By: Er. Bijay Ketan Sahu
“The Oriya Language can boast of a rich vocabulary in which respect neither Bengali nor Hindi nor Telugu can vie with it. The richness of the vocabulary is the index by which the vastness of a vernacular can be gaused”.
(Sir George Grier’son, Linguistic Survey of India, Vol. IV.,1873.)
“Of these three speeches: Oriya, Bengali and Assamese, Oriya has preserved a great many archaic features in both grammar and pronunciation; and it may be said without travesty of linguistic truth that Oriya is the eldest of the three sisters, when we consider the archaic character of the language”
(Eminent Bengali linguist Dr. Suniti Kumar Chatterjee, I.H.Q. Vol. XXIII, 1947, p.337)
Great devotional Odia poet Jagannath Das’s Odia Bhagabata is the first regional Mahapuran (great epic) that is translated from original Sanskrit Bhagavatam in 16th century. 10th Canto of Odia Bhagabata is so beautiful and devotional as mentioned by composer of Bengali Bhagabata Sri Sanatan Bidya Bagish. So he just copied the same in Odia Language but in Bengali script. This shows popularity of Odia Bhagabata in 16th century.
In no regional language except Odia, the complete Bhagavatam Mahapuran is found. Jagannath Das’s Odia Bhagabata was so famous then. After Jagannath Das, Sur Das wrote only 10th canto of Bhagavatam in Hindi language and Ekanath composed 11th Canto of Bhagavatam in Marathi language.
Sri Chaitanya himself honored Jagannath Das with a title “Atibadi” (the highest great devotee) for his great inner devotion at holy lotus feet of Lord Krishna or Lord Jagannath Mahaprabhu.
The great vaishnav saint of Assam named Shankardev (16th century) also glorified the Odia Bhagabata in his literary composition “Oresha Barnan” (Description about Odisha).
Great Odia poet Upendra Bhanja (17th century) was honored by Sanskrit scholars of Kashi (Varanasi) with a title “Kabi Samrat” due to his literary victory by the Odia poetry over a Sanskrit poetry. Bhanja sahitya (literature by Upendra Bhanja) is enough to show the proof that Odia Language deserves same prestigious status as Sanskrit has.