Shivaji as an empire and nation builder:
Although several circumstances are said to be responsible for the rise of Shivaji and his building a strong nation and an empire but the fact remains that it was his charismatic personality that was responsible for his phenomenal achievement.
Circumstances in fact already existed and no body tried to make use of these. It was Shivaji who took the initiative and shaped the circumstances according to his mould.
Following were the important reasons for the success of Shivaji:
1. Inspirational influence of religious and social leaders like Eknath and Guru Ram Das.
2. Love for the motherland.
3. Oppression of Mughal rulers.
4. Special characteristics of the Marathas like habits of hard work.
5. Geographical surroundings.
6. Ready-made natural forts.
7. Influence of language and literature and love for the community.
8. Economic equality on a large scale among the Marathas.
9. Guerilla warfare.
10. Training in the art of administration.
11. Diplomatic skills.
12. Unstable political situation in the south.
Early life of Shivaji:
Born in 1627, in the fort of Shivnes, near Poona to Jijabai, wife of Shahji Bhonsle, an important officer in the state of Bijapur, rose to become a nation builder. He was brought up under the care and influence of his mother a pious lady, his guardian Dadaji Konddeva and religious and social reformers like Guru Ram Das. The secluded hilly regions of the Mavals (the western valleys of Poona now Pune) offered Shivaji plenty of opportunity of or adventure.
Aims of Shivaji:
(1) To protect Hinduism.
(2) To organize the Marathas under him to carve out an independent kingdom in Maharashtra.
Important events and achievements of Shivaji:
Shivaji was successful in achieving both the aims stated above. Important events of his reign and his achievements are given below:
1. Conquests of forts of Torna, Raigarh, Purandar and Kondana etc.
2. Killing of Afzal Khan, the general of Bijapur through his great diplomatic and military skill.
3. Shivaji’s conflict with Aurangzeb:
(i) Defeat of Shayista Khan, a very able general of Aurangzeb. Surprise attack on him in the disguise of a marriage party.
(ii) Treaty of Purandhar with Aurangzeb.
(iii) On the persuasion of Jai Singh, a very faithful commander of Aurangzeb, Shivaji’s visit to Agra in the court of Aurangzeb; Aurangzeb’s ill treatment of Shivaji and his confinement; Shivaji’s escape through diplomacy.
(iv) Shivaji’s victories over the forces of Aurangzeb.
4. Attack on Surat.
5. Coronation of Shivaji in 1674.
6. Shivaji’s victories in the Deccan.
Assessment of Shivaji’s Achievements:
1. Creation of the Maratha empire:
From a scratch, Shivaji built a strong empire a mids the strong opposition of the mighty Mughal. Kingdom under Aurangzeb. Shivaji’s kingdom included Maharashtra, Konkan and a large part of Karnataka, It comprised Ramnagar in the north to Karwar in the south.
In the east, it included Baglana, half of Nasik and Poona districts, Satara and a larger part of Kolhapur district. It also included a major part of Mysore, parts of the districts of Bellary, Chittur and Arcot. He had also hold over the Kanara region as well. He had also a large area in the Deccan under his influence from where he collected Chauth which yielded him substantial income.
Shivaji empire had the following four provinces according to his administrative set-up:
(i) Northern provinces:
In this part were included Balaghat, Kori region, Southern Surat, Northern Konkan, Northern Bombay and Poona. It was under Peshwa Maro Trimbak Pingle.
(ii) Southern provinces:
In this were included Southern Bombay, Southern Konkan, Coastal regions, Samantvari regions etc. This province was under Annaji Pant Datto.
(iii) South Eastern provinces:
This province included the regions of Satara, Kolapur, Belgaon and Dharwal and Kopal. It was under the charge of Sar-Karkun Dattaji Trimbak.
(iv) Far Southern province:
This province included distts from Kopal to Vellure like Zinzi, Velari Madras, Chittoore, and Arcot etc. This province was under military officials.