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Monday, March 4, 2024

Book Review : “Tales of the Past : The Odisha Saga”

“Tales of the Past : The Odisha Saga” by the young author Sibashis Mahapatra is a slim volume of around 95 pages. To the reader, it provides a much needed background of those magnificent temples of Odisha and tales of their builders. Of the 9 chapters in the book, first 8 are history while the last one is a fictional story. The book is published by Notion Press Platform. It is also available on Amazon and Flipkart.

Odisha looms large on Hindu psyche due to the presence of huge temples like that of Bhagwan Jagannath at Puri, the Sun temple at Konark and the Lingraj temple of Bhubaneshwar. But common Hindus do not know the builders of these temples. School books talk only about Kharvela and in the entire medieval history, dominated by Mughals and Delhi Sultanate in school books, we do not read of Odisha at all. There is at least a talk about including more of Vijayanagar empire in syllabus, but for Odisha, scarcely a squeak heard in this regard. Odisha is almost always appended to Bengal in modern History, so the assumption of most people is that it does not have any significant tales of glory even in preceding centuries.

The medieval history of Odisha is beautifully captured by the author, starting from the reign of Devendravarman Rajaraja. The struggles and successes of Odisha Kings against the Muslim Sultanates of Bengala, Jaunpur, and Deccan are a glorious chapter in the history of Bharata, at least as important as the resistance of Maharana Pratap and Chatrapati Shivaji. Readers of history will also note a few other parallels of Gajapatis of Odisha with these exalted Kings. The centrality of Prabhu Jagannath in the history of Odisha is beautifully captured by the author, right from the start of last millennium to the Maratha period in Odisha. Not all stories end happily and the tale of Hamvira Deva, the warrior prince of Odisha is a tale of bravery as well as caution for the future. The author also includes a chapter about his visit to two different temples and reports his observations and findings about the same.

However, some limitations remain. Inclusion of a few maps and illustrations would have made this a bit more interesting. A few errors have skipped the editorial process; however they do not disturb the overall narrative of the book.  The book is presented in a logical manner and can serve as a primer to Odisha history for the enthusiasts as well as lay persons. Overall, we need more such books that take the glorious and forgotten history of different parts of the country to the common people in a readable manner.

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Pawan Pandey
Pawan Pandey
Pawan Pandey is an Educator based in Dehradun, currently working as Senior Staff Writer with HinduPost. He is an Engineer by training and a teacher by passion. He teaches for Civil Service Exams as well as for Common Law Admission Test. He has deep interest in politics, economy, culture and all things Bharatiya. He fancies himself to be a loving husband and doting father. His weakness is Bharatiya food, particularly sweets. His hobbies include reading, writing and listening to Bharatiya music.

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