Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s bard, or “Shiv Shahir”, Balwant Moreshwar Purandare is no more. He passed away in Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital in Pune this morning. It’s a pity that his work, and the man himself, has been neglected in his own country.
Popularly known as Babasaheb Purandare, born in Pune on July 29, 1922, the historian began writing on Shivaji at a very young age. His pieces turned into a book, titled Thinagya. Thereafter came Raja Shiva Chatrapati and Kesari.
His most well-known work though is the drama, Janata Raja, a depiction of Shivaji through a play that was first staged in 1985. It spread quickly to districts of Maharashtra and other parts of India, even to the United States, and comprises over 200 artists. So far it has been staged over a thousand times.
He once said: “I was attracted towards the history of Shivaji Maharaj because of my father. My friends helped in developing the passion. History can’t be learned unless you have a passion for it. Whatever I have done towards taking the history of Shivaji to the people has happened very easily because of this passion. I am an ardent worshipper of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. His intelligence, work and prowess have always stunned me. His efforts toward the creation of Swarajya or self-government were important.”
Purandare studied history of Peshawar of Pune in depth. In 2015, he was awarded the Maharashtra Bhushan Award, the state’s highest civilian award. He has also been declared with the Kalidas Samman by the Madhya Pradesh government in 2007-2008.
Purandare was admitted in the hospital a week ago after he was diagnosed with pneumonia owning to advanced age. He was put on ventilator but couldn’t survive.
Speaking at the felicitation event held to mark his centenary birth year, Babasaheb Purandare has said he wished to be born in Maharashtra again.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has paid his respect to the Padma Vibhushan awardee thus: “I am pained beyond words.”