When one of the greatest Empires ever to rule India – the Mughal Empire – was at its peak, there rose a band of people in the semi-fertile valleys of Maharashtra who were dedicated to safeguarding their identity and culture. Well, it wasn’t the commitment to safeguarding their culture and identity that make these men remembered even today! However, it was their skills improvisation in warfare, the audacity to go against all the odds that stood against them, and their unstoppable desire to defend their territory with their fullest might… All of this that give them a place in history that will never ever be destroyed by the annals of time! We are talking about the Great Marathas who ruled the West Central India and a little of the South as well.
In all this list of glorious that every monarch in this Kingdom had, there is one name that stood out towering above the rest of them. And even without guesses, we all know that there is only one name that can come to our mind! It is none other than the Great Maratha King of Kings, Chhatrapati Shivaji!
A Brief History:
Born to Shahaji Bhosale and Jijabai, Shri Shivaji was brought up surely in the lap of luxury. However, given the Geopolitical state of India at that time, luxury didn’t mean comfort! The Mughal Empire was one of its most expanded territorial zeniths. Their force was considered unstoppable. Even the mildest of the opposition would be met with the harshest of hostility.
When does juggernaut of the Mughal Empire kept rolling and taking most of India under its control, Shivaji headed the resistance from the west. His innovation with respect to Administration and Warfare can definitely be considered as among the best in India.
Today, when we talk about Guerilla Warfare, the first person who comes to your mind is the Cuban Revolutionary Che Guevara. Even before the idea of communism was born, the idea of Guerilla Warfare was pioneered by Shivaji Bhosale, the father of Shivaji. However, the creator didn’t have enough mettle to give his warfare the essential Glory. It took a genius like Maharaja Shivaji to make it a case study for everyone in the future.
We all have heard stories about how Shivaji killed the general of the Mughal Empire, Afzal Khan to reclaim the Maratha territory. We have also heard about how cunning and treacherous he was on the positive side. It is only these kinds of tactics that enabled his escape from the Mughal prison by just hiding in fruit baskets!
One of the greatest accomplishments of this Chhatrapati is the commissioning of one of the best Navies of the Indian subcontinent. A few coastal Forts like the Sindhudurg and the Vijaydurg served as surveillance and reconnaissance posts for the Maratha Navy that even faced the likes of the world’s best like the British, the Portuguese and the Dutch.
The Saint Within:
It is not all these things alone that make Shivaji one of the greatest ever Emperors to rule India. It was is holistic Lookout regarding a territory that comprised of varied cultures and his uncanny tolerance towards everyone that made him the Legend that he is! As a monarch who was aware of the rich tradition of his land, he took the effort to promote Marathi and Sanskrit as the official languages of the Empire. In all his intense devotion for Hinduism, and in all his heated for the Mughals who were Muslims, he advocated religious tolerance and he treated the Muslims under his role with a sense of inclusivity.
He Lives On…:
The Legacy that Chatrapathi Shri Shivaji left has survived to this day, and we can still find the Maratha diaspora even in the coastal regions of Tamil Nadu. He has inspired an entire generation and an entire nation, and even the screen names of an amazing actor! It is because of him that one of the greatest Hindu kingdoms post the 10th century AD has seen its Glory days, parallel to that of the Rajputs.
Today, we celebrate the birthday of the legendary Warrior and Emperor. On this day, we are called to question and introspect ourselves on the intensity of the spirit of nationalism and Patriotism that we carry. How far are we willing to go to defend our motherland? How far are we willing to go to different our culture? Maybe if the answer that we are going to give would be even at a tenth of the passion of what Shivaji had for the Maratha empire, then probably we would be remembered as legends as well!