Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is celebrated as one of India’s greatest kings who established the Maratha Kingdom in western India. Renowned for his innovative military tactics and state – of – art military set up, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is a highly influential figure in Maharashtra. Even 300 years after his death, the folklore of his valour, gritty conquests and progressive administration reverberates across every nook and corner of the state. Indeed he was a brave leader with exceptional intelligence and foresight, but above all, he was a pragmatic man of morals. In this blog, we will explore a young peasant boy’s journey who turned his destiny around to be one of the most revered kings of modern India.
Childhood And Early Life
Shivaji Chhatrapati Maharaj was born on 19th February 1630 near Shivneri fort, to Jijabai and Shahaji Bhonsle. Shivaji’s father, Shahaji Bhonsle was a Maratha general at the service of the Deccan Sultanate ( Bijapur, Ahmadnagar and Golconda). Jijabai was a deeply pious woman and a devoted mother who greatly influenced young Shivaji. Growing up, Shivaji Maharaj was closer to his mother who instilled in him a strict sense of morals and ethics. Since Shahaji was away on his duty for prolonged periods, the duty of educating young Shivaji was entrusted upon a council of teachers, headed by Dadoji Konddev. Kanji Jedhe and Baji Pasalkar were delegated the duty of training Shivaji in the military and martial arts. Shivaji Maharaj was married to Saibai in the year 1640.
From a very young age, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj showed signs of gifted leadership. He was also an active outdoorsman who had traversed the lengths and breadths of the adjacent Sahyadri region. This geographical knowledge would give him an upper hand in his military endeavours. By the tender age of 15, Shivaji had collected an army of soldiers from Maval region who would be his loyal aides in his future conquests.
“Never bend your head, always hold it high.”
Tryst With The Mughals
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s early triumphs included capturing several strategic forts such as Torna, Chakan, along with Sinhagad and Purandar from the Bijapur empire (where his father served as the Maratha general). With consequent successes, Shivaji was a looming threat to the Adilshahi Empire. To keep Shivaji at bay, Adil Shah ordered the arrest of Shahaji in 1648. Shahaji was to be released under the condition that Shivaji would lay low and refrain from further conquests. Shivaji, keeping his promise resumed his military conquests after the death of Shahaji in 1665.
Shivaji‘s Quest With Afzal khan
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s encounter with Afzal Khan is one of the most frequently narrated stories in Maharashtra’s history. To subdue the rising terror of Shivaji in the Bijapur dynasty, emperor Adil Shah sent his mighty general Afzal Khan to assassinate Shivaji. To discuss the terms of negotiation, the two of them met at the Pratapgad fort in Raigad. Shivaji, getting a whiff of Adilshah’s foul play arrived well prepared with an armour and a concealed tiger claw. Much to his anticipation, Afzal Khan attacked Shivaji with a butcher’s Knife, but his armour protected Shivaji. Shivaji in return attacked Afzal Khan with his concealed metal tiger claws and inflicted fatal wounds on him consequently winning the battle of Pratapgad and conquering the fort. Following this victory, Shivaji also won the battle of Kolhapur.
His slate of victories in the Bijapur dynasty projected him as a major threat to the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. After numerous attacks back and forth and attempts for peacemaking between the Mughal Emperor and Shivaji Maharaj, they entered into the ‘Treaty of Purandar’. Shivaji had to surrender 23 of his forts and a sum of 400000 as a compensation to the Mughal Emperor. Subsequently, hostilities were pacified, and peace lasted till 1670. Shivaji launched an offensive against the Mughals and recovered most of his territories seized by the Mughals within 4 months.
“Freedom is a boon, which everyone has the right to receive.”
After having acquired considerable wealth and the strategically important territories of Poona and Konkan, all that was lacking for Shivaji was a kingly title and a legal basis to rule his de facto domain. On June 6th 1674, Shivaji Maharaj was coronated as the ruler of Marathas in an elaborate ceremony. Shivaji was endowed with titles like Chhtrapati (paramount sovereign), Shakakarta (founder of an era), Kshatriya Kulavantas (head of Kshatriyas) and Haindava Dharma Dharak (one who uplifts the sanctity of Hinduism).
Post coronation Shivaji Maharaj unified the Deccan states under his rule and swore to protect it from the invasion of Mughals.
Administration Of The Maratha Empire
Under Shivaji Maharaj’s rule, the Maratha administration consisted of a ‘’Chhatrapati’’ or a supreme sovereign and a council of 8 primary ministers appointed to oversee various aspects of governance. These 8 primary ministers reported directly to the sovereign and were bestowed with incredible power concerning the policies’ implementation. Despite being a devout Hindu, Shivaji’s administrative policies were deemed secular and ensured all religions thrived under his rule. Scholars have defined his policies as subject friendly and humane and extremely liberating to women. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (belonging to a non-dominant caste himself) vehemently opposed caste-system and employed people from all castes in his court. Shivaji introduced the Ryotwari system, which abolished middlemen’s presence between farmers and the state while collecting the taxes. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj maintained a strong military force and naval presence across the Konkan and Goan coast.
Death And Legacy
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj passed away on 3rd April 1680, at the age of 52.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was a valiant leader whose sole focus was uplifting his subjects and ending tyrannical rule against his people. Despite not hailing from a royal household or a dominant caste, Shivaji Maharaj achieved a great feat. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was a self-made man who rose from the bottom and morphed himself into an important adversary to the Mughal rule before the British Raj’s advent in India.
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This was all about the courageous and inspiring Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. His story inspires and teaches us the importance of being true to ourselves and others around us. His all-inclusive nature is something which is lacking in the leaders of today. Stay tuned to Leverage Edu for more such inspiring and thought-provoking stories. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora and Instagram.