Monday, December 28, 2009

Shivaji Raje

Shivaji Raje Bhosle

Shivaji Raje Bhosle (Marathi: शिवाजीराजे भोसले,February 19, 1630 – April 3, 1680), popularly known as Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (Marathi: छत्रपती शिवाजी महाराज,laid the foundations of the Maratha Empire. Shivaji Maharaj was younger of the two sons of Shahaji Bhosle and Jijabai. His father, Shahaji, was a Maratha general who rendered military services at various times against the Bijapur Sultanate and the Mughals. Shivaji espoused the ideology of Hindavi Swarajya (Self rule of the natives) and took a solemn oath in a Shiva temple with his friends and soldiers to directly challenge the Muslim rule of the Bijapur Sultanate and ultimately the mighty Mughal Empire. Shivaji succeeded in establishing control of a well defended segment of the present state of Maharastra in western India, during his lifetime.

Shivaji’s ideology of Hindavi Swarajya and subsequent expansion of the Maratha Empire, was partly responsible for re-establishment of Hindu rule and its re-emergent assertiveness throughout the mainland of present day India after being ruled and dominated by various Muslim dynasties for several centuries. The ideology of Hindavi Swarajya was in part the inspiration that propelled the succeeding generation of Marathas to establish independent kingdom in India prior to their eventual defeat by the British Empire.

Shivaji established and set up a competent and progressive civil rule with the help of well regulated and disciplined military and well structured administrative organizations. The prevalent practices of treating women as war booty, destruction of religious monuments, slavery and forceful religious conversions were firmly opposed under his administration. Shivaji was a religious Hindu but had a great respect for all other religions.

Shivaji innovated rules of military engagement of that era. He pioneered Ganimi Kava (in Marathi), or guerrilla tactics, which leveraged strategic factors like demographics, speed, surprise and focused attack to defeat his enemies. In comparison to the great Mughal Empire, Shivaji had a smaller army and thereby was obliged to wage guerilla warfare to help overcome this great imbalance.

A large portion of his kingdom was a coastline and he secured it with a potent navy under his commander, Kanhoji Angre. He was very successful in keeping foreign naval ships, particularly Portuguese and British, under check. For his foresight of establishing one of the first large-scale naval presences, he is referred to as the "Father of Indian Navy".Building and securing seaside and land based forts played an important role in Shivaji’s military history. Shivaji's attention to coastal and naval defence delayed the eventual establishment of British rule and trade along India's west coast.

Shivaji Maharaj was the son of Shahaji Raje Bhosle and Jijabai. Shivaji's birth date has been a matter of controversy but recently a consensus has been reached and is deemed to be 19 February 1630. He was born on Shivneri Fort, Junnar, 60 kilometres north of Pune and was named Shiva after Shivai, deity of the fort. Shivaji was the fifth son born to Jijabai, three of whom had died as infants and only Sambhaji survived. While Shivaji was accompanied mostly by his mother, Sambhaji lived with his father Shahaji at present day Bangalore). During the period of Shivaji's birth, the power in Deccan was shared by three Sultanates - Bijapur, Ahmednagar, and Golconda. Most of the then Marathas forces had pledged their loyalties to one of these Sultanates and were engaged in a continuous game of mutual alliances and aggression.

Shivaji's father, Shahaji, was the elder son of Maloji Bhosale of Verul (present day Ellora, Maharastra). Legend has it that Maloji Bhosale was insulted by Lakhujirao Jadhav, a sardar in Nizamshahi, who refused to give his daughter Jijabai in marriage to Shahaji. This inspired Maloji to greater conquests to obtain a higher stature and an important role under Nizamshahi, something that eventually led him to achieving the title of Mansabdar (military commander and an imperial administrator). Leveraging this new found recognition and power, he was able to convince Lakhujirao Jadhav to give his daughter in marriage to his son Shahaji.

Shivaji's birthplace on Shivneri Fort
Shahaji following in the footsteps of his father, began service with the young Nizamshah of Ahmednagar and together with Malik Amber, Nizam's minister, he won back most of the districts for the Nizamshah from the Mughals who had gained it during their attack of 1600.[9] Thereafter, Lakhujirao Jadhav, Shahaji's father-in-law, attacked Shahaji at the Mahuli fort and laid a siege. Shahaji was accompanied by Jijabai, who was four months pregnant. After seeing no relief coming from Nizam, Shahaji decided to vacate the fort and planned his escape. He sent Jijabai off to the safety of Shivneri fort, which was under his control. It was here at Shivneri that Shivaji was born. In the meanwhile, suspecting his disloyalty, Lakhujirao Jadhav and his three sons were murdered by the Nizamshah in his court when they came to join his forces. Unsettled by this incident, Shahaji Raje decided to part ways with the Nizamshahi Sultanate and raise the banner of independence and establish an independent kingdom.

After this episode Ahmednagar fell to the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, and shortly thereafter Shahaji responded by attacking the Mughal garrison there and regained control of this region again. In response the Mughals sent a much larger force in 1635 to recover the area back and forced Shahaji to retreat into Mahuli. The result of this was that Adilshah of Bijapur agreed to pay tribute to the Mughals in return for the authority to rule this region in 1636.Thereafter, Shahaji was inducted by Adilshah of Bijapur and was offered a distant jagir (landholding) at present-day Bangalore, but he was allowed to keep his old land tenures and holdings in Pune.Shahaji thus kept changing his loyalty among Nizamshah, Adilshah and the Mughals but always kept his jagir at Pune and his small force of men with him.


Death and succession

Political Map of South Asia around 1758 ADIt is said that he died due to contracting a disease Bloody Flux,[citation needed] Intestinal anthrax.[citation needed] The funeral ceremony was arranged in Raigad in presence of his son Rajaram, and wife Soyarabai. After Shivaji Maharaj's death, his elder son Sambhaji and Soyarabai, fought for control of the kingdom. After a brief struggle Sambhaji was crowned king.

A few months after Shivaji Maharaj's death, Aurangzeb's son, Prince Akbar, rebelled against his father and was sheltered by Sambhaji.Thereafter, in 1681, Aurangzeb, his army, entourage and the royal court moved in mass to the Deccan to wage an all out war for the complete destruction of Maratha power. This was the beginning of the 27 year war in which Aurangzeb failed to achieve a complete victory against the Marathas. However he was able to capture, torture and kill Sambhaji.This put the Maratha kingdom in a disarray and under the overpowering Mughal assault the endangered Maratha capital was forced to be moved and evacuated from Raigad to Jinjee in the south and for a time it seemed that Aurangzeb's objective of stamping out the Maratha threat, once and for all, would be achieved. However, in the following months and years the tide of the war began to turn.

The Marathas adapted very well to the huge but slow moving Mughal menace and fought Aurangzeb to a stalemate. And towards the end of the second decade, the Marathas gathered more strength and began to turn the tide of the war. The Mughal forces were dealt several serious body blows by able Maratha generals like Santaji Ghorpade and Dhanaji Jadhav. They effectively employed lightning fast and highly mobile attacks, tactics initially developed and effectively used by Shivaji Maharaj.Eventually a broken, defeated Aurangzeb retreated in sickness from the Deccan in 1705. The final Mughal withdrawal came two years later. He had spent most of his remaining resources and manpower trying to defeat the Marathas and ended up significantly weakening the once mighty Mughal Empire. Aurangzeb's heirs never again challenged the Marathas and about seventy years after Shivaji's death, they were themselves finally overtaken and dominated by their formerly implaccable enemy - the indominatable Maratha nation.

In 1751–52, Ahamdiya treaty was signed between the Marathas and Mughals, Balaji Bajirao was the Peshwa and the ruler of the greatly expanded Maratha Kingdom.Through this treaty, virtually the whole of India came under Maratha suzerainty and Mughal rule was restricted only to Delhi (Mughals remained the nominal heads of Delhi). After Balaji Bajirao, Maratha empire was further strengthened by Madhavrao Peshwa and the two Maratha sardars, namely Shinde,and Holkar.

Sir Jadunath Sarkar, a noted Indian historian and scholar, estimated that about 500,000 Mughal soldiers and 200,000 Marathas died during this decades long epic struggle for dominance of the Indian sub-continent. It would be pertinent to also quote another noted historian, Bamber Gascoigne, who wrote thus about the significance of the advent and enterprise of Shivaji Maharaj:

“ "He (Shivaji) taught the modern Hindus to rise to the full stature of their growth. So, when viewed with hindsight through twentieth century prism, Aurangzeb on the one side and Shivaji on the other come to be seen as key figures in the development of India. What Shivaji began Gandhi could complete …… and what Aurangzeb stood for would lead to the establishment of the separate state of Pakistan." (The Great Moghuls, London: Constable)


Depiction in popular culture

Shivaji is a source of inspiration for a number of artists, directors, actors, writers, shahirs (ballad composers), poets and orators.


'Raja Shivaji' (Marathi): directed by Bhalaji Pendharkar and the main role was played by Marathi actor Chandrakant Mandare.
'Maratha tituka melawawa' (Marathi)
'Gad ala pan sinh gela' (Marathi)
Me Shivajiraje Bhosale Boltoy, a Marathi film released in 2009


'Sriman yogi': novel written on Shivaji Maharaj's life by Ranjit Desai.
Raja Shivachhatrapati: biography authored by Babasaheb Purandare on his life, which was later brought out as Jaanata Raja (जाणता राजा), a musical tale of Shivaji Maharaj's life.

Poetry and music

'Shivraj Bhushan' (Hindi) by Kavi Bhushan
'Vedat Marathe vir daudale sat': poem composed by Kusumagraj on Shivaji Maharaj's general Prataprao Gujar, performed Lata Mangeshkar and Hridayanath Mangeshkar.
ballads by Tulsidas and Agandas
'Jay Dev, Jay Dev Jay Jay Shivraya' and 'He Hindu Nrusinha Prabho Shivaji Raja' composed by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, performed by Lata Mangeshkar and Hridayanath Mangeshkar.


'Raigadala Jevha Jaag Yete' (When Raigad awakes): by Marathi playwright Vasant Kanetkar based on the complex relationship between Shivaji Maharaj and Sambhaji.


Raja ShivChhatrapati: TV serial on Star Pravah, a Marathi channel of Star India Network. The serial was launched in November 2008 and is expected to run for more than 100 one-hour episodes, in which the role of Raja Shivaji is played by Dr. Amol Kolhe


Some of Shivaji's close associates were also his primary army chieftains, and have entered folklore along with him. These include: Ajitsingh Paigude Deshmukh, Antaji Konde-Deshmukh, Baji Jedhe, Baji Pasalkar, Baji Prabhu Deshpande, Balaji Avji Chitnis, Bapuji Mudgal Deshpande, Chimanaji Deshpande, Dhanaji Jadhav, Firangoji Narsala, Fullaji Prabhu Deshpande, Gangadhar Pant, Godaji Jagtap-Patil, Gomaji Naik, Hambirrao Mohite, Hiroji Farjand, Jiva Mahala, Kanhoji Jedhe Deshmukh, Kavaji Kondhalkar, Keso Narayan Deshpande, Kondaji Farjand, Laksmanrow Paigude Deshmukh, Lay Patil Koli, Murarbaji Deshpande, Neelkanthrao Surnaik, Netaji Palkar, Prataprao Gujar, Ramoji Dhmale Deshmukh, Rango Narayan Orpe Sarpotdar, Sambhaji Kavji Kondhalkar, Santaji Ghorpade, Suryaji Kakade, Tanaji Malusare, Yesaji Dabhade, Yesaji Kank, Balwantrao Devkate, Nimbaji Patole, Dadaji Kakade, Venkoji Khandekar, Dhanaji Shingade, Banaji Birje, Yesaji Thorat, Heroji Shelke, Bhavanrao Devkate, Mankoji Dhangar, Amdoji Pandhare, Godaji Pandhare, Indraji Gorad, Naikji Pandhare.

Under Shivaji Maharaj, many men of talent and enterprise rose into prominence. They carried forward his mission and ensured the defeat of the Mughals in the War of 27 years. These include Ramchandrapant amtya, Santaji Ghorpade, Dhanaji Jadhav, Khanderao Dabhade, Parsoji Bhosale, Harji raje Mahadik and Kanhoji Angre.

Accounts of contemporary foreign travellers
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 Orienteles mele de plusiers histories curieuses at Paris in 1699. Some quotes:
“ "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."

The French traveller Francois Bernier wrote in his Travels in Mughal India:

“ "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."

Homage to Shivaji by Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda described Shivaji as : "Shivaji was the greatest Hindu king that India had produced within the last thousand years; one who was the very incarnation of Siva, about whom prophecies were given out long before he was born; and his advent was eagerly expected by all the great souls and saints of Maharashtra as the deliverer of the Hindus from the hands of the Mlechchas and one who succeeded in the establishment of the Dharma which had been trampled under foot by the depredations of the devastating hordes of the Moghals. This may not come in your reading Indian History written by foreigners who could have no sympathy with you, nor could they have any respect for your culture, traditions, manners and customs which they could not understand.

Is there a greater hero, a greater saint, a greater bhakta and a greater king than Sivaji? Sivaji was the very embodiment of a born ruler of men as typified in your great Epics. He was the type of the real son of India representing the true consciousness of the nation. It was he who showed what the future of India is going to be sooner or later, a group of independent units under one umbrella as it were, i.e., under one supreme imperial suzerainty.”

"...But fortunately there are many independent Persian manuscripts dealing with the history of Aurangzeeb, Sivaji and the Bijapur kings. They corroborate the account of the Mahratta chroniclers so far as facts are con-cerned, though they do not share in their belief of the superhuman nature of the exploits of Sivaji. And if young men who have any patriotic feeling towards the history of their motherland were to make researches in finding out and translating these manuscripts much truer light may be thrown on the greatness of the doings of Sivaji and of many others who helped in the formation of the great Mahratta Confederacy and it will be a valuable addition to our knowledge of the real His-tory of India.”

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