Odisha abounds with rich private papers in the custody of Rulers and Successors of the former princely States, Religious Institutions and eminent men in all walks of life. When we talk of private records as distinguished from Public records, many of us hardly realize the wide variety of materials the expression covers. They include the records of eminent men, in all walks of life which include travelogue, diaries correspondence of personal nature, notes and memoranda kept for personal use. Besides these, the records of Socio-cultural & religious institutions, business concerns, Banking houses and Philanthropic Societies, etc. come with in the scope of private records.
Some important collections acquired deserve special notice. Mention may be made in this connection of the collection of S. N. Das Mohapatra. Before dealing with the records it is proper to allude briefly to the history of the family for appreciation of the contents of the records. The history of the family has been recorded in the Judgement of a title suit (Case No. 31 of 1931) in the second court of the Subordinate Judge at Midnapore in which one Shri Satyendranandan Das Mohapatra was the plaintiff. According to it Kula Murari Mohan Das Mohapatra was the earliest known member of the family. He was a resident of Athagarh in the district of Cuttack. He was in the service of the Mughal emperor and he happened to come to Kalampur in the Pataspur pargana of the Midnapore district where he settled down permanently. He reclaimed the jungle and settled the tenants in the area reclaimed. He was recognized as a Zamlndar of that area and assigned Nankar lands. Thus the hereditary Zamindary of the family started from the time of Kulu Murari Mohan Das Mohapatra. It may, however, be noted here that there is no reference to him in any of the family records available but he is taken as the founder of the family in the family tradition. The earliest record of the family of the year 1706 in the reign of Aurangzed is missing, but we get a reference of this Sanad from the case record referred to above.
The next record in chronological order is a Sanad granted to Mangaraj Das Mohapatra by Sarbuland Khan in the 3rd regnal year of Emperor Shah Alam. According to this Sanad, Talugdari and Choudhuri of the pargana Pataspur in Sarkar Jaleswar under Bandar Balasore were conferred on Mangaraj Das Mohapatra in place of Dinakar and Dibakar in conformity with the Sanad granted by the former Diwan. All Government officers and rayats in the area were informed that they were to regard Mangaraj Das Mohapatra as the permanent Zamindar, Taluqdar of the pargana. In the enclosures to the Sanad the pargana of Pataspur is stated to consist 142 mauzas and 7 Mahals. The Sanad was granted in the 3rd regnal year of the reign of Shah Alam, that is the year 1709 A. D.
The third Sanad was granted to Chaudhurani Ganga Dei, daughter-in-law of Mangaraj Das Mohapatra after the death of her husband Nityenanada Das Mohapatra by Nawab Shujauddin Mohammad Khan in the regnal year of the reign of Mohammad Shah. The name of the Nawab is written at the top of the Sanad, below it there is a small seal of Abdul Latif. According to this Sanad, Ganga Dei was appointed as Chaudhurani of the paragana Pataspur in Sarkar Jaleswar in Chakla Bandar, Balasore on the death of her husband Nityananda Das Mohapatra. The Talqudari, Zamindari and Chaudhurani of the said pargana was registered in her name according to previous convention. The Sanad contains another date towards the end. It is Amli year 1127 (1719-20 A. D.).
From the next record it appears that Ganga Dei was unable to manage the estate and pay the revenue dues. An amount of Rs. 700 only was due on her on account of the Government revenue which she paid after borrowing the same from Jugal Kishore Das Mohapatra, the son of Govindram Das Mohapatra. She relinquished Zamindari and office of the Chaudhurani of pargana in favour of Jugal Kishore Das Mohapatra in the Amli year 1128 that is one year after she was appointed as Chaudhurani of Pataspur. In the record under discussion there is a copy the deed executed by Ganga Dei in favour of Jugal Kihsore Das Mohapatra.
There is a true copy of another document relating to assisgnment of nankar lands with revenue of Rs. 2,250 or a little more to Jugal Kishore in addition to land yielding a revenue of Rs. 3,000 already assigned. The additional grant was for the expenses of maintaining horses, camels and bearers of bells. The grant was made by Abdul Mensure Safdar Jang, the Vizir in the first regnal year of Ahmad Shah, i.e. in 1748 A. D.
Though the above documents relate to the history of a particular family they are not without of general historical interest especially relating to the revenue history of Odisha.For the study of the history of Odisha during the Mughal period, the collection of Rai Mahasay family of Bhadrak is no less important. It may be mentioned here that Bhadrak was the headquarters of Bhadrak Sarakar of the Mughal Odisha. Rai Mahasayas were appointed as Sadar Kanungoes for collection of revenue in each Sarkar. As such Bhadrak Rai family is one of the oldest Zamindari of Odisha and fortunately we get a list of family members from this collection who were Rai Mahasayas in different periods.
Documents found in the possession of Rulers and successors of the former princely States in Odisha are the source of primary information about the economic, political and social development of the areas and as such constitute a priceless part of cultural heritage of former princely states. With a view to helping the scholars in their scholarly investigation, a few documents from the former princely States have also been acquired for the Odisha State Archives.
Odisha from 1900 to 1936, played a significant role in the sphere of political development in Eastern India. The role of the Oriya leaders to achieve the goal of a separate administrative unit for Odisha is an important area of study and such documents pertaining to this subject have also been acquired under the collections of Shri S. N. Rajguru, Digambar Rath and the Manager, Samastan office, Paralakhemundi. The documents acquired under the collection of Shri S. Mohanty also throw new light on the life and activities of Madhusudan Das as a legislator and the leader.
There are many such new materials collected from public and private sources by the State Archives which the users of records can utilize for their scholarly investigations. They throw new light on some unknown aspects of socio-economic and Political History of Odisha. For example, there are records on some little known Oriya mariyrs who fought bravely against the British for the cause of their mother land of them mention may be made of Madho Singh who organized and led the great revolt against British Rule in Odisha in 1857-1858. He closed the singhara pass and prevented the British from crossing over to Eastern India from the Central India side. He fought several battles against the British forces and held them back for about a year. British troops were collected from all parts of India and a large army attacked the pass in January 1858. The rebels fought furiously and defeated the British. One of the British Commanders named Woodbridge was killed in the battle. The British thereafter tried negotiations, treachery and many other stratagems but failed to sbdue Madho Singh and his brave sons Kunjal Singh and Hatee Singh. After the revolt had been suppressed in the rest of India the British concentrated their offensive efforts in Odisha and captured the Zamindari of Ghess about the endof 1858. Madho Singh was also captured and executed by hanging. His son Hatee however, carried on the fight for several years in association with his brothers Kunjal Singh and Bairi Singh and his staunch friend Salingram Singh Bariha. They fought several furious engagements in 1859-1860. The British failed to capture or subdue them and resorted to negotiation and conciliation. The British Government granted amnestly in February 1862 but later went back on their word and withdrew the amnesty. The three brothers and Salingram Singh Bariha were arrested in 1865. Hatee Singh was sengtenced to transportation for life in the Andamans. Kunjal Singh and Salingram Singh Bariha were sentenced to death. Bairi Singh died at Sambalpur. The above five martyrs are still unknown to world of scholars and there is much scope for further investigation on them.
Similarly for the study of Hindu-Muslim cultural assimilation the sources preserved in the Odisha State Archives throw new light on the subject. The Hindu-Muslim cultural assimilation in Odisha can be raced back to the reign of Akbar, when in 1565 A. D. he sent Husan Khan Khajanchi and Bhatta Mohapatra as envoys to the Court of Raja, Mukunda Dev with a view to establishing an alliance with him against their common enemy Sulaiman Karni of Bengal of these two envoys Bhatta Mohapatra was an Oriya musician in the Mughal Court. The two envoys remained in the Court of Mukunda Dev for a long period of four months and could influence the Raja who in return sent an Ambassador named Paramananda to the Mughal Court. Scholars belonging to different disciplines of Arts and Science had earned fame in the Mughal Court of whom mention may be made of Viswonath Samantary, the famous Oriya poet whose name finds mention in Ain-I-Akbari by Abdul Fazal. This cultural exchange contributed significantly for the growth of Hindu-Islamic culture in Odisha. There are documents in the Odisha State Archives which throw new light on Hindu-Muslim cultural assimilation in Odisha. A devottar sanad executed by Mirza Wall Baig, Zamindar of Lalit Giri records the grant of 4 bighas 6 biswas of land for the worship of Lord Gopinath. The sanad was executed in 1119 Amli which corresponds to 1711 - 1712 A. D. The document is now in the collection of Odisha State Archives. There are quite a good number of documents granting lands and money for the development of Muslim shrines by the Hindus also. For example, in the year 1755 one Golulananda Choudhury had executed a khairat sanad granting 6 batis 15 manas of land in favour of Hazrat Zilla Subhani to utilize the income derived from the land for charitable purposes. Similarly another document datable to 1734 A. D. records that Choudhury Gopinath Mohapatra of pargana Soro had granted 35 batis 18 bighas 23 gunthas of land to Hazrat Zilla Subhani for the same purpose. In the year 1832 one Shri Fakir Moharana executed a sanad granting 2 batis of land for the construction of a boundary wall around the famous Muslim shrine Quadamrasol. Another document datable to 1721 A. D. records the grant of one batis of land by one Choudhury Chhaila Singh in favour of the Shrine of Hazrat Sayed Ahmed. Many such examples can be cited on the basis of archival documents now housed in the Odisha State Archives whereby it can be convincingly proved that followers of Hinduism and followers of Islam have been living in this land as sons of the same soil through ages.
Odisha can be considered as a land of religious toleration on the basis of archival documents. Jagannath, the Lord of the universe is above all religions and castes. This is well reflected through archival documents preserved in the Odisha State Archives. The Jagannath temple enjoys the rare distinction to being the rallying point of all religious sects. It is significant to note that the followers of Sikh religion had their connection with the temple of Jagannath at least from the 16th Century A. D. when Mangu Math at Puri was established by them. This matha which is still now in existence at Puri was allotted a central site near the Emar Math. Raja Vira Keshari Deva had bestowed the right of performing Chamara Seva in his 18th Anka which corresponds to the period dfrom 2 September, 1750 to 22nd August 1751 to the Mathadhari of Mangu Math. The Raja in his 41 Anka which corresponds from September, 1765 to September, 1769 had granted the right of performing Mayura Puchha Seva to Mhant Udasi Govinda Das of Mngu Math. The connection of Sikh community with the temple in the past and fame of Jagannath Temple influence Maharaj Ranjit Singh who wished to send world famous diamond koh-i-noor to the temple of Jagannath. The connection of Sikh community with temple of Jagannath could further be investigated on the basis of archival documents.
These are but few of the important records and documents preserved in the State Archives. The collection is much larger and is growing all the time. There is no doubt that this important repository of cultural and historical heritage of Odisha will be of immense value to students, scholars, historians and common a like in the times to come.