81 Facts About Shivaji


Shivaji established a competent and progressive civil rule with well-structured administrative organisations.


Shivaji revived ancient Hindu political traditions, court conventions and promoted the usage of the Marathi and Sanskrit languages, replacing Persian in court and administration.


Shivaji's legacy was to vary by observer and time, but nearly two centuries after his death, he began to take on increased importance with the emergence of the Indian independence movement, as many Indian nationalists elevated him as a proto-nationalist and hero of the Hindus.


Shivaji was born in the hill-fort of Shivneri, near the city of Junnar, which is in Pune district.


Shivaji was named after a local deity, the goddess Shivai Devi.


Shivaji's father Shahaji Bhonsle was a Maratha general who served the Deccan Sultanates.


Shivaji's mother was Jijabai the daughter of Lakhuji Jadhavrao of Sindhkhed, a Mughal-aligned sardar claiming descent from a Yadav royal family of Devagiri.

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Shivaji's paternal grandfather Maloji was an influential general of Ahmadnagar Sultanate, and was awarded the epithet of "Raja".


Shivaji was given deshmukhi rights of Pune, Supe, Chakan and Indapur for military expenses.


Shivaji was constantly pursued by the Mughal army and Shivaji and his mother Jijabai had to move from fort to fort.


Kondadeo died in 1647 and Shivaji took over the administration.


In 1646,16-year-old Shivaji took the Torna Fort, taking advantage of the confusion prevailing in the Bijapur court due to the ailment of Sultan Mohammed Adil Shah, and seized the large treasure he found there.


Shivaji used the treasure found at Torna to build a new fort named Rajgad.


The conquest of Javali allowed Shivaji to extend his raids into South and South-west Maharashtra.


Shivaji adopted different strategies to subdue these powerful families such as forming marital alliances, dealing directly with village Patils to bypass the Deshmukhs, or subduing them by force.


Shivaji told the Bijapuris to do whatever they wanted with Shivaji.


Shivaji, suspecting Afzal Khan would arrest or attack him, wore armour beneath his clothes, concealed a bagh nakh on his left arm, and had a dagger in his right hand.


At that time, Shivaji was encamped at Panhala fort with his forces.


Shivaji escaped from Panhala by cover of night, and as he was pursued by the enemy cavalry, his Maratha sardar Baji Prabhu Deshpande of Bandal Deshmukh, along with 300 soldiers, volunteered to fight to the death to hold back the enemy at Ghod Khind to give Shivaji and the rest of the army a chance to reach the safety of the Vishalgad fort.


Until 1657, Shivaji maintained peaceful relations with the Mughal Empire.


Shivaji offered his assistance to Aurangzeb who then, was the Mughal viceroy of the Deccan and son of the Mughal emperor, in conquering Bijapur in return for formal recognition of his right to the Bijapuri forts and villages under his possession.


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 the emperor Shah Jahan.


Shivaji took the nearby fort of Chakan, besieging it for a month and a half before breaching the walls.


In retaliation for Shaista Khan's attacks, and to replenish his-depleted treasury, in 1664 Shivaji sacked the port city of Surat, a wealthy Mughal trading centre.


Shivaji agreed to become a vassal of the Mughal empire, and to send his son Sambhaji, along with 5,000 horsemen, to fight for the Mughals in the Deccan as a mansabdar.

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Shivaji took offence and stormed out of court, and was promptly placed under house arrest.


Shivaji sent most of his men back home and asked Ram Singh to withdraw his guarantees to the emperor for the safe custody of himself and his son and surrendered himself to Mughal forces.


Shivaji then pretended to be ill and began sending out large baskets packed with sweets to be given to the Brahmins and poor as penance.


The Mughals took away the jagir of Berar from Shivaji to recover the money lent to him a few years earlier.


Shivaji sacked Surat for second time in 1670; the English and Dutch factories were able to repel his attack, but he managed to sack the city itself, including plundering the goods of a Muslim prince from Mawara-un-Nahr who was returning from Mecca.


Shivaji sent a displeased letter to Prataprao, refusing him audience until Bahlol Khan was re-captured.


Prataprao was killed in combat; Shivaji was deeply grieved on hearing of Prataprao's death, and arranged for the marriage of his second son, Rajaram, to Prataprao's daughter.


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 a Bijapuri jagirdar, with no legal basis to rule his de facto domain.


Shivaji was descended from a line of headmen of farming villages, and the Brahmins accordingly categorised him as being of the shudra varna.


Shivaji summoned Gaga Bhatt, a pandit of Varanasi, who stated that he had found a genealogy proving that Shivaji was descended from the Sisodias, and thus indeed a kshatriya, albeit one in need of the ceremonies befitting his rank.


On insistence of other Brahmins, Gaga Bhatt dropped the Vedic chant and initiated Shivaji in a modified form of the life of the twice-born, instead of putting him on a par with the Brahmins.


Shivaji was weighed separately against seven metals including gold, silver and several other articles like fine linen, camphor, salt, sugar etc.


Two of the learned Brahmins pointed out that Shivaji, while conducting his raids, had burnt cities involving the death of Brahmins, cows, women and children and he could be cleansed of this sin for a price of Rs.


Shivaji took the title of Haindava Dharmodhhaarak and Kshatriya Kulavantas.


Shivaji's appeal was somewhat successful, and in 1677 Shivaji visited Hyderabad for a month and entered into a treaty with the Qutubshah of the Golkonda sultanate, agreeing to reject his alliance with Bijapur and jointly oppose the Mughals.


In 1677, Shivaji invaded Karnataka with 30,000 cavalry and 40,000 infantry, backed by Golkonda artillery and funding.


Shivaji intended to reconcile with his half-brother Venkoji, Shahaji's son by his second wife, Tukabai, who ruled Thanjavur after Shahaji.


Venkoji's wife Dipa Bai, whom Shivaji deeply respected, took up new negotiations with Shivaji and convinced her husband to distance himself from Muslim advisors.


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.


British records states that Shivaji died of bloody flux being sick for 12 days.

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However, Krishnaji Anant Sabhasad, author of Sabhasad Bakhar, the biography of Shivaji has mentioned fever as the cause of death of Shivaji.


Putalabai, the childless eldest of the surviving wives of Shivaji committed sati by jumping into his funeral pyre.


Shivaji's reign stimulated the deployment of Marathi as a tool of systematic description and understanding.


Shivaji commissioned one of his officials to make a comprehensive lexicon to replace Persian and Arabic terms with their Sanskrit equivalents.


Shivaji is known for his liberal and tolerant religious policies.


Shivaji was not attempting to create a universal Hindu rule.


Shivaji was tolerant to different religions and believed in syncretism.


Shivaji urged Aurangzeb to act like Akbar in according respect to Hindu beliefs and places.


Shivaji had little trouble forming alliances with the surrounding Muslim nations even against Hindu powers.


Shivaji did not join forces with other Hindu powers, such as the Rajputs, to fight the Mughals.


Older Maratha histories asserted that Shivaji was a close follower of Ramdas, a Brahmin teacher, who guided him in an orthodox Hindu path; recent research has shown that Shivaji did not meet or know Ramdas until late in his life.


Rather, Shivaji followed his own judgement throughout his remarkable career.


The core of Shivaji's army consisted of peasants of the Maratha and Kunbi castes.


Shivaji realised that conventional warfare methods were inadequate to confront the big, well-trained cavalry of the Mughals which was equipped with field artillery.


Shivaji realized that the most vulnerable point of the large, slow-moving armies of the time was supply.


Shivaji utilised knowledge of the local terrain and the superior mobility of his light cavalry to cut off supplies to the enemy.


Shivaji didn't stick to a particular tactic but used several methods to undermine his enemies as required by circumstances, like sudden raids, sweeps and ambushes and use of psychological pressure.


Shivaji was contemptuously called a "Mountain Rat" by Aurangzeb and his generals because of his guerilla tactics of attacking enemy forces and then retreating into his mountain forts.


Shivaji demonstrated great skill in creating his military organisation, which lasted until the demise of the Maratha Empire.


Shivaji's strategy rested on leveraging his ground forces, naval forces, and series of forts across his territory.

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Shivaji's artillery was relatively underdeveloped and reliant on European suppliers, further inclining him to a very mobile form of warfare.


Shivaji captured important forts at Murambdev, Torna, Kondhana and Purandar.


Aware of the need for naval power to maintain control along the Konkan coast, Shivaji began to build his navy in 1657 or 1659, with the purchase of twenty galivats from the Portuguese shipyards of Bassein.


Shivaji fortified his coastline by seizing coastal forts and refurbishing them, and built his first marine fort at Sindhudurg, which was to become the headquarters of the Maratha navy.


Shivaji left behind a state always at odds with the Mughals.


Shivaji was successful in obliterating the Sultanates but could not subdue the Marathas after spending 27 years in the Deccan.


Shivaji was well known for his strong religious and warrior code of ethics and exemplary character.


Shivaji was recognized as a national hero during the Indian Independence Movement.


Shivaji was admired for his heroic exploits and clever stratagems in the contemporary accounts of English, French, Dutch, Portuguese and Italian writers.


Mughal depictions of Shivaji were largely negative, referring to him simply as "Shiva" without the honorific "-ji".


Shivaji portrayed Shivaji as the "opponent of the oppressor", with possible negative implications concerning the colonial government.


One of the first commentators to reappraise the critical British view of Shivaji was M G Ranade, whose Rise of the Maratha Power declared Shivaji's achievements as the beginning of modern nation-building.


In modern times, Shivaji is considered as a national hero in India, especially in the state of Maharashtra, where he remains an important figure in the state's history.


Shivaji is upheld by regional political parties and by the Maratha caste dominated Congress party's offshoots in Maharashtra, such as the Indira Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.


In 1993, the Illustrated Weekly published an article suggesting that Shivaji was not opposed to Muslims per se, and that his style of governance was influenced by that of the Mughal Empire.


Commemorations of Shivaji are found throughout India, most notably in Maharashtra.