Madala Panji is the temple chronicle of Lord Jagannatha. It recounts Odisha’s historical events involving Lord Jagannath or the Jagannath Temple. Though the exact date of Panjis’ inception is unknown, it is believed to have begun in the 12th or 14th centuries AD. The book is a literary classic and literary masterwork of the Oriya language on a par with which very few Indian vernaculars can compete. It is comparable to Sri Lanka’s Rajvansham, Kashmir’s Rajtarangini, and Assam’s Burunji. Prose was first used in the Madala Panji or Palm-leaf Chronicles of the Jagannatha temple in Puri in the 12th century.
Madalapanji’s significance in Odisha’s history
According to some historians, Madalapanji shaped Odisha’s history. When historians such as Sir W.W.Hunter and Andrew Stirling wrote Oriya history, they used the facts contained in Madala Panji as a starting point. Traditionally, the Madala Panji was written on a year-by-year basis. On Vijaya-Dashami, the Karanas (official historians of Puri, an Odisha caste) are responsible for maintaining the chronicle. This ritual is cited as evidence that the tradition of maintaining this chronicle dates all the way back to Oriya king Anantavarman Chodaganga Dev. The Madalapanji is said to have been destroyed by Muslim invaders, including the so-called Kalapahara, but the storey was rewritten in a way that blended legend and history. However, some historians reject Madalapanji as a source for writing Odisha’s history, claiming that it is merely a work of eulogy.
Thus, the Madalapanji, the Puri temple’s temple chronicle, preserves a number of traditions concerning the Kesaris (Somavamsis), the Imperial Gangas, the Suryavamsi Gajapatis, and the Bhois of Khurdha. This is because the palm-leaf records are tied together in large round bundles resembling the Indian drum (Madala). Although some historians regard it as “nothing more than a jumble of legends,” others believe it possesses. “certain historical substratum.” Apart from records pertaining to Jagannath temple, it contains historical information, some of which shed light on the Ganga-Gajapati-Bhoi era. It is also available in Sanskrit and Telugu under the titles “Katakarajavamsavali” and “Jagannatham.Kaifiyat”.