Thursday, 15 January 2015

The Story of Jivba Dada Kerkar





During one of my few visits to the Kerkar house, I noticed a picture, more of a sketch of a lean man sitting on a horse. And this got me interested to know more about him and the mansion-like structure made of ‘chira’ or red stone found in the west coast of India. And on probing further, it turned out to be an interesting story of a man, a warrior of courage and foresight. On seeing and examining the weapons, old swords and daggers supposedly used by him, in his campaigns made me delve further. It had a long history……..


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Very few people and Goans of this generation must have read or heard about Jivba Dada Kerkar and his tale of valour which is inspiring. I have visited Keri in northern Goa quite a few times and visited the Kerkar family, a relative (from my wife’s side)during my trips. I often wondered who must have built this big mansion-like house, a majestic structure made of ‘Chira’ or red stone, with old architecture, with a pathway and arched pillars for entry. It is in a remote corner of Keri next to the Ravalnath temple. During one of my visits to Goa and the Kerkar house, I noticed a picture of a lean man on a horse. And this got me interested to know more about him and the old structure his relatives reside. And on probing further, it turned out to be an interesting story of a man with courage and foresight. On seeing and examining the weapons, old swords and daggers supposedly used by him, in his campaigns made me delve further. It had a story to tell of the  brave man who ventured out, to be part of the Maratha history.
Jivba Dada Kerkar or Jivjirao Kerkar, also popularly known as Bakshi Bahadur Jiva Kerkar was born in Pawanwada, Keri, near Pedne in Goa. He was supposed to have been born in 1740 and died in 1st June 1796 after an inspiring life. He was a 'senapati' or troop leader in the army of Peshwa rulers. It is learnt he was very fond of body building, physical fitness activities and wrestling. Goans claim he was a fascinating figure, not only in Goa but in Maratha history. 
They add this eminent son of Goa has been immortalized in Maratha war history. It is said he was a brave warrior and the troop leader in the Maratha army in the Peshwa era. He was a courageous leader and a fearless warrior who excelled in the third battle of Panipat fought between the Marathas and Afghan, Ahmed Shah Abdali on 14th January 1761.
It is said that Jivba Dada Kerkar’s ancestors were originally from Morjim village, near Pedne. His grandfather built a palatial mansion at Keri, Pedne and hence his family came to be known as Kerkars. Their original ancestral surname was Sanzgiri and his grandfather was the Kulkarni of the Morjim village in Pedne taluka. Jivba Dada was appointed to the post of ‘waqnis’ in the Peshwa darbar. At the age of 21, he was elevated to the position of heading a small contingent in the army of the Peshwa ruler. After many successful campaigns for the rulers, he was acknowledged as a leader and fearless warrior. Later he became a close aide of another great Maratha warrior and kingdom founder, Sardar Mahadji Shinde, later known as Scindia, the governor of Gwalior. Jivba Dada became his senapati or troop leader and participated in the battles fought against the Rajputs, Jats, Tipu Sultan and Rambhau Patwardhan.
Having proved his mettle in the battles, the Peshwa ruler, in recognition of Jivba Dada's courageous services to the Maratha empire, presented him with a jewel-studded sword and a diamond ring. Jivba Dada participated in over 121 battles. He passed away on June 6, 1796. With his death, the Marathas lost a fearless warrior and a 'senapati' of great merit. His swords and daggers are in the family home in Keri; I personally photographed the two swords and two daggers, and is posted here along with the text.


Keri though remote, is blessed with beautiful surroundings; with hills on two sides and on one side is the Tiracol river and the sea offering a very scenic sunset from the Keri beach. It is also believed that the Kerkar family were the original inhabitants of the area, others were either brought by the Kerkars to work here or are settlers from other parts of Goa. And nearby stands the Rawalnath temple as a mute spectator of the days gone by.







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