It was a mater of great honour for the people of Maharashtra when the State Government on July 19 felicitated 94 year old legendary Shivshahir Babasaheb Purandare with highest civil honour of the state ‘Maharashtra Bhushan’. Babasaheb Purandare dedicated his entire life on research about Chhatrapati Shivaji. Generations after generations in Maharashtra and neighbouring states have become fans of Purandare’s style of writing and delivering lectures.
Accepting the Award Babasaheb Purandare said: “Everyone who contributes in nation building is Maharashtra Bhushan.” He said no one should insult or ignore the history. “We should learn and get inspiration from our history,” he added. He humbly credited his abilities to write and speak in simple language that touched the hearts of masses to the blessings of Sant Jnaneshwar and Sant Tukaram.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said Babasaheb Purandare’s contribution in popularising the biography of Shivaji Maharaj is unmatched one. He brought forward many unknown facts about Shivaji and the events from his life. Purandare’s writings and lectures about Shivaji inspired generations in the country, to fight against injustice, to fight for equality and freedom. He popularised biography of Shivaji among the teenaged youngsters, which is a herculean task.
Shri Fadnavis also declared that there would be numerous civil felicitation ceremonies across the state to honour the legendary historian. He said Shivaji Maharaj was a Management Guru and his works in the field of farm management, civil administration, foreign policy, trade policy, education policy, water management, environment and forests management are also important along with his military tactics. He announced government aid for the projects that will research on these matters and bring forth the administrative details of Shivaji’s rule, through cinema, TV serials or books.
It is to be noted that a big controversy was created by some Congress, NCP leaders and left leaning writers questioning the decision to felicitate Babasaheb and even giving caste colour. Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil alleged that Babasaheb Purandare presented distorted history about Shivaji. Jnanpeeth award-winning writer Bhalchandra Nemade also opposed the decision. The letter written by him to CM had signatures of Vidya Bal and relatives of slain Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare also.
Even NCP chief Sharad Pawar found time to join the row. NCP leader Jitendra Awhad claimed that Purandare gave Brahmins credit for the success of Shivaji and projected Shivaji as anti-Muslim. MNS chief Raj Thackeray said Sharad Pawar is trying to ignite a controversy. He went on saying: “If anyone touches Purandare, I will create tandav (havoc) in Maharashtra. Noted Marathi writer Vishwas Patil criticised Bhalchandra Nemade for opposing the award to Purandare.
Maharashtra Cultural Affairs Minister Vinod Tawde took the opposition parties head on for trying to create unnecessary controversies. He noted the steps Maharashtra government has taken for the downtrodden and said the inspiration came from Shivaji Maharaj biography by Babasaheb Purandare. “Ask anyone on roads of Maharashtra, eight out of 10 people will say they know Shivaji’s biography due to Babasaheb Puranadare,” Shri Tawde said.
Maharashtra Governor Shri C Vidyasagar Rao presented the Award consisting of a trophy, a citation and Rs 10 lakhs to Basaheb Purandare. Babasaheb Puranadare donated the amount adding his own 15 lakh to it (total Rs 25 lakh) to Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar’s Pune based project-Dinanath Mangeshkar Hospital for the treatment of poor cancer patients. —Rajesh Prabhu Salgaonkar