Monday, March 5, 2012

Shivaji Raje Bhosle history

Shivaji Raje Bhosle 19 February 1630 – 3 April 1680), with the royal title Chhatrapati (Emperor) Shivaji Maharaj (Marathi: छत्रपती शिवाजी महाराज), was a Maratha aristocrat of the Bhosle clan who founded the Maratha Empire. Shivaji led a resistance to free the Maratha people from the Sultanate of Bijapur, and establish Hindavi Swarajya ("self-rule of Hindu people"). He created an independent Maratha kingdom with Raigad as its capital, and successfully fought against the Mughals to defend his kingdom. He was crowned as Chhatrapati ("sovereign") of the Maratha kingdom in 1674.

He established a competent and progressive civil rule with the help of a well-regulated and disciplined military and well-structured administrative organizations. The prevalent practices of treating women as spoils of war, destruction of religious monuments, slavery and forceful religious conversions were firmly opposed under his administration. Shivaji was a religious Hindu. He also innovated rules of military engagement, pioneering the "Shiva sutra" or ganimi kava (guerrilla tactics), which leveraged strategic factors like geography, speed, surprise and focused pinpoint attacks to defeat his larger and more powerful enemies and built many sea-forts. From a small contingent of 2,000 soldiers inherited from his father, he created a formidable force of 100,000 soldiers who eventually defeated the mighty Mughal Empire even after his death.


Shivaji's birthplace on Shivneri Fort.
Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was born in the hill-fort of Shivneri, near the Junnar city in Pune district. When his mother Jijabai was pregnant she went to pray to Lord Shiva for his blessings and Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's name is kept after Lord Shiva. Shivaji was born in 1551 AD of Shaka calendar (Friday, 19 February 1630).[2] Dr. Bal Krishna was the first noted historian who preferred Feb, 1630 as the date of birth of Shivaji on the basis of Contemporary documents further the horoscope of Shivaji was found in Jodhpur of Rajputana State (Now Rajasthan) which confirms the same Feb, 1630 as the date of birth of Shivaji.[11] The horoscope in the possession of Mewar Museum submitted by Pandits Mithalal Vyas of Jodhpur is the most authentic evidence of Shivaji 1630 date of birth.[11] Maharashtra state government accept this as the true birthdate of Shivaji.[12]
  • the 3rd day of the dark half of Phalguna, 1551 of Shaka calendar (Friday, 19 February 1630).[13] Setu Madhavrao Pagdi mentions that this has been stated as Shivaji's birth date by his court poet Paramanand.[14] Historians such as Dr. Bal Krishna as well as the Maharashtra state government accept this as the true birthdate of Shivaji.[15]
  • the second day of the light half of Vaisakha in the year 1549 of Saka calendar.[2] Thursday, 6 April 1627, or other dates near this day. This date is supported by scholars such as Jadunath Sarkar and GS Sardesai[11][16]:14[17] This date has been almost rejected by majority of historians as the work of "Jadunath Sarkar Shivaji and His Times" was criticized for its over dependence on 91-Qalmi Bakhar (composed in 1760s) and Shivadigvijaya Bakhar (composed in 1818), the reason given by Dr Balkrishna[18] and Dr Har Bilas Sarda for this was the fact that these works are the only two unreliable and late works which support Jadunath Sarkar theory of Shivaji low caste, whereas all contemporary texts of Shivaji be it Hindu or Muslim mention Shivaji as Sisodia Rajput.[19] Further these two scholars who were close friends and never criticized each other have no opinion on Shivaji horoscope composed in the work in Jodhpur in Rajputana in 1688 AD in which Shivaji birth date is clearly mentioned 19 February 1630 with other details. Shivaji name was under the category of "Rulers of Rana Family". Rana was title used by Sisodia Rajputs.[20][21]


Shahaji's bid for power

Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's father Shahaji Bhosle served alongside Malik Ambar, who defended the Deccan region (first to be done by any Maratha in the Deccan region) against the Mughals. He always tried to free their Kingdom from the Bijapur Sultanate as well as wanted to throw out the Mughal period in India and establish a Swaraj Empire. His mother Jijabai, a pious and far sighted lady was the daughter of Lakhujirao Jadhav of Sindkhed. She is regarded to be the master or the guru of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's bravery by their court poet, Paramanand. During the period of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's birth, the power in Deccan was shared by three Islamic sultanates – Bijapur, Ahmednagar, and Golconda. Shahaji kept changing his loyalty between the Nizamshahi of Ahmadnagar, Adil Shah of Bijapur and the Mughals, but always kept his jagir (fiefdom) at Pune and his small army with him. He tried to establish independent kingdom twice, but he had to surrender before onslaught of Mughals in 1636. By a treaty Shahji was forced to leave Maratha country and took up service with Adilshah in deep south. The region around pune was devastated due to continuous warfare, hence to restore peace and prosperity Jijabai remained behind.
Shivaji with Jijamata.

Teachings of Jijabai

Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was extremely devoted to his mother Jijabai, who was deeply religious. This religious environment had a profound influence on Shivaji, and he carefully studied the two great Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata. The morality and spiritual messages of the epics made a great impression on him. Throughout his life he was deeply interested in religious teachings, and sought the company of Hindu and Sufi (an esoteric Muslim sect) saints throughout his life.[16]


Friends from Sahyadri Mountains

Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj drew his earliest trusted comrades and a large number of his soldiers from the Maval region, including Yesaji Kank, Suryaji Kakade, Baji Pasalkar, Baji Prabhu Deshpande and Tanaji Malusare. In the company of his Maval comrades, a young Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj wandered over the hills and forests of the Sahyadri range, hardening himself and acquiring first-hand knowledge of the land. By 1639, he commanded a hardy and loyal band of officers and soldiers.[16]

At Banglore

At the age of 12, Shivaji was taken to Bangalore where he was further formally trained along-with elder brother Sambhaji and stepbrother Ekoji I. He married Saibai, a member of the prominent Nimbalkar family in 1640.[22] At age of 14, he returned to Pune with a rajmudra (sovereign seal) and council of minister.

Confrontation with the regional sultanate of Adilshah

In 1645, at the age of 16, Shivaji managed to pursue the Bijapuri commander of the Torna Fort, named Inayat Khan, to hand over the possession of the fort to him.[16]:26[23] [24] Firangoji Narsala, who held the Chakan fort professed his loyalty to him and the fort of Kondana was acquired by bribing the Adil-Shahi governor.[16]:26On 25 July 1648, Shahaji was imprisoned by Baji Ghorpade under the orders of Adilshah in a bid to contain Shivaji.[25]
Adilshah also sent an army led by Farradkhan against Shahji's other son Sambhaji at Bangalore, and another army led by Fattekhan against Shivaji at Purandhar. Both Bhonsle brothers defeated the invading armies.


Battle of Purander

An army led by Fattekhan was defeated by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the battle of Purandhar. Meanwhile, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had petitioned Emperor Shahjahan's son, Murad Baksh, who was governor of Deccan, pledging his loyalty to the Mughals to seek his support in securing the release of his father. The Mughals recognised Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj as a Mughal sardar and pressured Adilshah to release Shahaji.[26] On 16 May 1949 Shahaji was released after Shivaji and Sambhaji surrendering the forts of Kondhana,Bangalore and Kandarpi.[16]


A depiction of Goddess Bhavani giving the sword to Shivaji, at Tuljapur.
The Battle of Pratapgad was a land battle fought on November 10, 1659 at the fort of Pratapgad near the town of Satara, Maharashtra, India between the forces of the Maratha king Shivaji and the Adilshahi general Afzal Khan. The Marathas defeated the Adilshahi forces, which consisted of 7,000 cavalry and 5,000 infantry.[27] It was their first significant military victory against a major regional power, and led to the eventual establishment of the Maratha Empire.
Adilshah's attack and negotiations
Adilshah sent Afzal Khan, an experienced and veteran general to destroy Shivaji in an effort to put down what he saw as a regional revolt. Afzal Khan desecrated Hindu temples at Tuljapur and Pandharpur hoping to draw Shivaji to the plains to retaliate with his limited military resources and thus lead him and his budding military power to easy destruction by the numerically bigger, better-armed and more professional Bijapur army. Afzal Khan may have expected Shivaji to meet his army in the plains, however Shivaji, upon carefully weighing his options, decided to meet Afzal Khan on his home turf on pretext of diplomatic negotiations. Shivaji sent a letter to Afzal Khan stating that he was eager for a meeting. The meeting was arranged between Afzal Khan and Shivaji at the foothills of Fort on the day 10 November 1659 Pratapgad.[Afzal Khan and Shivaji conference
This event is one of the most important in Shivaji's life. Shivaji got a pledge from ministers to never submit in case he fell. It is said that during this period, Shivaji had a vision of Goddess Bhavani promising full protection on the confrontation and victory.[28]
Afzal Khan was invited to a hut at the base of Pratapgad under the conditions that both the men would be armed only with a sword and attended by a follower. However, Shivaji had worn armour underneath his clothes and had concealed a Bagh nakh in his left arm, in addition to a visibile dagger on his right hand.[29] Accounts vary on whether Shivaji or Afzal Khan struck the first blow.[30][31][32] Afzal Khan was disemboweled by Shivaji and later decapitated by Sambhaji Kavji.
Battle of Pratapgarh
In the ensuing Battle of Pratapgarh fought in the dense forest of Javli on 10 November 1659, Shivaji's armies attacked Vijapur's (Afzal Khan's) forces and engaged them in swift flanking maneuvers. Maratha troops under Kanhoji Jedhe attacked Afzal Khan's 1,500 strong musketeers and routed them at the foothills of the fort. Then in a rapid march, a section of Adilshahi forces commanded by Musekhan was attacked. Musekhan was wounded and subsequently fled, abandoning his soldiers who were then set upon and decimated by the Marathas.
Commander Moropant Pingale led the infantry in a lighting attack on to the left flank of the Adilshahi troops. Adilshah's artillery was rendered ineffective by the suddenness of this attack at close quarters. At the same time commander Ragho Atre swiftly attacked Adilshahi cavalry before it was fully prepared for battle and almost completely wiped it out. Shivaji's cavalry headed by Netaji Palkar rushed towards Wai in hot pursuit of retreating Adilshahi forces who were attempting to join reserve forces stationed there. The retreating forces of Afzal Khan were engaged in battle and were routed.[8] More than 3,000 soldiers of the Bijapur army were killed and two sons of Afzal Khan were taken as prisoners.[16]:53
Fall of Bijapur Army
This unexpected and unlikely 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. The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb now identified Shivaji as a major threat to the mighty Mughal Empire. Soon thereafter Shivaji, Shahaji Raje and Netaji Palkar (the chief of the Maratha cavalry) decided to attack and defeat the Adilshahi kingdom at Bijapur. But things did not go as planned as Shahaji's health deteriorated and they were forced to postpone the planned attack. However, Netoji Palkar undertook this mission mounting smaller scale attacks and military harassment of the Adilshahi kingdom.
Subsequently, the Sultan of Bijapur sent an army composed mainly of Afghan mercenaries to subdue and defeat Shivaji before he could substantially expand his army. In the ensuing battle, Bijapur's army was defeated by the Maratha troops. This intense and bloody battle ended in the unconditional surrender of the Bijapuri forces to Shivaji.

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 Rustamjaman. With a cavalry of 5,000 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 lasted for several hours and at the end Bijapuri forces were soundly defeated and Rustamjaman ignominiously fled the battlefield.[8] Adilshahi forces lost about 2,000 horses and 12 elephants to the Marathas. This victory alarmed the mighty Mughal empire who now derisively referred to Shivaji as the "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.

Siege of Panhala

M.V. Dhurandhar's painting of Shivaji.
Per the terms of the Mughal-Adilshahi plan, Adil Shah in 1660 sent Siddi Jauhar, an accomplished general to attack Shivaji on his southern borders, preceding the expected major Mughal attack from the north. He ordered his army of 40,000 north to Kolhapur to confront and defeat Shivaji as a part of their grand alliance with the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. He secured the support of local chieftains such as Jasvantrao Dalvi of Palavani and Suryarao Surve of Sringarpur to defeat Shivaji.[8] At that time, Shivaji was camped at the Panhala fort near present day Kolhapur with 8,000 Marathas.
Siddi Jauhar's army besieged Panhala on 2 March 1660, cutting off supply routes to the fort.[33] Helping with siege were Baji Ghorpade and Siddi Masud from the west, Sadat Khan and Bhai Khan from the north, Rustam Zaman and Bade Khan from the east, Siddi Jauhar and Fazal Khan from the south. Netaji Palkar, the Commander of the Maratha forces was on a mission away from Panhala harassing and attacking Adilshahi territory and was not able to come to the aid of Shivaji. At this point of time, Shaista Khan had moved from Baramati to Shirwal.[33]
Panhala was a formidable fort and Adilshahi army was repulsed repeatedly by effective cannon fire and heavy rock-pelting.[33] Siddi Jauhar approached Henry Revington, the British chief at the Rajapur port to seek long-range and more powerful cannons. Henry decided to help him in return for future favours, and began pounding Panhala fort. In spite of this Marathas continued defending Panhala and persevered in keeping Siddi Jauhar at bay.[33]
Marathas even raided the Adilshahi camp a few times but without much success. However, in one such raid, Tryambak Bhaskar and Kondaji Farzand presented themselves as allies of the British and Adlishahi forces. They came down to the Adilshahi camp and met Henry Revington and his associates. They managed to kill one British officer and injured Henry. Thereafter, they sabotaged the cannons and made them ineffective. Jauhar, livid at this, tightened the siege further.[33]
Jauhar did not leave any stone unturned to ensure that the siege around Panhala was unyielding, he personally took utmost care that no one in his army was complacent. He even braved the tumultuous monsoon season and continued the siege even during heaviest downpours.[33] On hearing about the ever tightening siege of Panhala, Netaji Palkar returned from Bijapur and attacked the Adilshahi forces surrounding Panhala. He tried to break the siege but his smaller forces were pushed back by a much larger Adilshahi army.[33]
Thereafter, Shivaji decided to escape to a nearby fort Vishalgad, where he could regroup his soldiers. He then sent misleading messages to Siddi Jauhar indicating that he was willing to negotiate and was looking for accommodation and mutual understanding. With this news, Adilshahi soldiers relaxed somewhat and Shivaji escaped under the cover of a stormy night on 12 July 1660.[33]
Meanwhile Jauhar's soldiers captured a small group of Marathas apparently including Shivaji only to realize he was a look-alike named Shiva Kashid dressed like Shivaji and sent out to create a diversion and facilitate the real Shivaji's escape. Siddi Johar's soldiers realized that the imposter was Shivaji's barber and that Shivaji and his army were headed to Vishalgad, immediately thereafter a massive chase was undertaken to intercept Shivaji and deal with him and his army, once and for all.[8]

Marathas' Last Stand: The Battle of Pavan Khind

Plaque to commemorate the entrance to Paavankhind
Observing that enemy cavalry was fast closing in on them, Shivaji sought to avoid defeat and capture. Baji Prabhu Deshpande, a Maratha sardar of Bandal Deshmukh along with 300 soldiers, volunteered to fight to the death to hold back the enemy at Ghod Khind (a mountain pass in Gajapur which is 4 miles (6.4 km) south of Vishalgad) to give Shivaji and the rest of the army a chance to reach the safety of the Vishalgad fort.[8][33]
In the ensuing Battle of Pavan Khind, Baji Prabhu Deshpande fought relentlessly. He was wounded but he held on and continued the fight until he heard the sound of cannon fire from Vishalgad, signalling Shivaji had safely reached the fort. The result of this intense and heroic battle was the death of 300 Marathas and 3,000 of Adilshah's troops who were engaged in a fierce combat. The Marathas were heroically committed to this fatal fight to ensure Shivaji's reaching the fort and they held off a larger enemy force for 7 hours using 2 swords one in each hand[8] allowing Shivaji to reach the safety of the fort on 13 July 1660.[33]
Thereafter a truce was made between Shivaji and Adilshah through Shahaji Raje. In addition, as the terms of this accord, Panhala Fort was awarded to Siddi Johar.[8] Ghod Khind (khind meaning "a narrow mountain pass") was renamed Paavan Khind (Sacred Pass) in honor of Bajiprabhu Deshpande, Shibosingh Jadhav, Fuloji, people from Bandal community and all other soldiers who fought in Ghod Khind. People from the Bandal community were specially selected by Shivaji while escaping from Panhala for their knowledge of the region, rock climbing skills, and martial qualities.[33]

Clash with the Mughals

Till 1657, Shivaji maintained peaceful relations with the Mughals. Shivaji offered his assistance to Aurangzeb in conquering Bijapur and in return, he was assured of the formal recognition of his right to the Bijapuri forts and villages under his possession [16]:37. Shivaji's confrontations with the Mughals begain in March 1657, when two officers of Shivaji raided the Mughal territory near Ahmednagar.[34] This was followed by raids in Junnar, with Shivaji carrying off 300,000 huns in cash and 200 horses [16]:38. Aurangzeb responded to the raids by sending Nasiri Khanm who defeated the forces of Shivaji at Ahmednagar. However, the countermeasures were interrupted by the rainy season and the battle of succession for the Mughal throne following the illness of Shah Jahan.

Battle of Umberkhind

An Uzbek general, Kartalab Khan, was sent by Shaista Khan on a mission to attack and reduce the number of forts under Shivaji's control in the Konkan region on 3 February 1661. He left his camp near Pune with 30,000 troops. This time the Mughals did not march openly and took circuitous back country routes, as they sought to surprise Shivaji.[33] But instead Shivaji surprised them at a pass known as Umber Khind (in a dense forest, near present-day Pen), and attacked them from all sides. Marathas hidden in the dense forest executed a well co-ordinated ambush attack on the Mughal army.[33] Shivaji himself took the forward position with an elite cavalry unit. The other three sides were flanked by Shivaji's light infantry.
In a well co-ordinated movement of light infantry and cavalry, Shivaji prevailed over the attackers. A Maratha lady commander, Raibagan, who co-led the Mughal forces, analyzed the situation and realised that defeat was imminent and advised Kartalab Khan to accept defeat and initiate a compromise with Shivaji.[8][33] Within four hours into the attack the enemy accepted defeat and surrendered all the supplies, arms and assets. The Mughal army suffered high casualties. The defeated army was allowed a safe passage. Kartalab Khan and Raibagan were released with honour in accordance with Shivaji's terms and his long standing policy towards women and unarmed civilians.[8]

Attack on Shaista Khan

Upon the request of Badi Begum of Bijapur, Aurangzeb sent his maternal uncle (brother of late Queen Mumtaz Mahal) Shaista Khan, with an army numbering over 100,000 along with a powerful artillery division in January 1660 to defeat Shivaji. Khan was accompanied by eminent commanders like Turktaj, Hussain, Haider, Naamdar Khan, Kartalab Khan, Uzbek Khan, Fateh Jung and Rajputs namely Bhau Singh, Shyam Singh, Rai Singh Sisodiya, Pradyuman and many more.[33] Khan was an experienced commander who had defeated Shahaji in the same region in 1636.[8] He was ordered to attack the Maratha kingdom in conjunction with Bijapur's army led by Siddi Jauhar. Aurangzeb ordered Shaista Khan to capture the Maratha kingdom to add to the empire (he intended to deceive the Adilshah), after Shivaji's expected defeat by Jauhar in Panhala fort. Shivaji now prepared to face a combined attack of Mughals and Adilshahi forces.[33]
Shaista Khan was ordered by Aurangzeb to attack Shivaji per the Mughal-Adilshahi accord. Shaista Khan, with his better equipped and provisioned army of 300,000 that was many times the size of the Maratha forces, seized Pune and the nearby fort of Chakan. At the time, Firangoji Narsala was the killedar (commander) of fort Chakan, which was defended by 300–350 Maratha soldiers. They were able to withstand the Mughal attack on the fort for one and a half month. Then, a burj (outer wall) was blown up with explosives. This created an opening to the fort allowing hordes of Mughals to breach the exterior portion of the fort. Firangoji, himself led the Maratha counter attack against a larger Mughal army.[8][33] Eventually, the fort was lost with the capture of Firangoji, who then was brought before Shaista Khan, who, appreciating his bravery, offered him a jahagir (military commission) on the condition that he join the Mughal forces, which Firangoji declined. Admiring his loyalty, Shaista Khan pardoned Firangoji and set him free. Firangoji returned home and Shivaji awarded him a fort named Bhupalgad.[33]
Shaista Khan pressed his advantage of larger, better provisioned and heavily armed Mughal army and made inroads into some of the Maratha territory. 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.[8]
Shaista Khan kept a tight security in Pune. However, Shivaji planned an 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.[8] Chimanaji Deshpande - one of the childhood friends of Shivaji aided him in this attack offering his services as a personal bodyguard. According to Babasaheb Purandare, since Mughal army also consisted of Maratha soldiers, it was difficult for someone to distinguish between Shivaji's Maratha soldiers and the Maratha soldiers of the Mughal army. Thus, taking advantage of this situation, Shivaji, along with a few of his trusted men, infiltrated the Mughal camp.
After overpowering and slaying of the palace guards, the Marathas broke into the mansion by breaching an outer wall. Chimnaji and Netaji Palkar entered first along with Babaji Deshpande, another of Shivaji's long time loyal associates, they approached Shaista Khan's quarters. Shivaji then personally confronted Shaista Khan in a face to face attack. Meanwhile, perceiving danger, one of Shaista's wives turned off the lights. Shivaji pursued Shaista Khan and severed three of his fingers with his sword (in the darkness) as he fled through an open window. Shaista Khan narrowly escaped death and lost his son and many of his guards and soldiers in the raid.[8]
Within twenty-four hours of this attack, 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 ignoble defeat in Pune.

Siege of Surat

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. (Surat was again sacked by Shivaji in 1670.)[8]

Treaty of Purandar

Mirza Raja Jai Singh of Amber receiving Shivaji a day before concluding the Treaty of Purandar.
Aurangzeb was enraged and sent Mirza Raja Jai Singh I with an army numbering around 15,000 [35] to defeat Shivaji. Jai Singh planned and executed his battle strategies so well with his vast army that the Mughal forces under him made significant gains and captured many Maratha forts. Shivaji came to terms with Aurangzeb rather than lose more forts and men.
In the ensuing treaty of Purander, signed between Shivaji and Jai Singh on 11 June 1665, Shivaji agreed to give up 23 of his forts and pay compensation of 400,000 rupees to the Mughals. He also agreed to let his son Sambhaji become a Mughal Sardar, serve the Mughal court of Aurangzeb and fight with Mughals against Bijapur. He actually fought along side Raja Jai Singh's Mughal forces against Bijapur's forces for a few months. His commander, Netaji Palkar, joined Mughals, was rewarded very well for his bravery, converted to Islam, changed his name to Quli Mohammed Khan in 1666 and was sent to the Afghan frontier to fight the restive tribes. He returned to Shivaji's service after ten years in 1676 and was accepted back as a Hindu on Shivaji's advice.

Arrest in Agra and escape

In 1666, Aurangzeb invited Shivaji to Agra, along with his nine-year-old son Sambhaji. Aurangzeb's plan was to send Shivaji to Kandahar, 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 mansabdārs (military commanders) of his court.[8] Shivaji took offense at this seeming insult and stormed out of court and was promptly placed under house arrest, under the watch of Faulad Khan, Kotwal of Agra. From his spies, Shivaji learned that Aurangzeb planned to move his residence 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.
He feigned almost fatal sickness and requested to send most of his contingent back to the Deccan, thereby ensuring the safety of his army and deceiving Aurangzeb. 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.[8] After several days and weeks of sending out boxes containing sweets, Shivaji and his nine year old son Sambhaji hid themselves in two of the boxes and managed to escape. Shivaji and his son fled to the Deccan disguised as sadhus (holy men). After the escape, rumours of Sambhaji's death were intentionally spread by Shivaji himself in order to deceive the Mughals and to protect Sambhaji.[8]
Dr. Ajit Joshi presented a different view in a Marathi book Agryahun Sutka, concluded that Shivaji most 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 of Pandit Kavindra Paramananda.[36]


Battle of Sinhgad

After this escape, both sides maintained calm and a treaty was concluded for some time. However it was broken at the end of the year 1670. Shivaji launched a major offensive against Mughals. In a span of four months he recovered a major portion of the territories surrendered to Mughals. During this phase, the valiant Tanaji Malusare won the prestigious fort of Sinhgad in the battle of Sinhgad, although he lost his life.

Battle of Vani-dindori

Subsequently, Shivaji sacked Surat for second time in 1670. When Shivaji was returning from Surat, Mughals under Daud Khan tried to intercept him, but were defeated in the Battle of Vani-dindori near present-day Nashik.

Battle of Salher

Peshwa Moropant Pingale won a number of forts in this area. Senapati Prataprao Gujar defeated Mughals in various campaigns. In order to subdue this Maratha resurgence, Dilerkhan was sent along with Bahlol khan and other generals. During this phase, the combined forces of Moropant and Prataprao defeated the Mughals in the open battle of Salher.
This was the first major battle in which Mughals were defeated by any opponent. This greatly raised the status of Marathas and Shivaji, in particular. Against this background of victories, Shivaji decided to coronate himself, thereby giving sovereignty to the Maratha people. However, a tragedy struck in that Shivaji lost his trusted cavalry general Prataprao in the following battle of Nesari.

Battle of Nesari

In 1674, Prataprao Gujar, the then Commander-in chief of the Maratha forces, was sent to push back the invading force led by the Adil Shahi general, Bahlol Khan. Prataprao's forces defeated and captured the opposing general in the battle after cutting-off their water supply by encircling a strategically located lake, which prompted Bahlol Khan to sue for peace. In spite of Shivaji's specific warnings against doing so Prataprao released Bahlol Khan who started preparing for a fresh invasion.[37]
Towers of the Raigad Fort.
When Shivaji sent a displeasure letter to Prataprao refusing him audience until Bahlol Khan was re-captured. In the ensuing days, he learnt of Bahlol Khan having camped with 15,000 force at Nesari near Kolhapur. Given the uneven match Prataprao reasoned that there was no point in leading his 1,200 cavalrymen into a suicide charge alone. Other six sardars of distinction followed him to perish with their commander. The seven Maratha officers were Prataprao Gujar, Visaji Ballal, Dipoji Rautrao, Vithal Pilaji Atre, Krishnaji Bhaskar, Siddi Hilal and Vithoji Shinde. The loss of Prataprao Gujar was a big loss to the Marathas. Anandrao Mohite managed to the withdraw army to safer areas.[38]
Marathas then avenged the death of their general, by defeating Bahlol Khan and capturing his jagir (fiefdom) under the leadership of Anaji and Hambirao Mohite. Shivaji was deeply grieved on hearing of Prataprao's death. He arranged for the marriage of his second son, Rajaram, to the daughter of Prataprao Gujar. Anandrao Mohite became Hambirrao Mohite, the new sarnaubat (Commander-in-Chief of the Maratha forces). Shivaji started preparation for coronation. Fort Raigad was newly built by Hiroji Indulkar as a capital of rising Maratha kingdom.


Chhattrapati Shivaji, founder of the Maratha Confederacy.
At the time of Shivaji's coronation twenty-thousand Brahmans were present at Raigad. Gaga Bhatt, an authority of Vedas officially presided over the ceremony, and had a gold vessel filled with the seven sacred waters of the rivers Yamuna, Indus, Ganges, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri. He held the vessel over Shivaji's head and chanted the coronation mantras, as the water kept dripping from the several tiny holes in the vessel. After the ablution, Shivaji bowed before Jijamata and touched her feet. Nearly fifty thousand people gathered at Raigad for the ceremonies.[8] Shivaji was bestowed with the sacred thread jaanva, with the Vedas and was bathed in an abhisheka. Shivaji then had the title of "shakakarta" conferred upon him.
Shivaji then had the title of "Shakakarta" conferred upon him, as well as assumed the title 'Kshatriya Kulavantas' meaning head of Kshatriyas. Further, he preferred Chhatrapati title than Maharaja.
His mother Jijabai died on 18 June 1674, within a few days of the coronation. This was considered a bad omen. Therefore a second coronation was carried out in September 1674, this time according to the Bengal school of Tantricism and presided over by Nischal Puri.

Conquests in Southern India

Maratha Empire in 1680. (red)
In October 1674, the Marathas raided Khandesh. On 17 April 1675 Shivaji captured Phonda from Bijapuris. Karwar was occupied by mid 1675 and Kolhapur in July 1675. There were naval skirmishes with the Siddis of Janjira in November 1675. In early 1676, Peshwa Pingale engaged Raja of Ramnagar in battle en route to Surat. Shivaji raided Athani in March 1676. By the end of 1676, Shivaji besieged Belgaum and Vayem Rayim in current day northern Karnataka.
At the end of 1676, Shivaji Maharaj launched a wave of conquests in southern India with a massive force of 50,000 (30,000 cavalry and 20,000 infantry).[8] He captured the forts at Vellore and Jinji that belonged to the sultanate of Bijapur and are in modern-day Tamil Nadu. In the run-up to this expedition Shivaji appealed to a sense of Deccani patriotism, that the "Deccan" or Southern India was a homeland that should be protected from outsiders.[39] His appeal was somewhat successful and he entered into a treaty with the Qutubshah of the Golconda sultanate that covered the eastern Deccan. Shivají's conquests in the south proved quite crucial during future wars. Jinji served as Maratha capital for nine years during the War of 27 years. The small bands of marathas were now moving like imperial forces ready for open battle.
His other intention was to reconcile with his stepbrother Vyankoji (his father Shahaji's son from his second wife, who came from the Mohite family) who ruled Thanjavur after Shahaji. They had talks, Venkoji (Ekoji I) showed signs of uniting with Shivaji but then no concrete result was obtained.[8] On return to Raigad, Shivaji seized most of Ekoji's possessions in the Mysore plateau. Ekoji's wife Deepabai a scholar of saintly bent of character brought reconciliation between the two brothers so they were not enemies and maintained the status quo of co-existing independent.

Death and succession crisis

Shivaji died on 2 April 1680,[40] on the eve of Hanuman Jayanti. In a span of 50 years he started from a jagir and ended with a vast empire streching from hilly terrains to southern plain. According to James Grant Duff, the first historian of Marathas in modern times, the spirit infused in the minds of people by Shivaji was more valuable than the forts and treasury left behind.
After the death of Shivaji, his widow Soyarabai Shirke started making plans with various ministers of the administration to replace Sambhaji with her son Raja Ram as the heir to the kingdom. On 21 April 1680, the ten-year old Raja Ram was installed in the throne. The news reached Sambhaji who was imprisoned in Panhala. On 27 April, he took possession of the fort after killing the commander and on 18 June, he acquired control of Raigarh. Sambhaji formally ascended the throne on 20 July, putting Soyarabai and Raja Ram in prison.[41][42]

Rule and Administration

Shivaji statue at Pratapgad.
Shivaji was an able administrator who established a government that included modern concepts such as cabinet (Ashtapradhan mandal), foreign affairs (Dabir) and internal intelligence.[43] Shivaji established an effective civil and military administration. He also built a powerful navy. Maynak Bhandari was one of the first chiefs of the Maratha Navy under Shivaji, and helped in both building the Maratha Navy and safeguarding the coastline of the emerging Maratha Empire. He built new forts like Sindhudurg and strengthened old ones like Vijaydurg on the west coast.[8] The Maratha navy held its own against the British, Portuguese and Dutch.[44]
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.[8]
Shivaji was the first king of the medieval world to undertake the revolutionary idea of abolishing the Feudal System, 150 years before its worldwide recognition in the French revolution. For a span of about 50 years, there were no feudals in his kingdom. After the fall of Raigad in 1689, Raja Ram started giving land grants to maratha chieftans to fight against the mughals in the War of 27 years.


The organization of Shivaji's administration was composed of eight ministers of pradhaanas:[45]
  • Peshwa - Mukhya (main) Pradhan, next to the king, for supervising and governing under king's orders in his absence. The king's orders bore the Peshwa's seal.
  • Mazumdar - An auditor to take care of income and expenditure checks, keep the king informed of finances and sign districts-level accounts.
  • Navis or Waqia Mantri - to record daily activities of the royal family and to serve as master of ceremony.
  • Sur Navis or Sachiv - to oversee the king's correspondence to ensure letter and style adherence to wishes of the king and check accounts of palace and Parganas.
  • Sumant or Dabir - for foreign affairs and to receive ambassadors.
  • Senapati or Sir-nobut - To keep troops ready and the king fully informed.
  • Panditrao - to promote learning, spirituality and settle religious disputes.
  • Nyayadhish - the highest judicial authority.


Sindhudurg fortress from mainland, a sea fort constructed by Shivaji.
Shivaji demonstrated great skill in creating his military organisation, which lasted till the demise of the Maratha empire. He was one of the pioneers of commando actions, then known as ganimi kava.[46] His Mavala army's war cry was Har Har Mahadev ("Hail Lord Our God", Har and Mahadev being common names of Shiva).[8] Shivaji was responsible for many significant changes in military organization:
  • A standing army belonging to the state, called paga.
  • All war horses belonged to the state; responsibility for their upkeep rested on the Sovereign.
  • Creation of part time soldiers from peasants who worked for eight months in their fields and supported four months in war for which they were paid.
  • Highly mobile and light infantry and cavalry excelling in commando tactics.
  • The introduction of a centralized intelligence department; Bahirjee Naik was the foremost spy who provided Shivaji with enemy information in all of Shivaji's campaigns.
  • A potent and effective navy.
  • Introduction of field craft, such as guerrilla warfare, commando actions, and swift flanking attacks.
  • Innovation of weapons and firepower, innovative use of traditional weapons like the tiger claw (vaghnakh) and vita.
  • Militarisation of large swathes of society, across all classes, with the entire peasant population of settlements and villages near forts actively involved in their defence.[8]
Shivaji realized the importance of having a secure coastline and protecting the western Konkan coastline from the attacks of Siddi's fleet.[8][16][47] His strategy was to build a strong navy to protect and bolster his kingdom. He was also concerned about the growing dominance of British Indian naval forces in regional waters and actively sought to resist it. For this reason he is also referred to as the "Father of Indian Navy".[48]


Suvela Machi, view of southern sub-plateaux, as seen from Ballekilla, Rajgad.
Shivaji captured strategically important forts at Murumbdev (Rajgad), Torana, Kondana (Sinhagad) and Purandar and laid the foundation of swaraj or self rule. Toward the end of his career, he had a control of 360 forts to secure his growing kingdom. Shivaji himself constructed about 15-20 totally new forts (including key sea forts like Sindhudurg), but he also rebuilt or repaired many strategically placed forts to create a chain of 300 or more, stretched over a thousand kilometres across the rugged crest of the Western Ghats. Each were placed under three officers of equal status lest a single traitor be bribed or tempted to deliver it to the enemy. The officers (sabnis, havladar, sarnobhat) acted jointly and provided mutual checks and balance.


Shivaji built a strong naval presence across long coast of Konkan and Goa to protect sea trade, to protect the lands from sack of prosperity of subjects from coastal raids, plunder and destruction by Arabs, Portuguese, British, Abyssinians and pirates. Shivaji started navy in Kalyan. Shivaji built ships in towns such as Kalyan, Bhivandi, and Goa for building fighting navy as well as trade. He also built a number of sea forts and bases for repair, storage and shelter. Shivaji fought many lengthy battles with Siddis of Janjira on coastline. The fleet grew to reportedly 160 to 700 merchant, support and fighting vessels. He started trading with foreigners on his own after possession of 8 or 9 ports in the Deccan.[16][49][50]

Promotion of Sanskrit

The house of Shivaji was well acquainted with Sanskrit and promoted the language; his father Shahaji had supported scholars such as Jayram Pindye, who prepared Shivaji's seal. Shivaji continued this Sanskrit promotion, giving his forts names such as Sindhudurg, Prachandgarh, and Suvarndurg. He named the Ashta Pradhan (council of ministers) as per Sanskrit nomenclature with terms such as Nyayadhish, and Senapat, and commissioned the political treatise Rajya Vyavahar Kosh. His Rajpurohit, Keshav Pandit, was himself a Sanskrit scholar and poet.[51]
A significant aspect of Shivaji's rule was his attempt to revive ancient Hindu political tradition and court conventions. He introduced Marathi in the place of Persian as the court language, revived Sanskrit administrative nomenclature and compiled a dictionary of official terms, 'The Rajyavyavahar Kosh', to facilitate change over.[52]

Religious Policy : Secular Maratha Empire

Shivaji was a devout Hindu but he respected all religions within the region. Shivaji had great respect for other contemporary saints, most notably Samarth Ramdas for whom he had a lot of faith. Shivaji requested Ramdas swami to move his residence to a fort named Parali & establish his permanent monastery there. The fort was subsequently renamed Sajjangad (सज्जनगड) - Fort of the sacred. [53]
Shivaji allowed his subjects freedom of religion and opposed forced conversion.[8][54] The first thing Shivaji did after a conquest was to promulgate protection of mosques and Muslim tombs.[8]
He commanded the respect and fealty of the Muslims under his command by his fair treatment of his friends as well as enemies.[8] Kafi Khan, the Mughal historian and Francois Bernier, a French traveler, spoke highly of his religious policy. He also brought converts like Netaji Palkar and Bajaji back into Hinduism. 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.[55]
He had many Muslims in his military and ministries.[56] 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.[55][57][58] Shivaji had particular 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 took his blessings. He called Hazrat Baba of Ratnagiri - "bahut thorwale bhau", meaning "great elder brother".[55][57]
Shivaji also promulgated other enlightened values, prohibiting slavery in his kingdom,[8] and applying a humane and liberal policy to the women of his state.[55]


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.[55][57]
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 beautiful 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.[55][57]
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 clever 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 tough trials.[57]
He did not spend any resources on projects designed for self-aggrandizement or vanity, instead he was propelled 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 Adilshahis, Nizams 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.[57]
Shivaji struck a deep chord with his followers and the citizenry. 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.[57]
Swami Vivekananda portrayed Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja as:[59]
Shivaji is one of the greatest national saviours who emancipated our society and our Dharma when they were faced with the threat of total destruction. He was a peerless hero, a pious and God-fearing king and verily a manifestation of all the virtues of a born leader of men described in our ancient scriptures. He also embodied the deathless spirit of our land and stood as the light of hope for our future.


Statue of Shivaji at Raigad Fort
Shivaji died in April 1680, and his eldest son Sambhaji took power after being challenged by his stepmother Soyarabai. Meanwhile, emperor Aurangzeb's son had a falling out with his father and joined forces with Sambhaji, thereafter Aurangzeb personally led his imperial army to attack and to completely destroy the Maratha threat once and for all. He threw the full might of the Mughal empire toward this goal and for a while it seemed that he would achieve his objective, especially after the capture, torture and the murder of Sambhaji for his refusal to bow down before him and convert to Islam.[60] Turmoil and uncertainty gripped the Maratha Confederacy, and they were forced to move their capital from Raigad near Pune to Gingee in the south in current-day state of Tamil Nadu.
The Maratha nation thereafter stabilized itself and became better organised and began to undertake fast raids on the slow moving Mughal columns. Able and courageous generals such as Dhanaji Jadhav and Santaji Ghorpade were able to take the initiative and effectively bogged down the powerful Mughal army in to an protracted 27 year war. In the last few years of this war both the Maratha generals delivered severe body blows to the Mughals on the shifting battlefieds in Maharashtra. And in 1697 Aurangzeb withdrew from the Deccan for the last time in sickness and thereafter recalled his full army a few years later. After this time the Mughals never again posed a great danger to the Marathas.
In fact the Mughals had depleted their vast treasuries in trying to subjugate the Marathas but had instead weakened their empire and were then only a shadow of their former glory. Within sixty years of Auragzeb's death the Marathas under the Peshwa's leadership soundly defeated the Mughals and forced them to sign the Ahmedia treaty whereby they relinquished their vast empire in the sub-content to the Marathas. They were allowed to keep nominal control of Delhi while the Marathas were able to collect taxes from vast swaths of present-day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, down all the way to the Southern tip of the Indian subcontinent.
At his death, Shivaji's army consisted of tens of thousands of cavalry, a sizeable infantry, horses, camels and hundreds of elephants, fighting vessels in his naval fleet and artillery pieces. His military structures included about a hundred forts built by him (including naval), and his forces were led by a number of commanders and senior generals of all castes, including Muslims.[10]

Modern influence

Because of his struggle against an imperial power, Shivaji became an icon of the Indian independence movement that followed two centuries later. He is remembered as a just and wise warrior-king. School texts in India describe Shivaji's rule as heroic, exemplary and inspiring and he is considered the founder of the modern Hindu nation; his policies were instrumental in building a distinct Hindu identity and infusing it with strong martial and moral traditions.
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 School of Naval Engineering of the Indian Navy is named as INS Shivaji.

Contemporary foreign accounts

Many foreign travellers who visited India during Shivaji Maharaj's time wrote about him.
  • Abbe Carre was a French traveller who visited India around 1670; his account was published as Voyage des Indes Orientales mêlé de plusieurs histories curieuses at Paris in 1699. Some quotes:[61]
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 the king of Sweden, Gustavus Adolphus.
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.
  • Warriors and statesmen in India, Sir E.Sullivan:[63]
Shivaji possessed every quality requisite for success in the disturbed age in which he lived: cautious and wily in council, he was fierce and daring in action; he possessed an endurance that made him remarkable even amongst his hardy subjects, and an energy and decision that would in any age raised him to distinction.
  • Cosme da Guarda says in "Life of the Celebrated Shivaji":[64]
Such was the good treatment Shivaji accorded to people and such was the honesty with which he observed the capitulations that none looked upon him without a feeling of love and confidence. By his people he was exceedingly loved. Both in matters of reward and punishment he was so impartial that while he lived he made no exception for any person; no merit was left unrewarded, no offence went unpunished; and this he did with so much care and attention that he specially charged his governors to inform him in writing of the conduct of his soldiers, mentioning in particular those who had distinguished themselves, and he would at once order their promotion, either in rank or in pay, according to their merit. He was naturally loved by all men of valor and good conduct.


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