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February 19, 1630 - April 3, 1680 (50 years)
See also    Maraathaa Power Shivaajee;   Tukaaraam Saves Shivaajee

Shivaajee Raaje Bhonsle, that was his full name, is popularly known as only Shivaajee. He was given the royal title of "Chhatrapati" so he was called Chhatrapati Shivaajee. He was a Maraathaa of the Bhonsle family. He founded the independent Maraathaa Empire with the capital of Raayagarh. He is known to have fought with Mugals. He was a devout Hindu.

He was born in the hill fort of Shivaneree, near the Joonaar city in Poonaa (modern Pune). His mother's name was Jeejaabaaee. When she was pregnant she prayed the local Deity Shivaai for her expected child and so named him after that Deity - Shivaajee. His exact birth date is unknown but the 19th April is the officially accepted birth date. His father's name was Shaahjee Bhonsle. Jeejaabaaee was a very religious woman and Shivaajee was very much devoted to his mother. He had a great influence of Raamaayan and Mahaabhaarat on his life. He had a son named Saambhaajee. Shivaajee served Malik Ambar who was defending his kingdom from Mugal King Aurangzeb.

At that time the southern part of India was under three Muslim kingdoms - Beejaapur, Ahmadnagar, and Golkundaa. Shivaajee kept changing his loyalty between Beejaapur and Ahamadnagar and Mugals, but he always maintained his small Jaageer and army. He got skilled in the use of sword, and became a good strategist. He went to Bangalore to become trained at the age of 12 years. at the age of 14 he returned with a sovereign seal. And at the age of 16 he captured Beejaapur Fort, and by the age of 17 (in 1647) he had control of most of the Pune region.

In 1648-49 Aadil Shaah of Beejaapur imprisoned Shaahjee (Shivaajee's father) and sent armies to defeat Bhonsle brothers, Shivaajee and Saambhaajee, but both brothers defeated Aadil Shaah's army. But to get his father released they had to surrender Bangalore and two forts.

Shivaajee and Afzal Khaan (Prataapgarh, 1659)
Aadil Shaah had a General named Afzal Khaan whom he sent to destroy Shivaajee. Afzal Khaan destroyed Hindu temples to attract Shivaajee's attention and expected to meet him in the battlefield, but Shivaajee's army was budding and Afzal Khaan had a large army, so Shivaajee decided to meet him at home for negotiations. So he sent a letter to Afzal Khaan stating that he wanted to meet him eagerly. Afzal Khaan agreed and the meeting was arranged in the foothills of Fort at Prataapgarh in November 1659.

This meeting was very important for Shivaajee. He took a pledge from his people not to surrender at all unless he fell. It is believed that Shivaajee had dream of Devee Bhavaanee before the meeting, and she assured him full protection. Shivaajee armed himself with a secret arm named Bichhuaa (dagger) and a Panjaa (Bagh Nakh or tiger claw), wore an armor under his clothes and went to meet Afzal Khaan. What happened there, is not known, but it is said that according to the custom, after the meeting they embraced each other and Afzal Khaan stabbed Shivaajee in the back. Shivaajee survived this attack because of his armor. He then attacked Afzal Khaan with his claws etc, he came on his knees and then came out the tent where he was killed. His bodyguard tried to kill Shivaajee but Shivaajee's people injured him. Shivaajee's army fought with Afzal Khaan' army and at last Afzal Khaan's army had to flee. This victory declared Shivaajee a hero. They had captured the enemy's weapons, horse, armors etc in large quantities large and strengthened their army.

Aurangzeb took this victory as a threat to Mugal Saltanat. Shivaajee wanted to attack Beejaapur, but could not attack it, still he harassed their army in a small way. Aadil Shaah again sent his army to defeat Shivaajee but this time they themselves got defeated and Aadil Shaah had to surrender Beejaapur fort to Shivaajee.

Battle at Kolhaapur (1660)
This was great loss to Aadil Shaah so he sent 10,000 soldier army again to defeat Shivaajee under the leadership of Beejaapur's renowned  Abyssinian General Rustamjaman. Shivaajee attacked them near Kolhaapur with his 5,000 cavalry in December 1659. Shivaajee defeated him and Rustamjaman fled away. Rustamjaman lost about 2,000 horses and 12 elephants. This battle alarmed Auranzeb regarding Shivaajee's bravery more than before and he started being referred to as a "Mountain Rat".

After the defeat of Kolhaapur, Badee Begam of Beejaapur asked the help of Aurangzeb, so Aurangzeb sent his Maamaa Shaaistaa Khaan (Mumtaaz Mahal's brother) to defeat Shivaajee with 100,000 army in January 1660. Shaaistaa Khaan was an experienced commander who had defeated Shaahjee in the same region in 1636. Aurangzeb intended to deceive Aadil Shaah also as well as capture Maraathaa kingdom. So both Shaaistaa Khaan and Beejaapur armies (led by Siddee Jauhar) proceeded towards Shivaajee. Shivaajee was at Panhala Fort near Kolhaapur. Jauhar captured Panhala Fort by stopping supply to Shivaajee's army. Shivaajee had to move from there to Vishaalgarh, a nearby fort, so he misled Aadil Shaah's army that he was willing to negotiate and escaped. Aadil Shaah's army caught a fake Shivaajee (Shivaajee's barber). They then followed real Shivaajee to Vishaalgarh.

To avoid defeat and arrest, a Maraathaa Sardaar volunteered with 300 soldiers to face the enemy's army and thus to give rest to Shivaajee. There he fought bravely, though got wounded, but kept them busy until he heard the sound of canon from Vishaalgarh that Shivaajee had reached there safely. In this fatal fight, Maraathaa fought for 7 hours with 2 swords, one in each hand. Panhala Fort was lost from Shivaajee's hands.

Clash With Mugals
Later Shaaistaa Khaan sent another army to defeat Shivaajee but his well-organized army defeated Mugal army. Shaaistaa Khaan again attacked Shivaajee and this time he succeeded in taking control of Shivaajee's palace, Laal Mahal. So Shivaajee again attacked Shaaistaa Khaan but under tight security. A wedding party took special permission for a procession. Shivaajee used this procession under cover. Mugal army also had many Maraathaa soldiers so it was difficult to separate Maraathaa soldiers from Maraathaa army and Mugal army. Shhivaajee took the advantage of this situation and infiltrated in Mugal army and entered their palace Laal Mahal. Shivaajee came to Shaaistaa Khaan's apartments and faced him personally. One of the wives of Shaaistaa Khaan put off the lights perceiving the danger. Taking the advantage of darkness, Shaaistaa Khaan ran away still Shivaajee succeeded in cutting three fingers of his hand. Shaaistaa Khaan narrowly escaped, lost his son and lots of army in this attack. Within 24 hours of this Shaaistaa Khaan left Pune and headed towards north, Aagaraa. Aurangzeb got very angry with him with this defeat and he transferred him to distant Bangaal.

In 1664, Shivaajee invaded Soorat to replenish his treasury. Aurangzeb got very angry at this so he sent Mirzaa Raajaa Jaya Sinh to control Shivaajee with an army of 150,000. Mugal army took control of Maraathaa's several forts. Shivaajee had to come to terms with Mugals instead of losing more men and forts. He gave up 23 forts, and paid 400,000 Rupees compensation. to Mugals. He let his son Saambhaajee become a Mugal Sardaar, serve Aurangzeb and fight from Mugals to defeat Beejaapur. Saambhaajee returned to Shivaajee after 10 years, in 1676, and was accepted as Hindu on Shivaajee's order.

In 1666, Aurangzeb invited Shivaajee to Aagaraa, along with his 9-year old son Saambhaajee. he wanted to send Shivaajee to consolidate Mugal kingdom in Kandhaar (modern day Afagaanistaan); but what happened in the court, that Aurangzeb made him stand behind Manasabdaar (military commanders). Shivaajee felt insulted at this and he left the court,  but was imprisoned and kept under house arrest under the watch of Faulaad Khaan (Kotvaal of Aagaraa). There, through his spies, he learnt that Aurangzeb was going to move to Vitthaldaas Havelee and from there he might kill him or send to Afagaan frontier, so he planned his escape.

He feigned a fatal sickness and requested to send most of his contingent to Dakkan to be sure of their safety. The he requested Aurangzeb to send daily shipments of sweets and gifts to saints, Faqeer and temples in Aagaraa as offering to get well soon. After several days of these shipments, Shivaajee got succeeded to escape by hiding in two of the boxes along with his 9-year old son. After coming out they assumed the form of Saaadhu and went to Dakkan. After the escape Shivaajee spread the rumor of the death of Saambhaaje to save him from Aurangzeb.

Coronation of Shivaajee
According to the genealogy of Mevaad, shown in the City Palace of Udayapur, Shivaajee's ancestors migrated from Mevaad to Dakkan. Some questioned his being a Kshatriya, but later on it was proved Gaagaa Bhatt of Vaaraanasee that he descended from the Solar line (Soorya Vansh) of Raanaa of Mevaad. So Gaagaa Bhatt himself took a golden Kalash, filled with seven sacred waters of Yamunaa, Sindhu, Gangaa, Godaavaree, Krishnaa and Kaaveree and dropped it on Shivaajee's head through several tiny holes. After the ablution he touched his mother's feet. Nearly 50,000 people gathered for this occasion. His mother Jeejaa Baaee died on June 18, 1674, within a few days of his coronation. This was considered a bad omen so a second coronation was arranged in September 1674 - this time according to Bangaal School of Taantricism and presided over by Nishchal Puree.

Shivaajee died in April 1680. After him his elder son Saambhaajee took over the kingdom after being challenged by his stepmother Soyraabaaee. Aurangzeb's son was rebelling from his father so he joined Saambhaajee. Aurangzeb took his all might and attacked Raayagarh. He killed Saambhaajee as he refused to bow down to him and accept Islaam. Maraathaa had to  move from there to Jingee (in modern Tamilnaadu).

Shivaajee is an icon of Indian independence. A regional sectarian political party, the Shiv Senaa, claims to draw inspiration from Shivaajee. The World Heritage site of Victoria Terminus and Sahar International Airport in Mumbai were renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Chaatrapati Shivaji International Airport respectively in Shivaji's honor.


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 08/01/13