Friday, May 30, 2008

History of MoDi Script

What is Modi script?

Modi script is known by this name in Maharashtra for last 700 years. Modi script was refined by Hemandpant during the reign of Mahadev and Ramdev Yadav (1260-1309)."Modi" word is assumed to have been derived from Farsi word "Shikasta." Modi script was used for writing until 1950. Because of its difficulty in printing its use was stopped and Devnagari was used for writing Marathi. Like Urdu, Modi script is an short-hand script- written very fast as it involves less lifting of hand while writing. All historical documents, letters, and other major written sources are written in Modi script. Study of Shivaji Maharaj and Peshwa period is almost impossible without the knowledge of Modi script. Modi script in historical documents and papers is very complicated and hard to read. Moreover, today there are very few modi experts who could read it; this is a major hindrance in historical researchs. Modi script has been constantly changed and modified in last 2-3 centuries. During 1600s Chitnisi and other 'Valans' were fully developed and show very few changes there after. There are different theories about the origin of Modi script. Rajwade and Dr.Bhandarkar believe that Hemandpant brought Modi script from Sri Lanka, but according to Chandorkar, Modi script has evolved from Mouryi (Bramhi) script of Ashoka period.Oldest available Modi document is said to be of 1429 A.D. hence it is clear that Modi script was not used in 14th century. Farsi language was originally written in 'Naskh' script. This script is rather complicated and time consuming. Therefore, it is believed that by modifying the Naskh characters (i.e. by breaking them in an efficient way), `Shikasta' script was used for fast writing. In the similar way Nagari characters were modified into Modi script (Shikasta means breaking). This concept of writing faster with less effort has originated from Persia (Iran), says Rajawade and gives the justification of "ovi's" from "Dnyaneshwari". 1.He bahu aso panditu,dharunu balakacha hatu.voli lehe vegvantu,aapaNachi (Adhyay 13,Ovi no.307) 2.sukhachi lipi pusili (Adhyay 3,Ovi no. 346) 3. doshanchi lihili phadi (Adhyay 4 Ovi no. 52) 4.aakhare pusliya na puse,arth jaisa (Adhyay 8,Ovi 174) Above Ovi's show that the concept was started at the time when the book was written. During this period, India had its first Muslim invasion. `Kagaz' is Farsi word and has no similar word in Sanskrit. Devnagari characters involve sharp angles, horizontal and vertical lines which minimizes writing speed. To avoid this drawback Modi characters are shaped into circular forms. Grammar terms were not used in Modi plus concept of punctuation was not present then (Concept of punctuation is derived from English; Indian languages started using it during the rule of British). Plenty of Modi documents are discovered from Tanjavar's Saraswati Mahal, Oriental manuscript section of Chennai's Conemara University, museums in London, Paris, Spain, and Holland. Bharat Itihas Sanshodhan Mandal,Pune and Dhule Rajwade Sanshodhan Mandal have collection of hundreds of Modi documents. History-expert V.K Rajwade collected thousands of Modi documents. Oldest Modi document is in "Marathi Itihas Sanshodhan Mandal". In 1801 William Kerry made the first Modi Lithograph at Serampur,Bengal with the help of Pandit Vaijyanath. "Raghu Bhoslyanchi vanshavali", "Marathi bhasha vyakaran", "Marathi kosh", "Nava karar (1807)" are printed in Modi script. Christian missionaries also used Modi script to print "Bible" in Marathi. A.K Priyolkar wrote history of Modi printing. Modi script has different styles (valans) of writing, i.e Chitnisi, Mahadjipanti, Vivalkari, Ranadi, Vivalkari. Type composing of Modi script was not possible hence Modi script vanished in printing age.So, let's start to learn Modi, let's preserve and spread it - just like conservation of natural resources, it is equally important to preserve our language and our culture. SOME IMPORTANT ASPECTS: 1) Modi can written faster than Devnagari. 2) Modi script has only single 'eekar' and 'ookar' which minimize grammatical mistakes. Modi script has facility to link faster to other characters preventing frequent lifting of hand and time for writing is minimized.('aa','a','ee','ka','kha','cha','chha','ja','jha','tra','Ta','Tha','tha','da','dha','na','pa' ,'pha','ba','ma','ya','ra','la','va','sa' & 'ha. )3) Jodakshare of Modi are in accordance with Sanskrit. 4) Maximum characters of Modi script are of Nagari. 'Kana' is given upwards to join the next character. 5)'ee','ja','jha','tra','Ta','Da' & 'Dha' these Modi characters are similar to "Ghasiti" style of Nagari, i.e Gujarati & Mahajani.6) Anuswar are not written are some rules and aspects of modi script: 8) Draw the complete header before writing inpractically to prevent lifting of hand. 7) In other words Modi script is cursive alternative to Nagari. Here each row. (This ends frequent lifting of pen for drawing header after each word as in Nagari) 9) Lift the pen only and only on essential points.10) Beginning and end of every Modi character should be on header.11) No sharp angles, write all Modi characters in circular forms. 12) Jodakshars to written in accordance with `baLbodh.' 13) In `aa'kar, `kana' is given in direction of down to up in almost all Modi characters.14)`ee'kar involves velanti followed by a kana.all `matras' are given after the end of word.

         Recent research hints that MoDi lipi came into existence as early as the Ashok period approximately 4th century BCE. It may have been derived from the Mauryi lipi. MoDi lipi then was also known as the "pishachha lipi", "bhoot lipi" or the "raskshas lipi". During 80 A.D. , the famous poet Gunadhya wrote the famous "Brihadkatha manjiri" 7 chapters each containing 1 lakh shlokas. This work was written in the Paishachi language for queen Nagnika the wife of the Satvahan king with his capital at Paithan. The script for this Paishachi langauge is also known as "pishachha lipi".