Who was Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj?
Chhatrapati Shivaji’s birth anniversary falls on February 19, which is observed annually across the country to pay tribute to the famous Maratha emperor. Shivaji was born to Shahaji and his wife Jijabai at Shivneri Fort, near the city of Junnar, at present, it was in (Pune district) on February 19, 1630.
This year is Shivaji’s 390th birth anniversary. Maharashtra is the birthplace of Shivaji, so this is observed as a public holiday in Maharashtra every year.
When Shivaji was born, the Deccan power was in the hand of three Islamic Sultanates such as Bijapur, Ahmednagar and Golkonda. His father Shahaji used to change his loyalty from one sultanate to another, but Pune was the epicentre of Shahaji, so he kept his jagir (fiefdom) there. Jijabai, the mother of Shivaji, was the daughter of Lakhuji Jadhavrao of Sindhkhed, possibly a descendant from the Yadava family of Devagiri.
Pious mind from childhood
Shivaji was very much attached to his mother in his youth, who was pious from the bottom of her heart. He got first-hand knowledge of the religious books like the Ramayana and Mahabharata, influenced by the spiritual teachings and he spent plenty of time in the company of Hindu saints.
Coronation of Shivaji at Raigad fort
There are several stories regarding Shivaji’s bravery. While Adilshahi dynasty was falling, Shivaji took a territory of this dynasty in his control and established the Maratha Empire, which begins his success story. Gradually, he started expanding his empire and seized the Toma fort when he turned 16, later captured Raigad and Kondana forts at the tender age of 17. He was coronated as the Maratha king on June 6, 1674, at Raigad fort.
Considers a part of folklore
Shivaji is regarded as a great warrior of his time. His stories are narrated even today as a part of folklore. After setting up the Maratha empire, his administration was competent and progressive. He is known for his exceptional military skill. He had a council of eight ministers known as Ashta Pradhan to run the administration smoothly.
Introduces some new systems
Administrative departments were also established to help the ministers, which led to the birth of a bureaucracy system in India. Shivaji launched the Ryotwari system and imposed two taxes Chauth and Sardeshmukhi to generate revenue to make his administration impressive and free from any oppression.
Relation with Mughal king
Shivaji’s constant fight with Bijapur Sultanate and his success was noticed by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. Gradually, Shivaji emerged as a threat to the Mughal king, in the first confrontation between the Mughals and the Marathas, Shivaji’s men looted Mughal territories near Ahmednagar and Junnar.
Treaty takes place
However, in retaliation, Aurangzeb sent the governor of Deccan Shaista Khan, who launched a massive attack and captured many forts of Shivaji. In the end, the Aurangzeb sent his most trusted lieutenant Jai Singh with an army of 150,000. At last, Shivaji had to ink the Treaty of Purandar and agreed to surrender 23 forts and paid a considerable sum 4,00,000 as compensation to the Mughal king.
Sweet-sour relation with English
Shivaji had a healthy relationship with the English in the beginning as they supported him in the confrontation against the Bijapur Sultanate. Gradually, their relationship turned sour. Various negotiations took place between the two parties but failed to reach any agreement.
Promotion of Marathi and Sanskrit
Shivaji had promoted two languages in his court Marathi and Sanskrit instead of Persian, the existing court language of the Mughal court. Despite being a devout Hindu, he had respect for all religions. Women got a respectable position, and people of all castes were employed during the rule of Shivaji. Shivaji breathed his last on April 3, 1680, at the Raigad at the age of 52. After his death, a dynastic conflict started in the family. In the end, his eldest son Sambhaji dispossessed his rivals and formally ascended the throne on July 20, 1680.
Jyotirao Phule first started the birth anniversary of Shivaji in 1870 in Pune. He also penned a long Ballad on his life. During the freedom movement, Bal Gangadhar Tilak took a leaf out of Shivaji’s book to unite the people against the English atrocities.