Written By: Satyajit Nayak
About a decade & half ago when the Indian parliament were discussing inclusion of Nepali language in the eight schedule of the Indian constitution,a member of parliament from western orissa stood up and said when nepali can be included in eight schedule then why not sambalpuri language wnicn is also called as Kosali.The member of Parliament Mr. Sriballav Panigrahi said the sambalpuri language has got a rich literature and is spoken by more than 1.5 crore people across 10 district of western orissa region,parts of Chattisgarh,part of Jharkhand etc which is more than the Nepali speaking population in India.He further added... now we are talking about removal of illiteracy and universalisation of primary education, the child 'is to be taught, is to be given education at the primary stage, in his own mother tongue, which is naturally not the standard language of that place.In the taribal areas , many children are not attracted to schools and they treat the standard language(Oriya) as a foreign language. In the tribal belts, we should make arrangement for Imparting education In their own mother tongue.He also mentioned the difference between Oriya and Sambalpuri(kosali) language which the Govt. of Orissa is describing as an dialect.
This discussion in the Indian parliament beemed across the drawing rooms of every Indian home through the TV and made it sure that Sambalpuri (Kosali) is now a recognized language all over.Much before these recognitions in the early 70's a popular sambalpuri song "Rangabati go Rangabati" written by Mitrabhanu Gauntia and sung by the legendary singer Jitendra Haripal and Krishna Patel was broadcasted on All India Radio.Soon it became a national anthem for every band party ushering the bridegroom to the house of the bride.So was the impact of this song that it was aired in early 1975 in Internation Radio Stations like BBC & Voice of America.It was the first time that any regional Indian song (other than Hindi) was aired by BBC.Years later many music director across the country copied this song and composed it by changing the lyrics into their own regional language with same meaning(Telugu song Rangabati) but nobody dared to change the rhythm and simplicity of the song.This was the beauty of this language.
The Origin of the Kosali Sambalpuri language can be found from the 12th century AD Stambheswari inscription from Subarnapur district which was recovered by some local historians around 20 years ago.It is to be mentioned that Western Orissa region along with chattisgarh was earlier known as the Dakhin Kosala Kingdom.After India's independence Chattisgarh was merged with Madhya Pradesh and western orissa (kosal) region with Orissa.Since then the Orissa govt. declared Oriya as the only Official language of the state and made it compulsory in schools thus side-lining the hundred years old Kosali Sambalpuri language without caring the sentiments of people from western orissa.
But this forceful imposition of Oriya did not dethere the spirit of the kosali people.Years after the merger of dakhin kosal (western orissa) with Orissa ,a spirited kosali Satya Narayan Bohidar (born on 1st August 1913 at Sonepur)prepared the firstever dictionary and basic grammar to the uncodified Sambalpuri Language.This was a revolution aswell as a proof of the Uniformity of the sambalpuri Kosali language.Years later noted sambalpuri litterateur, translator and scholar Sri Hemachandra Acharya,popularly known as the Balmiki of Kosali literature produced a master piece "The Kosali Ramayana – Ram Raha", published by the Sambalpur University in 2001.It was indeed a milestone achieved.This Kosali Sambalpuri Ramayana - "Ram Raha" made him dearer to the masses in Western Orissa region where people speak Kosali (Sambalpuri) language. Even today, people in several villages in the region religiously preserve and recite his translated version. He was also engaged in translation of the Upanishad into Kosali but unfortunately breathed his last on the 26th of August 2009.
Kosali sambalpuri language got another moral booster when Dr.Nilamadhab Panigrahi,an eminent essayist,litterateur,Poet-Author of many Books, Editor of 'Nishan' & many more literary works single handedly composed the Sambalpuri Mahabharat "Mahabharat Katha".This book was also published by Sambalpur University.Many of his literary work included 'Sambalpuri-Koshali Grammer'Book which he co-authored with Dr.Prafulla Tripathy.Mr Panigrahi was the torch bearer of the kosali sambalpuri language in the recent times.He refused to accept the'Sarala Samman' which was to be given by IMFA Group because of his intense love for the Sambalpuri/Kosali language.Sarala Samman is usually given to people who have worked to popularise Oriya language. He was also the convenor of 'Koshal Sammellan'along with Mr.P.R.Dubey & Pandit Prayag Datta Joshi,which spearheaded socio-linguistic movement in Kosal region.He sat on hunger strike demanding Primers(Primary Books) for Total Literacy Campaign to be made in 'Sambalpuri/Kosali' language in Sambalpur,Kalahandi,Balangir,sundargarh,sonepur,nuapada,baudh,debgad,Jharsuguda & Bargarh districts & prevailed upon the district authorities.An erstwhile Sanskrit & Odia Scholar who abandoned writing in Odia language since about three decades.Also a prominent personality in India in the field of Indian Classical Music & was Principal of 'Gandharva Viswa-Vidyalaya',U.P.
As the world was welcoming the new millenium with full joy and enthusiasm a new torch-bearer for the Kosali Sambalpuri language came into the picture.It was non-other than the un-educated(never went to school) nature poet Haldhar Nag.Due to his simple rendition of the poem he became a hit with the masses of western orissa.He is by far the most popular sambalpuri writer in western orissa.His masterpiece "Aamar gaan'r masan padaa"(Our Village's graveyard) and "Dhadho Bargach"(Old Banyan Tree) are very much popular through out the region.He is also credited with introducing the first Kosali sambalpuri vernacular Magazine "Varni".
Many More intellects,poets like Nimai Charan Panigrahi,Amulya Dandsena,Dr.Harekrishna Meher,Kalicharan Panigrahi,Jatindra Pradhan etc are contributing a lot to popularise the Sambalpuri literature.Besides all these greats there are thousands of Unknown poet,writer who are sitiing quitely under some mango graves in some remote village and are penning down their expression in their mother toungue Kosali sambalpuri with the hope of getting recognized some day.
As we entered another decade in the new millenium, the youth or the young generation of Kosal are taking charge to popularise their Mother tongue Kosali and trying hard to get it recognized officially.Now typing the word Sambalpuri in youtube or google search will give you ample evidence of it's uniqueness and sweetness.As the world was welcoming the year 2010 , a young brigade of Kosali youth launched the historic firstever Kosali/Sambalpuri E (Online) Monthly Magazine "BENI" which can be read in the following url.(http://kddf.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/beni-final2.pdf).Edited by Saket Sahu,It was launched as the clock hit midnight welcoming the New year which incidentally happens to be the Second biggest festival of western orissa "PUSPUNI"...
So thus the Sambalpuri Kosali language took more than 900 years to evolve and it is asking all our beurocrates,politician to give her the due respect which she deserves by including her in the eight schedule of the Indian constitution and formally declaring it as a scheduled language of Indian Republic....