History Of Modi Lipi


Modi script of Maharashtra :
A script, which is generally neglected to be mentioned in the discussion on the Indian scripts, is Modi. The use of Modi in official Marathi documents and administration was common in Maharashtra till the end of 19th century. The British Government of Bombay Presidency in the beginning of 20th century for the sake of convenience and uniformity with the other areas of the presidency decided that the Devnagari (Balbodh as it is called in Maharashtra) should be used as a primary writing system in administration. Thus the Devnagari became the predominant script although modi continued to be taught in schools and was used as an alternate script in Marathi writing. The script was widely used even in 1940s by the people of older generation for personal and financial documentation. With the time however the use of modi diminished and now it has become almost extinct.
Traditionally it is believed that the Modi script was developed by Hemadpant, a well-known administrator in the court of Ramdevrao, the last king of Yadav dynasty (1187-1318) at Devgiri. Hemadpant is also credited with a specific temple architecture called “Hemadpanti temples”. The general use of Modi in administration is however seems to be introduced by Balaji Avaji Chitnis, a minister in Chhatrapati Shivaji’s court. It is said that Balaji while attending Durbar (Mogul Court) at Delhi observed that for the fast transcription of Persian proceedings in Mogul court were written in Shikasta (broken) script as against Nastaliq script, a clear but slower Persian handwriting. Balaji recognized the importance of speed of writing in administrative affairs and thus introduced the Modi script in Maratha administration (35). The term Modi seems to be literal translation of Persian term Shikasta.
Strandberg in her work on the Modi documents from Tanjore in Danish collection (36) has given interesting information on Modi writing along with complete series of twelve letters of Marathi alphabets i.e. Barakhadi. The work also contains various theories regarding the origin of modi writing including some fanciful suggestions such as “Paishachi” was written in Modi. We, however, know that the legend of Gunadhyay and Kanubhuti Vetal attached to Brihtkatha belongs to 2ndcentury. Modi is strictly written below the line unlike any other scripts of 2nd century such as Brahmi or Kharoshti. Moreover many letters in Modi are the same as in Devnagari. On the basis of known documents it is safe to assume that the Modi was not developed before 12th century.
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