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Glory that was Kalinga

By Sanjay  Kumar Panda

Kalinga is mentioned in the ancient scriptures as Kalinga the Braves (Kalinga Sahasikha). This is evident right from the famous Kalinga War to the victory of Emperor Kharavela from North to South and from the martial arts of Bhoumakar and Soma Dynasty rulers. Similar evidence is also gathered from the military expeditions of achievements of Ananta Verma, Brajahasta, Devendra Verma and Kamarnaba Deb regarding the bravery of the Kalinga warriors.

During the 3rd century B.C. the Greek ambassador Megasthenes in his tour of India had mentioned about the military strength of the Kalinga army of about one lakh which consisted of 60 thousand soldiers, 1700 horses and thousands of elephants. Kalinga was also powerful in the naval force. The vast military strength of Kalinga was the cause of jealousy for the Magadha empire. According to the historians the Magadha Emperor Ashoka invaded Kalinga in 261 B.C. Nearly one lakh soldiers lost their lives in the Kalinga War and one and half lakh soldiers were captured.

During Ashoka's invasion the capital of Kalinga was Toshali near Dhauli. The vast wealth, military power and the maritime activities of the Kalinga was the cause of jealousy for the Magadha empire. Though both Emperor Chandragupta Maurya and Bindusar wanted to conquer Kalinga, neither ventured a war with Kalinga.

The Kalinga war was the first and last war of Ashoka where he himself declared that the conquest through dharma was the real conquest than the conquest through violence. The terrible killings and bloodshed in the war converted him from Chandasoka to Dharmasoka and led Ashoka to become a Buddhist.

After the death of Ashoka, the Great Kharavela became the emperor of Kalinga. He was the monarch of the Chedi Dynasty. The inscription found in the Elephant Caves of Khandagiri and Udaigiri mountains near Bhubaneswar describes in detail the reign of Emperor Kharavela.

Towards the end of the 1st century B.C. there was a sharp decline in the Kalinga kingdom and no remarkable achievements was noticed. This period is known as the Dark Age of Kalinga.

Kharavela adopted Jainism and spread Jainism not only in Kalinga but also in the conquered kingdoms. But after the death of Kharavela Kalinga was converted into a weak empire which lasted about 300 years. During this period rulers of Mathars, Basistha, and Bigraha dynasty ruled Kalinga.

After this, there came the golden period of Kalinga. From 5th century AD to 8th Century AD the emperors of Saila Bhaba dynasty ruled over Kalinga. Like Kharavela, King Sailendra also reorganised the Kalinga army and converted it into a valourous army.

During Sailendra's reign, the business through sea-route reached its height. The merchants of Kalinga went to Sri Lanka and many islands of South-East Asia and established business empire there.

During the rule of the Mathar king Vijayavardhana Kalinga witnessed tremendous progress in the field of education and economic developments. The famous Panchatantra was written by Pundit Vishnu Sharma, a courtier of his time.

After Sailendra occupied the throne, the progress and developments gained momentum. As a result of which the brave Oriya merchants sailed from Dantapur port of Kalinga (now Palur) and from the Mahanadi Coast to Java, Sumatra, Bali, Borneo islands and established cultural kingdoms there.

Indonesia being a Muslim dominated country and Islam being the principal religion the effect of Hinduism and the Ramayana was prevalent. The former Presidents Sukarno and Suharto, and the present vice-President Megawati, although having Sanskrit names, are all Muslims by religion. Ramayana Festival is the national festival of Indonesia and its airline company is named as Garuda Air-ways. A tribe named Kling is settled in the Bali islands. It is understood that the Kling tribe is the immigrants of Kalinga.

The tradition of boat worship and boat sailing on the fullmoon day of Kartik throughout Orissa awakens the memory of brave Kalinga merchants sailing to the distant islands. Each year the famous Baliyatra celebration is held for seven days starting from Kartik Purnima on the Baliyatra field near the famous Barabati fort, Cuttack. According to the historians the Baliyatra is celebrated to commemorate the sailing expedition of the brave Kalinga merchants.

The people of Indian origin in the whole of South-East Asia are known as "Kunsun" (inhabitants of Kalinga). According to the famous historian R.C. Majumdar, the Hindus of Kalinga and the Muslims of Gujarat spread the Indian culture first in Java and then in the west of South-East Asia. The people of Java and Bali Islands have high regards for Indian epics and they recite the slokas and mantras the way we Indians do. The use of the word Jaganath is seen in their slokas and many Sanskrit words are also used in their languages.

The Chinese ambassador Huan Tsang had visited Kalinga in the 7th century AD Huan Tsang's travel-account shows that during that period the Kalinga kingdom was divided into three parts namely Udra, Kangoda and Kalinga. Also during that period Buddhism spread far and wide. The universities at Puspagiri Vihar, Udaigiri and Dhaulgiri were established to teach Buddhism.

Kalinga came under the Bhouma dynasty kings after the reign of King Sailendra. Kalinga was given the name Utkal by Bhouma Dynasty king Sibarkar Deb in 8th century A.D. In 1055 AD the Soma Dynasty monarch of South Koshala took the reign of Utkal. Biraja Khetra (Jajpur) was the capital of Bhouma royal dynasty and later it was shifted to Suvarnapur. Soma dynasty monarch Jajatikeshari again established the capital of his kingdom in Jajpur (Jajati Nagar). The territory of Utkal again expanded during the reign of Maharaja Jajati. His reign witnessed the establishment of Lingaraj temple and many Shiva temples in Ekramakhetra. He recovered and restored Sri Jagannath relics stolen by Raktabahu and at the same time performed Ashvamedha ceremony in Jajatinagar.

The Ganga dynasty ruled Utkal after the fall of Soma dynasty. Ananta Vardhan Chodaganga Deb had ruled Utkal for about 70 years from 1078 AD to 1147 AD. The famous Jagannath Temple was built during his reign. The other two monarchs of the Ganga dynasty who had proved their calibre in administration were Anangabhima Dev-III and Narasingha Deb-I. Anangabhima Deb did not accept the Moghul supremacy and for this he was attacked by Banga Nawab, which he won at last. It was during his period that the construction of the famous Jagannath Temple at Puri (in 1230AD) was completed. It was during the period of Narasingh Deb-I (1236-1264 AD) the military power of Utkal reached its zenith and its territory expanded further.

After the fall of the Ganga dynasty, the Sun dynasty King, Kapilendra Deb ruled Utkal. His fame spread far and wide in the 15th century and he was regarded as the greatest conqueror next to Kharavela. After the death of Kapilendra Deb in 1446 Gajapati Purusottam Deb and Prataprudra Deb ascended the throne of Utkal. During his reign Sri Chaitanya Deb came from Bengal and settled in Puri and this resulted in the wide spread of Vaishnab cult in Utkal. After the demise of Prataprudra Deb, the last king of Sun dynasty, Utkal lost its glory and grandeur in military power. A Muslim ruler from Bengal gained control over Utkal in 1568 AD after imprisoning Mukunda Dev.

From Gajapati regime to British rule in 1803 in Orissa, the people of forest, urban and rural areas reorganised themselves in martial skills to encounter the plunders. During this period Orissa came under the rule of the Afghan, the Moghul and the Marathas. Instead of giving them a good administration they oppressed and looted the people of Orissa. Many revolts raised their head against these oppression.

The sculptural and artistic skill of Konark, Puri and Lingaraj temple of Bhubaneswar, Jayadev's Gitagovinda, Samant Chandra Sekhar’s astro-physics gave recognisation to Orissa in the whole world.

It is only in the Jagannath cult where equality, friendship and secularism prevails. Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists also worship Lord Jagannath as their Supreme God. The car festival of Sri Jagannath is celebrated through out the world by the Krishna devotees.

Orissa was declared a separate State on April 1, 1936, by uniting the scattered areas of Orissa under the British rule. Some Oriya-speaking areas remained with Bengal, Bihar, Madras and Madhya Pradesh. Those Oriya leaders who had strived hard for the unification of Oriya-speaking areas and for the development of Oriya language are paid homage on April 1 every year on the eve of Orissa day celebration.

~~ Sanjay Panda




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