Madala Panji is the temple chronicle of Lord Jagannath of Puri. It describes the historical events of Odisha related to Lord Jagannath or Jagannath Temple. Though the actual date of starting of Panjis is not known, but it is believed that it might be started from 12th or the 14th century AD. The book is a classic and literary master piece of the Oriya language first order, parallel to which very few vernacular of India possess. It can be compared with Rajvansham of Sri Lanka, Rajtarangini of Kashmir or Burunji of Assam. The earliest use of prose can be found in the Madala Panji or the Palm-leaf Chronicles of the Jagannatha temple at Puri, which date back to the 12th century.
Role of Madalapanji in the history of Odisha
Madalapanji has played an important role in shaping the history of Odisha by some historians. While writing Oriya history, historians like Sir W.W.Hunter and Andrew Stirling considered the facts related in Madala Panji as base. The Madala Panji was traditionally written on a year-to-year basis. On Vijaya-Dashami day, the Karanas (official history writers of Puri, a caste of Odisha, involved in keeping the chronicle. This ritual is cited as a proof that the tradition of keeping this chronicle began with Oriya king Anantavarman Chodaganga Dev himself. It is said that the Madalapanji was destroyed by the Muslim invaders including the so called Kalapahara, but it was rewritten in a fashion that mixed legend with history. However, some historians never consider Madalapanji as a source for writing the history of Odisha as they claim that it is just a writing based on eulogy.
Therefore, the Madalapanji, the temple-chronicle of Jagannath temple of Puri, preserves a number of traditions relating to the Kesaris (Somavamsis), the Imperial Gangas, the Suryavamsi Gajapatis and the Bhois of Khurdha. This is so called because the palm-leaf records are tied in big round bundles resembling the Indian drum (Madala). Although it is considered by some historians as, “nothing more than a farrago of legends,” some others consider it to possess . “some historical substratum”. Besides, all classes of records relating to Jagannath temple, it contains historical information, some of which, particularly of the Ganga-Gajapati-Bhoi times, throw light on the history. Its Sanskrit and Telugu versions are also available under the titles of “Katakarajavamsavali” and “Jagannatham.Kaifiyat”.