In this article we will discuss about the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji.
Life and Achievements of Chhatrapati Shivaji:
Shivaji was the son of Shahji Bhonsle by his first wife Jija Bai. He was born in the fort of Shivner, near the city of Junnar, north of Poona, on 20 April 1627. Shahji Bhonsle had been one among those nobles who were king-makers in the kingdom of Ahmadnagar. After its extinction, he transferred his services to Bijapur.
There too he wielded good influence and power at the court. He married another woman, Tuka Bai Mohite. Therefore, Jija Bai, his first wife, decided to live separately from her husband. She kept Shivaji, his son with her. Shahji assigned the Jagir of Poona to his wife and left one of his loyal officers, Dadaji Kond Deva to look after them.
While Jija Bai built up the character of Shivaji, Kond Deva trained him in the art of fighting and administration. Shivaji did not take much interest in formal schooling but he developed strong determination, courage, desire to fight against injustice, faith towards his religion and became master in handling of all arms.
Shivaji aimed to create an independent kingdom of his own right from the beginning of his career. In no case he was prepared to accept service under a Muslim ruler. In the beginning, Shivaji was not inspired by the idea of making free the Hindus from the bondage of the Muslims.
That idea developed later on. J.N. Sarkar comments- “An independent sovereignty he always coveted; but he never posed as the liberator of the Hindus in general, at all events not till long afterwards.”
Of course, Shivaji was inspired by Hindu religion and desired to protect it. But, his primary aim was political, viz., to carve out an independent kingdom for himself in Maharashtra. M.G. Ranade has cleared the aim of Shivaji by dividing the events of his life into four parts. During the first six years of his political career, Shivaji simply desired to organize the neighbouring Maratha chiefs under him and protect himself.
He had to fight against Bijapur to achieve this purpose. During the course of next ten years he encouraged Maratha nationalism and attempted to extend the territory under his rule. He fought against the ablest nobles of Bijapur during this period and succeeded. During the period between 1662-72 A.D., he came in conflict with the growing power of the Mughuls towards the Deccan.
He succeeded against the Mughuls as well. And, between the period 1674-80 A.D. he legalised his kingdom, held his coronation and assumed the title of Chhatrapati. Thus, throughout his life, he was busy in attempting to establish an independent kingdom for himself and providing it safety against Bijapur and the Mughuls.
He would have avoided fighting them both if they had permitted him a free hand in the affairs of Maharashtra. Shivaji would have even acknowledged the sovereignty of the Mughul emperor provided he had accepted him as the ruler of Maharashtra.
Probably, he went to Agra to achieve this very purpose. Shivaji never thought of combining the Hindu rulers against the Muslims. He was prepared to help the Muslim states of Bijapur and Golkunda to check the power of the Mughuls at the banks of the river Tapti.
Thus, M. G. Ranade also concludes that the primary aim of Shivaji was to organize the scattered power of the Marathas under him and establish an independent kingdom of his own in Maharashtra.
Even during the period of tutelage of Kond Deva, Shivaji started capturing hill-forts near Poona against his wishes. Kond Deva died in 1647 A.D. His death freed Shivaji from all restraints. He was only 20 years of age at that time and he started his adventures on a wider scale.
Many courageous Maratha leaders gathered round him. His father also deputed some of his capable officers like Shyamji Nilkantha, Balkrishna Dixit, Sonaji Pant and Raghunath Ballal to serve him. In 1643 A.D., Shivaji captured the fort of Singhgarh from Bijapur and then gradually the forts of Chakan, Purandar, Varamati, Torna, Supa, Tikona, Lohgarh, Rairi (Raigarh which became his capital afterwards) were also taken over.
Sultan Muhammad Adil Shah (1646-1656 A.D.) was sick during that time. Besides, Shivaji had won over many of his officers to his side by bribing them. Therefore, Bijapur took no offence against him and he was able to collect many capable Maratha officers under his banner, capture many forts and part of Konkan without any serious resistance by the year 1655 A.D.
One important achievement of Shivaji was the conquest of Javli in 1656 A.D., whose chief was a Maratha, Chandra Rao but who was on the side of Bijapur. Shivaji got Chandra Rao murdered and captured his fort. It provided him the facility to extend his sway towards southwest.
Shivaji came in conflict with the Mughuls first in 1657 A.D. Prince Aurangzeb had attacked Bijapur which sought his help. Shivaji could realise that it was in his interest also to check the power of the Mughuls from penetrating in the Deccan. Therefore, he helped Bijapur and attacked the southwest territory of the Mughuls. He looted Junnar and troubled the Mughuls at several places.
But when Bijapur made peace with the Mughuls, he also stopped his raids on the Mughal territory. The Mughuls could not pay any attention towards the South for the next two years because of their occupation in the war of succession. Shivaji utilized this opportunity in conquering entire Konkan.
Bijapur then grew suspicious of the rising power of Shivaji in the Deccan and decided to crush him. Afzal Khan who was a reputed commander of Bijapur, was deputed for this task in 1659 A.D. He commanded ten thousand horses and was assigned a good park of artillery to complete his task.
He tried to terrify Shivaji by wholesale destruction of temples, agriculture and populace within his territories. But he stopped at Vai. He then tried to trap Shivaji and deputed Krishnaji Bhaskar to convince Shivaji to agree for peace. Afzal Khan assured Shivaji that if he would come to meet him in person and agree to accept the suzerainty of Bijapur he would be given additional territory as Jagir besides what he possessed at that time.
Shivaji got scent of Afzal Khan’s treacherous design from Krishnaji Bhaskar, the messenger of Afzal Khan and decided to pay him in the same coin. He agreed to meet Afzal Khan after a solemn promise of his personal safety.
He ordered Moro Pingle and Netaji Palkar to reach with their forces secretly in the jungle near Pratapgarh and deputed Gopi Nath to give his message to Afzal Khan that he would meet him near Pratapgarh provided he was assured of forgiveness.
Afzal Khan agreed to it and reached near the fort of Pratapgarh. A meeting was arranged between the two at a place which was midway between the fort and the camp of Afzal Khan. It was also agreed that both would come only with two of their bodyguards and Shivaji would come without arms. Shivaji, however, wore a coat of chain-armour under his tunic and a steel-cap under his turban.
He concealed in his left hand a set of steel-claws (baghnakh) and in his right sleeve a small sharp dagger. He took Jiv Mahala and Shambhuji Kavji as his bodyguards. Afzal Khan left his one thousand musketeers behind at the request of Gopi Nath, envoy of Shivaji and reached the meeting place with his two bodyguards one of whom was a famous swordsman, Sayyid Banda.
Afzal Khan embraced Shivaji and, as the latter came up to his shoulders, bent a little to tighten his grasp in order to strangle him and then struck him with his sword. But Shivaji’s iron-coat saved him and he plunged his baghnakh into Afzal Khan’s side. Afzal Khan was wounded and he relaxed his grip on Shivaji. Shivaji extracted himself from him and ran towards his bodyguards.
Sayyid Banda gave a blow on Shivaji’s head which, however, did not harm him because of the hidden steel cap. Jiv Mahala, meanwhile cut off the right hand of Sayyid Banda and killed him. Afzal Khan and his second bodyguard were also killed. The Maratha army which was concealed in the jungle now attacked the leaderless army of Bijapur. It was defeated and forced to flee. Shivaji gained immense booty as well as fame.
Prof. Farrukhi has blamed Shivaji for murdering Afzal Khan. The foreign traveller Manucci and some contemporary records also blame Shivaji for it. But modern historians do not accept it. They say that Afzal Khan had planned the murder of Shivaji. Shivaji guessed his game.
Therefore, whatever he did, he did for his safety. J.N. Sarkar has contended that Afzal Khan attacked first. Therefore, Shivaji killed him for his safety. Thus, he cannot be blamed for the incident. Shivaji followed up his victory by attacking Konkan and Kolhapur and captured the fort of Panhala.
In 1662-63 A.D., Shivaji made peace with Bijapur and agreed to support it against the Mughuls. But again during the period 1677- 80 A.D., he fought against it and captured all forts from it which it had captured from Golkunda. Thus, Shivaji succeeded in fighting against Bijapur.
In 1660 A.D., Shayista Khan, the Mughul governor of the Deccan was ordered by Aurangzeb to finish Shivaji. He made an agreement with Bijapur against Shivaji and snatched away from him Poona, Chakan, Kalyan and many other places within a period of two years. But Shivaji continued to resist him.
In 1663 A.D., Shayista Khan camped at Poona during the rainy season. Shivaji could succeed in entering Poona in disguise with his selected followers. He made a night attack on the palace. Shayista Khan fled away in the darkness losing his thumb. Shivaji could escape with his followers after killing many followers of Shayista Khan.
Shivaji then attacked Surat on 16 January 1664 A.D. The Mughul governor fled away and Shivaji looted it for four days. Aurangzeb recalled Shayista Khan from the Deccan and Shivaji could enjoy immunity from Mughul attacks for about next twelve months.
In 1665 A.D., Aurangzeb deputed Raja Jai Singh against Shivaji. Jai Singh was one of the ablest commanders and diplomats in the service of the Mughuls. From Balkh to Bengal and north to south, he had fought battles on behalf of the Mughuls. During the reign of Shah Jahan, there was not a single year when Jai Singh failed to bring some success to the empire and did not receive honours from the emperor.
This hero of hundreds of war, was deputed against Shivaji at the age of sixty years. Jai Singh moved diplomatically. It was feared that the entry of a large Mughul army in the Deccan would force Bijapur, Golkunda and Shivaji to combine together to check the infiltration of the Mughuls further in the Deccan. But, Jai Singh succeeded in his diplomatic moves. Bijapur did not come to the support of Shivaji.
He lured some Maratha chiefs to come to his side by offering them money and Jagirs and wrote letters to Europeans and the Sidis of Janjira to side with the Mughuls. Having assured himself that Shivaji could not receive help from any quarter, he besieged him in the fort of Purandar.
Very soon it became clear that the fort could not withstand the pressure of the Mughuls. Therefore, Shivaji surrendered and met Jai Singh in person. In June 1665 A.D., the treaty of Purandar was signed between the two.
By its terms:
1. Shivaji surrendered twenty-three of his forts and territory yielding an annual revenue of four lakhs of hun.
2. Shivaji was left with only twelve forts and territory which yielded annual revenue of one lakh of hun.
3. Shivaji accepted the suzerainty of the Mughuls but, instead of personal attendance at the court, deputed his son, Shambhuji with 5,000 horses at the Mughul court.
4. Shivaji agreed to support the Mughuls against Bijapur.
Another term was added to the treaty afterwards by which:
5. Shivaji agreed to pay forty lakhs of huns to the Mughuls in thirteen years provided the territory of Konkan which yielded annual revenue of four lakhs of huns and the territory of Balaghat which was in possession of Bijapur and yielded an annual income of five lakhs of hurts were assigned to him.
This term of the treaty embittered the relations of Bijapur with Shivaji. Besides, there was every possibility that Shivaji would become busy in capturing these territories. This term of the treaty was the result of the diplomacy of Jai Singh and completely went in favour of the Mughuls. Thus, within three months Jai Singh forced Shivaji to surrender larger part of his kingdom including important forts and accept suzerainty of the Mughuls.
In 1666 A.D., Shivaji went to Agra to meet Emperor Aurangzeb. Jai Singh tempted Shivaji that there was every possibility of getting the governorship of the Mughul territory in the Deccan if he would go to meet the emperor in person. He assured Shivaji of his personal safety under the care of his son, Ram Singh Shivaji, probably, himself felt interested in meeting the emperor and to gain first-hand knowledge of the politics of the North.
Shivaji visited Agra along with his son Shambhuji. He was presented before the Emperor by Ram Singh. The Emperor neglected his presence and offered him a place to stand among the officers of the rank of 5,000 mansab. Shivaji felt humiliated and left the court immediately. Ram Singh kept Shivaji in the Jaipur Bhawan but virtually he was a prisoner there.
Aurangzeb and many other Mughul officers desired that Shivaji be put to death but Aurangzeb restrained himself till he was assured that Raja Jai Singh would not mind it. He wrote letter to Jai Singh and asked about the assurance which he had given to Shivaji. But before he could receive the reply, Shivaji won over many Mughul officers by bribing them and planned to escape.
He pretended that he was ill and began sending out of his residence baskets of sweetmeats for the Brahmanas and other religious persons. One day, leaving his step-brother Hiroji in disguise of himself, Shivaji along with his son, Shambhuji went out in two baskets under the pretext that they were baskets of sweetmeats.
Afterwards he disguised himself as a Sannyasi (hermit), left Shambhuji at Mathura and reached Maharashtra alter twenty-five days visiting Allahabad, Banaras, Gondwana, and Golkunda on the way. The visit to Agra paid nothing to Shivaji but it certainly created a story of his personal adventure in history. However, in 1670 A.D., Shivaji made peace with the Mughuls and sent his son. Shambhuji to the Mughul camp at Aurangabad to serve the Mughul emperor.
In 1670 A.D., Shivaji again started fighting against the Mughuls and succeeded in capturing many forts from among those which he had surrendered to the Mughuls by the treaty of Purandar. He conquered forts like Singhgarh. Purandar, Kalyan, Mahuli, etc. and successfully raided the territories of the Mughuls in the Deccan. He also plundered Surat in 1670 A.D. for the second time.
The Marathas attacked Berar, Baglana, Khandesh and north Konkan captured the forts of Salher, Mulher, Panhala. Parli, Satara, etc. and the cities of Jawahamagar and Ramnagar. Thus, within a few years, Shivaji snatched away many forts and tracts of land both from the Mughuls and Bijapur.
In 1674 A.D., Shivaji held his coronation, assumed the title of Chhatrapati and made Raigarh his capital. Vishweshwar alias Gaga Bhatta, the renowned Pandit of Banaras performed the ceremony of coronation according to vedic rites. Shivaji’s mother Jija Bai died after twelve days of this ceremony. In order to dispel the doubts arising out of the death of his mother, Shivaji held his second coronation by Tantrik rites on 4 October 1674 A.D.
Shivaji then raided the camp of the Mughul governor, Bahadur Khan and looted nearly rupees one crore besides capturing two hundred and five horses. He also successfully looted Baglana and Khandesh within the territory of Bijapur.
In 1677-78 A.D. Shivaji attacked east Karnataka on the pretext of getting share of his father’s Jagir from his brother. Prior to it, he entered into contracts with the Mughul governor, Bahadur Khan and with the ruler of Golkunda. He, then, conquered the forts of Jinji and Vellore and the territory between the rivers Tungabhadra and Kaveri in Karnataka.
He remained there for nearly a year and captured the territory which yielded him an income of twenty lakhs of hun annually besides many forts. His brother Vyankoji tried to recapture his lost territory after the departure of Shivaji from Karnataka but failed.
However, ultimately, both brothers made a pact among themselves by which Shivaji kept the forts to himself but restored the territory of his brother to him. Vyankoji accepted the suzerainty of Shivaji.
Shivaji came in conflict with the Sidis of Janjira. Shivaji desired to conquer the north-western sea coast. It provided security to his empire and facilitated sea-trade with countries in the West. Therefore, he snatched away the sea-coast of Ponda and Karbar from Bijapur, occupied the territory which extended from Kobala to Malwan and the forts of Swarandurg, Vijaydurg and Sindudurg which were strong forts near the coast.
He built up a navy for the same purpose. He also tried to capture Goa from the Portuguese and Chaul and Janjira from the Sidis. Previously, the Sidis were under the suzerainty of Ahmadnagar and afterwards they transferred their allegiance to Bijapur. They were against the encroachment of Shivaji in the Konkan coast. Shivaji, on his own part, desired to conquer the island of Janjira which was the stronghold of the Sidis.
Unless Shivaji could bring the Sidis under his suzerainty, neither the coast of Konkan was safe nor he could safely build up a strong navy. In 1669 A.D., Shivaji deputed his naval commanders to attack on Janjira. Fateh Khan, the chief of the Sidis, lost heart and agreed for peace. But his colleagues did not agree and transferred their allegiance to the Mughuls in 1671 A.D. The fighting continued for years. Shivaji failed to subdue the Sidis though he could keep the Konkan coast under him.
During his last days, Shivaji helped Bijapur against the Mughuls to whom his son Shambhuji also deserted for nearly a year. Of course, Shambhuji returned to his father but he troubled his father by his behaviour during later days of his life. Shivaji fell ill on 2 April and died on 13 April 1680 A.D.
Shivaji succeeded in establishing an independent kingdom in the Deccan before his death. His kingdom included Maharashtra. Konkan and large part of Karnataka. It included Ramnagar in the north to Karwar in the south. In the east, it included Baglana half of the Nasik and the Poona districts, Satara and much of Kolhapur district.
It also included that part of western Karnataka which comprised larger part of Mysore, parts of the district of Bellary, Chittur and Arcot. He had imperfect hold over the Kanara region as well. Historian Sabhasad described the annual income of the state of Shivaji as one crore of huns.
Besides, a large area in the Deccan was under his sphere of influence from where he collected chauth which yielded him an annual income of eighty lakhs of huns. Thus Shivaji succeeded in his aim though he had to face bitter opposition both from Bijapur and the Mughuls.
Various factors were responsible for this success of Shivaji. The geographical conditions of Maharashtra helped in his rise. Shivaji utilised the religious sentiments of the Hindus and the unity of the people of Maharashtra. He put his aim and ideal before the people in a way so that he was regarded as the protector of the cows, Brahmanas and Hinduism.
Therefore, he received the sympathy of the Hindus in general who found in him a person who could fulfill their dream of Hindu-Pad-Padshahi, viz., Hindu independence and revival of Hindu-culture. Raja Jai Singh pleaded for the safety of the life of Shivaji to Aurangzeb when he visited Agra; Jaswant Singh was sympathetic towards him; Madanna and Akanna, ministers of Golkunda were prepared to support him; and the Rajput chiefs and soldiers were not prepared to fight against him with enthusiasm.
When Aurangzeb imposed Jizya on the Hindus in 1679 A.D., Shivaji alone, among Hindu chiefs protested against it and wrote a letter to Aurangzeb. Saints like Tukaram, Ram Das, Baba Yakut and Jairam Swami, directly or indirectly, asked their disciples to help Shivaji in his efforts.
Besides, Shivaji never destroyed a mosque, never showed disrespect to Koran or to Muslim women and children. That is why the Muslims were also not displeased with him. On the contrary, many among them respected him. Shivaji organised an efficient department of espionage which provided him all useful information regarding his enemies and was expected to know every inch of ground of Maharashtra.
There remained division and discord among the nobles of Bijapur. Besides, its own existence was threatened by the Mughuls. Therefore, Bijapur could never put up its complete resources to fight against Shivaji. On the contrary, it had to seek his help several times against the Mughuls. Golkunda helped Shivaji many times. Shivaji could not undertake his expedition against Karnataka if he would not have received the support of Golkunda.
Aurangzeb remained busy in the North during the first half period of his rule while his officers in the Deccan could not act in union. That gave Shivaji the opportunity to build up himself in the beginning of his career.
It was, of course, the weakness of the Mughuls which gave Shivaji the opportunity to escape from his imprisonment at Agra, to attack Shayista Khan in Poona, to defeat several Mughul officers, and carry on successful raids within the territory of the Mughuls.
But, more than anything, the success of Shivaji was due to his own character and personality. Shivaji proved himself successful as a born-leader of man, a capable soldier, a successful commander and an efficient administrator.
Administration of Chhatrapati Shivaji:
(i) The King:
Like all other medieval rulers, Shivaji was a despot with all powers concentrated in his hands. He possessed all executive and legislative powers. He was the commander-in-chief of the army and also the highest fountain of justice in his kingdom. But, Shivaji did not use his power to attain his selfish ends. He used it for the welfare of his subjects.
Historian Ranade described that like Napoleon ‘Shivaji was a great organiser and a constructive civilian administrator’. The one novelty of Shivaji’s administration was the introduction of Marathi-language as the state-language and, for its growth, appointed a committee of scholars under the Chairmanship of Pandit Hanumante which prepared a dictionary called the Rajya-Vayvahara-Kosha.
(ii) Asht Pradhan:
Shivaji was assisted by eight ministers in his administration. Each of them was the head or the Pradhan of his department. They did not work as a joint council advising the king. On the contrary, each of them was responsible for the working of his department to Shivaji.
Shivaji, however, could consult them jointly if needed. He was also not bound by their advice jointly or individually. The prime minister or the peshwa, of course, enjoyed superiority among his colleagues but, in no case, he was their officer. Each of them owed direct allegiance to Shivaji.
These eight pradhans were as follows:
(a) The Peshwa:
He looked after the general administration and welfare of the kingdom, promote harmony in the administration, represent the king in his absence and put his seal below the king’s to all royal letters and despatches.
(b)The Amatya or Majumdar:
He was responsible for the account of income and expenditure of the state.
(c) The Mantri or Waqia-Nawis:
He was responsible for the personal safety of the king and supervise his daily routine-work.
(d) The Sachiv or Shuru-Nawis:
His duty was to see that all royal letters and despatches were drafted in the proper style. He also checked the accounts of the parganas.
(e) The Sumant or Dabir:
He was the foreign minister. He advised the king regarding questions of war and peace with other states, received foreign ambassadors, collected news from other states and advised the king in appointing ambassadors to foreign states.
(f) The Senapati or Sar-i-Naubat:
He was not the commander-in-chief of the army. But he was incharge of recruitment, organisation, discipline, training of soldiers and arranging their supplies.
(g) Pandit Rao or Danadhyaksha:
He looked after the charitable and religious works of the state. He also tried for the moral uplift of the people.
Next to the king, he was the highest judicial authority in the kingdom.
Among these pradhans all were Brahmanas except the senapati, and except Pandit Rao and nyayadhish all were expected to command the army if there was need for it. All royal letters, despatches and treaties were signed by four ministers besides the king and the peshwa. However, senapati, Pandit Rao and nyayadhish were not among those four.
Besides these eight ministers, chitnis or munshi were other important officers who looked after the correspondence of the state. Every minister was assisted in his work by a host of junior officers—important among them being diwan, majumdar, phadnis, subnis, karkhani, chitans, jamadar and potnis. Shivaji, thus, had organised a systematic and quite efficient administration at the Centre.
The kingdom of Shivaji was divided into three provinces. Each was ruled by a governor. The northern province included Dang, Baglana, Koli Pradesh, territory south of Surat, Konkan, north of Bombay and the Deccan plateau in the south of Poona. It was under Moro Trimbak Pingle.
The southern province included Konkan, south of Bombay, Sawant-vadi and the north Kanara coast. It was governed by Annaji Datto. The south-eastern province which was under Dattaji Pant, included the districts of Satara and Kolhapur of the Deccan plateau, the districts of Belgaon and Dharwar to Kopal west of the river Tungabhadra in Karnataka.
During later period of his life Shivaji had conquered territory on the eastern side of the river Tungabhadra which stretched from Kopal to Vellore and Jinji. It included northern, eastern and middle part of the state of Mysore and the districts of Belari, Chittor and Arcot in the Madras state.
However, he could not consolidate his hold over this territory and ruled it by sheer force. Besides, Shivaji collected taxes from the territory of Kanara, south Dharwar, Sondha and Bedmir though it was yet under dispute as it was conquered just before the death of Shivaji.
(iv) Army and Navy:
Cavalry and infantry constituted the primary parts of the army of Shivaji. The strength of his army at the time of his death was 45,000 paga and 60,000 silahdar cavalry, and one lakh of Mavle infantry. The war- elephants numbered only three hundred. He possessed a small artillery as well.
The paga cavalrymen were called the bargirs. They were provided horses by the state while the silahdars purchased their arms and horses themselves. The paga cavalry was well organised. Twenty-five horsemen formed a unit which was placed under a havaldar. There was one jumladar over every five havaldars, over every ten jumladars one hazari and over five hazaris one five- hazari. At the head of all was sar-i-naubat of the cavalry.
The infantry was also divided in the same way. The foot-soldier was called the paik. There was a nayak over every nine paiks, a havaldar over every ten nayaks, over every two or three havaldars a jumladar, over ten jumladars one hazari and over seven hazaris one seven-hazari. There was no five-hazari in the infantry. Above all was the sar-i-naubat of the infantry. Besides, Shivaji had 2,000 Mavle soldiers as his personal bodyguards.
Shivaji kept Muslim soldiers also in his army. He employed those seven hundred Pathan soldiers in his service who were turned out of employment by Bijapur though some of his officers advised him against it. The army of Shivaji was well-disciplined. Every care was taken in the recruitment, training and equipment of the army. Shivaji looked after the recruitment of the soldiers personally.
Every soldier had to give surety of another soldier at the time of his recruitment. The soldiers and officers of the army were mostly paid in cash. The foot-soldiers and their junior officers were paid rupees three to rupees nine a month while the soldiers and the junior officers of the cavalry were paid rupees six to rupees twenty per month.
A jumladar of the infantry was paid hundred huns annually while a hazari was paid five hundred huns a year. A jumladar of the cavalry was paid five hundred hum a year while a hazari was paid one thousand huns a year. Shivaji paid the salary of his officers and soldiers on a fixed day. The army was kept under strict discipline by Shivaji.
The soldiers were not allowed to take any article with them which was not of utmost necessity, not to lit fire or smoke near houses and fields under cultivation and not to take ladies or servants with them. Those who broke these laws were severely punished. The army remained in the cantonment only during four months of rainy season.
During the remaining eight months, it went out either to conquer fresh territory or to collect supplies from the enemy-land. Every article of every soldier was accounted before he left cantonment and when he returned to it, so that no soldier could hide his booty. To kill or torture ladies and children, to loot the Brahmanas, to spoil cultivation etc. even during the course of a war were punishable offences.
Thus, Shivaji had formed elaborate rules and regulations to maintain discipline in the army and all of them were rigorously enforced. Therefore, he succeeded in organising a well-disciplined, strong and a highly mobile army during his own life-time.
The forts and their security occupied an important place in the army organisation of Shivaji. Shivaji had nearly 250 forts which were important for him both for purposes of defence and offence. Therefore, he took all necessary measures for the security of his forts. There were three important officers, viz., a havaldar, a sabnis and a sar-i-naubat in every fort. All the three were jointly responsible for the safety of their fort.
The sar-i-naubat and the havaldar were Marathas while the sabnis was a Brahmana by caste. There was another officer called kharkhana-navis who was responsible for the maintenance of all sort of supplies in the fort. He also kept the account of every income and expenditure incurred in the fort.
The havaldar had the duty to look after the working of his subordinates and the right to dismiss them, to receive and despatch letters, to close the gates of the fort in the evening, to open the gates in the morning and to check the measures taken for the security of the fort.
The sar-i-naubat was assigned the duty of night patrolling and checking soldiers on their guard- duty. The sabnis looked after the civil administration of the fort. Thus, by dividing the responsibility of functions among different officers and appointing them from different castes, Shivaji had taken the precaution to avoid submission of the fort to enemy in case a single officer became a traitor. Shivaji had framed many rules for the safety of the fort i.e., the number of soldiers, the arms and supplies to be kept in the fort and the time of opening and closing the gates of fort were all fixed.
Shivaji maintained a navy as well. Once he conquered the Konkan coast, it became necessary for him to safeguard his coastal territory from the invasion of the Sidis of Janjira. According to the historian Sabhasad, Shivaji had four hundred ships of different kinds in his navy. The navy was divided into two parts and each part was commanded by daria nayak and mai nayak respectively.
Shivaji could get the services of another two capable naval officers, Misri and Daulat Khan after some years. The navy of Shivaji fought against the Dutch, the Portuguese and the English on several occasions. At one time, it successfully safeguarded the island of Khanderi against the combined attack of the Sidis and the English. Shivaji also organised a merchant-navy.
Dr S.N. Sen writes- “Unlike many of his contemporaries, the great Maratha had realised that a strong naval power without a strong mercantile navy was an impossibility.” Thus, Shivaji attempted to build up a strong navy.
He succeeded in his attempt and his navy certainly became dangerous for the Sidis of Janjira and a cause of apprehension for the Mughul emperor Aurangzeb. Yet, it was no match to the navy of the Europeans. The basic cause of this weakness was lack of artillery on its ships. Shivaji could not succeed against the Sidis primarily due to this weakness of his navy.
The head of the factory of the English at Surat once expressed- “One English ship, without endangering itself in any way, would destroy their one hundred ships.” Therefore, the navy of Shivaji mostly served limited purposes. It looked after the safety of its sea-coast and collected trade- tax from traders touching its coast-line.
(v) Finance and revenue:
Currency, trade-tax and land revenue were the primary sources of the fixed income of Shivaji. But, income from these sources was not sufficient to meet the expenditure of his state. Therefore, Shivaji collected the chauth and the sardeshmukhi from the territory which was either under his enemies or under his own influence.
The chauth was 1/4th part of the income of a particular territory while the sardeshmukhi was 1/10th. Shivaji collected these taxes simply by force of his arms. These taxes constituted primary sources of the income of Shivaji and, afterwards, helped in the extension of the power and territory of the Marathas.
The revenue system of Shivaji was Ryotwari in which the state kept direct contact with peasants. Shivaji mostly avoided the system of assigning Jagirs to his officers and whenever he assigned Jagirs to them, the right of collecting the revenue was kept with state officials. He adopted the revenue system which Malik Amber had introduced in the state of Ahmadnagar, of course, with minor changes.
Land in every village was measured and the produce was roughly assessed. On the basis of that assessment, cultivators were asked to pay 33 per cent of their produce to the state. Afterwards, when Shivaji abolished nearly forty local taxes, the share of the state was fixed as 40 per cent.
Shivaji encouraged people of other states to settle down as farmers in his kingdom, gave them lands and did not charge revenue from them till their lands were in a position to yield sufficient produce. The new cultivators were provided assistance in the form of cattle and seeds, the cost of which was paid by cultivators to the state in instalments. Shivaji collected revenue in cash and kind both.
Shivaji withdrew the privilege of collecting the revenue from the hereditary officers called the Patil, the Kulkarni or the Deshmukh and, in their places, appointed officers who were paid salaries by the state. The revenue- collector of a Tarf was called the Karkuna or the Havaldar, the officer of a province was called the Subadar or the Mukhiya and the officer collecting revenue from several provinces was called the Sar-Subadar.
The kingdom of Shivaji was divided into sixteen parts (provinces) for the purpose of collecting the revenue. These sixteen parts were further divided into tarfs and each tarf was further subdivided into mauzs. The revenue officer of a province was called the subedar while the officer in a tarf was called the karkun.
Sometimes one subedar looked after the revenue administration of more than one province. Hereditary officers like patels in villages and deshmukhs or deshpandeys in districts worked as before but Shivaji appointed new officers as well.
The revenue administration of Shivaji remained successful. Jervis has remarked- “In the midst of all this confusion, warfare and general disloyalty, the state of revenue and population is said to have prospered.”
(vi) Religious Policy:
Shivaji was a cultured Hindu. He understood the spirit of tolerance of Hinduism and practised it in his life as a person and as a ruler. Guru Ram Das was his religious and spiritual Guru (preceptor). It would be wrong to say that Ram Das participated in formation of his political ideals but it is certain that he inspired him to perform good deeds and struggle for justice.
Therefore, he was certainly an inspiring force in building the career of Shivaji. Shivaji claimed to be the protector of the Hindus, the Brahmanas and the cows, yet, he tolerated every religion and never showed disrespect to religious texts or God of any other faith. He was very much tolerant towards Islam.
He showed perfect respect to Prophet Muhammad and the Koran whenever there came any occasion for it. He did not destroy a single mosque, protected Muslim ladies and children even during the course of wars and gave financial assistance to Muslim saints and scholars.
The Muslims were given service according to their capability in his kingdom and were employed even in the navy and the army. Contemporary historian, Khafi Khan was not happy with Shivaji, yet, he praised his religious policy.
Thus, the kingdom of Shivaji was well-administered by him. V.A. Smith is totally wrong when he describes his state as the ‘robber state.’ Shivaji has been regarded as one of the great personalities of medieval India not only because of the fact that he created an independent kingdom but also because he provided it an efficient administration.
The best example of the success of his administration is that when he was a prisoner at Agra nothing untoward happened in his kingdom. Dr J.N. Sarkar described it as ‘a novelty of medieval monarchy.’
M.G. Ranade distinguished his civil administration from the administration of the rest of the rulers of medieval India on the following grounds:
1. He gave special attention towards the administration of the forts.
2. He did not confine one office to one family and made no office hereditary.
3. He mostly did not assign jagirs to his civil and military officers.
4. He established Ryotwari system in revenue administration.
5. He did not give land to the contractors or farmers for collecting the revenue.
6. He assigned separate responsibilities to the members of Asht Pradhan and each of them was made responsible for his work to him as well as towards his colleagues.
7. He gave superior position to his civilian officers as compared to military officers in matters of administration.
8. He employed members of all castes and tried to maintain balance between them.
Thus, Shivaji was not only a nation-builder and empire-builder but also a great administrator.
Causes of the Failure of Shivaji in Establishing an Enduring Empire:
Only nine years after the death of Shivaji his empire was destroyed, his administration was ruined, Jagir system was established, offices of the state were made hereditary and many traditional evils of Hindu society and politics raised their heads. There were various causes for it.
It has been said that Shivaji got very little time to establish a firm rule. He could look after the administration only between the period 1670-1680 A.D. Prior to it, mostly he remained busy in establishing his empire. However, this reason is not accepted as one of the primary reasons of his failure in establishing an endurable empire.
There were other reasons for that. Hindu conservatism was revived due to the successes of Shivaji and, later on, that of Peshwa Baji Rao. It emphasized on rituals and caste system. It destroyed the unity of the Marathas. It resulted in conflicts between Brahmanas and Brahmanas and between the Brahmanas and the Marathas.
It harmed the fortunes of the Maratha kingdom, J.N. Sarkar writes:
“Caste grows by fission. It is antagonistic to national union. In proportion as Shivaji’s ideal of Hindu Swaraj was based on orthodoxy, it contained within itself the seed of its own death.” Shivaji could not destroy mutual rivalries and regional loyalties of the Marathas completely. He was able to give them right direction during his own life-time. But, after his death, these were again revived.
Another weakness of the administration of Shivaji was that he had failed to take positive steps for the education and cultural progress of his common subjects. Therefore, his administration did not have the germs of stability. Another weakness of Shivaji’s empire was that, like all other medieval rulers, its fortune also depended on the character and personality of the king.
Shambhuji, son and successor of Shivaji, proved himself incapable and therefore, contributed to the destruction of the Maratha kingdom. Aurangzeb was a powerful ruler and when once he reached the Deccan to destroy all kingdoms of the Deccan, the Marathas failed to safeguard their kingdom. The Marathas were no match to the Mughul emperor at that time. Therefore, the kingdom of Shivaji could not endure for long.
However, it was more than sufficient that he had succeeded in establishing an independent kingdom of his own and in infusing that spirit of nationalism among the Marathas which, later on, enabled them to fight against the mighty power of the Mughul emperor, Aurangzeb to regain independence of Maharashtra in which they finally succeeded.