Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj
Shivaji Bhonsle, also known as Chhatrapati Shri Shivaji Maharaj (February 19, 1630 - April 3, 1680) was the founder of the Maratha empire in western India in 1674.
Using guerrilla tactics superbly suited to the rugged mountains and valleys of the region, he annexed a portion of the then dominant Mughal empire. He is still considered a hero in the present-day state of Maharashtra, and stories of his exploits have entered into folklore. He was one of the pioneers of commando actions, though the term is modern.
Shivajiraje was born in 1630, in the Shivneri Fort, 60 km north of Pune. His father, Shahaji raje, was a jagirdar of the sultan of Bijapur in present-day Karnataka. His mother was Jijabai, the daughter of Lakhuji Jadhav from Sindkhedraja in present-day Buldhana district of Maharashtra, one of the most influential amongst the Yadav (respected kshatreeya) rulers.
When the Mughals and Adilshah completed their conquest of the Nizamshahi kingdom of Ahmednagar in 1636, Shahaji was forced to leave the region around Pune. He was inducted by Adilshah and offered a distant jagir, present-day Banglore, so as to dispel from his mind any ambitions he may have entertained about political independence with the help of the rugged, mountainous terrain in and around Pune. But his old land tenures and holdings in the Pune and Supe parganas were allowed to be retained. Shahaji appointed the young Shivaji under the care of his mother Jijabai to manage the Pune holdings, while management of Supe was entrusted to his brother-in-law Mohite. A select staff was appointed to assist Shivaji in the administration and included Dadaji Konddev, Sonopant, Kanhoji Jedhe, Baji Pasalkar , among others. He assumed administrative responsibility and gave himself an official seal in Sanskrit.
With the inevitable interlacing of of popular lore and history in as inspiring a career as Shivaji's, it is not very easy to pinpoint persons or circumstances that may have influenced him. Nevertheless, it would not be incorrect to surmise that his parents, and advisors like Dadaji Konddev, must have made an indelible imprint on his impressionable mind. Shahaji's failed attempts at political independence, his exceptional military capabilities and achievements, his knowledge of Sanskrit, Hindu ethos and patronage of the arts, his war strategies and peacetime diplomacy, all must have inspired him. His mother, having lost her father and three brothers to a heinous plot hatched by the Nizamshah, had enough bitter experience of wayward and callous alien rule to instill in Shivaji's mind a natural love for self-determination and aversion for external political domination. Her piety and commitment to indigenous culture made him peerless (as confirmed by even otherwise inimical chroniclers, Khafi Khan especially) in his tolerant attitude towards other religions and treatment of women and non-combatants. Dadaji Konddev, was a trusted employee who oversaw Shivaji's education and training, while managing the household according to Shahaji's orders. All of these factors must have contributed towards making of the unique personality.
In 1646, when Shivaji was 16, he carried out his first military action by capturing Torna fort, in Bijapur territory. By 1647, he had captured Kondana and Rajgad forts and had complete control of the Pune region. And by 1659 Shivaji had captured some forts in the Western Ghats and along the Konkan coast. Afzal Khan, Bijapur's finest general, was sent to destroy him.
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