Sunday, November 29, 2009

SHIVAJI (AD 1627-1680)

SHIVAJI (AD 1627-1680)

Shivaji was born in the hill-fort of Shivner near Junnar in 1627 or as some modern historians assert in 1630. Shahji Bhonsle, the father of Shivaji, was a military officer at first in the state of Ahmadnagar and then, from 1636, in the state of Bijapur, and he owned the territory of Poona as a jagir. His mother was Jija Bai, a very religious lady. Shivaji was brought up at Poona under the careful supervision of his mother and an able brahman Dadaji Konda-dev. Dadaji Konda-dev made Shivaji an expert soldier and an efficient administrator. Shivaji also came under the religious influ­ence of Guru Ramdas, which made him proud of his motherland.

Shivaji began his military career at a young age. He captured the fort of Torna in 1646. Shortly afterwards he built new forts like Raigarh and Pratapgarh. On seeing this, the Sultan of Bijapur was much alarmed and he put Shahji, Shivaji's father in prison. Shivaji proved equal to the occasion and sought the intervention of Shah Jahan OR his father's behalf and thus Shahji was released. Shivaji re­sumed his offensive operations in 1656 and captured the principality of Javli. After some time, Shivaji raided the Bijapur territory and, in 1659, the Sultan of Bijapur sent his general, Afzal Khan, to capture Shivaji. But Shivaji was too clever for him and killed him with a deadly weapon called Baghnakh or tiger's claw. Ultimately, in 1662, the Sultan of Bijapur made peace with Shivaji and acknowledged him as an independent ruler of his conquered territories.

Shivaji now began to ravage the Mughal territories. Aurangzeb sent Shaista Khan, the viceroy of the Deccan, with a big army against Shivaji. Shaista Khan captured Poona. But Shivaji managed to outwit the Mughals in 1663.

He further plundered Surat and carried off an immense booty. Aurangzeb sent his own son, Prince Muazzam, and then, on his failure, Mirza Raja Jai Singh of Amber against Shivaji. Raja Jai Singh won a few victories against Shivaji and besieged him in Purandhar (1665) and persuaded him to cede some forts to the Mughills by signing the Treaty of Purandhar and pay a visit to the Mughal court at Agra. But, when Shivaji went there, he was ill-treated and was taken a prisoner. He managed to escape, reaching Raigarhin 1666. From then onwards, he became an avowed enemy of the Mughals. He very soon conquered all the forts which he had surrendered to the Mughals. In 1670, he plundered Surat for the second time.

In 1674, Shivaji made Raigarh his capital and celebrated his coronation, and assumed the title of Chhatrapati. Shortly after this, he made a great expedition into southern India and conquered Jingi, Vellore and many forts in Kamataka. He died at Raigarh in 1680 after ruling for only six years. In this short time he founded the Maratha empire which dominated India for a century and a half.

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