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Oriya Literature

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Oriya Literature

Oriya (ଓଡ଼ିଆ odiā) is an official language of the state of Odisha(ଓଡ଼ିଶା), India. The region has been known at different stages of history as Kalinga, Udra, Utkala or Koshala. The language is also spoken by minority populations of the neighbouring states of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. The earliest written texts in the language are about thousand years old. 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 Oriya language is formed mostly from Pali words with significant Sanskrit influence. About 28% of modern Oriya words have Adivasi origins, and about 2% have Hindustani (Hindi/Urdu), Persian, or Arabic origins.

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

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

The beginnings of Oriya poetry coincide with the development of Charyapada or Caryagiti, a literature started by Vajrayana Buddhist poets.[1] 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 Prakrita. 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 outcas. 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 Oriya poets of the 16th to the 19th century.

Age of Sarala Das

In the 15th century, Sanskrit was the lingua franca for literature in Odisha and Oriya was often considered the language of the shudras (Untouchables). Oriya was at that time the language of backward castes used to communicate, having no access to Sanskrit education. The first great poet of Odisha is the famous Sarala-Das, who translated the Mahabharata. 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 Oriya culture at the time. Sarala-Das, born in the 15th century Odisha of Kapilendra Dev, was acclaimed as the “Adikabi” or first poet. It is believed that his poetic gift came from the goddess Sarala (Sarasswati), 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.

Arjuna Das, a contemporary of Sarala-Das, wrote Rama-Bibha, which is a significant long poem in Oriya.

Age of the Panchasakhas

Five Oriya poets emerged during the late 15th and 16th centuries: Balaram Das, 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. Balaram Das’s Jagamohan Ramayan provided one pillar, along with Sarala-Das's Mahabharata, upon which subsequent Oriya literature was built. His Laksmi Purana is considered the first manifesto of women’s liberation or feminism in Indian literature.

Shri Achyutananda Das was the most prolific writer of the Panchasakhas and wrote numerous books or pothis. One of his significant beliefs was in reincarnation. He is known as the Mahapurusha, meaning great man. He was learned in Ayurvedic medicine, other sciences and social regulations.

The most influential work of the period was Jagannath Das’s Bhagabata, which had a great influence on the Oriya people as a day-to-day philosophical guide, as well as a lasting one on Oriya culture.

The Panchasakhas are very much Vaishnavas by thought. In 1509 Chaitanya came to Odisha with his Vaishnava message of love. Before him, Jaydev had prepared the ground by heralding the cult of Vaishnavism through his Geetagovinda. Chaitanya’s path of devotion was known as Raganuga Bhakti Marga. He was the first to introduce the simple method of chanting to make a spiritual connection, and first to teach the importance of the hare krishna mantra. Unlike Chaitanya, the Panchasakhas believed in Gyana Mishra Bhakti Marga, which was similar to the Buddhist philosophy of Charya literature stated above.

The Panchasakhas were significant not only because of their poetry but because of their spiritual legacy. In the holy land of Kalinga (Odisha) many saints, mystics, and devotional souls have been born throughout history, fortifying the culture and its spiritualism. This area witnessed most important Hindu traditions and spiritual movements. The area uniquely includes temples of Shakti (the supreme female power), Shiva (the supreme male power), and Jagannâth Vishnu (Lord of the Universe). Most of the important spiritual rituals have been extensively practised here by several seers - including the Buddhist ceremonies Devi "Tantra" (tanric rituals involving worship of Shakti), Shaiva Marg (the path followed by devotees of Shiva), and Vaishnava Marg (the path followed by devotees of Vishnu). There is hardly "Sadhak" who did not pay a visit to the Shri Jagannâth temple at least once.

Among the various great souls, the Panchasakha were most prominent, deeply influencing both Oriya spiritualism and the literature. They were spiritually significant in that they allowed the common man to access spirituality. One great spiritual leader, Chaitanya Mahaaprabhu, called them equals to some of the avatars of Vishnu. The Panchasakha converted ancient Hindu texts into simple prose that the people of Udra Desha (Odisha) could easily understand.

There is an interesting belief about the origin of the Panchasakha that relates them to the Mahabharat era. Mahapurusha Achyutananda describes this belief in Shunya Samhita. As he tells it, towards the end of Mahabharat era when Lord Krishna was leaving his mortal body, Nilakantheswara Mahadeva (another name for Lord Shiva when he resided in Puri) appeared and had a conversation with Lord Krishna. He revealed that the Lord's companions Dama, Sudama, Srivatsa, Subala, and Subahu would reincarnate in the Kali-yuga and would be known as Ananta, Acyutananda, Jagannatha, Balarama and Yasovanta, respectively. Thus, believers in the Panchasakha consider that these five saints were the most intimate friends of Lord Krishna in Dwapara-yuga, and that they came again in Kali-yuga to serve him. They are also instrumental in performing the crucial and much-awaited Yuga-Karma where they destroy the sinners and save the saints, according to Sanatana-Hindu beliefs.

The Panchasakha's individual characteristics are described as follows (in Oriya 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.

Mahapurusha Achyutananda is believed to have been born with special mercy or divine intervention from Lord Jagannath, a form of Vishnu. The name Achyuta literally means "created from Lord Vishnu". He is also occasionally referred to as "Achyuti", meaning "who has no fall" in Oriya. Sri Achyuta Das was born to Dinabandhu Khuntia and Padma Devi in a village called Tilakona in Odisha in about 1510 AD. His parents had long been childless and prayed to Lord Jagannath for a child. One night his father had a vision of Garuda (the bird of Vishnu, an eagle) giving him a child. The next morning he rushed to the temple and prayed at the "Garuda Khamba" (a pillar in front of the Jagannath temple), thanking the Lord for his mercy. The story ends two different ways here: some believe that Dinabandhu Khuntia the newborn divine child Achyuta at the temple, while others believe that soon after Padma Devi gave birth to the divine child.

Mahapurusha Achyutananda established spiritual energetic centers called "gadis" throughout east India (in the former states of Anga, Banga, Kalinga, Magadha) and Nepal. Gadis such as Nemal, Kakatpur, Garoi, and Jobra Ghat were a place for spiritual actions, discourses, penance, the provision of services to devotees. During the Panchasakha era another seer Arakhsita Das, who was not part of the Panchasakhas but was a revered saint and presiding seer of Olasuni near Paradweep, was said to have found a divine child and given him to Mahapurusha Achyutananada. This child was known as Ram Das and became a disciple of Mahapurusha Achyutananda, Panchasakhaa, and Arakhsita Das. The Panchasakha and Arakhsita Das together are known as the Sada-Goswami (six Lords), and it is said that when Ram Das is born for the 13th and last time, their souls will remain within Ram Das and he will perform Yuga Karma on their behalf as he transitions from Kaliyuga to Satyayuga. Devotees of the saint Baba Shri Buddhanath Das believe that he was the last incarnation of Ram Das, enlightened by the Sada-Goswami within him.

At Olasuni Hill, near the border of the Cuttack and Jajpur districts (now adjacent to the Daitari- Paradip Express Highway near the Ratnagiri and Laitgiri hills), Arakhsita Das performed austerities in a cave (Olasuni Gumpha) before attaining salvation. The annual nine-day Gumphaa festival of Olasuni famous to this day. Near Arakhsita Das's tomb is the temple of Goddess Olasuni, who is said to be the mother of Arakhsita Das. He is known for extreme mercy and accepting any offer sincerely made.

Age of Upendra Bhanja

After the age of the Panchasakhas, a few prominent works were written, including the Usabhilasa of Sisu Sankara Das, the Rahasya-manjari of Deva-durlabha Dasa and the Rukmini-bibha of Kartikka 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 Dinakrushna Das, Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja and Abhimanyu Samanta Simhar. Their poetry, especially that of Upendra Bhanja, is characterised by verbal tricks, obscenity and eroticism.

Upendra Bhanja's works Baidehisha Bilasa, Koti Brahmanda Sundari and Labanyabati are considered landmarks of Oriya Literature. He was conferred with the title "Kabi Samrat" of Oriya literature for his aesthetic poetic sense and skill with words.

Dinakrushna Das’s Rasokallola and Abhimanyu Samanta Simhara’s Bidagdha Chintamani are also prominent kavyas of this time. These poets significantly influenced modern Oriya Literature. Towards the end of Riti Yuga, the age of Upendra Bhanja, four major poets emerged and to created the History. These were Kabi Surya Baladeb Rath, Brajanath Badajena, Gopal Krushna Pattanaik and Bhima Bhoi. Kabisurya Baladev Rath wrote his poems in champu and chautisha, the new form and style of poetry. 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.

Age of Radhanath

The first printing of the Oriya language was done in 1836 by Christian missionaries, replacing palm leaf inscription and revolutionising Oriya literature. After this time books were printed and journals and periodicals became available in Oriya. The first Oriya magazine, Bodha Dayini was published in Balasore in 1861. Its goal was to promote Oriya literature and draw attention to lapses in government policy. The first Oriya paper The Utkal Deepika, was first published in 1866 under editor Gouri Sankar Ray and Bichitrananda. The Utkal Deepika campaigned to bring all Oriya-speaking areas together under one administration, to develop the Oriya language and literature and to protect Oriya 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 Oriya. 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 Oriya-language writers. Intellectuals who came into contact with Oriya 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 Oriya fiction writer, was also of this generation. He was considered the Vyasakabi or founding poet of the Oriya 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 Oriya 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 Oriya prose fiction. His Rebati (1898) is widely recognized as the first Oriya 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 Oriya writers and poets of the time include Gangadhar Meher (1862–1924), Madhusudan Rao, Chintamani Mohanty, Nanda Kishore Bal and Gaurisankar Ray.

Age of Satyabadi

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 in 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 Oriya literature. Some of his well-known literary works are Manishi Nilakantha, Bhala Manisa Hua, Usha, Barabati, Byasakabi Fakiramohan and Kabi Godabarisha.

Age of Marxism or Pragati Yuga

With the emergence of the Soviet Union in 1935, a Communist party was formed in Odisha and the periodical Adhunika was published by the party. Bhagawati Charan Panigrahi and Sachidananda Routray were its founding members, and were writers and poets for the party. Bhagwati wrote shorts stories through Sachidananda Routray (also known as "Sachi Routra" or Sachi Babu), but is best remembered for his poems. He is considered the founder of modern poetry in Odisha, introducing the English modernism of Pound and Eliot and the modernism of 1930s poets such as (Auden to Oriya poetry.

Age of Romanticism or Sabuja Yuga

Influenced by the Romantic thoughts of Rabindranath Tagore during the 1930s when progressive Marxist movements dominated Oriya 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 Oriya literature, later folded into Gandhian and Marxist work. Kalindi Charan Panigrahi later wrote his famous novel Matira Manish, 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 Oriya Bhashakosha

The Purnachandra Oriya 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 Oriya Bhashakosha is an Oriya language dictionary that lists some 185,000 words and their meanings in four languages - Oriya, 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 Oriya Bhashakosha is an encyclopaedic work touching on various aspects of the Oriya 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


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 Oriya 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.Krushna Chandra Kar, Ramakanta Rath, Sitakant Mahapatra, Soubhagya Kumar Mishra, Rajendra kishore Panda,Pratibha Satpathy,Mamata Dash, Haraprasad Das are the most famous of these poets. The nid 60s and between 70s the prominent poets of Oriya were- Brajanath Rath,Harihar Mishra, Dipak Mishra, Kamalakant Lenka, Surendra Nath Mohanty, Devdas Chhotray, Saroj Ranjan Mohanty,Amaresh Patnaik, Ashutosh Parida, Durga Parida, Banshi Sarangi, Sadasiba Dash,Goutam Jena,Hrishkesh Mullick, Satrughna Pandab, Prabasini Mahakuda, Aaparna Mohanty, Aswini Mishra, Roninikant Mukherjee, Girija Baliarsingh etc. The early 80s saw in Oriya Literature a Group of poets with new thoughts and style who overshowded the earlier generation. These poets had their root in typicalo Oriya soil. The rich heritage and culture with the feelings of commomen were depicted in their Oriya 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 proment poets of this time were- Chandrasekhar rath, Surya Mishra, Bhagirathi Mishra, Ramakrushna Sahoo, Mans Ranjan Mohapatra, Akshaya Behera, Samarendranath Mahapatra, Senapati Pradyumna Keshari, Ajay Pradhan, Sunil Prusty, Sucheta Mishra, Raxak Nayak, Arupananda Panigrahi, Biraja Bala,Khrod Parida, Ranjan Kumar Das, Akhila Nayak,Pabitra Mohan Dash, Kedar Mishra,Bharat Majhi,Saroj Bal,Preetidhara Samal,Ipsita Sarangi, Swapna Mishra,Durga Panda,Gayatribala Panda etc. This generation is the contemporary poet generation as crics say.


Before the 1970s

In the post-independence era Oriya 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 Oriya 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.[2] 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 Oriya 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 Oriya.

Starting his literary career as a communist and later becoming an Aurobindian philosopher, Manoj Das proved himself as a successful bilingual writer in Oriya and English. His major Oriya 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).

Other significant pre-1970s fiction writers are Chandrasekhar Rath, Shantanu Acharya, Mohapatra Nilamani Sahoo, 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

The trends started by 1950s and 1960s were challenged by the young writers in 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 Oriya 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 Oriya 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 Oriya 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 Oriya 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 Oriya 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 Oriya fictions. Jagadish Mohanty introduced existentialism to Oriya 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 Oriya fiction. Her novel Gambhiri Ghara is not only a landmark Oriya 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 which writing we will find psychoanalysis of female mind. To date she has published two story collections- 'Nirbak Pahada' & 'Kuhudi Ghara'.

Popular fiction writings

A popular Oriya 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 Oriya language. In recent times Ajay Swain, Mrinal Chatterjee, Dr Laxmikant Tripathy, Radhu Mishra and Dr. Kulangara have contributed to popular writing.

Women's writings and feminism

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. Some of those writers are Giribala Mohanty, Jayanti Ratha, Susmita Bagchi. Paramita Satpathy, Hiranmayee Mishra, Chirashree Indra Singh, Sairindhree Sahoo, Supriya Panda, Gayatri Saraf and Mamata 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 Oriya 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. Though there is no commercially viable modern Oriya theater, there are amateur theater groups and drama competitions. Operas, on the other hand, are commercially successful.

Popular science fiction writers from Odisha

Some popular science fiction writers include Gokulananda Mohapatra, Gadadhar Mishra, Debakanta Mishra, Sarat Kumar Mohanty, Kulamani Samal, Nityananada Swain, Sashibhusan Rath, Ramesh Chandra Parida, Dr. Choudhury Satybrata Nanda and Kamalakanta Jena. Sashibhusan Rath's Vigyan Chinta and Kamalakanta Jena's Gapare Gapare Bigyan (Awarded by Odisha Bigyan Academy 2011) are particularly liked by children as well as adults.

Oriya literature in the United States

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 Oriya writers as well as to cultivate new writers in America.

See also


  • 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

  • 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).



  • Mansingha, Mayadhar (1962) History of Oriya literature Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi
  • Sahoo, Krushna Charan (2004) Oriya Lekhaka Paricaya Orissa Sahitya Academy, Bhubaneswar, ISBN 81-7586-097-9, ISBN 978-81-7586-097-1
  • Myers, Carol Fairbanks (1976) Women in Literature: Criticism of the Seventies Scarecrow Press, Inc. Metuchen, ISBN 0-8108-0885-4
  • "The History of Orissa: An Introduction"Pages from the history of India and the sub-continent:SOUTH ASIAN HISTORY
  • Sahoo, Dr. Basanta Kishore Sahoo (1995) Who's who in Oriya Children's - Literature, Vol. I&II Mayur Publication and RIOCL, ISBN :8186040447

External links

  • Romanised to Unicode Oriya transliterator
  • Unicode Entity Codes for the Oriya Script
  • Free/Open Source Oriya Computing Rebati project

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