Seldom does a human being reach the stature that this Maratha warrior, Shivaji Bhonsle reached in his lifetime and beyond.

Shivaji Jayanti is the birthday  celebration of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj on the nineteenth of February. Some say it is on the sixth of April.

He created the powerful Maratha nation and united the various rulers under an aegis to form a formidable Maratha army. His military and civil administration prowess is till date considered being visionary.

 

Life of Shivaji Maharaj

Shivaji was born on the 19th of February or 6th of April, in the year of 1627 to Shahaji Bhosle, the chief of the Bijapur kingdom, and his wife Jijabai in the fort of Shivneri, near Pune.  He was named Shivaji after the local Goddess Shivai, to whom Jijabai had prayed for a healthy baby boy.  Shivaji, from childhood, was extremely dedicated to his mother and took religious training in Ramayana and Mahabharata, which was in the latter half of his life instrumental in shaping up his religious beliefs.

Shivaji’s father Shayaji Bhonsle remarried Tuka Bai and moved to Karnataka, to fight for Adil Shah. Shivaji was left in the care of mother, and a trusted administrator called Dadoji Konddeo. Dadoji, taught Shivaji the basic fighting techniques. He learnt horse riding, archery, marksmanship everything under Dadoji Konddeo. His earliest trusted comrades were from the Maval region with whom he learnt the nuances of the Sahyadri range and the region.  At the age of twelve, he went to Bangalore, where he was trained in militia further and married Saibai.

He became a fearless military leader under the tutelage of commanders like Gomati naik and Baji Pasalkar.  By the age of seventeen he had successfully captured the Totna Fort of Bijapur and by the year of 1647 had taken complete control of the Kondana and Raigad Forts.

Alarmed at his growing power and sensing a local revolt, Adilshah deceitfully imprisoned his father Shahaji and sent armies against Shivaji and his elder brother Shambha ji. Afzal Khan, Adilshah’s great commander was also sent to handle Shivaji. However meeting at the foot of Pratapgad forts, in a hut, Shivaji killed Afzal Khan and signaled his hidden troops to launch an all-out attack on the Bijapuri army. In the famous battle of Pratapgarh in in 1659, the Bijapuris were defeated and Shivaji became the hero of the Marathas, having decisively ousted the Mughals from the Marathwada districts. Shivaji also defeated another army led by Rustamzaman of nearly 5000 people army.   Shivaji kept a more or less cordial relationship with Aurangzeb in order to have recognition of his rights of the Bijapur forts and all the area under his domain.  But their relationship soured and Aurangzed sent a huge force including artillery in order to defeat Shivaji in association with the Bijapuri force. This joint forces captured the city of Pune and seized Shivaji’s own palace Lal Mahal.

In the April of1663, Shivaji launched an assault on Shaista Khan in Pune and managed to break ranks, enter the palace and overcome the opposition. Shaista Khan fled from the spot. After numerous other skirmishes and battles, Shivaji and Jai Singh, the Mughal commander entered into the Treaty of Purnader. However, peace did not last long, when Shivaji was insulted in the court of Aurangzeb and upon protesting was placed under house arrest. With immense cunning, Shivaji sent back his troops and feigned illness. Under this pretext he used to send out fruits and sweets every day, along with which dressed as a fruit vendor, Shivaji escaped the Mughal army with a lot of daring. Upon reaching his homeland once again Shivaji started expanding his territory to Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The next battle that occurred between the Mughals and the Marathas are known as the Maratha War of Independence. He was formally with lot of love and regards crowned the Chhatrapati in the year of 1674 in the Raigad Fort. Shivaji, however soon after breathed his last in the year 1680 after a fever.

Shivaji remains admired still for his immense courage and extreme military acumen. He was probably the first to use what in modern day warfare is called the guerrilla attacks and ambush and remains remembered for all these innovative military acumen and warfare techniques. Shivaji also adopted a policy of religious tolerance and promoted the languages of Marathi and Sanskrit during his regime.

 

How is Shivaji Jayanti celebrated?

Shivaji has gained the status of a national hero. He is a demi-god in the state of Maharashtra, where most of the important landmarks are named after him. On his birthday, processions are taken out to showcase tableau featuring his life and military prowess. Various small skits are performed and his life dramatized. Lots of celebrations are held where all prominent politicians garland his statue. He will always be known as an inspiration for many and the pride he instilled in the national honor amongst people went on to make him one of the biggest national heroes of all time.


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