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Madala Panji – A chronicle of Jagannath Temple

The Madala Panji is a Chronicle of Jagannath Temple of Puri, Odisha. It narrates the Historical events of Odisha with special reference to Jagannath Temple. It has been written since, twelfth Century. Madala Panji was written on yearly basis and usually written on Vijaya Dashami Day. Karanas – a writer caste were writing the Madala Panji. The tradition of writing Madala Panji began with Odiya King Ananta Varman Chodaganga Dev (1078-1150). Sadly much of the early record was lost due to the invasion of Kalapahad. So it was rewritten.

There were 24 families of Karana to preserve the temple records. Five were entrusted with writing and preservation. They were –

  1. Panjia Karana – Preserves the Madala Panji.
  2. Tadau karana – Writes the Madala Panji.
  3. Deula Karana – Enforces the Madala.
  4. 4. Kotha Karana – The main compiler

Due to big volume of Madala Panji. It was divided into four parts –

  1. Bhandara Khanja Mandala
  2. Deula Mandala
  3. Desha Panji Mandala
  4. Raja Khanja Mandala

Madala Panji had a considerable influence on the development of Oriya literature. According to Dr. Suniti Kumar Chatterjee –

Panji contains at least a valuable influence on medieval Oriya Prose. Three types of Language are found in Madala Panji.

  1. Common Language
  2. Mudal Language
  3. Declarative Language.

Common Language is simple and clear. Madal Language is Sanskritised. Declarative language is combination of short sentences. Since it was written by different authers at different times, stylistic differences are found in the Madala Panji. The influence of Madala Panji is seen in Odiya literature. Folk tales like Nitei Dhobani Kanbori Mantra, Guni garedi are influenced by Panji. Poet Radhanath Ray’s Parvati Kavya and Chilika Kavya are influenced by Madala Panji. The events of Mukunda dev and Kalapahad are important narrations in Madala Panji. Surendra Mohanty’s novels. Nila Saila and Niladri Vijaya are adopted from the Panji.

Due to the influence of Madala Panji, many other Panjis are written in Odisha. Since the Panji was written around Lord Jagannath, culture of Jagannath spreaded over many areas of India. Kalahandi Madala and Keonjhara Madala are written in imitation of Madala Panji.

Madala Panji may not be considered as literature. But it is the first attempt to record past events. It is the first History of Odisha. There are pleasant stories in the Madala Panji. The Panji kars were not men of letters and literature. But their contribution is significant in the sense that their imagination, intuition and art of story telling have influenced the Odiya literature in later period till date. Madala Panji has an intrinsic merit in the minds of odiya people. It has an almost divine hypnotism on the people of Odisha.

At last we must salute to Lord Jagannath as Sri Shankaracharya has said – Jagannatha Swamy Nayana Patha gami Bhabatu me.

(The views expressed are the writer’s own.)

Radhakanta Seth is an Income tax officer in Sambalpur.  He is a Freelance writer and his articles have been published in some Oriya dailies like Sambad, Samaj, Dharitri and English dailies like The Telegraph and in a sociological journal ‘Folklore’ published from Kolkata.

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