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Dattatray Vaman Potdar (5 August 1890 – 6 October 1979), better known as Datto Vaman Potdar, was an Indian historian, writer, and orator. He was the Vice-Chancellor of University of Pune during 1961 – 1964.
The Government of India had honored Potdar with the title Mahamahopadhyaya in 1946, and Padmabhushan in 1967. Because of his vast knowledge, he was sometimes called as Dr. Johnson of Maharashtra or a living encyclopedia.
Potdar was a disciple of Itihasacharya Rajwade, and a trustee of Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal in Pune. His disciples included Sane Guruji, Swami Swaroopanand, Vasudeo Sitaram Bendrey, Setu Madhavrao Pagadi, and R. C. Dhere.
Born in the Sarpotdar family in the village of Birwadi in Raigad District of Maharashtra, Potdar completed his matriculation in 1906 from Nutan Marathi Vidyalaya in Pune, and four years later received a bachelor’s degree in History and Marathi from Fergusson College (University of Bombay in those days), also in Pune.
During 1912–1920, he taught at, and later served as the Head Master of Nutan Marathi Vidyalaya. During 1921–1935, he served as a professor at New Poona College (later renamed S. P. College) in Pune.
Potdar had mastered Sanskrit to the extent that he could fluently converse in it. He also was proficient in Persian and this proved to be valuable while conducting Historical Research.
He never got married and preferred to remain a bachelor.
In 1910, Sardar Mehendale, V. K. Rajwade, and Potdar founded Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal. Since then, Potdar maintained passionate interest through his life in the growth of the Mandal.
He traveled all over India, collecting historical documents pertaining especially to Maratha empire and Marathi literature. He ran periodicals, delivered speeches, and organized lecture series, inspiring others to research historical papers. He only once went abroad and that was to what in those times was USSR.
In 1965, the Government of Maharashtra appointed Potdar to write the biography of Shivaji, but before he could finish the assignment, he died on 6 October 1979 in Pune.There was some criticism in this respect as there were many in Maharashtra in those times who felt that the delay on his part for such an important project was inexcusable.