The Government of Maharashtra has allocated Rs. 80 lakh for digitising Modi documents, (Documents with Marathi short form letters to maintain secrecy) deciphering and translating them into English and Tamil, said M. Thirumalai, Vice-Chancellor, Tamil University, here on Tuesday. Modi is a short form created by modifying Devanahari letters into short forms.

He told presspersons that there are 820 bundles of Modi documents in Tamil University. Every bundle has 500 to 1,000 Modi documents. “These will be digitised, translated, and published,” the Vice-Chancellor said.

For the first phase of digitisation Rs. 14 lakh has been released to the university, Mr. Thirumalai said. He received the cheque from Ashok Sholankar, Director, Rajya Maratti Vikas Samasta (Department of Marathi Development), Government of Maharashtra, on Tuesday.

The Vice-Chancellor said the duration of the project is five years. Digitisation would be done in the first year, cataloguing in the second year, and in the following three years, they would be translated and published.

From the period of Ekoji, first Maratta king who ruled Thanjavur to Sivaji II (1676 AD to 1855 AD) letter communications, accounts, diary notings, and palace proceedings were done only in Modi script. Only those who know Marathi language and Modi letters can read the Modi documents. They are paper manuscripts.

Vivekananda Gopal from Dravidian University and seven students who know Marathi language and who are now trained in reading Modi scripts will take up the project. Sigma-Tech India company will digitise the Modi documents.

Indian Historical Document Commission that met in 1946 in Indore decided to shift these Modi documents, called Maratha Raj records, from Thanjavur Palace to Saraswathi Mahal Library. In 1950, the Indian Government ordered to shift them to Chennai Archives.

They were classified into A, B, and C. A and B were considered Papers of Permanent Preservation and C were Papers of destruction as they were not related to royal and political matters. However these C documents comprising of nearly 863 bundles were sent back to Saraswathi Mahal Library and A and B documents were brought to Tamil University. Saraswathi Mahal Library microfilmed the Modi documents.

Tamil University has taken steps to digitise, translate, and publish A and B Modi documents. These documents will throw light on unknown aspects of Maratta history, Thirumalai said. N. Athiyaman, Dean, Department of Manuscriptology and Kala Sridhar, Head and professor of Rare Manuscriptology, will assist the project.

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