Panchasakha of Odia Literature (Panchasakha of Odia Sahitya)

picsart 24 02 13 01 07 21 207152353247955846438 Panchasakha of Odia Literature (Panchasakha of Odia Sahitya)
Panchasakha of Odia Literature

let’s Learn about the Panchasakha of Odia Literature. As we know Odia is the 6th Indian language to be designated a classical language, it’s because of its rich literature and history In this article we will learn more about The Panchasakha Of Odia Literature and the great minds behind the Evolution Of our Odia Language

The 16th century represented a landmark epoch in the evolution of Odia language and literature, witnessing an unprecedented flowering of artistic expression, literary innovation and cultural advancement. At the vanguard of this renaissance were five poet-philosophers known as the ‘Pancha Sakha’ or ‘Five Friends’ – Balarama Dasa, Jagannatha Dasa, Achyutananda Dasa, Ananta Dasa and Yasovanta Dasa. The Pancha Sakha quintet fundamentally transformed Odia into a rich, versatile language of the people and fostered a modern literary tradition radically different from the Sanskrit-dominated past. Their pioneering contributions left an indelible imprint not just on Odia literature but also shaped the cultural ethos of Odisha.

Balarama Dasa

Balarama Dasa, the foremost of the five, is acclaimed as the father of modern Odia literature and the founder of the Odia poetic tradition. Though Odia had existed as a spoken language before him, Balarama Dasa pioneered adopting Odia instead of Sanskrit as the medium for literary expression. Though Odia was an ancient language, Sanskrit was the dominant vehicle for written literature in medieval Odisha. Balarama Dasa pioneered the use of the vernacular Odia language in creative writing. His magnum opus, the Lakshmi Purana, was instrumental in revolutionizing Odia poetry by portraying the traditional Jagannath cult in the local language, thereby making it accessible to the wider public. Composed in the popular meters of the time, the Lakshmi Purana depicted the various legends and myths about Lord Jagannath with devotional fervour, while synthesizing elements of folk culture. The local idioms and regional metaphors Balarama Dasa used made Odia literature more relatable and accessible to the masses than esoteric Sanskrit works. His efforts released Odia language and literature from the religious and academic confines of Sanskrit texts.

Jagannatha Dasa

If Balarama Dasa is the father of modern Odia, Jagannatha Dasa is considered the father of Odia bhakti literature. Among the Pancha Sakha, Jagannatha Dasa was the most prolific, versatile and influential litterateur. His bhakti poems were primarily centred around Lord Krishna and effectively introduced the Radha-Krishna literary tradition into Odia literature for the first time. In works like the Rasagola, Rasakalika, Rukmini Bibha and Srikrishna Bilasa, Jagannatha vividly described the early life and amorous sports of Lord Krishna. Jagannatha captured the emotional surrender and devotional fervour of bhakti through simple, melodic Odia verses. By replacing Sanskrit with local idioms and expressions, Jagannatha Dasa made the esoteric ideas and rituals of Brahmanical religion accessible and understandable to lay people. His contribution was vital in shaping Odia as the literary language of Odisha.

Jagannatha Dasa’s diverse writings spanning translations, commentaries, anthologies and kavyas were instrumental in moulding Odia into a versatile literary language capable of expressing both erotic and spiritual ideas with poetic eloquence. His bhakti compositions primarily revolved around Radha-Krishna themes introducing rasalila poetry into Odia. By using colloquial speech, regional descriptors and folk metaphors in works like Rasagola, Rasika Mangala, Srikrishna Lila and Artha Tattva, Jagannatha Dasa made esoteric concepts from Sanskrit accessible even to the laity. His efforts to replace Sanskrit script with Odia script were also significant.

Achyutananda Dasa

Achyutananda Dasa was the third member of the Pancha Sakha trio whose writings left an indelible mark on Odia literature. He composed short, lyrical poems of intense devotional fervour at a time when long narrative poems were the norm. His verses focused on expressing philosophical ideas and abstract spiritual thoughts in a simple, colloquial style that was easy for common people to understand and identify with. He wrote extensively on the rasa theory in works like the Haravali, Tattvamala and Ashtapadhi. His non-sectarian outlook and emphasis on morality, righteousness and nonviolence made his poetry immensely popular.

Achyutananda Dasa was the poet-philosopher who contributed enormously towards popularizing Vaishnavite belief through his short, lyrical bhakti verses written in colloquial Odia. His poetic works like Haravali, Tattva Mali and Kanta Koili were marked by intense devotional fervour bordering on the erotic. He adeptly translated complex Sanskrit philosophies into simple verses intelligible to ordinary Odias. The non-sectarian humanism propagated through his poems critiquing religious dogmas made him immensely popular.

Ananta Dasa

Ananta Dasa, the author of a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita titled Amrutakana, also made signal contributions by translating Sanskrit texts into Odia, thereby expanding the repertoire of written literature. His literary endeavours were complemented by staunch social activism aimed at removing evils like caste discrimination, child marriage and restrictions on widow remarriage. Ananta Dasa courageously crusaded against orthodox Hindu practices through his writings.

Ananta Dasa was both a prolific writer as well a crusading social reformer. In literary terms, he enriched Odia literature through poetry, drama, translations of Sanskrit works and commentaries including the momentous Bhagabata Tika on the Srimad Bhagavata. As a social activist, he campaigned against distorted Hindu practices and Brahmanical domination. His iconoclastic poetry made a radical critique of prevailing orthodoxies

Yasovanta Dasa

The youngest of the Pancha Sakha poets, Yasovanta Dasa is viewed as a consummate romantic poet who took Odia poetry to new heights of excellence. His love poems Niti Sataka and Ghoda Lakshmi are regarded as shining exemplars of the kavya style, portraying highly artistic use of language, imagery and expression. Yasovanta Dasa perfected the Odia metrics pioneered by his predecessors, with works marked by verbal exuberance and metrical virtuosity. Through the creative use of vocabulary and rhetoric, he enriched the dynamic appeal of Odia poetry.

Yasobanta Dasa was a consummate poet who specialized in romantic poetry and kavyas. He guided Odia poetry to new paradigms of sophistication through the verbal economy, the delicacy of expression and structural elegance as evidenced in his famous works like the Niti Sataka, Koti Brahmanda Sundari, Ghoda Lakshmi and Rasakallola. His poetic style represented Odia kavya poetry at its zenith.


The period of the Pancha Sakha in the 16th century thus marked a watershed in Odia literature. These five litterateurs pioneered literary expression in the vernacular Odia language, releasing it from the confines of Sanskrit. Through their diverse writings spanning different genres – from lyrical poetry to drama, translations, religious epics and commentaries – they elevated Odia into a language that was flexible enough to convey both abstract philosophies as well as regional sentiments. By drawing from the indigenous cultural ethos and incorporating local customs and speech, their works fostered a new vision of Odia identity. Their lasting contribution was in shaping Odia into a language of the masses, for the first time accessible to people beyond the Sanskrit-educated elite. The rich legacy established by the Pancha Sakha continues to inspire Odia literature even today. They remain immortalized as the cultural icons and literary role models of Odisha who made Odia a language of the people.

The pioneering contribution of the 16th-century Pancha Sakha litterateurs was thus multi-dimensional. Through their diverse writings, they nurtured modern Odia into a flexible, expressive language, and enriched its vocabulary and literary potential. By deftly synthesizing regional and classical traditions, their works shaped a culturally distinct Odia identity. The Pancha Sakha quintet left an enduring legacy for Odia language and culture and remains revered as savants who steered Odia literature into a glorious modern phase. Their influence continues to inspire Odia language and arts even today.

if you want to learn more about Pancha Sakha Of Odia Literature then we’ve attached a pdf below in this pdf you will learn more about the Panchasakha from the perspective of Shree Chaitanya

Chaitanya’s Panchasakha and Lord Jagannath

Who are the Panchasakha are?

The Panchasakha are five saints or friends from medieval Odisha. They lived between 1450–1550 AD and are known for their poetry and spiritual legacy. The Panchasakha are:

Balarama Das: An Odia poet and litterateur who lived from 1474–1522
Jagannath Das: A contemporary saint
Achyutananda Das: A contemporary saint
Yasobanta Das: A contemporary saint
Sisu Ananta Das: A contemporary saint 

The Panchasakha adhered to the same school of thought, Utkaliya Vaishnavism, and are known for shaping Odisha’s Vaiṣṇava philosophy, spiritualism, and literature.

What’s so special about the Odia language?

Odia is the sixth Indian language to be designated a classical language, based on having a long literary history and not having borrowed extensively from other languages. The earliest known inscription in Odia dates back to the 10th century CE.

Odia allows compounding, but unlike Sanskrit, it does not allow elision. The use of compounds is more a feature of written than of spoken Odia. Odia has 6 pure vowels, 9 diphthongs, 28 consonants (3 of them retroflex), 4 semivowels, and no consonant-ending words.

Learn more about the Odia Language: Let’s Explore the History of Odia Language

Source: Britannica

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