Shivaji – The Emperor

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.

In 1660, Adilshah sent his general Siddi Jauhar to attack Shivaji’s southern border, in alliance with the Mughals who planned to attack from the north. At that time, Shivaji was encamped at Panhala fort near present-day Kolhapur with his forces. Siddi Jauhar’s army besieged Panhala in mid-1660, cutting off supply routes to the fort. During the bombardment of Panhala, Siddhi Jahuar had purchased grenades from the British at Rajapur to increase his efficacy, and also hired some English artillerymen to bombard the fort, conspicuously flying a flag used by the English. This perceived betrayal angered Shivaji, who in December would exact revenge by plundering the English factory at Rajapur and capturing four of the factors, imprisoning them until mid-1663

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.

Attack on Shahista khan and Surat, enraged the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb. In response he sent Mirza Raja Jai Singh I with an army  to defeat Shivaji. Jai Singh’s forces made significant gains and captured many Maratha forts, forcing Shivaji to come to terms with Aurangzeb rather than lose more forts and men. In the Treaty of Purandar, signed between Shivaji and Jai Singh on 11 June 1665, Shivaji agreed to give up 23 of his forts and pay compensation to the Mughals. He also agreed to let his son Sambhaji become a Mughal sardar, serve the Mughal court of Aurangzeb and fight alongside the Mughals against Bijapur.

In 1666, Aurangzeb invited Shivaji to Agra, along with his nine-year-old son Sambhaji. Aurangzeb’s plan was to send Shivaji to Kandahar, now in Afghanistan, to consolidate the Mughal empire’s northwestern frontier. However, in the court, on 12 May 1666, Aurangzeb made Shivaji stand behind mansabdārs (military commanders) of his court. Shivaji took offence and stormed out of court,  and was promptly placed under house arrest under the watch of Faulad Khan, Kotwal of Agra. Shivaji and his son escaped on 17 August 1666, and fled to the Deccan disguised as sadhus (holy men).

After Shivaji’s escape, The peace lasted until the end of 1670, when Shivaji launched a major offensive against Mughals, and in a span of four months recovered a major portion of the territories surrendered to Mughals.  Shivaji sacked Surat for second time in 1670; while he was returning from Surat, Mughals tried to intercept him, but were defeated in the Battle of Vani-Dindori near present-day Nashik .

In October 1670, Shivaji sent his forces to harass the English at Bombay; as they had refused to sell him war material, his forces blocked Bombay’s woodcutting parties. When Shivaji went to Tanjore to fight his half-brother Venkoji (Ekoji I), he met the English at Madras (then known as Madraspatnam) on 3 October 1677 .  The East India Company officials who looked after the fort at that time have recorded that Shivaji came up to the gates of Fort St. George and had sought the services of the English engineers but the request was politely turned down.

In 1674, In Battle of Nesari , The then commander-in chief of the Maratha forces, was sent to push back the invading force led by the Adilshahi general . Prataprao’s forces defeated and captured the opposing general in the battle.  Raigad Fort was newly built as a capital of nascent Maratha kingdom.

Shivaji had acquired extensive lands and wealth through his campaigns, but lacking a formal title he was still technically a Mughal zamindar or the son of an Adilshahi jagirdar, with no legal basis to rule his de facto domain. A kingly title could address this, and also prevent any challenges by other Maratha leaders, to whom he was technically equal; it would also provide the Hindu Marathas with a fellow Hindu sovereign in a region otherwise ruled by Muslims.

Shivaji was crowned king of the Marathas in a lavish ceremony at Raigad on 6 June 1674.
After the ablution, Shivaji bowed before Jijabai and touched her feet. Nearly fifty thousand people gathered at Raigad for the ceremonies. Shivaji was bestowed with the sacred thread jaanva, with the Vedas and was bathed in an abhisheka. Shivaji was entitled Shakakarta (“founder of an era”) and Kshatriya Kulavantas (“head of Kshatriyas”), and Chhatrapati (“paramount sovereign”). He also took the title of “Haindava Dharmodhhaarak”.
His mother Jijabai died on 18 June 1674, within a few days of the coronation.

The state as Shivaji founded it was a Maratha kingdom comprising about 4.1% of the subcontinent at the time he died, but over time it was to increase in size and heterogeneity,  and by the time of the Peshwas in the early 18th century the Marathas were dominant across the northern and central regions of the Indian subcontinent.
He matched cunning against cunning, courage
against courage; he was one of the wisest rulers as he was one of the greatest generals

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