Oriya is spoken by 87% of the population of Orissa.
It became a literary language in the 14th century.
¤ The Origin of Oriya Language
Oriya, Bengali and Assamese all come from the same Eastern Magadhi
Apabhramsa and are considered to be sister languages. In the 16th
and 17th century Oriya fell under the spell of Sanskrit.
However, during the 17th and 18th centuries it
followed a new line of approach. Oriya has its origins in the 10th
¤ The Language History
The history of Oriya language is divided into Old Oriya (10th
century-1300), Early Middle Oriya (1300-1500), Middle Oriya
(1500-1700), Late Middle Oriya (1700-1850) and Modern Oriya (1850 till
present day). Oriya literature upto 1500AD mainly covers poems and
proses with religion, gods and goddesses as the main theme.
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.
The first great poet of Orissa is the famous Sarala-dasa who wrote
the Chandi Purana and the Vilanka Ramayana, both praising the goddess
Durga. Rama-bibha, written by Arjuna-dasa, is the first long poem in
¤ Jagannatha Dasa Period
The next era is more commonly called the Jagannatha Dasa Period and
stretches till the year 1700. The period begins with the writings of
Shri Chaitanya whose Vaishnava influence brought in a new evolution in
Balarama Dasa, Jagannatha Dasa, Yasovanta, Ananta and Acyutananda
were the main exponents in religious works in Oriya.
The composers of this period mainly translated, adapted, or imitated
Sanskrit literature. A few prominent works of this period include the
Usabhilasa of Sisu Sankara Dasa, the Rahasya-manjari of Deva-durlabha
Dasa and the Rukmini-bibha of Kartikka Dasa.
A new form of novels in verse evolved during the beginning of the 17th
century when Ramachandra Pattanayaka wrote Haravali.
Other poets like Madhusudana, Bhima, Dhivara, Sadasiva and Sisu
Isvara-dasa composed another form called Kavyas or long poems based on
themes from Puranas. The language used by them was plain and simple
However, from the turn of the 18th century, verbally
tricky Oriya became the order of the day. Verbal jugglery, obscenity
and eroticism became the trend of the period between 1700-1850, the
most notable poet being Upendra Bhanja (1670-1720). Other poets turned
up in hordes to imitate him but none could fit into his shoes, with
the exceptions of Bhima-Bhoi and Arakshita Dasa. Family chronicles in
prose and literature relating religious festivals and rituals also
covered a large portion of this period.
The first Oriya printing typeset was cast in 1836 by the Christian
missionaries. The actual Oriya script closely resembled Bengali and
Assamese scripts but the one adopted for the printed typesets were
completely different, leaning more towards the Tamil script.
¤ The Great Poets
Three great poets and prose writers, Rai Bahadur Radhanatha Ray
(1849-1908), Madhusudana Rao (1853-1912) and Phakiramohana Senapati
(1843-1918) settled in Orissa and made Oriya their own. They brought
in a modern outlook and spirit into Oriya literature. Around the same
time the modern drama took birth in the works of Rama Sankara Ray
beginning with Kanci-Kaveri (1880).
¤ Oriya Writers
20th writers in Oriya include Nanda-kisora Bal,
Gangadhara Mehera, Chintamani Mahanti and Kuntala-Kumari Sabat
Utkala-bharati (quite tongue-twisting!), besides Niladri Dasa and
Gopabandhu Dasa (1877-1928).
The most notable novelists were Umesa Sarakara, Divyasimha Panigrahi,
Gopala Praharaja and Kalindi Charana Panigrahi. Sachi Kanta Rauta Ray
is the great introducer of the ultra-modern style in modern Oriya
poetry. Others who took up this form were Godavarisa Mahapatra, Dr
Mayadhara Manasimha, Nityananda Mahapatra and Kunjabihari Dasa.
Prabhasa Chandra Satpati is known for his translations of some
western classics apart from Udayanatha Shadangi, Sunanda Kara and
Surendranatha Dwivedi. Criticism, essays and history also became major
lines of writing in the Oriya language.
Esteemed writers in this field were Professor Girija Shankar Ray,
Pandit Vinayaka Misra, Professor Gauri Kumara Brahma, Jagabandhu Simha
and Hare Krushna Mahatab. Oriya literature mirrors the industrious,
peaceful and artistic image of the Oriya people who have offered and
gifted much to the Indian civilization in the field of art and