Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Melaka is a popular word in Oriya. It means compatibility or reconciling. Members of Oriya nation usually arrange marriages of their daughters and sons by making a melaka of their respective horoscopes to foresee as to how far they would be compatible if married. If melaka is perfect, it is said, MELAKA PADICHHI RAJA JOTAKA, meaning, if married, the couple will be most compatible. So to the Oriyas, the word ‘Melaka’ means compatibility that helps to grow by reconciling and on the basis of cooperation.
It is thrilling to note that 2 degrees north of the equator between Singapore to its south and Kuala Lumpur to its north, there exists a picturesque and historical place called Melaka. It was perhaps the Citadel of Orissa’s forgotten prince Hamvira. It was so named because its founder had conceived it to be a center of reconciling for merchants from various parts of the globe using it as a rest point while sailing the seas and to use it for exchange of merchandises in harmony.
Researchers say that it was founded in the 15th century by Parameswar, who was recognized and honored by the Chinese Emperor as the King of this land. By naming his land as Melaka, he has clearly indicated that he was an Oriya by origin. I guess, he was Parameswara Hamvira.
A legend linked to foundation of Melaka also speaks of Oriya tradition. In Orissa, tradition of establishment of Capitals by many a Prince in the past was associated with weaker animals overpowering stronger ones and then co-existing. History of almost all the Garjats (Ex-Princely States) of Orissa has such a story to say. My own State Tigiria had shifted its Capital to the present town called Nizgarh from the old Capital called Puruna Tigiria as the King had seen a dove overpowering a hawk on the spot in the new place. A similar story is linked to establishment of Melaka. It is tale of the hunting dogs being overpowered by a mouse deer. The story has been adopted by the Government as the official version of origin of Melaka, as it means it is where even the weak can triumph over the strong. How similar to Oriya tradition!
But who is this Parameswar? Is he the illustrious eldest son of Gajapati Kapilendra Dev of Orissa, Hamvira, obliterated from history under Brahminical conspiracies? Probably.
Though there is difference in year of occurrence, both the events: Hamviraďż˝s disappearance from Orissa and establishment of Melaka belong to the same century. We can ignore the difference, as annals those days were not meticulously noted.
Noted historian Prof. K.C.Panigrahi laments, “This valiant son of Kapilendra had taken a great part in building up an empire for his father, but he appears as a tragic figure in Orissan history”.
It may be noted that Kapilendra, an ordinary cultivator, had raised a mass revolution against caste apartheid to which the non-Oriya king of Orissa in collaboration with the non-Oriya Brahmins had subjected the toiling people and had succeeded to snatch away the throne from the said king.
In order to terminate the exploitative tenets of Brahminism, he had obliterated caste consideration in partaking ‘Prasad’ of Sri Jagannath and encouraged propagation of the Deity as Lard Buddha.
He had adopted Buddhism in its applied sense and therefore declared his clan to be Sun clan as that was the clan name of Buddha. He had hit hard at the root of Brahminism by eliminating caste apartheid, by promulgating that there should be no caste discrimination in places of worship and no caste preference in promotion to higher ranks in the Army.
In order to save people from scriptural exploitation, he had dismissed Sanskrit as official language and promulgated Oriya in its place. He had encouraged writings in Oriya language and depiction of Buddha as Sri Jagannatha in Oriya literature. Dedicating the State to Sri Jagannatha he had declared himself as a servant of Him and made this decision permanent and non-revocable.
In all these matters, his eldest son Hamvira was his most loyal and obedient associate.
Therefore, when Kapilendra became too old to handle the reign, the Brahmins had tried to revive their hegemony with the help of Mangula Rai, a son begotten to him through a Brahmin woman. Keeping Kapilendra under arrest in a southern fort of his empire, they declared him the new emperor. And, made a propaganda that under orders of Sri Jagannatha, emperor Kapilendra discarded Hamvira and preferred Mangula to take over reigns of the empire. According to Sri Jagannatha’s wishes, Mangla Rai was to be called as Purusottama Dev, they informed. Latter to convince the people of Orissa that there was no mischief in this, legend of Manika Gauduni was concocted.
This Purusottama is known to history as a great patron of Brahminism and the destroyer of Buddhist principles that his father Kapilendra had introduced to administration.
Prof. Panigrahi, in a sense agrees to this inference, when in ‘History of Orissa’ he says, “through machinations he (Hamvira) was deprived of inheriting any part of his father’s empire. But, this led to a war of succession in which Hamvira was defeated and was forced to seek the help of the Bahamani Sultan”, he says. And he also says, “even when he was in the camp of the sultan, he sent secret messages to Purusottama to assist him to maintain his position at Kondapalli and to conquer the territories which had been lost to the Sultan”.
Prof. Panigrahi’s notes seem self-contradictory. If Hamvira had led a war against Purusottama, why should have he besought the latter’s help even while staying in the Sultan’s camp?
Prof. Panigrahi has rightly said that Hamvira was ‘valiant’ and it is he who had helped his father build up the empire when there is “absolutely no evidence that Purusottama had ever taken part in any of the wars”. So, it is not acceptable that Hamvira had raised a war of succession against Purusottama. Had he wanted, he could have attacked and defeated the design that had dethroned Kapilendra and debarred him from legitimate succession.
But, perhaps, love for his father could not allow him to indulge in fratricide.
Disgusted, he perhaps left his motherland with his equally able son Kumar Kapileswar Mahapatra in search of avenues elsewhere and landed in the Malayasian straits, whereto his loyal subjects from Orissa (known then as Kalinga) had earlier discovered the route. And therefore, perhaps, there is no trace of Hamvira and Kapileswar in Orissa, even in India, after Purusottam’s emergence as Orissa’s Gajapati emperor.
Most probably, Hamvira had assumed the epithet of Parameswara.
It is a peculiarity with Oriya national character to think big and to become big.
Hence, Orissa’s sea is Mahodadhi, meaning biggest amongst the seas; Orissa’s river is Mahanadi, meaning biggest amongst the rivers; Orissa’s national deity is Jagannatha, meaning the biggest Master of the Universe; His temple is Bad Deula, meaning the biggest amongst the temples, His road is Bada danda, meaning biggest amongst the roads!
Mark Kapilendra. He was a mere cultivator of no clan heritage. But after occupying power, he wanted him to be known as Suryabamshi or of the Sun clan, the Sun (Buddha in Orissa) being the most revered.
Many kings of Orissa had assumed epithets suggesting their highest positions; such as Mahameghabahan, Mahamandaleswara, Parama Maheswara, Parama Bhagavata etc.
On this tradition, Hamvira might have assumed the epithet of Parameswara. His cultural aversion to Brahminism might have taken him first to Bahamani Sultan when in India and ultimately to the fold of Islam as it is recognized by history that Parameswara became Iskandar Shah and his son, known as Sri Maharaj, became Sultan Mohammed Shah.
It is noteworthy that the founder royal of Melaka was inspecting the land sitting on a Tanjung that was carried by his subjects. Tanjung means seat of power. Orissa’s Gajapati Maharaj visits Sri Jagannatha’s Temple or Car even today sitting on a special chair called Tanjan. This similarity between these two words makes it abundantly clear that King Parameswara, who had founded Melaka was none but the Prince from Orissa.
It may be noted that Tanjung Keling, meaning Indian cape in Melaka is so named because merchants from Kalinga had established it.
“Keling is derived from Kalinga, the name of a place in India where the early Indian trader to Melaka came from. Now the word is considered as a very crude way of referring to a person of the Indian race. And this is why the place is known as Tanjung Keling meaning Indian Cape”, says Dennis DeWitt of Melaka in his family website.
It is time, Orissa’s Universities or Government should support projects to find out who the founder king of Melaka, Parameswara really was. Perhaps, thereby, details of what happened to Hamvira after Purusottama Dev took over the reigns of Orissa as well as the last days of Kapilendra Dev, the first Oriya commoner to have become our emperor by freeing our Motherland from non-Oriya rulers and the first ever ruler to have promulgated our mother tongue as language of administration and the first emperor to have made our spiritual and military organizations free from caste influence, could come to light.
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