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Glorious History of Orissa

The word Oriya is an anglicised version of Odia which itself is a modern name for the Odra or Udra tribes that inhabited the central belt of modern Orissa. Orissa has also been the home of the Kalinga and Utkal tribes that played a particularly prominent role in the region's history, and one of the earliest references to the ancient Kalingas appears in the writings of Vedic chroniclers. In the 6th C. BC, Vedic Sutrakara Baudhayana mentions Kalinga as being beyond the Vedic fold, indicating that Brahminical influences had not yet touched the land. Unlike some other parts of India, tribal customs and traditions played a significant role in shaping political structures and cultural practices right up to the 15th C. when Brahminical influences triumphed over competing traditions and caste differentiation began to inhibit social mobility and erode what had survived of the ancient republican tradition.

Kalinga

Very early in Kalingan history, the Kalingas acquired a reputation for being a fiercely independant people. Ashoka's military campaign against Kalingawas one of the bloodiest in Mauryan history on account of the fearless and heroic resistance offered by the Kalingas to the mighty armies of the expanding Mauryan empire. Perhaps on account of their unexpected bravery, emperor Ashoka was compelled to issue two edicts specifically calling for a just and benign administration in Kalinga.


Mahameghavahana Kharavela


Unsurprisingly, Mauryan rule over Kalinga did not last long. By the 1st C. BC, Kalinga's Jain identified ruler Kharavela had become the pre-eminent monarch of much of the sub-continent and Mauryan Magadha had become a province of the Kalingan empire. The earliest surviving monuments of Orissa (in Udaigiri near Bhubaneshwar) date from his reign, and surviving inscriptions mention that Prince Kharavela was trained not only in the military arts, but also in literature, mathematics, and the social sciences. He was also reputed to be a great patron of the arts and was credited with encouraging dance and theater in his capital. It is known from this record that Kharavela on the premature death of his father took up the administration first as a Yuvaraja and then on completion of 24 years of age ascended to the throne as Maharaja. The Mahameghavahana dynasty continued to rule over Kalinga and Mahishaka up to the 1 st century A.D. as known from some recently discovered inscriptions of Guntupalli and Velpuru in Andhra Pradesh. The Velpuru inscription reveals the rule of one Airamaharaja Haritiputra Manasada who belonged to Mahameghavahana dynasty.

The Imperial Gangas

The Eastern Gangas who started their rule in Kalinga about the end of the 5 th century A.D. continued as a petty power till the time of Vajrahasta V who came to the throne in 1038 A.D. As mentioned above he was the son of Kamarnava II by his queen Vinaya Mahadevi. He made Kalinga independent by defeating the Somavamsis and declared himself Maharajadhiraja. He also received the title of Trikalingadhipati. He made matrimonial alliance with the Kalachuris of Kosala and also with the ruling family of Ceylone. This helped him in consolidating the political power of his family. He was succeeded in 1070 A.D. by his son Rajrajdev I born of his queen Anangadevi. Rajarajdev was faced with his enemies, the Somavamsis of Utkal in the north and the Chalukya of Vengi in the south. By 1075 A.D. his Commander Vanapati of Vengi obtained victory over the kings of Chola, Utkal, Khemundi, Kosala, Gidvisingi and Vengi. The Somavamsi king Janamejaya II was defeated but succeeded in protecting his kingdom. By that time Kulattunga was the ruler of the Chola kingdom. By that time Kulattunga was the ruler of the Choloa kingdom.

Rajrajdev had a premature death in 1077 A.D. He left two young sons, the elder Chola Gangadeva being of two years in age. This young boy was crowned at Kalinganagar in February, 1078 A.D. Vira Choda, the third son of Kulattunga, was the Viceroy of Vengi till 1093 A.D. He was supporting the Gangas of Kalinga and in 1093 A.D., Chodagangadeva married Chodadevi, the daughter of Vira Choda. As a result of that Vira Choda was removed from power and expelled from Vengi by his father Kulattunga. Vira Choda was of great help to Chodagangadeva in his wars against Vengi and Utkal.

He established his supremacy over the entire territory from the Ganga to the Godavarari by 1135 A.D. Chodagangadeva like his ancestors was a great devotee of Siva. He was, however, found inclined towards Vaishnavism at times. Long before the conquest of Utkal by Chodaganga, Puri (Shrikshetra) was a place of worship of Purusottama and Chodaganga constructed the gigantic temple for the Lord to respect the religious sentiment of the people of the newly conquered territory rather than to obey the dictates of the Vaishnava Acharya Ramanuja.

Chodagangadeva died in 1147 A.D. and was succeeded by his eldest son Kamarnavadeva. The Ganga-Kalachuri war was continuing by that time and Kamarnava was defeated by the Kalachuri king Prithideva II, son and successor of Ratnadeva II. After the death of Kamarnava, the second son of Chodaganga named Raghava became the king in 1158 A.D. During his time poet Jayadeva is known to have composed his famous work Gitagovinda. Raghava died in 1170 A.D. and was succeeded by Rajraj II, the third son of Chodagangadeva. Next ruler was Anangnagabhimadeva II, the fourth and last son of Chodagangadeva. He was the only son of Chodaganga to have a son Rajraj III, who succeeded him after his death in 1198 A.D.

Rajraj III died in 1211 A.D. and was succeeded by his son Anangabhimadeva III. During his time Ghiyathu’d-din Iawz, ruler of Bengal, invaded Orissa. Taking advantage of this invasion the Kalachuri king of Tommana also declared war and the age long Ganga-Kalachuri war continued. At this critical time Vishnu,.the General of Angnagabhimadeva III, not only repulsed the invasion of the Muslim but also decisively defeated the Kalachuris on the bank of the Bhima river and near the Vindhya hills. After his victory the Gangas occupied the Sonapur region. Anangabhimadeva III gave his daughter Chandrika in marriage to the Kalachuri prince Paramardideva. By that he could win the friendship of the Kalachuris who were of great strength to the Gangas in their war against the Muslims. Anangabhimadeva was also successful in his work in the south and his empire extended up to the mouth of the Krishna river. Anangabhimadeva established a new city at the bifurcation of the Mahanadi and the Kathajodi which was called Abhinava Varanasi Kataka. By 1230 A.D. he transferred the headquarters to this new city where he constructed a big temple of Lord Purushottama.

Anangabhimadeva III died in 1238 A.D. and was succeeded by his son Narasimhadeva I. By that time Izzu’d-din Tughril Tughan Khan was the Governor of Bengal and had semi-independent status. Narasimhadeva, apprehending danger from him, mobilized his forces against his territory. Izzu’d-din Tughril probably anticipated this attack and in the war that took place he obtained initial victory but subsequently the Muslims were completely defeated with heavy loss. Izzud’d-din himself fled away from the battle to save his life. On his request the Sultan of Delhi sent Qamaru’d-din Tamur Khan, the Governor of Oudh to help the army of Bengal but before the arrival of Oudh army the War at Bengal hnd already ended. The next year (1244 A.D.) Narasimhadeva invaded Bengal for the second time and the Orissan army attacked Lakhnor, the headquarters of Radha, and killed the Muslim commander and a large number of his troops. Narasimhadeva I was successful in his campaigns against the Muslims and humbled the pride of his enemy. Like his father he was a devotee of Lord Purushottama. He is remembered in history as the builder of the world famous temple at Konarka.

In 1264 A.D. Narasimhadeva I was succeeded by his son Bhanudeva I born of queen Sitadevi. During his time Narahari Tirtha the disciple of Ananda Tirtha (Madhdavacharya) had great influence in Orissa. He was even appointed as a Governor of Kalinga. During the rule of Bhanudeva, Chandrikadevi, the daughter of Anangabhimadeva I, constructed the Ananta Basudev temple at Bhubaneswar in 1278 A.D. That year Bhanudeva died and his son Narasimhadeva II was an infant. Narahari Tirtha worked as regent for long twelve years. Narasimhadeva II is known to have fought against the Muslims of Bengal the results of which were indecisive. His long reign from 1278 to 1306 was peaceful and eventless. He was succeeded by his son Bhanudeva II. R.D. Benerji states that one Purushottamadeva ruled Orissa up to 1312 A.D. making Bhanudeva II a prisoner in his palace. This is however not a fact. Purushottamadeva ruled over southern part of Kalinga as a feudatory of Bhanudeva II.

Narasimhadeva III succeeded Bhanudeva II in 1328 A.D. Very little information is obtained regarding his political activities. He was succeeded by his son Bhanudeva III in 1352 A.D. In 1353 Shamsud’-din Ilyas Shah invaded Orissa but he retreated after obtaining few elephants. It was by that time that Prince Sangama, the nephew of Bukkaraya I of Vijayanagar, invaded Orissa and defeated Bhanudeva III. As a result of this victory Bukkaraya occupied souther portion of the Ganga kingdom. In 1361 A.D., Sultan Firuz Shah Tughlaq invaded the Ganga kingdom. He defeated the forces of the Gangas and occupied Varanasi Kataka. Bhanudeva III fled away and took shelter with his family and courtiers in an island probably inside Chilika lake. Sultan Firuz Shah destroyed the temple of Purushottama built by Anangabhimadeva III and disgraced the idols. Bhanudeva III made a treaty with the Sultan by offering twenty big elephants and agreeing to give annual tribute. Thus during Bhanudeva III the prestige and power of the Gangas greatly declined. He died in 1378 A.D. and was succeeded by his son Narasimhadeva IV. He was succeeded by his son Bhanudeva IV in 1414 A.D.

The Suryavamsi

Kapilendradeva belonged to the Solar dynasty. His ancestors were feudatory Chiefs under the Gangas. When he usurped the throne in 1435 A.D. many feudatory Chiefs challenged his authority. At the time of this internal danger Sultan Ahmed Shah of Bengal invaded Orissa but he was defeated by Minister Gopinath Mahapatra while Kapilendradeva suppressed the internal rebellion with strong hands. By 1443 A.D., Kapilendradeva succeeded in consolidating his power over the newly acquired kingdom but in 1444 he had to fight against the combined army of the Reddy of Rajamundry and king Devaraya II of Vijayanagar who invaded the southern part of his territory. Just by that time Mahamud shah, the Sharqui Sultan of Jaunpur invaded from the north. Faced with these two invasions Kapilendradeva gave his wholehearted attention to drive out Muslims from the north neglecting the south. Mahamud Shah was defeated and retreated from northern Orissa after which Hamvira, the son of Kapilendra, fought against the Reddy’s of Rajahmundry and scored a victory over them. Thus Kapilendradeva could occupy almost the entire seaboard of Vijayanagar up to the Kaveri. His entire career was spent in wars and he acquired many enemies both inside and outside his kingdom. He chose Purushottam, his youngest son, to be his successor. So his heroic son Hamvira revolted against him. Kapilendradeva was a great devotee of Jagannath and constructed the outer walls of Jagannath temple. He died in 1468.

After the death of Kapilendradeva his son Purushottam born of a Brahmin lady called Parvatidevi succeeded to the throne. After becoming king, Purushottam tried to get back Kondapalli and Rajahmundry from the Bahmany Sultan. He also tried to occupy the territory snatched away by Saluva Narasimha during the civil war. Purushottamdeva with a view to restore the lost territory mobilized his army against Sultan Mahmad Shah III Bahmany. He besieged Rajahmundry but without fighting any battle made an alliance with the Sultan. After that the relation between Bahmany and Vijayanagar became very bitter and stray battles took place between the forces of these two kingdoms. In 1481 Sultan Mahammad died and was succeeded by his young son Mahmad Shah. When the Bahmany kingdom was in chaotic condition Purushottam mobilised his forces and occupied Rajahmundry and Kondapalli. He further sent his army to occupy Udayagiri which had been taken away by Saluva Narasimha. Udayagiri was occupied and Saluva Narasimha was taken captive. Thus Purushottam could restore his power and glory during his last days and then devoted his attention for promotion or religion and culture. He died in 1497 A.D. and was succeeded by his son Prataprudradeva.

Prataprudradeva inherited a vast kingdom which was however fast declining. By that time the kingdom of Vijayanagar was rapidly rising as a rival of Orissa. In 1509 when Prataprudra led a campaign against Vijayanagar, Krushnadeva Raya had just succeeded to the throne of other kingdom, but before a decisive battle was fought Sultan Allauddin Hussan Shah of Bengal invaded Orissa and advanced as far as her capital. So Prataprudradeva was forced to give up war with Vijayanagar and rushed back to his capital. Sultan Hussan Shah was defeated and was driven back beyond the borders of Orissa. But in the south Krishnadeva Raya acquired an easy victory over Orissan army.
The last war Krishnadeva Raya with the army of Orissa was fought in 1519 and this time also he came out victorious. Durinmg this last war he is said to have burnt the city of Katak.Subsequently a treaty was concluded between Orissa and Vijayanagar in August 1519. According to the treaty the river Krishna formed the southern boundary of Orissa. Krishnadeva Raya married Jaganmohini, the daughter of Prataprudradeva.

Prataprudradeva succeeded in retaining his kingdom from the Ganges to the Krishna inspite of military defeats. During his rule Orissa made great advancement in the sphere of religion and culture. Sri Chaitanya who came to Orissa in 1510 preached the gospel of Vaishnavism and had a great impact on the religion and culture of Orissa.

Govinda Bidyadhar

After the death of Prataprudradeva his two sons named Kaluadeva (Ramachandradeva) and Kakharuadeva (Purushottamdeva) succeeded one after the other and ruled for less than two years. Both these brothers fell victim to the conspiracy of the minister Govinda Bidyadhar who occupied the throne in 1534 A.D. and founded the rule of the Bhoi dynasty. In 1540 A.D. the Sultan of Golkonda occupied Rajmahendri. Govinda Bidyadhar made a treaty with him and recognized river Godavari as the boundary between Golkonda and Orissa. Govinda Bidyadhar died in 1549 at Dashasvamedha Ghat of the Baitarani river. He was succeeded by his son Chakrapratap. He was a weak and cruel ruler and was very unpopular among the people. He died in 1557 A.D. He was probably murdered by his son Narasimha Jena who succeeded him and ruled for about a year. He was murdered by Mukunda Harichandan who placed Raghuram Jena, a son of Chakrapratap, on the throne and himself became the virtual ruler. Mukunda Harichandan captured the Minister Janardan Bidyadhar by an intrigue and impriosoned him in the Barabati fort where he died subsequently. Mukunda Harichandan declared himself as the ruler of Orissa in 1559 A.D.

Mukundadeva

Mukundadeva belonged to the Chalukya family. He came to the throne in 1559 by treachery and blood-shed. In 1560 Sultan Ghiyasuddin Jallal Shah of Bengal invaded Orissa and marched up to Jajpur. Mukundadeva defeated him and drove him out of Orissa. About that time one Afghan Chief named Suleiman Karrani occupied Bengal and became the Sultan. His rival Ibrahim fled to Orissa and got shelter under the protection of Mukundadeva.

By that time Akbar was planning to conquer Bengal and made alliance with Mukundadeva for that purpose. Mukundadeva received the Mughal ambassador and sent his own emissary to the Mughal court. Thus Mukundadeva became an enemy of Suleiman Karrani, the Sultan of Bengal. In 1567 when Akbar was busy in the invasion of Chitor, Sultan Karrani invaded Orissa. The Mughal Governor of Bihar, Munim Khan became indifferent and Mukundadeva resisted the invasion of Bengal singlehanded. He was defeated by the Sultan and took shelter in the fort of Kotsima, where Sultan Karrani besieged him. In the meantime, Bayazid, the son of the Sultan, led his army to Cuttack which was occupied by him. At that critical moment Ramachandra Bhanja, the feudatory of Sarangagarh, rose in rebellion. Mukundadeva made a treaty with Suleiman Karranim and marched against Ramachandra Bhanja. A battle took place in Gohiri Tikira near Jajpur where Mukundadeva lost his life at the hands of Ramachandra Bhanja. After that Ramachandra was defeated and killed by Bayazid and Orissa passed to the hands of the Afghans of Bengal in 1568 A.D.”

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