The famous historian, Jadunath Sarkar thus described Sivaji’s work and his impact. Jehangir had cut the famous undestroyable banyan tree at Prayag and poured boiling lead on it roots with the intention to completely destroy it. He declared that I have destroyed the tree. However, within one year, the tree once again started growing. Shivaji’s life was an example of the capability of the great Hindu culture to break through the tyranny of the continuous attacks on itself. He once again rejuvenated the Hindu race to believe in itself.
The great poet Bhushan said, Kashiji Ki Kala Jaati, Mathura Masjid Hoti, Agar Sivaji na hote to, Sunnat Hoti Sabki. If Shivaji was not alive, no Hindu would have existed and everyone would have been forcibly circumcised ( meaning converted to Islam).
His Birth :
Shivaji was born on Phalguna Krishna Tritiya of the Saka year 1551 (19th February 1627) in the fort Shivneri in Pune district.
His mother Jijabai breathed the fire of Independence and Dharma Raksha in him by relating stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata. His father,Shahji Bhonsale worked with Bijapur Sultan which caused pain to Jijabai. Differing with him on his working with the Bijapur Sultans, she preferred to stay in Pune while he worked in Bangalore. Shivaji grew under the tutelage of Dadaji Kondadev who taught him various aspects of Raja Dharma and Shastras.
The Pledge : He made friends with the Mawalis, who lived in the nearby jungles and instilled the fire of Swarajya in their hearts too. At the tender age of 13, he along with the Mawalis took the pledge to work for Hindavi Swaraj in the Shiva temple at Rohideswar. They called their Guru, Dadaji Kondadev for the ceremony. Many centuries ago, Shri Ram had also taken a pledge at the same age to free the world from Rakshashas. Shivaji made his first Rajamudrika ( official emblem) at the age of 13 and that too in Samskrit Pratipashchandralekheva Vardhishnurvishwavandita, shaahsunoshivsyaish mudra bhadraya Raajate. (Sivaji’s emblem will provide light like the moon of the shukla paksha)
The first war Victory & Diplomatic victory: At the age of 16, he won his first fort, theTorana. The victory was the precursor of many more victories to come. However, seeing his growing influence, the Bijapur sultan, Adil Shah arrested his father and put him in jail. Shivaji implemented his lessons on diplomacy by writing to the Delhi Sultanate, Shah Jahan saying that he and his father would have liked to work with him, but the Bijapur sultan was putting spokes in this endeavour. The Bijapur sultan came to know of this intention and suddenly changed track and released Shahji with honour saying that it was a mistake to do what he did. Thus Shivaji won his first diplomatic victory by pitting enemy against the enemy. Adil Shah died in 1656. His last words were that his dream of making the entire Karnataka Islamic was brought to nought by Shivaji and that his followers should fulfill his dream.
In 1658, Shah Jahan died and Aurangzeb, who was the Subedar in Deccan went back. In true Islamic tradition, the war between brothers started and Aurangzeb killed his brothers and occupied the throne. In the meantime, Shivaji got ample time to regain lost forts like Kondana and won as many as 40 forts increasing his strength. Purandargarh and Prachand Durg also came under his control.
Establishment of Naval Fleet :
Shivaji was one of the first rulers to recognize the growing strength of the Europeans and anticipated attacks from the sea. He therefore established a naval fleet of ships and trained a navy. Vijaydurg, Suvarnadurg, Kalyan were some of the forts which were established near the sea to protect the sea coast.
During the same time many auspicious things happened, the invincible Pratapgarh fort was constructed, a shivalinga was discovered during the construction, he was blessed with a son Sambhaji and his lifelong companion, the Bhavani sword came to occupy his armour.
Tulja Bhavani avenged – Afzal Khan killed:
In order to avenge the death of Adil Shah, Afzal Khan set about to kill Shivaji with an army of 12000 cavalry, 10000 lashkars, 1200 camels. Afzal Khan had earlier insulted Shahji by handcuffing him and making him walk on the streets of Bijapur. He had also killed Shivaji’s cousin Shambaji ( Shivaji’s son was also called Shambaji). He went to Tulja Bhavani temple ( Shivaji’s family diety) and destroyed the idol. He killed a cow in the garba grihaand then went about attacking the common people and destroyed villages. He also destroyed Pandarpur & Sholapur This went on for a few weeks. The people were surprised that Shivaji was not acting. However, he was only assessing his strength and biding his time. He reached Pratapgarh. Shivaji wrote a letter to Afzal Khan seeking apology for taking over the forts and causing trouble to Bijapur. Afzal was overjoyed. A meeting was fixed at a place near the Pratapgarh fort. Afzal Khan was prepared with his dagger and Shivaji with his tiger nails. Shivaji struck first and tore open Afzal’s stomach. Bhavani was avenged.
Shaista Khan who was also involved in a number of atrocities and who had occupied the Lal Mahal in Pune was also attacked in an act of daring. Shaista Khan lost his fingers and escaped.
Mirza Raja Jai Singh Attacks – Shivaji imprisoned
The tragedy of the war against the Mughals and Bijapur Sultanate was that there were more Hindu rulers esp the Rajputs who had sworn allegiance to the Delhi throne. This was something similar to what Bheeshma did with Duryodhana because he had sworn allegiance to the Kuru family.
Mirza Raja Jai Singh was a great warrior. Unfortunately, he worked for Aurangzeb. He launched a war against Shivaji. Before embarking on the war he performed Koti Chandi Homam and Koti Ekadasha Rudrabhishek The irony is that he was performing the puja to defeat the person who was working for Hindu Dharma and Jai Singh himself was working for Aurangzeb, who was a budshikan ( a person who destroys idols). What a tragedy !
Shivaji wrote to Jai Singh asking him to relook at his allegiance and indicated that if Jai Singhwas willing to fight against Aurangzeb, he would willing work under his ruler. The objective of Shivaji was not to establish his own rule but to ensure that Hindu Dharma survives and flourishes. Jai Singh did not heed and due to the huge army that he owned defeated Shivaji. The compromise that he worked with Shivaji was seen with suspicion by Aurangazeb and therefore it was decided that Shivaji would need to go to Delhi. His son, Shambaji accompanied him. Jai Singh took the personal guarantee of their safety. However, Aurangzeb imprisoned them.
The Great Escape: Shivaji escaped from Delhi along with Shambaji in boxes. He moved in disguise and successfully reached Rajgarh. Aurangzeb smelt rat and felt that it was Jai Singh who had helped them to escape. His son Keerthi Singh was won over over by Aurganzeb and he poisoned Jai Singh. This was the gift that Aurganzeb gave Jai Singh for winning over Shivaji.
Aurangzeb increased his attacks on the Hindus. The Kashi temple was destroyed, Mathura temple was destroyed and the murthy of Keshavdev was used as the steps in themasjid in Agra.
After his great escape, Shivaji consolidated his position in the Deccan. He once again regained many of his lost forts He also punished the Portuguese missionaries in Goa who were involved in converting and killing Hindus.
Shivaji and his Team of Bravehearts
The hallmark of a great leader is to have people who are equals and yet work together for the sake of the common goal. Shivaji had the uncanny ability to inspire such great jewels.
Baji Prabhu Deshpande fought for 21 hours to save Shivaji during his escape from Panhalagarh to Vishalgarh when it was attacked by Siddhi Johar aided by the British.
Tanaji Malsure postponed not only his son’s marriage on a call from Shivaji but also gave up his life during the fight to win Kondana, alter called Simhagarh after Tanaji Malsure. Moropant Pingale, Eshaji Kank, Prataprao Gurjar, Sardar Anandrao, Nimbalkar and many more jewels gave up their entire lives for the sake of of Swaraj.
He gave support to Chatrasal of Bundelkhand. Chatrasal had lost his father Champatrai in a war against Aurangzeb and was looking for guidance. Shivaji provided the must needed support and urged him to continue the war for Dharma.
Samarth Ramdas and Tukaram – The Spiritual Gurus
Samarth Ramdas was instrumental in inspiring many youth to join the cause of Swaraj. He toured vast parts of the country going to village after village and establishing the tradition of Hanuman puja, gymnasiums and schools. Many of these youngsters became part of Shivaji’s army of dedicated soldiers. He guided Shivaji on many occasions and Shivaji reciprocated. On the occasion of Guru Purnima, Shivaji offered his entire kingdom to him and Ramdas gave it back saying that Shivaji would be a trustee of Dharma. This was in the true spirit of RajaDharma.
Shivaji was also inspired by the abangs( songs) of Tukaram. On one occasion when he wanted to take up sanyasa, it was Tukaram who spurred him on saying that his work is unfinished.
Chattrapati -The Coronation
On Jyeshta Shudha Trayodashi 1674 ( 6th June ) , Shivaji was coronated as Chattrapati – “Hindu Pad-Padashahi”. His coronation was presided by the famous priest of Kashi, Pandit Gaga Bhat at Raigarh fort. The dream of his mother was fulfilled. After more than 150 years, the glimpses of the glory of a Hindu Samrajya on the lines of Vijayanagar Samrajya could be seen once again.
Ghar Vapasi ( Reconversion) of Netaji Palkar :
Netaji Palkar had joined Aurangzeb in anger having been reprimanded by Shivaji for a mistake. He converted to Islam and became Quli Khan. He was sent to the fronts at Afghanistan and after 6 years was sent back to Deccan to fight Shivaji. Shivaji not only won over Netaji Palkar once again, also re-converted him back to Hinduism. Such was his ability to win over lost friends and make new friends. It was also a great move to give a signal that once converted does not mean forever converted and that people could reconvert back to Hindu Dharma.
The victories in Deccan:
Shivaji continued his victory streak all over Karnataka. He was supported by Akkana and Maddanna, the ministers in Quli Qutub Shah’s court of Bhagyanagar (now Hyderabad). Abdul Qutubshah welcomed him in Hyderabad and received Shivaji with a grand welcome.
His Niryana & The Inspiration
Shivaji was ably supported by his children Shambaji and Rajaram and he divided the kingdom between them. In 1680, at the age of 50, he fell ill due to continuous work. On the day of Hanuman Jayanti ( Chaitra Paurnima) viz April 3rd, 1680, he knew that his end was near. He had his bath, applied Bhasma ( sacred ash ) and sat down in Dhyana. The brahmanas started reciting Bhagvad Gita and Sahasranama and he gave up his life in that state of dhyana ( meditation ).
The greatness of Shivaji can be assessed by his impact on future generations right from Peshwas who fought the Mughals, to the freedom fighters who fought the British and even today an inspiration to the people who work to protect the Hindu culture from the assaults on it. Not only in Bharat, Shivaji has remained a source of inspiration to the Vietnamese who were attacked by America in the 70′s . The Vietnamese resisted with a guerrilla war and ultimately forced the withdrawal of the American forces.
Jai Bhavani, Jai Shiva Raje !
Hindu Dharma Pratishtaya, Sidhakhadgah Sada Vayam ( Our swords will always be ready to protect Hindu Dharma)