Odra

The present name of Odisha has been derived from the name Odra or Udra or Odraka. It appears as Urshin or Ursfin in the accounts of the Muslim geographers of the ninth and tenth century A.D. These geographers, who apparently collected information during the rule of the Bhauma-Karas in Odisha, give the divisions of the Bhauma kingdom as Urshin or Ursfin, Myas, Harkhand and Andras which have been identified with Odisha proper, Mahishya or Midnapore, Jharkhand (the hilly tracts of Odisha) and Andhra. Thus, the name Odisha appears to have existed as early as the tenth century A.D. if not earlier. The Tibetan historian Taranatha refers to Odisha as Odivisa which is apparently a Tibetan corruption of Odisa. In the later Muslim accounts and in the early Oriya literature the name Odisha finds frequent mention.

The geographical unit of Odra has found mention in different ancient texts. The Pali texts make repeated mention of Oddaka and the Greek writers refer to Oretes which can be equated with Odra, mentioned in various Sanskrit texts. The Bhagabata Purana mentions Odra, among the six sons of Dirghatamas by queen Sudesna, after whom the land had been named. Pliny placed Oretes near mountain Malus which can be identified with Malayagiri near Pallahara in the pesent Angul district. Odra has also found mention in the Manusamhita where it is associated with the Paundrakas, Dravidas, Kambojas, Yavanas, Sakas, Paradas, Palavas, Chinas, Kiratas, Daradas and Khasas. The earliest epigraphic records in which this geographical name appears as a Visaya or district, are the Soro Copper Plates of Somadatta from which it becomes apparent that it was a part of Uttara Tosali. Yuan Chwang mentions Odra or Wvcha not as a district, but as a kingdom, 7000 li in circuit. From this description it appears that it was a big kingdom occupying the coastal strip up to the Puri district from which the kingdom of Kongoda began. In his accounts of Odra Yuan Chwang mention two important places, Che-li-ta-lo and Pue-sie-poki-li, of which the later place has been satisfactorily transcribed as Puspagiri. Recently some scholars have identified the ‘Dimond Triangle’ i.e. the Buddhist monasteries at Ratnagiri, Udaygiri and Lalitgiri as the probable site of Puspagiri. However, much research is needed for the exact location of Puspagiri. In the inscriptions of the Somavamsis and other contemporary
dynasties Odra as a kingdom has also found frequent reference.


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