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Shivaji by Raja Ravi Varma

Since 1200 CE, India was constantly a witness to the menacing rule of the Islamic dynasties. Khiljis, Tughlaqs, Sayyids, Lodhis, Kutubshahis, Nizams, Adilshahis, and ultimately the Mughals. The rulers sparsely cared for the subjects. Islam was of utmost importance to them, and it had to be spread everywhere. They ordered 'Kafirs' to embrace Islam. Those who refused were to be persecuted. The overall momentum of the commoner of India in these centuries was aimed at just survival from the atrocities. Something stronger, someone brighter, was needed to end all of this prevalent tyranny for the past 400 years!
And then came the day of 19th February in 1630! A ray of hope was born on the fort of Shivneri near Junnar. He was named Shivaji by his parents- Jijabai and Shahji Raje Bhosale. Shahji Raje was then a Jagirdar in Deccan, under the Nizamshahis' rule. Later on in life, he aided with the Mughals for some time and the Adil Shahis too.
Due to his constant on-the-run works, Shahji Raje housed Jijabai and Shivaji in his Pune Jagir itself. Here was where Shivaji got all his training and education from experts under the vigilance of Jijau and Dadoji Konddev. Shivaji was given a comprehensive knowledge of administration, war tactics, fort architecture, economics, selection of animals for war, and many other things. Jijau herself taught the young Shivaji about our scriptures, Ramayana, Mahabharat, Bhagwat Gita, etc. She would tell him the heroic stories of Lord Ram, Lord Krishna, Bhima, Arjun, Abhimanyu, and the songs and kirtans of various saints like Namdeo, Dynaneshwar, Tukaram, etc.

The Royal Seal of Shivaji Maharaj.. : Stock Photo

‍A young Shivaji was aware of the atrocities faced by the common man at the hands of the Sultanates. So, at the tender age of 16, he vowed to establish ‘Swarajya’ to better the people and end the tortures they faced from the Islamic tyrants. At the Temple of Raireshwar near Pune, this oath was taken by Shivaji and his friends. Shivaji instilled pride for the motherland in their hearts and encouraged them to be by his side in this ‘Sankalpa for Swarajya’.

The first step towards realizing the dreams of this Swarajya was taken by capturing the Torana Fort. ‘Toran’ means garland in Marathi. The capture of Torana thus turned as a metaphor for the sacred establishment of Swarajya.

Gradually, Shivaji captured many other forts from the clutches of the Adilshahi and the Nizams. Various generals were sent by both the dynasts, like Afzal Khan, Siddi Jauhar, etc., to terminate Shivaji. However, very skillfully, Shivaji upturned all of them successfully, killing most of them. Aurangzeb- the Mughal ruler, also tried subduing Shivaji. He sent his uncle- Shahistekhan to Pune. Shivaji tactfully defeated him too and cut off three fingers of his hand. When this plan failed, Aurangzeb sent Mirza Raja Jaisingh and Dilerkhan to Deccan. Dilerkhan tasted some mud at the hands of Shivaji’s army under Murarbaji but ultimately killed the Fort Incharge of Purandar. Mirza Raje had an army of over 75000 soldiers. Shivaji realized that he was not in a position to face such a massive army at that point in time; hence he decided to negotiate with Mirza Raje. The Treaty of Purandar was signed, making Shivaji give up 23 forts and a territory with a revenue of 4 lakh Hons (gold coins). Shivaji also went to Agra to meet Aurangzeb, along with his son- Sambhaji. However, he was humiliated in the Mughal darbar; he was then placed under house arrest too, but yet again, Shivaji & Sambhaji escaped unhurt and reached back home safely.

After coming back from Agra, getting back the 23 forts was a focus. Shivaji’s old aide and friend- Tanaji, helped get back Kondhana, although he got killed in the battle. The oath taken at Raireshwar was finally taking shape, but it had cost the lives of many brave warriors, and it had not come easily. It was finally the time that the land for which friends like Baji Prabhu, Murarbaji, Tanaji, and 1000s of others had given their own life needed to be solidified as a single kingdom and establish a proper systematic rule.

6th June 1674 was the day when Shivaji Bhosale became Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The Rajyabhishek was performed in accordance with all the Vedic rituals. The coronation ceremony was performed by Gagabhatt, who was specially called from Kashi for the occasion. Around 50000 people thronged at the Raigadh- the capital of Swarajya, to see their King get officially anointed finally. Numerous officials and well-wishers attended the ceremony. The English sent their envoys too. The entire world came to know about this great ruler who served his subjects generously!   After his coronation, Shivaji Raje undertook few campaigns in the south too. He also launched a naval campaign in Konkan.

At the age of 50, on 3rd April 1680, Maharaj breathed his last. He had continuously toiled for 35 years of his life without resting even for a single day. This toiling is what led to the imagination, implementation, and ultimately to the creation of the Hindavi Swarajya, which shattered the Islamic dynasties!