Shivaji Bhosle

October 29, 2008
Shivaji Bhosle

Chhatrapati Shivaji Raje Bhosle (statue at Raigad)

Reign 1664 – 1680
Coronation June 6, 1674
Titles High Protector of the Maratha Empire
Born February 19, 1630
Birthplace Shivneri Fort, near Pune, India
Died April 3, 1680
Place of death Raigad Fort
Successor Sambhaji
Wives Sai bai
Gunvantibai[citation needed]
Offspring Sambhaji, Rajaram, and six daughters
Father Shahaji
Mother Jijabai

Shivaji Bhosle, also known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Raje Bhosle (Marathi: छत्रपती शिवाजीराजे भोसले) (Born:February 19, 1630, Died: April 3, 1680) was the founder of Maratha empire in western India in 1664.

He is considered a great hero in India, especially in the present-day state of Maharashtra.



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[edit] Historical background

The land of Maharashtra, in central-west India, was ruled for long by Satavahana dynasty (300 BCE-230 CE) and later by the Rashtrakuta dynasty (735-982), after which it constantly morphed into many different kingdoms, including those of Maratha chieftains. In 1292, Ala-ud-din Khilji, the ruler of Delhi Sultanate, defeated the Yadavas of Devagiri. Although the Maratha capitals fell to the Khiljis, the regional lords held their power-base and influence and a branch of the Yadavas continued to rule parts of Konkan and Khandesh regions of Maharashtra for a century thereafter, till 1310.[citation needed]

In 1453, a Bahamani invasion of Vishaalgarh region resulted in a defeat of Yadavas. Over time, an understanding evolved between the sultanate and the local regional lords and their erstwhile master the Yadavas; the Yadavas became a vassal of Bahamani rulers. In 1492, the Bahamani sultanate broke into five kingdoms each called a Shahi.

In 1565, the allied Deccan sultanates vanquished the Vijayanagara Empire at Talikota. Most of the Marathas continued as soldiers and noblemen of the Sultanates as the sultanates engaged in a continuous game of mutual alliances and aggressions. Like his ancestors, Shahaji (Shivaji’s father) was a major player in the Deccan Wars. At that time, Shahaji was a regent for the young Nizam of Ahmednagar. Together with the prime minister of Nizamshah, Malik Amber, he put up a stiff resistance to the advancing forces of the Mughal emperor and thereafter defeated them. However, tired of the unsettled conditions, Shahaji Raje left Nizamshah’s service and joined Adilshah of Bijapur, who gave him a higher title of ‘Sar Lashkar’.[1]

The Mughal emperor Shah Jahan again attacked the Ahmednagar Kingdom of Nizamshah. At this critical hour, Shahaji Raje returned to the military service of Nizamshah to help stiffen-up the defences. Meanwhile, a prominent Maratha sardar Lakhuji Jadavrao was murdered on the order of the Nizamshah, and this was not acceptable to Shahaji, and it prompted him to raise the banner of independence and establish an independent kingdom.

By the time Shivaji began his military career, power in the region of Deccan was shared by three SultanatesBijapur, Ahmednagar, and Golconda.

[edit] Early life

Shivaji with Jijamata

It was during this unsettled period that Shivaji was born. His birth was in independent country, as proclaimed by his father, Shahaji. Perhaps, that was the main contributing reason for his life long desire for independence.

The actual date of Shivaji’s birth was under controversy but now settled on date as 19 February 1627.[citation needed] Shivaji was born on Shivneri Fort, Junnar, 60 kilometres north of Pune and about 100 kilometres east of Mumbai. He was named Shiva, after the local Goddess Shivai, to whom his mother Jijabai had prayed for a son. Jijabai had several other sons before Shivaji who did not survive.

Shahaji, Shivaji’s father, attempted to build on the ruins of the Nizamshahi kingdom of Ahmednagar, but was defeated by a much larger combined force of the Mughals and Adilshah in 1636. He was forced to leave the region around Pune. He was inducted by Adilshah of Bijapur and was offered a distant jagir – land holdings, at present-day Bangalore, but he was allowed to keep his old land tenures and holdings in Pune.

Shivaji started his rise to power in what is now the state of Maharashtra in the coastal Deccan or central western regions, close to the power centres of South-Central India.

[edit] Foundation of empire

Given these circumstances, Shahaji appointed the young Shivaji under the care of his mother Jijabai to manage the Pune holdings. A small council of ministers was appointed to assist and train Shivaji in the administration which included Shamrao Nilkanth as Peshwa (Prime Minister), Balkrishna Pant as Muzumdar, Raghunath Ballal as Sabnis, Sonopant as Dabir and Dadoji Konddeo as teacher. Apart from these ministers, military commanders Kanhoji Jedhe and Baji Pasalkar were appointed to train Shivaji in martial arts. In 1644, Shahaji had Lal Mahal built in Pune for his wife and his son Shivaji.

A royal seal, which was in Sanskrit was handed to Shivaji, which read as follows:

  • “This is the royal seal of Shivaji, son of Shahaji. This royal seal is for the welfare of people. This seal (the rule of the seal) will grow like the new moon grows.”

Shivaji Statue in Mumbai

Thus Shivaji started his career as an independent young prince of a small kingdom on a mission. Shivaji used the title of Raja (king) only after Shahaji’s death.

His mother made an indelible impression on him with her teachings, with her love for the homeland and its people. Shivaji learned much from his father’s failed attempts at political independence: his exceptional military capabilities and achievements, his knowledge of Sanskrit, Hindu ethos, patronage of the arts, his war strategies and peacetime diplomacy. He was inspired and informed by his family’s vision of independence and freedom.

Furthermore, his mother, having lost her father and three brothers to a treacherous plot hatched by the regional king Nizamshah, was opposed to those who she considered alien rulers, due to their derision and callousness toward the local population. Jijabai thus instilled in Shivaji a natural love for self-determination and an aversion to external political domination.

Her piety and commitment to indigenous culture and her recounting of tales from the great Indian epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana moulded Shivaji’s character and helped him to be peerless (as confirmed by even otherwise inimical chroniclers, Khafi Khan) especially in his tolerant attitude towards other religions as well as in his fair and kind treatment of women and non-combatants.

Shahaji‘s vision, Jijabai‘s and Dadoji Konddeo‘s teachings and motivation, and the able training by military commanders such as Gomaji Naik Pansambal and Baji Pasalkar were the main influences which groomed Shivaji into a brave and fearless military leader as well as a responsible administrator. Shivaji along with his mavla friends took a blood oath to fight against the Mughal empire at Rohideshwara temple. And young Shivaji, energetic and enthusiastic as he was, wasted no time in setting off on a path of freedom and glory.

[edit] Confrontation with the Regional Sultanates

At the age of 17 Shivaji carried out his first military action by attacking and capturing Torna Fort of the Bijapur kingdom, in 1645.By 1647 he had captured Kondana and Rajgad forts and had complete control of the Pune region.

By 1654 Shivaji had captured forts in the Western Ghats and along the Konkan coast. In a bid to sabotage this move of the Marathas under Shivaji’s able leadership, Adilshah had his father – Shahaji arrested by deceitful means, and he sent one army against Sambhaji, Shivaji’s elder brother at Bangalore (lead by Farradkhan) and another against Shivaji at Purandhar (lead by Fattekhan). However both Bhonsle brothers defeated the invading armies securing the release of their father. Thereafter,Afzal Khan, a seasoned commander and an accomplished warrior, was then sent to destroy Shivaji, in an effort to put down what was seen by Bijapur as a regional revolt.

[edit] Battle of Pratapgarh/ Pratapgad

Main article: Battle of Pratapgarh

Afzal Khan, after leaving Bijapur to confront Shivaji, first desecrated the temples of goddess Bhavani in Tuljapur and Pandharpur. The intent was to get a roiled, disturbed, and shaken Shivaji out in the open to face him in a pitched battle. Instead, Shivaji sent a letter saying he was not eager to face Afzal Khan and sought some type of understanding. Shivaji upon carefully weighing his options, strategically decided to confront and surprise Afzal Khan under the guise of diplomatic negotiations. A meeting was arranged between Afzal Khan and Shivaji at the foothills of Fort Pratapgad. Shivaji got word that Afzal Khan planned to slay him during the meeting.

Wagh nakh

Shivaji, armed himself with a weapon called wagh nakh (tiger claw), and chilkhat (armour) prior to the meeting. Afzal Khan attempted to stab Shivaji in the back with a dagger as they embraced at the onset of their meeting. Shivaji was unscath due to the armour he wore under his clothes, and he counter attacked Afzal Khan with a wagh nakh and bich’hwa, spilling his blood and entrails on the ground. Thereupon Afzal Khan’s deputy, Krishnaji Bhaskar Kulkarni and his bodyguard Sayyed Banda attacked Shivaji with swords but Jiva Mahala, Shivaji’s personal bodyguard fatally struck them down with a ‘dandpatta’ (medieval weapon). Afzal Khan managed to stumble out of the tent to get help but was immediately slain by Shivaji’s associate Sambhaji Kavji, before he could alert his commanders or raise an alarm.

In the ensuing battle of Pratapgarh in the dense forests, which was fought on November 30, 1659, Shivaji’s armies attacked Bijapur’s (Afzal Khan’s) forces and engaged them in swift flanking maneuvers.

Immediately after slaying Afzal Khan, Shivaji galloped up the slope towards the fortress with his lieutenants and ordered cannons to be fired. This was a signal to his infantry, which had been strategically placed under the cover of the densely covered valley, to immediately attack Afzal Khan’s forces.

Maratha troops commanded by Shivaji’s captain Kanhoji Jedhe, swept down on Afzal Khan’s 1,500 musketeers; resulting in a complete rout of the musketeers at the foothills of the fort. Then in a rapid march, a section of Adilshahi forces commanded by Musekhan was attacked. Musekhan, Afzal Khan’s leiutenant, was wounded and subsequently fled the field.

Meanwhile, Moropant led the Maratha infantry toward the left flank of the main portion of Adilshahi troops. The suddenness of this attack on Afzal Khan’s artillery at close quarters made them ineffective in providing artillery cover for the main portion of their troops. And as a result of this the rest of their troops rapidly succumbed to an all out Maratha attack. Simultaneously Shivaji’s Sardar (captain), Ragho Atre’s cavalry units swooped down and attacked the large but unprepared Adilshahi cavalry before they were able to be fully geared up for battle and succeeded in completely routing them in short order.

The Maratha cavalry under Netaji Palkar pursued the retreating Adilshahi forces, who were attempting to join up with the part of their reserve forces stationed in the nearby village of Wai. They were engaged in battle before they could regroup and were defeated prior to reaching Wai.

This great and complete victory made Shivaji a hero of Maratha folklore and a legendary figure among his people. The large quantities of captured weapons, horses, armour and other materials helped to strengthen the nascent and emerging Maratha army.

Subsequently, the Sultan of Bijapur sent an elite Pashtun army comprised mainly of Afghani mercenaries to subdue and defeat Shivaji before he could substantially expand his army. In the resulting war of Panhalgadh, Bijapur‘s Pashtun army was decimated by the Maratha troops. The intense and bloody battle ended in the unconditional surrender of Bijapuri forces to Shivaji.

The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, now identified Shivaji as a major threat to the mighty Mughal Empire.

[edit] Battle of Kolhapur

Main article: Battle of Kolhapur

To counter the loss at Pratapgad and to defeat the newly emerging Maratha power, another army, this time numbering over 10,000, was sent against Shivaji, commanded by renowned Bijapur’s Abyssinian general Rustemjaman. With cavalry of 5000 Marathas, Shivaji attacked them near Kolhapur on 28 December 1659. In a swift movement, Shivaji led a full frontal attack at the center of the enemy forces while other two portions of his cavalry attacked the flanks. This battle last for several hours and at the end Bijapuri forces were soundly defeated and Rustemjaman ignominiously fled the battlefield.

This victory alarmed the mighty Mughal empire who now derisively called Shivaji “Mountain Rat” . He was now actively preparing to bring the full might and resources of the Mughal Empire to bear down on the potential Maratha threat.

[edit] Battle of Pavan Khind

Main article: Battle of Vishalgarh

In 1660, Adil Shah, sent Siddi Johar to put down Shivaji once again. He ordered his large army north to Kolhapur, Maharashtra to confront and defeat Shivaji once and for all.

At that time Shivaji was camped at the fort Panhala with a small part of his army, near present day Kolhapur, on the borders of his dominion. Siddi Johar’s army camped near Panhala, cutting off supply routes to the fort. Shivaji, decided to escape to a nearby fort Vishaalgad, where he could regroup his soldiers to fight a decisive battle.

Shivaji sent misleading messages to Siddi Johar indicating that he was willing to negotiate and was looking for accommodation, understanding and mercy. With this news Adilshahi soldiers relaxed , and Shivaji escaped under the cover of a very stormy night. Johar’s soldiers captured a small group of the Marathas apparently including Shivaji, only to realize he was a look-alike dressed like Shivaji, sent out to create a diversion and facilitate the real king’s escape. Siddi Johar’s soldiers realized that the imposter was Shivaji’s barber and that Shivaji and his army were headed to Vishaalgad.

Sensing that enemy cavalry was fast closing in on them Shivaji sought to avoid defeat and capture. Baji Prabhu Deshpande, a brave Sardar along with 300 soldiers, volunteered to fight to the death to hold back the enemy at Ghod Khind to give Shivaji and the rest of the army a chance to reach the safety of Vishaal Gad.

In the ensuing battle of Pavan Khind, Baji Prabhu Deshpande fought relentlessly. He was almost fatally wounded but he held on until he heard the sound of cannon fire from Vishaal Gad, signalling Shivaji had reached safety of the fort. The result was the death of 300 Marathas and 1286 of Adilshah’s troops in this fierce battle.

Thereafter a truce was made between Shivaji and Adilshahi through Shahaji, acknowledging and formally recognizing the independence of Shivaji’s Kingdom. Also, as the terms of peace, the fort at Panhala was awarded to Siddi Johar.

Ghod Khind (khind = ” a narrow mountain pass”) was renamed Pavan Khind (Sacred Pass) in honor of Bajiprabhu Deshpande and the soldiers who selflessly fought and died to save their king and country. A small memorial stands even today in the pass in recognition of the heroism of Bajiprabhu and his courageous men.

This remained the situation until the death of Shahaji. Henceforth the Marathas became a formal and recognized power in the Deccan.

[edit] Clash with the Mughals

[edit] Shaista Khan

In 1660, Aurangzeb sent his maternal uncle Shaista Khan, with a large army to defeat Shivaji. He was an experienced commander who had defeated Shahaji in the same region in 1636. Within three years Shivaji had lost most of his conquests to a relentless attack by Shaista Khan and his army numbering over 100,000.

Shaista Khan, seized Pune and the nearby fort of Chakan. Although he held Pune for almost a year, he had little further success. He had set up his residence at Lal Mahal, Shivaji’s palace, in the city of Pune.

Shaista Khan kept the security in Pune very tight. Shivaji planned a daring attack on Shaista Khan amidst tight security. In April 1663, a wedding party had obtained special permission for a procession; Shivaji planned an attack using the wedding party as cover. The Marathas disguised themselves as the bridegroom’s procession and entered Pune. Shivaji, having spent much of his youth in Pune, knew his way around the city and his own palace of Lal Mahal.

After overpowering and slaying the palace guards, the Marathas broke into the mansion by breaking through a wall. Shivaji confronted Shaista Khan and severed three of Shaista Khan’s fingers with his sword as he fled through an open window. Shaista Khan narrowly escaped death; lost his son, many of his guards and soldiers in the raid.

Within twenty-four hours of this daring attack, Amir-ul-Umra, Shaista Khan left Pune and headed North towards Agra. An angered Aurangzeb transferred him to distant Bengal as a punishment for bringing embarrassment to the Mughals with his very personal and ignoble defeat in Pune. [2]

[edit] Surat and Mirza Raja Jai Singh

In 1664 Shivaji invaded Surat, an important and wealthy Mughal trading city, and looted it to replenish his now depleted treasury and also as a revenge for the capture and looting of Maratha territory by Shaista Khan.

Aurangzeb was enraged and sent Mirza Raja Jai Singh I, with an army numbering well over 100,000 to defeat Shivaji. The Mughal forces proved to be unstoppable in the early battles and Shivaji decided to come to terms with Aurangzeb. In the treaty of Purander, signed between Shivaji and Jai Singh, Shivaji agreed to give up all of his 23 forts and 400,000 rupees to the Mughals. He also agreed to let his son Sambhaji become a Mughal Sardar and serve the Mughal court of Aurangzeb. Shivaji’s clandestine intentions in coming to terms with the Mughals were to defeat his enemies, the Bijapur and Golconda Kingdoms using Aurangzeb’s army and then to take on the mighty Mughals.

[edit] Trip To Agra and Escape

In 1666, Aurangzeb summond shivaji to agra, along with his six year old son Sambhaji, on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday. Aurangzeb’s plan was to send Shivaji to Khandahar, modern day Afghanistan to consolidate the Mughal empire’s north-western frontier. However in the court, on 12 May 1666, Aurangzeb made Shivaji stand behind mansabdars (military commanders) of his court. Shivaji took offense to this seeming insult and stormed out of court and was promptly placed under house arrest, under the watch of Fulad Khan, Kotwal of Agra.

From his spies, Shivaji learned that Aurangzeb planned to shift him to Raja Vitthaldas’s Haveli and then to possibly kill him or send him to fight in the Afghan frontier. As a result Shivaji planned his escape. The entire plan of escape is by far the best example of analysis, planning and execution ever found in history. He feigned almost fatal sickness and requested to send most of his contingent back to Deccan. Thereafter, on his request, he was allowed to send daily shipments of sweets and gifts to saints, fakirs, and temples in Agra as offerings for getting well.

After several days and weeks of sending out boxes containing sweets, Shivaji hid himself in one of the boxes and managed to escape.Sambhaji, his six year old son had been smuggled out a couple of days earlier. Shivaji and his son fled to the Deccan disguised as sadhus (holy men). Some accounts claim that after the escape, rumours of Sambhaji’s death were intentionally spread by Shivaji himself in order to deceive the Mughals and to protect Sambhaji[citation needed].

Dr. Ajit Joshi in a book Agryahun Sutka, concluded that Shivaji likely disguised himself as a Brahmin priest after performance of religious rites at the haveli grounds and escaped by mingling in within the departing priestly entourage[citation needed].

[edit] Preparing for War

In the years 1667-69, Shivaji adopted a low profile and began to aggressively build up his army. His army now contained about 40,000 cavalry, backed by 60,000 infantry, a strong navy and a potent artillery.The Mughals had the impression that he was now a spent force and would not cause them any more trouble.

In January 1670 Shivaji launched a major, multi-pronged assault on Mughal garrisons in Maharashtra. Within six months he had regained most of his old territory and more. From 1670 to 1674 Shivaji expanded his kingdom to include major portions of Maharashtra and far in to the south including parts of modern-day Karnataka and [[Tamil Nadu

[edit] Battle of Sinhagad

Kondana fort, on the outskirts of Pune, was still under Mughal control. Uday Bhan Rathod, the fort keeper, led an army of about 1500 Rajputs and Mughals for the protection of the fort. On February 4, 1670 Shivaji deputed one of his most senior and trusted generals, Tanaji Malusare, to head a mission to capture Kondana.

Tanaji Malusare surveyed the fort and its defenses for some days. The fort was extremely well guarded. One very sheer cliff caught Tanaji’s eye. This side was least guarded as one could not possibly imagine climbing the fort from this steep side. Tanaji decided to scale this cliff to enter the fort. He used a monitor lizard(known as ghorpad in Marathi named “Yeshwanti” with a rope tied around its body for climbing this cliff on a moonless night[citation needed]. Perhaps this was the first time in the history of wars where a lizard was used to climb a fort[citation needed].

As the advance party reached the top, they threw ropes for others to climb. Meanwhile Tanaji’s brother Suryaji moved close to the gates of the fort, namely Kalyan Darwaja, with another 300 Mavalas. The gates were soon opened and once inside, all his soldiers joined Tanaji in the surprise attack.

Tanaji and Uday Bhan came face to face and a fierce fight ensued. Tanaji was severely wounded but managed to kill Uday Bhan before succumbing to his injuries. Seeing their leader mortally wounded, the Maratha soldiers started to back-up and retreat. Suryaji, then stepped in front and center to rally them and to get them back on the offensive. The Marathas now re-commenced their attack on the Mughal defenders and captured the fort.

When Shivaji reached the fort on victory, he was deeply bereaved by the loss of Tanaji. On this, he commented “Gadh ala pan sinha gela” (The fort was conquered but the lion was lost). Thereafter Kondana fort was renamed Sinhagad (Lion Fort)to honor Tanaji Malusare’s bravery and sacrifice.

[edit] Coronation

Shivaji was formally crowned Chhatrapati (Chief, or King of Kshatriyas), on June 6, 1674 at Raigad fort, and given the title Kshatriya Kulavantas Sinhasanadheeshwar Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Pandit Gaga Bhatt, a renowned Brahmin from Varanasi, officially presided over the ceremony declaring that Shivaji’s lineage was bonafide and recognized Kshatriya.

He was bestowed with the Zaanva, (in Hindi the Janeu the sacred thread), with the Vedas and was bathed in an abisheka. Shivaji had insisted on an Indrabhishek ritual, which had fallen into disuse since the 9th century.

Shivaji then was conferred with the title of “shakkarta”. He started his own calendar. A few days later a second ceremony was carried out, this time according to the Bengal school of Tantricism and presided over by Nischal Puri.

[edit] Southern expedition

Toward the end of 1676, Shivaji launched a wave of conquests in southern India with a massive force of 50,000 (30,000 cavalry & 20,000 infantry). The first major alliance made by the monarch was with Abul Hasan, the Qutb Shahi Sultan of Golconda. They began a campaign against the Bijapur Karnataka, including the Shivaji’s own half-brother, Vyankoji Bhonsla. He defeated and captured the forts at Vellore and Gingee in modern-day Tamilnadu. These victories proved quite crucial during future wars. Jinjee served as Maratha capital for 9 years during 27 years of war.

[edit] Death and succession

Shivaji died at 12 noon, 3rd April, in 1680 at Raigad, after running a fever for three weeks. It is said that he died due to contracting a disease Bloody Flux[citation needed], Intestinal anthrox[citation needed]. The funeral ceremony was arranged in Raigad in presence of his son Rajaram, and Soyarabai. After Shivaji’s death, his elder son Sambhaji and Soyrabai , fought for control of the kingdom. After a brief struggle Sambhaji was crowned king.

Ruins of the Raigad Fort, which served as a capital for Maratha Empire.

A few months after Shivaji’s death, Aurangzeb’s son, Prince Akbar, rebelled against his father and was sheltered by Sambhaji. Thereafter, in 1681, Aurangzeb, his army, entourage and the royal court moved in mass to the Deccan to wage an all out war for the complete destruction of Maratha power. This was the beginning of the twenty seven year war, initially the Marathas were overwhelmed by the might and the great power of the Mughal empire. Under the overpowering and unrelenting Mughal assault the endangered Maratha capital was forced to be moved and evacuated from Raigad to Jinjee in the south and for a time it seemed that Aurangzeb’s objective of stamping out the Maratha threat, once and for all, would be achieved. However, in the following months and years the tide of the war began to change.

The indominatable Marathas adapted very well to the huge but slow moving Mughal menace and fought Aurangzeb to a stalemate. And towards the end of the second decade the Marathas gathered more strength and began to turn the tide of the war. The Mughal forces were dealt several serious body blows by able Maratha generals like Santaji Ghorpade and Dhanaji Jadhav. They effectively employed lightning fast and highly mobile attacks, tactics initially developed and effectively used by Shivaji.

Eventually a broken, defeated Aurangzeb retreated in sickness from the Deccan in 1705. The final Mughal withdrawal came two years later. He had spent most of his remaining resources and manpower trying to defeat the Marathas and ended up significantly weakening the once mighty Mughal Empire. Aurangzeb’s heirs never again challenged the Marathas and within eighty years of Shivaji’s death, they were themselves finally overtaken and utterly dominated by the Peshwa’s Maratha Sardars, namely Scindia and Holkar.

Jadunath Sarkar, a noted Indian historian and a scholar, estimates that about 500,000 Mughal soldiers and 200,000 Marathas died during this decades long epic struggle for dominance.

[edit] Rule

Shivaji was an able and competent administrator and established a government that included such modern concepts as cabinet (Ashtapradhan mandal), foreign affairs (Dabir) and internal intelligence.[3] Shivaji established an effective civil and military administration. He also built a powerful navy and erected new forts like Sindhudurg and strengthened old ones like Vijayadurg on the west coast. The Maratha navy held its own against the British, Portuguese and Dutch[citation needed] till Maratha internal conflict brought their downfall in 1756.

Shivaji is well known for his benevolent attitude towards his subjects. He believed that there was a close bond between the state and the citizens. He encouraged all socio-economic groups to participate in the ongoing political/military struggle. He is remembered as a just and welfare-minded king. He brought revolutionary changes in military, fort architecture, society and politics. He was a very strategic ruler of the post Mughal era who craved out an independent kingdom/homerule having pushed back the powerful Mughals and the regional sultanates.

He laid the foundations of the modern Marathi identity and infused it with strong martial, moral and chivalric traditions.

Shivaji successfully lead and marshalled his forces to cope and overcome several major enemy invasions of his territories. He was also unceasing and inexorable in expanding his kingdoms boundaries. His success was driven by his fierce and urgent determination to establish a free and independent homeland, and in this goal he was supported by the high level of loyalty, respect and commitment he received from his soldiers, followers and citizens.

He was an innovator and an able commander, he successfully used effective tactics including hit-and-run, strategic expansion of territories and forts, formation of highly mobile light cavalry and infantry units, adaptation of strategic battle plans and formations, whereby he succeeded in out-maneuvering, time and time again, his vastly bigger and determined enemies.

Toward the end of his reign he had built up the Maratha forces to be over one hundred thousand strong, and was able to effectively keep the Mughal forces in check and on the defensive while expanding his kingdom southward to Gingee, Tamil Nadu.

Shivaji’s kingdom served as a Hindu bulwark against Islamic powers within India. His brilliant strategic and tactical maneuvering on battlefields and his acute management and administrative skills helped him to lay the foundations of the future Maratha empire in India.

[edit] Character

During his long military career and his many campaigns his strong religious and warrior code of ethics, exemplary character and deep seated and uncompromising spiritual values directed him to offer protection to houses of worship, non-combatants, women and children. He always showed respect, defended and protected places of worship of all denominations and religions.

Shivaji was once offered as a war booty an extremely beautiful young lady, by an uninformed Maratha captain. She was the daughter-in-law of a defeated Muslim Amir (local ruler) of Kalyan, Maharashtra. Shivaji was reported to have told the lady that her beauty was mesmerizing and that if his mother was as beautiful as her, he would have been handsome as well. He told her to go back to her family in peace, unmolested and under his protection. His behaviour, was noted by those around him, to be always of the highest moral caliber. He clearly and unambiguously embodied the virtues and ideals of a true nobleman.

He boldly risked his life, his treasure and his personal well being and that of his family, to openly challenge his immensely larger enemies to defend and achieve freedom and independence for his country. And in that lay the foundations of the greatness of Chhattrapati Shivaji Maharaj, which was based not as much on his successes on or off the battlefields, or on the strength of his arms, or his brilliant strategies or his noble birth but was truly based on his selfless and courageously fierce actions he undertook against any and all enemies, on behalf of his beloved Vatan (sacred homeland/nation). He defied overwhelming odds stacked against him by the great Mughal empire and the sultanates, he overcame and succeeded in face of unprecedented level of succeedingly difficult challenges and trials.

He did not spend any resources on projects designed for self-aggrandizement or vanity, instead he was propeled by his sense of Dharma (sacred duty) to his people and country which lead him to directly challenge the dangerous, powerful and oppressive rule of the Sultans and the Mughals. His legacy is heroism, selflessness, freedom, independence, brotherhood and unwavering courage, and as such he is a great role model for the ages.

Shivaji did not believe in being treated as a royalty or a VIP, in fact he mingled freely with his subjects to spend time with them to better understand their thoughts, issues and challenges. It is reported that he enjoyed simple meals of crushed onion and ‘bhakris’ – a type of Indian peasant bread with his foot soldiers (mavlas). This reflected his ‘down to earth’ character.

It was no wonder that Shivaji struck a deep chord with his followers and the citizenary. And the high level of admiration and respect he earned from his followers and subjects sets him apart from most other Indian kings or chieftains in the recorded Indian history. Even today he is venerated in India and especially in the state of Maharashtra with awe and admiration and is viewed as a hero of epic proportions.

[edit] Revolution in military organisation

Shivaji’s genius is most evident in his military organisation which lasted till the demise of the Maratha empire. He was one of the pioneers of commando actions (though the term “commando” is modern).[4] Shivaji was responsible for a lot of changes in military organization. These include –

  • A standing army belonging to the state called paga;
  • All war horses belonged to the state; responsibility for their upkeep rested on the Soveriegn.
  • Creation of part time soldiers from peasants who worked for eight months in the field and supported four months in war.
  • Highly mobile and light infantry and cavalry were his innovations and they excelled in commando tactics;
  • The introduction of an centralized intelligence department, a potent navy, and regular chain-of-command;
  • Introduction of field craft viz. Guerrilla warfare, commando actions, swift flanking attacks;
  • Innovation of weapons and firepower, innovative use of traditional weapons like tiger claw or ‘Baghnakh’. ‘Vita’ was a weapon invented by Shivaji;
  • Militarisation of almost the entire society, including all classes, with the entire peasant population of settlements and villages near forts actively involved in their defense.

[edit] Forts

Main article: Shivaji’s Forts

Pratap Gad

Shivaji constructed a chain of 300 or more forts running over a thousand kilometres across the rugged Western Ghats.Each were placed under three officers of equal status lest a single traitor should deliver it to the enemy. The officers (Sabnis, Havladar, Sar-i-naubat) acted jointly and provided mutual checks and balance.

[edit] Promotion of Sanskrit

The house of Shivaji was one of the Indian royal families who were well acquainted with Sanskrit and promoted it. The root can be traced from Shahaji who supported Jayram Pindye and many like him. Shivaji’s seal was prepared by him.[citation needed]

Shivaji continued this trait and developed it further. He named his forts as Sindhdurg, Prachandgarh, Suvarndurg etc. He named Ashta Pradhan (council of ministers) as per Sanskrit nomenclature viz. Nyayadhish, Senapati etc. He got Rajya Vyavahar Kosh (a political treatise) prepared. His Rajpurohit Keshav Pandit was himself a Sanskrit scholar and poet.[citation needed]

After his death Sambhaji, who was himself a Sanskrit scholar (his verse – Budhbhushanam), continued it. His grandson Shahu spent his entire childhood in Mughal captivity, which affected his taste. But even he showered gifts on learned Brahmins. Serfoji II from the Thanjavur branch of the Bhosle continued the tradition by printing the first book in Marathi Devnagari.[citation needed]

Sambhaji issued one danapatra (donation plaque) which is in Sanskrit composed by himself in which he writes about his father as:

  1. Yavanarambha gritat mlechakshaydiksha: It means – Shivaji had taken a sacred oath and was on mission to defeat invaders
  2. Dillindraman pradhvanspatu: One who has defeated the Mughal Emperor of Delhi
  3. Vijayapuradhishwar prathtarmanya bhujchachayay: One whose help was sought by Adilshahi King of Vijaypur[citation needed]

[edit] Religion

As per legend, the family deity of the Bhosles, goddess Bhavani gave a divine sword to Shivaji.

Shivaji made available to Ramdas a fort named Parali Fort to establish his permanent monastery there. The fort was subsequently renamed as “Sajjangad”(Fort of Decent/Holy People).

Chhatrapati Shivaji was a devout Hindu and he respected all religions within the region. Shivaji had great respect for Warkari saints like Tukaram and Sufi Muslim pir Shaikh Yacub Baba Avaliya of Konkan .[5].

He also visited Mouni Maharaj temple and Samadhi at Patgaon (Bhudargad Taluka near to Gargoti) in Kolhapur district. Shahaji had donated a huge piece of land to Shaha-Sharif Durgah of Ahmednagar. (The names “Shahaji”, the father of Shivaji, and “Sarfoji”, the uncle of Shivaji, are derived in deference to this Shah Sharifji.)

Shivaji allowed his subjects freedom of religion and opposed forced conversion. The first thing Shivaji did after a conquest was to promulgate protection of mosques and Muslim tombs. One-third of his army was Muslim, as were many of his commanders: his most trusted general in all his campaigns was Haider Ali Kohari; Darya Sarang was chief of armoury; Ibrahim Khan and Daulat Khan were prominent in the navy; and Siddi Ibrahim was chief of artillery.

Shivaji had respect for the Sufi tradition of Islam.[6] Shivaji used to pray at the mausoleum of the great Sufi Muslim saint Baba Sharifuddin. He also visited the abode of another great Sufi saint, Shaikh Yacub of the Konkan, and sought his blessings. He called Hazrat Baba of Ratnagiri bahut thorwale bhau, meaning “great elder brother”.

His army’s Mavala war cry was ‘Haar Haar Mahadev’ (Hail to lord Shiva) as well as ‘Allahu Akbar’ which was the war cry of about 30% of his armed forces who were muslim. He commanded the respect and fealty of the muslims under his command by his fair treatment of his friends as well as enemies.

Kafi Khan, the Mughal historian and Bernier, a French traveler, spoke highly of his religious policy. He also brought back converts like Netaji Palkar & Bajaji in to Hinduism. He prohibited slavery in his kingdom.

Shivaji applied a humane and liberal policy to the women of his state.[6] There are many instances in folklore, which describes Shivaji’s respect for women, irrespective of their religion, nationality, or creed.

Shivaji’s sentiments of inclusivity and tolerance of other religions can be seen in an admonishing letter to Aurangzeb, in which he wrote:

“Verily, Islam and Hinduism are terms of contrast. They are used by the true Divine Painter for blending the colours and filling in the outlines. If it is a mosque, the call to prayer is chanted in remembrance of him. If it is a temple, the bells are rung in yearning for him alone.”[6][7][8]

[edit] Legacy

A statue of Shivaji in the Birla Mandir, Delhi

Because of his struggle against an imperial power, Shivaji became an icon of freedom fighters in the Indian independence struggle that followed two centuries later.He is remembered as a just and wise king and his rule is called one of the six golden ages in Indian history.

School texts in Maharashtra describe Shivaji’s rule as heroic, exemplary and inspiring and he is considered the founder of the modern Marathi nation; his policies were instrumental in forging a distinct Maharashtrian identity.

A political party, the Shiv Sena, claims to draw inspiration from Shivaji.

The World Heritage site of Victoria Terminus and Sahar International Airport in Mumbai were renamed Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport respectively in Shivaji’s honour, as have many public buildings and spaces in recent years. The Interstate Bus Terminal of New Delhi has also been named after Shivaji.

The School of Naval Engineering of the Indian Navy is named as INS Shivaji.

[edit] Literature and Movies

Shivaji is a source of inspiration for a number of artists, directors, actors, writers, shahir (ballad composer), poets and orators. In Marathi, Bhalaji Pendharkar directed on the movie, ‘Raja Shivaji’ in which the main role was played by the famous Marathi actor Chandrakant Mandare. Apart form this movie, ‘Maratha tituka melawawa’,’Gad ala pan sinh gela’ and many more movies specially in Marathi were made on his and his associates’ life.

Sriman yogi is a novel written on Shivaji’s life by Ranjit Desai. Raja Shivachhatrapati is a biography authored by Babasaheb Purandare on his life which was later brought out as Jaanata Raja (जाणता राजा), a musical tale of Shivaji’s life. Kusumagraj has composed a famous poem on Shivaji’s general Prataprao Gujar’ Vedat Marathe vir daudale sat’. performed Lata Mangeshkar and Hridayanath Mangeshkar.

Marathi playwright Vasant Kanetkar wrote ‘Raigadala Jevha Jaag Yete’ (When Raigad awakes), a play based on the complex relationship between Shivaji and Sambhaji. Shahir like Tulsidas and Agandas had written heroic ballads on him. Kavi Bhushan has composed in Hindi, a famous work ‘Shivraj Bhushan’.

[edit] Associates

Some of Shivaji’s close associates were also his primary army chieftains, and have entered folklore along with him. These include:

Under Shivaji, many men of talent and enterprise rose into prominence. They carried forward his mission and ensured the defeat of the Mughals in the War of 27 years. These include Ramchandrapant amtya, Santaji Ghorpade, Dhanaji Jadhav, Parsoji Bhosale, Harji raje Mahadik and Kanhoji Angre.

[edit] Accounts of contemporary foreign travellers

Many foreign travellers who visited India during Shivaji’s time wrote about him.

  • The Abbe Carre was a French traveller who visited India around 1670; his account was published as Voyage des Indes Orienteles mele de plusiers histories curieuses at Paris in 1699. Some quotes: “Hardly had he won a battle or taken to town in one end of the kingdom than he was at the other extremity causing havoc everywhere and surprising important places. To this quickness of movement he added, like Julius Caesar, a clemency and bounty that won him the hearts of those his arms had worsted.” “In his courage and rapidity he does not ill resemble that great king of Sweden, Gustavus Adolphus.”
  • The French traveller Francois Bernier wrote in his Travels in Mughal India. “I forgot to mention that during pillage of Sourate, Seva-ji, the Holy Seva-ji! Respected the habitation of the reverend father Ambrose, the Capuchin missionary. ‘The Frankish Padres are good men’, he said ‘and shall not be attacked.’ He spared also the house of a deceased Delale or Gentile broker, of the Dutch, because assured that he had been very charitable while alive.”

[edit] References

  1. ^ ShivaShahi Retrieved on 200612-24
  2. ^Itihaas – Shivaji assumes the title of Chattrapati“. Sify Corporation. Retrieved on 200611-20.
  3. ^ Kamat, K. L.. “Short Bio: Maratha King Shivaji“. Kamat’s Potpourri. Retrieved on 200611-19.
  4. ^ Kasar, D.B., Rigveda to Raigarh making of Shivaji the great, Mumbai: Manudevi Prakashan (2005)
  5. ^ Patil, Vishwas – “Sambhaji“, Mehta Publishing House, Pune (2006) ISBN 81-7766-651-7
  6. ^ a b c Zakaria, Rafique, “Communal Rage in Secular India”, Popular Prakashan, Mumbai (2003)
  7. ^ Central Chronicle Letter D. Pande. Retrieved on 2007-03-07
  8. ^ Book Review IMC India. Retrieved on 2007-03-07

[edit] Further reading

  • Shivchatrapati- Ek Magowa by Dr Jysingrao Bhausaheb Pawar.
  • Apte, B.K. (editor), Chhatrapati Shivaji: Coronation Tercentenary Commemoration Volume, Bombay: University of Bombay (1974-75)
  • Duff, Grant, History of Marhattas, Oxford University Press, London Link –,M1.
  • V.D.Katamble, [Shivaji the Great], Pune : Balwant Printers – English Translation of popular Marathi book “Shrimanyogi”.
  • Kasar, D.B., Rigveda to Raigarh – Making of Shivaji the Great, Mumbai: Manudevi Prakashan (2005)
  • Patil, Vishwas – Sambhaji, Mehta Publishing House, Pune (2006) ISBN 81-7766-651-7
  • Purandare B. M. (author), Raja Shivachhatrapati, he is the most popular and most enigmatic historian of Maratha times, especially that of Shivaji. He is revered throughout Maharashtra as “Shivashahir”.
  • Sriman Yogi
  • Joshi, Ajit, Agryahun Sutka, Marathi, Pune: Shivapratap Prakashan (1997)
  • More, Vasantrao, James Laine: A research scholar or a barbarian?, Marathi, Shivsangram Prakashan (2004), Kolhapur
  • Parulekar, Shyamrao, Yashogatha Vijaya durg, Vijay Durg (1982)
  • Jyotirao Phule, Chatrapati Shivaji Raje Bhosle Yanche Powade, Marathi, (1869)
  • Sarkar, Jadunath, Shivaji and his times, Calcutta
  • Zakaria, Rafique, Communal Rage in Secular India, Popular Prakashan, Mumbai (2003)
  • Work of D. G. Godse
  • Rajendra Ghorpade Mouni maharaj guru of raje shivaji

[edit] See also

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