5 Interesting Facts About The Great Maratha Worrior: Shivaji Maharaj

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, was the first sovereign of the Maratha empire. He was born in 1627 A.D. (or 1630 A.D.) at Shivneri, a hill fort near Puna.

Shivaji’s mother Jijabai and his guru Ramdas inspired him with the noble and patriotic ideas and infused in him love for the religion and the motherland. Shivaji got military training and learnt the art of government from Kondadev.  He innovated military tactics, pioneering the guerrilla warfare methods (Shiva sutra or ganimi kava), which leveraged strategic factors like geography, speed, and surprise and focused pinpoint attacks to defeat his larger and more powerful enemies.

Let’s know more about this Great Warrior:

1) Kingdom-builder:

Shivaji was very secular king. He fought against foreign invaders not against any religion. One third of his army consisted of Muslim soldiers. Many of Shivaji’s Generals were Muslim, who are still celebrated in this region, through folk songs and folk stories. He respected every religion equally without compromising his religion. He always supported good things of hindu religion and opposed bad things. He revived ancient Hindu political traditions and court conventions and promoted the usage of Marathi and Sanskrit, rather than Persian, in court and administration.1

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2) Navy:

Shivaji built a strong naval presence across long coast of Konkan and Goa to protect sea trade, to protect the lands from sack of prosperity of subjects from coastal raids, plunder and destruction by Arabs, Portuguese, British, Abyssinians and pirates. Shivaji built ships in towns such as Kalyan, Bhivandi, and Goa for building fighting navy as well as trade. Shivaji’s admiral Kanhoji Angre is often said to be the “Father of Indian Navy”.

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3) Nationalism:

Shivaji maharaj believed that he was fighting for India and he inspired others for the same cause. He impressed it on his army that they are fighting for free kingdom and not for a particular king. Marathi civilian population kept on fighting even when there was no king after Rajaram Maharaj’s death. He also inspired Chatrasal Bundela to create his own kingdom in Rajasthan when Chatrasal wanted to join him. This shows that he didn’t want people to support his kingdom but instead he wanted people fighting for India. He was fine with other Indian kings.

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4) Military:

Till the advent of the Shivaji, the Marathas generally had an army made of irregulars, most of them essentially farmers who fought during the dry season. It was Shivaji who came up with a regular, professional army, where the soldiers were paid in cash throughout the year. The army was constituted into units, and grades were given regularly. Both Hindus, Muslims were recruited in army without any discrimination. Shivaji’s armies had strict rules than other armies during that time. Ammunition and horses were the property of the government. Concubines are not allowed for the troops. The decision of the leaders of the troop is final and need to follow at any cost. Looting and creating disturbance like attacking on temples, church and mosque are forbidden. The Loot from the enemy kingdom is properly monitored and added to the treasury. Any one disobeying this will be punished severely without any concern.4Image Source

5) Honouring women and Mercy to surrendered troops:

Shivaji maharaj had strict rules about women. Anyone dishonoring a woman used to be punished very harshly. Marathi army captured towns and camps and always sent back all the women with honor. Those troops of the enemy who wanted to surrender or join marathi army were welcome. People were judged by their intentions and abilities more than their heritage.

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Deewaneaam wishes everyone a very happy Shivaji Jayanti!

“Jai Bhavani, Jai Shivaji!”