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Shivaji I
1st Chhatrapati of the Maratha Empire
PredecessorPosition Established
SuccessorSambhaji Maharaj
Born19 February 1630
Died3 April 1680 (aged 50)

Shivaji was the founder of the Maratha Empire. He was born in the Shivneri Fort in Maharashtra probably on 19 February 1630. He is named after a local goddess, Shivai Devi.

Shivaji is one of the revered historical figures of Maharashtra. He created an independent and sovereign state in the Maharashtra region. His mother, Raajmaata Jijabai was the daughter of Shri.Lakhuji Jadhavrao of Sindkhed. His father Shri.Shahajiraje Bhosale was a Maratha general in the Deccan.

Most of the territory in Maharashtra was then under the possession of the Nizamshah of Ahmednagar and the Adilshah of Bijapur who were known as the Deccan sultanates. The Mughals launched a campaign to conquer the Nizamshahi Kingdom. The Adilshah of Bijapur allied with the Mughals in this campaign. Shri. Shahajiraje Bhosale tried to rebel, but he could not withstand the combined might of the Mughals and the Adilshahi. The Nizamshahi kingdom came to an end in 1636. Thereafter Shri.Shahajiraje became a Sardar of the Adilshah of Bijapur and was posted in Karnataka. The region comprising Pune, Supe, Indapur, and Chakan Parganas located between the Bhima and Nira rivers which were vested in Shri. Shahdara as a jagir was continued by the Adilshah. Shri. Shahdara was also given a jagir of Bangalore. Rajmata Jijabai and Chh. Shivaji , stayed for a few years with Shahaji Raje at Bangalore until Shivaji I was twelve years old. Shri. Shahaji entrusted the administration of the Lakshmi jagir to Shivaji and Mata Jijabai. Shivaji grew up amidst the hills and valleys of the Pune region under the guidance of his mother Raajmata Jijabai. His mother taught him the stories of the Hindu epics and scriptures such as Mahabharata and also stories of old mighty Hindu kingdoms such as the Vijayanagara. He was also trained in guerrilla warfare. He defeated the Mughal forces of Rai Bagan.

Foundation of the Maratha kingdom

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Several small spurs run eastward from the sahyadri in the Pune region. The extremely rugged valleys enclosed by these are usually known as the Mavals or Khores each named after the stream running through it, or after the principal village. Collectively they are known as the Mavals. The inhabitants of this region who are called the Mavalas were extremely hardy people. Shivaji started the work of founding the Swaraj - self-rule - in this region. He used the geographical features of the Maval region. He created a feeling of trust and affection in minds of the people. Many associates, companions, and Mavalas joined him in his work of founding Swaraj. The objective of Shivaji in founding the Swaraj is clearly expressed in his official seal or Mudra which is in Sanskrit. Through this Mudra, Shivaji Maharaj assured his people that ‘ever-increasing like the crescent moon, the kingdom of Shivaji, son of Shahaji, will always seek the welfare of the people.

The Capture of Javali

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The region of Javali in the Satara district was important. Many routes to the Konkan were through Javali. For the expansion of the Swaraj in the Konkan, it was essential to control that region. The region of Javali was ruled by Chandrarao More, a powerful Sardar in the Adilshahi. Shivaji attacked Javali and captured it in A.D. 1656. Then he also captured Rairi. This strong fort, later under the name of Raigad, was to become his capital. He built the Pratapgad fort in the Javali valley to protect the newly conquered territory and to control the Paar pass. The victory at Javali led to the expansion of the Swaraj in Konkan. Shivaji then crossed the Ghats and descended into Konkan. He captured Kalyan and Bhivandi on the Konkan coast which were under the control of Adilshahi. Shivaji also captured forts like Mahuli, Lohagad, Tunga, Tikona, Visapur, Songad, Karnala, Tala and Ghosala, in the Konkan. Shivaji was able to command the coast line because of his acquisition of this territory in the Konkan. He came in contact with the Portuguese, the British and the Siddi powers on the western coast. The Siddi controlled the fort of Janjira and the areas around, including Danda-Rajpuri. Wherever in future these powers created obstacles in the work of expanding the Swaraj, Shivaji tried to curb their activities.

The Establishment of Maratha Navy

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When Shivaji Maharaj became master of a long coastal strip, he thought it necessary to undertake the construction of a Navy. To protect his own territory from the Siddi, and to protect the merchant ships and ports in order to secure revenue 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.

The defeat of Afzal Khan and the Battle of Javali

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Shivaji had openly challenged the Adilshahi by capturing forts in his jagir and the territory in north Konkan. At that time the Badi Sahiba was looking after the administration of Adilshahi. She sent Afzal Khan, a powerful and experienced Adilshahi General to stop Shivaji . Afzal Khan set out from Bijapur in May 1659. Afzal Khan made efforts to seek the support of the Deshmukh's. A meeting between Shivaji and Afzal Khan took place on 10th November 1659 at the foot of Pratapgad. When Afzal Khan went to greet Shivaji stabbed him in the back with his dagger however Shivaji had come prepared and he was wearing body armour so the dagger failed to pierce his skin. Shivaji ripped at Afzal Khan's stomach with his weapon which is known as tiger-claws (wagh-nakh) and killed Afzal Khan. The Marathas destroyed Afzal Khan’s army in the dense forests of Javali. Shivaji secured a large booty from Afzal Khan's camp which enabled him to consolidate and strengthen his position.

The Expedition of Siddi Jauhar

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Shivaji intended to capture as much of Adilshahi province and forts as possible. He captured the Adilshah forts of Panhala, Vasantgad, and Khelna. He renamed Khelna as Vishalgad. In 1660, to check the rapid progress of Shivaji , the Adilshah sent Siddi Jauhar, the Sardar of Karnul region, with a large army against him. The Adilshah gave Siddi the title of ‘Salabatkhan’. Shivaji took shelter in the Panhala fort. Siddi’s soldiers laid siege to the fort for about five months. Shivaji was trapped inside the fort. Netaji Palkar made attempts to raise the siege by attacking Siddi’s army from outside. But Siddi showed no signs of relenting. Shivaji opened overtures with him. This led to slackness in the siege around Panhalgad. Shivaji escaped and went to Vishalgad. Siddi Jauhar’s army followed him. Shivaji put Baji Prabhu Deshpande at the foot of Vishalgad and gave him the responsibility of stopping the Siddi’s army. Baji Prabhu Deshpande checked Siddi’s army at the Ghod pass near Gajapur. Baji Prabhu died a hero’s death in this battle. While going to Vishalgad, Shivaji also crushed the opposition of the Adilshahi sardars- Dalvi of Palawan and Surve of Shringarpur. Shivaji reached Vishalgad safely. While Shivaji was trapped at Panhala, the Mughal army had invaded the Swaraj. Shivaji realized that it would not be prudent to fight two enemies at the same time. Therefore Shivaji entered into a treaty with the Adilshah. As per the treaty, he returned the fort of Panhala to the Adilshah.

Conflict with the Mughals: Shaista Khan’s Invasion

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For the expansion of the Swaraj, conflict with the Mughals was inevitable. Emperor Aurangzeb appointed his uncle Shaista khan to the viceroyalty of the Deccan, ordering him to invade Shivaji Maharaj’s dominions. Shaista khan left Ahmednagar in February 1660 and arrived in Pune on 10th May 1660. He decided to capture the fort of Chakan to obtain supplies. The Mughals captured the fort of Chakan. Shaista khan captured Swaraj's territories -Pune, Supe. He set up his camp at Lal Mahal in Pune. The Mughal army began to ravage the regions around Pune. Shaista khan adopted the strategy to occupy as much of Shivaji Maharaj’s dominions as possible. Forces were dispatched to invade the Konkan region below the Ghats. Kalyan and Bhiwandi were captured by the Mughal army. Shaista Khan appointed Kartalabkhan on an expedition to the North Konkan. Shivaji humbled the Khan in Umbarkhind. Shivaji Maharaj left Netaji Palkar to defend the North Konkan and he marched southwards and captured Dabhol, Chiplun, Sangameshwar, Rajapur, Palavani, and Shringarpur. Two years had passed but Shaista khan still would not think of leaving Pune. Naturally, this harmed the population. Intending to drive Shaista khan out of Pune, Shivaji devised a bold plan. On 5th April 1663, Shivaji raided Lal Mahal. In this raid, Shaista khan lost his fingers. He left Pune and shifted his camp to Aurangabad. The successful attack on Shaista khan resulted in an immense increase in Shivaji Maharaj's prestige and fame. It also had an impact on the people and their faith in the capabilities of was strengthened even further.

The Surat Campaign

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In three years, Shaista Khan had ravaged the territories of the Swaraj. It was necessary to make up for this loss. Surat was the most prosperous port of the Mughal Empire on the west coast. The British, the Dutch and the French had their factories there. Shivaji devised a plan of attack on Surat. The Subhedar of Surat could not put up any resistance to the Marathas. Shivaji obtained enormous wealth from Surat. Surat's campaign was a stunning blow to emperor Aurangzeb’s prestige.

Soon after his return from Surat, Shivaji embarked upon a vigorous naval program. Shivaji had realized the importance of sea forts. Sea forts would protect the navy and keep in check the Siddi of Janjira and the Portuguese. He built Suvarnadurg. In 1664 he commenced the construction of Sindhudurg at Malvan. About the same time, he strengthened a fort named Vijaydurg. He also built a fort named Padmadurg on a small island in front of Rajpuri to counter the Siddi power.

Jaisingh’s campaign against Shivaji

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Intending to crush the growing power of Shivaji , Aurangzeb sent Jaisingh of Ambar, an experienced and powerful Mughal Sardar. He left Delhi on 30th September 1664 and reached Pune on 3rd March 1665. Jaisingh's strategy was to isolate Shivaji from his neighboring powers so that he would get neither help nor support from them, to prevent him from breaking out into the Mughal territory, to devastate his homeland, and capture his forts. He was trying to provoke the Adilshahi against Shivaji . Jaisingh was simultaneously instigating local rulers in the Karnataka against the Adilshah so that they would be unable to help Shivaji . To the Portuguese of Goa and Vasai, the Dutch of Vengurla, the British of Surat, and the Siddis of Janjira, Jaisingh suggested that they should start a naval campaign against Shivaji Maharaj. He also drew up a plan of capturing the forts in possession of Maharaj. Jaisingh and Dilerkhan led siege to the fort of Purandar. Mughal forces were sent to various parts of Swaraj. Maharaj tried to resist the Mughals. When the Mughals put the fort of Purandar under siege, Murarbaji Deshpande fought with the greatest of courage. He died a hero’s death. Realizing that in this conflict with the Mughals, he and his subjects had to face great losses, Maharaj began talks for a treaty with Jaisingh. A treaty between Jaisingh and Maharaj was signed in June 1665 which is known as the ‘Treaty of Purandar’. Under the terms of the treaty, Maharaj ceded twenty-three forts and adjacent areas yielding a revenue of four lakh hons to the Mughals. He also assured the Mughals of help against the Adilshahi.

Visit to Agra

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Jaisingh’s campaign against the Adilshahi proved unsuccessful. Jaisingh and Aurangzeb felt that if the Adilshah, the Qutubshah, and Shivaji joined forces against the Mughals, it would be a great setback to the Mughal policies in the Deccan. Both of them felt that Shivaji ought to be kept away at least for some time from Deccan politics. Jaisingh proposed to Shivaji that he should visit Agra and meet the Emperor. After making thorough arrangements to ensure effective administration of his dominions during his absence, Shivaji went to Agra with his son Sambhaji and a few of his trusted people. He set out for Agra on 5th March 1666 and reached on 11th May 1666. Aurangzeb did not treat Shivaji with due honor at his court. Livid with rage, walked out of the court instantly. Aurangzeb then put him under house arrest. Shivaji escaped from Agra and safely reached Rajgad on 20th November 1666. While returning from Agra, he left Sambhaji at Mathura. Later, Sambhaji was brought safely to Rajgad.

An offensive against the Mughals

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For about four years after his return from Agra, Shivaji concentrated his attention on putting the affairs of Swaraj in order. He re-organized the army and carried repairs to forts. In 1670, Shivaji started an offensive policy against the Mughals. His first aim was to clear his homeland of the Mughals. He also aimed at recapturing the forts and territories ceded to the Mughals according to the treaty of Purandar. The strategy followed by Shivaji Maharaj was to capture the forts by sending a well-equipped army on one hand and on the other hand to keep the Mughals unstable by invading the Mughal territories of the Deccan. Maharaj attacked Ahmednagar and Junnar. Sinhgad was the first fort to be recaptured on 4th February 1670. Shivaji also recaptured Purandar, Lohgad, Mahuli, Karnala and Rohida. Then he attacked Surat for the second time. On the way back he fought a battle with the Mughals at Vani-Dindori in Nashik district. He defeated Daud Khan in the battle. The Marathas under the leadership of Moropant Pingle captured Trimbakgad. The Maratha army then invaded Baglan, a hilly district that was guarded by nine hill forts. The Maratha army not only captured smaller hill forts of Baglan but also captured Mulher fort and Salher which lay on the border of Khandesh and Gujarat. Salher became a base of operations against the rich provinces of Gujarat and Khandesh. The Mughals tried to recapture Salher but failed. In 1672, Shivaji's army conquered the principality of Jawhar and then Ramnagar.

The offensive against the Adilshahi Sultanate

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Shivaji decided to expand his dominions at the expense of the Adilshahi Sultanate. He captured the Panhala fort which was in the possession of Adilshah on 8th March 1673. Then he captured the fort of Parali near Satara, fort of Satara, and forts like Chandan-vandan, Pandavgad Nandagiri, Kelanja, and Tathavda.[source?]

Coronation of Shivaji

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The founding of the Maratha Swaraj involved a` relentless struggle for over thirty years. Shivaji realized that now the Swaraj needed to win general recognition as a sovereign, independent state. For legal recognition a formal coronation was necessary. On 6th June 1674, Shivaji was crowned at Raigad by Gagabhatt, a learned pandit of Benaras. He now became the Chhatrapati of the Swaraj. As a symbol of sovereignty, Shivaji started a new era commencing from the date of his coronation. It is known as Rajyabhisheka shaka.[source?] Shivaji thus became the founder of a new era. On the occasion of the coronation, special coins were minted- a gold coin called hon and a copper coin called Shivraj with the legend Shri Raja Shivachhatrapati inscribed on them. Thereafter, all royal correspondence carried the words, 'Kshatriyakulaawatansa Shri Raja Shivachhatrapati'.

A dictionary called Rajya-vyavahara-kosha, showing Sanskrit alternatives for Persian words was prepared. Sabhasad, a contemporary chronicler, pointing out the significance of the coronation, writes ‘It was no mean achievement for a Maratha king to become such a great Chhatrapati’. The coronation of Shivaji was a revolutionary event in the history of medieval India. Shivaji had his second coronation performed under the guidance of Nischalpuri Gosavi.

The Campaign of the South

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After the coronation, Shivaji marched to the conquest of Phonda near Goa and captured it in April 1675. Then the Marathas captured Ankola and Shiveshwar which was followed by the annexation of Kolhapur. After that Shivaji accomplished 'Dakshin Digvijay'. Shivaji planned to carry his army to the east coast in the South and conquer the province of Adilshahi Karnataka. He undertook the Karnataka expedition in 1677. Karnataka was famous for its riches. It was ill-defended by the Adilshah. Shivaji went to Golkonda to meet the Qutubshah. He entered into a treaty of friendship with him. In April 1677 he set out for the Adilshahi Karnataka. He captured Jinjee and proceeded to Vellore. The city withstood a long siege. The eastern portion of the south was mostly held by nobles of the Adil shahi kingdom. Vyankoji, Shivaji Maharaj’s stepbrother had carved out a principality for himself at Thanjavur. At Tirumalvadi, on the northern bank of the Coleroon, Vyankoji met Shivaji. Shivaji tried to get Vyankoji to participate in the activities of the Swaraj. He did not get any response from him. Later, he conquered Bangalore, Hoskote in Karnataka, other forts such as those at Vellore, and also some parts of the Adil shahi kingdom. Permanent annexation in the south increased Shivaji's strength and most importantly he was successful in executing his plan of defense which would help him to resist the armies of Aurangzeb in the future. For the administration of the newly conquered province, Shivaji made excellent arrangements. He appointed Raghunath Narayan Hanamante, the chief officer to look after these newly conquered territories. After accomplishing the mission of the south, Shivaji returned to Swaraj.

Shivaji decided to fortify the island of Khanderi, commanded a key position as it was located near Mumbai. The British then decided to lay a regular siege to the island. In this naval conflict, the English had to withdraw their fleet. This brought to an end the naval conflict between Shivaji and the British.

Within few months Shivaji fell ill. After a short illness, he died at the Raigad fort on 3 April 1680.

Administrative capabilities

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The Swaraj established by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj comprised of large areas of Nashik, Pune, Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Raigad, and Thane districts of Maharashtra. It also included parts of the Belgaum, Karwar, and Dharwad districts of Karnataka and Jinjee and Vellore. He set up an efficient and sound system for the administration of this Swaraj. The administration was divided into eight departments. A minister was appointed as the head of every department. His council of eight ministers was known as the Ashta-Pradhan Mandal. Shivaji followed a policy of encouraging agriculture. He paid attention to the welfare of the peasantry. He was also equally concerned about the growth of trade and the protection of industries. Thus he turned the Swaraj into a surajya a state which sought the welfare of all. He was a great military commander, an outstanding general, and a statesman. He had a clear concept of military organization.

His military organization consisted of infantry, cavalry, and navy. Strict discipline, rapid movements, excellent intelligence service, and continuous attention to defense marked his military organization. He used to take utmost care to protect his subjects especially at the time of enemy invasions. Shivaji was also keen to see to it that the soldiers did not in any way cause any harm to the subjects. He followed a tolerant religious policy. The greatest achievement of Shivaji was to inculcate the spirit of independence in his people. By his great deeds and achievements, Shivaji created an altogether new order of things[source?].


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