Raja Shiv Chhatrapati

Raja Ravi Verma's Painting
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In Shake Shaliwahan, in the year 1551, in Shukla Paksha, during the Uttarayan (when sun travels in the northern hemisphere), on the third day of waning moon, in the season of Shishir, on the star of Hasta, on Sinh Lagna, on Friday after Sunset, on an auspicious moment when the five planets that foretold Earths- empire’s fortune, were in highly favourable position, mother Jijabai gave birth to a son on Shivneri Fort. 19th of February 1630 was the most historic and remarkable day in the history of our great nation. The day on which the great emperor Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja was born. He is the most powerful, wise and respectful king country ever had. He dedicated himself to make our country independent from foreigners like Mughals, Portuguese, Dutch, Siddi , English and many more. He was the one of the first king who come to know that English, Portuguese, Dutch people who say that they came for trade are not just for trade but were instead aiming to rule over the country.

Image result for Shivneri
Shivneri Fort

He was well known for uniting warriors, saints, scholars and citizens for great cause, irrespective of their religion, caste, gender. And motivated them to fight for Swarajya , our own kingdom against the Mughal, Adilshah and Nijamshah emperors.

Shivaji Maharaja, whose ancestral estates were situated in the Deccan, in the realm of the Bijapur sultans, found the Muslim oppression and religious persecution of the Hindus so intolerable that, by the time he was 16, he convinced himself that he was the divinely appointed instrument of the cause of Hindu freedom—a conviction that was to sustain him throughout his life.

Shivaji Maharaja is well-known for his innovative military tactics that centered around non-conventional methods leveraging strategic factors like geography, speed, and surprise to defeat his more powerful enemies.

A brief history of Maharashtra and it’s emperors:

The land was the dandakaryanya forest where Lord Rama , Lord Lakshmana and Devi Sita came during their Vanawas. After that the territory was ruled by Shatwahan dynasty. They were said to be the Descendant of Lord Rama. Appreciation, wisdom, valour and renouncement, lived together here at same time. They were called Mar-hatte ( now known as Maratha), means people having brownish golden skin tone and lean- muscular body.

From Shatawahan to Shilahar, and from Wakataks to Yadavas, many dynasties ruled here. It is said that there were wells of gold, spices and other ornaments just like oil over this land( 200BC to 1271 AD). But after a certain period of time the king and his Arms were irresponsible towards the security of their kingdom. The kingdom was so wise and wealthy that cases like burglary rarely happened. So the Kings were very unconscious about defense and attack systems. And all at once calamity stuck during the days of Feb- March 1294, Alauddin Khalji attacked the kingdom with a humongous force. Raja Ramdevrao was unconscious to such a level that he didn’t know about the attack till enemy came around 150 km inside their territory. After an enormous battle king yielded before Khalji and promised to pay a enormous tribute ( tariff) to them. After few years Raja Shankardev tried to oppose the Khalji’s by denying to pay tariff. But due to lack of planning, strategies and support, Maratha Empire faced a humiliated loss. Then the region was under the clutches of different sultans for three hundred years , total sixty two sultans ruled over this region. Adharma prevailed for a long time, many women were raped, many were thrown into ships, many were sold abroad and many died in ignominy. Temples were destroyed, citizens were thrashed and many more. The first rebel was done by Shahaji Raje Bhosale , father of Shivaji Maharaja. But the Rebel was tackled in a horrific manner.

Shahaji Raje Bhosale

Inaugural of Swarajya by acquiring Eagles Nest ( Torna Gad):

Shivba and his Maval friends insisted that they want their Swarajya (Self- Dharmic Rule). Shivba made plans with his friends in the vales and valleys. In these valleys he was guided by a great warrior named Subhedar Baji Pasalkar . In this Shivba’s endeavour the highest power was faith. He had tremendous faith over Goddess Tuljabhawani and his mother Jijabai. All were in hurry to have at least one strong fort like an eagle’s Nest and a plan was made to acquire Fort Torna. With Goddess Tuljabhawani’s blessings the plan was carried out successfully. After this with valour and zealousness Forts like Kondhana, Subhan Mangal and Purandar were captured in succession.

Baji Palaskar

During all this days and in between the battles , Pant Dadaji Kondadev was at the back of Shivba like a hard rock. The work of little kingdoms was going on as planned by Pant in disciplined way. Cavalry, forts, soldiers all departments were perfect. Pant’s stern discipline and his sweet sugar love had descended into Shivaji’s nature. Pant sculpted Shivba for every crucial stages in life, battle, administration and slowly Shivba started looking after administration while Pant was an advisor.

Adilshah’s counter strategies:

Just after the great victory over Fort Purandar Shivaji Maharaja decided to take over Javali region ( the toughest jungle ,area and battlefield in the land). Maharaja once saved Javali from Adilshah’s Attack . He appointed Chandrarao and Hanmantrao More for administration over there. But Maharaja was informed by spy that More is planning to betray. During summer of year 1656 Javali was under control of Chandrarao More , who used to believe that he is unbeatable in such forested and hard area. But Maharaja and his Mavale were so familiar with valleys and vales of Western Ghat that they took few days to capture it.

After Maharaja took control over Torna and Kondhana Fort Adilshah thought that these ‘ mountain rats ‘ will not hamper his Sultanate much and it’s just a child’s play. But after some more victories Adilshah decided to shut it off. During that time Shahaji Raje was working for Adilshah, and to control Maharaja’s victorial journey, Afzal Khan on the orders of Adilshah put Shahaji Raje Bhosale under arrest . Due to this sudden arrest Shivaji Maharaja decided to back off and a minor treaty was signed between them in which Shahaji Raje was safely bailed out. Shivaji Maharaja halted for some months. But soon the Rebel was back in form .

Just a year after the Javali’s war, Afzal Khan accepted the challenge to present Shivaji Maharaj infront of Adilshah dead or alive. He was given a tremendous arsenal, army and luxury. After coming a long way from Kolhapur to Tuljapur to Pandharpur destroying every temple, town afzal khan thought that Shivaji Maharaja’s strong devotion for Tuljabhawani will take him out on battlefield but he was proved wrong. Instead Shivaji Maharaja pretended that he is afraid of marvelous power of Afzal Khan and requested Khan to visit Pratapgad for further discussions. Afzal Khan took this as a golden opportunity to end the game of Shivaji Maharaja and accepted the request. An agreement was signed where both of them decided to have one soldier with each of them. Shivaji Maharaja understanding the deceptive nature of Afzal khan, wore Armor, protective helmet inside their outfit and consciously kept tiger claws, dagger with him. As per the doubt Khan disobeyed the agreement and attacked Maharaja while hugging him but because of protection his attack wasn’t that harmful. And without wasting a moment Maharaja attacked Khan with Tiger Claws. This triggered a battle between both armies and finally Khan was killed by Sambhaji Kondhalkar and his head was sent to the Rajagad Fort in front of Jijabai.

Maharaja attacking Khan with Tiger Claws

Foreigners who came for ‘BUSINESS’?

During these battles Shivaji Maharaja carefully guessed that English, Dutch, Portuguese people are not only for trade but they are slowly thinking to spread all over the country and take over the rule. The English and Dutch used to convey Maharaja that they wee not interested in political matters going on in the country but treacherously supported some of the empires by helping them with Arms, Canons etc. In beginning some of them agreed to not harm Swarajya but used to help mainly Mughals during some fights. Nearby Swarajya along the sea shore of sea their was a town named Rajapuri where most of the foreign traders use to have their warehouses. Biggest of them was of English. Considering the treacherous nature of English men, Shivaji Maharaja raided their warehouses and forced the foreigners ( mainly English people) to pay him a high tariffs. Instead of offering them options Maharaja may have killed them all. But Maharaja knew that a healthy relationship with these foreigners will yield in future in all fields. Maharaja knew that the English foreigners were more developed in terms of defense and overall technology and might help wherever needed. The foreigners used to be very disciplined, dedicated and accurate at their work but keeping them under control from very beginning was also important. On similar note, once Maharaja tried to take control over Portuguese of Goa but due to some misunderstanding and miscommunication he faced a loss.

Delhi’s Mughals:

News of Afzal Khans invasion on Shivaji Maharaja was all over the country and most of them were surprised after the death of Khan. One of them was Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. He was one of the son of emperor Shahjahan. Aurangzeb cruelly murdered all of his brothers and betrayed his father for the throne. Aurangzeb was most cruel and powerful Mughal emperor who used to force, Hindus to change their religion to Islam and used to destroy Temples, Churches to build Masjid over there. But he was excellent in battle tactics and administration. He decided to attack various parts of Maharaja’s empire to create confusion.

So he appointed his Uncle Shahistakhan to attack and capture land on Deccan area. Shahistakhan had nearly one lac of armed force. After few months Aurangzeb ordered Mirza Raje Jay Singh to have a invasion over the Swarajya along with Dilerkhan. Mirza Raja was an ardent follower of Aurangzeb as a Leader, but Aurangzeb didn’t have much faith on non-Muslims so he ordered Dilerkhan to march alongwith Mirza Raja. Both of them decided to attack Fort Purandar. They sieged the fort for nearly 6 months and also started to attack and destroy nearby towns and forts. But the fort was undefeated.

And Atlast on the 11th of June 1665 Maharaja decided to yield before Mirza Raje and agreed to sign a treaty. According to this treaty Maharaja will give 23 forts to the Aurangzeb; then his son Sambhaji Raje will serve for Aurangzeb for ‘5000 Subhedari’. Shivaji Maharaja will also serve the emperor whenever needed for a war over southern region. This was the biggest treaty signed in that decade and hence Maharaja couldn’t revolt for some months.

Treaty Of Purandar (1665). Source: WikiPedia

Shahistakhan was taking advantage of the treaty and started to thrash and rip apart the citizens, towns, temples. So at last Maharaja decided to break the treaty and fix this problem. Shahistakhan had chosen Lal Mahal of Pune for his camp. In the month of June at night Shivaji Maharaja along with army of only seven hundred attacked the Lal Mahal. Khan’s soldiers and guards were so much unaware that in the darkness whole seven hundred soldiers entered inside the Mahal and created a chaos. During all this chaos Shivaji Maharaja caught Shahistakhan but while he was trying to escape, Maharaja attacked and Khan lost his four fingers of right hand.

The night of 5th-6th April, 1663
Lal Mahal, Pune

Later on Mirza Raja requested Aurangzeb to invite Shivaji Maharaja on his 50th Birthday to Capital and also mentioned that emperor should discuss some battle strategies in the vales and valleys of South for betterment. Aurangzeb approved this and Shivaji Maharaja went to Agra for this celebration cum small council meeting. Everyone expected that emperor will greet Maharaja respectfully. But he treated Maharaja disrespectfully and ordered to stand in panch hajari line (owner of army of five thousand). This place was behind Jaswant Singh and many warriors like him who have yielded and lost in war against Maharaja. Due to this ill- treatment Maharaja furiously left the meet and also cursed the emperor. As a consequence Maharaja, Shambhu Raje and all of his army were imprisoned by Aurangzeb. Ram Singh who was the eldest son of Mirza Raje tried to request Aurangzeb and Maharaja for betterment but Aurangzeb refused this for a long time. Aurangzeb had a plan to murder Maharaja in an unsuspicious way. But somehow Maharaja managed to convince Aurangzeb that he didn’t want his army and arms along with him so requested him to send them back. Maharaja used to distribute gifts to saints and bribes to the Mughal courtiers by sending them sweets or jewelry . After a tremendous planning and dedication of all on 17th of August 1666 he along with Shambhu Raje successfully escaped from Agra through this big boxes of sweets.

Agra Escape, 1966

Recapturing and conquering the parts of Swarajya:

After returning back from Agra Maharaja took some rest for few days. He also got sick after this long journey. But he decided to start recapturing the previous part of Swarajya and conquering the new one. Marathe furiously took charge over all lost land, towns and forts. And broke the vow given to the Mirza Raje Jay Singh during Purandar treaty.

He understood the importance of Navy and naval bases for the future needs. So he conquered many sea forts along the coastline of Konkan but was not able to conquer and take control over Janjira fort till his last day. Janjira was undefeated and was under control of Siddi’s. Sir Jadunath Sarkar has said, ‘Nothing proves Shivaji’s genius as a born statesman more clearly than his creation of a Navy and Naval bases’. Sir Jadunath Sarkar was a great and respected historian during 19th century.

Shivrajyabhishek (Coronation):

Almost as though prodded by Shivaji’s meteoric rise, Aurangzeb intensified his persecution of Hindus; he imposed a poll tax on them, connived at forcible conversions, and demolished temples, erecting mosques in their places. Even Swarajya’s own citizens were not feeling safe. Other dynasties used to hate Swarajya and it was known to all hence, Maharaja decided to seat on throne and officially rule the Swarajya as a king. But before coronation Maharaja decided to march towards Surat, it was the wealthiest city in the country. Maharaja decided to teach a lesson to the emperor and also wanted to loot it for meeting expenses of coronation. Probably ‘Shivaji is coming’ rumour were floated so often in the previous seven years and proved false, that Surat’s Mughal Subedar did not believe it. After Maharaja looted Surat for the first time around 6th – 10th Jan 1664 AD such rumbles rose quite often. Everytime there was commotion and as all those rumours proved wrong, the running around was wasted! But this time Maharaja did Dasara’s ritual crossing of boundaries in the direction of Surat and from 3rd-5th of October Surat was looted.

On Saturday 6th June 1674 Coronation was accomplished under the coordination and surveillance of Pandit Gaga Bhatta. a priest from Kashi. This was the historic day in the history, as this empires were officially becoming independent after three hundred years.

Conquering the Deccan ( Southern part of India):

Shivaji Maharaja discussed a new agenda with Kutbshah. That was to form a ‘ Southern United front’. This union was with an intention that ‘ the Southern Patshahi should be in the hands of southerners’. The purpose of the front was that all southern rulers should come together and defeat Pathans and Mughals. With the aim of Swarajya’s defence and development, Maharaja had proposed this bigger plan. Jinji, Vellore, near Vellore he built two forts ‘Sajra’ and ‘Gojra’. Tiruwadi was also successful conquered and on the captured forts various Marathi Amaldars were appointed.

Administration:

Under his reign, the Maratha administration was established where Chhatrapati was the supreme sovereign and a team of eight ministers were appointed to oversee the proper enforcement of various policies. These eight ministers reported directly to Shivaji and were given a lot of power in terms of execution of policies formulated by the King. These eight ministers were –

(1) The Peshwa or Prime Minister, who was head of general administration and represented the king in his absence.

(2) The Majumder or the Auditor was responsible for maintaining the financial health of the kingdom

(3) The PanditRao or Chief Spiritual Head was responsible for overseeing the spiritual well-being of the kindom, to fix dates for religious ceremonies and oversee charitable programs undertaken by the king.

(4) The Dabir or Foreign Secretary was entrusted with the responsibility of advising the king on matters of foreign policies.

(5) The Senapati or Military General was in charge of overseeing every aspect of the military including organization, recruitment and training of soldiers and also the strategic advisor of the king in the time of a war.

(6) The Nyayadhish or Chief Justice saw formulations of law and their subsequent enforcement, civil, judicial as well as military.

(7) The Mantri or Chronicler was responsible for keeping elaborate records of everything the king did in his daily life. 

(8) The Sachiv or Superintendant was in charge of royal correspondence.

Shivaji Maharaja promoted the use of Marathi and Sanskrit in his court instead of Persian, the existing Royal language. He even changed the names of the forts under his control to Sanskrit names to accent his Hindu rule. Although Shivaji himself was a devout Hindu, he promoted tolerance for all religion under his rule. His administrative policies were subject-friendly and humane, and he encouraged liberty of women in his rule. He was strictly against caste discrimination and employed people from all caste in his court. He introduced the Ryotwari system eliminating the need for middlemen between farmers and the state and collecting revenues directly from the manufacturers and producers.

Shivaji Maharaja left the world on 3rd of April 1680. However, the lightning lamp of Swarajya never extinguished within Marathas. The young Madhavrao Peshwa reclaimed Maratha glory and established his authority over north India.


Yellow region in the above map was under Maratha Empire

References:

  1. Raja Shivchatrpati volume 1&2 by Babasaheb Purandare
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