A Fortress Of Fortresses For The Goddess Of Independence , The Terror Of The Enemies , In The Clutches Of The Moghul Emperor , Shivaji The Emperor -The Protector Of The Land And Dharma
Shivaji was born in the hill-fort of Shivneri, near the city of Junnar in Pune district on 19 Feb. 1630 . His mother named him Shivaji in honour of the goddess Shivai, to whom she had prayed for a healthy child. Shivaji was named after this local deity.
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 defence of Hindu values. Throughout his life he was deeply interested in religious teachings, and regularly sought the company of Hindu and Sufi saints.
Shivaji as a boy was a keen outdoorsman and, though he received little formal education and most likely could neither read nor write, he is said to have possessed considerable erudition.
Shivaji drew his earliest trusted comrades and a large number of his soldiers from the Maval region. In the company of his Maval comrades, Shivaji wandered over the hills and forests of the Sahyadri range, hardening himself and acquiring first-hand knowledge of the land, which was to later prove applicable to his military endeavours.
At the age of 15, the teenage Shivaji first expressed his concept for Hindavi Swarajya (Devnagri:हिन्दवी स्वराज) (“Indian self-rule” or “Hindu self-rule”) is a term for sociopolitical movements seeking to remove foreign military and political influences from India. The term was first used in a 1645 CE letter by Shivaji, founder of the Maratha Empire. The term was later adopted by Bal Gangadhar Tilak, one of the early leaders of the Indian independence movement against the British Empire.
In 1645, the 15-year-old Shivaji bribed or persuaded the Bijapuri commander of the Torna Fort, Inayat Khan, to hand over the possession of the fort to him. Firangoji Narsala, who held the Chakan fort professed his loyalty to Shivaji and The fort of Kondana was acquired by bribing the Adilshahi governor .
In response to this , his father , Shahaji was imprisoned under the orders of Mohammed Adil Shah, in a bid to contain Shivaji. The enemy of your enemy is your friend; by following this rule, Shivaji proved his mettle as an able politician and strategist and used his friendship with the Badshah of Delhi to pressurize Adilshah to secure his father’s release.
Following his father’s death, Shivaji resumed raiding, seizing in 1656, the valley of Javali from Chandrarao More, a fellow Maratha feudatory of Adilshah.
In 1659, Adilshah sent Afzal Khan, an experienced and veteran general to destroy Shivaji in an effort to put down what he saw as a regional revolt. Afzal Khan desecrated Hindu temples at Tuljapur and Pandharpur, hoping to draw Shivaji to the plains where the superior Bijapuri army could destroy him. Shivaji, however, sent a letter to Afzal Khan requesting a meeting to negotiate and pretending that he was afraid of the mighty general and his army and so they meet at Pratapgad foothills. The two met in a hut at the foothills of Pratapgad fort in 1659. The arrangements had dictated that each come armed only with a sword, and attended by a follower. Shivaji had planned everything promptly and told his Mavles (his soldiers) that ‘If something goes wrong and even if I die in the event, the fight of Swarajya must go on…’ Shivaji, as a protection, wore armour beneath his clothes, concealed a metal “tiger claw” on his left arm, and had a dagger in his right hand. As predicted by Shivaji, the meeting turned to be a fight. In the fight, Afzal Khan’s dagger was stopped by Shivaji’s armour, and Shivaji’s weapons inflicted mortal wounds on the general. Shivaji then signalled his hidden troops to launch the assault on the Bijapuris who were waiting for the signal.
To counter the loss at Pratapgad and to defeat the newly emerging Maratha power, another huge army, was sent against Shivaji, commanded by Bijapur’s Abyssinian general Rustamjaman. With a cavalry force of Marathas, Shivaji attacked them near Kolhapur on 28 December 1659. In a swift movement, Shivaji led a full frontal attack at the center of the enemy forces .This battle lasted for several hours and at the end Bijapuri forces were soundly defeated and Rustamjaman fled the battlefield.
This unexpected and unlikely victory made Shivaji a hero of Maratha folklore and a legendary figure among his people. The large quantities of captured weapons, horses, armour and other materials helped to strengthen the nascent and emerging Maratha army. The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb now identified Shivaji as a major threat to the mighty Mughal Empire.
Until 1657, Shivaji maintained peaceful relations with the Mughal Empire. Shivaji offered his assistance to Aurangzeb in conquering Bijapur and in return, he was assured of the formal recognition of his right to the Bijapuri forts and villages under his possession.
Shivaji’s confrontations with the Mughals began in March 1657, when two of Shivaji’s officers raided the Mughal territory near Ahmednagar. This was followed by raids in Junnar by Shivaji . Mughal viceroy for Deccan at that time, Aurangzeb responded to the raids by sending Nasiri Khan, who defeated the forces of Shivaji at Ahmednagar.
Aurangzeb sent his maternal uncle Shaista Khan, with an army along with a powerful artillery division in January 1660 to attack Shivaji in conjunction with Bijapur’s army led by Siddi Jauhar. Shaista Khan, with his better-equipped and -provisioned army seized Pune and the nearby fort of Chakan, besieging it for a month and a half until breaching the walls. Shaista Khan pressed his advantage of having a larger, better provisioned and heavily armed Mughal army and made inroads into some of the Maratha territory, seizing the city of Pune and establishing his residence at Shivaji’s palace of Lal Mahal. In retaliation for Shaista Khan’s attacks, and to replenish his now-depleted treasury, in 1664 Shivaji sacked the city of Surat, a wealthy Mughal trading centre.
His mother Jijabai died on 18 June 1674, within a few days of the coronation.
He matched cunning against cunning, courage
against courage; he was one of the wisest rulers as he was one of the greatest generals