Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj – Hindu Warriors


Shivaji Bhonsle also known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, was an Indian warrior king and a member of the Bhonsle Maratha clan. Shivaji carved out an enclave from the declining Adilshahi sultanate of Bijapur that formed the genesis of the Maratha Empire. In 1674, he was formally crowned as the Chhatrapati (Monarch) of his realm at Raigad.

Shivaji established a competent and progressive civil rule with the help of a disciplined military and well-structured administrative organisations. He innovated military tactics, pioneering the guerrilla warfare methods (Shiva sutra or ganimi kava), which leveraged strategic factors like geography, speed, and surprise and focused pinpoint attacks to defeat his larger and more powerful enemies. He revived ancient Hindu political traditions and court conventions and promoted the usage of Marathi and Sanskrit, rather than Persian, in court and administration.

Shivaji’s legacy was to vary by observer and time but began to take on increased importance with the emergence of the Indian independence movement, as many elevated him as a proto-nationalist and hero of the Hindus.Particularly in Maharashtra, debates over his history and role have engendered great passion and sometimes even violence as disparate groups have sought to characterise him and his legacy.

Shivaji was extremely devoted to his mother Jijabai, who was deeply religious. This religious environment had a great impact on Shivaji, and he carefully studied the two great Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata; these were to influence his lifelong defence of Hindu values. Throughout his life he was deeply interested in religious teachings, and regularly sought the company of Hindu and Sufi saints.

Shahaji, meanwhile had married a second wife, Tuka Bai from the Mohite family, and moved to Karnataka to lead a military campaign on behalf of Adilshahi. He left Shivaji and Jijabai in his Pune holdings in the care of his administrator, Dadoji Konddeo. Dadoji Konddeo made significant contributions in teaching Shivaji basic fighting techniques such as horse riding, archery and marksmanship, patta and others. Shivaji as a boy was a keen outdoorsman and, though he received little formal education and most likely could neither read nor write, he is said to have possessed considerable erudition.Shivaji drew his earliest trusted comrades and a large number of his soldiers from the Maval region,[when?] including Yesaji Kank, Suryaji Kakade, Baji Pasalkar, Baji Prabhu Deshpande and Tanaji Malusare. In the company of his Maval comrades, Shivaji wandered over the hills and forests of the Sahyadri range, hardening himself and acquiring first-hand knowledge of the land, which was to later prove applicable to his military endeavours.

At the age of 12, Shivaji was taken to Bangalore where he, his elder brother Sambhaji and his half brother Ekoji I were further formally trained. He married Saibai from the prominent Nimbalkar family in 1640.Around 1645–46, the teenage Shivaji first expressed his concept for Hindavi swarajya, in a letter to Dadaji Naras Prabhu.

2. 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 Adilshahi general, Bahlol Khan. Prataprao’s forces defeated and captured the opposing general in the battle, after cutting-off their water supply by encircling a strategic 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.

3.Raigad Fort
Shivaji sent a displeased letter to Prataprao, refusing him audience until Bahlol Khan was re-captured. In the ensuing days, Shivaji learnt of Bahlol Khan having camped with 15,000 force at Nesari near Kolhapur. Not wanting to risk losing his much smaller Maratha force entirely, Prataprao and six of his sardars attacked in a suicide mission, buying time for Anandrao Mohite to withdraw the remainder of the army to safety.The Marathas avenged the death of Prataprao 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 Prataprao’s daughter. Anandrao Mohite became Hambirrao Mohite, the new sarnaubat (commander-in-chief of the Maratha forces). Raigad Fort was newly built[when?] by Hiroji Indulkar as a capital of nascent Maratha kingdom.

4.Death and succession
The question of Shivaji’s heir-apparent was complicated by the misbehaviour of his eldest son Sambhaji, who was irresponsible and “addicted to sensual pleasures.” Unable to curb this, Shivaji confined his son to Panhala in 1678, only to have the prince escape with his wife and defect to the Mughals for a year. Sambhaji then returned home, unrepentant, and was again confined to Panhala.

In late March 1680, Shivaji fell ill with fever and dysentery, dying around 3–5 April 1680 at the age of 52,on the eve of Hanuman Jayanti. Rumours followed his death, with Muslims opining he had died of a curse from Jan Muhammad of Jalna, and some Marathas whispering that his second wife, Soyarabai, had poisoned him so that his crown might pass to her 10-year-old son Rajaram.

After Shivaji’s death, the widowed Soyarabai made plans with various ministers of the administration to crown her son Rajaram rather than her prodigal stepson Sambhaji. On 21 April 1680, ten-year-old Rajaram was installed on the throne. However, Sambhaji took possession of the Raigad Fort after killing the commander, and on 18 June acquired control of Raigad, and formally ascended the throne on 20 July. Rajaram, his wife Janki Bai, and mother Soyrabai were imprisoned, and Soyrabai executed on charges of conspiracy that October.

Shivaji captured strategically important forts at Murambdev (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, havaldar, sarnobat) acted jointly and provided mutual checks and balance

Today, Shivaji is considered as a national hero in India, especially in the state of Maharashtra, where he remains arguably the greatest figure in the state’s history. Stories of his life form an integral part of the upbringing and identity of the Marathi people. Further, he is also recognised as a warrior legend, who sowed the seeds of Indian independence.

Nineteenth century Hindu revivalist Swami Vivekananda considered Shivaji a hero and paid glowing tributes to his wisdom. When Indian Nationalist leader, Lokmanya Tilak organised a festival to mark the birthday celebrations of Shivaji, Vivekananda agreed to preside over the festival in Bengal in 1901. He wrote about Shivaji:

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