Sunday 9 June 2013

This Modi has nothing to do with Gujarat

One of the most important battles in India was the third Battle of Panipat between the Marathas and Ahmed Shah Abdali. This battle signaled the beginning of the end of the Maratha hegemony in India and also paved the way for the growth of the British.
The battle took place on January 14, 1761, at Panipat, in present day Haryana. The battle field can be seen even today and it is about 60 miles or 95.5 km north of  Delhi.
This battle is generally considered by historians to be one of the largest wars fought in the 18th century and also the battle with the largest number of fatalities recorded in a single day.
By the way, this was also the last major battle in south Asia till the Independence of India and consequent formation of Pakistan in 1947. Tragically, the battle also saw the Mughals who initially sided with the Marathas losing face, power, territory and their prestige and from then on till 1857, they continued only as titular emperors of north India, ruling over Delhi and a few miles in radius.
However, one very little known fact of the war is that today we have exact amounts of money spent on the war, preparation and other connected aspects of the war and this is thanks to the Maratha tendency of keeping precise exact and complete accounts of all monies.
This was could be one of the few major wars where we can easily estimate the amount spent by the Marathas. According to documents available at Pune, which was the headquarters of the Peshwas, the Marathas spent exactly Rs. 92,23,242. 9 on the war that once for all shattered their might.
The records of the expenditure incurred on the war are in Modi script or Marathi shorthand which was used till the 1950s in Maharashtra to write the Marathi language.
The Modi script gained popularity as a cursive variant of the script during the 17th century and it was replaced in the 1950's when Devanagari replaced it as the written medium of the Marathi language.
Modi script was first developed in the 12th century by Hemadripant, a minister in the Yadava Kingdom  under Emperors Mahadev and Ramadev of Devgiri.
He is also the author of  Chaturvarga Chintamani (dealing with spiritual aspects) and Rajprashasti.
It is believed that the medieval period in Maharashtra witnessed a spurt in literature and written documents. There came a need for writing fast and accurately. It was difficult to write quickly in Devnagari because of the space between two words and punctuation marks.
Instead, Modi was widely used as it does not have punctuations and spaces between words. During Chhatrapati Shivaji’s and Peshwa periods, Modi came to be used by both the Government and people.
However, Modi lost its luster when the British took over Maratha held territories. It soon lost out to other languages as typeset and computer fonts could not be developed.
Many Marathi records in Pune are in Modi script and the war account is one such document. What makes this document unique is that it also throws light on how the Peshwas managed to raised such a large amount and what was the exact amount spent on raising the forces, hiring horses, oxen and donkeys.
The Peshwa Dafter or Maharashtra State Archives of Pune houses a large number of documents. The archives are located in a building opposite the Council Hall. Some of the documents date back to the time of Chatrapathi Shivaji.
The building houses over four crore documents, and many of them have not seen the light of the day.  

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