The purANa of the Maharatta ruler, the paTTisha and other issues

The Hindu paurANic style never died out. We know of the many responses seen in Sanskrit literature to the Mohammedan onslaught. We had earlier seen how kShemendra had described the kali yuga before the coming of kalki. The learned Ravlekar had furnished us with two texts of interest. One was the particular text titled the kalki-purANa. In this it is narrated that demonic turuShka or mlechCha king named shashi-dhvaja (the moon-bannered one) whose capital lies in the desert will cause untold misery on the earth by ravaging Aryavarta and destroying the dharma. Ruling the world this shashi-dhvaja would spread the mlechCha atrocities all over the world until he encounters kalki. In the fierce battle that would happen in a certain bhallATapura kalki would behead shashi-dhvaja, destroy numberless dasyu-s, turuShka-s and mlechChas, and relieve the earth from their dreadful grasp. However, only a few surviving forms describe the exploits of Hindu heroes in their struggle against the turuShkas and mlechChas. This was the topic of the second text: The shiva-bhArata of paramAnanda describing he exploits of the founder of the maharatta nation. paramAnanda says it is the bhArata of shivAjI, even as the mahAbhArata of the bharatas.
paramAnanda says (I translate it to roughly approximate paramAnanda’s verse):
uShNISheNaiva shuchinA vyabhAd-uttamsa-dhAriNA |
kashmIraja-pR^iShad-varSha-raMjitena-a~Ngikena cha ||
shiva-varmA bR^ishbalaH saMvR^itaH shiva-varmaNA |
tasya vajra-sharIrasya kiM kAryaM tena varmaNA ||
kR^ipANaM pANi-naikena bibhrANo.anyena paTTishaM |
sa nandaka-gadA-hastaH sAkShAd-dharid-udaikShyata ||

With a pure [white] turban bearing a shining crest jewel,
with his body raimented in a patterned kashmir silk garment,
shiva-varman bhR^ishbala (shivAjI bhosle) was encased in shiva’s armor.
With an adamantine body like his, what was the need of an armor?
With a sword in one hand and bearing a paTTisha* in the other,
he appeared like hari himself with the nandaka and gadA.

*The modern translators of paurANic texts often hopelessly mess up the translation of the term paTTisha. Most common depictions of shivAjI by contemporary and subsequent painters show him exactly as described by paramAnanda holding a sword in one hand and paTTisha in the other. A modern day Maharatta will tell you that the paTTisha is a “daNDa-paTTa” and several specimens of it are found in Maharatta weapon collections. I have even encountered a modern Maharattas ply the paTTisha with great proficiency and cleanly slice a lemon placed on a pole with it. The paTTisha is an ancient and unique Indo-Aryan weapon. The mahAbharata repeatedly mentions it as being used in the great bhArata war. For example:
bhIShma parvan 86 (critical edition)
tena mAyA-mayAH kL^iptA hayAstAvanta eva hi .
svArUDhA rAkShasair-ghoraiH shUla-paTTisha-pANibhiH .. 52..||
In describing a battle of irAvAn and alambusha, the brahma-rAkShasa, it mentions the well-mounted terrible rAkShasa hordes wielding tridents and pATTisha-s.

Again in bhIShma parvan 92 (critical edition) in the list of traditional hindu weapons mentioned there the paTTisha figures:
samare patitaish-chaiva shakty-R^iShTi shara-tomaraiH |
nistriMshaiH paTTishaiH prAsair-ayaH kuntaiH parashvadhaiH .. 56..||
parighair-bhindipAlaish-cha shataghnIbhis-tathaiva cha .
sharIraiH shastra-bhinnaish-cha samAstIryata medinI .. 57..||
The weapons mentioned are shakti, R^iShTi, shara (arrow), tomara, nistriMsha, paTTisha, prAsa, iron kunta, battle axe, parigha, bhindipAla and shataghni.

The later devI-mAhAtmyaM mentions the same weapon (The mahAlakShmi section):
chachArAsura sainyeShu vaneShv-iva hutAshanaH |
niHshvAsAn.h mumuche yAMsh-cha yudhyamAnA raNe.ambikA || 52||
ta eva sadyaH sambhUtA gaNAH shata-sahasrashaH |
yuyudhuste parashubhir-bhindipAlAsi-paTTishaiH || 53||
The gaNas emerging from the breath of aMbikA are described as fighting with battle axes, bhindipAla-s, swords and paTTisha-s

Looking for homologs of the paTTisha used by the Maharatta in other parts of India one encounters the urumi or chuttuvAL of the kaLaripayattu, which probably is the only surviving ancient Hindu martial system. The urumi is a highly prized weapon used only by the best trained in the martial system. This shows that paTTisha had a long continuous tradition in India that never went out of vogue until recently– evidently it can be very effective with a skilled user. It should hence be conceived as a flexible, long two-edged razor foil, and not like the many faulty translations of this term. While the accounts of the killing of Afzal Khan differ in detail, at least some accounts mention that shivAjI used the paTTisha to dispatch him after stabbing him with the dagger or tiger claws.

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