Friday, 8 March 2013

Chatrapati Shivaji

            Maharaj Shivaji, a name of the Maratha king still remembered by every Indian for the courage shown. He is the founder of  Maratha Empire in western India. He is considered to be one of the greatest warriors of his time and even today, stories of his exploits are narrated as a part of the folklore. King Shivaji used the guerrilla tactics to capture a part of, the then, dominant Mughal empire. It was told that the Goddess BHAVANI of Tuljapur blessed Shivaji to courage before he was crowned. He visited the temple many times during the wars also.

            Shivaji was born on 19th February 1630, to Sahaji and his wife, Jijabai, in the Shivneri Fort, situated almost 60 km to the north of Pune. He was named as Shiva, after the local Goddess Shivai, to whom his mother Jijabai had prayed for a son. After being defeated by the combined forces of the Mughals and Adil Shah, Sahaji was offered a jagir near the present-day Bangalore. However, he was allowed to keep his holdings in Pune. So, Sahaji left his son Shivaji to manage the Pune holdings, under the care of his mother Jijabai.

            With a small council of ministers, Shivaji began managing his estate. His ministers included Shamrao Nilkanth as Peshwa, Balkrishna Pant as Muzumdar, Raghunath Ballal as Sabnis and Sonopant as Dabir. At the same time, Kanhoji Jedhe and Baji Pasalkar were appointed to look after Shivaji's training. In the year 1644, Shivaji undertook full administrative responsibilities of his estate. Thus was started his career as an independent young prince of a small kingdom. His mother, Jijabai, was instrumental in instilling in Shivaji's mind a love for independence and distaste for external political domination.

The first aggression in the life of Shivaji came at the age of sixteen, when he seized the Torna fort of Bijapur kingdom. By 1647, he had gained control over Kondana and Rajgad forts, with complete power of the Pune region. With time, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj secured the forts in the Western Ghats as well as those along the Konkan coast. Shivaji also fought against the army of Adilshah at Purandhar. In November 1659, he fought the battle of Pratapgarh and defeated Afzal Khan. Immediately after this success, King Shivaji occupied the area stretching upto the Panhala fort.

The battle of Kolhapur took place in December 1659. In the battle, Shivaji crushed the army of Bijapuri general, Rustemjaman. In 1660, Siddi Johar's huge and daunting army attacked him at Panhala fort. Shivaji managed to escape from the fort. However, he soon launched an attack on Siddi Johar. The result was the surrender of Panhala and a truce between Shivaji and Adilshah. After the death of Adilshah, Aurangzeb attacked Golconda and Bijapur. Shivaji used guerilla-style tactics and captured more and more of the Bijapuri and Mughal territories. However, by 1663, he had lost most of his conquests to the Mughal army.

In the next few years, Shivaji again started seizing forts belonging to both Mughals as well as those of Bijapur. Aurangzeb sent Jai Singh, his Hindu general, to capture Shivaji. Shivaji surrendered to Jai Singh at Purander in 1665 and agreed becoming a Mughal vassal. In 1666, he managed to escape form his house arrest in Agra and lay low for the next few years. However, in January 1670, Shivaji launched an attack on Mughal garrisons in Maharashtra. Within a period of six months, he won back most of his lost empire. The period of 1670 to 1674 was spent by Shivaji Maharaj in expanding his empire at the cost of the Mughals.

In 1670, Shivaji launched an assault, under his General - Tanaji Malusare, to capture Kondana fort on the outskirts of Pune. The battle was won but he lost Tanaji. In the honor of Tanaji, the Kondana fort was renamed as Sinhagad. Shivaji was formally crowned as Chatrapati (meaning the Chief, Head or King of Kshatriyas) in June 1674 at the Raigad fort. He was given the title of Kshatriya Kulavantas Simhasanadheeshwar Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The end of 1676 saw Shivaji commencing attacks in the southern parts of India.

Shivaji was an efficient ruler and administrator and ruled with a just and firm hand. His government had concepts that we know of now like the Cabinet known as Ashtapradhan Mandal, foreign affairs known as Dabir and also an internal intelligence wing. During Shivaji's reign the army was very efficient and dependable. Since Shivaji ruled a major part of the Western coast area, he also commanded a strong navy force. Shivaji is known for his protective and fatherly attitude towards his citizens. He is remembered till date as a hero who worked for the welfare of his subjects and state.

Shivaji breathed his last on 3rd April 1680 in the Raigad fort, the capital for Maratha Empire. He was succeeded by his elder son, Sambhaji.


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