Apr 28, 2008

Religion , Historical & Geography

Mr. Anand Chandra Sahoo


To understand the events of history of a country, a thorough knowledge of geography is essential. Without getting acquainted with the precise location of various places which figure prominently in the texts, it is impossible to follow the course of events in any extent. H. C. Raychaudhuri long ago remarked - "More than the political, social and literary historian, the student of religion and mythology will feel in every step the need of a thorough acquaintance with the divine rivers and mountains which receive to this day the homage of faithful and those Dharma-kshetras and Punya-sthanas which even now attract pilgrims from the remotest corners of the country.

Orissa consisted in ancient times of several janapadas and Mahajanapadas. The identification of these janapadas and Mahajanapadas is a pre requisite to study the religious history of this land properly. In course of our study we have made an attempt to delineate the geographical jurisdiction of several janapadas that lie within Orissa. The major janapadas are Kalinga, Tosala, Utkala, Odra, Daksina-Kosala, and Kongoda; and that of the minor are Svetaka, Khijjinga, Khinjali, Kodalaka, Taitila etc.

Kalinga
In the historical geography of ancient Orissa, Kalinga was regarded as one of the most janapadas. The geographical boundaries of this janapada was never a static one throughout the ancient period.

Panini refers to the Kalinga janapada, the boundaries of which, according to him, touched that of the Magadha janapada. Kautilya refers to Kalinga where, according to him, the best type of elephants were bred and which produces the best type of touch-stone. Megasthenes mentions Kalinga as land of a widely diffused race', who were inhabiting all along the eastern coast upto the delta of the Ganges, but afterwards their kingdom was restricted to southern Orissa. While referring to Kalinga, Pliny has suggested the Cape Kalingon, identified with point Godavari at the mouth of same river, as its southern boundary. On this score some scholars have expressed their doubt regarding the extension of Kalinga from that of the Gangetic valley up to Godavari or even Krisna, in the south. The Buddhist literatures refer to Kalingarattha, which was one of the seven political divisions during the time of the mythical king Renu; and to Dantapura, its capital. The other tradition recorded in the Buddhavamsa states that after the death of Buddha, one of his tooth relics was carried to, and enshrined in a caitya at Dantapura.

The importance and significance of Dantapura requires proper identification. During the pre-Buddhistic period Dantpura appears to have been a geographical unit of considerable importance. Various early texts refer to this place and attach some importance also. It has been referred as Dantakpura in Mahabharata. The Jatakas make numerous references to Dantpura as the capital of Kalinga. It is further known as Dantapura-nagara. Scholaras have identified with Dandagulla of Pliny. Other scholars have located it in the neighborhood of Cicacole and Kalingapatam in present Andhra Pradesh. It has further been maintained that probably the city has been survived by the fort of Dantavaktra near Ciacole. This important township Dantapura of Kalinga has been taken to be the same as Poloura in Telgu version.

The Buddhist tradition regards Dantapura as the capital of Kalinga, where the tooth-relic of Gautama Buddha was deposited within a magnificent stupa by the king Brahmadatta. The Maha Govinda Suttanta mentions Dantapura which is situated in Kalinga as one of the six famous cities in ancient India. The Jaina texts refer Dantapura as Dantavakra as the capital city of Kalinga. Some other scholars have identified the city of Dantapura with the modern Dantan on the bank of river Kasai in the district of Midnapur of West Bengal.

It is difficult to identify the region of Dantapura with a fair degree of certainty. However, keeping in view the evidences at our disposal, it may be suggested that during the early historical period it was located somewhere in the northern portion of Kalinga. Further, following its reference in different early texts, it may be pointed out that Dantapura was the main centre.

Reference to Kalinga has been made in Jatakas, being ruled by Karandu, a contemporary of Nimi, king of Videha of the Brahman period. The Jatakas also refer to Dantapuranagara, the capital-city of Kalinga, which has been identified by scholars with Dantakura of the Mahabharata, and Dantapura of the inscriptions. The Sarabhanga Jataka refers to the king of Kalinga named Kalinga who had acknowledged the supremacy of king Dandaki of Dandaka in the Vindhya region. The Cullakalinga Jataka speaks of the defeat of the Kalinga king by his contemporary Aruna, king of Assaka. Besides this, the Kalingabodhi Jataka also referes to Kalinga, elsewhere, the Jatakas mention about Nalikira, the king of Kalinga who brought about destruction to the Kingdom.

In the Jain literature we see that Aranatha, the eighteenth Tirthankara is said to have received his first alms in the city of Rayapura (Rajpura), a metropolis in Kalinga janapada. This Rajpura has found mention as the capital of Kalinga in the Mahabharata. Parsvanatha's (the twenty-third Tirthankara) connection with Kalinga has been referred to in Jain literature while it narrates the story of the marriage of Prabhavati, daughter of king Prasenjit of Kausthalpura with Parsvantha.
The inscriptions of Asoka remain the first concrete document regarding the antiquity of Kalinga. In the said edicts, Tosali and Samapa, the two major cities of Kalinga have been mentioned. The former has been identified with modern Dhauli in the Puri district, and the latter with modern Jaugada in the district of Ganjam. That the above mentioned cities were the headquarters of Kalinga appears to be probable, and during the time of Asoka, Kalinga was roughly extended from the river Ganga as far as the river Godavari in the south.

The term Kalinga has been referred to in the Mahabharata several times, denoting various meetings. In some contexts, the term refers to the people of Kalinga, and in some other slokas it appears as the name of a race. Still in some other places Kalinga itself occurs as a janapada. Further the people of Kalinga have been depicted as fighting against the Pandavas. As regards the location of the Kalinga janapada, the epic says that the river Vaitarni was flowing through region, which says situated in the coastal belt.

The Purana literature says that the Kalingas were dwelling in the southern region along with the Navarastras, Mahiskas, etc. Elsewhere it has been stated that Kalinga was extended as far as up to Amarakantaka hill in the west, where the river Narmada drained its western portion.
As regards the evidences drawn out of the epigraphical sources relating to the geographical extent of Kalinga, we have referred to that of Asoka above. Besides that, during the time of Kharavela of the Mahameghavahana dynasty the main centre of activities was near modern Bhubaneswar. Then after a long interval, from the fifth century A. D. onwards, we find that the centers of administration of Kalinga were at the bank of the Godavari, the Nagavati, and the Vamsadhara in the districts of east Godavari, Srikakulam and Ganjam respectively. In the above context we may cite the inscriptions of the Mathara kings belonging to the fifth century A.D., where it is mentioned that Kalinga denoted the territories comprising parts of Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Ganjam districts. Reference to a number of place names within the jurisdiction of Kalinga janapada, like Sripura, Vijaypura, Vardhamanapur, Sunagarh, Sarapalli has been made in inscriptions belonging to the Gupta and post-Gupta period.

The distinguished Kalinga kingdom which was clearly evident during the invasion of Maharaja Samudragupta in or about 350 A.D., when we find several principalities such as Kurala, Pistapura, Giri-Kosturala, Erandapalli, Avamukta, Palakha, Devarastra, Kusathalpura etc. seems to have been integrated during Maharaja Umavaraman of the Mathara dynasty, who in turn assumed the title of Kalingadhipati.

After the Matharas, Kalinga passed under the subjugation of another family called Sri-Rama-Kasyapa, who had established their capital at Pistaputra near the river Godavari. Later on they seemed to have extended their way in the northern portion of Kalinga by reaching Biranja-nagara, situated on the bank of the river Vaitarni at Jaipur in the district of Cuttack.
The Chinese pilgrim Hiuen-Tsang, who visited Kalinga in the first half of the seventh century A. D. has said that it was a little above 500 li in circuit. Further he has given the position of Kalinga while he says that it was bordered by Andhra in the south and by Dhanakataka in the west. He has also made some categorical remarks that its frontiers did not extent beyond the river Godavari on the south-west and the Goliya branch of the river Indravati in the north-west.
Most of the early Ganga rulers of Kalinga such as Hastivarman, Indravarman, Devendravarman issued their grants from the victorious camp (Vijayvatah) at Kalinganagara and described themselves as Lord of Kalinga (Sakala-Kalingadhirajay). The later Ganga rulers also issued grants from this place in most of the cases. This important capital city has been variously identified by scholars. Besides Kalinganagara, another seat of plitical importance, Ganga rulers like Jayavarmadeva and Indravarman, and the site has been identified with Chikiti in the Ganjam district.

Another high-sounding title, i.e., Trikalingadhipati has used in some records of the Eastern Gangas, Eastern Chalukyas and the Somavamsis. The problem of identification of this Trikalinga is manifold. Considering the various theories proposed by different scholars and that of the epigraphical evidences it may be suggested that it was a nomenclature applied to Kalinga in its broader conception.

Tosala (Tosali) :
The epigraphical reference to this geographical unit is made in the Rock Edicts of Asoka at Dhauli, thereby suggesting that the city of Tosali existed around the present Dhauli hill. Commenting on the discovery of the vestiges of a large city not far from the hill, it has been upheld that the Tosali of the Inscription was the capital of the province Orissa during the Asoka's time.

The exclusion of Tosali in the Hathigumpha inscription led the scholars to believe that during that period probably it was a division of Kalinga, a suggetion that can well be correct. Another epigraphical record of the third century A. D. mentions Tosali as a separate kingdom. Bharata's Natyasastra also refers to Tosala as a separate kingdom. It has been pointed out that the people living on the banks of the river Vena, i.e., around present Cuttack were the inhabitants of Tosala. The Puranas refer to Tosala as a separate territory. The independence of Tosala is attested to in the Kavya-mimamsa, from that of Utkala, and from the fourth century A.D. two divisions of Tosala have been traced. The earliest mention of 'Ubhaya Tosali' is found in the inscription of Satrubhanja, which has been assigned to the fourth century A.D.

The division of Tosala into two parts namely Uttara Tosala and Daksina Tosala is recorded. Certain villages of Uttara Tosala are found to be located in the present Balasore district. The Soro copper plate grant of Maharaja SriSambuyasah of about 580 A.D. refers to Uttara Tosali. In the Bouda copper plate grant of Tribhubana Mahadevi it is recorded that 'Dandabhukti mandala', present Midnapur district of West Bengal, formed a part of Uttara Tosali. The Kanas plates of Lokavigraha and the Patiakella plates of Sivaraja referes to Daksina Tosali. The former inscription designates its donor as Astadasa-Tosalidhipati i.e. the Lord of Eighteen Tosalis. The Ervanga copper plate grant of Maharaja Sri Sambuyasah, of A.D. 555 records land grants in Daksina Tosali. The Ganjam grant of Madhvaraja of the Sailodbhava family, dated A.D. 670 speaks of 'Kongoda mandala' lying between the Bhargavi-Ku7sabhadra in the north and river Rsikulya in the south, which was included in south Tosali. Inscriptions of Sivakara II of the Bhaumakara dynasty, mention a village Bhubhruda in Antarudra visaya, which has been identified with Antarodha in Puri district, being included in Daksina Tosali. The early Bhaumakara records speak that those rulers were ruling over Tosali comprising Kongoda, a part of the southern Tosali.

Taking into account the above evidences it can be held that like Kalinga, the limits of Tosali gradually expanded from that of a comparatively small locality around present Dhauli hill. So much so that by the sixth A. D. it was divided into two distinct parts and engulfed the entire coast land, i.e. from north of the Kalinga janapada to beyond the present district of Balasore.

Utkala
The Mahabharata refers to Utkala as a distinct janapada along with Kekala, Poundra, Kalinga, Andhra, Nisada and Bahlika. In the same literary work Utkal is also mentioned as a clan living in the hilly tracts from Gaya to Orissa along with other clans. In the Ramayana and the Puranic literatures the Utkalas are associated with the Mekalas.

The Raghuvamsa of Kalidasa refers to the Utkala country lying between the river Kapisa in the Midnapur district of present West Bengal and that of the land of Kalingas. Scholars have also attributed the river Kapisa i.e., modern Kasai running through the district of Midnapur as the boundary line between Vanga and Utkala.

In the Puranas Utkalas are mentioned as a human race, and some of them locate Utkala in the Madhyadesa. In the Harivamsa Utkal has been stated as the son of Sudyumna residing in the area of the same name located in the north. The statement in the Harivamsa regarding the location of Utkala more or less corresponds to that of Kavyamimamasa which states that Utkala is one of those janapadas situated to the east of Kasi.

Somdatta, a king of Sailodbhava dynasty refers to Utkala desa along with Dandabhukti in his Midnapur plate, thus making them adjacent provinces where he was governing authority. Since the modern district of Midnapur has been identified with Dandabhukti there can be no doubt Utkala was bordering the province of Dandabhukti. Thus, during the period of Somadutta, the Southern portion of present Bankura district of West Bengal, Singbhum and Manbhum districts of Bihar, and Mayurbhanj district of Orissa are identified with Utkala. This hypothesis is more tenable than the identification of modern Orissa with Utkala during the time of Tivaradeva. Further, considering another record of Somadatta where the Utkaladesa is referred to as Odra-visaya, it can be presumed that the district of Balasore was included in the Litkaladsa. The reference of Odra-visaya in the record of the same king which also refers to Utkaladesa makes an interesting point to the extent that the same region gradually became known as Odra at least from the late half of seventh century A. D.

Odra
In the Mahabharata Odra has been referred to as a janapada which enjoys a distinct territorial status. As regards the location of this janapada, the Mahabharata says that it was situated near the sea. Elsewhere, Odra has been referred to as a race in the Mahabharata, and yet in another place it refers to the king of Odra along with the kings of Pandya, Kuninda, Kirata, Pundra, etc.
Pliny refers to Oretes as a people of India living near the mountain Mallus. While discussing the above reference, Cunningham has tried to connect these people with that of Odra who were living somewhere about the Mahanadi river and its tributaries, with their metropolis at Cuttack in Orissa.
Manu refers to Odra as the people associated with the Pundrakas, Dravidas etc. On the other hand Varahamihira gives an independent status to the Odra territory as a janapada peopled by the Odras.
Like the earlier literary documents, the Puranas also refer to Odra as a race, and in some other places as a separate geographical unit.
Hiuen Tsang refers to U-Cha, corresponding to Odra, a country reached by the traveler after 700 li from Karnasuvara in a south-western direction. Che-li-to-lo identified from modern Puri was the capital city of the Odra country situated on the borders of the sea. Besides, Hiuen-Tsang mentions a famous monastery called Pu0sie-po-ki-li, i.e., Puspagira on the south-western frontiers of the Odra country, corresponds more correctly to Ratnagiri near Jaipur.

In many medieval inscriptions Odra is treated as a visaya. Thus in the Soror plates of the sixth century, Odra-visaya is mentioned as a part of Uttar-Tosali that extended from the river Suvarnarekha to as far as the river Vaitarni or Mahanadi. Yet in some other inscriptions Odra is refered to frequently. The Brahmesvar temple inscription refers to a battle in which the ruler of Odra, identified with Ranabhanja of the Khinjali mandala, was killed. The inclusion of Khinjali mandala with the Odra country is further attested to in the copper plate grant of Yayati I. Further a grant of A.D. 899 depicts Odra as a small region in the present Mayurbhanj district. The extent of Odra is also ascertained from the Narasimhapur plates of Mahabhavagupta Udyotakesari, where a village is granted in Airavata mandala which includes half of the bed of the river Mahanadi, comprising a part of Odra. However, on the other hand the inclusion of both Yamagartta mandala comprising the present district of Dhenkanal and Khijjinga mandal with in the Odra territory has been refuted.

According to some scholars the modern village Upalada in the Parlakemundi sub-division, corresponding to the village Upalavada mentioned in the copper plate grant of Ranaka Ramadeva (c. 11th century A. D.) was the southern limit of Odra. Rajendra Chola's Tirumalai incscription referes to Odda-Visaya which was covered by dense forest. The Dirghasi inscription of Vanpati dated, A.D. 1075, a commander of Ganga king Rajaraja I, speaks of the defeat of the Kings of Kimedi, Kosala, Odra, Utkala, Vengi etc.

Scholars have variously identified the Odra country. Thus taking into account the ancient literary evidences, it has been identified with northern Orissa. The entire region from the Chilika lake to the Suvarnarekha river is also identified with Odra. From the sixth and seventh centuries A. D. the whole of coastal Orissa was termed as Odra. Others have proposed that the valley of Mahanadi and the lower course of the river Suvarnarekha formed the ancient Odra country. From cir. 700-1100 A.D. Odradesa was bounded by the Mahanadi river in the north, Daksina, Tosali in the east, Daksina Kosala in the west, and the modern Paralakhemundi region in the south.
Thus before the seventh century A.D. the Odra country was lying in-between Daksina Kosala and Tosali, and after the northern coastal Orissa was included and still later the whole of coastal Orissa was known as Utkala.
Dakshina Kosala
The Buddhist text Anguttara Nikaya mentions Kosala in the list of sixteen Mahajanapadas. The Kalpasutra makes a reference to the king of Kosala. The Mahabharata refers to Kosal as a janapada, to the south which was Daksinpatha. The Puranas also mention Kosala as a janapada. However, the part of Kosala which was included in ancient Orissa was known as Daksina-Kosala. Commenting upon the kings of Daksinapatha who were vanquished by Samudragupta, H.C. Raychaudhuri remarks that "KOsala in Daksinapatha, i.e., south Kosala, comprised the modern Bilaspur, Raipur and Sambalpur districts, and occasionally possibly even a part of Ganjam".
Coming on southern Kosala, Hiuen Tsang states that from Kalinga he went north-west for 1800 li to Kosala, a country which was more than 6000 li in circuit, and its capital was above 40 li in circuit. It has further been noted that the country was called 'south Kosala' apparently to distinguish from the Kosala in the north.

Coming on the epigraphical evidences it is notices that king Tivaradeva who flourished about the end of the seventh century A.D. assumed the title fo 'Sakalakosa-ladhipati, obviously which seems to be an honorific title. Apart from this, a number of copper plate grants of the Somavamsi rulers found from the region of western Orissa, mention their issuer as the Lord of Kosala, while from the time of Mahabhavagupta onward the title 'Trikalingadhipati' appeared instead of 'Kosaladhipati'. Druing the early parts of tenth century A.D. king Janmejaya I is said to have united both Kosala and Odra. Later on the imperial Ganga king Devendravarma Rajaraja conquered both the kingdoms of Kosla and Odra, which has been referred to in the Dirghasi stone inscription.

In view of the above references, and that of various place names such as Sripura, Sarabhapura, Satalma, Suvarnapur etc., it can be said that the Sambalpur region and particularly the south Mahanadi valley comprising Sonpur, Patna, Sarangarh, and Raipur formed the kingdom of Daksina Kosala.

Kongoda
In the first half of the seventh century A.D. Orissa was divided into three distinct parts, viz., U-ch'a (Odra), Kong- yu-t'o (Kongoda or Kungada) and Ki-ling-kia (Kalinga). Hiuen-Tsang remarks that Kongoda was more than 200 miles from Wu-cha or Odra and the country was hilly stretching from the slopes of the hill to the edge of the sea. Following Hiuen Tsang's statement scholars have held that the Kongoda country began from the south of Chilika lake near Chhatrapur. Other scholars have suggested that the region of Kongoda possibly extended from the present Kaluparaghat in the north to the Mehandra hills in the south, and from the sea in the east to the boundary of ex-Kalahandi state.

By second half of the seventh century A. D. the kingdom of Kongoda appeared to have comprised considerable portion of Daksina Tosali whereas the later Sailodbhava records suggest that it was a mandala in the country of Daksina Tosali.

The Ganjam plates of Madhvaraja locate the Kongoda country on the bank of the Salima river identified with the river Rsikulya in Ganjam district, Orissa. A number of visayas such as Krsnagiri, Thorana, Gudda, Devagrama, Jayapura, Katakabhukti, Khidingahara etc. referred to in the Sailobhava records, constitute the Kongoda mandala.

Considering all the evidences it may be suggested that the Kongoda mandala covered the area between the Chilika lake and the sea in the east to the eastern portion of the present district of Phulbani and Korput and from the lower valley of the river Mahanadi to the Mahendra mountain in the south.

Apart from various janapadas discussed above, a number of smaller separate geographical units existed in different periods in ancient Orissa. These are Svetaka, Khinjali, Kodalaka, Taitila etc.
The Mahabharat makes a reference to Svetaka. During the period of the early Ganges, Svetaka became prominent; and most of their records were issued from this place. Though most of the plates of the Svetaka Gangas are undated, generally these were assigned to the seventh century A.D. Further, Svetaka probably the capital city, has been identified with modern Chikiti in the district of Ganjam. Others have identified it with the village Sadak near Chikiti.

In the Bhanja copper plates Khijjinga is known as Khijjinga-Kotta. The records of Ranabhanja refers to some villages situated in Uttarakhanda obviously meaning a division of Khijjinga, thereby suggesting that Khijjinga was a comparatively big territory. All the Bhanja records referring to Khinjjinga cannot be traced beyond the tenth century A.D. This geographical unit has been located in the modern districts of Mayurbhanj embracing also the northern part of Keonjhar. The headquarters of Khijjinga, Khijjinga-Kotta has been identified with modern Khiching in the Mayurbhanj district. This kotta or fort of Khijjinga is certainly modern Khiching, about ninety miles south-west of present Baripada town.

Khinjali was variously identified with the modern Keonjhar district, and Injili in modern Annual of the present Dhenkanal district. These identifications are, however, refuted by some scholars. In the process, place names like Royara, Jayantamura, Sivira, Rohila, Jammura, Subalia, Gandharadi, and etc. in the Sonepur and Baud region. Besides this, rivers like the Tel, Vyaghra and Salanki fo the Bhanja plates are known by the same name even today, and that too flowing in the king as the lord of both the Khinjalis, suggesting thereby the Khinjali was divided into two parts. Further, the Sonepur grant of Satrubhanja refers to two Khinjalis, suggesting thereby the Khinjali was divided into two Khinjalis.. In this context, it may be noted that whereas the Taspaikera charter refers to Uttarapalli, the Singhara charter makes a reference to Daksinapalli. Hence it has been suggested that probably the river Mahanadi divided the Khinjali unit into two divisions, a suggestion seems to be tenable.

The copper plate grants of the Sulki kings of Orissa refer to Kodalaka as a mandala or district. This mandala has been located in the present Midnapur district of West Bengal. The Kodalaka of the inscriptions might have been the capital of the Sulkis. This, the find spot of those records may be utilized to locate the place. Hence, it has been identified with the modern Kalau, seven miles from Talcher in the present Dhenkanal district. Other scholars have taken it as comprising roughly of the modern Denkanal district. Further it has been maintained that the Nandas who ruled over here after the Sulkis, named it as Airavatamandala. In any case, it appears more reasonable to suggest that the Kodalaka unit was situated in the modern district of Dhenkanal.
The geographical unit of Tatila finds mention in the Astadhyayi of Panini as a flourishing trade centre mainly famous for a type of cotton fibre. The Arthasastra of Kautilya refers to Taitila, from where horses of medium variety were being exported to be used in war. A hoard of punch-marked coins datable to the pre-Mauryan period found from Sonepur, in the present district of Balangir, indicate that the western Orissa was famous for trade activity during the period. The identification of modern Titilagarh region in the Sambalpujr district with that of Tatila seems to be quite probable, and so also the suggestion that the trade centers the Sonepur-Titilagarh region were connected with other flourishing places of Kalinga like Dantapur and Pithunda.
The janapadas, thus together constitute ancient Orissa, though significantly expanding and contrasting in different periods, mainly owing to the rise and fall of a number of royal dynasties. Side-by-side comparatively smaller geographical units within the broader outline of ancient Orissa also emerged. Still further, lesser independent modern Sundargarh district, and a portion of Deoghar region in the Sambalpur district; Khindirasrnga, comprising the parts of Dharakota, Bodagada, Seragada and Sarada in modern Ganjam district; Cakrakotta, comprising parts of present Bastar district in M. P. and that of modern Koraput in Orissa also emerged.

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