revealed to him that the Lord's companions Dama, Sudama, Srivatsa, Subala, and Subahu would reincarnate in the Kali-yuga & be known as Ananta, Acyutananda, Jagannatha, Balarama and Yasovanta, respectively. Thus, believers in the Panchasakha consider them the most intimate friends of Lord Krishna in Dwapara-yuga, who came again in Kali-yuga to serve him. They are also instrumental in performing the crucial & much-awaited Yuga-Karma where they destroy the sinners and save the saints, according to Sanatana-Hindu beliefs.

Balaram Das’s Jagamohan Ramayan provided one pillar, along with Sarala-Das's Mahabharata, upon which subsequent Odia literature was built. His Laksmi Purana is considered the first manifesto of women’s liberation or feminism in Indian literature. His other major works are Gita Abakasa, Bhava samudra, Gupta Gita, Vedanta Sara, Mriguni Stuti, Saptanga yogasara tika, Vedanta sara or Brahma tika, Baula gai gita, Kamala lochana chotisa, Kanta koili, Bedha parikrama, Brahma gita, Brahmanda bhugola, Vajra kavacha, Jnana chudamani, Virata gita, Ganesha vibhuti & Amarakosha Gita.[32][33]

The most influential work of this period was however Atibadi Jagannath Das's Bhagabata, which had a great influence on the Odia people as a day-to-day philosophical guide, as well as a lasting one in Odia culture. His other works include Gupta Bhagavat, Tula vina, Sola chapadi, Chari chapadi, Tola bena, Daru brahma gita, Diksa samyad, Artha koili, Muguni stuti, Annamaya kundali, Goloka sarodhara, Bhakti chandrika, Kali malika, Indra malika, Niladri vilasa, Nitya gupta chintamani, Sri Krishna bhakti kalpa lata etc.[33]

Shishu Ananta Das was born in Balipatana near Bhubaneswar in the late 15th century. He wrote Bhakti mukti daya gita, Sisu Deva gita, Artha tarani, Udebhakara, Tirabhakana, a Malika and several bhajan poetries.[33]

Yashobanta Das was the composer of Govinda Chandra (a ballad or Gatha- Sangeeta), Premabhakti, Brahma Gita, Shiva Swarodaya, Sasti mala, Brahma gita, Atma pariche gita, a Malika and several bhajans.[33][34][35][36]

Mahapurusha Achyutananda is considered the most prolific writer of the Panchasakhas. He is believed to be born through special divine intervention from Lord Jagannath. The name Achyuta literally means "created from Lord Vishnu". He is also referred to as "Achyuti", i.e. "He who has no fall" in Odia. He was born to Dinabandhu Khuntia & Padma Devi in Tilakona, Nemal around 1485 AD. He established spiritual energetic centers called "gadis" all over east India (in the former states of Anga, Banga, Kalinga, Magadha) and Nepal. Gadis such as Nemal, Kakatpur, Garoi, & Jobra Ghat were places for spiritual actions, discourses and penance. He was learned in Ayurveda, sciences & social regulations. His works are Harivamsa, Tattva bodhini, Sunya samhita, Jyoti samhita, Gopala Ujjvala, Baranasi Gita, Anakara Brahma Samhita, Abhayada Kavacha, Astagujari, Sarana panjara stotra, Vipra chalaka, Manamahima, Maalika.[37][38][39][40]

The Panchasakha's individual characteristics are described as follows (in Odia and English):

Agamya bhâba jânee Yasovanta
Gâra katâ Yantra jânee Ananta
Âgata Nâgata Achyuta bhane
Balarâma Dâsa tatwa bakhâne
Bhaktira bhâba jâne Jagannâtha
Panchasakhaa e
mora pancha mahanta.

Yasovanta knows the things beyond reach
Yantras uses lines and figures known to Ananta
Achyuta speaks the past, present and future

Balarâma Dasa is fluent in tatwa (the ultimate meaning of anything)
Ultimate feelings of devotion are known to Jagannâtha
These five friends are my five mahantas.

During the Panchasakha era another seer Raghu Arakhsita, who was not part of the Panchasakhas but was a revered saint, composed several Padabalis in Odia.[41][42] The Panchasakha and Arakhshita together are known as the Sada-Goswami (six Lords).

Madhavi Pattanayak or Madhavi Dasi is considered as the first Odia woman poet who was a contemporary of Prataprudra Deva and wrote several devotional poetries for Lord Jagannatha.[43][44][45][46]

Imaginative medieval Odia literature (16th-Mid 17th century)[8][edit]

Several Kaalpanika (imaginative) and Pauraanika (Puranic) Kavyas were composed during this period that formed the foundation for Riti Juga. The major works of this era other than those written by the Panchasakhas are Gopakeli and Parimalaa authored by Narasingha sena, contemporary of Gajapati emperor Prataprudra Deva, Chataa Ichaamati and Rasa by Banamali Das, Premalochana, Bada Shakuntala & Kalaabati by Vishnu Das, Nrushingha purana and Nirguna Mahatmya by Chaitanya Dash (born in Kalahandi),[10] Lilaabati by Raghunatha Harichandan, Usha Bilasa by Shishu shankar Das, Sasisena by Pratap Rai, Rahashya Manjari by Devadurlava Das, Hiraabati by Ramachandra Chottaray, Deulatola by Nilambara Das,[47] Prema Panchamruta by Bhupati Pandit,[48] Rukmini Vivaha by Kartik Das, Goparasa by Danai Das and Kanchi Kaveri by Purushotama Das.[8][49][50] In the 16th century three major poets translated Jayadeva's Gita Govinda into Odia. They are Dharanidhara Mishra, Brindavan Das(Rasabaridhi) and Trilochan Das (GovindaGita).[44][51] Brundabati Dasi, a women poet of great talent wrote Purnatama Chandrodaya Kavya towards the end of seventeenth century.[8][52]

Several Chautishas (a form of Odia poetry where 34 stanzas from "ka" to "Khsya" are placed at the starting of each composition) were composed during this time. The famous ones being Milana Chautisha, Mandakini Chautisha, Barshabharana Chautisha, Rasakulya Chautisha etc.[30][50][53][54]

Muslim poet Salabega was one of the foremost devotional poets of this era who composed several poems dedicated to Lord Jagannath during Jahangir's reign in the 17th century.[55][56]

Riti Yuga/Age of Upendra Bhanja (1650-1850)[edit]

After the age of the Panchasakhas, several prominent works were written, including the Usabhilasa of Sisu Sankara Das, the Rahasya-manjari of Deva-durlabha Dasa and the Rukmini-bibha of Karttika Das. A new form of novels in verse evolved at the beginning of the 17th century when Ramachandra Pattanayaka wrote Haravali. The prominent poets of the period, however, are Dhananjaya Bhanja (born 1611. AD), Dinakrushna Das (born 1650. AD),[57] Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja (born 1670. AD) and Abhimanyu Samanta Simhar. Their poetry, especially that of Upendra Bhanja, is characterised by verbal tricks, obscenity and eroticism.

Upendra Bhanja's works like Baidehisha Bilasa, Koti Brahmanda Sundari and Labanyabati are considered landmarks of Odia Literature. He was conferred with the title "Kabi Samrat" of Odia literature for his aesthetic poetic sense and skill with words. He wrote 52 books out of which only 25-26 are available. He alone contributed more than 35000 words to Odia literature and is considered the greatest poet of Riti Juga.[58][59][60][61][62][63][64][65]

Dhananjaya Bhanja (1611-1701),[66] a poet of repute, king of Ghumusar and grandfather of Upendra Bhanja, wrote several kavyas like Anangarekha, Ichaavati, Raghunatha Bilasa, Madana Manjari etc.. Besides Tribikrama Bhanja (author of Kanakalata)[67] and Ghana Bhanja (author of Trailokyamohini, Rasanidhi and Govinda Bilasha)[68] of the Bhanja royal family also enriched Odia Literature.[8][31] Lokanatha Vidyadhara, a contemporary of Upendra Bhanja wrote Sarbanga Sundari.

Dinakrushna Das’s Rasokallola and Abhimanyu Samanta Simhara’s Bidagdha Chintamani are also prominent kavyas of this time. Bidagdha Chintamani is considered the longest Kavya in Odia literature with 96 cantos exceeding that of Upendra's longest kavya of 52 cantos. Other famous works of Abhimanyu Samanta Simhara are Sulakhshyana, Prema Chintaamani, Prema Kala, Rasaabati, Prematarangini etc.[69][70] These poets significantly influenced modern Odia Literature.

A new form of poetry called "Bandha kabita" also started during this time where the poet wrote the poem within the bandha or frame of a picture drawn by him. Upendra Bhanja was the pioneer in this form of pictorial poetry. His Chitrakavya Bandhodaya is the first such creation containing 84 pictorial poems. Poets who wrote in this tradition include Sadananda Kabisurya Bramha (Lalita Lochana and Prema Kalpalata), Tribikrama Bhanja (Kanakalata), Kesabaraja Harichandana (Rasa Sindhu Sulakhshyana) etc.[67]

Lyrical Odia Literature towards the end of Riti Juga:[71][72][edit]

Towards the end of Riti Yuga, four major poets emerged and enriched Odia literature through their highly lyrical creations.[8] These were Kabi Surya Baladeb Rath, Brajanath Badajena, Gopal Krushna Pattanaik and Bhima Bhoi. Kabisurya Baladev Rath wrote his poems in champu (mixture of prose and poetry) and chautisha style of poetry. His greatest work is Kishore Chandranana Champu which is a landmark creation extensively used in Odissi Music.[31][50] Brajanath Badjena started a tradition of prose fiction, though he was not an excellent prose writer. His Chatur Binoda (Amusement of Intelligent) seems to be the first work that deals with different kinds of rasas, predominantly the bibhatsa rasa, but often verges on nonsense. The style of "Chitra Kavya" (mixture of poetry and paintings) was at its best in the 18th century. Several chitra pothis can be traced to this time.[73][74]

Bichitra Ramayana of Biswanaath Khuntia is one of the most celebrated works of this period composed in the early 18th century. Pitambar Das wrote the epic Narasingha Purana consisting of seven parts called Ratnakaras in the 18th century.[75][76][77] Maguni Pattanaik composed the Rama Chandra Vihara.[78] Rama Lila was composed by Vaishya Sadashiva and Ananga Narendra. Bhima Bhoi, the blind poet born in a tribal Khondh family is known for his lucid and humanistic compositions like Stuthi Chintaamani, Bramha Nirupana Gita, Shrutinishedha Gita etc.The other major poets towards the end of Riti Yuga are Banamali, Jadumani Mohapatra, Bhaktacharan Das (author of Manabodha Chautisha and Mathura Mangala), Haribandhu, Gaurahari, Gauracharana, Krishna Simha all of whom enriched Odia lyrical literature.[50][79][80]

Age of Radhanath[edit]

The first printing of the Odia language was done in 1836 by Christian missionaries, replacing palm leaf inscription and revolutionising Odia literature. After this time books were printed and journals and periodicals became available in Odia. The first Odia magazine, Bodha Dayini was published in Balasore in 1861. Its goal was to promote Odia literature and draw attention to lapses in government policy. The first Odia paper The Utkal Deepika, was first published in 1866 under editor Gourishankar Ray and Bichitrananda. The Utkal Deepika campaigned to bring all Odia-speaking areas together under one administration, to develop the Odia language and literature and to protect Odia interests.

In 1869 Bhagavati Charan Das started another newspaper, Utkal Subhakari, to propagate the Brahmo faith. In the last three and a half decades of the 19th century, a number of newspapers were published in Odia. Prominent papers included Utkal Deepika,Utkal Patra, Utkal Hiteisini from Cuttack, Utkal Darpan and Sambada Vahika from Balasore and Sambalpur Hiteisini from Deogarh. The success of these papers indicated the desire and determination of the people of Odisha to uphold their right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press, with the ultimate aim of freedom from British rule. These periodicals performed another vital function, in that they encouraged modern literature and offered a broad reading base for Odia-language writers. Intellectuals who came into contact with Odia literature through the papers were also influenced by their availability.

Radhanath Ray (1849–1908) is the most well-known poet of this period. He wrote with a Western influence, and his kavyas (long poems) included Chandrabhaga, Nandikeshwari, Usha, Mahajatra, Darbar and Chilika.

Fakir Mohan Senapati (1843–1918), the most known Odia fiction writer, was also of this generation. He was considered the Vyasakabi or founding poet of the Odia language. Senapati was born raised in the coastal town of Balasore, and worked as a government administrator. Enraged by the attempts of the Bengalis to marginalize or replace the Odia language, he took to creative writing late in life. Though he also did translations from Sanskrit, wrote poetry and attempted many forms of literature, he is now known primarily as the father of modern Odia prose fiction. His Rebati (1898) is widely recognized as the first Odia short story. Rebati is the story of a young innocent girl whose desire for education is placed in the context of a conservative society in a backward Odisha village, which is hit by the killer cholera epidemic. His other stories are "Patent Medicine", "Dak Munshi", and "Adharma Bitta". Senapati is also known for his novel Chha Maana Atha Guntha. This was the first Indian novel to deal with the exploitation of landless peasants by a feudal lord. It was written well before the October revolution in Russia and emerging of Marxist ideas in India.

Other eminent Odia writers and poets of the time include Gangadhar Meher (1862–1924), Madhusudan Rao, Chintamani Mohanty, Nanda Kishore Bal and Gaurisankar Ray.

Age of Satyabadi[edit]

Main article: Gopabandhu Das

During the Age of Radhanath the literary world was divided between the classicists, led by the magazine The Indradhanu, and the modernists, led by the magazine The Bijuli. Gopabandhu Das (1877–1928) was a great balancer and realized that a nation, as well as its literature, lives by its traditions. He believed that a modern national superstructure could only endure if based on solid historical foundations. He wrote a satirical poem in The Indradhanu, which led to punishment by the Inspector of Schools, but he refused to apologise.

Gopabandhu joined Ravenshaw College in Cuttack to pursue graduation after this incident. He started the Kartavya Bodhini Samiti (Duty Awakening Society) in college to encourage his friends to take on social, economic and political problems and become responsible citizens. While leading a team to serve flood victims, Gopabandhu heard that his son was seriously ill. He preferred, however, to save the "sons of the soil" rather than his son. His mission was to reform society and develop education in the name of a social service vision. He lost his wife at age twenty-eight, and had already lost all three of his sons by this time. He left his two daughters and his property in the village with his elder brother, rejecting worldly life. For this social service mission he is regarded by Odias as the Utkalmani.

As freedom movements began, a new era in literary thought emerged influenced by Gandhi and the trend of nationalism. Gopabandhu was a large part of this idealistic movement, founding a school in Satyabadi and influencing many writers of the period. Other than Gopabandhu himself, other famous writers of the era were Godabarisha Mishra, Nilakantha Dash, Harihara Acharya and Krupasinshu. They are known as 'Panchasakhas' for their similarities with the historical Age of Panchasakhas. Their principle genres were criticism, essays and poetry.

Chintamani Das is particularly renowned. Born in 1903 in Sriramachandrapur village near Sakhigopal, he was bestowed with the Sahitya Akademi Samman in 1970 for his invaluable contribution to Odia literature. Some of his well-known literary works are Manishi Nilakantha, Bhala Manisa Hua, Usha, Barabati, Byasakabi Fakiramohan and Kabi Godabarisha.

Pragati Yuga[edit]

Nabajuga Sahitya Sansad formed in 1935 was one of the first progressive literary organizations in India. It was formed before the National Progressive Writers Association was established in 1936 by Munshi Prem Chand, Sajad Zaheer, Mulk Raj Anand and others. The founders of the Progressive Movement in Orissa were Nabakrushna Choudhury, Bhagabati Panigrahi and Ananta Patnaik. At the inaugural session of Nabajuga Sahitya Sansad, the great freedom fighter Malati Choudhury sang "Nabeena Jugara Taruna Jagare" written by Ananta Patnaik. The mouth piece of Nabajuga Sahity Sansad was Adhunika, the First Progressive Literary Magazine in Oriya. Adhuinka was conceived, initiated, edited,published and nurtured by Bhagabati Panigrahi and Ananta Patnaik. Many writers of that time wrote in Adhunika.

Age of Romanticism or Sabuja Yuga[edit]

Influenced by the Romantic thoughts of Rabindranath Tagore during the 1930s when progressive Marxist movements dominated Odia Literature, Kalindi Charan Panigrahi (the brother of Bhagabati Charan Panigrahi who founded Marxism in Odisha) formed a group called "Sabuja Samiti" with two of his writer friends Annada Shankar Ray and Baikuntha Patnaik. This was a very short period in Odia literature, later folded into Gandhian and Marxist work. Kalindi Charan Panigrahi later wrote his famous novel Matira Manisha, which was influenced by Gandhism, and Annada Shankar Ray left for Bengali literature. Mayadhar Mansingh was a renowned poet of that time, but though he was considered a Romantic poet he kept his distance from the influence of Rabindranath.

Purnachandra Odia Bhashakosha[edit]

The Purnachandra Odia Bhashakosha is a monumental 7-volume work of about 9,500 pages published between 1930 and 1940. It was a result of the vision and dedicated work of Gopal Chandra Praharaj (1874–1945) over nearly three decades. Praharaj not only conceived of and compiled the work, he also raised the finances to print it through public donations, grants and subscriptions and supervised the printing and the sales of the published work.

The Purnachandra Odia Bhashakosha is an Odia language dictionary that lists some 185,000 words and their meanings in four languages - Odia, English, Hindi and Bengali. It includes quotations from wide-ranging classical works illustrating the special usage of various words. It also contains specialised information such as botanical names of local plants, information on astronomy and long articles on various topics of local interest. In addition, there are biographies of personalities connected with Odisha’s history and culture.

The Purnachandra Odia Bhashakosha is an encyclopaedic work touching on various aspects of the Odia language and Odisha region, as well as many topics of general interest. Its author Praharaj was a lawyer by profession and was ridiculed and reviled by many during production itself. Many printed copies were destroyed unbound and unsold. Many copies sat in libraries of the princes who had patronised the work and most of these copies were sold cheaply when the princes met financial ruin. There are few surviving copies, and those that exist are fragile and worm-damaged. The work is regarded by the older generation, but not well-known among younger Odias.

Post Colonial Age[edit]


As the successors of Sachi Routray, the father of modern poetry, two poets (Guruprasad Mohanty and Bhanuji Rao) were highly influenced by T.S. Eliot and published a co-authored poetry book Nutan Kabita. Ramakanta Rath later modified Eliot's ideas in his own work. According to Rath : "After the publication of Kalapurusha [Guru Prasad’s poetry collection influenced by T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land] we realized that a sense of alienation is the main ingredient of modern poetry." Before independence Odia poetry was mostly written with Sanskritic or "literary" idiom, but after independence poets freely used of Western concepts, idioms, images and adaptation of Western myths.Ramakanta Rath, Sitakant Mahapatra, Soubhagya Kumar Mishra, Rajendra kishore Panda, Prativa Satpathy,Mamata Dash, Haraprasad Das are the most famous of these poets. The mid 60s and between 70s the prominent poets of Odia were- Radhamohan Gadnayak, Benudhar Rout, Brajanath Rath, Bangali Nanda, Harihar Mishra, Dipak Mishra, Kamalakant Lenka, Banshidhar Sarangi, Durga Charan Parida, Devdas Chhotray, Saroj Ranjan Mohanty,Amaresh Patnaik, Ashutosh Parida,Prasanna Patsani, Hussain Rabi Gandhi, Sadasiba Dash, Goutam Jena, Hrishkesh Mullick, Satrughna Pandab, Prabasini Mahakuda, Aaparna Mohanty, Aswini Mishra, Roninikant Mukherjee, Girija Baliarsingh etc. The early 80s saw in Odia Literature a Group of poets with new thoughts and style who overshadowed the earlier generation. These poets had their root in typical Odia soil. The rich heritage and culture with the feelings of commomen were depicted in their Odia poems. They were somehow more nearer to the readers as there were little ambiguity in their expression These contemporary poems were better than the so-called modern poems. The prominent poets of this time were- Manasi Pradhan, Surya Mishra, Bhagirathi Mishra, Ramakrushna Sahoo, Abani Pradhan, Bijay Mahapatra, Kanhu Charan Panigrahi, Manas Ranjan Mohapatra, Akshaya Behera, Samarendranath Mahapatra, Sunil Prusty,Chittaranjan Misra, Senapati Pradyumna Keshari, Ajay Pradhan, Sucheta Mishra, Manoranjan Panigrahi, Raxak Nayak, Arupananda Panigrahi, Biraja Bala, Khirod Parida, Ranjan Kumar Das, Akhila Nayak,Pabitra Mohan Dash, Kedar Mishra,Basudev Sunani, Lenin Kumar,Dr. Basanta Kishore Sahoo,Dr. suresh Nayak, Bharat Majhi,Preetidhara Samal,Ipsita Sarangi, Swapna Mishra, Kishore Panigrahi, Durga Prasad Panda,Manoj Nayak,Saroj Bal, Sitanshu Lenka, Gayatribala Panda,Anirudha Behera etc. This generation is the contemporary poet generation as critics say.

Odia Translation of World Classics[edit]

Eminent scholar Prof. Ananta Charan Sukla's celebrated Odia Translation (with Commentary, Critical Study and Notes) of Aristotle's Poetics (Aristotle-anka Kabyatatwa) published in the late 1960s is a rare and outstanding work. It is the second translation of the classic work in any Indian language after Bengali. His translation of four classic Greek plays is also a commendable work.


Before the 1970s[edit]

In the post-independence era Odia fiction took a new direction. The trend Fakir Mohan started developed more after independence, led by Gopinath Mohanty (1914–1991), Surendra Mohanty and Manoj Das (1934- ). These authors pioneered the trend of developing or projecting the "individual as protagonist" in Odia fiction. There is some tension between the two Mohantys among critics. Eminent feminist writer and critic Sarojini Sahoo believes that it is not Gopinath's story "Dan", but rather Surendra Mohanty's "Ruti O Chandra" that should be considered the first story of the individualistic approach.[81] The major difference between Surendra and Gopinath is that, where Gopinath is more optimistic, Surendra is nihilistic. This nihilism prepared the ground for the development an existentialist movement in Odia literature.

Surendra Mohanty is a master of language, theme and concept. Some of his famous short story collections and novels are Krushna Chuda, Mahanagarira Rati, Ruti O Chandra, Maralara Mrutyu, Shesha Kabita, Dura Simanta, Oh Calcutta, Kabi-O- Nartaki, Sabuja Patra-O-Dhusara Golap, Nila Shaila and Andha Diganta.

In his fiction Gopinath Mohanty explores all aspects of Odishan life, both in the plains and in the hills. He uses a unique prose style, lyrical in style, choosing worlds and phrases from the day-to-day speech of ordinary men and women. Gopinath’s first novel, Mana Gahtra Chasa, was published in 1940, followed by Dadi Budha (1944), Paraja (1945) and Amrutara Santan (1947). He published 24 novels, 10 collections of short stories, three plays, two biographies, two volumes of critical essays and five books on the languages of Kandh, Gadaba and Saora tribes. He also translated Tolstoy’s War and Peace (Yuddh O Shanti) in three volumes (tr. 1985-86) and Togore’s Jogajog (tr. 1965) into Odia.

The writer Kalpanakumari Devi's sequence of novels, in particular, her Srushti o pralaya (1959), documenting the social change in the country have been lauded.[82]

Starting his literary career as a communist and later becoming an Aurobindian philosopher, Manoj Das proved himself as a successful bilingual writer in Odia and English. His major Odia works are: Shesha Basantara Chithi (1966), Manoj Dasanka Katha O Kahani (1971), Dhumabha Diganta (1971), Manojpancabimsati (1977) and Tuma Gam O Anyanya Kabita (1992). Notable English works include The crocodile's lady : a collection of stories (1975), The submerged valley and other stories, Farewell to a ghost : short stories and a novelette (1994), Cyclones (1987) and A tiger at twilight (1991).

Renowned writer Ananta Charan Sukla's short story collection, "Sulataku Sesa Chitthi" (Last Letter to Sulata) published in 1965 is also worth mentioning. The ten stories included in this book are "Sulataku Sesa Chitthi", "Kapilas", "Janeika Kulapati-nka Mrutyu", "Tandril Ru Tornoto", "Mystic Realistic", "Prasanta Samudra: Asanta Lahari", "Nalakula Matha, Nepala Babu O Narana", "Daudana Bada Khara", "Duragata" and "Sandipani-ra Symphony". Other significant pre-1970s fiction writers are Chandrasekhar Rath, Shantanu Kumar Acharya, Mohapatra Nilamani Sahoo, Akhil Mohan Patnaik, Gobind Das, Rabi Patnaik and JP Das. Chandra Sekhar Rath's novel Jantrarudha is one of the renowned classics of this period. Shantanu Acharya’s novel Nara-Kinnara was also influential.

After the 1970s[edit]

The trends started by the 1950s and 1960s were challenged by the young writers in the 1970s. This challenge began in the 1960s with a small magazine Uan Neo Lu in Cuttack. The title of the magazine was made up of three of the Odia alphabets, which were not in use. Writers associated with the magazines included Annada Prasad Ray, Guru Mohanty (not to be confused with Guru Prasad), Kailash Lenka and Akshyay Mohanty. These writers were not as famous as some contemporaries, but they began a revolution in Odia fiction. They tried to break the monopoly of established writers, introducing sexuality in their work and creating a new prose style. In the late 1960s the Cuttack's in Odia Literature was broken when many "groups" of writers emerged from different parts of Odisha. Anamas from Puri, Abadhutas from Balugaon, Panchamukhi from Balangir, Abujha from Berhampur and Akshara group from Sambalpur created a sensation in Odia literary scene.

The changes that started in the 1960s were confirmed in the next decade. Jagadish Mohanty, Kanheilal Das, Satya Mishra, Ramchandra Behera, Padmaja Pal, Yashodhara mishra and Sarojini Sahoo created a new era in Odia fiction. Kanheilal Das and Jagadish Mohanty began creating a new style and language popular among a general audience as well as intellectuals. Kanheilal Das died young and is still considered a great loss for Odia fictions. Jagadish Mohanty introduced existentialism to Odia literature. His renowned works include Ekaki Ashwarohi, Dakshina Duari Ghara, Album, Dipahara Dekhinathiba Lokotie, Nian O Anyanya Galpo, Mephestophelesera Pruthibi, Nija Nija Panipatha, Kanishka Kanishka, Uttaradhikar and Adrushya Sakal.

Ramchandra Behera is known for short story collections Dwitiya Shmashana, Abashishta Ayusha, Omkara Dhwani, Bhagnangshara Swapna and Achinha Pruthibi. Padmaj Pal is also known for short story collections including Eaglera Nakha Danta, Sabuthu Sundar Pakshi, Jibanamaya and Uttara Purusha.

Sarojini Sahoo, another prominent writer, later famous as a feminist writer, also significantly contributed to Odia fiction. Her novel Gambhiri Ghara is not only a landmark Odia novel but has also gained international fame for its feminist and liberal ideas. Her other works include Amrutara Pratikshare, Chowkatha, Upanibesh, Pratibandi, Paksibasa, Tarlijauthiba Durga, Dukha Apramita, Gambhiri Ghara and Mahajatra. Kanaklata Hati, another women fiction writer in whose writing we will find psychoanalysis of female mind. To date she has published two story collections- 'Nirbak Pahada' & 'Kuhudi Ghara'. She has some translated story collections like 'Galpa Galpantara' and'Praibeshi Galpa'.

Popular fiction writings[edit]

A popular Odia literature also emerged in the 1970s, read by low literacy rural people and especially women. The best selling writers are Bhagirathi Das, Kanduri Das, Bhagwana Das, Bibhuti Patnaik and Pratibha Ray. Some of their works were made into films in the Odia language. In recent times Ajay Swain, Mrinal Chatterjee, Radhu Mishra, Dr Laxmikant Tripathy,Nisith Bose, Anjan Chand and Dr. Kulangara have contributed to popular writing.

Women's writings and feminism[edit]

The founding of a women's magazine called Sucharita in 1975 by Sakuntala Panda had a significant impact in helping female writers find a voice.[citation needed] Some of those writers are Giribala Mohanty, Jayanti Rath, Susmita Bagchi. Paramita Satpathy, Hiranmayee Mishra, Chirashree Indra Singh, Sairindhree Sahoo, Supriya Panda, Gayatri Saraf and Mamatamayi Chowdhry. Giribala Mohanty(1947-) needs a special introduction for her deep sensetiveness for the women issues.Her poems depict the emotional binary of social apathy and the self-confidence of women.Her collections of Poems 'Streeloka'(Women), 'Kalijhia'(The Dark complexion Girl),'Ma Habara Dukha'(The sorrow of being a mother)and 'Kati Katia Katyayani' expresses her feelings in a lucid and lyrical way.Sarojini Sahoo had a significant influence on these women, paving the way with a feminist approach to fiction and the introduction of sexuality in her work. She is known as the Simone de Beauvoir of India, though theoretically she denies the Hegelian theory of "Other" developed by de Beauvoir in her The Second Sex. Unlike de Beauvoir, Sahoo claims that women are an "Other" from the masculine perspective, but that they are entitled to equal human rights according to Plato.


The traditional Odia theater is the folk opera, or Jatra, which flourishes in the rural areas of Odisha. Modern theater is no longer commercially viable, but in the 1960 experimental theatre made a mark through the works of Manoranjan Das, who pioneered a new theater movement with his brand of experimentalism. Bijay Mishra, Biswajit Das, Kartik Rath, Ramesh Prasad Panigrahi, Ratnakar Chaini, Pramod Kumar Tripathy, Sankar Tripathy, Ranjit Patnaik, Dr. Pradip Bhowmic, Hemendra Mahapatra, and Purna Chandra Mallick continued the tradition. Tripathy's contribution to the growth and development of the immensely popular and thought-provoking lok natakas is universally recognised and he is often called the Rousseau of lok natakas.[citation needed] Noted writer Ananta Charan Sukla's Odia translation of four classic Greek dramas is a rare contribution to Odia drama literature. His book, "Greek Drama", published in 1974, has translations (with commentary) of Prometheus Bound (by Aeschylus), Oedipus the King (by Sophocles), Medea (by Euripides) and The Frogs (by Aristophanes). Sukla's translations of the plays have been staged in various colleges and universities of Odisha. Besides, his two historical plays on Odia freedom fighters Chakhi Khuntia and Jayee Rajguru have also been widely staged. Though there is no commercially viable modern Odia theater, there are amateur theater groups and drama competitions. Operas, on the other hand, are commercially successful.

Popular science fiction writers from Odisha[edit]

Some popular science fiction writers include Prof Prana Krushna Parija, Padmashree Binod Kanungo, Prof Gokulananda Mohapatra, Prof Gadadhar Mishra, Prof Kulamani Samal, Sarat Kumar Mohanty, Prof Amulya Kumar Panda, Dr. Nikhilanand Panigrahy, Dr. Debakanta Mishra, Dr.Ramesh Chandra Parida, Sashibhusan Rath, Dr. Chitta Ranjan Mishra, Dr. Nityananada Swain, Dr. Choudhury Satybrata Nanda, Er. Mayadhar Swain, Kamalakanta Jena, Himansu Sekhar Fatesingh and Bibhuprasad Mohapatra etc.

Dr. Nikhilanand Panigrahy's "Sampratikatara Anuchintare Bigyan O Baigyanik" is a popular book among avid readers. Sashibhusan Rath's Vigyan Chinta and Kamalakanta Jena's Gapare Gapare Bigyan (Awarded by Odisha Bigyan Academy 2011) are written for children as well as adults.

Odia literature in the United States[edit]

A large initiative, Pratishruti, was started to connect literary minded people in North America with their Indian peers. The goal is to expose Indian-Americans to the best writings of outstanding Odia writers as well as to cultivate new writers in America.

See also[edit]


  • Neukom, Lukas and Manideepa Patnaik. 2003. A grammar of Oriya. (Arbeiten des Seminars für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft; 17). Zürich: Seminar für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft der Universität Zürich. ISBN 3-9521010-9-5

Further reading[edit]

  • Ghosh, A. (2003). An ethnolinguistic profile of Eastern India: a case of South Orissa. Burdwan: Dept. of Bengali (D.S.A.), University of Burdwan.
  • Masica, Colin (1991). The Indo-Aryan Languages. Cambridge Language Surveys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-29944-2
  • Mohanty, Prasanna Kumar (2007). The History of: History of Oriya Literature (Oriya Sahityara Adya Aitihasika Gana).


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External links[edit]