|Shivaji Bhonsle, also known as Chhatrapati Shri Shivaji Maharaj was the founder of the Maratha empire in western India in 1674 which was instrumental in the downfall of the Mughal Empire. He is also remembered for being the only secular king in medieval India.
Shivaji Bhonsle, also known as Chhatrapati Shri Shivaji Maharaj was the founder of the Maratha empire in western India in 1674 which was instrumental in the downfall of the Mughal Empire. He is also remembered for being the only secular king in medieval India.
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
Shivaji was born in 1630, in the Shivneri Fort which is 60 km north of Pune. His father, Shahaji, was a jagirdar of Adilshah who was the sultan of Bijapur in present-day Karnataka. His mother, Jijabai was the daughter of Lakhuji Jadhav who was one of the most influential amongst the Yadav (Kshatriya) 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 near present-day Banglore, so as to dispel from his mind any ambitions he may have entertained about political independence. But he was allowed to keep his old land tenures and holdings in the Pune. Shahaji appointed the young Shivaji under the care of his mother Jijabai to manage the Pune holdings. 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 interlacing of popular lore and history in Shivaji's career, it is not easy to pinpoint the persons or circumstances that influenced him. But his parents 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. And Dadaji Konddev was a trusted advisor who oversaw Shivaji's education and training, while managing the household according to Shahaji's orders.
Shivaji and Marathas