Story of Shivaji and his struggle against Mughals - Shivaji, the most famous and renowned Martha ruler was born on 20th April 1627 CE as the son of Sardar Shahji Bhonsle and Jijabai in a hilly fort of Shivner near Poona.
The childhood of Shivaji was passed away from his father in the lap of his mother Jijabai and under the guardianship of Dada Kond Dev. When Shivaji was a child, he was given military education and the knowledge of Hindu religious scriptures by his mother and guardian.
From his childhood he acquires full and deep knowledge of the Ramayan, the Mahabharat and other Hindi scriptures. He obtained his father’s jagir Poona at a very young age of 12.
Military Campaign Against Bijapur
The initial military campaign which were performed by Shivaji was against the state of Bijapur. During that time, Sultan Muhammad Adil Shah was lying on his death bed after he remained ill for a long period and the state was in a miserable condition.
Shivaji occupied a hilly fort in Bijapur named as Toran in 1646 CE. He expanded his military with the wealth obtained from this fort, and he gave the ruined fort of Murumbgarh a new form which was situated five miles east to Toran fort and renamed it as Rajgarh.
The Sultan of Bijapur cannot take any action against Shivaji because he (Shivaji) gained the support of the ministers of Bijapur by bribing them.
The increase in the power of Shivaji made Sultan Dil Shah nervous. Because of Shivaji’s bravery, no other commander of Bijapur was ready to run a campaign against him.
Then finally, a commander named Afzal Khan took this initiative and proclaimed that he would capture Shivaji without even stepping off from his horse.
Afzal Khan proceeded against Shivaji with a massive army along with him in 1659 CE. Afzal Khan resorted to deceit and sent his ambassador Krishanji Bhaskar to Shivaji for offering him a proposal of talk of alliance.
Shivaji got the idea of the hidden objective of Afzal Khan but then also he accepted the proposal of alliance talk in a cautious way. On the day of the meeting, Shivaji wore an armor under his clothes along with an iron cap and went for the meeting with Afzal Khan.
Shivaji also had hidden sharp daggers like baghnakh in his left hand and bichwa in his right hand. During the meeting, Afzal Khan tried to catch Shivaji’s neck and assassinate him with his sword, but he remained unsuccessful in it.
At the same time Shivaji killed Afzal Khan by using his baghnakh. And as soon as Afzal Khan died, the Maratha soldiers, who were hiding in the jungle attacked upon the army of Bijapur and stood victorious.
Because of this incident, Shivaji’s prestige increased very greatly. After Afzal Khan, Bijapur sent various campaigns to take down Shivaji, but they all remained unsuccessful.
Shivaji and the Mughals
Due to the increasing power of Shivaji, Aurangzeb was very disappointed and terrified. For eliminating Shivaji, Aurangzeb appointed his maternal uncle Shaista Khan as the Subedar of the south.
Soon after appointed as subedar, Shaista Khan occupied Poona, and from there, he started to operate campaigns against Shivaji. Shaista stayed at the same palace where Shivaji’s childhood was passed.
On 15th April 1663 in the evening, Shivaji along with 400 soldiers reached Poona. When he reached the palace, he was stopped by the Mughal security men.
Shivaji fooled them by saying that they were the Maratha soldiers of the Mughal army and were returning to their respective camps.
At midnight, Shivaji along with his soldiers, started massacre at the encampment of Shaista Khan. Shaista Khan became successful in running away by taking the advantage of midnight but one of his fingers was cut off.
His six wives, one of his sons and a large number of Mughal soldiers were killed during this campaign. Aurangzeb became very angry after getting the news of this campaign.
For punishing Shaista Khan because of his failure, he sent him to Bengal. After the unsuccessful campaign of Shaista Khan, Aurangzeb chose Prince Muazzam and Jaswant Singh of Mewar and sent them to eliminate Shivaji. But both of them also failed in this objective.
And because of this, Shivaji’s increased a lot and he started looting the Mughal regions without any fear. He looted the very prosperous city of Surat in January 1664 CE. Shivaji obtain a lot of item from this loot like ornaments worth one crore rupees, gems, etc.
Now, Aurangzeb gave commander Diler Khan and Taj Khan the opportunity to take down Shivaji along with Mirza Raja Jai Singh, who was a skilled diplomat from Amer.
Mirza Raj Jai Singh had said, “We will tie him enclosing him in a circle.” This diplomat obtained the favor of all the opponents of Shivaji and also gave bribe to various Maratha and obtained their favor also.
When the Mughal army was invading upon Maratha state, he surrounded Shivaji in Purandar fort. Because of which Shivaji was forces to sign the treaty of Purandar in June 1665 CE with Jai Singh.
According to this treaty, he handed 23 forts to the Mughals and convinced them to provide support of the Mughals against Bijapur in time of need. Shivaji was not forced to personally appear in the court. During that time, French traveler Bernier was also present.
It was mentioned clearly in the treaty that Shivaji would not be forced to appear in the Mughal court but after this also Jai Singh convinced Shivaji to travel to Agra.
Probably, Shivaji accepted to travel to Agra for come in contact with Mughal court and understand the situation of northern India. Shivaji visited the Mughal court at Agra in May 1666 CE.
Aurangzeb behaved with Shivaji in inappropriate manner and did not give proper respect to him. Aurangzeb made him stand in the third line of mansabdars.
When Shivaji found Jaswant Singh standing in front of him, he said unhappily, “I have been forced to stand behind that Jaswant Singh who showed his back to my soldiers.”
Because he was not given due respect in the court, Shivaji became unhappy and returned back to the residence of Ram Singh (son of Mirza Raja Jai Singh). Then Aurangzeb imprisoned Shivaji in Jaipur Bhawan and decided to kill him.
Even in those critical situations, Shivaji remained calm and started to search an opportunity to save himself from the claws of the Mughals.
He pretends to be ill, and according to Hindu traditions, he started to grant sweets, fruits, etc. to the poor and helpless peoples in the form of charity.
Big baskets of sweets and fruits began to arrive in the prison regularly. The watchmen’s used to check the incoming baskets deeply in the beginning but after some time they became quite careless.
As soon as Shivaji got the opportunity, he along with his son sat inside these baskets and became successful in getting out of the prison to reach Maharashtra.
Because of living the life of a prisoner and a long journey to Maharashtra made Shivaji weak. On the other side, new Mughal subedar Muzzam was a luxurious man and his assistant Jaswant Singh was compassionate towards Shivaji.
And in these conditions both the parties wanted to stop war. Mughal-Maratha treaty was done in 1667 CE due to the mediation of Jaswant Singh.
According to this treaty, Shivaji was accepted as an independent ruler by Aurangzeb and was also given back the title of “Raja”. After the treaty also, Aurangzeb wants to take down Shivaji and he continued to do conspiracies against him.
Because of this, Shivaji again looted Surat in 1670 CE and began to reoccupy those regions that he had lost earlier.
A Brahmin named Gangabhatt from Banaras was called by Shivaji to perform his coronation in the capital Raigarh in June 1674 CE and gained the title of Chhatrapati, Gau Brahman Pratipalak, Dharmoddharak, etc.
The last days of Shivaji were spent in distress. He was unhappy as Sambhaji, his son went in the heaven of the Mughals and his wife Soyarabi was planning a conspiracy to make Rajaram, her son as Shivaji’s successor.
And in these condition in April 1680 CE, Shivaji died. In his full life span, he struggled for establishing an independent Hindu kingdom. He was pretty much successful in his objectives.
He reunited the Marathas who were scattered everywhere in the south under several foreign rulers. And by reuniting them, Shivaji prove that he could establish not only a kingdom but also a nation.
Religious Policy of Shivaji
Shivaji had arranged for a separate cash amount for promoting Brahmin scholars. Being an insistent Hindu, he was a religious tolerant ruler.
During his reign, the Muslims were providing freedom of thoughts and namaz to his Muslim subjects and he provide equivalent financial help to Muslim fakirs and peers.
For Baba Yakoot of Keloshi, he built an ashram. During the war campaigns, if his soldiers got hold of the Holy Quran, they used to give it to their Muslim companions to read.
Famous Muslim historian, Khafi Khan praised the religious tolerance of Shivaji and also appreciate the respectful behavior that he showed towards the Muslim women and children whom he fought during the battle.
The Maratha army wished to present the charming daughter-in-law of Bijapur governor, Mulla Ahmad Navyat to Shivaji.
But he sent her back along with her clothes and ornaments to Bijapur respectfully. He never done any type of discrimination which is related to religion.
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