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Up until 1657, Shivaji maintained peaceful relations with the Mughal Empire.
Shivaji offered his assistance to Aurangzeb in conquering Bijapur and in return, he was
assured of the formal recognition of his right to the Bijapuri forts and villages under his
possession. Shivaji's confrontations with the Mughals began in March 1657, when two
of Shivaji's officers raided the Mughal territory near Ahmednagar. This was followed by
raids in Junnar, with Shivaji carrying off 300,000 hun in cash and 200 horses.:38
Aurangzeb responded to the raids by sending Nasiri Khan, who defeated the forces of
Shivaji at Ahmednagar. However, Aurangzeb's countermeasures against Shivaji were
interrupted by the rainy season and his battle of succession with his brothers for the
Mughal throne following the illness of Shah Jahan.
Upon the request of Badi Begum of Bijapur, Aurangzeb sent his maternal uncle
Shaista Khan, with an army numbering over 150,000 along with a powerful artillery
division in January 1660 to attack Shivaji in conjunction with Bijapur's army led by Siddi
Jauhar. Shaista Khan, with his better-equipped and -provisioned army of 300,000
seized Pune and the nearby fort of Chakan, besieging it for a month and a half until
breaching the walls. Shaista Khan pressed his advantage of having a larger, better
provisioned and heavily armed Mughal army and made inroads into some of the
Maratha territory, seizing the city of Pune and establishing his residence at Shivaji's
palace of Lal Mahal.
In April 1663, Shivaji launched a surprise attack on Shaista Khan in Pune;
accounts of the story differ in the popular imagination, but there is some agreement that
Shivaji and band of some 200 followers infiltrated Pune, using a wedding procession as
cover. They overcame the palace guards, breached the wall, and entered Shaista
Khan's quarters, killing those they found there. Shaista Khan escaped, losing his thumb
in the melee, but one of his sons and other members of his household were killed. The
Khan took refuge with the Moghul forces outside of Pune, and Aurangzeb punished him
for this embarrassment with a transfer to Bengal.
An Uzbek general, Kartalab Khan, was sent by Shaista Khan to attack and
reduce the number of forts under Shivaji's control in the Konkan region on 3 February
1661. The 30,000 Mughal troops left Pune, marching through the back-country in an
attempt to surprise the Marathas. In the Battle of Umberkhind, Shivaji's forces
ambushed and enveloped them with infantry and light cavalry in the dense forests of
Umber Khind pass near present-day Pen. In retaliation for Shaista Khan's attacks, and
to replenish his now-depleted treasury, in 1664 Shivaji sacked the city of Surat, a
wealthy Mughal trading centre.
Treaty of Purandar
Aurangzeb was enraged and sent Mirza Raja Jai Singh I with an army numbering
around 150,000 to defeat Shivaji. Jai Singh's forces made significant gains and
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captured many Maratha forts, forcing Shivaji to come to terms with Aurangzeb rather
than lose more forts and men.
In the Treaty of Purandar, signed between Shivaji and Jai Singh on 11 June
1665, Shivaji agreed to give up 23 of his forts and pay compensation of 400,000 rupees
to the Mughals. He also agreed to let his son Sambhaji become a Mughal sardar, serve
the Mughal court of Aurangzeb and fight alongside the Mughals against Bijapur.[citation
needed] One of Shivaji's commander, Netaji Palkar joined the Mughals, was rewarded
very well for his bravery, converted to Islam, changed his name to Quli Mohammed
Khan in 1666 and was sent to the Afghan frontier to fight the restive tribes. He returned
to Shivaji's service in 1676 after ten years with the Mughals, and was accepted back as
a Hindu on Shivaji's advice.
Arrest in Agra and escape
In 1666, Aurangzeb invited Shivaji to Agra, along with his nine-year-old son
Sambhaji. Aurangzeb's plan was to send Shivaji to Kandahar, now in Afghanistan, to
consolidate the Mughal empire's northwestern frontier. However, in the court, on 12 May
1666, Aurangzeb made Shivaji stand behind mansabdārs (military commanders) of his
court. Shivaji took offence and stormed out of court, and was promptly placed under
house arrest under the watch of Faulad Khan, Kotwal of Agra.
Shivaji feigned severe illness and requested to send most of his contingent back
to the Deccan, thereby ensuring the safety of his army and deceiving Aurangzeb.
Thereafter, on his request, he was allowed to send daily shipments of sweets and gifts
to saints, fakirs, and temples in Agra as offerings for his health. After several days and
weeks of sending out boxes containing sweets, Sambhaji, being a child had no
restrictions and was sent out of the prison camp and Shivaji, disguised as labourer
carrying sweet basket escaped on 17 August 1666, according to the Mughal
documents. Shivaji and his son fled to the Deccan disguised as sadhus (holy men).
After the escape, rumours of Sambhaji's death were intentionally spread by Shivaji
himself in order to deceive the Mughals and to protect Sambhaji. Recent research has
proposed that Shivaji simply disguised himself as a Brahmin priest after performance of
religious rites at the haveli grounds on 22 July 1666, and escaped by mingling within the
departing priestly entourage of Pandit Kavindra Paramananda. Sambhaji was removed
from Agra and taken to Mathura later by Shivaji's trusted men.
After Shivaji's escape, hostilities ebbed and a treaty lasted until the end of 1670,
when Shivaji launched a major offensive against Mughals, and in a span of four months
recovered a major portion of the territories surrendered to Mughals. During this phase,
Tanaji Malusare won the fort of Sinhgad in the Battle of Sinhagad on 4 Feb 1670, dying
in the process. Shivaji sacked Surat for second time in 1670; while he was returning
from Surat, Mughals under Daud Khan tried to intercept him, but were defeated in the
Battle of Vani-Dindori near present-day Nashik.
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In October 1670, Shivaji sent his forces to harass the British at Bombay; as they
had refused to sell him war material, his forces blocked Bombay's woodcutting parties.
In September 1671, Shivaji sent an ambassador to Bombay, again seeking material,
this time for the fight against Danda-Rajpuri; the British had misgivings of the
advantages Shivaji would gain from this conquest, but also did not want to lose any
chance of receiving compensation for his looting their factories at Rajapur. The British
sent Lieutenant Stephen Ustick to treat with Shivaji, but negotiations failed over the
issue of the Rajapur indemnity. Numerous exchanges of envoys followed over the
coming years, with some agreement as to the arms issues in 1674, but Shivaji was
never to pay the Rajpur indemnity before his death, and the factory there dissolved at
the end of 1682.
In 1674, Prataprao Gujar, the then commander-in chief of the Maratha forces,
was sent to push back the invading force led by the Adilshahi general, Bahlol Khan.
Prataprao's forces defeated and captured the opposing general in the battle, after
cutting-off their water supply by encircling a strategic lake, which prompted Bahlol Khan
to sue for peace. In spite of Shivaji's specific warnings against doing so Prataprao
released Bahlol Khan, who started preparing for a fresh invasion.
Shivaji sent a displeased letter to Prataprao, refusing him audience until Bahlol
Khan was re-captured. In the ensuing days, Shivaji learnt of Bahlol Khan having
camped with 15,000 force at Nesari near Kolhapur. Not wanting to risk losing his much
smaller Maratha force entirely, Prataprao and six of his sardars attacked in a suicide
mission, buying time for Anandrao Mohite to withdraw the remainder of the army to
safety.[verification needed] The Marathas avenged the death of Prataprao by
defeating Bahlol Khan and capturing his jagir (fiefdom) under the leadership of Anaji
and Hambirao Mohite. Shivaji was deeply grieved on hearing of Prataprao's death; he
arranged for the marriage of his second son, Rajaram, to Prataprao's daughter.
Anandrao Mohite became Hambirrao Mohite, the new sarnaubat (commander-in-chief
of the Maratha forces). Raigad Fort was newly builtby Hiroji Indulkar as a capital of
nascent Maratha kingdom.
Shivaji had acquired extensive lands and wealth through his campaigns, but
lacking a formal title he was still technically a Mughal zamindar or the son of an
Adilshahi jagirdar, with no legal basis to rule his de facto domain. A kingly title could
address this, and also prevent any challenges by other Maratha leaders, to whom he
was technically equal; it would also provide the Hindu Marathas with a fellow Hindu
sovereign in a region otherwise ruled by Muslims.
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Shivaji was crowned king of the Marathas in a lavish ceremony at Raigad on 6
June 1674. In the Hindu calendar it was on the 13th day (trayodashi) of the first fortnight
of the month of Jyeshtha in the year 1596. Pandit Gaga Bhatt officiated, holding a gold
vessel filled with the seven sacred waters of the rivers Yamuna, Indus, Ganges,
Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri over Shivaji's head, and chanted the coronation mantras.
After the ablution, Shivaji bowed before Jijabai and touched her feet. Nearly fifty
thousand people gathered at Raigad for the ceremonies. Shivaji was bestowed with the
sacred thread jaanva, with the Vedas and was bathed in an abhisheka. Shivaji was
entitled Shakakarta ("founder of an era") and Kshatriya Kulavantas ("head of
Kshatriyas"), and Chhatrapati ("paramount sovereign"). He also took the title of
His mother Jijabai died on 18 June 1674, within a few days of the coronation.
Considering this a bad omen, a second coronation was carried out 24 September 1674,
this time according to the Bengali school of Tantricism and presided over by Nischal
The state as Shivaji founded it was a Maratha kingdom comprising about 4.1% of
the subcontinent at the time he died, but over time it was to increase in size and
heterogeneity, and by the time of the Peshwas in the early 18th century the Marathas
were dominant across the northern and central regions of the Indian subcontinent.
Conquest in Southern India
Beginning in 1674, the Marathas undertook an aggressive campaign, raiding
Khandesh (October), capturing Bijapuri Ponda (April 1675), Karwar (mid-year), and
Kolhapur (July). In November the Maratha navy skirmished with the
Siddis of Janjira, and in early 1676 Peshwa Pingale, en route to Surat, engaged the
Raja of Ramnagar in battle. Shivaji raided Athani in March 1676, and
by year's end besieged Belgaum and Vayem Rayim in modern-day northern Karnataka.
At the end of 1676, Shivaji launched a wave of conquests in southern India, with a
massive force of 30,000 cavalry and 20,000 infantry. He captured the Adilshahi forts at
Vellore and Gingee, in modern-day Tamil Nadu. In the run-up to this expedition Shivaji
appealed to a sense of Deccani patriotism, that the "Deccan" or Southern India was a
homeland that should be protected from outsiders., His appeal was somewhat
successful and he entered into a treaty with the Qutubshah of the Golconda sultanate
that covered the eastern Deccan. Shivají's conquests in the south proved quite crucial
during future wars; Gingee served as Maratha capital for nine years during the Maratha
War of Independence.
Shivaji intended to reconcile with his half-brother Venkoji (Ekoji I), Shahaji's son
by his second wife, Tukabai (née Mohite), who ruled Thanjavur (Tanjore) after Shahaji.
The initially promising negotiations were unsuccessful, so whilst returning to Raigad
Shivaji defeated his half-brother's army on 26 November 1677 and seized most of his
possessions in the Mysore plateau. Venkoji's wife Dipa Bai, whom Shivaji deeply
respected, took up new negotiations with Shivaji, and also convinced her husband to
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distance himself from Muslim advisors. In the end Shivaji consented to turn over to her
and her female descendants many of the properties he had seized, with Venkoji
consenting to a number of conditions for the proper administration of the territories and
maintenance of Shivaji's future Memorial (Samadhi).
The question of Shivaji's heir-apparent was complicated by the misbehaviour of
his eldest son Sambhaji, who was irresponsible and "addicted to sensual pleasures."
Unable to curb this, Shivaji confined his son to Panhala in 1678, only to have the prince
escape with his wife and defect to the Mughals for a year. Sambhaji then returned
home, unrepentant, and was again confined to Panhala.
In late March 1680, Shivaji fell ill with fever and dysentery, dying around 3
1680 at the age of 52, on the eve of Hanuman Jayanti. Rumours followed his death,
with Muslims opining he had died of a curse from Jan Muhammad of Jalna, and some
Marathas whispering that his second wife, Soyarabai, had poisoned him so that his
crown might pass to her 10-year-old son Rajaram.
After Shivaji's death, the widowed Soyarabai made plans with various ministers
of the administration to crown her son Rajaram rather than her prodigal stepson
Sambhaji. On 21 April 1680, ten-year-old Rajaram was installed on the throne.
However, Sambhaji took possession of the Raigad Fort after killing the commander, and
on 18 June acquired control of Raigad, and formally ascended the throne on 20
July. Rajaram, his wife Janki Bai, and mother Soyrabai were imprisoned, and
Soyrabai executed on charges of conspiracy that October.
Shivaji died in 1680, leaving behind a state always at odds with the Mughals.
Soon after Shivaji's death, the Mughals attempted to invade it, but could not subdue the
Marathas and it resulted in a war of 27 years from 1681 to 1707 ending in the defeat for
Shahu, a grandson of Shivaji was kept prisoner by Aurangzeb during the War of
27 years. After the latter's death, his successor released Shahu. After a brief power
struggle over succession with his aunt Tarabai, Shahu ruled the Maratha Empire from
1707 to 1749. During this period, he appointed Balaji Vishwanath Bhat and later his
descendants as the Peshwas or the prime ministers of the Maratha Empire. After the
death of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, the empire expanded greatly under the rule of
the Peshwas. The empire at its peak stretched from Tamil Nadu in the south, to
Peshawar (modern-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) in the north, and Bengal and Andaman
Islands in the east. In 1761, the Maratha army lost the Third Battle of Panipat to Ahmed
Shah Abdali of the Afghan Durrani Empire which halted their imperial expansion in
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North western India. Ten years after Panipat, young Madhavrao Peshwa reinstated the
Maratha authority over North India.
In a bid to effectively manage the large empire, he gave semi-autonomy to the
strongest of the knights, which created a confederacy of Maratha states. They became
known as Gaekwads of Baroda, the Holkars of Indore and Malwa, the Scindias of
Gwalior and Ujjain, Bhonsales of Nagpur. In 1775, the British East India Company
intervened in a succession struggle in Pune, which became the First Anglo-Maratha
War. The Marathas remained the preeminent power in India until their defeat in the
Second and Third Anglo-Maratha wars (1805
1818), which left the British East India
Company in control of most of India.
Promotion of Marathi and Sanskrit
Though Persian was a common courtly language in the region, Shivaji replaced it
with Marathi in his own court, and emphasised Hindu political and courtly traditions. The
house of Shivaji was well acquainted with Sanskrit and promoted the language; his
father Shahaji had supported scholars such as Jayram Pindye, who prepared Shivaji's
seal. Shivaji continued this Sanskrit promotion, giving his forts names such as
Sindhudurg, Prachandgarh, and Suvarndurg. He named the Ashta Pradhan (council of
ministers) as per Sanskrit nomenclature with terms such as nyayadhish, and senapat,
and commissioned the political treatise Rajyavyavahar Kosh. His rajpurohit, Keshav
Pandit, was himself a Sanskrit scholar and poet.
Shivaji was a devout Hindu, but respected all religions within the region. Shivaji
had great respect for other contemporary saints, especially Samarth Ramdas, to whom
he gave the fort of Parali, later renamed as 'Sajjangad'. Among the various poems
written on Shivaji, Ramdas' Shivastuti ("Praise of King Shivaji") is the most famous.
Shivaji's son Sambhaji later built a samadhi for Ramdas Swami on Sajjangad upon the
latter's death. Samarth Ramdas had also written a letter to Sambhaji guiding him on
what to do and what not to do after death of Shivaji.
Shivaji allowed his subjects freedom of religion and opposed forced conversion.
Shivaji also promulgated other enlightened values, and condemned slavery. He applied
a humane and liberal policy to the women of his state. Kafi Khan, the Mughal historian
and Francois Bernier, a French traveller, spoke highly of his religious policy. He also
brought converts like Netaji Palkar and Bajaji back into Hinduism.
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Shivaji's contemporary, the poet Kavi Bhushan stated: Had not there been
Shivaji, Kashi would have lost its culture, Mathura would have been turned into a
mosque and all would have been circumcised‖.
Though many of Shivaji's enemy states were Muslim, he treated Muslims under
his rule with tolerance for their religion. Shivaji's sentiments of inclusivity and tolerance
of other religions can be seen in an admonishing letter to Aurangzeb, in which he wrote:
Verily, Islam and Hinduism are terms of contrast. They are used by the true
Divine Painter for blending the colours and filling in the outlines. If it is a mosque, the
call to prayer is chanted in remembrance of Him. If it is a temple, the bells are rung in
yearning for Him alone.
Shivaji had several noteworthy Muslim soldiers, especially in his Navy. Ibrahim
Khan and Daulat Khan (both were African descendants) were prominent in the navy;
and Siddi Ibrahim was chief of artillery. Muslim soldiers were known for their superior
skills in naval and artillery combat skills.
Shivaji demonstrated great skill in creating his military organisation, which lasted
till the demise of the Maratha empire. He also built a powerful navy. Maynak Bhandari
was one of the first chiefs of the Maratha Navy under Shivaji, and helped in both
building the Maratha Navy and safeguarding the coastline of the emerging Maratha
Empire. He built new forts like Sindhudurg and strengthened old ones like Vijaydurg on
the west coast. The Maratha navy held its own against the British,
Portuguese and Dutch. He was one of the pioneers of commando actions, then known
as ganimi kava (Marathi: "enemy trickery") His Mavala army's war cry was Har Har
Mahadev ( Har and Mahadev being common names of Hindu God Shiva). Shivaji was
responsible for many significant changes in military organisation:
A standing army belonging to the state, called paga.
All war horses belonged to the state; responsibility for their upkeep
rested on the Sovereign.
Creation of part-time soldiers from peasants who worked for eight
months in their fields and supported four months in war for which
they were paid.
Highly mobile and light infantry and cavalry excelling in commando
The introduction of a centralized intelligence department; Bahirjee
Naik was the foremost spy who provided Shivaji with enemy
information in all of Shivaji's campaigns.
A potent and effective navy.
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