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What History Shouldd Have Said Of Orissa

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
It is true that the whole world is yet to know that Orissa is the birthplace of Lord
Buddha. This is due to error in history.
Errors in history are not unnatural. Because, history deals with the past and
depends mostly on speculations. Interpretation of materials depicting events of
the past always differ from person to person on the basis of individual
perception. So, we find, events are projected, sometimes, differently by different
historians. And, in this manner, individual prejudices have also affected history.
In course of our discussion we may dwell on a few samples.
However, historians admit that there are a lot of voids in history about Orissa.
This injury is done to Orissa, because the writers of modern history of India
were somewhat prejudiced against the Oriya race.
To understand this phenomenon, one is to go into the days of British endeavor
to build up its empire in India. Taking advantage of acute internal rivalry and
enmity that persons in local power in India were constantly engaged in, it was
acquiring estates after estates by using treachery and military. Yet Orissa was
the last land to be annexed by the British. But she was also the first land to have
revolted against the foreigners to retrieve her freedom.
British historian G. Toynbee has frankly admitted, “It was not long, however,
before we had to encounter a storm which burst with so sudden furry as to
threaten our expulsion, if not from the whole of Orissa, at least from the
territory of Khurda” (O.H.R.J.Vol.No. 1 & 2).
Despite having killed Jayee Rajguru in the first phase of this revolution (1804),
the British had to admit its defeat in the second phase of the insurrection.
In his Report to Commissioner Robert Ker, Joint Magistrate W.Forrester had
clearly mentioned on 9 September 1818, “Since the breaking out of the
insurrection very few men of any consequence have ever been apprehended and
it is to be feared that the nature of the country and disposition of the inhabitants
will always present formidable obstacles to the suppression of these
disturbances either by military or by police” (Para 18 of the Report).
Thus the British had admitted practical defeat in 1818 in the battle of freedom
that the Oriyas had raised. But as we see, it bagged a tactical victory by
proposing and executing a truce with the supreme leader of Orissa insurgence –
Buxi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar, which granted the British a legitimacy as the
Once recognized as the government, it proceeded to divide the Oriya territory
into four parts and in the name of administrative advantage, merged the
fragmented parts into neighboring rival regions where the Oriyas were instantly
reduced to linguistic minorities and lost their collective mana and suffered
irreparable loss of land and properties.
The non-Oriyas, preferred as they had to act as the servants of the British, were
helped by the aliens to loot the properties of the Oriyas.
To facilitate this loot, the British had obliterated Oriya as the official language
in Oriya speaking areas and had enforced Bengali, Hindi and Telugu as official
language in the Oriya territories merged respectively in the provinces of these
But the Oriyas did not tolerate this mischief and ultimately built up the first ever
movement in the whole of India for resurrection of their motherland on the basis
of their language. The movement was so emphatic that Sir Andrew Fraser, who
till retirement was the lieutenant governor of Bengal, had, as Chief
Commissioner of Madhya Pradesh, taken up a thorough study of the scenario
and recommended to the British Government to transform the Oriya speaking
tracks in their entirety into a single compact division or province with Oriya as
its official language. His recommendation was turned down by the British
Government on the ground that the Oriyas were so fearless and proud that they
cannot be controlled if united again. This made the people of Orissa more
resolute on their demand for recreation of Orissa.
Objection to recreation of Orissa was not coming from only the British, but also
the leaders (then of the Congress) from the provinces whereinto parts of Orissa
were annexed, had been opposing the Oriya movement. In trying to prevail upon
those leaders to support Orissa, Gandhiji had said, “This fine race cannot
possibly make the natural advance which is its due, if it is split up into four
divisions for no sound reason” (Young India, 18 February 1920). To Gandhiji,
the Oriya movement had raised “the large question of redistribution on
linguistic basis” (Ibid).
And, ultimately, the British had to accept the Oriya demand and majority of the
Oriya speaking tracks were resurrected into the modern Orissa.
But in this battle for resurrection, Orissa had to suffer many dastardly attacks on
her language and heritage.
When the Oriyas were battling for creation of Orissa State on the basis of their
language, the regional chauvinists in the Bengali, Hindi and Telugu speaking
provinces, to which fragmented Orissa was tail-tied, were airing arguments that
their respective mother-tongues were better than Oriya for use as official
language and this mischief was most vociferous in Bengal where Rajendralal
Mitra and his co-chauvinists had crossed all limits of sanity in saying that Oriya
was not a separate language but a part of their own.
This tussle over language had led to Linguistic Survey of India concentrate on a
comparison between Oriya on the one hand and Bengali, Hindi as well as
Telugu on the other hand. It concluded, “The Oriya language can boast of a rich
vocabulary in which respect neither Bengali nor Hindi nor Telugu can vie with
it” (Linguistic Survey of India, Volume IV).
Notwithstanding mawkish chauvinism of Mitra and his associates notoriously
nurturing anti-Oriya stances, serious scholars of Bengal were trying to find out
the truth. The truth expressed by famous linguist Suniti Kumar Chatterjee
showed how sophomoric and superfluous was Mitra. Chatterjee made a
comparative study of the mother-tongues of the three neighboring peoples lying
in a compact stretch: the Oriya, the Bengali and the Assamese and on the basis
of his research said, “ it may be said without travesty of linguistic truth that
Oriya is the eldest of the three sisters (Oriya, Bengali and Assamese), when we
consider the archaic character of the language” (I.H.Q, Volume XXIII, 1947,
So, on the basis of documents discussed above it can be said that the language
of Orissa is a superb language with archaic properties and is superior to other
major languages like Bengali, Assamese, Hindi and Telugu. History has not
given due importance to this uniqueness of Orissa.
Before evolution into the modern form, it was Pali in which Buddha had
delivered his philosophy. It retains the Pali components as yet. Therefore, its
archaic aspect is recognized by eminent linguists as discussed above.
Thus, admittedly, when Orissa is so rich in language and literature since ancient
days, there should not have been any void in history about Orissa. But there are
many voids. This happened because of the two sets of scholars who wrote
history of the land, either circumstantially or deliberately failed to give the
correct account.
The first set were the British scholars.
We have seen supra from Forrester’s report to Robert Ker, how the british was
afraid of the Oriya “disposition”. They were treated as Mlechha (sinner) by
indigenous Oriyas. Bharat Chandra Nayak, an important officer under the
British raj, has recorded his eye-witnessed experience that depicts how in 1920
a native king Banamali Tunga Chamupati Singh Mohapatra of the smallest
principality of Orissa called Tigiria had refused to touch the hand of the British
political agent L.E.B.Cobden-Ramsay that he had extended for a handshake,
because the ‘Saheb’ was a Mlechha (Mor Purba Smruti Katha [My Memoirs]
pp.129-130). When even now, despite modern education, the same Oriya
mentality against the foreigners is disallowing their entry into the Jagannath
temple at Puri, how stiff must have been this mentality a century ago may be
easily guessed. In that circumstances, naturally, the British scholars did not dare
to stay in the midst of the native Oriyas to know of the reality. They depended
on hearsay away from Orissa to write about Orissa. Resultantly history was
As for an example, British historian Sir Willium Jones, marveled by the love
lyrics of Sri Jaya Dev, wanted to know as to where this best bard of love had
taken birth. He marked the distinction of the compositions. Every song was
composed with a musical mode. He used this distinction to locate the land
where they were in practice so that the same may lead him to Jaya Dev’s
birthplace. In his classic work ‘On the Musical Modes of the Hindus’, he has
noted, “Although the Sanskrit books have preserved the theory of such musical
compositions, the practice of it seems almost wholly left (as the Pandits and
Rajas confess in Gour and Magadha of the provinces of Bengal and Bihar).
When I first read the songs of Jaya Dev, who has pre-fixed each of them, the
name of the mode, in which it was anciently sung, I had hope of procuring the
original music. But the Pandits of the south referred me to those of the West and
the Brahmins of the West would have sent me to those of the South, while they,
I mean those of Nepal and Cashmir, declared that they had no ancient music, but
imagined that the notes of the Gitagovinda must exist, if anywhere, in one of the
Southern provinces, where Jaya Dev was born” (Asiatic Researches [1799]
Vol.III, pp.83-84).
This means, Jones researched in Bengal and Bihar and in the entire Northern
India spanning from Nepal to Kashmir to trace out Jayadev’s birthplace through
the special instrument of musical modes used by Sri Jaya Dev in his
compositions, but that was not traceable in Northern India, specifically in
Bengal and Bihar.
He then proceeds to say, “Jaya Dev, who flourished, it is said, before Kalidas,
was born, as he tells himself in Kenduli, which many believe to be in Kalinga”
This means, many in the North India, specifically in Bengal and Bihar, were of
the belief that Jaya Dev was born in Kenduli of Kalinga, which is Orissa.
Yet he misled the history by saying, “since there is a town of similar name in
Burdwan, the natives of it insist that the finest lyrical poet of India was their
countryman and celebrate in honor of him an annual jubilee, passing a whole
night in representing his drama and in singing his beautiful songs” (Ibid).
He did not try to know if the claim was fictitious and fabricated. In fact, the socalled Jaydev-Kenduli has no connection with Kenduvilwa, the birthplace of
Jaya Dev.
Eminent Bengali scholar Dr. Asutosh Bhattacharjee has unambiguously
revealed in the popular Bengali Journal ‘Jugavani’ in June 1969 that the socalled annual fair at Kenduli is not at all held to celebrate Jaya Dev’s birth in
that place. It is a Baul festival and it has no relationship with Jaya Dev’s birth”.
In ‘Bangla Sahityer Itihas (History of Bengali Literature), another famous
scholar of Bengal Dr. Sukumar Sen has said that the fair named after Jaya Dev
has no relationship with the poet known as the author of Gita Govinda. There
was no village called Kenduli on river Ajaya in Burdhwan. The word Kenduli is
just a synonym of Mela (fair) in local parlance and hence the claim that Jay Dev
was born in the village called Kenduli on river Ajaya is absolutely baseless”.
According to a report published by Asiatic Society in 1925 the river Ajaya had
changed her fluvial path seven times within a span of three years. This being the
nature of the river, it is impossible to accept that Kenduli on the bank of Ajay
has stayed intact for more than 800 years.
The propaganda that King Laxman Sen was having a great council of matchless
poets like Vikramaditya where Jay Dev was a court poet appears to be a product
of imagination inasmuch as ‘Kula Darpana’ authored in Bengali by Tribhuban
Mohan Senbarma, mentions it clearly that Laxman Sen had a very insignificant
life as a king. He became king in ripe old age and had soon to escape into Kasi
being dethroned by Vaktiar Khilij in 1200 AD, where, till he breathed his last,
he had to stay under shelter of its king. So, it was never possible for him to have
Jay Dev of Orissa as his court poet.
Had Jones not depended on hearsay in Bengal and had he gone to Orissa in
search of the truth, he could have got yeomen proof of Orissa being the
birthplace of Jaya Dev and the world could not have been misled for a few
decades on the great poet’s birthplace.
When some British Historians stayed away from Orissa because of their fear for
the Oriya “disposition” and depending on versions of Orissa’s adversaries,
misled history about Orissa, certain regional chauvinists of India posing as
historians also misled history suppressing Orissa’s glorious cultural
contributions as well as uniqueness. For an example, R.L.Mitra, who had tried
to convince the British that Oriya was not a separate language, willfully misled
history by suppressing the Oriya origin of Chaurashi Siddacharyas and claiming
their works for Bengal.
The same mistake of history is marked on birthplace of Buddha.
Chakradhar Mohapatra has most ably pointed out this mistake in his
unchallenged work: The Real Birthplace of Buddha, which is being
supplemented by orissamatters.com.
In ‘Ancient Geography of India’ Cunningham has admitted that the Tarai
inscription of Asoka, basing on which it was imagined that Nepal was the
birthplace of Buddha, was discovered from a place, which was neither
Kapilavastu nor had any history of relationship with the sage Kapila. On the
other hand, according to historian Dr. Smith, it was never known as Rumindei;
archaeologist Fuhrer had forged the name (The Real Birthplace of Buddha,
Nepal was not even known as a Buddhist place. Rev. J. Long had queried in
Nepal – by his time known as birthplace of Buddha – and in Ceylone and China,
known as they were for practice of Buddhism, about where Buddhism had really
had its root.
He has noted, “Antiquarian enquiries in Nepal, Cylone and Chaina show that the
Buddhism, so noted in its regard for enlightening the masses and opposing
caste, was for ages predominant all through Orissa both among rulers and the
people, though Orissa be now the garden of the Hinduism and Jagannath its
Jerusalem. Even Jagannath itself stands on the site of a Buddhist temple and
contained the celebrated tooth of Buddha, which was kept there till the 4th
century AD, when it was carried for a short period to Patna, the ancient
Palibothra then the capital of north India. It was soon after brought back to Puri.
But on an invasion of the country, it was conveyed in AD 311 by a king’s
daughter concealed in her hair to Ceylone, which was then becoming a place of
refuge to the Buddhists from the Brahmins’ rage” (Journal of the Asiatic Society
of Bengal, 1859, No.III, Vol.XXVIIII,pp.185-87).
Indrabhuti, Chief of Udra (Orissa), the celebrated founder of Vajrayan school of
Buddhism had conceived Buddha as Jagannatha and had
delivered Gnanasiddhi propitiating Guru Buddha in this form.
And, ancient Oriya literature is full of prayers to Buddha in form of Jagannatha.
Innumerable proofs are there in support of Buddha’s birth in Orissa. Yet, the
world is yet to know that Buddha was born in Orissa.
As Buddha had rushed from his birthplace Kapilavastu of Orissa near
Bhubaneswar to Magadha to stop its empire building that was threatening the
existence of tribal democracies and succeeded in his mission by organizing the
north Indian tribes, Vajjians for example, against the imperial design, to the
tribes of Orissa he was the God; because he had preempted imperial attack on
them by his action at Rajgriha. Indrabhuti borrowed this concept from the tribes
and officially consecrated Buddha as God Jagannatha.
To avenge the defeat Buddha had tactically given to Magadha’s empire
building, Asoka, the wicked of Magadha, had invaded Orissa and tried to
desecrate the birthplace of Buddha. The tribes of Orissa resisted the wicked
Asoka at the foot of the Dhauli hill on river Daya and displayed incomparable
quality of sacrifice for protecting the birthplace of Buddha.
Asoka was forced to accept Buddhism as his creed, to destroy which he had
invaded Orissa.
Suppressing this truth, history has given the wrong picture that blood flow in
Kalinga war under the Dhauli hills changed the heart of Asoka and he accepted
Buddhism and spread it across the oceans.
In fact, Asoka had never truly accepted Buddhism. He had tactically accepted it
to go back with life from Orissa.
He was a wicked man all through his life who had never set free the Oriyas he
had taken into custody and transported to Magadha before reaching the Dauli
Hills and had tortured them to death which indicates that his heart was never
He was a hypocrite who acted patron to the Buddhists but contributed to
obliteration of Buddhism by projecting himself as ‘Devanam piya’ (Beloved of
the God). Once, the concept of God was accepted as such by the Buddhists who
had accepted Asoka as a promoter of Buddhism, the basic principle of
Buddhism was compromised with. Asoka destroyed the uniqueness of
Buddhism by bringing in theism to the atheist philosophy exactly as Mikhail
Gorbachev destroyed USSR by steering his country into free market mechanism
through perestroika which tampered with the basic principle of communism.
He had not dared to visit Orissa for 20 years of his rule and had visited the
birthplace of Buddha at Kapilavastu, known now as Kapileswar near
Bhubaneswar wherefrom a pillar inscription depicting his visit to Buddha’s
birthplace has been discovered. This inscription is conspicuous by the signature
of the writer inscribed therein. Asoka must have paid this visit to the real
birthplace of Buddha as a part of his tactics to convince the Buddhists that he
was really devoted to Buddha. But his motive against Buddha is clear from the
fact that he had erected another pillar in the Tarai region to project another place
as Buddha’s birthplace. Canonical instructions are clear that every Buddhist
should visit at least for once in his life the birthplace of Lord Buddha. In order
to confuse the Buddhists as regards the real birthplace of the Lord, this evil
design of indication of another place as his birthplace through the Tarai
inscription was executed. It was a sort of desecration of Buddha’s real
birthplace that Asoka the wicked had tried to do by attacking Kalinga.
This second pillar, discovered before the Orissa pillar attracted modern
attention, has misled history about the real birthplace of Buddha.
History should have told this truth to the world, but has failed to do so.
Link: https://orissamatters.com/2001/04/01/what-history-should-have-said-oforissa/