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A Corpus of Oriya Inscriptions

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Item Code: HAN489
Author: Subrata Kumar Acharya
Publisher: Agam Kala Prakashan, Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2024
ISBN: 9789392556241
Pages: 445 (Throughout B/w Illustrations)
Other Details 11.5x9 inch
Weight 2.07 kg
Book Description
About The Book

Oriya is billed as the first language of the Indo-Aryan linguistic group to get the classical language status. It is of high antiquity and has a literary tradition of more than 1500 years. The epigraphical sources are singularly important to chart the journey of this vernacular. More than 200 inscriptions belonging to the period from the 11 century to the 19th century have been incorporated in this corpus. Adequate care has been given to re-read and re-interpret the inscriptions.

The orthographical peculiarities of the inscriptions of the early medieval period suggested how the vernacular speech form was consciously or unconsciously entering the written medium especially in the documentary sections of the official charters written in Sanskrit. This phenomenon was common to South Asian and to be more particular to south Indian vernacular transformations. The book further unfolds adequate reasons for the germination of community identity and regional consciousness among the Oriya literati. It has been clearly demonstrated that the cultural boundary was different from the political boundary. The former had distinct symbols in terms of language, script, race, community, religious beliefs, and traditions. This fostered among the people living within the boundary a sense of commonality in expression and identity. The present narrative further establishes that language as an identity marker was not necessarily a development of the colonial period as has been maintained so far, rather its genesis can be pushed to the medieval period.

The comprehensive nature of the work will fill the gap and will be useful to scholars as an indispensable source book for working on linguistics, history, culture, origin and development of Oriya, as well as vernacular development in South Asia.

About the Author

Subrata Kumar Acharya is a retired Professor of History, Ravenshaw University, Cuttack. He was a Fellow (1996-98) at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. He was awarded with Senior Fellowship (2008-10) of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, and Honorary Fellowship of the Ancient Sciences and Archaeological Society of India (ASASI), Mysore in 2007. He was the General President of the Place Names Society of India (Aurangabad Session, 2010) and the General President of the Epigraphical Society of India (Ongole Session, 2023). He is the author of Numerals in Orissan Inscriptions (Shimla, 2002), Palaeography of Orissa (New Delhi, 2005), Copper Plate Inscriptions of Odisha- A Descriptive Catalogue (New Delhi, 2014), Studies on Odishan Epigraphy (Delhi, 2015), and Raja Basudeva Sudhaladeva, Makers of Indian Literature Series, Sahitya Akademi, (Delhi, 2017), and Inscriptions of the Minor Ruling Dynasties of Odisha (New Delhi, 2022). Besides, he has published nearly one hundred research articles in many journals of national and international repute.


Oriya became the sixth language of the country to get the classical language status in 2014 and joined the league of other classical languages like Sanskrit, Tamil Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam. Oriya is billed as the first language of the Indo-Aryan linguistic group to get the tag for fulfilling the mandate of being of high antiquity and having a literary tradition of more than 1500 years. In fact, Oriya, with Bengali and Assamese, is one of the speech forms of the castern group of Indo-Aryan languages. According to Suniti Kumar Chatterji, "Of the 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" (Review of Priya Ranjan Sen's Modern Oriya Literature, Indian Historical Quarterly, vol. XXIII, 1947, p. 337. The People, Language and Culture of Orissa, Artta Ballabha Mohanty Memorial Lectures, Bhubaneswar, 1966, pp. 44-46). Oriya speech form is essentially a derivative of Prakrit and strongly influenced by Sanskrit during its journey.

In the absence of a literary tradition of high antiquity, it is imperative to look for the epigraphical literature to chart the journey of a vernacular. As such many scholars working on history of literature made sincere attempts to systematically investigate into the language development in the inscriptions. Artta Ballabh Mohanty was one of the pioneers in the direction of studying the types of carly Oriya prose and poetry: and in his book Pracina Odia Gadya Padyadarsa [Types of Ancient Oriya prose and Poetry] (Cuttack.. 1932) he included the texts of a good number of published Oriya inscriptions as examples. Subsequently, K.B. Tripathi's book The Evolution of Oriya Language and Script (Cuttack, 1962) is widely referred to as a monumental work on the evolution of Oriya language. He has studied the early Oriya inscriptions from 1051 to 1568 CE and included as many as seventy-one inscriptions. Besides, the palaeographical remarks on the evolution of Oriya script, his treatment of the linguistic features like vocabulary, phonology, case endings, declension of nouns and pronouns, verb, syntax, etc., of the early Oriya inscriptions has been accepted by scholars as models for further study. In two later compilations in Oriya titled Pracina Odia Abhilekha [Early Oriya Inscriptions] (Bhubaneswar, 1965) and Pracina Odia Gadya Samkalana [Early Oriya Prose Collections) (Bhubaneswar, 1982), Tripathi included a few Oriya inscriptions of later period. But a volume completely devoted to editing all the published and unpublished Oriya inscriptions is still a desideratum.

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