Birth And Childhood of Shivaji-A Legend In The Bhonsle Family
February 19, 1630, was a Golden day. The day on which one of the greatest rulers of India was born. The day when a tale of the legendary Maratha began. The day on which not only the land of present-day Maharashtra but the whole of India was blessed. Birth of the great Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, founder of the Maratha empire.
Little did anyone know that this was not an ordinary boy. He was someone who was set to establish a massive Maratha empire and a king bound to make the barbaric Mughals kneel before him.
Shivaji Maharaj was born to Jijabai and Shahji in the hill fort of Shivneri, near the of Junnar, which now has Pune district. While Shahji Bhonsle was out serving as the Chief General of the Bijapur Sultanate, Shivaji Maharaj got his education in the art of warfare and political administration from his guru Dadoji Kondev and the stories of the Hindu scriptures from his mother, Jijabai.
Even as a teenager, Shivaji Maharaj was extremely clever in war tactics, which, you will read further in the article.
When the young Maratha’s guru, Dadoji Kondev, breathed his last on the 7th of March, 1647, he thought that Shivaji Maharaj would make a good Adilshahi general like his father. But destiny had other plans for him. He wasn’t born to BE ruled, and he was born TO rule…
The Beginning of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s Legendary Tale
When India was under a major hold of the Mughal Empire, with Shah Jahan towards the north, Sultan Mohammed Adil Shah in Bijapur, and Sultan Abdulla Qutub Shah in Golconda, it was next to impossible for a Hindu ruler to establish his own independent kingdom. Even if it was possible, there were three conditions that ought to be fulfilled. Those were
1) The area of the kingdom should be far from imperial power centers
2) The land should be agriculturally unimportant
3) The area should have dense forest cover
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had all these conditions fulfilled. And since a very young age, he knew the importance of forts in an empire. At the age of 15, the valiant Maratha had already taken over the Torna, Chakan, and Kondana forts.
But this was just the start of a legendary journey. Soon after, Shivaji Maharaj had seized the Thana, Kalyan, and Bhiwandi forts from Mulla Ahmed, under Abaji Sondev.
“Behind the Scenes” of the 7-Year Pause
These incidents had created a ruckus in the Adilshahi Sultanate. To stop Shivaji Maharaj, the sultanate had arrested his father, Shahji Bhonsle. Hence, Shivaji did not attack Adilshah for the next seven years.
However, the lion was not sleeping during this time. He used this period to get the support of “Deshmukhs” and other influential people as a plan to crush his rivals, the Mughal Empire.
Gradually, Shivaji Maharaj built a huge army, commanded by Netaji Palkar, and had 40 forts under his dominion. And by this time, the brave Maratha was becoming a big problem for the Mughals.
The Killing Of Afzal Khan
In an attempt to put a stop to Shivaji Maharaj’s spree, in 1659, the Badi Sahiba of Bijapur sent Afzal Khan with 10,000 soldiers to destroy the valiant fighter.
Afzal Khan, an Afghan general, was known for his cruelty and brutal strength. In order to tempt Shivaji Maharaj to come out for an open battle, Afzal Khan destroyed numerous temples and killed many civilians.
Shivaji Maharaj had other plans. He employed his guerilla tactics and hid in the Pratapgarh Fort, covered by a dense jungle.
Finally, Afzal Khan called Shivaji Maharaj to meet him personally, in a plan to kill him. When they met, Khan tried to suffocate his opponent under his iron grip on the pretext of hugging him. But Shivaji Maharaj was not an ordinary man. He had hidden a dagger and tiger claws with him, with which he tore apart Afzal Khan’s stomach and was successful in taking down a man who was almost twice his size.
In the Battle of Pratapgarh that followed, fought on 10 November 1659, the Maratha forces successfully defeated Bijapur Sultanate’s forces.
Up Next: General Rustam Zaman
Shocked by this defeat, General Rustam Zaman was sent in next. On the 28th of December, 1659, Shivaji Maharaj led a full-frontal attack against Rustam Zaman’s forces, but the witty Maratha wasn’t the one whose plans the enemy could guess. Along with Shivaji Maharaj’s straight-up attack, two parts of Maharaj’s cavalry attacked Rustam from two sides. As a result, Rustam Zaman had to flee with disgrace. One more enemy down, one more feather in Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s hat.
Wits That Defeated Siddi Jauhar
In 1660, Siddi Jauhar was sent in. Siddi Jauhar’s army surrounded the Panhala fort, cutting off supply routes to the fort. A smart move, you might think. But it was Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj who was his opponent. The valiant Maratha exhibited his wits once again. He tricked Siddi Jauhar into meeting him and convinced Adil Shah that Siddi was a traitor. While Adil Shah and Siddi Jauhar were fighting among themselves, Shivaji Mahraj escaped with about 5,000 soldiers one night from Panhala fort towards the Vishalgarh fort.
Baji Prabhu Deshpande had a major role in the execution of this plan. He held the Ghod Khind (“horse ravine”) with just 300 soldiers and fought bravely to death so that Shivaji Maharaj could reach Vishalgarh safely. He’s even today regarded as one of the best warriors in the history of the Marathas. Ghod Khind was later renamed Paavan Khind (“Sacred pass”) in honor of Baji Prabhu Deshpande and his troop.
Baji Prabhu Deshpande’s sacrifice did not go to waste. There was a lot in store for the valiant Maratha post that incident.
Shaista Khan’s Deployment By Aurangzeb
After this, the Badi Begum requested Aurangzeb to help her. Aurangzeb sent his maternal uncle Shaista Khan with a 1,50,000 strong army. The Mughal Army seized Pune, and Shaista Khan established his residence at Shivaji Maharaj’s palace of Lal Mahal. Shivaji Maharaj, a never-ending well of clever ideas, once again showcased his wits. Using a wedding procession as cover, Shivaji Maharaj and a troop of about 400 followers infiltrated Pune. At night, they launched an audacious attack, directly at Shaista Khan. Shaista Khan saved himself by jumping out of a window, but not without losing 3 of his fingers to Shivaji Maharaj’s sword.
Ransacking Of A Mughal Trading Centre, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s Loss
To rub salt to the injury, Shivaji Maharaj ransacked the city of Surat, a wealthy Mughal trading center, in 1664. Aurangzeb had his blood boiling with anger. He sent a 60-year-old veteran Mirza Raja Jai Singh I, with a 1,50,000 strong army.
Jai Singh won. Shivaji Maharaj had to give away 23 of his forts and pay 4,00,000 gold hun as compensation to the Mughals. He also had to go to Agra with his 9-year-old son Sambhaji.
Aurangzeb’s plan was to contain Shivaji Maharaj by giving him a place in the prestigious Mughal court.
But Aurangzeb did not go according to the plan and instead, ended up making a mistake. A grave mistake.
He instead humiliated Shivaji Maharaj and placed him under house arrest. Little did Aurangzeb know the depth of his foolish mistake.
The Comeback Of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj
While under house arrest, Shivaji Maharaj feigned severe illness and requested to send daily shipments of gifts and sweets to saints and fakirs in Agra for the betterment of his health.
During this, Shivaji Maharaj disguised himself as a laborer carrying a basket of gifts and escaped along with Sambhaji.
Shivaji Maharaj took a route passing via Kashi, Mathura, Gaya, Puri, then back towards the south into the territory of Golconda and then Bijapur, before reaching Raigad. In 1670, Shivaji launched a massive attack, and in four months, he regained a major portion of the territories he had lost to the Mughals.
From 1671 to 1674, Aurangzeb did everything in his power to defeat Shivaji Maharaj and failed miserably. In addition to this, Adil Shah died in 1672, and Bijapur fell into disarray.
6th Of June, 1674
And at last, the great day dawned—6th of June, 1674. The person who had given many people freedom from the clutches of the barbaric Mughals, the person blessed with both wits and might, the founder of the Maratha empire, was crowned. Shivaji Maharaj was formally enthroned as the king of Maratha Swaraj in a lavish ceremony at Raigad by Gaga Bhatt. He used his beautiful white horse, named Krishna, for his coronation. Shivaji Maharaj came to be known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Chhatrapati is a Sanskrit compound word representing “Protector of People.” A word that exactly fit into Shivaji Maharaj’s image.
Customs like Tilak, Janehu, and Vedic chanting, which had not been followed for centuries because of the constant rule of the Mughals, were now revived by this valiant Maratha king and his followers.
He used his beautiful white horse, named Krishna, for his coronation.
Shivaji Maharaj’s Personal Life
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had Soyarabai (from 1660 to 1680), Sakvarbai (from 1956 to 1980), Putalabai (from 1653 to 1680), and Sai Bhonsle (from 1640 to 1659) as his wives. Shivaji Maharaj had 8 children, of which 6 were daughters (Sakhubai, Ranubai, Ambikabai, Deepabai, Rajkunvarbai, and Kamlabai), and the rest were his sons (Sambhaji and Rajaram).
The valiant Maharaj’s throne was succeeded by his elder son, Sambhaji Bhonsle (14 May 1657 – 11 March 1689, reigned from 1681 to 1689), who also came to be known as Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj. Shivaji Maharaj’s legacy was well kept by his son, the 2nd Chhatrapati of the Maratha Empire. Sambhaji Maharaj was killed after merciless torture, and his “crime” was that he was firmly patriotic to this land, and he refused to convert, which of course, the barbarous Aurangzeb didn’t like. By hook or by crook, Aurangzeb captured Sambhaji Maharaj and got him killed. But little did he know that only Sambhaji Maharaj’s physical body had been killed, and what was beyond his physical body still lives through his stories in our hearts, and I hope it will continue to be so.
Sambhaji Maharaj’s sacrifice will be remembered forever.
What Made Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Different?
We read about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s military achievements. But it was not just because of his deeds on the battlefield that led him to God-like stature. His administrative and leadership skills are what sets him ahead of most of the kings all over the globe.
What were those skills which made someone as egoistic as Aurangzeb admit that his armies had been employed against Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj for nineteen years, and nevertheless Shivaji Maharaj’s state had always been increasing?
Let us know more
Qualities That Set Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Apart from his Contemporaries
1) Shivaji Maharaj Never Misbehaved With Women As A Part Of War Strategy
No matter how deeply rooted Shivaji Maharaj’s rivalry with the other side was, he never used women for his benefit. Even if they were from the opposite side, women were never misbehaved under the regime of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. This isn’t a trait that many rulers possessed, but Shivaji Maharaj wasn’t just another ruler. Click here to read a great incident about Shivaji Maharaj’s behavior with women.
2) Shivaji Maharaj Conquered Hearts
Most people at the time of Shivaji Maharaj were farmers who were not well educated but simple and honest. Shivaji Maharaj won their hearts as a leader who believed in humanity. The noble qualities of Shivaji Maharaj were instilled by his mother Jijabai since childhood. No wonder why Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had such a majestic legacy. A leader who carries his people WITH him, instead of BEHIND him, is bound to have an extraordinary regime.
You can forcefully make people obey you, but that makes you a dictator, not a leader.
3) Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Believed In Merit
Shivaji Maharaj believed only in merit when he chose people for his service. He ensured the background check and always insisted on integrity. The Chhatrapati took the main role in selecting the right person for the right job. Not only did he check on the skill set, but he also checked the character and loyalty of the person. And this ensured that he had the best military force at all times, and that was a massive reason for his success.
4) Shivaji Maharaj Knew The Importance Of Effective Communication
The numero uno thing needed to become a good leader is to become a good orator. Shivaji Maharaj had superb oratory skills. He spoke from his heart. His words bore the pain and agony of the people in his empire. The leader always practiced the qualities of honesty, truthfulness, and trust and therefore won the admiration of the Marathas. Getting people to walk with you by communicating with them is one difficult task, and Shivaji Maharaj excelled even in that.
5) Shivaji Maharaj Kept The Nobles Interests Of Nation First
The country and its people’s interests always topped the priority list of Shivaji Maharaj. He just played a role of a caretaker for his people first, and then he had his other objectives. Result? The Maratha empire soared to great heights under Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, and the valiant son of Mother India became immortal, living forever in our hearts.
These were, of course, just a few of the many great qualities Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had in him. We all know him as a great leader and someone who made the Maratha Empire known across the subcontinent, and these were some of the numerous things that made him special.
The valiant Maratha ruler is also known as the “Father of Indian Navy,” for it was Shivaji Maharaj who showed modern-day India the strength and importance of the navy. His naval forces were so strong that they would hold against the British, the Dutch, and the Portuguese.
Kashi-Vishwanath, Mathura-Vrindavan, Ayodhya, and other Jyotirlingams were rescued from the Mlechha Mughals under his supervision.
The founder of the Maratha empire breathed his last on the 3rd of April, 1680. He passed away due to Dysentery. Even when leaving his physical body, he expressed his wish to have the Sapta-Sindhu liberated from the Yavans. Such was his love for his land.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj has carved himself into the pages of history and in the hearts of the people of India. Not just every Marathi, but every person across India feels proud of the fact that they belong to the land of the founder of the Maratha Empire, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Even without any elixir of immortality, Shivaji Maharaj made himself imperishable through his brave deeds.
Over To You
You just read about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his majestic legacy. But we all know that Bharat has produced more legends than one. So why not tell us about more such brave hearts in the comment section below? Also, do not forget to comment down about how you felt about the article. As we, at Icy Tales, are always up for feedback 🙂
Jai Bhavani! Jai Shivaji!