By Jagruti Katkar
A photozincography copy of the original charter of land allotment by Chhatrapti Shivaji to his contemporary sage Samarth Ramdas Swami has been located at the British Library in London.
Until now, only one copy of this document was available in India. The charter gives details about the allotment of 33 villages to Chaphal Temple in Satara, which was built by Ramdas Swami.
Photozincography is the photographic process that enables the accurate reproduction of images, manuscript text and outline engravings. The photozincography copy was found by Sanket Kulkarni in May 2017. It was recently presented by history enthusiasts Shivram Karlekar and Kaustubh Kasture at Bharat Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal in Pune.
Shivram Karlekar said, “Shivaji had given this charter with letter on September 15 in which he donated 33 villages to Samarth Ramdas for Chaphal Shriram Temple. A duplicate of the letter was published by Shankarrao Dev from Dhule in 1906 in the book ‘Samarthanchi Don Juni Charitre’. In addition to this, many duplicate copies were found by historian VK Rajwade and at the Inam Commission Pune.”
He added that the handwriting in the charter matches that of Balaji Aawji Chitnis, who was Shivaji’s secretary.
Kaustubh Kasture said, “This copy does not establish the political relationship between Samarth Ramdas and Chhatrapati Shivaji as many claim. It just establishes that Shivaji recognised Samarth as a spiritual guru and donated 33 villages for the maintenance of the Shriram Temple in Chaphal.”
Talking about their search, Kasture, a digital marketing professional, said, “We did not study history formally…We were doing research on one topic and Sanket found this copy in the file ‘Satara Raja File’ in British Library. So far, we have identified 30 out of 33 villages in the charter.”