Chhatrapati Shivaji

Chhatrapati Shivaji ( April 10, 1627 to March 4, 1680 )

One of the most able administrators and ruler in India was undoubtedly Chhatrapati Shivaji. He was the founder of the Maratha Empire in India. Shivaji was born in Shivner on 10th April, 1627 to Jijabai and Shahji. His father Shahji was a nobleman in the royal court of Bijapur.

Shivaji was named so after Lord Shiva as his mother was an ardent Hindu devotee. Shivaji was extremely devoted to his mother Jijabai, who was deeply religious. This religious environment had a profound influence on Shivaji, and he carefully studied the two great Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata. The morality and spiritual messages of the epics made a great impression on him. Throughout his life he was deeply interested in religious teachings, and sought the company of Hindu and Sufi (an esoteric Muslim sect) saints throughout his life. Since childhood, Shivaji was brave and never feared anything. There are many instances in his childhood that show he was a born ruler. At the young age of fourteen, he had the dream of building his kingdom.

At the age of 20, he took out his very first military attack and captured the Torna Fort of the kingdom of Bijapur. After that there was no stopping him and he went on to capture Kondana and Rajgad forts and exercised full control over the region of Pune. Around the year 1659, Shivaji took over the forts in Western Ghats and the ones near 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.

Chatrapati Shivaji is most famous for his valor to challenge the mighty Mughal Empire, at the time ruled by Aurangzeb. Although Emperor Aurangzeb tried to capture all the forts and territories under Shivaji he could not achieve much success due to Shivaji’s clever leadership qualities and guerrilla tactics. But a temporary pause was put in Shivaji’s successful ventures by the brave Hindu General Jai Singh, sent by the emperor. Upon this, Shivaji decided to negotiate with the Mughal Emperor and what followed is popularly known in history as Shivaji’s trip to and astonishing escape from Agra, where he was kept a prisoner by Aurangzeb. Although after this incident, Shivaji remained dormant for sometime, he rose yet again against the Mughals in the year 1670 with the Battle of Sinhagad. Soon after this victory he was coroneted on 6th June, 1674, as the King of the Marathas. Under his dedicated rule, the small independent land ‘Hindavi Swaraj’ went on to become a large kingdom ranging from the Northwest India to the East.

The organization of Shivaji’s administration was composed of eight ministers or pradhaanas:

  1. Peshwa – Mukhya (main) Pradhan, next to the king, for supervising and governing under king’s orders in his absence. The king’s orders bore the Peshwa’s seal.
  2. Mazumdar – An auditor to take care of income and expenditure checks, keep the king informed of finances and sign districts-level accounts.
  3. Navis or Waqia Mantri – to record daily activities of the royal family and to serve as master of ceremony.
  4. Sur Navis or Sachiv – to oversee the king’s correspondence to ensure letter and style adherence to wishes of the king and check accounts of palace and Parganas.
  5. Sumant or Dabir – for foreign affairs and to receive ambassadors.
  6. Senapati or Sir-nobut – To keep troops ready and the king fully informed.
  7. Panditrao – to promote learning, spirituality and settle religious disputes.
  8. Nyayadhish – the highest judicial authority.

He was married to Saibai, Soyarabai, Kashibai, Putalabai and Sagunabai and had two sons and three daughters. He incorporated modern administrative concepts such as cabinet, foreign affairs, internal intelligence and others and commanded an extremely well trained army. This apart, he was a king who was just and kind and showed tolerance towards all religions and languages. He himself was proficient in Sanskrit and Marathi, and patronized art of all kinds.

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 in 1680 after suffering from fever for three whole weeks. His empire was taken over by his son Sambhaji.

But this did not remove the imprint he left on the minds of all Indians. Chatrapati Shivaji’s name will forever be remembered in folklore and history as the great king whose rule is considered as a golden era, which showed the light of freedom, paving the way for India’s Independence later. We celebrate his jayanti as Hindu Saamrajya Diwas.

A collection by Upendra kumar.

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