Here we detail about the top four regional powers that had a huge impact on the medieval history of India:
They are: 1. The Rising of the Rajputs 2. Rising of the Sikhs 3. Rising of the Jat and Satnami 4. Shivaji and the Rise of the Marathas.
A. The Rising of the Rajputs:
Aurangzeb in his narrow, bigoted, short-sighted policy did not see the need for maintaining the traditional friendly relation with the Rajputs who had previously contributed so much to the expansion, administration and defence of the Empire. He introduced a change in the policy of the state towards them.
His policy was guided both by his imperialist ambition and religious intolerance. But he used the Rajput services in the early years of his reign. When Shayista Khan, Aurangzeb’s maternal uncle failing to deal with Shivaji asked for his recall from the Deccan, Aurangzeb sent Jai Singh of Jaipur associated with Prince Muazzam to the Deccan.
Jai Singh succeeded in capturing the fort of Purandar and forcing Shivaji to accept a treaty by which the latter surrendered twenty-three forts and extensive lands to the Mughals. Jai Singh also persuaded Shivaji to surrender to the imperial authority and visit the Delhi Court (1666).
Jai Singh died in the Deccan due to poisoning by his son Kirat Singh and it is suspected that this was done at the instigation of Aurangzeb who “publicly rejoiced at the news of the raja’s death.” So long as Jai Singh was alive, Aurangzeb did not feel at liberty to follow his policy of persecution. Aurangzeb replaced Raja Jai Singh of Jaipur by Raja Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur in the Deccan with no improvement in the situation there. But conquest of the Rajput states was not ventured upon by Aurangzeb so long as the other Rajput hero Raja Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur (Marwar) was alive. Jaswant Singh was the foremost Hindu chief in the Empire and had fought against Aurangzeb in the battles of Dharma and Khajwa.
He was transferred from the Deccan to Jamrud to protect the Mughal outposts in north-west frontier. Jaswant Singh died in December 1678. The death of Jaswant Singh removed from the field two valiant figures during whose lifetime Aurangzeb did not venture to place his hands on Rajput states. Immediately on Raja Jaswant Singh’s death, Aurangzeb ordered the annexation of Marwar and himself proceeded to Ajmer to meet any possible national resistance the annexation of Marwar might give rise to. After occupation of Marwar Aurangzeb on his return to Delhi reimposed Jizya on the Hindus which had been abolished by Akbar.
Meanwhile the two queens of Raja Jaswant Singh were on their way to Delhi from Jamrud and while at Lahore the two queen gave birth (Feb. 1679) to two posthumous sons of Jaswant Singh. One of the babies died. Soon after, the other, was christened Ajit Singh. Some of the supporters of Raja Jaswant Singh, the queen mother and the baby Ajit Singh came to the court of Aurangzeb and pleaded for recognising Ajit Singh as the successor of Raja Jaswant Singh.
Aurangzeb agreed to do so on condition that the baby should be brought up in the Mughal harem and must embrace Islam. The offer was spurned by the Rajputs and the queen and the baby were sought to be seized by Aurangzeb. It was the pluck and courage of a Rathor chief, Durgadas, son of a loyal associate of Raja Jaswant Singh that the queen and the baby were rescued from the Mughal troops who came to besiege the place where the queen and the baby took residence in Delhi.
Aurangzeb put up a milkman’s son as an impostor and sought to pass him off as Ajit Singh, declaring that Ajit Singh whom Durgadas was supporting was a bogus prince. Durgadas took possession of Marwar by removing Indra Singh a protege of Aurangzeb who was placed on the throne by Aurangzeb after its annexation.
Aurangzeb marched towards Ajmer and dispatched three Princes Muazzam, Azam and Akbar with a large army divided into three commands to recover Marwar. The Mughals had to fight a prolonged war during the course of which they plundered towns, destroyed temples but were themselves harassed by the Rathor troops who took shelter in deserts and hills. But Jodhpur was captured and pillaged. But the conquest of Marwar was far from complete and continued for next about thirty years.
In this policy of aggression of the Mughal army against the Rathors of Marwar, Rana Raj Singh of Mewar joined the Rathors in defence of Marwar. Ajit Singh was related to Raj Singh whose mother was a Sisodia princess. As a result of the Rathor-Sisodia alliance the Rajput defence assumed the character of a national defence against the Mughal imperialism. Raj Singh also considered that annexation of Marwar exposed Mewar to the danger of Mughal annexation. Reimposition of Jizya was a matter of great disappointment for him and this step highly incensed him.
Aurangzeb at once marched against Mewar and Rana Raj Singh finding defence useless against the vast military strength of the Mughals deserted Chitor and took shelter in the fastnesses of the hills. Chitor was easily captured by the Mughal forces. Prince Akbar was placed in charge of Chitor and Aurangzeb made for Ajmer. The Rajput guerillas began to harass the Mughal outposts inflicting such damage that Mughal outposts could not be filled in by commandants for none was willing to take the risk of accepting the posts due to the Rajput onslaught.
Aurangzeb held Prince Akbar responsible for the Mughal failure and replaced Akbar by Prince Azam. Akbar was sent to Marwar. Akbar took it as an insult and contemplated seizing the crown of Delhi from his father, with the help of the Rajputs. The Rajputs who found that Aurangzeb was destroying the stability of the Empire by his policy of religious fanaticism and distrust of one and all, promised to support Akbar with the Rajput armed strength of the rathors and the Sisodias.
In 1681, Akbar marched on to Ajmer at the head of 70,000 strong army including the flower of the Rajput troops. Akbar would have had a sure win; if he had attacked the Mughal army for its divisions was stationed at two different places. But Akbar spent his time in pleasure and merriment and thereby allowing his father time to bring his army together and arrange it in war posture.
Aurangzeb also had resort to a stratagem. He wrote a letter couched in a language which showed that Akbar was playing false with the Rajputs with Aurangzeb’s knowledge and under his instruction, and contrived the letter to fall into the hands of the Rajputs. This had the desired effect. The Rajputs suspected treachery on the part of Akbar and forsook him. Deserted by the Rajputs Akbar fled and reached the court of the Maratha chief Shambhuji. The Rajputs discovered the fraud played on them by Aurangzeb when it was too late.
Shambhuji could ill afford to render help to the fugitive Prince and his dream of building an Indian Empire of the basis of Hindu-Muslim unity proved a failure. He left for Persia after a few years and died there in 1704.
The hostilities between Mewar and the Mughals meant great sufferings for the subjects of the Rana and of the Emperor. None could gain success against the other. Jai Singh son of Raj Singh therefore, concluded a treaty with the Mughals in 1681 by which the Rana ceded some of his districts in lieu of Jizya to the Emperor and the latter withdrew all Mughal troops from Mewar. The war with marwar, however, continued for further period of thirty years and after the death of Aurangzeb, his son Bahadur Shah I recognised Ajit Singh as the Rana of Marwar (1709).
The Rajput war proved disastrous to the Mughal Empire in more than one way. While it had taken a toll of a huge number of the Mughal troops and an enormous sum was spent in the pursuit of the wars in the deserts of Rajputana, it brought no permanent success to the Empire or to the Emperor.
What was worse, was the shattering of the military prestige of the Emperor, For Aurangzeb it was an un-statesman like policy to provoke Rajputs hostility and thereby lose the support of the valiant and trusted race which rendered devoted service to Empire, in its expansion, in its security, administration in holding north-west frontier of the Empire under control and even in the wasting wars in the Deccan.
Occupation of Marwar because of its strategic position controlling the military and commercial routes from Delhi to the rich ports of Western India was certainly not enough argument to provoke Rajput hostilities for a friendly Marwar would have met the strategic needs of the Empire.
It was Aurangzeb’s desperate bid to convert India a land of Islam that made him follow the unwise policy of occupying Marwar. To him existence of a powerful military state in northern India was annoying. Likewise, Mewar whose chief Jaswant Singh formerly a partisan of Dara Shukoh was to Aurangzeb, a person too dangerous to be allowed to continue as chief of a powerful Rajput state. Religion and imperial consideration led Aurangzeb to push Marwar and Mewar to stand forth as leaders of Rajput national resistance.
B. Rising of the Sikhs:
During the religious revival that marked the history of India of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Sikhs emerged as a distinct community. Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak (1469-1539) who was of a saintly character from his early life He was born in a Khatri family of Talwandi, modern Nankana. He was a reviver of the pure monotheistic doctrine of the Upanishads and laid stress on the unity of Godhead.
He emphasised the fundamental truth underlying all religions and the chief features of the religion he spread were its :
(i) Non-sectarian character, and
(ii) Its harmony with secular life.
He spent his life in preaching the gospel of universal toleration. Nanak died in 1539 nominating Angad as the next Guru. The fourth Guru Ramdas (1574-1581) was held in great veneration by Emperor Akbar who granted him a plot of land at Amritsar containing a pool which was improved and extended and on the side of it the famous Golden Temple was constructed.
Under the fifth Guru Arjan Mai, the Sikh community was organised and expanded It was he who compiled the Adi Granth, the “First Sacred Book” as the original Sikh scriptures are called. This is a collection of “select verses from the works of his four predecessors as well as from those of the Hindu and Muhammadan saints who had appeared since the days of Jaidev”. From the writings of a contemporary we know that Emperor Akbar and kings bow before him”. Guru Arjan also organised the finances of his church by levying compulsory spiritual tribute.
Guru Arjan incurred the displeasure of Emperor Jahangir by bestowing benediction to Prince Khusrav who had rebelled against his father. Jahangir already suspicious of Guru Arjan for his wealth and influence got him arrested and tortured him to death. (1606), on a charge of treason. Next Guru Har Govind, son of Arjan was a man with great organising ability. He raised an army, obviously to take revenge of the death of his father.
He was imprisoned for a time in the Gwalior fort for his refusal to pay the fine that was levied on his father. During the reign of Shah Jahan he rose in revolt and defeated the imperial army near Amritsar in 1628. The ninth Guru Teg Bahadur settled at Anandpur a few miles from kiratpur in the Kashmir Hills where Har Govind had earlier shifted his head quarters in 1634.
While staying at Patna Teg Bahadur’s son Govind, the last Guru was born in 1666. The religious persecution of Aurangzeb roused Teg Bahadur to revolt. He encouraged the Kashmir Brahmins to resist the measures passed against the Hindus by Aurangzeb. Teg Bahadur was captured in 1675 and offered the alternatives of either accepting Islam or death. Teg Bahadur chose death to conversion to Islam and in consequence was executed.
The martyrdom of Teg Bahadur roused the Sikhs to a feeling of revenge against the Mughals and made Sikh-Mughal hostilities inevitable. Govind Singh the tenth and the last Guru and the son of Teg Bahadur was one of the most remarkable personalities of Indian history. He set himself earnestly and with determination to organise his followers in Spartan discipline. He was the real founder of the Sikh military power which organised to oppose the Mughals.
He bound the Sikh fraternity together by instituting the ceremony called pahul or baptism by pouring water with a dagger or a sword. The members of the fraternity would be seated in a circle and partake of a mixture of flour, butter and sugar. The ceremony was obviously designed to break caste. The brotherhood so constituted was termed Khalsa or pure. Guru Govind required the members of the brotherhood to abstain from taking tobacco, wine, Indian hemp.
The initiated members of the brotherhood were commended to wear the five K’s namely Kes long (hair), Kanga (Comb), Kachcha (short drawers), Kara (steel bangle) and Kripan (sword). Every one that received the new baptism had to use the appellation Singh. A supplementary Granth containing the compositions of Guru Govind was compiled after his death.
Guru Govind fought against the Mughals and in a long war with the hill rajas and the Mughal officers in which he lost two of his sons who were executed by the governor of Sirhind, he stood in support of Shah Alam I (Bahadur Shah) in the war of succession and accepted service under the Mughals when the Prince became the Emperor. While in the Deccan Guru Govind was assassinated by an Afghan fanatic at Nandur in 1708.
After Guru Govind’s assassination Banda gave out that the soul of Guru Govind had entered his person. The imposter-Govind organised a large number of Sikhs and took revenge on Wazir Khan Faujdar of Sirhind murderer of Guru Govind’s children with appalling ferocity. Irvene gives us a full picture of the ferocity of Banda. “For the space of four days the town (Sirhind) was given up to pillage, the mosques were defiled, the houses burnt, and the Muhammadans slaughtered, even their women and children were not spared…… The Hindus who had not joined the sect were not exempt from those oppressions.”
Banda then captured the countries between the Sutlej and the Jumna. He established the stronghold of Lohgarh i.e. Blood and Iron Fort at Mukhlispur where he assumed regal state and struck coins in his own name. The Emperor marched against Lohgarh and besieged the fort. Banda fled into the hills with his men. After Bahadur Shah I’s death Banda came out of his hiding and recovered Lohgarh and pillaged the town of Sirhind once again.
In 1715 Banda was besieged in the fortress of Gurudaspur and although the Sikhs fought valiantly for the defence of the fortresses but many of them were killed and many more captured. Banda and his followers were sent to Delhi where his son was killed before his eyes, his followers tortured inhumanly and Banda crushed to death under the feet of elephants. By 1716 the fortunes of the Sikhs sank very low.
But Sikhs could not be destroyed for good. The Sikhs-peasants and people nursed the tenets of Guru Nanak and of Guru Govind ardently in their heart and began to recover their strength and organisation in quick paces. Kapur Singh of Eyzullapur started an organisation which soon developed later into what is known as Dal Khalsa or the theocracy of the Sikhs.
Taking advantage of the confusion consequent upon the invasion of Nadir Shah, the Sikhs augmented their military strength. Now it became difficult to suppress the resurgent Sikhs. They built a fort at Dalewal on the Ravi and carried on depredations in areas around Lahore. Ahmad Shah Abdali’s invasion, further helped-them to acquire further strength and power.
C. Rising of the Jat and Satnami:
In 1669, the Jat peasant population of Mathura district, close to Delhi rose in rebellion under the leadership of Gokla and killed the Mughal faujdar i.e. commandant for his overzealous implementing of the policy of persecution. In a fierce battle in which 5,000 Jats and 4,000 imperial troops were lost, the imperialists restored order. But the Jats were only temporarily subdued.
In 1681 and for a third time in 1688 the Jats renewed their rebellion and the rebellion continued till the end of the reign of Aurangzeb In 1691 the Jat rebels inflicted the gravest affront to the Mughal Emperor by plundering the grave of Akbar and burning his bones. Such affront on the ancestor of the Mughal Emperor very near to Delhi was symptomatic of the weakness of the empire towards the latter part of Aurangzeb’s reign.
It is only to be imagined what would be the effectiveness of the imperial control over the distant Deccan and other parts of the Empire if in Mathura the Jats could prove themselves to be so powerful. The second insurrection- against Aurangzeb’s persecutory policy was headed by Prince Chhatrasal Bundela.
During the early years of the reign of Aurangzeb Champat Rai, father of Chhatrasal had rebelled against the Emperor. But Aurangzeb’s strong military action against him left him no other alternative but to commit suicide to avoid torture at the hands of Emperor. Chhatrasal for some time served under the Emperor and during the course of his service in the Deccan he was inspired by the patriotic example of the Maratha hero Shivaji.
He therefore contemplated to have a life of independence and taking the discontent of the Hindu population of Budelkhand as his opportunity he raised the standard of rebellion He stood as the champion of Bundela liberty in 1671 and after gaining several victories against the Mughals succeeded in carving out an independent principality in Eastern Malwa for himself with his capital at Panna in 1731.
Another Hindu sect called the Satnamis rebelled in 1672. Khafi Khan describes the Satnamis as “a gang of bloody miserable rebels, goldsmiths, carpenters, sweepers, tanners and other ignoble beings” who had their centre of work at Narnaul now in Patiala district of the Punjab. The rebels were about five thousand in number and captured Narnaul and fought desperately and seemed to be proof against human weapons. To begin with they had some success, but ultimately they were beaten back with heavy slaughter only a few escaping sword.
D. Shivaji and the Rise of the Marathas:
We are indebted to the contemporary Europeans, the English, French, Dutch, Portuguese and Italian writers who left in their accounts references to the exploits of Shivaji. For the earliest biographies of Shivaji also we are indebted to such visitors It is true that their accounts have been full of inaccuracies, for instance, the English factors of Rajapur wrote to their official superiors at Surat that “Sevagy, a great Rashpoote’ (Shivaji was a great Rajput) and an unknown French writer wrote that Shivaji had descended from the ancient emperors of India and was a relative of the Great Moghul. Most of these visitors were educated and intelligent men.
Fryer was a physician, Bernier, Dellon also belonged to the same profession. Thevenot was a highly cultured person and Carre, Navarette and Ovigton were clergymen. But all of them made serious factual mistakes in their accounts. Yet we cannot ignore their testimony for some of them had recognised Shivaji more than a rebel chief and called him a great general and a greater statesman.
There need not be any hesitation in saying that even modern British historians, at least most of them, have not been able to raise themselves above the British imperial outlook and called Shivaji “a robber chief” (as Dr. Smith had done). Cosme da Guarda, a Portuguese was the first European to attempt a systematic biography of Shivaji.
He was an admirer of Shivaji, although he made many inaccurate statements in his work. From Guarda’s writing we find that the Portuguese held a very high opinion about Shivaji’s generalship and states-manly qualities. Francois Martin Furnishes us with the best contemporary account of Shivaji’s Karnataka expedition. We can glean considerable historical materials about Shivaji and his exploits from the writings of the foreigners of different European nationalities.
Shivaji was born in Shivner near Junnar in 1630. According to some historians, for instance Dr. Smith, he was born in 1627. His father Shahji was at first in the service of Ahmadnagar and when the Kingdom was in the process of dissolution, he carved out a territory for himself from Poona and Chakan to the neighbourhood of Ahmadnagar and Nasik.
He set up a boy as the king of Ahmadnagar with the help of Bijapur in 1633 and for a few years carried on the government of Ahmadnagar in the name of that boy king. But in 1636 he was forced to surrender the boy to the Mughals. There after he took service under the Bijapur Sultan and carved out a vast estate for himself in the Mysore plateau and the Eastern Karnataka and came to be reckoned as the foremost vassal or jagirdar under Bijapur Sultan.
While at Poona, Shivaji was born of Shahji’s first wife Jijabai in the Shivner fort. Shahji’s personal life was not beyond reproach. He married a second wife Tukabai Mohite, a lady of great beauty and began to neglect his first wife Jijabai and her son Shivaji who were first left at Shivner and then at Poona under the guardianship of Dadaji Konda-Deva.
Father’s neglect of his mother had a deep reaction on the growing child Shivaji whose love for his mother became akin to veneration for a deity and the forlorn lady poured all her love and affect, and all that she had thought best to train up the boy’s mind. The exploits of the heroes of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata as he heard from his mother kept him spell bound and generated in him an ambition to emulate those heroes.
Dadaji Konda-Deva gave him training in the art of military exercises and horse riding and the boy grew into a fearless, intolerant of subordination to authority and with the rare sense of dignity and power of organisation. The rugged nature of the hilly country of Maval in Maharashtra studded with forts made Shivaji strong in physique, capable of enduring inhuman strain and made him a leader of the naturally sturdy Marathas who were destined to play so important a part in the history of India.
The decay of Ahmadnagar and Bijapur gave Shivaji an opportunity to carve out for himself a kingdom in’ full sovereignty, but it is doubtful, if the building up of a Hindu dominion by liberating the Hindus from the Muslim domination actually occurred in his mind at that time.
Shivaji’s first acquisition after having raised an army of the local Mavalis was the fort of Torna from its commandant under the Bijapur Sultan was in 1646. He found a treasure of two lakhs huns in the fort which he utilised in building the fort of Raigarh five miles away from Torna which was to be his capital in future. He also used a part of the treasure in further strengthening his army. In 1647 Dadaji Konda-Deva died which removed the only person who could stop Shivaji from following any desperate course.
In 1648, Shivaji acquired the forts of Chakan, Kondana, Bangalore etc. from their hereditary owners or local officers of Bijapur Sultan. Bijapur Sultan suspecting Shahji having a secret hand in his son’s proceedings put him under arrest and this for a time induced Shivaji to stop his aggressive activities.
Shivaji restored the forts of Bangalore and Kondana to the Sultan in 1649 whereupon Shahji was released by the Bijapur Sultan. Meanwhile Shivaji had captured the fort of Purandar from Nilkanth whose father had made himself independent from the Bijapur Sultanate and this was not altogether unwelcome to Bijapur Sultan.
In 1656, Shivaji annexed the small Maratha Principality of Javli which lay at the north-western corner of Satara district. Javli was in possession of Chandra Rao More who was a semi-independent prince. Chandra Rao had entered into an anti-Shivaji coalition with the Mughal Governor of that region in order to check the progress of Shivaji.
Chandra Rao’s murder was secured by Shivaji by a hired assassin and as Sir Jadunath remarks “the conquest of Javli was the result of deliberate murder and organised treachery on the part of Shivaji. His power was then in its infancy and he could not afford to be scrupulous in the choice of the means of strengthening himself. The only redeeming feature of this dark episode in his life is that the crime was not aggravated by hypocrisy.”
The conquest of Javli was important to Shivaji in more than one way. It added to his military strength due to the inclusion of the troops of Chandra Rao to his army; it opened the gateway to further conquest of territories towards the south and west of his kingdom; and placed the immense treasures of Chandra Rao to Shivaji’s disposal.
It was in 1657 that Shivaji came in direct clash with the Mughals for the first time. In that year when Aurangzeb as the viceroy of the Deccan invaded Bijapur Shivaji’s troops raided that Mughal districts of Ahmadnagar and he himself attacked Junnar and looted the city of Junnar and carried away three lakhs huns in cash.
Aurangzeb promptly reinforced the Mughal contingent fighting against Shivaji which was defeated. When Adil Shah of Bijapur had made peace with the Mughals, Shivaji also submitted to Aurangzeb. But Aurangzeb never trusted Shivaji, but a peace had to be patched up as the news of Shah Jahan’s illness had reached him and his presence in the north was necessary.
Aurangzeb’s departure for the north, offered both a respite and an opportunity to Shivaji to prepare and begin fight for the extension of his dominions. Shivaji conquered Kalyan, Bhiwandi and Mahuli, and proceeded as far as Mahad. Absence of Aurangzeb from the Deccan also gave the Sultan of Bijapur an opportunity to strike at the power of Shivaji and in 1659 he sent Afzal Khan one of the noted and capable generals of the kingdom to deal with Shivaji.
Afzal Khan was ordered by the Sultan to bring Shivaji as “a captive in chains without having one to dismount from his own horse” and tried to seduce officers of Shivaji by bribes and some were actually won over. Afzal reached Wai, twenty miles north of Satara and realised a fine of two lakhs of rupees from Bajaji Nayak Nimbalkar for siding with Shivaji.
Then instead of choosing to fight openly with Shivaji he hit upon a stratagem. He opened negotiations with him through a Maratha Brahmin named Krishnaji Bhaskar, and invited him to a conference. Afzal promised to get Shivaji confirmed in his possession of Konkan and other forts held by him. The message also added. “I shall secure for yourself further distinctions and military equipment from our government.
If you wish to attend the court, you will be welcomed. Or, if you want to be excused make personal attendance there, and you will be exempted.” Krishnaji was received cordially by Shivaji and in the name of religion appealed to him to disclose the real intention of Afzal in asking for the conference. Krishnaji, moved by Shivaji’s appeal hinted that Afzal had mischief in his mind. This put Shivaji on the alert.
The Maratha court was divided on the policy to be followed towards Afzal. Some officers suggested a policy of no-confrontation. But Shivaji dismissed this advice as cowardly and decided to confront Afzal in a manner befitting a sovereign.
A pavilion was set up within a mile of Pratapgarh to receive Shivaji. Shivaji kept his picked troops concealed in the forests on both sides of the pathway leading to the pavilion. Shivaji went to meet Afzal wearing a coat of chain-armour under his tunic and a steel helmet under his turban, and iron claws (baghnakh) in his sleeve and a sword called bichhwa i.e. scorpion.
Afzal Khan came accompanied by an escort of a thousand musketeers. Shivaji’s envoy insisted on Afzal’s keeping his escorts at safe distance lest their huge number would make Shivaji refuse to come for the meeting. This being done, Shivaji came to the pavilion with two of his followers.
As Shivaji was appearing before Afzal he bent a little in salutation, Afzal embraced him and attempted to strangulate him and taking out a sword struck Shivaji on his Sride. But as Shivaji was wearing an armor the blow had no effect. Rallying himself from the sudden attack, Shivaji tore Afzal’s bowels open with the steel claws and plunged the iron scorpion by the side of Afzal.
Attracted by the cries of Afzal, Sayyid Banda stepped forward and struck Shivaji on the head with his sword but it produced no effect as he had worn a helmet below his turban. The incident took place on November 2, 1659. Questions have been raised as to who had struck the first blow. Mir Alam, the Wazir of Nizam-ul-Mulk gave the details as follows: “… the Khan intoxicated with pride of being a hero gripped Shivaji very hard in the art of embracing and struck him with the belt-dagger.” This sets at rest the question, and there is hardly any doubt that Afzal Khan gave the first blow.
The Maratha troops who were hiding themselves in the jungles on two sides of the path-way fell on the troops of Afzal and three hundred of them were slaughtered and the rest made good their escape. To Shivaji fell an immense booty of ten lakhs of rupees in cash and jewels, and considerable number of elephants, horses, camels, artillery and ammunition.
Khafi Khan and Grant Duff have charged Shivaji with treacherously murdering Afzal Khan, and that it was Shivaji who struck the first blow. The Maratha writers have justified the killing of Afzal as an act of self defence, and as to who struck the first blow the controversy has been set at rest by Mir Alam.
Shivaji followed up his victory over Afzal Khan by entering south Konkan and Kohlapur district. He also captured the fort of Panhala and defeated another Bijapur contingent under Rustam Zaman and Fazl Khan. The forts of Khelna, Vasantgarh, Pangua and some others in the surrounding areas also fell into the hands of Shivaji. Early in 1660 Shivaji returned in triumph to his capital at Raigarh with immense booty.
Sultan of Bijapur was greatly alarmed at the progress of Shivaji and directed Sidi Jauhar who was in charge of Kurnool to proceed against Shivaji. Sidi Jauhar was assisted by Baji Ghorpade, Rustam-i-Zaman, Fazl Khan and several other officers and Shivaji was invested in the fort Panhala in July 1660. Shivaji was forced to evacuate Panhala. To add to his danger the new Mughal governor of the Deccan Shayista Khan was commissioned by Aurangzeb to chastise Shivaji.
Shayista Khan occupied Poona, Chakan and drove the Marathas from the Kalyan districts. In the critical juncture Shivaji compounded his hostilities with the Bijapur Sultan through the good offices of his father Shahji and thus made him free to turn his full attention towards the Mughals. For about two years he fought indecisively with the Mughals when, one day he secretly entered Shayista Khan’s camp with 200 followers. Shivaji was first to enter Shayista Khan’s bedroom and made an attack on him. Shayista Khan, however, made good his escape losing his thumb. His son was killed.
A number of women of Shayista Khan’s harem were put to the sword in the darkness without recognising whether they were men or women. Shayista Khan lost 40 of his attendants, 6 of his wives and slave-girls, one son dead two other sons and 8 other women wounded. Shayista Khan’s prestige suffered badly and Aurangzeb in anger transferred him to Bengal. The night attack on Shayista Khan took place on April 15, 1663.
Next year Shivaji marched on Surat, the richest port in the country and plundered it. He kept his plan of his march on Surat a closely guarded secret and declared he was moving to the south, while he was moving to the north. After reaching Nasik he made a sudden dash for Surat.
The governor of Surat Inayat Khan fled the town and took shelter in the fort and sent his agent to negotiate with Shivaji who kept the envoy detained and plundered the city for four days. Inayat Khan engaged an assassin to murder Shivaji but he failed and lost his own right hand by the sword of one of Shivaji’s body-guards. The booty from Surat amounted to more than a crore of rupees.
Failure of Shayista Khan annoyed Aurangzeb very much. He sent Raja Jai Singh of Amber and Dilir Khan with whom was associated in command Prince Muazzam to chastise Shivaji. Jai Singh had seen action both in India and Central Asia and had an unbroken record of victories. He was a brave general, tactful, and calculating with political cunning, military foresight besides diplomatic skill and power of cautious manoeuvering.
He was the fittest person to deal with the clever Maratha hero Shivaji. He formed a ring of enemies round Shivaji, then laid siege of the fort of Purandar. The fort offered a heroic resistance during which there was a considerable casualty on Shivaji’s side including Munar Baji Deshpande. Meanwhile Jai Singh had sent columns of his army to ravage the villages around Raigarh, Singhgarh and Rohira and to strike an economic blow to Shivaji’s state by destroying the cultivation there.
The Mughal troops devasted the villages to the complete satisfaction of Jai Singh, looted and burnt the villages and not a trace of cultivation was left in the villages. The siege of Purandar continued in the meantime. Considering the cost of further resistance Shivaji decided to make peace by offering to submit. After some negotiations through envoys Shivaji agreed to come to Jai Singh in person on the latter’s promising him safe conduct.
A treaty was concluded between the two on June 22, 1665 known as treaty of Purandar by which Shivaji was compelled:
(i) To cede twenty-three of his forts to the Mughals,
(ii) Retaining only twelve for himself,
(iii) He also promised to assist the Mughals with 5,000 cavalry in their Deccan campaign,
(iv) But he was permitted to compensate himself for his territorial losses by collecting chauth and sardeshmukhi from certain districts of Bijapur,
(v) Shivaji was, however, exempted from personal attendance to the imperial court.
After the conclusion of the treaty of Purandar Jai Singh proceeded to invade Bijapur and Shivaji joined the imperialists in fulfillment of the conditions of the treaty of Purandar. Jai Singh had no artillery with him and thought of capturing Bijapur by a sudden coup. But his progress was halted by the Bijapuri troops ten miles in advance of Bijapur fort and after waiting there for several weeks Jai Singh abandoned the campaign.
Meanwhile Shivaji was sent to invest the fort of Panhala but failed to take it. In this way Jai Singh’s Bijapur campaign proved a failure. But he succeeded in prevailing upon Shivaji to visit the Emperor at Agra with a view to removing him temporarily from the Deccan lest he would again turn against the Mughals.
Jai Singh also had in his mind the thought of retrieving his prestige with the Emperor which suffered somewhat due to the failure of his Bijapur campaign by showing that he was able to send a person like Shivaji to the imperial court who had abhorred bowing to any ruler, however great.
Jai Singh is also supposed to have hinted the prospect of Shivaji’s being appointed governor of the Deccan and conferred on him Janjira from the Sidis, an Island coveted by Shivaji. Shivaji accepted Jai Singh’s offer after long hesitation and started for Agra on March 10, 1666 with his son Shambhuji, reaching there on May 9th.
As Aurangzeb had already withdrawn from the Diwan-i-Khas to Diwan-i-Am, Shivaji was presented there by Asad Khan the Assistant Mir-Bakshi. Shivaji paid a nazarana of one thousand mohurs and two thousand rupees and a nisar of five thousand rupees. Aurangzeb received the nazar and nisar, looked at Shivaji but uttered no word. Shivaji was then led to the row of the Mansabdars of 5,000, the third line of the nobles and made to stand there.
When Shivaji came to know that Raja Jaswant Singh was standing in the front row he burst out “Jaswant Singh whose back my soldiers have seen! I have to stand behind him? What does it mean?” Then at the time of the presentation of the robes of honour Jaswant Singh, the Princes, Wazir and others were presented with the robes but not Shivaji.
Here again Shivaji burst out in anger, “You have seen what sort, of man I am, and yet you have willfully made me stand so long. I cast off your mansab.” Shivaji at once turned round, rudely walked away and wrenching his hand which Ram Singh, son of Jai Singh caught hold of; he sat down behind the pillars.
The matter was promptly reported to Aurangzeb who sent three nobles with a robe of honour to pacify Shivaji but the latter refused to receive the robe or to return to the Durbar. To avoid imperial wrath the nobles reported to the Emperor that rustic Shivaji had fallen sick due to the heat of the hall to which he was unaccustomed.
Aurangzeb ordered Ram Singh to take Shivaji back to his residence. Even next day Shivaji refused to go to the imperils Durbar and after prolonged persuasion his son Shambhuji was sent to attend the Durbar. Aurangzeb now decided to imprison Shivaji and to put him to death at a convenient moment for he had to be cautious not to rouse any suspicion.
Immediate murder of Shivaji was also difficult because Jai Singh and his son Ram Singh were pledged to the safety of Shivaji, further Sisodia-Rathor rivalry also made the situation all the more complex. The Rathors headed by Jaswant Singh wanted to see Jai Singh disgraced in war against Shivaji. Wives of Shayista Khan and Wazir Jafar Khan, and also Aurangzeb’s sister Roushnara wanted Shivaji’s blood.
Aurangzeb, therefore, decided to keep Shivaji confined in a fortress or to get him killed at the right moment. At first Shivaji was kept closely guarded in his residence, but Aurangzeb next ordered him to be kept confined in the house of Radandaz Khan notorious for his cruelty to state prisoners in Agra fort.
It was due to strong protest of Ram Singh that Aurangzeb had to ultimately relent and Shivaji was allowed to remain in Jaipur house on Ram Singh’s signing a bond regarding the Maratha chief’s conduct at Agra. Now Shivaji was a prisoner under strict surveillance. He hit upon a plan and possibly with the connivance of some of the guards he managed to escape and reach Raigarh on September 22, 1666 after twenty five days of his escape from Agra.
The fight of Shivaji was known at Agra two days after it had actually taken place i.e. on August 30, 1666. Faulad Khan in reporting the matter to the Emperor said that Shivaji had suddenly vanished in the sky. Aurangzeb, naturally, did not believe this story and ordered a thorough search for the Maratha chief and suspecting Ram Singh in having complicity in the matter dismissed him.
Jai Singh, now worried about himself as well as his son wrote to Aurangzeb that he would invite Shivaji to an interview and get him killed. But Aurangzeb, who was to regret the escape of Shivaji all his life, was not satisfied at the assurance of Jai Singh and removed his from the Deccan. Jai Singh handed over charge to Prince Muazzam and started for Agra and died on the way at Burhanpur on September 7, 1667.
Jaswant Singh now succeeded Jai Singh in the Deccan. He was friendly towards Shivaj who had meanwhile was keeping indifferent health due to his imprisonment at Agra and strenuous journey from Agra to Raigarh. Prince Muazzam being a peace-loving man and Jaswant Singh friendly towards Shivaji were not, naturaly, in any mood to wage any war of aggression in the south.
Shivaji- was also tired in flesh, preferred a respite and three years that followed was utilised in organisation of his internal administration Aurangzeb with his hands full due to the revolt of the Afghan tribes in the north-west and the fear of Persian invasion did not have any time to turn his attention to the south Aurangzeb granted Shivaji the title of Raja and a Jagir in Berar and raised his son Shambhuji to the rank of a mansab of 5,000.
Shivaji took the peace with the Mughals as a truce and Aurangzeb not sincere in his intentions, and suspicious of Shivaji’s friendship with Muazzam, planned to entrap Shivaji a second time failing which to capture Shambhuji and keep him as a hostage.
The rupture between Shivaji and Aurangzeb occurred because the former appointed the disbanded troops from the Mughal army in the Deccan for financial reasons This apart, Aurangzeb in dire financial distress tried to recover rupees one lakh advanced to Shivaji in 1666 to meet the expenses of his journey to Delhi and to this end he attached a portion of Berar which was granted to Shivaji as jagir.
Shivaji began hostilities in 1670 and recovered several forts that had been surrendered by him according to the terms of the treaty of Purandar. This was facilitated by the bitter quarrel between the Prince and D.lir Khan which had weakened the imperialists. In the same year (1670) Shivaji plundered Surat for a second time and carried away immense booty. Purandar was next to fall One by one Kalyan, Bhiwandi, Mahali and other forts fell into the hands of Shivaji Shivaj himself had plundered fifty-one villages around Ahmadnagar, Junnar and Parenda.
Shivaji suddenly irrupted into Berar, Bengal and Khandesh and captured some of the forts in Baglan district. By 1671 a few more forts fell into Shivaji’s hands. He then carried on daring raids into Mughal provinces and defeated the Mughal generals in several engagements. In 1672 he demanded chauth from Surat. From 1672 to 1678 the Mughal commandants had no success against the Maratha chief and Shivaji was in full-tide of power.
On June 16, 1674 Shivaji held his coronation ceremony with great pomp and grandeur at Raigarh, his capital, and assumed the title of Chhatrapati. The day on the eve of the coronation was spent by Shivaji in self-restraint and mortification of the flesh and made gifts of gold pieces to Brahmanas and learned men. He also repeated similar gifts on the day of the coronation.
Shivaji had seated himself on a gold-plated stool; his queen sitting on his left and their son Shambhuji sitting close behind. The Astapradhans i.e. the eight ministers stood at eight points with gold jars full of sacred water which they poured over the heads of the king, queen and the prince in accompaniment of hymns and music.
Having spent lavishly in the coronation the state finances become very weak to replenish which Shivaji plundered the headquarters of the Mughal general Bahadur Khan at Pedgaon and obtained a booty of one crore of rupees in cash and two hundred horses Shivaji continued his aggressive war and captured Kohlapur.
Mughal attempt to recover Kalyan was beaten back by the Marathas although Shivaji was lying ill at that time Shivaj secured the friendship of the Sultan of Golconda and in 1677 captured Jinji Vellore and the neighbouring districts. In the same year he took possession of Bijapur, Karnataka All this greatly enhanced the prestige of Shivaji and gave him possession of a vast territory in the Madras, Carnatic and the Mysore plateau which yielded a revenue of 70 lakhs of huns and contained 100 forts.
Shivaji died in 1680 (April 14) at the premature age of fifty (or fifty three) leaving a kingdom extending from Ramnagar in the north of Karwar in the south excluding of course the European trade settlements, and on the east from Baglana in the north covering Nasik, Poona, whole of Satara to Kohlapur in the south, western Carnatic: a large part of present Mysore were also within his kingdom.
Shivaji’s administration was a centralised despotism, all authority of the state was concentrated in the hands of Shivaji himself. Yet he used his authority for the benefit of his subjects, as such, he may be regarded as a benevolent despot. Shivaji developed a bureaucratic administration with eight Pradhans or ministers collectively called Astapradhans who did not formaly cabinet but simply an advisory body insofar as the formulation of state policy was concerned. They were, however, given specific duties for which they were responsible to the Chhatrapati alone.
Shivaji did not normally interfere in the function of each of the Pradhans:
(i) The Mukhya Pradhan or the Prime Minister who was better known as Peshwa enjoyed a higher status than that of other Pradhans but had no supervisory power over others. The Peshwa was a man of royal confidence.
(ii) The Majumdar or Amatya was the auditor whose duty was to check all accounts of income and expenditure and countersign all statements of accounts of the state.
(iii) Waqia-Nawis or Mantri compiled daily records of royal activities and keep a watch over plots and conspiracies, maintain lists of invitees in times of important occasions, meals to be served, etc.
(iv) Sachiv or Shuru-Nawis was in charge of all correspondences. He drafted letters to be sent out and revise letters written by others. He had the additional duty of checking the accounts of parganas.
(v) Dabir or Sumant was the foreign Secretary and dealt with matters relating to foreign states and peace and war. He would receive envoys and ambassadors from foreign countries.
(vi) Sar-i-naubat or Senapati was the Commander-in-chief. Recruitment of troops, their training, discipline, deployment of soldiers in battles were his responsibilities.
(vii) Pandit Rao or Danadhyaksha i.e. Sadr or Muhtasib was the head of religion. Fixing the dates of religious ceremonies, disbursement of gifts to Brahmanas, to set apart adequate fund for royal charity and to punish heresy were among his duties.
(viii) Nyayadhish or the chief justice of the kingdom was responsible for meeting out civil, criminal and military justice of the kingdom.
All the Astapradhans except the Pandit Rao and the Nyayadhish were required to command troops and lead expedition whenever required. All letters, charters, treaties etc. would require the seals of the Chhatrapati and Peshwa and the endorsements of ministers, other than the Commander-in-chief, Head of religion and the Chief Justice.
For administrative convenience Shivaji divided the kingdom into a number of provinces or prants each under a viceroy who held office during the pleasure of the king. The viceroy of Karnataka enjoyed a little higher status than that held by those of other provinces. Recently occupied provinces were kept under army control.
The viceroy had a supply of subordinate staff to assist him in administering the province. The Provinces were subdivided into Parganas each of which had a collector and a contingent of troops. Besides the provinces there were territories which were conquered and were under Shivaji’s suzerainty and paid him tributes. Each pargana was subdivided into tarafs and village was the lowest administrative unit.
Shivaji based his revenue settlement on measurement of land according a uniform system and on the basis of the expected produce per bigha. Two- fifths of the produce was taken by the state as revenue. He abandoned the system of tax-farming and introduced the system of direct collection from the cultivators through state officials.
The cultivator would know the amount of his dues and would pay the same to the government without any oppression. Cultivators who were new in the trade would be helped with draught animals the price of which would be realised in installments. Land revenue could be paid either in cash or in kind. Shivaji avoided as far as practicable the grant of jagir in lieu of service to the state. Even when he would grant any jagir in lieu of service to the state. Even when he would grant any jagir, Shivaji would see that the jagirdar did not acquire any political power or influence.
One important source of income of the Maratha state, besides land revenue was the collection of Chauth and Sardeshmukhi. Chauth was one-fourth of the revenue of the country belonging to the neighbours which Shivaji realised every year as a buy-off money. The other was Sardeshmukhi which was one-tenth of the revenue realised from the neighbouring states. The practice of levying Chauth was nothing new in Western India. Raja of Ramnagar levied Chauth on the Potuguese of Daman.
According to Ranade, Chauth was no buy-off money but its levy meant a corresponding responsibility of the state or king levying it, to render protection to the country from which chauth was realised. It was therefore in the nature of the Subsidiary Alliance of Lord Wellesly. Sir Jadunath, however, does not agree with this view. According to him Chauth only kept the Marathas’ unwelcome presence away from the country paying the Chauth.
Thus it was nothing more or less than buy-off money with no corresponding duty or responsibility to render protection to the country from which Chauth was realised. “The Chauth was only a means of buying off one robber; and not a subsidiary system for the maintenance of peace against all enemies.” (J. N. Sarkar). Mr. Sardesai calls it a tribute realised from hostile or conquered territories.
Dr. S. N. Sen argues that Chauth was a contribution exacted by a military leader which was justified by the exigencies of the situation. Sardeshmukhi was an additional claim of 10 per cent which Shivaji claimed as the chief headman, i.e. Sardeshmukhi of the whole of the country of Maharashtra. Leaving aside the controversy about the real meaning of the terms Chauth and Sardeshmukhi, the fact remains that their realisation gave the Marathas a great influence over the district which lay beyond their jurisdiction.
Shivaji was not simply a great soldier, but he was a military genius and one proof of which was his organisation of the Maratha army. Before Shivaji the Maratha army consisted mainly of cavalry who would keep themselves engaged in cultivation for half the year and only in the dry season when the kings or chiefs would be out on military expedition, they would render active service.
Shivaji introduced the system of a standing army which he retained on pay all the months of the year. At the time of his death Shivaji’s army comprised 45,000 paga and 60,000 silahdar cavalry and one lak Mavli infantry. There were 32,000 horses in his stable in addition to 5,000 with the Bargirs. The number of his elephants variously computed by him was 1, 25,300 and 1,260. According to Sabhasad Bakhar Shivaji’s elephant corps comprised 1,260 elephants and camel corps 3,000 or 1,500 camels.
The strength of the Shivaji’s park of artillery is not known for certain. According to Orme he had previously purchased 80 pieces of cannon and lead sufficient for his match locks from the French at Surat. Paga or the state cavalry was the most important part of the army. Twenty-five troopers of Bargirs would form a unit and was placed under one havaldar. Over five havaldars, there was one Jumladar and over ten jumladars on hazari who received 1,000 Huns a year. Over the hazari were panjhazaris and at the command of the cavalry was sar- i-naubat or supreme commander.
The bargirs were provided with pay and equipment by the state while the silahdars had to equip themselves at their own cost and supply the equipment and pay of the troopers under them whom they would bring to the service of the state. The government would pay a stipulated sum to meet their expense of service in the field.
In the infantry the lowest unit was of nine paiks i.e. privates under one naik, five naiks would be under one havaldar, over two or three havaldars there would be one jumladar and over ten jumladars one hazari. In place of five hazaris as in the case of cavalry seven hazaris would be under the command of sar-in-naubat of the infantry. In most cases it was Shivaji himself who led the army in a war or expedition, the army was formally under a commander-in-chief or Senapati who was one of the Astapradhans.
Forts played an important part in Shivaji’s scheme of defence and the garrisons of the forts were carefully constituted and special precautions were taken against the commandants being corrupted. He, therefore, introduced a policy of checks and balances and appointed three officers, sabnis, havaldar and sar-i-naubat of equal status who served as a check on one another. Further, in order to prevent treachery on the part of the garrison, Shivaji took care to see that each garrison was a mixture of people of different castes.
Shivaji’s army was highly mobile and disciplined and was not fettered by heavy luggage. At the time of marching for military action lists were prepared of the belongings of each soldier and officer. The standing army was engaged in action during the dry season and for four months of rains they were kept in cantonment. Unlike the Mughal army, Shivaji’s army was not permitted to take any woman, female slave or dancing girl with it.
The army was required to conform to high moral standard. During a campaign Brahmins were not to be molested or taken prisoners, goods of the poor people were not to be touched, places of worship not defiled, holy Quran if fell into the hands of the soldiers were to be handed over to the Muslims, women and aged or the children were not to be molested.
Gold and silver, jewels etc. that would fall into the hands of the soldiers would be state property while copper and brass vessels etc. would belong to the finder. Shivaji also built a considerable fleet and stationed it at Kolaba in order to check the power of Sidi or the Abyssinian private chief of Jinjira as well as to plunder the Mughal ships laden with rich merchandise.
Shivaji followed the traditional Hindu system of panchayat system of adjudication, i.e. the jury of the neighbours at the village level. At the higher level justice was meted out by Nyayadhish with cooperation of officers and Brahmanas learned in the Sastras “in a manner that no blame may be laid at the King’s door”. It is obvious that impartial justice was done to the people.
As a man, soldier, military organiser and a ruler Shivaji distinguished himself as one of the geniuses of Indian history. European as well as Muslim historians have done scant justice to Shivaji who raised himself from the humble position of a faujdar to a chhatrapati by the dint of his bravery, diplomacy, his unswerving pursuit of ideal.
Khafi Khan who called Shivaji “the reprobate”, “son of a devil”, “father of fraud” was obliged to honour him by saying “But he made it a rule that wherever his followers went plundering, they should do no harm to the mosques, the Book of God, or the women of any one. Whenever a copy of the sacred Quran, came into his hands, he treated it with respect and gave it to some of his Muslman followers.” All this speaks abundantly of his great personal influence over his army and its discipline.
Shivaji was a born leader of men and his greatest achievement was the welding of the Maratha people which was “scattered like atoms” into a mighty nation “in the teeth of the opposition of four great powers—like the Mughal Empire, Bijapur, Portuguese India and the Abyssinians of Janjira.” It goes to the credit of Shivaji that the Maratha power that he had built up defied the Mughal Empire both during his life time and after his death.
To Khafi Khan and some modern writers Shivaji was the “Hindu edition of Ala- ud-din or Tamarlene.” But nothing could be more contrary to the facts of life and activities of Shivaji. He was a great genius who possessed all the essential qualities that are needed for a national regeneration. Whether in civil or military administration he left marks of his unparalleled power of organisation and his creative genius. His administration was his own creation and not a copy of any other. His ideal was the restoration of an indigenous empire and revival of Hinduism.
Shivaji was above the contemporary vices to which most of the rulers were subject and his moral virtues were exceptionally high. He was a devout Hindu and sincerely religious. But he was tolerant of other religious. He never forgot the lofty ideals instilled in him by his pius mother Jija Bai and his guru Ramdas. “Religion remained with him an ever-fresh fountain of right conduct and generosity; it did not obsess his mind or harden him into a bigot.” He venerated both Hindu and Muslim saints and granted lands to meet the expenses of illumination of Muslim shrines. He was like wise respectful towards the Capuchin fathers even when Surat was plundered.
Shivaji took steps to encourage Vedic scholarship and set apart adequate funds for the encouragement of learned Brahmanas. Shivaji’s statesmanship made him instinctively perceive the possibilities of his time and gather the best elements in the country of Maharashtra round him to establish a Hindu Swaraj in Maharashtra.
He breathed a new life, new spirit of nationalism among the Marathas. “He taught the modern Hindus to rise to the full stature of their growth. Shivaji has shown that the tree of Hinduism is not really dead, that it can rise from beneath the seemingly crushing load of centuries of political bondage, that it can put forth new leaves and branches It can again lift up its head to the skies” (Sir J.N. Sarkar).
Maratha historian Sardesai holds that Shivaji’s vision was not restricted to Maharashtra alone. He wanted to secure freedom for the Hindus of the entire Indian Sub-continent. According to him Shivaji’s main object was religious freedom, not acquisition of territory. Chauth and Sardeshmukhi were instruments of expansion all over India.
Sardesai also refers to a Jaipur poets belief that Shivaji aspired after the imperial throne of Delhi, and Shivaji agreeing to visit the Agra court was for the purpose of obtaining first-hand knowledge whether North India was prepared to shake of the Mughal yoke. Shivaji’s building of navy and his belief in strengthening the Maratha sate both by land and sea showed his freedom from Hindu prejudice against sea voyage and his accepting Hindu converts from Islam into the Hindu society showed his high ideal of political and moral regeneration of the Hindu society. His Hindu-philosophy was abundantly clear from his refraining from fighting against the Rajputs.
The above arguments of Sardesai have not been found to be convincing by most of the modern historians. Although it is possible to show that Shivaji protested against the levy of jizya and appealed to Jai Singh and Jaswant Singh’s Hindu sentiments yet it is difficult to show that the attempted to rouse the Hindus as such against the Muslim rule or prepared any scheme of alliance with the Rajputs to overthrow the Mughals.
Yet Shivaji stands forth in Indian history as an inspirer of the people, an inspiration which did never die out and even invigorated the fighters for Indian freedom against the British. He occupies a distinguished place in the history of India.
We need must refer to the causes of his failure to build up an enduring state. These were:
(i) The short reign mostly occupied in fighting with his enemies as the Mughals, the Sultan of Bijapur, etc.,
(ii) Casteism among the Marathas of the seventeenth century made permanent national solidarity difficult and as soon as lesser personalities came upon the throne the fissiperous tendencies found fullest play,
(iii) Sir Jadunath remarks that “Shivaji’s political success sapped the main foundation of that success. In proportion as Shivaji’s ideal of Hindu Swaraj was based on orthodoxy, it contained within itself the seed of its own death.”
(iv) Division of inheritance in land (watan) led to disputes which Shivaji had to settle as the head of the state. Those who lost in the adjudication went against Shivaji who had, therefore, to fight not only against his enemies but also against his own people,
(v) Although the people of Maharashtra had gained considerably due to the political independence that Shivaji ensured for them, lack of interest of the bulk of the people in the destiny of the country due to lack of general education was the basic failure of the Maratha Kingdom and contributed to its decay within a few years of the death of Shivaji whose untiring labour had built it up.