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Today is the 392nd birth anniversary of the great warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

Written by Subhash Krishnan

His military organization consisted of infantry, cavalry and navy. Strict discipline, rapid movements, excellent intelligence service and continuous attention to defence marked his military organization. He used to take utmost care to protect his subjects especially at the time of enemy invasions.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Jayanti 2022: Shivaji Bhonsale I (19 February 1630), also referred to as Chhatrapati Shivaji, was an Indian ruler and a member of the Bhonsle Maratha clan. Today is the 392nd birth anniversary of the great warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Maratha empire. The birth anniversary of Shivaji is celebrated, largely in Maharashtra, as Shiv Jayanti. Every year, the day, a public holiday in Maharashtra. When Shivaji Maharaj became master of a long coastal strip, he deemed it necessary to undertake the construction of a Navy. Shivaji Maharaj realized that the one who had a navy, controlled the sea. To protect his own territory from the Siddi’s depredations, to protect the merchant ships and ports in order to secure and enhance revenue incomes derived from maritime trade and customs duty, he concentrated on building the Navy. There were four hundred ships of various kinds in the Navy. They included battleships like Gurab, Galbat and Pal. Shivaji’s conflicts with the Bijapuri Sultanate and his continuous victories brought him under the radar of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb saw him as a threat to expansion of his imperial intent and concentrated his efforts on eradicating the Maratha threat. Confrontations began in 1957, when Shivaji’s generals raided and looted Mughal territories near Ahmednagar and Junnar. However, Aurangzeb’s retaliation was thwarted by arrival of rainy season and battle for succession back in Delhi. Aurangzeb directed Shaista Khan, Governor of Deccan and his maternal uncle, to subdue Shivaji. Shaista Khan launched a massive attack against Shivaji, capturing several forts under his control and even his capital Poona. Shivaji retaliated back by launching a stealth attack on Shaista Khan, eventually injuring him and evicting him from Poona. Shaista Khan later arranged multiple attacks on Shivaji, severely reducing his holds of forts in the Konkan region. To replenish his depleted treasury, Shivaji attacked Surat, an important Mughal trading center and looted the Mughal wealth. An infuriated Aurangzeb sent his chief general Jai Singh I with an army of 150,000. The Mughal forces made considerable dent, sieging forts under Shivaji’s control, extracting money and slaughtering soldiers in their wake. Shivaji agreed to come to an agreement with Aurangzeb to prevent further loss of life and the Treaty of Purandar was signed between Shivaji and Jai Singh on June 11, 1665. Shivaji agreed to surrender 23 forts and pay a sum of 400000 as compensation to the Mughal Empire. Aurangzeb invited Shivaji to Agra with an aim to use his military prowess to consolidate Mughal empires in Afghanistan. In 1666, Aurangzeb summoned Shivaji to Agra (though some sources instead state Delhi), along with his nine-year-old son Sambhaji. Aurangzeb’s planned to send Shivaji to Kandahar, now in Afghanistan, to consolidate the Mughal empire’s northwestern frontier. However, in the court, on 12 May 1666, Shivaji was made to stand alongside relatively low-ranking nobles, men he had already defeated in battle. Shivaji took offence and stormed out of court, and was promptly placed under house arrest. Ram Singh, son of Jai Singh, guaranteed custody of Shivaji and his son. Shivaji’s position under house arrest was perilous, as Aurangzeb’s court debated whether to kill him or continue to employ him. Jai Singh, having assured Shivaji of his personal safety, tried to influence Aurangzeb’s decision.Meanwhile, Shivaji hatched a plan to free himself. He sent most of his men back home and asked Ram Singh to withdraw his guarantees to the emperor for the safe custody of himself and his son and surrendered himself to Mughal forces. Shivaji then pretended to be ill and began sending out large baskets packed with sweets to be given to the Brahmins and poor as penance. On the 17th of August 1666, by putting himself in one of the large baskets and his son Sambhaji in another, Shivaji escaped and left Agra.In subsequent times, Mughal and Maratha hostilities were pacified to a large extent by constant mediation through Mughal Sardar Jaswant Singh. Peace lasted till 1670, after which Shivaji launched an all-out offense against the Mughals. He recovered most of his territories sieged by the Mughals within four months. Shivaji died at the age of 52 on April 3, 1680, at the Raigad Fort, after suffering from a bout of dysentery. A conflict of succession arose after his death between his eldest son Sambhaji and his third wife Soyrabai on behalf of her 10-year old son Rajaram. Sambhaji dethroned the young Rajaram and ascended the throne himself on June 20, 1680.the Mughal-Maratha conflicts continued after Shivaji’s death and the Maratha glory declined greatly. However it was reclaimed by young Madhavrao Peshwa who reclaimed Maratha glory and established his authority over North India.

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Subhash Krishnan

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