Oriya Literature

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Oriya Literature


the literature of the Oriya people living in the state of Orissa in eastern India.

The earliest works of Oriya literature date from the 11th century and are closely related to folklore. The Madala panji (Drum Chronicle) is attributed to the 11th century. The religious prose poem Rudrasudhanidhi (The Treasure Casket of the Nectar of Rudra) of Avadhuta Narayana Swami and the humorous poem Kalasa Chautisa of Vatsadas date from the 13th and 14th centuries.

The first important Oriya poet was Sarala Dasa (15th century), who rewrote the first Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Chandipurana (Tale of Chandi) in Oriya. The poets of the Pancha-sakhas (Five Comrades) group (Balarama Dasa, Jagannatha Dasa, Ananta Dasa, Yasovanta Dasa, and Achyutananda Dasa) continued the tradition of rewriting the epic poetry of ancient India in Oriya.

The late 16th and early 17th centuries saw the appearance of prose works, chiefly biographies, including the Jagannatha caritamrta of Dibakara Dasa and the Caitanyabhagabata of Sivara Dasa. This period also witnessed the development of highly ornate Krishnaite poetry, which was chiefly erotic (Upendra Bhanja), and Vaishnava poetry, which was closer to the people. Among the Vaishnava poets were Abhimanyu Samanta Simhara, Dinakrishna Dasa (17th century), and Kavisurya Baladeva Ratha (1789–1845). The struggle of the Oriya people against the Maratha invaders (1740–50) was depicted in the epic poem Samara-taranga (Waves of War) by Brajanatha Badajena (1730–95).

In the 18th century, under the influence of the bhakti religious sectarian movement, a tendency toward democratization emerged in Oriya literature. The most notable bhakti lyric poets were Bhaktacarana, Gopalakrsna (died 1862), and Bhima Bhoi (died 1895). In the late 19th century, an enlightenment movement took shape in Oriya literature. The ideas of the movement were expressed in the prose of Fakir Mohana Senapati (1847–1918); the poetry of Radhanatha Ray (1848–1908), Madhusudan Rao (1853–1912), and Gangadhar Meher (1862–1924); and the satire of Gopala Chandra Praharaj and the works of Nandakishor Bala (turn of the 20th century).

In the early 20th century, the national liberation movement of the peoples of India led to the rise of national consciousness among the Oriya. Gopabandhu Dasa (1877–1928) and his followers, including Nilakanthu Dasa and Godavarisa Misra, endeavored to encourage this development through literature and education. The Sabuja group adapted the poetic experiments of Rabindranath Tagore to Oriya literature. Formalist circles appeared in the 1920’s. The formation of the separate province of Orissa in 1936 was an important stimulus to the development of Oriya literature. Realistic tendencies grew stronger, particularly in prose.

Popular works in contemporary Oriya literature include the novels of Sachi Routaray, Kanhu Charana Mahanty (born 1904), and Gopinatha Mahanty (born 1914); the satirical works of Godavaris Mahapatra; the short stories of Raja Kishor Roi (born 1914) and Surendranath Mahanty (born 1920); the poetry of Radhamohana Gadanayaka and Kunja Behari Dasa (born 1914); and the social dramas of Kishor Patnaik (born 1900).

Oriya literature of the 1950’s and 1960’s, particularly poetry, has been noticeably influenced by Western European modernism. Disillusionment with bourgeois ideals is reflected in the work of the “protest” group Wanyan-lu, which advocates naturalism and spontaneity; the Akabita group, which rejects all traditional forms of poetry; and Anam, which claims to be a totally innovative movement.

Foreign literary works, including many classical Russian and Soviet works, have been and are being translated into Oriya.


Istoriia indiiskikh literatur. Moscow, 1964. (Translated from English.)
Contemporary Indian Literature. New Delhi, 1957.
Aj ka bharatiya sahitya. New Delhi, 1958.
Mayadhar Mansinha. History of Oriya Literature. New Delhi, 1962.
Mahapatra, S. “Oriya: Tension Between Felt Experience and ‘Formal Structure.’” Indian Literature, vol. 14, no. 1, 1971, pp. 29–46.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Another prominent participant Subhakanta Behera is an author-diplomat with a number of publications in Oriya literature. (ANI)
But, not withstanding all these possibilities, the fact remains that it is the worship of Krsna-Vasudeva, the deity of Bhagavata cult, that predominates the worship of Lord Jagannatha as evident in the existing Oriya literature and festive rituals that emerged in the 15th century.
Oriya Literature and the Jagannath cult, 1866-1936 (New Delhi, Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 2002) for a detailed discussion.
Dissertation Oriya Literature and the Jagannath Cult 1866-1956: Quest for Identity" that forms the foundation of the book under review.