Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is a celebrated name and is well known in the chronicles of Indian history. His exemplary life, ready to risk attitude and brave strategies are renowned worldwide. A great ruler and excellent warrior, the Maratha warrior was nothing less than a God for the people who was suffering from the ill-treatment of the Sultanate back then in the 17th century.
Shivaji Maharaj was born on 6 April 1627 or 19 February 1630 to Shahaji Bhonsle and his wife Jijabai near the city of Junnar in Shivneri fort. His father, the son of Maloji Bhosle was a Maratha general under the Nizamshahi rule. His mother was the daughter of the Sindkhed Raja, Lakhujirao Jadhav. It was his father who helped Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan when he revolted against his father Mughal Emperor Jahangir.
Early Life and Education
When Shivaji was a child, his father Shahaji Bhosle had to take a leave due to a military campaign in Karnataka. He went with his second wife Tukabai, leaving Shivaji and Jijabai under the care of his administrator Dadaji Konddeo. Shivaji therefore was brought up under the guidance of these two people.
While Dadaji taught Shivaji various skills including archery, horse riding, patta and marksmanship along with other techniques, his mother ensured that Shivaji attained religious and worldly teachings as well. This is the reason why he grew up studying religious books and showed great interests in religious and spiritual teachings.
With great mentors inside and outside the house, Shivaji became a young leader at 16 who not only could inspire his friends but also his people in building the foundation of Swarjya. Soon he, carried out a number of successful expeditions and plunged into conquests of forts and territories.
Shivaji Maharaj: From a Young Boy to a Maratha Hero
At the age of 16 in 1645, Shivaji Maharaj made his first military conquest by capturing Torna Fort of the Bijapur Sultanate. He didn’t stop there and soon attacked and captured other forts of Raigad, Chakan and Kondana from the Bijapur Sultanate. Shivaji was already famous by then and this scared Mohammed Adil Shah, the Bijapur Sultan. Fearing that Shivaji won’t stop, he then imprisoned Shivaji’s father Shahji Bhosle. Post the imprisonment, Shivaji halted his conquering strategy and started focusing on building his army until the release of his father.
Fed up of Shivaji, the Bijapur Sultan carried out several campaigns against him but he and his generals were always outsmarted by Shivaji. At last, he sent his most powerful general Afzal Khan, a large and hefty man to supress Shivaji in November 1659. Fearing Afzal Khan’s deceiving plans, Shivaji came armed with bagh nakh (tiger claw) in one hand and a dagger in the other. While, meeting against Afzal Khan was nothing less than a suicide, the brave and courageous Shivaji (only half to Afzal Khan in stature) could kill him easily with his sharp mind and strategy. This unexpected victory made him a Maratha hero.
Shivaji Maharaj – The Pain of the Sultanate and the Mughals
He was attacked by both the ruling Sultanates back then – the Adilshah of Bijapur and the Mughal Army under the kingship of Aurangzeb as he continued to raid the forts. Although he had peaceful relations, things turned hostile when Shivaji raided some territories in Junnar and Ahmednagar. He was later ill-treated and captured by Aurangzeb along with his son Sambhaji. He was though successful in escaping. After three years, he could successfully recapture the forts.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj – The King of the Marathas
After expanding his kingdom and capturing several forts, Shivaji crowned himself as the king of the Marathas earning the title Kshatriya Kulavantas Sinhasanadheeshwar Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in 1674 at Raigad. Post this, he carried out several extensive campaigns of raiding territories including capturing Khandesh, Bijapuri Ponda, Kolhapur, Janjira , Ramnagar, Karwar, Athani, Vayem Rayim and Belgaum. He then moved southwards seizing the forts at Gingee and Vellore.
Personal Life and Family
In the year 1640, a young Shivaji got married to Saibai, a girl from a well-known Nimbalkar family. With her, he had three daughters and one son – Sakhubai (1651), Ranubai (1653), Ambikabai (1655) and Sambhaji (1657). His second marriage was forcefully arranged by his stepmother, Tukabai with Soyarabai. The couple had two children – daughter Balibai and son Rajaram. He had three other wives – Putalabai, Sakvarbai and Kashibai.
Shivaji Maharaj died after falling ill due to high fever and dysentery in April, 1680. He was 52. The eldest of the surviving wives – Putalabai committed sati. His another wife Sakwar bai was not allowed to do as she had a young daughter. According to one conspiracy theory it is believed that the death of Maharaj was conspired by his wife Soyarabai so as to pass the crown to her 10-year-old son Rajaram. Though he was crowned his successor by his mother, Sambhaji captured the Raigad fort and succeeded in becoming Shivaji’s heir in July 1680.