Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is a great name in the history of Indian warriors. He was a warrior king in India who led a very successful life from 1627 to 1680. Shivaji Bhosle, popularly known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was a marathon warrior who founded the Maratha Kingdom.
Shivaji Bhosle directed the revolt to release the Marathas from the Sultanate of Bijapur and attacked and defended themselves from the Mughal empire. He created an independent Maratha kingdom with Raigad as its capital. He also became crowned as King Chhatrapati of the Maratha Kingdom in 1674.
Shivaji embraced the ideology of Hindavi Swarajya (indigenous self-government). He was able to restore the Maratha government to its land, after being governed as well as dominated by countless Muslim dynasties for hundreds of years.
He also established a competent and progressive civil government with the help of a well-regulated and disciplined army and well-structured administrative organizations. The frequent practices of treating women as weapons of war, the annihilation of religious monuments, forced religious conversions and slavery received a firm opposition under his administration.
Shivaji was a Hindu monk who showed respect towards other religions. He also innovated strategies of military intervention of the time. He was a pioneer of Ganimi Kava or the Shiva Sutra (war tactics), in which he used strategic factors such as demography, speed, and surprise, as well as focused on defeating his greatest and most powerful enemies.
Shivaji was born close to Junnar, which is currently a district of Pune in a hill fort around Shivneri. Although his date of birth is contested, the government of Maharashtra declares 19th February as his birthday and a holiday.
He shared a close relationship with his mother who was called Jijabai and is known to be extremely religious. Shivaji’s deep interest in religious philosophy was reflected through his company of Sufi as well as Hindu saints.
During his time, he promoted Sanskrit and Marathi as primary languages and completely replaced Persian. He is known to have followed Hindu courtly and political traditions. He tried to encourage Sanskrit to the extent that his forts were named as Suvarndurg, Prachandgarh, and Sindhudurg.
Moreover, he even appointed his council of ministers as the “Ashta Pradhan.” He also used words like Nyayadhish, Senapati,etc. All his projects aimed at replacing the Indo-Persian norms and political customs with the ones based on Sanskrit. Overall, Shivaji’s period in the history is known to have promoted Sanskrit immensely.
When it comes to his religious policies, he was known to be extremely tolerant. Under his rule, not just Hindus but also Muslims were free to practice their religion without any harassment. It is evident through the number of Muslims who held prominent positions in his military services.
Despite having several Muslim kingdoms as their enemies, he still treated Muslims with a lot of tolerance. Thisis also reflected in one of the letters that Aurangzeb wrote to Shivaji where he emphasized on the contrasts between the two religions but also how both the religions favored the divine.
Although not much is said about his attitude towards Christianity, there was a time when Shivaji was approached by a priest who asked him to spare all the Christians in the city. Shivaji left them untouched.
Rightly so, Shivaji has always been admired as a hero and a shrewd statesman by Portuguese, Dutch, English, Italian and French writers. They have even compared him with Hannibal, Alexander, and Julius Caesar. However, the Mughals have mostly portrayed him in a negative light. They have described him as a marauder and plunderer.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj definitely played a very vital role in the history of India,and his reign was much-loved due to his focus on non-discrimination and secularism. He was also loved and admired by his subjects, people in his reign as well as his military men who bravely fought by his side battle after battle.
He is remembered even today for his bravery on the battlefield and his compassionate reign in his kingdom. He was also considerate of the caste system and contributed to the welfare of Dalits throughout his period of rule. Spiritual books and literature are full of tales of his prowess, and people remember him as an influential person in the history of India.