Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj: The Strongest King In Ancient India


Shivaji Bhosale, better known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, was an Indian warrior king and a member of the Maratha clan. He established a competent and progressive civil rule with the help of disciplined military and well-structured administrative organisations.

He also introduced new military tactics, pioneering guerrilla warfare methods, which used geography, speed, and surprise and focused pinpoint attacks to defeat enemies.

Born on 19th February 1630 in the hill-fort of Shivneri, near the city of Junnar in Pune district, named Shivaji in honor of goddess Shivai to whom mother prayed for a healthy child.

Father Shahaji Bhosale was a Maratha general who served the Deccan Sultanates and mother Jijabai was the daughter of a ruler.

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 defense of Hindu values. Throughout his life he was deeply interested in religious teachings, and regularly sought the company of Hindu and Sufi saints.

In 1646, Shivaji & his friends from Maval took oath of independence in the temple of Rohideshwar. At a young age of 16 he conquered the forts of Torna. Torna fort is the first fort that Shivaji captured.

In 1648, at the age of 18, captured two forts, Kondhana and Purandar.

1. The Killing of Afzal Khan

The battle is known for the manner in which Afzal Khan was killed by Chhatrapati Shivaji. Shivaji had sent an emissary saying that he did not want war. Even though a meeting was arranged, both of them were deeply suspicious of each other’s intentions. It was agreed that the two would meet unarmed but both were prepared for treachery. Afzal Khan had hidden a small dagger (katyar) and Shivaji wore armour underneath his clothes with a tiger nails (wagh nakha) in one hand.

As the two men entered the tent, the 7′ tall Khan embraced Shivaji. Then treacherous Khan swiftly drew his hidden dagger and stabbed Shivaji in the back. The dagger was deflected by Shivaji’s armour. Shivaji responded by disemboweling the Khan with a single stroke of his wagh nakhi. Thereupon Afzal Khan’s bodyguard SayyedBanda attacked Shivaji with swords but Jiva Mahala, Shivaji’s personal bodyguard fatally struck him down, cutting off one of Sayyed Banda’s hands with a Dandpatta. Khan was later chased and beheaded by one of Shivaji’s lieutenants. The severed head was later sent to Rajgad to be shown to Shivaji’s mother.

2. Arrest in Agra and Wise 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 (now in Afghanistan).Shivaji was led to the back of the hall. By now, it was clear that it was a trap and Shivaji and his son were captives. They were imprisoned for many months but, Shivaji did not despair. Shivaji’s was allocated spacious quarters in one of the big houses and his personal servants stayed in the interior of the haveli. He befriended the postmaster and a few subordinates of the emperor and collected information about the happenings around the kingdom.

Shivaji feigned illness and requested that his men be released so they go back home. Aurangzeb granted this wish. His men went to several towns and settled there, after which Shivaji was ready to execute his plan. 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 his health.

After several days and weeks of sending out boxes containing sweets, Shivaji, realizing his moment had arrived, escaped with his son Sambaji in the sweet baskets.

3. Military: Established Hindavi Swarajya

Shivaji was responsible for many significant changes in military organisation:

  • A standing army belonging to the state, called paga.
  • Highly mobile and light infantry and cavalry excelling in commando tactics.
  • The introduction of a centralized intelligence department.
  • A potent and effective navy.
  • Introduction of field craft like commando actions, and swift flanking attacks.
  • Innovation of weapons and firepower, innovative use of traditional weapons like the tiger claw (vaghnakh) and vita.
  • Bahirjee Naik was the foremost spy who provided Shivaji with enemy information in all of Shivaji’s campaigns.

4. Forts: Control of 360 forts

Shivaji captured strategically important forts at Rajgad, Torna, Kondhana (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. HeS 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 WesternGhats. 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.

5. A Secular King

Though his war was against Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and Adil Shah, he never biased any one on the basis of their religion.

Daryadarang as the Chief of the Navy.

·Ibrahim Khan as the Chief of the Artillery.

·Daulat Khan prominent in the navy. Armour Chief.

·Siddhi Hilal was another brave Muslim chieftain in Shivaji’s army.

·Kazi Hyder was an emissary of King Shivaji, who later became a Secretary.

· Siddi Ibrahim was a Bodyguard of King Shivaji.

· Madari Mehtar was Shivaji Maharaja’s Royal Servant.

The great warrior Shivaji always respected Muslim saints. Yakut Baba, a Sufi Muslim saint was one of the king’s spiritual guides.

The king had ordered his Hindu soldiers, that Muslim women and children should not be maltreated, Mosques should be given a protection and if they find a copy of Kuran while the mission, they should handover it to their Muslim colleagues respectfully.

6. Legacy

Nineteenth century Hindu revivalist Swami Vivekananda considered him 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:

Shivaji is one of the greatest national saviours who emancipated our society and our Hindu 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.”

Poem by Rabindranath Tagore:

In what far-off country, upon what obscure day
I know not now,
Seated in the gloom of some Mahratta mountain-wood
O King Shivaji,
Lighting thy brow, like a lightning flash,
This thought descended,
“Into one virtuous rule, this divided broken distracted India,
I shall bind

Proudh Pratap Purandar, Kshatriy Kulavantas, Sivhasanadhishwar, Maharajadhiraj, Yogiraj, Shirmant Shri, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Ki Jay

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Source Credit: Wikipedia

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