Thursday, 7 August 2014

Modi Lipi – the Script to unravel History

                                                  
Modi lipi which was once the official script needs to be revived. It was prevalent not only in Maharastra, but also in several parts of the country. Many ancient documents are gathering dust as no one is able to decode the text. It may reveal a lot of  facts and information.


I had heard from my father and elders about the Modi lipi being used in olden days. Not to be confused with the popular surname in the news these days! Old legal documents were written in this strange writing which looks like calligraphy. Many old documents in various states of India, including Mumbai and Goa were written in this script, which was then the official script of all land, royal, revenue, government and legal documents in the past.

Devnagari script came much later and became popular, replacing the Modi script. In olden days, Marathi was written in Modi script. Presently it is a nearly extinct script these days. Before independence, it was in demand and part of the curriculum in many schools and syllabus. In 1952, it was officially withdrawn from school syllabus by the Maharastra government. 

After which Devnagari became popular and was accepted by all, and slowly Modi script vanished from the scene. But since all old records are in Modi script, learning it could unravel a huge treasure of history. The historical information could inform us a lot of life of those days. During the Maratha rule, Modi lipi reached its peak of glory as it was the official script those days. In fact during the Yadav period, all official documents were written in Modi script. The Peshwas continued the tradition, so did the British when they took over realized it’s importance to read old records.

It was only after Indian Independence with Devnagari gaining prominence, Modi script was ignored and soon forgotten. And with that all these treasure of old documents from various dynasties and British era gathered dust. These documents otherwise would have thrown light on the facts of life and provide information on other parameters.

Last year Dr Anuradha Kulkarni of the Historical Research Institute in Pune had received 250 letters and documents of the period of Shivaji’s reign and after decoding the Modi script, found that a lot of Persian words were used. This may be an indication of the trade with outsiders  and interaction with people who knew Persian.

Many land records which were in Modi script could not be read and hence the Maharastra state government has established a committee to decipher the documents and digitalise them properly for future generations. It will also clear the ownership of certain old properties and their legal heirs.

The Bhonsale kingdom of Sarfoji Raje (half-brother of Shivaji) in Thanjavur (present day Tanjore in Tamil Nadu) had a huge collection of writings in Modi script. The present scion of the erstwhile king, T Shivaji, has been actively involved in its revival. Wherever the rule of Shivaji and later the Peshwas was established, Modi script was popular and used in royal documents, notices and correspondence. Besides Thanjavur, Goa, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and several other states have found to have document in Modi script.

Apart from Modi script, other scripts like Brahmi, Khatri, Halle Kannada, etc are also rare, but the richest stock of documents and literature is in Modi lipi. Learning the old script would help to decipher a wealth of information otherwise would be hidden forever.

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Picture Post:
The memorial and temple at Vivekananda Rock in the midst
of the sea near Kanya Kumari in South India.
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1 comment:

  1. sirji hamare pass 1590 me hamare gharane ko modi lipi me tamarapatra mila hai can you help me sir 9970125446

    ReplyDelete