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Ancient Coins of Odisha (6th Century B.C. – 6th Century A.D.)

Author: Bharati Pal
Credit: This Article has been taken from the September-2004 Issue of Odisha Review


Numismatic, the study of coins is regarded as a great source of ancient history. Numismatics like epigraphy is an important source of ancient history. In other words it helps us to construct history and does not merely corroborate it. The history of Kushana would be incomplete if the numismatic testimony to their power and strength would be removed. Out of fifty kings with SakaPallava names hardly more-than a dozen names are known from sources other than coins. The history of Greek settlement in the north-western part of India before Alexander’s invasion is only known from coins. Even the history of Satavahanas, about whom the different version of the Puranas give different genealogical and chronological list of kings are known from coins alone. The king who was probably the first of the line, and after whom the dynasty was named Satavahana, is known only from coins and not from any other sources. The existence of the Republican States side by side with the Monarchial forms of Government in ancient India is known from the coins. Even the celebrated work Rajatarangini of Kalhana has termed coins as a primary source during
12th century A.D.

The historic stage of civilisation is taken to be the hunting stage, as the hunting stage passed through the pastoral into the agricultural stage. Agricultural products was used as currency. Mineral products such as cowries also was used first as ornament then as currency. Panini’s Ashtadhyayee is useful not only for Sanskrit Grammer but also for construction of social, religious and economic history of India. Panini refers to seven different types of coins prevalent in India in 550 B.C. In the Jataka Literature there is reference of atleast three types of gold coinage in ancient India. The Jaina Kalpasutra mentions, Sri the Goddess of Beauty whom Trisala the mother of Mahavira saw in her dream as having a strings of gold coin on her breasts. Kautilya’s Arthasastra mention two types of coins such as Pana (Silver Coin) and Masaka (Copper Coin). References have also been found in some of the accounts of the foreign travellers, who have given pertinent information about the currency system prevalent in different parts of the country. The accounts of the celebrated Chinese Travellers Fa-Hien and Hiuen Tsang provide information on the large scale circulation of the cowries as money along with the metallic money prevelant during that period in different parts of the country. That the cowries were also used during commercial transactions in Orissa as in other parts of India down to the advent of the Britishers, is known from the account of Thomas Bowry, a foreign traveller.

Punch-marked Coins

In the opinion of Prof. A.L.Basham uninscribed Punch-marked coins were minted from the 6th Century B.C. onwards and were in circulation for many centuries. The Punchmarked coins are the earliest system of coinage which constitute the most extensive monetary system of ancient India. The punching devices of these coins have no inscription. Instead they have a number of symbols. It was so extensive and widespread that numerous hoards and stray finds of these coins have been discovered throughout the length and breadth of the country including Orissa. The history of the Coinage of Orissa as in other parts of the country begins with the so-called Punch-marked coins which have been unearthed from different places like Sonepur, Mayurbhanj, Asurgada, Sisupalagada.

The punch-marked coins are known to have been made in silver and copper. In Orissa only the silver Punch-marked coins have been discovered so far. In the Bolangir and Sambalpur districts in western Orissa Punchmarked coins have been discovered which bear four symbols on the obverse, while reverse is blank. On the basis of the symbols and fabrications, scholars have divided Punchmarked coins into two types ‘Local’ and ‘Imperial’ punch-marked coin. The ‘Local’ series known also as the Janapada coins were confined only to a Janapada particular area or locality. Thus the local series of Punch-marked coins found in the western part of Orissa are known to scholars as coins of the Kalinga Janapada or better designated as the Dakshina Kosala Janapada. They differ from the coinage of other Janapadas, such as Panchala, Surasena, Kasi and Gandhara etc.

As regards to the ‘Local’ type of Punchmarked coins found in Orissa, a hoard of 162 coins have been found in the Sonepur area. They have four symbols in one side only, while reverse is blank. The symbols are –
(1) an elephant facing left with a small dot at the back
(2) a bull to the left with a small dot at the back
(3) a solid oval surrounded by dots
(4) two bulls yoked in a plough.
It is interesting to note that similar type of coins have been found in various parts of Chhatisgarh state and Balaghat district of Madhy Pradesh, but differ in weight. The local type of Punch-marked coins which were discovered from Singhavaram in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh bear four symbols. These coins are generally taken to be the local issues of the Andhra Janapada. Andhra being a neighbouring Janapada to Kosala.

Recently a hoard of 325 coins with five or four symbols on the obverse have been found in the Sonepur region of western Orissa, now preserved in the Orissa State Museum at Bhubaneswar. The ‘Imperial’ coins bearing five symbols on obverse and one or more minute symbols on the reverse belong to different varieties and groups. ‘Imperial’ type Punchmarked coins have discovered from almost all the parts of Orissa. More than seven big hoards of these coins collected from different parts of Orissa, which are now preserved in the Orissa State Museum. Most of the hoards have been found in Ganjam, Kalahandi, Mayurbhanj and Cuttack district.

Satavahana Coins

The intervening period between the end of Kharavela’s rule and the rise of Samudragupta is generally taken by scholars as the dark period in Orissan history. On the basis of inscriptions and numismatic evidences scholars have tried to establish Satavahana rule over a part of Kalinga in the 2nd-3rd centuries A.D.

The Hatigumpha Inscription of Kharavela records that in the second year of his reign without paying any heed to Satavahana king Satakarni, Kharavela sent a vast army which reached the river Krishna and caused terror in the city of the Mushikas. The Nasik Cave Inscription of Gautamiputra Balasri describes Goutamiputra Satakarni as the Lord of the Mountains of Vijha, Chavata, Paricata, Sahya, Kanhagiri, Maca, Siritana, Malaya Mahida of Setagiri and these mountains Mahida or Mahendra is located in Kalinga, being identified with the Eastern Ghats between the Mahanadi and the Godavari rivers, part of which near Ganjam is still known as a Mahendra Malei.

Although we have no definite proof to show the continuity of the Satavahana Supremacy in the South Kalinga after Goutamiputra Satakarni and Vasishthiputra Pulumavi. It is certain that there was economic and cultural contact between the Satavahanas of the Deccan and Chedis of Kalinga. This evident is also borne out by the recent archaeological discoveries at Bhubaneswar. Three Yaksha images those were discovered from Dumduma, a village situated near the Khandagiri – Udayagiri are strikingly similar to the Yakshas carved on the western gate of the Sanchi Stupa belonging to the Satavahana Period.

The Satavahanas who flourished in the Deccan during the first century B.C. – 2nd century A.D. held their sway for about three centuries were the first rulers who issued inscribed coins in the south. So far as the coins of Satavahanas are concerned, in Orissa we do not possess them in large number as in other parts of the Deccan which were included in their empire.

A few Satavahana copper coins are the earliest and most copiously inscribed coins in the collection of Orissa State Museum. Some of them belong to Kumbha Satakarni and there are legends on the coins as Siri-Sata and Satakanisa. The legend found in them are usually in the Brahmi script and Prakrit language. The symbols on the coins are lion, elephant, horse, bow, hill etc. on the obverse and mountain symbol on the reverse. The lead coins attributed to the later Satavahanas are found during in excavation at Sisuplalagarh near Bhubaneswar. They are very small round pieces with diameter of 1.5cm approximately. The Ujjain symbol on the reverse is slightly visible.

The discovery of the Satavahana lead coins alongwith indicate cultural and commercial contact between the Satavahana Empire and Kalinga during the early period of second and thired century A.D.

Puri-Kushana Coins

The abundant finds of a type of copper coins in Orissa resembling to a certain extent the copper-coins of the Imperial Kushana have attracted the attention of the Numismatists since long. According to Dr. V.A. Smith” They have been issued by rulers of Kalinga in the fourth or fifth century and it is possible they may have been struck only for use as temple offerings.” All Numismatists acknowledge that they exhibit the characteristic of Kushana type”.

The term Puri-Kusana was applied to these coins by Dr. A.F.R. Hoemie, who examined the earliest known specimens found in the Gurubai Salt Factory at Manik Patna in the Puri district. Padmashree Paramananda Acharya advocates that the so-called PuriKushana coins represent the coinage of the kings of Orissa who flourished in the Gupta period, but were quite independent. P.L.Gupta, while attempting to fix the date of the Kushana currency maintains that the Kushana coins were current in Orissa in the period when the Kushana empire ceased to exist in Nothern India.

The copper Kushana coins and their imitation have been found in abundance in several parts of Orissa. The occurance of this type of the coinage from Singhbhum to Ganjam very probably indicate influences of the Kushanas. The imitation pieces are crudely cast with help of clay moulds having four sides opening channels connected with four moulds of coins. The obverse of the coin show the king standing and pointing with his right hand upwards above the left shoulder. These coins belong to uninscribed variety.

The Puri-Kushana coins have been found mostly in and around Khiching in Mayurbhanj district. A hoard of such coins was discovered in 1923 at Bhanjakia near Khiching. Another hoard of 282 copper coins with the figure of Kanishka and Huvishka was also discovered in Mayurbhanj district. In May, 1993, 105 Kushana coins were discovered in a brass pot in Nuagaon.

There is some sort of similarity in the later coins of the Yaudheyas and the PuriKushana coins. The Yaudheyas seem to have adopted the same technique as those of the Orissa people in preparing their later coinage by casting method. It has been found during excavations in the Rohtak district of Harayana. The Sisupalagarh excavation show that Kanishka and Huvishkas coins were in circulation during second and third centuries A.D. Evidently the original Kushana coins were brought through trade to different area outside the Kushana empire during the Imperial Kushana rule when brisk trade and commercial activities were going on between the Kushana empire and other kingdom inside and outside India. The probable trade routes through which the copper coins of the Kushanas and their imitations entered Orissa were mainly two. One was through Varanasi which was a great center of trade during the Kushana rule. From Varanasi the traders used to come through Jharkhand region to Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar and second route through Dakshina Kosala.

Similarly the interesting Kushana Roman gold medallion, which was discovered during the archaeological excavation at Sisupalgarh in 1948, it depicts the king standing and offeringablution with a Brahmi legend reading (Maharaja) Rajadhasa Dhamadamadhara (Sa). A.S. Altekar on the basis of the Brahmi legend and Kushana motif, attributed this medallion to a ruler of Orissa named Dharmadamadhara, who was Jaina and belonging to the Murunda family.

The gold coins of Huvishka alongwith some of its cast impressions in gold were discovered from Bonai in the Sundargarh district of Orissa. Legend in Greek letters like ‘Shaonana shao oeshki’ the ‘King of Kings Huvishika the Kushana’ alongwith the figure of the king facing left wearing helmet in the obverse. In the reverse there is the depiction of four-armed Siva standing.

The Kushana coin and their imitation do not seem to be in use for a long time like the silver Punch-marked coins. In a few copper grant of 6th-7th Centuries A.D. mentioned a coin named a Pana. The copper plate records of the Matharaa mention about 200 Panas to be paid by the donee towards the annual rent fixed by the doner.

From the above discussion we have surmised that the Kushana coins found in Orissa are not much helpful in establishing the Kushana rule in this region. There are also no epigraphical records of any Kushan king ruling in Orissa.

Gupta Coins

The coins of the Gupta emperors are known to be chiefly in gold. They issued gold coins so profusely that a contemporary part has allegorically termed the phenomenon a “rain of gold”. The abundance of gold coins with innumerable types and varieties issued by the Gupta monarchs indicate the height of prosperity of their empire. Credit goes to Samudragupta for the modification in the coinage of the dynasty.

The gold coinage of the Guptas has helped greatly to reconstruct the economic history as well as the trade and commercial activities of the country during 4th-5th century A.D.

Although the gold coinage of the Guptas has thrown much light on the economy as well as the currency system as well as trade and commercial activities of their empire with different kingdoms in the subsequent period of Indian history, it had a very little impact on the currency system of Orissa.

The Allahabad Prasasti of Samudragupta carries information about his successful expedition of Dakshinapatha or Southern Campaign. He is known to have defeated rulers of atleast six independent principalities. They are 1) Mahendra of Kosala, identified with South Kosala,(Chhatisagarh state and Sambalpur, Bolangir region of Orissa), 2) Vyaghararaja of Mahakantara (Part of Ganjam and Koraput), 3) Mantaraja of Kurala (South Kosala), 4) Mahendra of Pishtapura (Pithapuram in the Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh), 5) Daman of Erandapalla (the modern Erandapalli near Chicacole in Andhra Pradesh).

The discovery of several sculptures at Sitabinji and the Nataraja Image Inscription of Satrubhanja discovered at Asanpat in the Keonjhar District has also revealed some Gupta influence in this part of Orissa. The palaeography of this inscription may be assigned to about first half of the 6th century A.D. the language and the script used in the inscription clearly reveal Gupta characteristics.

The use of the Gupta era in some copper plate inscriptions belonging to the 6th century A.D. also make us believe that kings of some part of Orissa acknowledged Gupta suzerainty. The Sumandala Copper Plate of Prithvi Vigraha (Gupta Era 250 A.D.) Kanas plate of Loka vigraha (Gupta Era 280 A.D.) and the Ganjam plates of the Sailodbhava king Madhava Varman (Gupta era 300 A.D.) is another evidence of the spread Gupta influence over Orissa and the adjoining regions. Very few gold coins of the Gupta period have so far been discovered in Orissa. Coins issued by the Gupta monarch Chandragupta II depicting an arches have been discovered in Mayurbhanj district.

Two type of coins, one belonging to Chandragupta Kumaradevi type and the other of Samudragupta’s Lyrist type are now preserved in the Orissa State Museum at Bhubaneswar.

The coin of Kumaragupta depicting an Archer on the obverse, (the king standing to left holding a bow) and the legend ‘Kumara’. The goddess Lakshmi seated on a Lotus also on the reverse are found in Orissa.

Some of the Archer types of coins of Chandragupta II and his successors depicting seated goddess on the reverse, show distinctly a different technique adopted for manufacturing those coins. The coins were manufactured with the help of casting instead of die-striking like the earlier issue. The Gupta coins representing the seated Lakshmi on a lotus are found throughout India including Orissa.

Although the gold coinage of the Imperial Guptas reflects the height of their prosperity, they seem only meant for large scale trade and commerce transaction. During the early period of the Imperial Gupta rule, gold was easily available as it was coming from outside particularly from Roman Empire. The Roman coins are found in different parts of India including Orissa. During the Gupta rule the sea ports of Orissa were in a flourishing condition.

From the above analysis it can be said that the early coins played a vital role in reconstructing history. The early Indian coins have also proved to be of great use so far as the administrative history is concerned. Though it put little impact on the political and administrative system of Orissa, but played a great role in trade and commercial transaction in the ancient period.

References :

1. ‘Early Indian Coins and Currency System’, by S.K. Maity, pp.2-4 & 9.
2. ‘Lectures on Ancient Indian Numismatic’, by Dr. Bhandarakar, pp.2-3 & p.45, 48, 67.
3. Rapson, ‘Indian Coins’, p.17.
4. ‘Historical Geography and Dynastic History of Orissa’, by D.K. Ganguly, pp.148-150.
5. ‘Select Inscriptions’, Vol.I, by D.C.Sircar, pp.207.
6. CII – Vol.III, p.2-11
7. El. Vol.XVIII, pp.66, 69
8. Orissa Historical Research Journal, Vol.III, p.106.
9. ‘Early and Medieval Coins and Currency System of Orissa, by S. Tripathy, pp.58-62.
10. Mayurbhanj district Gazetteers, 1967, pp.57- 58.
11. History of Orissa, Vol.I by R.D. Nanerji, pp.111-116.
12. New light on the cultural heritage of Orissa by A. Joshi, p.39.
13. Archaeological Remains at Bhubaneswar by K.C. Panigrahi, pp.202 & 208.
14. Coins by P.L. Gupta, p.70.


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Tribal Origin of the Cult of the Jagannath

Author: Abhimanyu Dash
Credit: The Article has been taken from February-March 2014 Issue of Odisha Review


The origin of the cult of Jagannath is mysterious. The deity itself accepts almost all the sects of Hindu Pantheon like Vedic religion, Vaishnavism, Saivism, Tantricism and Brahminism in His abode. In addition to these sects, Jainism and Buddhism acclaim the Jagannath triad belonging to their religions. In spite of this, scholars in the cult of Jagannath believe in the aboriginal tribal (Savara) origin of the Jagannath triad.

The scholars in the field of the cult of Jagannath also differ in holding their own views and theories. But among all the theories propounded regarding the origin of the Jagannath cult, the theory of tribal origin is the most accepted one. Scholars like B.M.Padhi1, A. Eschmann G.C. Tripathy, H. Kulke4 and H.V. Stietencorn have dealt with the tribal origin of the Jagannath cult. Though many arguments and counter arguments have been put forth by the scholars to support their own theories regarding the origin of the cult no one has been able to deny the intimate association of the Savaras or the tribals with the cult of Jagannath from its inception. Even scholars like B. Mohanty, N.K. Sahu, K.C Mishra, S.Mohanty and G.N.Mohapatra have accepted the tribal influence in the cult of Jagannath.

The legends of the Puri and the Purusottam Mahatmya of the Skanda Purana, the Musali Parva, the Vanaparva of Sarala Dasa’s Mahabharata, Deula Tola of Sisu Krshna Das and Nilambar Das refer to the Savara or tribal origin Tribal Origin of the Cult of the Jagannath Abhimanyu Dash of the Jagannath. Almost in a similar way they narrate the Indradyumna story and explain how the deity was originally worshipped by the aboriginal Savara chief Visvavasu in the forest and later on how it appeared at Puri.

The story in the Purusottama Mahatmya of Skanda Purana – The story recorded in the Purusottama Mahatmya of Skanda Purana says that the shrine of Nilamadhava was located in the Blue hill (Nila Saila) surrounded by a forest. Indradyumna, the king of Avanti came to know about the sanctity of the place and Lord Nilamadhava. He sent Vidyapati to the place to get information of Nilamadhava. Once Vidyapati told to his wife Lalita about his desire to see the God. At first Visvavasu was unwilling to allow Vidyapati to take him to God Nilamadhava but later on he took him by covering his eyes in order to keep the secrecy of the shrine. But clever Vidyapati on the way secretly dropped mustard seeds, which germinated after a few days and opened the secret path to Nilamadhava. Vidyapati then returned to his master Indradyumna and reported the location of the shrine. The King was overwhelmed and started for Blue hill to have a Darsana (view). But to his misfortune he could not find the image there. In the night the king had a dream in which he saw a noble tree coming from the Svetadvipa where God Visnu appeared in his blue form. In the morning news came to the king that a log impressed with the signs of Visnu had come floating in the sea to the shore. The log was brought to the shore with great rejoicing and carved into four images of Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarsana Chakra. Then Indradyumna constructed a temple on the Blue hill and consecrated the images.

The story in Sarala Dasa’s Mahabharata – The story gives the account of tribal origin of Jagannath in a different way. When Srikrsna breathed his last, Arjuna and Savara Jara, who had killed Krsna, tried to cremate the corpse. They soon found that the fire was helpless in burning the dead body, since it was the Brahma himself. At the end of the full day, only the palms, legs and the nose were burnt, and then a divine sound was heard saying “O, Arjuna, the fire cannot convert the dead body into ashes please throw it into the Sea.” Arjuna acted accordingly and went to Dvaraka.

After sometime ‘Jara Savara’ saw Krsna in dream, when he woke up, he found beside him an image of Visnu. This was the very image that later Jara Savara worshipped on the Dhauli Hill near Bhubaneswar.

When Galamadhava, a Vaisnava King of Kanchi learnt of Krsna’s death, he set out in quest of Krsna’s corpse, which in fact, had been thrown into the sea. His servant Vasudeva Brahmana, who had proceeded to the south, located the body there on the Dhauli Hill, being worshipped in the form of an image. On receiving the news, Galamadhava moved the image to Nilachala. Jara Savara at that time was away to Konarka on the seashore in quest of Krsna’s dead body. At the same time, Indradyumna, a King in the line of Virata, built a temple at Nilachala with the aforesaid image he consulted the Savara Jara. At this Jara prayed to God and was answered in a divine voice, “I will certainly appear at Nilagiri in the Buddha incarnation. This unburnt dead body will change into Daru (wood)”. After this revelation, both Indradyumna and Jara Savara went to Nilagiri and they saw the wooden form of God in the Rohini Kunda. Vasudeva and King Indradyumna brought the Daru out of the Kunda and Jara Savara undertook the task of carving the image. Visvakarma himself joined Jara in this work. They cut the Daru into three pieces. The image making work supposedly continued in a closed room for fifteen days but no sound was heard outside. When the King, in his anxiety, opened the door, he discovered three images but there was no trace of Jara or Visvakarma in the room.

The story in Deula Tola of Nilambara Das – In the 15th century Nilambara Das wrote a work, entitled Deula Tola11 (the making of the temple). His story in relation to aboriginality of Jagannath is as follows. When Indradyumna came to know of Nilamadhava in Nilachala (situated in the eastern shore) he sent his messenger, Vidyapati to find the truth. Vidyapati went there, saw the God and accordingly reported the facts to the King. Indradyumna, with his army marched to Puri and at a place called Charchika, Visvavasu surrendered himself to the King. The author then describes the episode of the disappearance of the God. Indradyumna observed fast for twenty one days. He was told in his dream that the Daru was floating on the sea. He found the Daru and Visvakarma got down to the making of images in a closed room. The King prompted by Gundicha, his queen, opened the door and found three images, all incomplete and unfinished. Like Nilambara Das, Sisu Krsna Das has also written a book named ‘Deula Tola’. Likewise some more Deula Tola books were written in the later period among which Krsna Das’s work enjoys greater popularity in Odisha.

The story in Deula Tola of Sisu Krsna Das – The Deula Tola of Sisu Krsna Das is more important and acceptable so far as tribal origin of Jagannath is concerned. Vidyapati, under the orders of Indradyumna arrived at a Savara village in quest of the God. Lalita, the daughter of the Savara Chief Visvavasu fell in love with him. The Brahmin Vidyapati was consequently forced by Visvavasu to marry Lalita.

Vidyapati with the help of Lalita and Visvavasu traced the God in Nilagiri. In fact, the clue came to him from a crow that became four armed when it fell from the ‘Kalpa Vrksa’ into the ‘Rohini Kunda’. Vidyapati thus reported this to Indradyumna and the king started for the place with his army. In course of his journey to Nilagiri he came across the river Chitrotpala, Chatakeswara, Ekamra (Bhubaneswar), Lingaraj, Kapotesvara (near Chandanpur), Kalindi or the river Yamuna (near Sakhigopal – Bir Narasinghpur) and so on.

Reaching Nilachala, the King arrested the Savara and got hold of the God’s image. But soon under command that he heard from the heaven, he set Savara free. The king constructed a temple of 120 cubits height and went to Brahma Loka to invite Brahma to preside over its inaugural ceremony. In the meantime, a fierce sand storm buried the temple and King Gala discovered it. When Indradyumna came back from Brahma Loka there arose a dispute between both the Kings as each supported his claim for the ownership of the temple. Finally, Brahma brought about a compromise between them and settled the matter amicably.

King Indradyumna then learnt in a dream that a Daru was floating on the sea. He recovered the Daru from there with the help of Vidyapati and Vasu Savara. But the King found no carpenter able to carve out the image of the god. Finally, an old carpenter, Ananta Maharana of Dvaraka appeared there. He worked there in a closed room for twenty one days, made the very images of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra. But before the stipulated period was over the king in haste and anxiety opened the door and found the three incomplete images. And Ananta Maharana was not to be seen anywhere.

The King was so disturbed that he decided to commit suicide. But just then, he heard, “O King, I shall hold the incarnation of Buddha in the Kali Yuga”. The sons of Vasu Savara will be called as Daita and they will serve me. The sons of Lalita will be known as Suara and they will cook for me. The sons of Vidyapati will be my Panda and they will worship me. Indradyumna, in return prayed to God that he should not have progeny to claim the temple in future. Here concludes Deula Tola of Krsna Das. In addition to this, scholars like W.W. Hunter on the basis of Indradyumna legend has remarked “The very origin of Jagannath proclaims him not less the God of the Brahmanas than the low caste aboriginal races13. He further states, “The aboriginal people were worshipping a blue stone, in the dense forest. But the deity has grown tired of the jungle offering of the primitive people and longs for the cooked food of the more civilized Aryan race. When the Aryan element at length comes on the scene, the rude blue stone disappears and gives place to a carved image. Another Europeon scholar W.J. Wilkins tracing the origin of Jagannath to tribal worship has stated (Jagananth) was the local divinity of some, now unknown tribe, whose worship was engrafted into Hinduism and the God when admitted into the pantheon was regarded as another manifestation of Visnu.

B.M. Padhi has also traced the origin of Jagannath to the Daru (wood) worship of the Savaras from the pre-historic times. He has based his arguments on the basis of the cult of tree worship which was prevalent among the proto- Australoids. They at first worshipped ficus tree and later on the concept of tree worship entered to other religions. Further, he states that the Savaras or the Sauras of Ganjam and Koraput districts worship tree as their Kitung (God). They believe that their Kitung lives on a tree, so they never cut a tree which is called Jagant, another name of Kitung. They also believe that Kitung had ten incarnations similar to the concept of ten incarnations of Visnu. In his opinion the word Jagannath is neither a Sanskrit word nor a Pali word but a sanskritised form of austric word Jagannath.

According to G.N. Mahapatra, “ancient name of Jagannatha, as currently in vogue in the Savara villages of Odisha is Jaganaelo (made of wood). The name of the deity in the Savara languages is ‘Sonam’ and the images are known as ‘Kitungs’. Of all the ‘Kitungs’ Jaganaelo is the greatest, and Savaras call him the Lord of the Universe (The Land of Visnu)”.

The tribal origin of the Jagannath cult is further elaborated by the German Orissa Research Project (1970-76). A host of scholars like A. Eschmann, H. Kulke, G.C. Tripathy, H.V. Stietencorn through interdisciplinary approach, field study and anthropological investigations have shown that Jagannath primarily is a tribal deity. A.Eschmann is of the opinion that Jagannath is primarily a tribal God and in the process of Hinduization it became a Brahmini God. Further, she has connected the Narasimha cult with the tribal worship of wooden posts and later on in her opinion, Narasimha was accepted in the Visnu worship. On the basis of the prevalent legends she identified Goddess Khambesvari or Stambhesvari with Subhadra. She has remarked, “Narasimha and Jagananth are intimately linked and were identified at an early stage. Even today a Jagannath figure is found to be worshipped as Narasimha. From the important role which Narasimha plays within Hinduization in Eastern India and his special relationship to tribal deities represented by wooden posts, it could be concluded that the Jagannath figure was the result of a process of Hinduization where a tribal deity represented by a wooden post was identified with Narasimha. The original symbol was changed accordingly by being combined with the popular iconography of Narasimha : a head with arms. This accounts for the iconographic particulars of the Jagannath figure, the head is an attempt to represent a lion head, the round eyes are typical features of Narsimha’s fury.

The tribal element has also not been completely lost in the cult of Jagannath. Among the temple servitors, an important section are the Daitas or descendants of the autochthonous religious leader Jara. They have many important functions in the ritualistic services. Though the worship is conducted by the Pujapandas, who are Brahmins in name only, from the Bathing Festival till the conclusion of the Car Festival, Jagannath is worshipped exclusively by the Daitas.

This is an important festival of Jagannath and is attended by pilgrims from far and near. To the devoted people at large, this pouring of 108 pots of water on each of the idols, is explained as the Gods indulgence in water to ward off excessive summer heat. But in a symbolical way this bathing also washed away the non-autochthonous traits which Jagannath had acquired in course of ages. Soon after the Bathing Festival the Jagannath triad with Sudarsana return to Anasara Tati, a thatched construction erected in an impromptu manner, for the occasion, inside the temple, for the sojourn of the images till the Car Festival. Anasara is an archaic Odia word, which means close relations and Tati means a hut. Thus Anasara – Tati means the hut of the close relations, which resembles the hutments of the tribal people.

This strange practice is an annual enactment of the drama of the return of Jagannatha to his Kinsmen, in as much as during the Anasara period, the Brahmin priests are not allowed to enter the Tati much less to worship. The rituals conducted by the Daitas, inside the Anasara Tati is kept a closely guarded secret, as no one can enter the Tati or the hut, except the Daitas. During this Anasara period which lasts for about a fortnight, Jagannath is offered only such fruits and berries as are available in jungles. During the Anasara period Mahaprasad or the cooked rice offering is discontinued. Thus the tribal strands of the Jagannatha cult is also existing in practice, though not in rituals, along with the sophisticated Brahmanical elements.

Partaking of Mahaprasad or cooked rice is an important sacrament of the cult. It seems to be tribal in character. Jara Savara’s cooked rice offering seems to have originated from this tradition. It may be noted in this context, that communal eating of food offered to Lord Jagannath by the devotees of the Hindu communities, irrespective of caste, is even today prevalent in Odisha. Since the first Mahaprasad offering was cooked in the Temple kitchen, it has recognized no caste or creed in partaking it, even the high caste Brahmin, could eat Mahaprasad, from the same potsherd used by an untouchable.

At present people take their food from the earthern cooking pot or potsherd, even thrown or left by some persons after they have taken their food. They take their food together from the same pot or potsherd without any caste prejudice nor restriction and without any hesitation they take leftover food or offal.

Thus inspite of deeply entrenched Brahmanic influence the autochthonic strands still persists in the Jagannath cult in a transmuted form. This syncretism of opposing religious creeds and philosophies make Jagannath Universal and unique. His name still draws faithful belonging to all denominations in millions to the holy sands of Puri.

Sheorinarayan : The original place of Jagannath – There are contradictory views regarding the original place of Lord Jagannath. Sarala Dasa in the Vana Parva and Musali Parva of Mahabharat has given the traditional account of how King Galamadhava brought the Lord Savarinarayana to Puri. According to him Narayana or Savarinarayana was being worshipped by the Savaras in the forest. King Galamadhava being informed proceeded to the Savara village to take possession of the deity. On the basis of this story K.C. Mishra has stated that Jagannath was brought to Puri from Savarinarayana. On the other hand, G.N. Mohapatra states that Savarinarayana was worshipped by the Savaras on a hill called Dhauli near Bhubaneswar.

S.N. Rajaguru on the basis of the Telugu version of Madala Panji preserved at the Govt. Oriental Manuscript Library at Madras states that Jara, the Savara Chief was residing on the top of the Mahendra mountain. He was the worshipper of Parasamani. Further, he has associated the legendary King Indradyumna with King Indravarman of the Svetaka branch of the Gangas. The German Scholars like H.V. Stietencorn, H.Kulke, A.Eschmann believe that the cult of Jagannath came from Western Orissa to Coastal Orissa during the time of Yayati-I of the Somavamsi dynasty30. Their opinion is based on the accounts of Madala Panji in which it is mentioned that King Yayati had brought the image of Jagannath from Sonepur of Western Orissa. Sheorinarayana or Savarinarayana, the original place of Jagannath has been identified by scholars like R.V.Russe, Hirala and most recently J.P. Singhdeo with the modern villag eof the same name situated about 40 Kms. South –East of Bilaspur in Madhya Pradesh. This place is a tribal dominated area inhabited mostly by the Savaras, Gaudas and other aboriginal tribes.

There are a number of legends prevalent among the tribals centering Sheorinarayana connecting it with the cult of Jagannath. The tribal legends of the Savaras say that local tradition traces their origin to Savari of Ramayana who offered fruits to Lord Rama during his exile. He was supposed to have stayed near Sheorinarayana on his way to Lanka. Another legend states that the Savaras were created for carrying stones for the construction of the great temple at Puri and for dragging the car of Lord Jagannath at the time of car festival. Regarding the name of the place Sheorinarayana, the tradition says that once this place was a forest in which lived an old Savara who was worshipping Jagannath. Later on, the deity was removed to the temple at Puri by a Brahmana. In order to remind the people, Jagannath wished that the place should contain the names of both worshipper and the worshipped. Hence the place was named as Savarinarayan or Sheorinarayana.

According to another legend, Savari Narayana was originally worshipped at Seori Narayana in Madhya Pradesh. The King of Puri (Odisha) brought the idol of the deity to Puri and had it installed here. But Seorinarayana, in fact, referring to the name of the original place, remained unchanged.

Whatever may be the original place of Lord Jagannath, there is no doubt that the Lord was first worshipped by the Savaras either in Western Orissa or in the adjacent Bilaspur region of Madhya Pradesh and later on appeared at Puri.

References :
1. B.M. Padhi, ‘Daru Devata’ (Odia), Cuttack, 1964, PP. 15-36.
2. A.Eschmann, et.al.eds. ‘The Cult of Jagannath and the Regional Tradition of Orissa’, New Delhi, 1978, PP. 79-99.
3. B.Mohanty, ‘Odisara Adivasi Sanskriti’ (Odia), Bhubaneswar, 1954, PP.118-151.
4. N.K. Sahu, ‘Odisare Boudhha Dharma’ (Odia), Bhubaneswar, 1959, PP. 49-50.
5. K.C. Mishra, ‘The Cult of Jagannath’, Calcutta, 1971, P.181.
6. S. Mohanty, ‘Lord Jagannath’, Bhubaneswar, 1982, PP. 12, 23-25.
7. G. N. Mohapatra, ‘The Land of Visnu’, Delhi, 1979, PP. 26-29.
8. Nilambara Das, ‘Srikshetra Mahatmya ba Deula Tola’ (Odia), Kantei, 1916.
9. Sisu Krsna Das, ‘Deula Tola (Odia) Cuttack, 1968.
10. W.W. Hunter, ‘Orissa, Vol.I, London, 1872, PP. 88- 89.
11. Quoted by S.K.Panda, ‘Evolution of Jagannath Cult’ in “Comprehensive History and Culture of Orissa”, Vol.I, New Delhi, P.549


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Kharavela : The Great Philanthropic Emperor

Author: Jayanti Rath
Credit: The Article has been taken from April-2007 Issue of Odisha Review


Jainism is one of the most ancient religions, which emerged as a result of pure non-violent and humanitarian approach towards all living beings. It grew up with a profound progressive attitude and judicious understanding of special requirements and philosophically indispensable necessities of the time. The Jaina thinkers had discussed at length long ago as to how one can protect one’s environment and save himself, society, nation and all creatures form natural calamities through non-violence and nonpossession and mutual co-operation. Arya Mahameghabahana Cheti-Raja-VamsaVardhana Maharaja Sri Kharavela, the mighty emperor of Kalinga was out and out a Jaina in the true sense of this philosophy.

The reign of Kharavela is a significant landmark in the history of Orissa. The caves of Udayagiri and Khandagiri hills and the Hathigumpha inscriptions provide eloquent testimony to Kharavela’s connectedness with Jainism. Among the followers of Mahavira, Kharavela stands out as the tallest name.

Considering the chronology of Pos tMauryan times and ancient glory of Jainism, his is the most important and the only inscription yet discovered link in the country. Its importance is unquestionable. The invocation formula on the Hatigumpha inscription Namo Arihantanam Namo Sarva-Sidhamam clearly testifies that Jainism was the religious faith, the king Kharavela, followed.

The coronation of Kaharavela seems to have been performed with great pomp and grandeur amidst high hopes and aspirations, and the young king appeared to have cherished the desire to attain the idealism enumerated in ancient scriptures. That he achieved astounding success as a ruler is attested to by his biographical account recorded in the Hathigumpha inscription and by the record of his chief queen engraved in the upper storey of the Manchapuri Cave (Udayagiri hill) proudly declaring him as Charkravarti Monarch.

In the first regnal year, he devoted his attention to strengthen the defence of the capital Kaliga Nagari, the fortification of which had been damaged by cyclonic storm (Batyahata).

He repaired “gopur” “prakara” “Nivesana” (Gateways, ramparts and the palace) and made the fort strong and invulnerable. To beautify the city, he constructed embankments and flight of steps in many cool water tanks and developed a number of (Uddyanas) gardens and parks. The defence work continued upto his fifth regnal year when the aqueduct, excavated by Mahapadmananda three hundred years before, was extended upto the capital city and a perennial supply of water was provided to the moat that surrounded the fortification. For all these works, he spent about thirty-five lakh coins. He distributed 60,000 Karshapanas among his subjects.

The tenth line of the Hathigumpha inscription refers to the building activities of Kharavela i.e. (Caves for the Jaina Monks). The 12th regnal year record (line-12) of this inscription mentions that when king of Magadha had invaded Kaliga and conquered the same, he carried with him the image of Kaliga Jina. King Kharavela made on imperial expedition to Magadha, defeated the Magadhan army and to commemorate this unique event he brought back that image in a triumphant procession. Then he professed Jainism in common with his queens, Kumaras and officials. Thus, it is clear that the honour of the royal family was interlinked with the image of Kalinga Jina. Similarly the 13th year’s record of Kharavela’s reign (line 14 of the inscription) says that he devoted himself entirely to religious practice on Kumari hill. Kharavela offered maintenance and white garments to the monks. He excavated 117 caves to serve as resting places of the Arhatas or Jaina saints.

From line 14 to the end of the inscription it is revealed that illustrious Sramanas, Yatis and Jaina Saints had assembled at Kumari hill from different parts of India for whom Kharavela, at the insistence of his queen Sindhula of Simhapatha, constructed a magnificent abode close to the dwellings of the Arhatas at a cost of 105,000 coins. Kharavela has been eulogized as a Jaina who had given the religion a proper place in his daily life.

The life of Kharavela was a symbol of sanctity. No doubt, he was a great warrior. He could achieve a series of brilliant victories extending his way from the north western part of India to the farthest extent in the south.No Indian monarch in history is known to have accomplished such astonishingly successful conquests embracing such vast expanse of India. But all these conquests were ephemeral. What gives him undying fame in history is his benevolent deeds.

Spirituality is essentially individual and individuality creates collectivity on the basis of discipline and practices. Every basic reality of the universe is integral. Jainism reconciled the parts of reality with the whole by means of its relativistic approach. The “Aryanga”, the oldest Jaina text says therefore, “One who knows one, comes to know all, one who has known all, knows one.” Kundakunda, a great thinker of about 1st century A.D. and other Jaina philosophers followed the same view- “Je ege Janai te savve Janai, Je savve Janai te ege Janai.”

Kharavela recognized self and tried his best to know all living and non- living beings around him. He had an enriched vision of ecology. Son of a king, he could prove himself to be the son of the soil too. He gave paramount importance to the welfare of his subjects as well as to the nature. “Aspire for self, the same which you aspire for others and which you do not aspire for self do not aspire for others.” This is the fundamental principle of Jainism. That Kharavela adhered to this basic principle has been artistically reflected in rock cut architecture of the twin hills, Khandagiri and Udayagiri. It would not be an exaggeration to ascribe him as a Rajarshi or the saint monarch of Orissa.

References :
1. Epigraphic Indica: XIII P.154.
2. Dr. Barua B.M.: Old Brahmi Inscriptions in the Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves- Calcutta. 1929, P-26.
3. Sahu, Dr. N.K.- Kharavela, Orissa State Museum, Bhubaneswar, 1984.
4. Prof. Bhagchandra Jain Bhaskar- “Ecology and spirituality in Jaina Tradition, from the Book Jainism, Art, Architecture, Literature and philosophy, Edited by Dr. Haripriya Rangarajan, Dr. S. Kamalakar, Dr. A.K.V.S. Reddy, Sharada Publishing House, Delhi- 1100035, 2001 Page-26.
5. Pavayanasaro Satha- 47, CF Niyanasara 165.


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Date Line of Kharavela the Great

Author: Dr. Gouri Shankar Tripathy
Credit: The Article was First Published in November-2008 Issue of Odisha Review


There is an assumption among some-scholars till to-day that there was a period of Nanda rule in the then Kalinga which was conquered by so called Mahapadma Nanda and annexed it to the Nanda Empire. On puranic and legendary accounts, this assumption is nicely based. For this rule no authentic history is available. In the Hatigumpha inscription, the term Nanda is found mentioned more than once. It is stated in the same inscription that a Nanda King had excavated a canal which was repaired and enlarged by Kharavel. It is the sole epigraphic evidence available on which a period of Nanda Rule in then Kalinga postulated by historians. Scholars like Dr. B.M. Barua, and some others identified the Nanda Raja of the Hatigumpha inscription with Chandasoka who did the act of aggression on Kalinga in 261 B.C. This identification, aforesaid is acceptable to scholars of repute. Chandragupta was enthroned in 324 B.C. under the leadership and advice of the great Chanakya, a reformer and scholar of those days in Magadha.

There is no early evidence to prove that the dynasty established by Chandragupta was ever known as mourya dynasty. Nor his successors including Chandasoka had ever mentioned about it in any of their Rock edicts anywhere edicted by them. In the 8th Century A.D. a drama by name Mudrarakshyasa had been composed by Bisakha Dutta where the name mourya appears to have started as the name of the mother of Chandragupta was Mura. On the other hand, the so called Mourya dynasty was originally known as Nanda dynasty only, in all Rock edicts found throughout India and abroad.

Of-course historian like Dr. N.K. Sahoo and some others did not accept this. In the name of some Punch Marked coins available in the then Kalinga, they have tried to show that there was a period of Nanda rule in Kalinga before Chandasoka. Without the supposed rule of Nanda the Punch marked coins would have been circulated in Kalinga by the traders. Rule of Nandas is not a necessity for this punch marked coin circulation.

In any part of India, the Nanda Kings were not known to have undertaken any irrigation work. But we know one instance that Chandasoka executed a vast irrigation work in Junagarh of Gujurat. Hence for the benefit of the newly conquered people of Kalinga, it is not impossible, Ashoka had excavated a canal which was reexcavated and enlarged by Kharavela as is evidenced by the Hatigumpha inscription.

There is no concrete and sure evidence to show that there was actually a Nanda Rule in Kalinga other than that of Ashoka. This rule can not be connected with any type of contemporary relic as it can be done with Chandasoka who had left sacred monuments.

About the causes of the Kalinga War in 261 B.C. there is no unanimity among the scholars. But one cause is almost unanimously accepted by all scholars is that it was an act of aggression because Chandasoka was a war like prince who ascended the Magadhan throne by eliminating all possible claimants through the act of violence. His predecessors conquered almost all parts of India excepting Kalinga. The existence of Kalinga as an independent and developed country would have been an eye-sore to an ambitious king like Ashoka whose cupidity and greed might have been excited due to the tremendous growth of maritime trade of Kalinga at that point of time.

Before Kharavela the liberation of Kalinga might have been achieved. By waging a successful struggle against Magadha Kharavela brought back the sacred seat of Jain which seems to have had a great significance on the religious life of the people of the then Kalinga.

Till- today the date line of Kharavel is not yet historically decided. For some scholars Kharavela belongs to 2nd Century B.C. and some place him in the 1st Century B.C. others drag him down to the 1st Century A.D. An attempt has been made here to discuss some relevant points on the date of Kharavela basing on the substantial agreement of the later scholars who have finally deciphered, the matter to conclude. In accordance with epigraph let us put some references are as follows:
1. Fouth line – Dutiya Ca Vaseachtayatasatakarmin …….
2. 6th line – Pandhama Ca Danivase .«««.
Nandaraj – Tibasa – Sata – OGhatitamtausulia Bata ……
3. 11th line – Kalingapuvaraj – Nivestia Pithudagadava – Nagaline …… Kadhya Tijeenp Adabha Vanam ….. Ca Teras – Vas – Sat – Katam …….
4. 15th line – Sat – Das – Lena – Satam – Karapitam ……

In accordance with the REX III it is almost conclusive that Ashoka was the first among the Indian Kings reigning after Budha’s demise to conquer the unconquered land of Kalinga and annex the same to his own kingdom as per the observation of Dr. B.M. Barua.

In the pre-Christian era the Mourya emperors were known to have undertaken the construction of irrigation works among the known Indian Kings. Ashoka had completed the construction of large irrigation work started by his grand father Chandragupta at the then Girnar under the leadership of his governor. In the distant western province of his empire, if Ashoka could have undertaken a vast irrigation work we can very easily presume that he would have constructed a canal in Kalinga, a newly conquered province for which he has shown special solicitude.

For the benefits of his own subjects, the Nanda Kings of whom the so called Mahapadma Nanda was most prominent have never undertaken the construction of irrigation works during period of Nanda rule. On the other hand, these Nanda kings were very unpopular among their subjects for they were oppressive, greedy and cupid.

In the inscription of Kharavela Ashoka thus appear to be Nanda Raja who had constructed a canal in Tosali. This identification is considered very sound as the epithet Nanda Raja applied to Ashoka need not frighten us as there is no evidence yet discovered can prove that during period of Kharavela Ashoka was not known as a Nanda King. On the contrary his Grand father Chandragupta had been represented as PurvaNanda-Suta etc.

Kalinga war was started in 261 B.C. and Ashoka engraved his rock edicts at Dhauli and Jaugada in about 257 B.C. Hence it is quite natural Hatigumpha inscription should have been connected to the neighbourhood of these two aforesaid dates.

Engraving of the inscription and the construction of the canal had been done simultaneously most probably. Since Ti-basa-sata has been referred to the interval between the construction of the canal and the fifth year of the reign of Kharavel, to fix-up the date, the correct interpretation of the compound Ti-basa-sata will enable us definitely to reach a conclusion.

But among the scholars unfortunately there is a difference of opinion about the interpretation of the compound ti-basa-sata. For some it is 300 years and for others it is 103 years. Even for Dr. Barua who has taken great pain to decipher the Hatigumpha inscription could not make out correctly for the compound to make 103 years or 300 years as he failed to notice the other clues already there in the inscription of Kharavela. If he could have compared Satadasa-lena-sata of the fifteenth line with Ti-basasata of the 6th line of the inscription along with teras-vasa-sata of the 11th line which formed similar grammatical construction, he must have reached a conclusion that these compounds must have followed the same grammatical rules and principles.

All most all scholars mean Sata-dasa-lenasata as 117 caves only and it can not be 17 hundreds caves because the later interpretation will land us in an absured proposition. In the tiny hillock of Udayagiri which is identified as Kumari Parvata, 17 hundred caves could not be excavated by Kharavela and his successors. Similarly the compound tera-sa-basa-sata can not be 13 hundred years and ti-basa-sata cannot be 300 years. Hence ti-basa-sata will have only one interpretation i.e. 103 years.

Therefore the fifth year of the reign of Kharavela will be 257 B.C. – 103 B.C. = 154 B.C. and he might have been enthroned 159 B.C. Hence Kharavela belongs to 2nd Century B.C. only.


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Nature of kalinga State at the time of Kalinga war

Author: Brajabandhu Mahanta, MAH


A highly debatable question of Indian history is “Who is the king of kalinga at the time of Kalinga War”? In other words whether Kalinga a monarchical one or anything else? As we have lacking any historical source in this regard many scholar argue that at the time of kalinga war- Kalinga was not a morchical one but a republic state like many other republican states ( Ganarajyas of North India) of Ancient India such as Vajji , Malla etc.

But if we carefully study the nature and geographical extent of ancient republics (Ganarajyas) then we find that these were spread in very small areas centered on a city (Nagara) with a numbers of villages surrounds the same. These were very much similar with the city states of Greece. Hence, the republican nature of Kalinga state is not matching due to following reasons:

First and most important is its area of extension. The Kalinga state extended from Godavari in South to the river Ganga in north-east and the Kalinga Sea in east to Vindhya Range in north-west. This much extension of a vast state needed a well organized administration to function. But in an Ancient direct republic, it is not possible to give a sound administration to Kalinga like vast empire.

Second, though during the Nanda rule Kalinga was a part of Magadha empire but soon it gained its independence by taking advantages of chaos and confusions arise during the ascendancy of Chandragupta Maurya into Magadha throne and Kalinga rapidly increased its power in eastern India with the help of both inland and overseas trade. Soon it reached to a position of an alternate centre of power in eastern India. Magadha Empire in all sectors be it trade, commerce or politics. As a result their inter–relationship was converted to a hostile one. Both looked to each other in suspicion. It was confirmed by the writing of the Buddhist monk Lama Taranath and Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador to the court of Chandragupta Maurya. In one account Megasthenes mentioned that he often hear about the people living on the other side of Vindhya Range are very dangerous. They have lacking nose and their whole head resembles a nose. From this type of descriptions it is very clear that the people of Magadha had very wrong conceptions about the people of Kalinga. In other words, there must have been sense of hatred among the people of both empires. It is possible, when there is a long going Cold war happening between both the empires. Therefore Kalinga was not a republican because it was not possible for a republican state to give a stiff competition to a Magadha like vast pan-Indian empire in ancient political conditions.

If we accept the monarchical nature of kalinga state, then Why Asokan inscriptions, particularly 13th major rock edicts, where he mentioned about the Kalinga war, silent about the name of the king of kalinga and its political set up?

Excerpt from 13th Major Rock edict of Asoka
When king Devanampriya Priyadarshi had benn anointed eight years, the country of the Kalingas was conquered by him. One Hundred and fifty thousand in number were the men who were deported thence;One hundred and thousand in numbers were those who were slain there; and many times as many those who died.After that, now that the country of the Kalingas has been taken, Devanampriya is devoted to the pursuit of Dhamma, the love of Dhamma, and to instructing the people in Dhama. This is the repentance of Devanamprira an account of his conquest of the country of the Kalingas. For the slaughter, death, and deportation of people that take place in the course of conquering an unconquered country is considered very painful and deplorable by Devanampriya.

The careful study of the 13th major rock edict (Shahbazgarhi version) reveals the fact that it is not a eulogy type of inscription where he glorify his valour or his great victory over the Kalinga. Here he described about how the mass slaughter and destruction of life and property of people in war and their sorrow and sufferings changed his heart. Therefore he might not feel necessary to give any information about the politics and king of Kalinga.

So we cannot conclude from the fact that Asokan inscription did not provide the name of king of kalinga means it was a republic state.

References:
1. History of Odisha, Vol-I by RD Banerjee
2. The Early History of Kalinga by DN Das
3. The History of Odisha, Vol-I by Y K Sahoo
4. Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, Vol-I, Inscriptions of Asoka by E Hultzsch 1969


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