“Is there a greater hero, a greater saint, a greater bhakta and a greater king than Shivaji? Shivaji was the very embodiment of a born ruler of men as typified in our great Epics. He was the type of the real son of India representing the true consciousness of the nation. It was he who showed what the future of India is going to be sooner or later, a group of independent units under one umbrella as it were, under one supreme imperial suzerainty.” – Swami Vivekananda

This exhibition show-cases the unique place of Chhatrapati Shivaji in the history of India, at a time when Hindus were experiencing great oppression and humiliation : they were being killed, their wives and children taken in slavery, their temples were being broken, and they were being discriminated against in various forms, such as in the matter of charging custom duties, restrictions on their fairs and festivals, their dismissal from government posts, large-scale conversions as a part of openly declared policy of the Mughal State, imposition of the religious tax Jiziya for being a Hindu.. These discriminatory acts were then going almost unchallenged, although the Hindus formed more than 90% of the country at that time.

Shivaji, who was endowed with talents of the highest order and a clear vision, was the only one who stood-up to the injustice. He had also an inspiring and endearing personality which spontaneously commanded respect, loyalty and the highest sacrifices from his devoted soldiery and peasants. To create his Swarajya, a bold mission, inspired by the highest ideals imbibed by him from his mother and the saints of Maharasthra, he had to rouse the sleeping conscience of the Hindus, and show them that it was possible to successfully defy the Mughal power, cast off foreign domination and win freedom from the rule of the Muslim powers.

He had however to contend with Aurangzeb, one of the ablest, but also the most cruel of all Mughal Emperors. In the present exhibition attempt has been made to present, through paintings, sketches, line drawings and contemporary documents, the unique role that Chhatrapati Shivaji has played not only in the history of India, but also in the preservation of Her culture and spirituality, as he stood against the enemy that wanted to erase it forever from this land. It is, thanks to Shivaji, for instance, that West and South India could retain their identities. Indeed, Marathis and Tamils alike, owe to the great Shivaji and the sacrifices of his men, the enduring wholesomeness of their traditions – social, cultural and religious – whereas the same cannot be said about the North of India. Indeed, except for some parts of the non-Kashmir Himalayas, the rest of India had to bear the rules and directions of the Shariat, which had evolved in far off Arabia during 7th and 8th centuries, and was sought to be imposed in the 17th century with all its inherent vehemence, by an Emperor entirely committed to its principles and philosophy.

This exhibition is relevant today because Shivaji embodied all the qualities that politicians should possess in 21st century India, but do not always have: he was just, firm and stood for the weak; he was an honest and able administrator; he confronted the enemy and was not cowed into submission; he was devoted to Mother India who appeared to him as Bhavani; he was ruthless with his enemies, but spared women, children and his own people ; he would go to both Muslim and Hindu saints and endowed mosques as well as temples.

Let the spirit of Shivaji float on India again and deliver her from her present enemies

The Scene of Mughal devastation in the Deccan – Shivaji Changes people’s Psychology

Shivaji’s life and achievements were such as to thoroughly justify Carlyle’s “Great Man Theory”. Before Shivaji, the scene in Maharashtra was one of sadness, helplessness, suffering and humiliation at the hands of the Muslim powers. This is best described in the words of Sabhasad, a contemporary observer and the author of Sabhasad Bakhara.

“Shivaji brought home to the minds of his people how the foreign Muslim rule inflicted hardship and wrongs upon their homeland and their religion. He narrated to them graphic stories of what he had seen and heard. Was it not their duty to avenge the wrong? Even an effort in that direction was necessary and laudable. Why remain content with the gifts conferred by the foreigners or with their own paternal acquisitions only? We are Hindus; this whole country is ours, and yet it is (still) occupied and held by the Muslims. They desecrate our temples, break our idols, loot away our wealth, forcibly convert our people to their religion, kill cows openly. We will suffer this treatment no more.

“We possess strength in our arms. Let us draw the sword in defence of our sacred religion, liberate our land, and acquire new areas and wealth by our own efforts. We are as brave and capable as our ancestors in old times. If we undertake this sacred task, God will surely help us. All (noble) human efforts are so helped. There is nothing like good luck or bad luck. We are the masters of our soil and makers of our freedom”.

Shivaji’s message was no demagogue’s attempt to win people to his point of view. His depiction of the oppression under Muslim rule was a reality. Sardesai, the eminent Maratha historian, gives the contents from an old (17thcentury) paper thus: “Complete darkness prevails under Muslim rule. There is no fair ascertainment of facts nor justice. The officials do what pleases them. Violation of the honour of women, murders, (forcible) conversion of the Hindus, demolition of temples and shrines, cow-slaughter, and similar (low and despicable) acts and atrocities prevail under that (Mughal, Bijapur?) government”. These feelings were strengthened by actual events. Thus Nizam Shah (Bijapur) had openly murdered Jija Bai’s father, his brothers and sons. Bajaji Nimbalkar of Phaltan was forcibly made a Musalman.

These were bold and stirring words, and did not fail to ignite the fire of freedom and desire for regaining the lost honour, in the masses, a fire which ultimately engulfed the whole Mughal empire and made it dependent on the support of the Marathas. Shivaji was thus the father of the Freedom Movement in Maharashtra and a source of inspiration to the Hindus throughout India. When he visited Agra, and later Haidarabad, the Hindus looked upon him with utmost pride and admiration. Yet his war against the Mughals and Bijapur was not against Muhammadans in general or their religion but for the honour and rights of the Hindus and their religion, then both being discriminated against and suppressed under inspiration and direction of a foreign religion, culture and values.

Shivaji was right in thinking that only by arms would his people be able to secure their rights which were far superior to those of the foreign intolerant Muslim rulers – Mughal, Nizam Shahi or Qutb Shahi. Shivaji thus changed the psychology of the masses, assisted by the awakening created by the saints of Maharashtra, and filled them with fresh confidence to fight the Muslim rulers and wipe off their rule. His words, matched by action, transformed the Marathas into a nation before which he eloquently placed “the higher ideal of Swarajya, and political emancipation from the chains of grinding slavery that held down his country for centuries together”.

The first painting depicts the scene of Mughal devastation in the Deccan as described in the 17th century paper mentioned above.

Scene of Mughal devastation in Deccan; Shivaji takes up the challenge.

Shivaji in a trance in Bhawani’s temple.”shiva! meet Afzal khan fearlessly.My blessings are with you”.

Shivaji’s historic meeting with the Bijapuri General Afzal Khan (10th November 1659)

Afzal Khan, the dreaded Bijapuri Commander, had advanced from Bijapur to Wai laying waste the whole country. His march till Wai had been an unrelieved calamity. Shivaji’s men had not till now faced a regular army equipped with artillery etc. At the first council he called, Shivaji found that every one around him was scared of the bold bad man “who would shrink from no act of cruelty and treachery”. They all advised him to make peace. But how could he trust a man like Afzal Khan who had murdered Kasturi Ranga, the Raja of Sera, whom he had invited to his tent under promise of safety to make submission. Also it meant submission to Bijapur and ruining all his dreams of establishing “Swarajya”.

This was a most critical moment in Shivaji’s career. If he submitted to Afzal Khan, all his hopes of independence and future greatness would be gone for ever. If he declined to negotiate, it would mean war with Bijapur. Shiva was in a dilemma. After pondering for a fortnight, he decided to meet Afzal Khan alone at a meeting. A legend says that the care-worn Maratha fell asleep in which state he had a vision of goddess Bhawani who urged him to face Afzal Khan boldly. On waking up Shivaji decided in favour of hostilities with Bijapur. He however agreed to meet the Khan, who, it is believed, had hoped to arrest or kill Shiva at the interview, not at Wai but near th fort of Pratapgarh. Afzal Khan agreed.

On Shivaji’s orders, an open pavilion, richENTERly decorated was erected on the crest of an eminence below the fort of Pratapgarh. Shivaji prepared himself for any eventuality. To prevent detection of the steel claws in the palm of his left hand and a short dagger up his right hand sleeve, he had put on a long white flowing robe with broad long sleeves.

Shivaji now insisted that Afzal Khan should come to the tent for meeting accompanied by only two body-guards and that he too would come with only two body-guards, accompanied by their respective Brahmin envoys.

When Shivaji was coming out of Pratapgarh fort, his mother blessed him saying that victory would be his. At the time of the meeting on 10th November 1659, only Afzal and Shivaji were present in the tent. The body-guards and the Pandits were below the platform.

We have a detailed account of the high drama which resulted in Afzal Khan’s death and rout of his army. Afzal, a tall and well-built man, was first to arrive in the tent pitched for his reception. Shivaji was seemingly unarmed “like a rebel who had come to surrender, while the Khan had his sword and dagger at his side … Shivaji mounted the raised platform and bowed to Afzal. The Khan rose from his seat, advanced a few steps, and opened his arms to receive Shiva in his embrace. The short slim Maratha’s head came only up to the shoulders of his opponent. Suddenly, Afzal tightened his clasp, and holding Shiva’a neck fast in his left arm with an iron grip, while with his right hand he drew his long straight-bladed dagger and struck at the side of Shiva. The hidden armour rendered the blow harmless. … In a moment Shiva recovered from the surprise, passed his left arm round the Khan’s waist and tore his bowles open with a blow of the steel claws. Then with the right hand he drove the bichwa into Afzal’s side ….. Shivaji jumped down from the platform and ran towards his own men outside. The Khan cried out “:Treachery! Murder! Help! Help! The attendants ran up from both sides; Saiyid Banda faced Shivaji with his long straight sword and cut his turban in two, making a deep dint in the steel cap beneath. Shivaji quickly took a rapier from his bodyguard, Jiv Mahala, and began to tarry. But Jiv Mahala came round and cut off Saiyid’s right hand and killed him.

Meanwhile the bearers placed the wounded Khan in his palquin and started for his camp. But Shambhuji Kavji slashed at their legs, made them drop the palquin and then cut off Afzal Khan’s head, which he carried in triumph to Shivaji.

Thus Shivaji by endangering his own person extricated his nascent kingdom from a very dangerous situation by turning back the tide of the Bijapuri troops and by outwitting the dreaded Afzal Khan.

In the next painting the artist has tried to recreate the whole sequence of events.

Shivaji’s historic meeting with the Bijapuri General Afzal Khan and latter’s death (10th November 1659)

Baji Prabhu’s Sacrifice (13th July 1660)

It is one of the famous incidents doing as much proud to Shivaji as to his followers who served him with total devotion. Within about 18 days of Afzal Khan’s death, Shivaji captured Panhala, the capital of the Western Bijapuri district. Within a short time the surrounding districts of Kolhapur and Vasantgarh, Khelna (re-named Vishalgad by Shivaji), Rangna and some other minor forts also surrendered to him.

When Shivaji was in Panhala, he was besieged by Salabat Khan (Siddi Jauhar), and Fazl Khan (Afzal Khan’s son), commanding Bijapuri troops. After nearly five month’s long siege, Shivaji found himself in a fatal trap. On a dark night (13th July 1660), when it was raining heavily, Shivaji, leaving a part of his forces to hold Panhala fort as long as possible, slipped out of the fort through the back gate with a small body of `troops and made way for Vishalgad, but was detected and hotly pursued by a strong Bijapuri force under Fazl Khan, Siddi Halal etc. Shivaji had to cover 27 miles to reach Vishalgad where he would be safe.

Though he marched all night, Shivaji was hopelessly outnumbered, hotly pursued by Bijapuri troops carrying mahtabsfor light. Fortunately the hilly road led through a narrow pass known as Ghod Khind (horse ravine) at the eastern entrance of Vishalgad, where a few men could hold at bay a large force.

Baji Prabhu, the Deshpande of Hirdas Maval, volunteered to defend the mouth of the pass with half the troops till Shivaji should reach Vishalgarh and signal his safe arrival there by gun fire.

Baji Prabhu and his heroic band fought with exemplary valour, beating back three vigorous assaults. He breathed his last only after he had heard the gun-fire informing Shivaji’s safe arrival in Vishalgarh.

In the next sketch, the brave defence put up by Baji Prabhu at the mouth of the pass is shown. Shivaji with a small band, after escaping from the back-door of Panhala fort, has crossed the pass and can be seen galloping fast towards the ascent of Vishalgad. In another section of the sketch, the salvo of a gun from Vishalgad informs the fatally wounded Baji Prabhu of the safe arrival of Shivaji. The sacrifice of Baji Prabhu “is gratefully remembered to this day by the Maratha nation and is typical of the way in which Shivaji was served throughout his career”.

Baji Prabhu’s memorable sacrifice to save his master’s life (13 July 1660)

Shivaji’s Night attack on Shaista Khan at Pune which nullifies all the Mughal gains at one stroke.(5th April 1663)

It is one of the most famous exploits of Shivaji early in his career and has never been forgotten by successive generations in India. Shaista Khan, the maternal uncle of Emperor Aurangzeb, and the new Governor of Deccan, had made Shivaji’s position precarious by his furious offensive. He had even occupied Pune (9th May 1660). Shivaji had already lost Chakan (August 1660), Kalian (May 1661), and in March 1663 the Maratha commander Netaji Palker was worsted in a sanguary fight and he had to escape losing much of the booty being brought from the Mughal territory. During these three years (February 1660 – April 1663) Shivaji had lost practically all the ‘Swarajya‘ which he had won with great effort during the past many years and this was despite his many victories, such as at Umbar Khind (February 1661), Mira Dongar (1662), capture of Rajapur etc. He was completely non-plussed as what to do with Shaista Khan sitting pretty in Pune. At last he decided to extricate himself from this situation by some daring act to be executed by himself personally, as he had done about four years ago in case of Afzal Khan.

Within a month of the defeat of the Maratha army under Netaji Palkar, Shivaji dealt a masterly blow at the Mughals, a blow “whose cleverness of design, neatness of execution and completeness of success” made Shivaji’s name a household word throughout India. He surprised and wounded the Mughal Viceroy of the Deccan in the heart of his camp, in his very bed chamber, within the inner ring of his body guards and female slaves.

In the early hours of the night (5th April 1663) Shivaji with 400 picked Mavles entered the Mughal camp through the main gate saying that they were a party of the Deccani soldiers of the Mughal army going in to relieve those who were already on duty. It was the month of Ramzan. The Khan and his household after breaking their day’s fast, had retired to their beds before midnight. As the moon set, the camp and the Lal Mahal (Shivaji’s own palace) were enveloped in darkness, with a few dim lights showing how the people were stationed at different points. Shivaji with 50 men quietly entered the palace through a hole made in the weak kitchen wall behind. They then rushed towards the bed-chamber, cutting the cloth partitions, striking people in their beds, and making a loud clamour which only added to the confusion. Amidst shrieks, shouts and confusion all around, Shivaji and his party left the scene and escaped to Sinhagad from where they had come. Later, it was discovered that though Shaista Khan had managed to save his life, his fore fingers were cut off by the blow of Shivaji’s sword when he was jumping out of the window.

This unbelievably successful attack on the Mughal Governor of the Deccan in the most protected area of the Mughal camp, surrounded by thousands of troops, immensely enhanced the reputation of Shivaji’s daring, while causing bitter humiliation at the Mughal court, but the most evident and fruitful result of this daring raid was the retreat of Shaista Khan to Burhanpur for safety and his subsequent transfer to Bengal. At one stroke Shivaji had nullified all the gains of the Mughals achieved during 1660-63.

In the next painting, some of the Maratha soldiers are shown entering the palace at Pune through a hole made in the kitchen wall, some have reached the stair case and they are beckoning others to follow, while Shivaji has already reached the sleeping chamber of Shaista Khan and is about to strike him. The Khan, however, managed to leap through the window to safety though losing his forefingers in the process.

Shivaji’s night attack on Shaista Khan, the Mughal Governor of the Deccan in Pune, in midst of his military camp (5th April 1663)

Jaipur Maps of 1665-66 A.D

We find many recorded instances of the use of maps, plans or tarah, as these were called, of regions, forts, towns, temples, dams, pilgrim centers etc., by the Emperors, Rajput rulers and other important personages during the medieval times. Shivaji also took keen interest in maps and plans. Some of these tarah were prepared specifically for military purposes. Perhaps the richest and best preserved collection of maps and plans of the medieval period from Emperor Akbar’s time till the beginning of the 19th century is in Kapad-dwara, Pothikhana, and Khas-Mohar collections of the Maharajas of Amber-Jaipur. Thus, whenever Mirza Raja Jai Singh, the Maharaja of Amber State (1623-67), was sent on an expedition, specially to a less familiar region, he would get the plan of the region prepared showing forts, hills, terrain etc. When in 1665 A.D. he was sent by Aurangzeb, the Mughal Emperor, to deal with Shivaji, who had succfessfully defied and humiliated all previous Viceroys and foiled all attempts to curb his rising power, Mirza Raja got prepared for him not only tarah of the Deccan but also a tarah specifically showing the forts of Shivaji, ports and important towns of the region.

One tarah is of the period immediately after the conclusion of the historic treaty of Purandar (13th June 1665), by which Shivaji handed over to the Mughals a number forts such as Lohgarh, Tikona, Kondana, Purandar, Karnala, etc., while retaining others such as Rajgarh, Latkangarh, Mahagarh, etc. Shivaji recovered the surrendered forts three years later in 1670 in a swift and remarkably successful offensive against the Mughal government.

These maps may seem a bid bizarre to us but were regarded as of much value by those for whom these were drawn.

The next Tarah of the Deccan showing Seva’s (Shivaji’s) forts

The tarah records the forts which Shivaji had to part with as per the terms of the Treaty of Purandar (13th June 1665) which Mirza Raja Jai Singh concluded with him on behalf of the Emperor and also records the forts which he retained.

Lohgarh (put in charge of Quvad Khan (Qubad Khan), new thanedar of Poona

Fort Tikona (Qubad Khan appointed in charge of the fort)

Kondana (Kundana) put in charge of Kunwar Kirat Singh (son of Mirza Raja Jai Singh)

Khada Kalan, Qasba Poona

Garh Purandhar

Garh Rudramal

Qasba Indrapur Bangi

Baramati Garh Sarup, also called Karnala under the direct control of the Emperor. No Qiledar has been sent there till now

Manikgarh, also called Tanka. Under direct control of the Emperor. No Qiledar has been sent there till now.

Tain ka Kot, Tal Konkana ka. Qiledar would go after the arrival of Seva’s son who will accompany the Qiledar.

Garh Mraga (Uttara) in Patsahi Talak, Qiledar not yet sent.

Garh Okhadraka, gave to Seva (Shivaji)

Garh Khirattaka, also called Sagargarh

Cheval ka Bandar (Port). It is (now) under Emperor but no Qiledar has yet gone there.

Garh Anasvari gave to Seva (Shivaji)

Garh Pal (gave to Seva)

Garh Bhurap (gave to Seva or Shivaji)

Garh Kaula gave to Siva

Garh Ankola under the Emperor, Qiledar not yet sent there.

Garh Torana, gave to Siva

Rajgarh, gave to Siva

Latkangarh, gave to Siva

Garh Raipur, gave to Siva

Mangarh. Under direct control of the Emperor. No Qiledar sent there till now.

Songarh, also known as Vishramagarh, under direct control of the Emperor. No Qiledar sent there till now.

Garh Dhusala, gave to Siva

Taligarh, gave to Siva

Mahagarh, gave to Siva

Parvalgarh or Muranjan under Patsah (Emperor), No Qiledar sent there till now.

Vikatgah also known as Pav, under Patsahi. No Qiledar appointed there till now.

Qasba Kalyan

Qasba Vahpuri

Garh Nartakka, also known as Siddhagarh, in Patsahi. No Qiledar yet appointed there.

Garh Paleskhol

Garh Maholi

Garh Bhandarattaka. All the above three under the Patshah (Badshah) Qiledar not sent there as yet.

Koh Ruparh in Patsahi talak. Qiledar not sent there as yet

Isagarh, under Quwad Khan’s charge

Garh Junair (Junnar)

12 A

12 B

The Tarah (map) of the Deccan showing Shivaji’s forts (c. 1665 A.D.)

The map of the Deccan (Tarah Dakshin ki)

This tarah of Dakshina (Deccan) mentions the following places:

Gove Bandar (the Port of Goa)
Tap Banda
Amo Ko Dhankeli
Desh Shivappa Nayak Fort
Pargana Sansvad
Qasba Puna
Desh Zamindar Javar (Jawhar)
Fort Kohaj
Fort (kile) 10 kos from Maholi
Fort Chaunsala
Fort Pali Kvar
Islamabad urf Singadi
Fort Pavar
Fort Sangsa
Fort Karnala
Godha Fort
Qasba Pattana

12 C

12 D

The Tarah (map) of the Deccan (c. 1665 A.D.)

Shivaji being received by Mirza Raja Jai Singh on the eve of the Treaty of Purandar (13th June 1665)

Mirza Raja Jai Singh of Amber was the most powerful and influential Hindu noble in the Mughal service at that time. After every Imperial commander had failed to check Shivaji’s rapidly growing power, he was sent by Aurangzeb to deal with the Maratha hero. Mirza Raja, certainly the ablest military commander and diplomat of his time, conducted the campaign against Shivaji with great success. On 3rd March 1665 he had reached Pune and a few days later commenced the siege of Purandar fort. After a few months Shivaji thought it prudent to conclude peace, at least for the time being.

On 11th June 1665, Mirza Raja Jai Singh received Shivaji at the foot of the Purandar fort, then being besieged by him, its fall being imminent. Shivaji arrived in a palquin accompanied by six Brahmans. Jai Singh received Shivaji in the tent, embraced him and seated him by his side, “while Rajputs stood around to guard against any treacherous movement on the part of the slayer of Afzal Khan”. From the tent, the fighting on the slopes of the fort could be seen. Shivaji now agreed to conclude the famous treaty of Purandar (12-13 June 1665).

The meeting cemented the ties between the Kachwaha house of Amber (Jaipur) and Shivaji. Later, on so many occasions, these ties were cited by the Jaipur rulers, Chhatrapatis and Peshwas in their correspondence. It was only Mirza Raja’s oath assuring safe conduct for Shivaji that Aurangzeb did not dare to put him to death at Agra in 1666.

The historic meeting between the two renowned men of that time had great significance and paved the way for Shivaji’s visit to Agra (May 1666), a visit which despite a few months of great anxiety and threat to Shivaji’s life, ultimately ended on a happy note.

Details of the next painting

There is a spacious enclosure of the kanats. In the center of the enclosure is an open tent from which furious fight on the slopes of the Purandar fort can be seen. Armed Rajput warriors have formed a ring outside the kanat enclosure. Shivaji is accompanied by 2 Brahmins. His palquin is placed inside the enclosure at some distance. Mirza Raja is shown welcoming Shivaji. Mriza Raja is accompanied by his son Kirat Singh, Manucci (an Italian, then in Mirza Raja’s service as chief gunner, and the author of Storia Do Mogor). Shivaji’s high spirit is evident from his personality.

Mirza Raja Jai Singh of Amber receiving Shivaji Maharaj a day before concluding the Treaty of Purandar (12 June 1665)

Shivaji Visits Agra

On 14th June 1665 Shivaji concluded the Treaty of Purandar with Mirza Raja Jai Singh after approval of the terms by Emperor Aurangzeb. By this Treaty Shivaji had to surrender two-third of his important forts. The Treaty was a set-back to him and he had to take stock of his position vis-avis the Mughal government. But how he could do that without personally assessing the actual state of the Mughal power.

It was natural for Shivaji to feel great hesitation in agreeing to visit Agra to meet the Emperor for which Mirza Raja Jai Singh was insisting so much and was urging the Emperor with equal force to receive a visit from the Maratha hero. “Test his hearty goodwill and convert him into a powerful supporter for the peace in the southern dominion”, he had urged the Emperor. Jai Singh and his eldest son, Kunwar Ram Singh, stood guarantee for Shivaji’s life and safety. The visit, though not without hazards in view of Aurangzeb’s known character and dubious record, offered Shivaji an opportunity to get a ‘realistic’ idea of the power of the Mughal Empire and held forth other opportunities as well, making it worth a trial.

After making as perfect arrangements as possible for his work being carried in his absence, Shivaji set out from Raigad on 5 March 1666, with his son Shambhaji, and a select following of officials and servants and an escort of about 4000 men, for Agra. His arrival in Agra was to coincide with the 50th lunar birthday of Aurangzeb on which occasion a grand darbar was to be held on 12th May 1666. Emperor Aurangzeb had not visited Agra after wresting the crown from his father Shah Jahan till after the latter’s death and hurried and unceremonial burial on 22nd January1666.

When presented before the Emperor, the latter did not exchange a word with Shivaji who was conducted to stand in the line of the mansabdars of 5000 rank. When Khilats were presented to Maharaja Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur and two or three other nobles of high rank, Shivaji was ignored. Shivaji angrily left the Court, loudly exclaiming words of displeasure at being slighted, and refused to see the Emperor again, or accept a mansab or a khilat. There are a number of cotemporary letters in Rajasthani which describe the whole sequence of developments. Shivaji remained in Agra till 18th August in virtual confinement till he managed to regain his freedom outwitting the most wily Emperor ever to occupy the Mughal throne.

Shivaji’s captivating personality, courage, manliness and the manner he had remained unaffected by the Emperor’s awe and defied his authority, raised his prestige immensely. Parkaldas, the Amber State official, who was present in Agra at that time wrote “….. Shivaji is a very brave highsouled man. The people had been praising his high spirit and courage before. Now that after coming to the Emperor’s presence he has shown such audacity and returned such harsh and strong replies, the public extols him for his bravery all the more”.

Shivaji at Agra

How Shivaji looked like and his image among the people (khalq)

We have very few accounts of how Shivaji looked like but none more detailed and informative than the one given by Parkaldas, an Amber State official, posted at Agra during the days when Shivaji arrived there, and later when he remained in strict confinement for more than three months. (11th May – 18th August 1666) there.

In his letter of 29 May 1666 from Agra, Parkaldas wrote to Kalyandas, the Diwan of Amber (later Jaipur State).

“….. You have asked me to let you have details regarding Shivaji’s visit here. Well, he has come alone, with only one hundred retainers and his escort numbers from 200 to about 250 men in all. Among the latter, one hundred are silehdars (mounted on their own horses) and the rest are bargirs of the paga (mounted on horses supplied by the State). In his train, the camels are few, and are only meant for carrying baggage. The Banjaras are one hundred each with a pair of pack-oxen.

“When Shivaji rides out in a palki (in Agra), many footmen wearing Turkish caps, big like Khadauts, go before him. His flag is orange and vermillion coloured, with golden decorations stamped on it. At sight Shivaji’s body looks lean and short. His appearance is wonderfully fair in complexion, and even without finding out who he is, one does feel instinctively that he is the ruler of men. His spirit and manliness are apparent. He is a very brave, high-souled man and wears a beard ….. The people had been praising Shivaji’s high spirit and courage before. Now that after coming to the Emperor’s presence he has shown such audacity and returned such harsh and strong replies, the public extols him for his bravery all the more …..”

In another letter dated 7 June 1666 Parkaldas informed his Diwan (Prime Minister) of Amber State, various news circulating in the Agra among the people (khalq) such as that Maharaja Jaswasnt Singh told the Emperor that Shivaji can fly at a height of 14-15 hath from the ground and can cover 40-50 kos on foot” whereupon the Prince (Muazzam) said, “I too had heard so at Aurangabad”. People also say, wrote Parkaldas that “Shaista Khan has written to the Emperor from the east (Bengal)”Your Majesty! Shiva is a great disturber of peace (bada ghanim). You (must) put him to death. If Your Majesty does not kill him, I will give up my mansab and become a faqir (medicant)”. According to one news current among the people, the Princess (Jahanara Begum)told the Emperor, “Shiva has come (to Agra) trusting the word of a Rajput (Jai Singh) and the tek of a Rajput has hitherto been respected the Emperors and it becomes of you also to do the same”. And lastly, Parkaldas added one juicy news. He wrote that a popular gossip current in Agra was that on account of Shivaji’s fear, the Emperor goes for the Friday prayers under heavy security cover. Guards are posted at every step when he goes for the prayers”.

Such was the image of Shivaji in the minds of the people, both discreet and judicious and also the common folk. His visit to Agra, though seemed at one time to be a fatal blunder, ultimately proved beneficial not only for Shivaji’s high reputation but also for the lofty aim he wished to fulfil.

High esteem in which Shivaji was held by the Rajput nobles

Shivaji had won the hearts of one and all at Agra by his courage, dignified bearing, manliness and the principles and values which he symbolized and tried his best to uphold. One of the senior most officer of the Amber (later Jaipur) State who had immense curiosity about Shivaji at Agra as to how he looked like, in what manner he had come to Agra etc. etc., was Kalyandas, the Prime-Minister or Diwan of the State, who found in his own junior official Parkaldas, posted at Agra with Kunwar Ram Singh, a keen observer and a gifted narrator with fondness to describe in minute detail everything relevant to Shivaji’s Agra visit (11th May – 18th August 1666). The result is a couple of remarkably informative letters in Rajasthani, like of which are not found in any other language, including Marathi, so far as Shivaji’s visit to Agra is concerned.

In his letter of Shravan Vadi 12, S. 1723 (18 July 1666), Parkaldas narrated to his master the conversation between the Amber thakurs (feudal chiefs of Amber).

“One day, when Ballu Shahji, Tej Singhji and Ran Singhji were sitting together, Maha Singh Shekhawat said:

“Shivaji is very wise, he speaks the right word, after which no one need say anything more on the subject. He is a genuine Rajput and we have found him just what we had heard about him. He tells us such appropriate things marked by characteristic qualities of a Rajput that if they are kept in mind, they will prove useful someday”. Then addressing Tej Singhji, Maha Singh said “It is sheer destiny that has brought him (Shivaji) here, but when there were a number of good men of high rank like you with the Maharaja, why did you not speak to him (against sending Shivaji to Agra). You should have reasoned and dissuaded the Maharaja”. Upon this Tej Singhji said “The Maharaja listens to only one man, his Secretary, Uderaj …..”

Note :

1. Uderaj, the author of the letter-book “Haft Anjuman“, and Secretary of Mirza Raja Jai Singh, turned a Musalmanafter the death of the Maharaja, whom he was suspected to have poisoned, to save himself from the anger of the Rajputs.

2. The above letter shows that Uderaj had played an important part in convincing his master Mirza Raja Jai Singh, the desirability of Shivaji’s visit to Agra. Was he one of the conspirators to contrive Shivaji’s visit to Agra so that he is finished off there, a conspiracy that failed due to the firm stand taken by Mirza Raja Jai Singh and his son Kunwar Ram Singh, and Shivaji’s own ingenuity, and courage.

Chronology of developments during Shivaji’s Stay at Agra based on contemporary Amber Records

(12 May – 17 August 1666)

6th March 1666 : Shivaji sets out for Agra to meet Emperor Aurangzeb

11th May 1666 : Reaches outskirts of Agra

12th May 1666 : Kunwar Ram Sinh of Amber receives Shivaji; Shivaji in Aurangzeb’s Court (Diwan-i-Khas), where his famous encounter with the Emperor took place.

13th-15th May 1666 : Begum Sahiba, Nawab Jafar Khan, Maharaja Jaswant Singh (the last one perhaps tauntingly) ask Aurangzeb to punish Shivaji, otherwise Hindus and (particularly) bhumias will be emboldened and become defiant. Aurangzeb decides to put Shivaji to death. When Ram Singh comes to know it, he firmly says, “First kill me and my son and only after that Shivaji. He has come on our solemn assurance”. Aurangzeb asks if Ram Singh would stand surety for Shiva. Kunwar Ram Singh readily agrees.

Aurangzeb orders that the Kunwar Ram Singh and Shivaji should proceed to Kabul.

15th-20th May 1666 : Shivaji declines to go to Kabul, Departure for Kabul is postpond

16th May 1666 : Ram Singh made to sign a bond that Shiva would not leave Agra.

19th May 1666 : Proposal regarding Kabul posting of Ram sigh and Shivaji completely dropped.

29th May 1666 : Shivaji offers to pay to the Emperor two crores of rupees if all the forts surrendered by him by the Treaty of Purandar are restored to him and he is allowed to return. Aurangzeb curtly declines saying, “He has gone off his head … How can he be given leave to depart. Tell him firmly that he must not visit anybody, not even Kumar’s camp”. Strong patrols are posted around his residence.

7th June 1666 : Emperor asks Shivaji to handover all his forts. He offers to grant him mansab. Shivaji says, “I do not want a mansab and I have no control over the forts”.

To pressurize Shivaji, the Emperor orderes Faulad Khan and his artillery men, “Go and finish off Shiva”. Emperor also strongly objects to the news that troops are coming from Amber and also Shivaji’s mulk. Kunwar Ram Singh explains, “They were called in view of posting at Kabul. Now they will all return”.

One day Shiva came to Ram Singh and said “I thought your word carried much weight, but here you are requesting so much to the Emperor for me, but he is not accepting any thing. Hence you tell the Emperor, “Here is Shiva, He is no longer under my care. If you wish you may kill him”. Kumar, “I will not leave you like that”.

Two days ago (5th June) Kumar ordered his men to be on guard duty around Shivaji, and so they also are there.

[It was a clever move of Ram Singh to ensure safety of Shivaji. By posting his own guards on the ground that if Shiva ran away or committed suicide, he would be answerable, he ensured that no foul play was attempted by Faulad Khan etc.. “So Kumar goes and personally keeps a watch on Shiva’s bed while Tej Singh and his Rajput retainers Arjunji, Sukh Singh Nathawat and other Rajput Thakurs patrol on all sides of him”.]

Shiva tells Kunwar Ram Singh to take back the bond he (Ram Singh) had given. “Let the Emperor do what he likes with me”, Shiva says, Kunwar Ram Singh tries to reassure and reason with Shivaji saying, “A letter has been sent to the Maharaja. Please wait till the reply comes”.

Shivaji sends word directly to the Emperor through Siddi Faulad Khan that he had given leave to his troops and that they be given passport.

12th June 1666 : Orders are issued that if Shiva were to escape from Agra to Maujabad pargana, he be detained.

16th June 1666 : Shiva conveys to Emperor, “I wish to turn a faqir. Permit me to go to Banaras”. Aurangzeb, “Very well, let him turn faqir and remain in Prayag fort. Bahadur Khan is Subahdar of that place, he will watch over him”.

Aurangzeb had written to Mirza Raja Jai Singh about Shivaji but no reply has yet come.

(From Haft Anjuman – Mirza Raja Jai Singh to Kunwar Ram Singh c. July 1666.]

Tell Emperor that Shivaji should be detained there in a worthy manner (i.e. not as a prisoner) so that his officers may not despair of his return and they be induced to join Adil Shah (of Bijapur) and create disturbances against us; this policy will avoid the necessity of His Majesty sending a (fresh) army to this side. Press these points strongly with the Emperor”.

13th July 1666 : “The Kunwar pays some money to Shiva as per hasb-ulhukm (of Mirza Raja Singh). Emperor’s and Kunwar’s patrols are around Shivaji. ….. I hear that Shiva has offered to give up all forts to the Emperor, “But let the Emperor give me congee for my country. My officers will not obey any letter from me. I shall go there for taking the forts”, says Shivaji. The Emperor has declined. “This is what I have heard only just now. When Kumar asked Shivaji to surrender his remaining forts, Shiva replied “Your father gave the Emperor 23 of my forts and got Tonk pargana (as reward). You are now trying to give my other forts to the Emperor. Tell me what pargana you are thinking of gaining by it. Will it be Toda? On hearing this, Kumar remained silent”.

18th July 1666 : “Affairs of Shiva continued to be just the same. Patrols are posted all round who are keeping a vigil on him with the same care. Sobha Chand Bakshi and Vimaldas check the patrols at night. Shivaji will continue to live like this for a good many days. Shiva says, “Emperor is not settling my matter. Otherwise I shall die and the Emperor would not get the forts”. Kumwar has promised (Shivaji) to make a request again. Kunwar has paid Rs.66,000 to Shivaji to cover which the latter has issued a Hundi payable in the Deccan”, writes Parkaldas.

22nd July 1666 : Shivaji gives away a horse, a saropao, male and female elephant and 1000 rupees to Kavindra Kavishvar with a promise to give one more elephant.

(There is no Rajsthani letter after 22nd July till 18th August 1666. During this period, Shivaji feigned illness and began to send out in the evening large baskets containing sweets for distribution among the Brahmins, medicants and poor. As days passed, the sentries became lax in checking the baskets. This gave an opportunity to Shivaji and his son, Shamhaji, to make good their escape by crouching down in separate baskets).

18th August 1666 : Ballu Shah to Kalyandas, the Diwan of Amber State, “This very morning Shivaji fled away from Agra. Orders be issued to all. All ghats are to be closed. If any one in the garb of a jogi or sanyasi passes that way, he should be questioned and searched”. (Ballu Shah’s letter was despatched four and half hour after day-break on the 18th August and was expected to reach Amber after three days at the earliest).

Shivaji in confinement at Agra – The six rings of guards

Four days prior to Shivaji’s flight from Agra on 18th August 1666, his confinement was made all the more strict. Shivaji came to know that Emperor Aurangzeb had again ordered that he (Shiva) be put to death but later decided to keep him in the haveli of Raja Vitthaldas. When Shivaji paid a visit to Kunwar Ram Singh of Amber, who had stood by Shivaji till now and had agreed to stand as his (Shivaji’s) surety also, the Kunwar did not meet him. Shivaji now understood that it was time to put his plan of escape in action before it was too late. To do so, surrounded as he was by six rings of guards to keep vigil on him, was no easy task. The sketch based on a contemporary Rajasthani letter shows the manner of his confinement thus:

1. In the innermost patrol or chauki were four Brahmins – Ram Kishan Brahman, Jevo Joshi, Shri Krishna Upadhyaya and Purohit Balram, all Kunwar Ram Singh’s men. They were posted nearest to Shivaji’s bed-chamber to attend upon him. From time to time, they used to go inside the room to have a look at him. On the18th August, when one ghari of night had remained, i.e. about 3.30 a.m., Shivaji had asked Purohit Balram to bring dry fruits for him which he ate, told the Purohit when questioned searchingly soon after Shivaji’s escape.

2. Outside the entrance gate or deorhi of the haveli was posted a guard of musketeers with their guns loaded.

3. All around the haveli were posted Mina Chowkidars of Amber (later Jaipur), known to be expert watchmen.

4. Behind the Mina Chowkidars (watchmen) were Imperial troops (‘Bagsaryas’ in Parkaldas’ letter of c. 23 August 1666). They formed the fourth ring of guards.

5. Behind them were posted Agra’s dreaded Kotwal Faulad Khan’s ahdis or gentlemen troopers.

6. And finally, there were Kunwar Ram Singh of Amber’s Rajput Thakurs – Rin Singh and others.

“But Shivaji, in spite of all these guards escaped is a matter of real astonishment”, writes the Amber official Parkaldas in his letter dated c.23 August 1666 to Kalyandas, the Diwan of Amber.

The adjoining sketch shows the arrangement of the six concentric circles of guards to keep vigil on Shivaji at the time of his flight from his confinement at Agra, as described by Parkaldas, an eye witness to the dramatic development there during 11th May – 18th August 1666. Emperor Aurangzeb acted as host of Shivaji during this period.

Shivaji in strict confinement at Agra (June-August 1666); the six rings of guards (Sketch based on a contemporary Rajasthani letter)

Shivaji’s escape from Agra, flight in the garb of a Bairagi and arrival at Rajgarh which takes Jija Bai by surprise

On 18th August 1666, Shivaji escaped from almost a fatal trap laid by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb at Agra. He had met his arch enemy Aurangzeb for the first and the last time on the 12th May in Diwan-i-Khas. After that, net closed round him till he was entirely hemmed in a series of concentric circles of guards. His escape in these circumstances was nothing less than a miracle and a stunning blow to Emperor Aurangzeb. Which route he actually took for his flight is still debated but his safe arrival at Rajgarh, had an extremely happy and interesting ending. Dattaji Waqnis writes, “He went to the gate of Rajgarh, where his mother Jija Bai resided, and requested admittance to her presence. The guards informed her that some strangers Bairagis (religious mendicants) were at the gate of the fort and demanded to meet her. She ordered them to be admitted. When they came into her presence, Niraji Pant blessed her after the manner of the Bairagis; but Shiva came closer and threw himself at her feet. She did not recognize him and was surprised that a Bairagi should place his head on her feet. Shiva then laid his head on Jija Bai’s lap and took off his cap. She immediately perceived by a mark on his head that he was her lost son, and clasped him to her bosom”.

Details of the next painting

Shivaji and his son Shambhaji are being carried in large baskets out of a haveli at Agra. The guards fail to detect him and his son. Shambhaji was being left at Mathrua in safe protection of three Maharashtrian Brahmins, brothers-in-law of Moro Trimbak, the Peshwa.

A party of Bairagis seeks to meet Jija Bai at Rajgarh. Shivaji who had shaved off his head and moustaches at Mathura comes closer and throws himself at her feet. She recognizes him when he removes his cap.

Shivaji and his son escaping from Agra in baskets (18 August 1666) and later Shivaji’s arrival at Rajgarh dressed as a Bairagi takes Jija Bai by surprise.

The Route of the Great Escape

(The route taken by Shivaji after his flight from confinement at Agra, 18th August 1666)

Till today no one knows the exact route which Shivaji took for reaching Rajgarh after a successful and sensational escape through six rings of guards as shown in the adjoining sketch. Rajgarh is 670 miles from Agra in a straight line but he must have covered nearly a thousand miles in reaching the safety of his home. The Akhabarat of 4th November 1666 mentions the news received from the Deccan that Shivaji and his son had reached Rajgarh.

The accompanying diagram shows the routes which different sources suggest Shivaji took in returning safely to Maharashtra.

Route No.I shown in Red is the one suggested by Sir Jadunath Sarkar. According to him, from Agra Shivaji first went in the opposite direction to Mathura to confuse his pursuers. Here he left his son (Shambhaji) under the care of trusted Maratha priests, reached Allahabad and then passing through Gondwana and the less inhabited areas of Golkonda and Bijapur, reached Rajgarh (12th September 1666) to the great surprise and happiness of Jija Bai, his mother.

Route No.II shown in Blue incorporates the information from the Marathi sources and is merely an extension of the first. According to it Shivaji also visited Varanasi, Gaya and Puri on the way and thereafter the route which he took passed through territories of Golkonda and Bijapur and ended at Rajgarh.

Route No.III shown in Green seems, the more likely route taken by Shivaji. It passed through Mathura, Dausa, Shahpura, Banswara, Rajpipla and Saler. About fifteen years later (1681 AD), when Durgadas Rathor escorted Prince Akbar (rebel son of Aurangzeb), to Shambhaji, he had taken the route which passed through Banswara, “Bharvargar Ghat” on the Narmada, Rajpipla and reached Saler on Jyestha Vadi 5, V.S. 1737 (29 April 1681) in “Shambhaji’s mulak“. This was the safest and the shortest route, the only dangerous area being that around Ahmedabad.

This route was safest as travelling through Rajasthan, even in the disguise of a Bairagi was more safe than covering more than 462 km. – the distance from Mathura to Allahabad in a straight line – and passing through three Mughal provinces, and then through none too friendly Golkonda and Bijapur States, to reach Rajgad.Shivaji had immense goodwill and respect for him among the Rajputs and who knows what arrangements Kunwar Ram Singh had made to facilitate Shivaji’s escape and his safe return to his home land, to keep the ‘tek’ or pledge of his father, about which he was extremely sensitive, as the contemporary letters of Parkaldas from Agra amply show.

23 MAP

Shivaji’s home coming from Agra (18th August-September 1666). The possible routes of the Great escape.

Shivaji personally leading the Maratha troops in the battle of Dindori (17th October 1670)

Shivaji was returning after sacking Surat (3 October 1670) for the second time. His stern orders to the Mughal officers at Surat were to send every year Rupees12 lacs as annual payment or suffer the consequences. “War must pay for war. It is the Mughal Emperor who has brought war in Maharashtra. And therefore, he must bear the burden of war I have to wage against him”, was his rationale for plundering the Mughal territories, including the towns and rich ports like Surat.

Arriving near Chandwad (Chandor) after crossing the Chandor range, he found that a large Mughal army under Daud Khan was barring his path. Daud Khan had correct information through his spies about Shivaji’s movements and was ready to give battle. Shivaji’s dilemma was how to send safely the vast treasure he was bringing from Surat and to minimize casualties.

Shivaji at once divided his army into four columns, each under a clever and resourceful commander and managed to send the treasure safely under a small escort by a secret route.

A fierce obstinate battle was fought for hours between the two sides between Vani and Dindori. Daud Khan, Ikhilas Khan, Sangram Khan and other important Mughal nobles fought with great courage using their artillery, though with limited advantage. On the Maratha side, Shivaji himself was conducting the operations in this one of the few open battles fought man to man,. The battle ended with about 3000 Mughal troops dead and a number of Mughal officers captured. The Marathas also captured about 4000 horses. The Mughal governor of Dindori, Siddi Hilal, was allowed to join Shivaji’s service. In this way Shivaji won a great victory in this battle which neutralized Mughal power in this region for quite some time.

In this battle scene, Shivaji, mounted on a black horse, is directing the Maratha offensive against the Mughal troops of Daud Khan. The Maratha cavalry has managed to take the enemy in the rear while the famous Mavle infantry is engaging the enemy in a bitter hand to hand fight.

Shivaji personally leading the Maratha troops in the Battle of Dindori (17th October 1670)

Re-capture of Sinhagad by Tanaji; his heroic sacrifice (4th February 1670)

Sinhagad was a very important fort, 18 miles from Pune. From the foot of the fort, the climb is about 3 miles. It was considered as the most important of the forts which Shivaji had to surrender to Mirza Raja Jai Singh by the treaty of Purandar (12-13 June 1665). It was looked upon as the key to the western region and he who possessed Sinhagad was master of Pune.

No other fort was so well protected by men and nature. Artillery could have no effect upon it. Shivaji considered it impregnable. But Jija Bai insisted that it should be recovered at any cost for national honour.

Jija Bai sent for Tanaji, a close comrade of Shivaji, and his brother Suryaji, captains of the Mavle infantry. Tanaji immediately left amidst marriage festivities at home to fulfil his master’s orders and came to Shivaji and Jija Bai as shown in the next painting (top left).

With about 300 Mavles, Tanaji arrived at the fort after night fall. A party of troops under Suryaji remained concealed near the main gate of the fort to rush when the gates were opened by their comrades. Tanaji with select followers scaled the walls of the fort with the help of an iguana (goh), put the sentries to sword, and opened the gates of the fort. The garrison was roused on hearing the alarm. In a single combat between Udai Bhan Rathore (Qiledar) and Tanaji, both fell down dead. Suryaji and his men then rushed through the gate and captured the fort. A huge bonfire announced the capture of the fort to Shivaji at Rajgad.

When it was dawn, the dead body of Tanaji was brought in a palanquin before Shivaji and Jija Bai who deeply grieved the loss. Shivaji exclaimed “Sinh ala par Sinh gela” i.e. Sinhagarh has been gained (conquered) but Sinh (lion Tanaji) has been lost. To immortalize Tanaji’s exploit, Jija Bai sent for Tulsidas, a bard from Pune, and asked him to compose a ballad describing Tanaji’s great exploit and sacrifice. The ballad recounts in touching and stirring strains the whole sequence of events which led to the re-capture of the fort. Tulsidas’ balled is still recited before thousands of listeners whose hearts are passionately moved in strong sentiments of pathos and patriotism, writes G.S. Sardesai, who testifies to its historical accuracy.

Details of the next painting

The painting shows Tanaji scaling on a dark winter night the less abrupt side of the hill fort with picked Mavle infantrymen by means of rope fastened to an iguana near the Kalian gate. The garrison when woke up, put up stiff resistance. In a single combat, Tanaji and the Rajput Qiledar Udai Bhan Rathor, both fell down and dead, shown on the right side of the painting. Marathas who had managed to enter the fort opened the Kalian gate for their supporting columns. A signal blaze informed Shivaji at Rajgarh (9 miles southward) (top right) that the fort has been captured. But when Tanaji’s body was brought in a palanquin before Shivaji, he deeply mourned the loss of his devoted captain and exclaimed “Sinh ala par Sinh gela” (middle left).

Re-capture of Sinhgad by Tanaji (4th February 1670) and his heroic sacrifice.

Shivaji’s coronation ceremony at Raigarh (6th June 1674)

On 6th June 1674, Shivaji’s coronation ceremony was performed according to the shastras by Vishweshwar, also called Gaga Bhatta, of Varanasi, a master of the four Vedas, the six philosophies and all the Hindu scriptures after he had gone through the genealogy brought by Balaji Avji Prabhu, Shivaji’s secretary, which showed that the Bhonsles were a branch of the highly respected Sisodias of Mewar, the Kshatriyas of the purest Rajput clan.

As there was no unbroken tradition of the ceremonies performed an the occasion of the coronation of an independent sovereign, a body of learned men went through the Sanskrit texts and Smritis to find out the exact procedure, and information was also gathered from Mewar and Amber, two of the oldest Rajput States, on various points connected with Rajyabhisheka.

The daily religious ceremonies preliminary to the main occasion and visits to most of the important shrines in Maharashtra kept Shivaji busy. He performed worship of Mahadeva (Siva), Bhavani, and other deities for a number of days. On 6th June 1674 the formal coronation ceremony took place.

On the two sides of the throne, various emblems of royalty and government hung from gilded lance-heads – two large fish heads of gold, on the left several horses’ tails, (the insignia of royalty) and a pair of gold scales, evenly balanced (the emblem of justice) on a very costly lance-head.

As Shivaji mounted the throne,. The priests lifted up their voices chanting holy verses and blessing the king who bowed to them in return. The crowd set up deafening shouts of Jai Jai. All the musical instruments began to play and the artillery of every fort in the kingdom fired salvos of all their guns exactly at this time. The main priest, Gaga Bhatta, advanced to the throne, held the royal umbrella of cloth of gold fringed with pearls over his head, and hailed him as Shiva Chhatrapati or Shiva the paramount sovereign.

The coronation ceremony was an event of great significance in the history of India. In case of all other rulers, the coronation had to be approved by the Mughal Emperor, but Shivaji did it as a bold challenge to the Mughal authority, and the title of Chhatrapati or paramount sovereign which he adopted symbolized this challenge. He could now claim devotion and loyalty of the people over whom he ruled and his treaties and promises now had greater sanctity as engagements of the head of a State and had more legal validity and assurance of permanence.

The formal assertion of his position as an independent king gratified every Hindu heart, harassed and oppressed by the Muslim governments and clerics drawing authority and sanction from the teachings and ideas alien to the culture of India.

Shivaji’s Coronation ceremony at Rajgarh; adopts the title of Chhatrapati (Paramount Sovereign) (6th June 1674)

Shivaji with Ashtha Pradhan (1674)

The next sketch shows Shivaji deliberating with the members of his Ashtha Pradhan or the Council of Eight Ministers. It was formally created at the time of his Coronation Ceremony held on 6th June 1674. The choice of the term Ashtha Pradhan for his Council of Ministers was significant. In none of the Rajput States, some of which had been in existence since the 8th century, for instance Mewar, had there been a Council of Ministers with such a title. The painting shows Moro Trimbak Pingle, the Mukhya Pradhan or Peshwa (Prime Minister), Ramchandra Nilkantha, the Amatya(incharge of public income and expenditure or Revenue Minister), Annaji Datto, the Sachiv (Surnis or incharge of Royal correspondence), and Dattaji Trimbak, the Mantri (Personal advisor who also kept a record of the Kings doings and Court incidents) on the right side of the throne. On the left side are Senapati Hambir Rao Mohite, Ramchandra Trimbak the Sumant (Foreign Minister), Raoji Niraji, the Nyayadhish or the Chief Judge, and Raghunath Pandit, the Panditraoand incharge of religious matters.

The creation of the Council of Ministers not only shows Shivaji’s methodical mind and administrative genius but also his desire to build his Swarajya on broad and solid foundations not deficient in an effective machinery for meeting the growing demands of different branches of the administration, and not merely a ‘State’ living on war and plunder.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj deliberating with the members of his Council of Eight Ministers (Ashtha Pradhan) (c.1674)

Shivaji’s surprise visit to a fort to check observance of his regulations

We find detailed rules and regulations laid down by Shivaji to ensure the security of his forts, precautions against enemy’s surprise attack, or betrayal by any of the garrison officers, and about keeping the forts well stocked with supplies. One of the rules was that the gates of the fort must be closed at the dusk time by the Havaldar and were not to be opened till the day break. If a Maratha commander with his troops were to seek entry into the fort at odd hours, he was to be refused, though, if enemy was pursing him, the garrison was expected to give him help by sending men to his assistance.

Shivaji always tested whether his rules were being implicitly followed or not. The account is about a widely believed incident. Shivaji came to a fort after dusk galloping fast with a small retinue and ordered the Havaldar to open the gates since the enemy was in his hot pursuit but the latter politely but firmly declined. Shivaji tried to prove his identity, showed the royal signet etc., but the officer expressed his regret and cited his master’s strict orders in this regard. Shivaji threatened the Havaldar of most severe punishment but he stuck to his position though he offered to send his men from the fort to drive away the enemy. Shivaji then went away but later rewarded the Havaldar for faithfully observing the rules laid down by him.

In the next sketch, Shivaji with some mounted troops, their horses tired and perspiring, is ordering the Havaldar to open the fort gate. Some troops of the garrison are on the parapet looking down on the strange scene. The Havaldar is standing with folded hands but firmly declining to open the gates as it would amount to breaking the rules laid down by Shivaji himself. Some other men of the garrison are shown ready to come down with the help of rope ladders to Shivaji’s aid.

Shivaji’s surprise visit to a fort to check observance of his regulations.

Shivaji rewarding his troops after the capture of Salher, following a hard fought battle (January 1671 A.D.)

Chhatrasal Bundela with Shivaji (1670-71)

The next sketch shows the famous Bundela hero, Chhatrasal, meeting Shivaji.

Chhatrasal was the fourth son of brave Champat Rai, who was “hunted down” by order of Aurangzeb in 1661. At this time he was a young man of around twenty or so. Shivaji was already the most celebrated and heroic Hindu figure of his times, who had faced the Mughals on equal terms and whose exploits and achievements, courage and idealism had won for him respect throughout India. Chhatrasal offered to serve Shivaji in latter’s war against Aurangzeb. But Shivaji suggested to him to open hostilities against Aurangzeb in Bundelkhand where he would gain many adherents. “Illustrious Chief! Conquer and subdue your foes. Recover and rule your native land …”, Shivaji advised him.

In years to come, Chhatrasal kept a non-stop war against the Mughals in Bundelkhand, earned great respect and renown for his independent spirit, sense of honour, and love for his land and freedom, and finally carved out an independent state with its capital at Panna. When his eventful 81 years long life came to an end in 1731, the Mughal rule from Bundelkhand had been wiped off.

In the next sketch Shivaji, after alighting from his horse in standing, waiting for Chhatrasal to come near. Chhatrasal’s horse is standing at some distance. Shivaji with extended hands is welcoming Chhatrasal.

Chhatrasal Bundela offering his services to Shivaji in latters fight against the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb “Illustrious Chief! kindle the fire of freedom in your native land (Bundelkhand), recover it from the Mughals and rule there”, Shivaji.

Sending off a captured Muslim Lady – Shivaji’s respect for Muslim sentiments

“Shivaji had always striven to maintain the honour of the people in his territories and was careful to maintain the honour of the women and children of Muhammadans when they fell into his hands. His injunctions upon this point were very strict”, writes Khafi Khan in Muntakhab-ul-Lubab. As Khafi Khan was a bitter critic of Shivaji, his testimony, if one was needed at all, about Shivaji’s attitude towards the Muslims becomes significant.

In defending the Hindu religion, Shivaji was in no way actuated by any hatred towards the Muslims or towards their religion. He ensured full religious liberty to all people in his State. He honoured all saints, both Hindus and Muslims. He had many devoted Muslim officers and servants. His chief naval commanders were Muslims. Shivaji’s views in matters of religion were in line with the most liberal traditions of all religions and sects which originated in India; here tolerance of each other’s views was the general rule rather than an exception. On the other hand toleration of other religions on equal footing is “exceptional and contrary to the Quranic Law”. This is the main fundamental difference between the religions which originated in India and Islam which originated in Arabia.

Details of the next sketch

The sketch portrays the famous incident which “created universal admiration for Shivaji’s character”. During the raid on Kalyan (October 1667), the Bijapuri Governor Mulla Ahmed’s young daughter-in-law, who was extremely beautiful, fell in the hands of a Maratha officer Abaji Sondev. Abaji sent the lady with a suitable escort to Poona thinking that she would be an acceptable present for his young master, but Shivaji, on her arrival exclaimed, “Oh, how nice would it have been if my mother were as fair as you are”, implying that in that case, he too would have been equally fair, and at once sent her to her home with apologies for her capture. He also issued a stern warning that in future, during raids and war with the enemy, women on no account should be made to suffer or treated as booty.

Shivaji sending off a captured Muslim lady, the daughter-in-law of the Bijapuari Governor of Kalyan, honorably to her home “In future, during course of warfare and raids in the enemy country, women and children should on no account be touched”, Shivaji.

Conversion of the Maratha General Netaji Palkar on Aurangzeb’s orders and his re-conversion to Hinduism by Shivaji

In 1659, Netaji was Sar-i-Naubat or Master of the Horse in Shivaji’s army. He was a famous cavalry leader and took part in most of the campaigns and battles till his desertion to Bijapur in January 1666 when Shivaji replaced him by another officer for his failure to turn up at the appointed time and place due to which Shivaji’s attack on Panhala (16th January 1666) failed. In his letters, Mirza Raja Jai Singh of Amber (later Jaipur), then conducting the Mughal campaign against Bijapur in 1665, which Shivaji too had joined, refers to Netaji as ‘the second Shiva’. When Netaji joined Bijapur, Mirza Raja won him over to the Mughal side by offering him a rank of 5000 and by meeting his other high demands. His desertion to the Mughals was a
serious loss to Shivaji.

After Shivaji’s flight from Agra (18th August 1666) Netaji, on Aurangzeb’s orders, was arrested (September 1666) and sent to Delhi. He was put in the custody of the police chief who made him submit a petition to be converted to Islam. He was even circumscised to make his conversion irrevocable and named Muhammad Quli and so were his wife and children. There are many references about him in the Akhbarat. He was sent to Afghanistan where we find him constantly asking for some new and better posting or something or the other to the undoubted chagrin of the Mughal authorities.

For ten years he served as a Muslim officer, a five hazari, and then Shivaji agreed to his request to permit him to return to Maharashtra and serve his motherland. On his return (June 1676) he was made a Hindu again by religious purification ceremony and given an important command.

In the next paintings Netaji Palkar is first shown being converted to Islam in Aurangzeb’s presence and later being re-converted to Hinduism by a purification ceremony in Shivaji’s presence.

44 A

44 B

Top: Forcible conversion of Netaji Palkar as per Aurangzeb’s orders (Sept. 1667) Bottom: His re-conversion to Hinduism by Shivaji (June 1676)

Shivaji’s grand procession in Haidarabad (February 1677)

Shivaji’s historic visit to Haidarabad, the capital of the Qutb Shahi Kingdom of Golkonda, took place in February 1677. He was proceeding on his longest campaign – to Vellore, Paddapolam, Jinji, Tanjore, etc., and an alliance or tacit consent of Qutb Shah was desirable. Shivaji’s envoy at Haidarabad court, Prahlad Niraji, and the then all powerful wazir of Abul Hasan Qutb Shah, Pandit Madanna, played an important part in arranging Shivaji’s meeting with Qutb Shah and later in settling the terms. Qutb Shah was already paying Shivaji one lakh of hun as annual tribute. He showed his willingness to welcome Shivaji in his capital and to hold direct talks with the celebrated Maratha hero. We get an excellent account of Shivaji’s visit in Shabhasad Bakhar, 91 Qalmi Bakhar and other sources.

Leaving Raigarh in the beginning of January 1877, with about 50,000 troops and a number of officers, he reached Haidarabad in early February 1677.

On entering the city, which was specially dressed and decorated for the occasion, Shivaji received a truly royal and spontaneous welcome. The Maratha army too was splendidly attired. It will be difficult to improve upon Sir Jadhunath Sarkar’s lively description of the scene based on Sabhasad Bakhar and other sources.

“At the auspicious hour chosen for the interview, the Maratha army 50,000 strong entered the city. The citizens gazed with admiration, not unmixed with awe, at the men who had vanquished the greatest kings of North India and South India alike, caused wailing at the court of Bijapur and consternation amongst the peerage of Delhi. Here rode the fleet of hardy horsemen who had poured like a swift resistless flood to the farthest districts of the Mughal Deccan and carried their raids to the very gates of Bijapur and Golkonda. There tramped the Mavle infantry, whose feats were the theme of many a ballad and legend throughout the southern land, whose assault no fort had been able to withstand, and whose swords were dreaded by every foe. The leaders were men whose names had become household words; Hambir Rao Mohite, Anand Rao, ….. Suryaji Malusre, Yesaji Kank, the gigantic captains of the Mavles.

“But none of them attracted so much attention as the moving spirit of all this host. In the center of a brilliant throng of ministers and generals, rode a short spare figure, rendered still thinner by his recent illness and the fatigue of an unbroken march of 300 miles. His quick beaming eyes were glancing right and left, and a natural smile played on his long light brown face distinguished by Roman nose. The assembled citizens gave cheers for “Shiv Chhatrapati“, flowers made of gold and silver were showered on him from the balconies crowded with ladies and the road-side alike. Every now and then the women came forward and waved lighted lamps round his person with verses of welcome and blessing. In his turn Shivaji also kept showering handful of gold and silver among the crowd …”

On arriving at the palace, Shivaji was warmly received by Qutb Shah. Shivaji stayed at Haidarabad for nearly a month, formally concluded an alliance with Golkonda State. The meeting, and the subsequent gains in Karnatak, including Jinji, Vellore, Kolar etc., were a high water mark in the extraordinarily successful career of Shivaji.

In the next painting, the artist has tried to portray the scene of grand the procession of Shivaji in Haidarabad in early February 1677 as described above.

Chhatrapati Shivaji’s grand procession and warm welcome in Haidarabad, the capital of Qutub Shahi State of Golkonda (February 1677)

Shivaji captures Jinji and rebuilds the fort (May 1677 A.D.)

This was an achievement which not only shows Shivaji’s remarkable farsightedness but also that he wanted to extend his Swarajya much beyond Maharashtra. Shivaji decided upon his Karnatak campaign in 1676. There were various reasons which impelled him to undertake his longest expedition which kept him away from Maharashtra for more than 14 months. His path in the north was blocked by the Mughal subahs of Gujarat and Malwa. Enormous sums had been spent on the coronation ceremony. Though he had secured a long belt of territory along the West coast, well protected by land and sea forts, the East coast regions of south India offered an outlet, both from the point of view of the kingdom and gainful commerce. Bangalore, Vellore, Tanjore, Jinji were rich and strategically important places and some of these had been his father’s jagir. In 1676 none had anticipated his early death three years later and the campaign seemed to be full of wide ranging possibilities.

After paying a visit to the Golkonda ruler, Qutb Shah in his capital Haidarabad, where he was accorded a memorable welcome, and concluding a treaty aimed at preventing the Mughals from taking possession of the collapsing Bijapur state, Shivaji proceeded towards the eastern Karnatak. Visiting various shrines on the way and traveling via Nandiyal, Kadapa, Tirupati, Kalahastri, Shivaji arrived at Peddapolam, seven miles west of Madras, and sent a body of troops to capture Jinji belonging to Bijapur and secured its possession. (c. 13 May 1677). Shivaji then himself visited Jinji, pulled down its old fortifications and rebuilt the whole by strong permanent defences, and administrative buildings, both civil and military.

The highly successful Karnatak campaign created a “continuous line of Maratha possessions from Supa, Sampgaon, Kopal and Bangalore to Vellore, Jinji and Tanjore”.

Details of the following paintings

In the First Part, Shivaji’s army is shown besieging and capturing the Jinji fort (near Madras) and the Bijapuri flag is being taken down after surrender.

The Second Part, shows the scene after the Marathas had taken possession of Jinji. On the fort the ochre coloured flag of Shivaji can be seen. The old fortifications are being dismantled and new ones are being erected. Shivaji is examining the plans for the new constructions prepared by an architect who is standing near by. The artist has shown the inside view of the fort under re-construction.

48 A

48 B

Top: Capture of Jinji fort (near Madras). Bottom: Shivaji is examining the plans brought by an architect for rebuilding the fort and the buildings inside it (May 1677)

Shivaji’s Karnatak Expedition

Chronology and the route

Shivaji sets out from Raigarh on his Karnatak expedition (beginning of January, 1677).

Reaches Haidarabad, the capital of Golkonda State in early February 1677.

Leaves Haiderabad in early March 1677.

Marches south towards Krishna (from Kurnool, levies 5 lakh huns).

Army halts at Anantpur, about 44 miles south of Kurnool), while Shivaji visits Nivritti Sangam (24 miles north-east south of Kurnool), Chakratirtha, Shri Shaila (37 miles east of Chakra Tirtha), all sacred religious places.

Shivaji leaves Shri Shaila in first week of April, 1677 and rejoins army at Anantpur.

Shivaji reaches Tirupati (probably by way of Nandiyal and Kadapa).

From Tirupati enters the plains of the east-coast and passing through Kalahasti arrives at Peddapolam, 7 miles west of Madras, about early May, 1677.

From Peddapolam sends a force through Conjeveram to capture Jinji and arrives at Jinji, captured on c. 13th May1677, and approves large scale changes in the fortifications and buildings.

From Jinji, Shivaji turns back to Vellore (arriving there about 23rd May).

Leaving a force to capture Vellore, the strongest fort in Southern India, Shivaji arrives at Wali-ganda-puram (28 miles north).

Shivaji crosses Vellar river and cantons his army at Tirumalavadi (12th July) 10m. due south of Tanjore where the envoy of the Nayak of Madura waits upon him. and stops at Tundumgurti (sends army to take possession of Elavanasur ,22 miles further north).

From Tundumgurti he moves 16 miles north-east to worship at Shiva temple at Vriddhachalam. (1-3 August)

On 23rd September Shivaji is at Vanikamvadi (40 miles south-west of Vellore)

October 3, Shivaji within 2 days march from Madras (Porto Novo pillaged, Arni surrenders to him and also some other forts of North Arcot).

Shivaji ascends Eastern ghats, takes possession of Kolar, Uskota, Banglore, Balapur and Sera, formerly in his father Shahji’s jagir.

Shivaji returns through Bellary and Dharwar districts reaching Panhala fort in April 1678.

(In this 14 moths long Karnatak campaign, Shivaji annexed the territory “estimated to yield 20 lakhs of hun a year and included a hundred forts taken or built by him. Jinji was made the administrative head-quarters, with another Viceroy to administer thetableland of Mysore).


The route of Shivaji’s Karnatak Expedition (1677-78 AD.)

Shivaji’s Kingdom

At the time of Shivaji’s death (4th April 1680), his kingdom included all the country (except the Portuguese possessions) stretching from Ramnagar in the north to Karwar in the south. The eastern boundary embraced Baglana in the north, then ran southwards along an irregular shifting line through the middle of Nasik and Pune districts, encompassed the whole of Satara district and much of the Kolhapur district. This area formed his Swarajya (as referred to in Marathi documents) or ‘his’ own kingdom. Besides, the Karnatak campaign (1677-78) added in the form of permanent acquisition. Western Karnatak ….. extending from Belgaum to the bank of the Tungabhadra opposite the Bellary district of the former Madras Presidency.

This consolidated portion of his kingdom formed three provinces, each under a viceroy. The northern divisionincluded the Dang and Baglana, Koli country south of Surat, part of Konkan north of Mumbai, Deccan pleateu (Desh) southwards up to Pune. It was under Moro Trimbak Pingle. The southern division comprised part of Konkan to the south of Bombay, Savantvadi and the North Kanara coast. This formed the viceroyalty of Annaji Datto. Thesoutheastern division (under Dattaji Pant) comprised Satara district and Kolhapur district of Desh and in the Karnataka, Belgaum and Dharwar districts of Kopal (west of the Tungabhadra).

As a result of the Karnatak expedition (1677-78) the whole area “extending from the Tungabhadra opposite Kopal to Vellroe and Jinji i.e. the northern, central and eastern parts of the (former) Mysore state and portions of the Madras (Tamil Nadu) districts of Bellary, Chittur and Arcot” were added, but his early and unexpected death in April 1680 did not gave him time to consolidate these fresh conquests. His attempt to conquer Kanara highlands “including South Dharwar district and principalities of Sunda and Bednur” remained undecided in his life time.

Outside these settled or half-settled parts of his kingdom, there was a wide but very fluctuating portion of land subject to his power but not owning his sovereignty. This was the adjoining parts of the Mughal Empire (Mughlai in Marathi) on which Khandani or Chauth (one-fourth part of the assessed land revenue of the area) was regularly levied.

At the time of his death, his army consisted of 45,000 paga or household cavalry, 60,000 silahdars or mercenary horsemen who provided their own arms and mounts, and one lakh of Mavle infantry. The core of his army was formed by 30,000-40,000 regular and permanently enlisted cavalry in his own service.

The territory under Shivaji contained 240 well stocked and well administered forts for its defence, out of which 111 were built by him and 79 were situated in eastern Karnatak and modern Tamilnadu. Besides, his fleet had 400-500 ships which operated from various naval ports and marine forts. He regarded the Navy as valuable for protecting and expanding his kingdom, the expansion of the trade, and for securing for his subjects the same rights and freedom on the seas as the Europeans.

The apex body for administration of the kingdom was Ashtha Pradhan or the Council of Eight Ministers. The principles of Shivaji’s administration and political ideals were such that these may be accepted even today without much change. To quote Sir Jadunath Sarkar, “He aimed at giving his subjects peace, universal toleration, equal opportunities for all castes and creeds, a beneficent, active and pure system of administration, a navy for promoting trade and a trained militia for guarding the homeland”.



Shivaji’s Kingdom – Eastern Part

Shivaji’s Navy & Shivaji, the father of the Maratha Navy – his object

Shivaji and his people had inherited a great military tradition, but the sea was a new element to them. There is no evidence in the past or in the history of the Yadavas of Devgiri of any attempt to build a naval power to rule the waves. Shivaji is, therefore, rightly hailed as the father of the Maratha Navy.

The coast line of the Konkan broken by many creeks, offered excellent shelter for ships, and the rocky islands near the coast presented excellent sites for naval strongholds. Quite early in his wonderful career, he realized the necessity of a strong fighting fleet for the peace of his country, the safety of his subjects, and the prosperity of his ports, which should not be at the mercy of other naval powers – the English, Portuguese, the Siddis, and Dutch.

A strong Navy, he knew, would ensure for the Maratha merchant vessels free navigation of sea and they would not be required to seek permission of Goa or obtain Portuguese pass-ports, which were given on certain conditions. By possessing a strong Navy, Shivaji could secure for his subjects the same rights and freedom on the seas as the Europeans and also a share in the maritime trade, besides ensuring against the possibility of being starved by blockade on land.

Having visualized the need of a powerful navy, Shivaji built a number of naval forts – Vijayadurg, Suvarndurg, Padmadurg, Jaigad, Sindhudurg etc. He also provided the naval bases with docks for the construction and repair of armed and trading vessels such as at Ratnagiri and Anjanwel, besides buildings a merchant fleet for conducting trade with distant Muskat and Mocha.

The strength of Shivaji’s Fleet and types of ships

The precise strength of Shivaji’s fleet is not known. According to Krisnaji Anant Sabhasad, Shivaji’s fleet had two squadrons, each having two hundred ships of different class. Malhar Rao Chitnis mentions four to five hundred ships. The notices in English, Portuguese and Dutch records mention the number of Maratha ships on particular occasions but do not give the full strength of Shivaji’s Navy. As new ships continued to be built and added to the Navy, from time to time, it seems that Sabhasad’s figures of 400 ships is not exaggerated. The Maratha Navy had different types of fighting ships: Gurabs, Galbats or Gallivats, Pals and Manjhuas.

Naval Enterprises

Of his Naval expeditions, four are more prominently mentioned. In February 1665 he himself set out for Basrur with his army in a fleet, which, according to English Factory Records had 85 frigates and three great ships. In November 1670, a fleet of 160 sail was assembled at Nandgaon (in Kolaba district) under Daria Sarang, the Admiral of the Fleet. In 1675 Shivaji sent 40 vessels full of war material by sea to be used in the capture of Phonda, which, along with Karwar, were two important posts south of Goa. Sometime later, his naval forces occupied island of Kenery, but all attempts to subdue the island Janjira, the stronghold of the Siddis, from where thry carried out plundering raids against the mainland, failed.

When the Marathas were recovering under Raja Ram (younger son of Shivaji) after a turbulent period following Shivaji’s death in 1680, Maratha Navy rose to the occasion to meet the great crisis. Under Kanhoji Angria, who was appointed the chief of the Navy with the title of Sarkhel by Raja Ram, Maratha Navy came to be respected by all the sea Powers of the coasts, both Indian and European.





The paper Scroll Fragment (Collection: Bharat Itihas Samshodhak Mandal, Pune) showing Gurab, Galbat and other types of war ships of that period. In the lower part of the scroll are shown the ships of the Maratha navy and some captured English ships. Shivaji’s fleet of about 400 ships had all these kinds of ships.