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Facts that you must know about Chhatrapati Shivaji Jayanti

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Maharaj Shivaji Jayanti Celebrated on 19th February Every Year

Shivaji Jayanthi is the birth anniversary of the legendary king Shivaji which is celebrated on 19th February every year. Maharaj Shivaji is one of the bravest rulers of India. He was a great Maratha emperor and the founder of the Maratha Kingdom in western India.

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He is considered as a great warrior and civil administrator. With his great courage to face enemies and administrative skills, Shivaji established an enclave from the declining Adil Shahi Sultanate of Bijapur which gradually led to the formation of the Maratha Empire. He is well known for his innovative military tactics to defeat his enemies.

Chhatrapati Shivaji’s Birth and Childhood:

In the 17th century, there was a military leader Shahaji Raje Bhosale who served the Bijapur Sultanate, the Ahmadnagar Sultanate and the Mughal Empire at various points in his career. The couple Shahaji Raje Bhosale and Jijabai were blessed with three children. One of them was Shivaji.  Maharaja Shivaji was born on 19th February 1630 at Shivneri Fort, Pune district in Maharashtra.

Shivaji was very close to his mother. She was a religious woman. She taught him a strict sense of right and wrong. Shivaji’s father Shahaji spent most of his time outside of Pune. So he gave the responsibility of Shivaji’s education to a small council of ministers which includes Peshwa, Mazumdar, etc. He also appointed Kanhoji Jedhe and Baji Pasalkar to train Shivaji in the military and martial arts. From a very young age, Shivaji was very active and turned out to be a born leader. By the age of 15, he gathered a band of faithful soldiers who later helped him in his early conquests.

Chhatrapati Shivaji’s Conquests and Coronation:

By the age of 17, he seized Toma fort, Rajgad fort and Kondana fort. He expanded his kingdom with the use of guerrilla tactics. To stop Shivaji, Mohammed Adil shah gave an order to imprison Shahaji in 1648. So, in agreement with Adil Shah, Shivaji stopped his attack for the next seven years. Shahaji was released on this condition. During this time, slowly Shivaji built a huge army commanded by Netaji Palkar and had 40 forts under his domain. This created fear in Sultan of Bijapur. So, in 1659 AD Badi Sahiba of Bijapur sent Afzal Khan with an army of 10,000 soldiers to attack Shivaji.  Afzal Khan was very cruel and brutal. He planned to attack Shivaji indirectly. So, he destroyed many Hindu temples and killed many civilians. Shivaji hid in Pratapgad fort covered by dense forest and employed guerrilla tactics. With a plan to kill Shivaji, Afzal Khan called Shivaji to meet him personally and make an agreement between them to stop their fight for a certain time. On meeting Shivaji, Afzal khan pretends like hugging him and tries to kill Shivaji with a dragger. But Shivaji was saved by his armor and Afzal khan's attempt was failed. Shivaji killed Afzal khan with tiger claws. And in the Battle of Pratapgarh, Maratha soldiers killed 3000 Bijapur soldiers. Shocked by this Mohammed Adil Shah sent a large army under the command of General Rustam Zaman to fight with Shivaji in the Battle of Kolhapur in 1659 AD. Shivaji declared his victory as the general ran away from the battle to save his life.

In 1660 AD, Mohammed Adil Shah sent his general Siddi Jauhar to attack Shivaji from the southern border and besieged the fort of Panhala cutting off supply routes to the fort. Shivaji arranged a false meeting with Siddi Jauhar and convinced Mohammed Adil Shan that Siddi Jauhar was a traitor. While both of them were fighting internally, Shivaji escaped with 5000 soldiers from Panhala fort. At this time, Baji Prabhu Deshpande who is one of the greatest Maratha warriors continued the war. Baji Prabhu Deshpande held back part of the army with only 700 men and fought very bravely till Shivaji reached Vishalgarh safely. Later Shivaji recaptured the fort of Panhala in 1673.

Shivaji’s conflicts with Bijapur Sultanate and his continuous victories brought him to the notice of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb considered him as a threat to the expansion of his imperial intent and concentrated on his efforts on destroying the Maratha threat completely. So, Aurangzeb sent his maternal uncle Shaista Khan to attack Shivaji with a strong army of 15000. Shaista Khan with the army seized Pune and established his residence at Lal Mahal, one of the palaces of Shivaji. Shivaji entered Pune with a troop of 400 followers covering as a wedding procession. At night Shivaji attacked Shaista Khan directly. But Shaista Khan saved himself from Shivaji’s sword by jumping down from the window. Then Shivaji attacked Surat which is an important Mughal trading center and stole Mughal’s wealth. By knowing this Aurangzeb was very angry on Shivaji and sent chief general Jai Singh I with an army of 150,000 to attack Shivaji. Shivaji came to an agreement with Aurangzeb to prevent further loss of life. He also agreed to pay compensation of 400,000 hunas to Mughal Empire and surrender 23 of his forts.

With the aim to use his military powers and make strong Mughal empire in Afghanistan, Aurangzeb invited Shivaji to Agra and offered a place in his Mughal Court. Shivaji with his eight years old son Sambhaji traveled to Agra. Aurangzeb insulted Shivaji and placed him under house arrest. Shivaji used his tactics to escape from imprisonment. Shivaji pretended like he was suffering from severe illness and arranged baskets of sweets and gifts to be sent to the temple as offerings to the god. In one of the carriers, he hid his son and escaped from the imprisonment. After that, within four months, Shivaji recovered most of his territories seized by Mughals.

From 1671 to 1674, Aurangzeb tried very hard to bring Shivaji under his control but failed. In addition to this, Adil Shan died in 1672 and Bijapur fell into disarray. Finally, Shivaji was crowned as the king of Marathas in a lavish Hindu ceremony at Raigad, following the customs which had not been followed for centuries.

Later at the age of 52, Shivaji fell ill with fever and took his last breath. Aurangzeb thought that, with the death of Shivaji, Maratha kingdom would be over but it was continued by his son Sambhaji and later by Chatrapathi Rajaram.

Maharaj Shivaji has several titles. He is called as Chatrapathi(one who takes care of people by protecting them like an umbrella), Kshatriya Kulavantas (head of Kshatriyas),  Shakakarta (founder of an era) and Haindava Dharmodhhaarak (one who uplifts the importance and inviolability of Hinduism). Not only his military achievements but also his administration skills made him a great king. He never discriminated against any religion. All his generals including his personal bodyguards were Muslims. He never disrespected women. He used guerrilla warfare and a strategic mind to build a navy and a network of forts. He started initially with 4 forts and 2000 men. But by the time of his death he had 300 forts and 100,000 men.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Jayanthi Celebrations:

After Shivaji, many rulers have come, but his majesty is still remembered and the glory of the great ruler is still alive in our minds. So we celebrate Shivaji Jayanthi to pay respect to the great king Shivaji. Shivaji’s Jayanthi is observed on 19th February every year. As he was a person who created the Maratha nation by uniting several Maratha Chiefs, he is considered as a hero by the people of Maharashtra. Many public buildings are named after him. He has not only created the Maratha Empire but also introduced many revolutionary plans for the benefits of people. He is a great legend for the whole nation.

In Maharashtra Schools, colleges and offices declare holiday on this day. Several processions take place all over the state where people dress up as Shivaji and his subordinates and play dramas depicting the life of Shivaji. Speeches are given by government officials on Shivaji’s life and his relevance in Modern India. Several programs are organized to remind the great deeds done by the legendary ruler Shivaji.


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