Shivaji’s ideology of Hindavi Swaraj and subsequent expansion of the Maratha Empire, was partly responsible for re-establisment of Hindu rule and its re-emergent assertiveness throughout the mainland of present day India after being ruled by various Muslim dynasties. The ideology of Hindavi swaraj was in part the inspiration that propelled the succeeding generation of Marathas to establish independent kingdom in India prior to their eventual defeat by the British Empire. This ideology was neither directed against Islam nor aimed toward propagation of Hinduism.
Shivaji established and set up a competent civil rule with the help of well regulated and disciplined military and well structured administrative organizations. The then prevalent practices of treating women as war booty, destruction of religious monuments, slavery and forceful religious conversions were firmly opposed under his administration. Shivaji himself was a religious, devout and tolerant Hindu who worshipped with deep faith. He was also responsible for inclusion of Sanskrit vocabulary into everyday language.
Shivaji changed rules of military engagement prevalent in that era. He pioneered Ganimi Kava, rapid commando actions, which leveraged various factors like demographics, speed, surprise and focused attack. In comparison to his enemies, Shivaji had smaller army and thereby was obliged to make major innovative reforms in terms of military organization, logistics, stratergies and tactics to help overcome this great imbalance.
A large portion of his kingdom was a coastline and he secured it with a potent navy under commander Angre. He was very successful in keeping foreign naval ships, particularly Portugese and British, under check. For his foresight of establishing of one of the first large scale naval presence he is referred to as the "Father of Indian Navy". Forts played an important role in Shivaji’s military history. He conquered, constructed and renovated many strategically located forts to defend and secure his kingdom.
Shivaji was the youngest son of Shahaji and Jijabai Bhosale. Shivaji's birth date was a matter of controversy but recently a consensus has been reached and is deemed to be 19 February 1630. He was born on Shivneri Fort, Junnar, 60 kilometres north of Pune and was named Shiva after Shivai, Goddess of the fort, whom his mother Jijabai during her pregnancy. Shivaji was fifth son born to Jijabai, 3 of whom had died as infants and only Sambhaji survived. While Shivaji was accompanied mostly by his mother, Sambhaji lived with his father Shahaji at Banglore (present day Bengaluru). During the period of Shivaji's birth, the power in Maharastra was shared by three Sultanates - Bijapur, Ahmednagar, and Golconda. Most of the then Marathas forces had pledged their loyalties to one of these Sultanates and were engaged in a continuous game of mutual alliances and aggressions.
Shahaji Bhosle - Shivaji's father - was the eldest son of Maloji Bhosale of Verul (present day Ellora, Maharastra). Maloji Bhosale's was deeply insulted by Lakhuji Jadhavrao, an sardar in Nizamshahi, due his refusal to allow his daughter Jijabai's (Shivaji's mother) marriage to his son - Shahaji. This lead Maloji's to aggressive conquests to obtain a higher station and an important role under Nizamshahi, something that eventually lead him to achieving the title of Mansabdar (military commander and a imperial adminstrator). Leveraging this new found fame and power he was able to convince Jadhavrao to give his daughter in marriage to his son Shahaji.
Shahaji continuing the lead of his father played an important role in various Deccan wars. He began service with the young Nizam of Ahmednagar and together with Malik Amber, Nizam's minister, he won back most of the district for the Nizam from the Moghuls who had gained it during their attack of 1600. Thereafter Lakhuji Jadhav, Shahaji's father in law attacked Shahaji and surrounded him at the Mahuli fort along with Jijabai who was 4 month pregnant. After seeing no relief coming from Nizam, Shahaji decided to give up the fort and planned his escape.
He sent Jijabai off to the safety of Shivneri fort which was under his control. It was here at Shivneri that Shivaji was born. In the meanwhile entire Jadhavrao family including Lakhuji and his three sons were murdered in Nizam's court while they had come there to join his forces. Unsettled by this incident Shahaji Raje decided to part himself from Nizamshahi and raise the banner of independence and establish an independent kingdom.
After this episode Ahmednagar fell to the Moghul emperor Shah Jahan, and shortly thereafter Shahji as Nizam's General responded by attacking the Mughal garrison and regained control of this region again. In response the Mughals sent a much larger force in 1635 to recover the area back and forced Shahaji to retreat into Mahuli. Adilshah of Bijapur agreed to pay tribute to the Moghuls in return for the authority to rule this region in the year of 1636. Thereafter Shahaji 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.
Foundation of empire
Shahaji appointed 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 administration. This council included Shamrao Nilkanth as Peshwa (Prime Minister), Balkrishna Pant as Muzumdar, Raghunath Ballalas 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 in Sanskrit which read,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, was handed to Shivaji. Thus Shivaji started his career as an independent young prince of a small kingdom on a mission. Shivaji used the title ofRaja (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 kingNizamshah, 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 molded 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.
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 (led by Farradkhan) and another against Shivaji at Purandhar (led byFattekhan). However both Bhosle 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.
Battle of Pratapgarh/ Pratapgad
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.
Shivaji, armed himself with a weapon called wagh nakh (tiger claw), and chilkhat (armour) prior to the meeting. Afzul Khan|Afzal Khan]] attempted to stab Shivaji in the back with a dagger as they embraced at the onset of their meeting. Shivaji was unharmed 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'sdeputy, 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.
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 Bijapur's renowned Abyssinian general Rustemjaman. With cavalry of 5000 Marathas, Shivaji attacked them near Kolhapur on December 28, 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 lasted 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" . Aurangzeb the Mughal emperor was now actively preparing to bring the full might and resources of the Mughal Empire to bear down on the potential Maratha threat.
Battle of Pavan Khind
At that time Shivaji was camped at the Panhala fort 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 Vishalgad, 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 Vishalgad.
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 and continued to attack until he heard the sound of cannonfire from Vishaal Gaad, 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,Panhala Fort 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.
Clash with the Mughals
In January, 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.
Trip To Agra and Escape
In 1666, Aurangzeb summoned 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 May 12, 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 displayed Shivaji's excellent ability to carefully analyze, plan and to flawless execute toward a successful outcome. 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.
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.
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. But Shivaji was on a war footing and aimed to directly take on the combined might of the Moghul empire. Shivaji was more than prepared to squarely face the great dangers inherent in waging a war against a the powerful Mughal empire - he was fighting for independence and as such feared no earthly power, he had taken a solemn oath to achieve freedom or die trying. 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
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. Perhaps this was the first time in the history of wars where a lizard was used to climb a fort.
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. Uday Bhan broke Tanaji`s Dhal [Defence shield] with a single blow, Tanaji was not deterred and proceeded to tie a piece of cloth around his left hand for protection and to stanch the bleeding, and he continued to fight. Tanaji was killed by Uday Bhan in a fierce battle. Seeing their leader mortally wounded, the Maratha soldiers started to back-up and retreat, Suryaji and Shelar Mama stepped up and assumed leadership. Shelar Mama an Old Sardar in his 70s faced and challenged Uday Bhan and killed him. Suryaji, then stepped in front and center to rally the troops and lead them back on the offensive. The Marathas now re-commenced their ferocious attack on the Mughal defenders and captured the fort.
When Shivaji reached the fort after the victory, he was deeply bereaved by the loss of his good friend Tanaji. He sadly commented "Gadh ala puhn 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.
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 ofTantricism and presided over by Nischal Puri.
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. Shivaji established an effective civil and military administration. He also built a powerful navy and erected new forts like Sindhudurg and strengthened old ones likeVijayadurg on the west coast. The Maratha navy held its own against the British, Portuguese and Dutch 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 accomplished and competent individuals to participate in the ongoing political/military struggle. He is remembered as a just and welfare-minded king. He brought revolutionary changes in military organisation, fort architecture, society and politics.
He laid the foundations of the modern Marathi identity and infused it with strong martial and moral 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.
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 mighty 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, 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.
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.
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 commandoactions, "Ganimi Kava" a term used for such a warefare, (though the term "commando" is modern). 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 defence
Father of Indian Navy
Shivaji realized the importance of having a secure coastline and protecting the western Konkan coastline from the attacks of Siddi’s fleet he had realized the tactical advantage of having a strong navy and decided to purse this idea. Shivaji was concerned about the growing dominance of British India naval forces over Indian waters and start building his navy forces to tackle this issue. For this very reason he is also referred to as the “Father of Indian Navy”.
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.
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.
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 RajpurohitKeshav Pandit was himself a Sanskrit scholar and poet.
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 MarathiDevnagari.
Sambhaji issued one danapatra (donation plaque) which is in Sanskrit composed by himself in which he writes about his father as:
- Yavanarambha gritat mlechakshaydiksha: It means - Shivaji had taken a sacred oath and was on mission to defeat invaders
- Dillindraman pradhvanspatu: One who has defeated the Mughal Emperor of Delhi
- Vijayapuradhishwar prathtarmanya bhujchachayay: One whose help was sought by Adilshahi King of Vijaypur
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 ones).
Chhatrapati Shivaji was a devout Hindu and he respected all religions within the region. Shivaji had great respect for Warkari saints like Tukaram andSufi Muslim pir Shaikh Yacub Baba Avaliya of Konkan .
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: one of 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. 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 Mavala army's war cry was 'Haar Haar Mahadev' (Hail Lord Shiva).
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 prohibitedslavery in his kingdom.
Shivaji applied a humane and liberal policy to the women of his state. 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."
Towards the end of 1676, Shivaji defeated and captured the forts at Vellore and Gingee near Bijapur, Karnataka, modern-day Tamilnadu. These victories proved quite crucial during future wars. Jinjee served as Maratha capital for 9 years during 27 years of war.
Death and succession
It is said that he died due to contracting a disease Bloody Flux, Intestinal anthrax. The funeral ceremony was arranged in Raigad in presence of his sonRajaram, and wife Soyarabai. After Shivaji's death, his elder son Sambhaji and Soyarabai , fought for control of the kingdom. After a brief struggle Sambhaji was crowned king.
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 indomitable 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.
Sir Jadunath Sarkar, a noted Indian historian and scholar, estimated that about 500,000 Mughal soldiers and 200,000 Marathas died during this decades long epic struggle for dominance of the Indian sub-continent.
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 sectarian 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 ofNew Delhi has also been named after Shivaji.
The School of Naval Engineering of the Indian Navy is named as INS Shivaji.
Literature and Movies
Main Article: List of movies on Shivaji
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'.
Star Pravah- the Marathi channel of Star India Network now has a multi-crore TV serial Raja ShivChhatrapati on the life of Shivaji. The serial was launched in November 2008 and is expected to run for more than 100 one-hour episodes. The serial is excellent in terms of technology, visuals, grand scale sets, realistic locales and mesmerising performances by the actors.
Mee Shivaji Raje Bhosle Boltoy is a yet-to-be launched Marathi film which tries to convey how Shivaji would have responded to the problems faced by the 'Marathi manoos' today. Mahesh Manjrekar plays Shivaji in the film.