#HinduSaamrajyaDivas The Relevance of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in Today's Context
The full text of speech by RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat Baudhik on the occasion of Hindu Saamrajya Divas at Nagpur on June 24, 2010
This is a special convention of the Hindu Samrajya Divas, that is celebrated every year. The Sangh has completed 84 years and has entered its 85th year. When so much time elapses in any activity, two generations have passed and this is the third generation, it becomes necessary to recapitulate the thought underlying the activities and conventions of the organisation. Without such contemplation, if we act mechanically, there is effort but no result. And as time advances, the knowledge of many things is lost. In this situation, when several types of questions arise in the mind, and answers are not found, then it can also lead to a lack of dedication towards ideal conventions.
Hindu Samrajya Divas, Jyeshta Shukla Trayodashi is the coronation day of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Those who don"t know why this day is celebrated by the Sangh in today’s circumstances, may be afflicted by several questions. There is no shortage of kings in our country, even of kings who fought for the country and were victorious. It is not as if Shivaji Maharaj’s Coronation day is celebrated as Hindu Samrajya Divas because Sangh was first established in Nagpur, and the first activists of Sangh were all from Maharashtra.
If we look at the times of Shivaji Maharaj, we will perceive several similarities between those times and our own circumstances. Just as those times were fraught with dangers, society was afflicted by atrocities and was suffering, our times too are afflicted by dangers, not only foreign and military, but dangers of all kinds. In those days, these dangers were also there, but society had lost its self confidence. This was the biggest danger of all.
These dangers had their inception in the invasion of Mohammad bin Qasim. We fought on, but were repeatedly defeated, were cut down, beaten. And when Vijayanagar empire vanished, a sense of despair pervaded the society, a type of despair that we see today. If we visit people who ponder about our society, sit with them, listen to them, we will find this sense of despair in all of them. There is no ray of hope, and the first child of despair is the loss of self confidence. Self-confidence has been lost.
Just recently, fanatical miscreants started constructing a mosque without provocation in a fully Hindu neighbourhood in Kolkatta. And what was the first reaction of Hindu society? “Hey Ram! A mosque has come up here! Let us leave this neighbourhood.” The Swayamsevaks of the Sangh went there, explained matters, and organised opposition. But this is a different matter. The fact remains that the first response of Hindu society is: They have come! Let us run! The same situation prevailed before the advent of Shivaji. Hindu society had forsaken valour and had sunk into despair. It had come to believe that it was destined to serve foreigners.
This mentality is best reflected in the play ‘Shivasambhava’ written by Ram Ganesh Gadkariji. It revolves round the conception and birth of Shivaji Maharaj. Jijamata is pregnant, and pregnant women have special desires particularly in matters of food and drink. It is said that these desires reflect the nature of the child in the womb. It us called ‘dhohalle’ in Marathi. Every pregnant woman has such desires. And her friends inquire about her desires and try to satisfy them. There is an episode in the play where the friends ask Jijamata: “what is your desire”. Then Jijamata says, “I want to ride a tiger; I want that I have not two but eighteen hands, and with each hand holding a weapon, I want to go round the earth destroying demons; or I want to sit on a canopied throne with my victories being acclaimed all over the world. These are the kinds of desires welling in my heart.” In normal circumstances, listeners would have felt happy that the coming child would be imbued with such valour. But Jijamata’s friends say: “What is this? What are you thinking? Don"t you know that one king tried to do this, and what befell him? We are Hindu, can we sit on the throne? Can we take up weapons in our hands? What are these characteristics of a beggar that you are describing?” “Bhikeche Dohaalle” is the word used in Marathi. Characteristics of a beggar! That is, if a Hindu desired to take up arms and fight, or desired to sit on a throne, it was a sign of impending ruin. This was the mentality of the Hindu society of those days.
Once self confidence disappears, all kinds of faults appear. Selfishness enters. Internecine conflicts appear. And foreign powers taking advantage of this, advance, and advance till life becomes difficult for ordinary people.
Neither food, nor clothes, nor happiness for people;
Even support we will not find on looking, grant us understanding Raghunayaka;
Man has not food to eat;
Nothing to cover himself with;
No means to construct a house;
People are trapped in the seamless flow of worry.
This was the situation of those times as described by Ramadasa Swami. Such was the pathetic state of society, devoid of any signs of valour. Then, impelled by Shivaji Maharaj’s drive and after a prolonged fight with foreign invaders, for the first time in Indian history, an independent, authoritative, legitimate throne of Hindus was established.
The True Message
The coronation of Shivaji Maharaj is not simply a matter of victory of Shivaji Maharaj. Ever since the invasions from Kabul started, till the coronation of Shivaji Maharaj, efforts to achieve an allround progress of Hindu Rashtra based on its religion, culture and society, failed repeatedly. There were many experiments. Kings fought using different strategies of war; Saints struggled to unify society, to consolidate society, and to keep alive the spirit of devotion in different ways. There were some momentary successes. There were some total failures. But the success that society sought and needed remained elusive. Shivaji Maharaj’s coronation was the final successful consummation of all these efforts and experiments.
This is not the victory of Shivaji Maharaj alone. It is a victory of a warring Hindu Rashtra over its enemies. It ushered in a new era, which aimed not at power or loot of property, but which tried to transform mankind, extirpating those refusing to change; protecting the tolerant, peace loving, non-violent, all embracing, philosophy of India from destructive, anti-religious, divisive invasions; fighting victoriously for the protection of such a philosophy and religion — this was a five hundred year old problem which was resolved by the coronation of Shivaji Maharaj. This is the significance of this day. After seeing the efforts of Shivaji Maharaj, everybody came to believe that only he could find a solution to this problem, and put Hindu society, Hindu religion, culture and nation on the path of progress.
That is why the poet Bhushan kicked off servitude to Aurangzeb and came to the south and sang his Shiv Bhavani before Shivaji Maharaj. Bhushan did not need wealth and fame. He was poet in the court of Aurangzeb. But he was a Hindu. He was a patriot. That is why it was not in his nature to eulogise such irreligious persons who committed all kinds of atrocities on the nation. That is why he used to spend his time with all kinds of love poetry. Once Aurangzeb ordered him to compose a eulogy in his honour. Even though the emperor insisted, Bhushan refused in open court, saying that a poet is not for sale. He would only eulogise that which is bright. He said that the emperor was not fitted for his eulogy, and so rejecting servitude to the emperor, he came to the south.
It is not as if only people from Maharashtra thought that Shivaji Maharaj should become a king. Of course, they thought so. But even saints of India thought that Shivaji Maharaj should become a king to establish Dharma. Jijamata thought that her son was capable of leading the Hindu society. Gaga Bhatt, the descendant of the traditional priests of Kashi Vishweshvar temple, started making inquiries after witnessing the destruction of the temple as to who could stopped such destruction of temples in the county, and heard of Shivaji Maharaj. He came to Maharashtra. From Nasik till the time he reached the court of Shivaji Maharaj, he collected all information, directly experienced his rule, and then on meeting Shivaji Maharaj, he said: “You must be enthroned!” That is why the effects of the enthronement of Shivaji Maharaj were not restricted to Maharashtra.
When Shivaji Maharaj went to Agra to meet Aurangzeb, then the eyes of the entire Hindu world, nay the world itself were on him. But the Hindu world was watching this with a special reason. It understood that this was the ultimate test. Would the experiment of Shivaji Maharaj succeed? All were fighters. They wanted Hindu Swarajya. The language might differ. But the this was the real test of whether final success would crown the hitherto successful endeavours of Shivaji Maharaj.
That is why, when Shivaji Maharaj successfully escaped from the court of Aurangzeb, revived his struggles, and enthroned himself, the results were far reaching.
The Rajputs of Rajasthan buried their internecine conflicts and united under the the leadership of Durgadas Rathod, and within some years of the coronation of Shivaji Maharaj created such a situation that foreign invaders had to vacate the lands of Rajasthan. After that, no Moghal or Turk set his foot on the soil of Rajasthan as a ruler, although they may have come as servitors of the Indian rulers. Chatrasal was actually directly inspired by Shivaji Maharaj. The fight against moghals had been going on till the time of his father, Champatrai. After witnessing in person the methods of Shivaji Maharaj, Chatrasal left and finally won against the moghals, and established an empire.
Even the king of Assam, Chakradhvajasimha used to say “I will adopt the same policies as Shivaji and prevent any foreigner from stepping on the soil of Assam.” So the foreign marauders had to return from Brahmaputra. Assam never became subservient to the Moghals, to Islam. But Chakradhvajasinha said and wrote that we should adopt policies like Shivaji and drive out the Moghals. And after this, even Raja Rudrasinh who was fighting in cooch-bihar succeeded. He said, “we must drown the hypocrites in the Bay of Bengal just like this”. For this, he drew inspiration from Shivaji Maharaj.
All this is in history. The coronation of Shivaji Maharaj was a clarion call to the whole Hindu Rashtra, that this is a the path to victory. Take this path! This was the purpose of the coronation of Shivaji Maharaj. This was the purpose of all his endeavours.
His endeavours were not for himself. Shivaji never fought for his personal fame, respect and power. This was not in his nature. On his return from a visit to Qutb Shah in the south, Shivaji visited the temple of Shrishaila Mallikarjuna. It is said he became so ecstatic on having a darshan of the Shiva that he prepared to cut off his head and sacrifice his life for Shiva. His ministers and bodyguards who were present saved him from this act. Leave alone personal gain, he was not even attached to his life.
If he was for personal gain, he would have made a vassal of Chatrasal who had come to his court to seek a chance to serve the nation. He did not do so. Instead, he told him: “Are you born for serving? You are born a Kshatriya, will you serve other kings? Carve out your own kingdom!” He did not tell him to carve out a kingdom and then join his empire, or become his vassal, in order to gain his support. He did not say so. That is because this was never his aim. His object was never to elevate his small jagir into a kingdom, and become the most influential king of all.
There is a letter from the Governor of Goa in Lisbon’s Portuguese archives. One servant of the Governor of Goa, was a relative of a commander of a fort belonging to Shivaji Maharaj: Raoji Somnath Patki. He asked Raoji “Why is this Shivaji causing such commotion?” Patki asked Shivaji Maharaj: “Maharaj, we have borne a lot of suffering in course of this work, and now Swarajya has become very big. Your jagir at Poona was very small, but now it has expanded a lot. What should we do? How much farther have we to advance?” Shivaji Maharaj replied: “ Listen! Our land stretches from the starting point of Sindhu to the southern bank of Kaveri. Our objective is to drive out the foreigners from here and to restore the holy places that they have destroyed.” This reply given by Shivaji is recorded in Portuguese Archives. Raoji Somnath related this to his relative, who reported it to the Governor, and the Governor reported this in a letter to Lisbon. This letter is available in the archives.
Shivaji Maharaj had such an broad vision. As we are wont to say in modern terms: All round progress of the nation based on the protection of our sacred Hindu religion, Hindu culture and Hindu society!
This was the viewpoint of Shivaji Maharaj. He did not want anything for himself. He was not driven by a desire for fame. If that was the case he would not borne with disrepute. When Afzal Khan attacked him, finding it difficult to defeat him in open battle, Shivaji retreated into Pratapgarh. The temple of Tuljabhavani was desecrated, as was the temple of Pandharpur. People were chased from their homes, and their crops were destroyed. Whole villages were burnt down. Cows were being slaughtered openly and people asked where Shivaji was with his bombastic talk. Where was his bluster and braggadocio? Shivaji Maharaj shrugged off the infamy because he was not driven by a desire for fame. He was driven by policy, and that is why he added fuel to fire and spread rumors that he was actually scared. This was his subtle strategy. He drew Afzal Khan into the jungle and exterminated his force. He who is afraid of disrepute cannot adopt such a subtle strategy. Such a person has always to please the populace in some way. He is bound to adopt that strategy as will please the mob. He can never accept a strategy which will invite public criticism or opprobrium. Shivaji Maharaj’s life was not dictated by a desire for popular acclaim. He was above considerations of self.
Sivaji’s Self Confidence
Shivaji was concerned with the wellbeing of the nation and religion. He strove for it. And with what self-confidence! This has been highlighted in Revered Sri Guruji’s Baudhik class. You must have read that people entertain thoughts of martyrdom for the country, and God blesses them: “So be it! Be a martyr for your country.” Many such people attain martyrdom. This is in itself is a great thing. But a temperament driven by valour and the spirit of conquest says that I will fight for the nation, and after defeating all enemies, will achieve victory.
What was the state of affairs in those days? North India was ruled by the emperor, while there were five sultanates in the south. Even a powerful empire like Vijayanagara had vanished. But Shivaji Maharaj declares: I will establish Hindu Swarajya here. He adds : “Hindu swarajya is desired by the Lord! This is a divine task. It is bound to succeed. Its victory is assured. We have to strive for it.” You must have read historical accounts of all previous battles and conflict, or heard of them. I say here that all previous endeavours merge into the endeavours of Shivaji Maharaj which is the culmination of all previous efforts.
For instance, the ministerial council of eight of Shivaji Maharaj was customary in ancient India, and it had been forgotten in the intervening period. Only the Vijayanagara empire had a ministry of eight and no other sovereign Hindu kings had a ministerial council of eight. The custom had been forgotten. How did Shivaji Maharaj revive this custom? He was very observant in his trips abroad. He was very inquisitive. He inquired a lot. When he went to Bangalore Shahji Raje was with him. He used to learn a lot. He learnt a lot by asking questions about everything. He learnt about history, and met saints like Tukaram Maharaj and Swami Ramdas. Samartha Ramdas had toured the country. He had stayed for three days in Hampi, where even now we can see an idol of Hanuman installed by him. It seemed as if the spirit of valour and conquest was dead. But the collective memory of the society does not vanish. Social leadership may lose self confidence, but the inner flame of social consciousness keeps on burning.
After finding out what was happening in the society of his times, learning from it, collecting the experiences of the past, correcting their mistakes, Shivaji Maharaj decided to strive and took a step forward. Such self-confidence had he! I will win. I must win. This task is divinely ordained. And that is why, he first took steps to raise the self-confidence of society. He did not plunge into battle instantaneously.
He first went to Poona to take charge of his jagir. Earlier Shahji Raje used to look after it from Poona. He had fought the Nizam for freedom. He had not checked whether his alliance would break or endure. It did not endure, but split, and in order to teach a lesson to the Hindus fighting under Shahji Raja, Poona was burnt down. The land was ploughed by ploughshares drawn by donkeys, and finally, a crowbar was hammered into the ground and a torn slipper was hung on it. The people of Poona would surreptitiously peep out of their doors in daytime, and their hearts would sink at the thought that this would be the fate of those who fought for their country and for their religion. Then came Shivaji Maharaj. The first step he took was to discover and establish a temple of Ganesa, a symbol of our tradition, culture and pride. He had the fields of Poona ploughed ritually with ploughshares of gold. The Hindu society saw that where a slipper hung on a crowbar, a valiant young man had come and ploughed the fields with ploughshares of gold. This gave them hope that change was possible. Much of their self-confidence must have been restored. By providing good governance in his jagir, Shivaji Maharaj made his subjects able. He united them for other tasks.
Shivaji – the Strategist
Shivaji Maharaj knew that one leader and one power centre could not change the fortunes of the society for good. Momentary victories would only lead to a repetition of history. Hence, the spirit of valour had to be first aroused. The self confidence of society had to be roused. Society had to be organised. He united all types of people. His followers were of diverse types. As they say in Marathi: athara pagad jaati. People who tied eighteen different types of turbans: big leaders of eighteen classes of people, from priests to the lowest, even those considered to be inferior and mean into those days, even people of such groups were friends of Shivaji Maharaj in life and speech. They were ready to lay down their lives for him, and not for him alone, for self rule and their religion as well. Shivaji Maharaj did not have weapons at that time. He did not have many means. He did not have horses and elephants.
But when he roused his heroes, tales of freedom were woven round them. One such folk tale runs that Shivaji himself went once to meet Qutb Shah. The latter is believed to have asked sarcastically: “How many elephants do you have?” He knew that Shivaji Maharaj did not have elephants. Shivaji Maharaj replied:
“We have many elephants.”
“Did you not bring them?”
“We have brought them.”
“Where are they?”
“They are standing behind me.”
Behind Shivaji Maharaj were his Mavla soldiers. Mockingly, Qutb Shah asked:
“Will they fight with our elephants?”
Shivaji said: “Let us put them on the field tomorrow.”
The next day, Qutb Shah had his most ferocious elephant brought, and fielded him in the grounds of Golconda. Shivaji Maharaj asked one of his men, Yesaaji Kank, to fight with the elephant. Yesaaji threw his blanket on the ground, and jumped into the arena with a sword in hand. He cut off the trunk of the elephant and killed him.
Thus, Shivaji raised an army of heroes with courage in their hearts, ready to fight rutting elephants for the pride of their country and religion, and filled the entire society with enthusiasm. That is why, even after the demise of Shivaji Maharaj, when Rajaram Maharaj had to go to live in the south, and was relegated to a life in fort, without a king, without a treasure, without an army, without a general, the people of Maharashtra fought with spades, crowbars and sickles for twenty years and the forces of Aurangzeb which came to destroy Swarajya were buried on the soil of Maharashtra.
Shivaji nurtured this strength of the society and directed it into action. He never thought of his own life. His life of fifty years, was a life of immeasurable industry. He never restricted himself to command positions while directing his men in battle; he would himself plunge into the struggle, demonstrate by example, and later by precept. He faced Shaista Khan personally to punish him. When fighting the forces of Kartalab Khan, Shivaji Maharaj was present, fully armed and in heroic splendour. He would be in the forefront of battles and give testimony to his courage. This would raise the spirits of his followers. He also had sense. His battle plans were based on equanimity and enthusiasm.
It was on the basis of courage, equanimity and enthusiasm that he fought and defeated Afzal Khan. When Afzal Khan attacked, Shivaji Maharaj accepted disrepute and stayed put in Pratapgarh. He went to meet him, and bore all insults with fortitude. And when the opportune moment arose, he destroyed Afzal Khan, lock, stock and barrel. Afterwards, his war efforts took Swarajya outside the territories of Bijapur in just four months. He understood well when to show courage, when to display fortitude, when to be aggressive, and when to remain silent.
Until then, the war strategy in Bharat was straightforward and religious. We used to fight religious wars. Shivaji Maharaj redefined war policy. He said that when the enemy resorts to cunning and subterfuge, he has to be replied to in kind. For the victory of dharma, we have to act like Lord Krishna in Mahabharata. For this reason, when the court of Bijapur arrested Shahaji Raja, he wrote to Aurangzeb that we are your sincere servants and are looking after your borders. Adil Shah is harassing us. Please put in a word with him. After this letter was written, a missive went to Adil Shah and Shahaji Maharaj was released. But in the meantime, Shivaji Maharaj also looted two villages belonging to the Mughal empire.
He handled all his enemies in like manner, sometimes extending a hand of friendship, sometimes displaying the strength of weapons. This is not honest, but honesty could play no role when faced with dishonest enemies. There must have been a clamour after Afzal Khan’s assassination. Shivaji Maharaj was asked: you are treacherous, you had taken an oath with tulasi and bilva leaves in hand, and then you treacherously killed Afzal Khan. You betrayed his trust. Sivaji’s reply was: ” He had come to take me dead or alive, should I have died? I do not want to live for myself alone. This is fledgling Swarajya, it has to grow, but before it does grow into a banyan tree should I allow it to be cut down? I had to be perfidious to him because he had perfidy in his heart. He was deceitful. I replied in kind. Give me one instance when I have betrayed a friend.”
Thus, Shivaji Maharaj fully retouched India’s policy response to invasion. With his unerring ability to plan, he moved from victory to victory. He even converted momentary defeats into victories. When he went to meet Aurangzeb, he revived the waning spirit of freedom among the Rajputs of Rajasthan. He breathed strength into their self-confidence. It is not as if he only successfully escaped from Moghal custody. In Delhi, he won over people in many places, and after returning from Aurangzeb’s court, recovered the wealth looted from him, and expanded his kingdom.
He was the first king in contemporary India to combine in a common strategy: navy, cavalry and infantry. This master strategist, courageous and far sighted Shivaji Maharaj did not become king merely to possess power. That is because, he had a vision of a protected Hinduism, Hindu culture, Hindu society and a valiant, prosperous, Hindu Rashtra.
Shivaji’s Good Governance
Many deeds of Shivaji are such, that even today they would be considered progressive. In those days when socialism was not even dreamt of, Shivaji Maharaj abolished zamindari and vatandari. We can be trustees of social wealth, not its owners. Land is society’s property, it should be in the custody of the state that looks after social order, it cannot be given to individuals. Individuals can be entrusted to look after it. They will have status not power. He abolished vatandari system.
In those days, chieftain jagirdars used to have private armies. Shivaji Maharaj changed this, and by beginning the practice of paying soldiers from the coffers of central administration of Swarajya, he converted private loyalties of soldiers into patriotism. All horses of the army were owned by central administration in his kingdom.
He enforced a two tiered tax revenue system based on the type and crop yield of the lands of poor peasants. He dug lakes and wells, planted trees, built hospices, temples and roads.
Shivaji contemplated on the changes necessary in his contemporary society, and enforced them. He was fearless in this regard. He brought back Netaji Palkar and Bajaji Nimbalkar into the fold of Hindu Dharma. Not only did he reconvert them, but in order to establish their social status, he brought them into relationship with himself. He had discernment. He had vision.
The force of the sword was driving Islamisation. What was the vision of Shivaji Maharaj? He picked out foreign muslims and drove them out. In order to absorb those who had become muslim from our own society, he started a rational process of owning them. He gave an assurance of peace to Qutub Shah on two conditions. The first was that the first two ministers of that kingdom would be Hindus. It was due to this that Venkanna and Madanna were appointed ministers. The second condition was that there would be no atrocities on the Hindu populace. When he realised that the Portuguese Governors aimed to convert the Hindu populace on the strength of arms, he attacked Goa.
Absorbing those of other religions did not mean a wobbly attitude to our own religion. He attacked directly. He went to Chiploon. He re-established the Parashuram temple. When, the Kashi Vishweshwar temple was broken on the orders of Aurangzeb, he wrote a letter to Aurangzeb stating: “You have become a king due to divine beneficence and the grace of God. And in the eyes of God all people are equal. God does not discriminate between Hindu and Muslim. Rule over them justly. If you engage in attacking and breaking temples, I will have to come to the north, sword in hand.”
Shivaji Maharaj’s kingdom did not extend to the north. It was small. It was in the south. No one could prophecy that in his life time, his kingdom would extend to Kashi. Nevertheless Shivaji Maharaj wrote this letter because Kashi Vishveshvar is a holy place in our country. This is my national duty. But what is to be done about those have converted to Islam while I am doing this? Bind them with love. Bring them back as much as possible. This vision can be discerned in his deeds.
He had a wonderful sense of the direction of time and what needed to be done. Hence, he brought from Europe a printing press which was based on old pegs. After importing it, he studied it and tried to make a similar press, and tried to start the practice of printing. He obtained good cannon and swords from foreigners and contemplated making such weapons domestically. For the security of Swarajya, he set up an effective communication system through the medium of an extensive network of spies.
The sealine is closely associated with the nation’s security. It provides the direct line for invasion, and since ships are being built to traverse the ocean, we need our own navy. He established a navy. After studying the European art of shipbuilding and comparing it with the knowledge in our own books, he encouraged scholars to develop an art of shipbuilding suitable to our country and built ships in the light of this knowledge. He established sea fortresses like Sindhudurg, Suvarnadurg, Padmadurg and Vijayadurg.
How expansive was his vision, and what a foresight he had! His thoughts were not hemmed in by his times. His object was not just to defeat one emperor and establish Swarajya. He aimed to protect it. He aimed to modernise his society and bring it to the forefront of the world.
These were not just words. His actions spoke louder. There are many such examples. That is why his kingdom was marked by good governance. The country’s decisions were made after consulting and discussing with administrators and ministers. In order to run the administration in the language of the people, he had a dictionary made of administrative language and stopped the use of Persian. He banned cow slaughter. He established the rule of one-own religion and self-administration.
His edict is famous. It is rich with so many details. What do we mean when we call his rule as good governance? It was people friendly. He told the army that when you go and establish a camp, then you must bear in mind that you do not take anything from the neighbouring fields without their owners’ consent. Even a piece of rope, if taken, should be paid a just price. One must not leave trash, ropes etc. lying around because they could lead to an accidental fire due to the sparks from a smoker’s pipe. These details reveal wisdom and people friendliness.
His administration was known for its justice. There is an anecdote of the time when he had just taken charge of his Poona jagir. The head of a village name Ranjha, intoxicated by his power, raped a helpless woman from his own village. Shivaji Maharaj sent his soldiers to fetch him trussed in ropes and cut off his hands and legs as punishment. Since that time oppression by the power-mad vanished. There was no instance of a complaint by people that was not investigated by the administration. There was discrimination between the appropriate and the inappropriate, and the inappropriate was punished. The punishment of the powerful was harsher, while if there was some redeeming feature even in the transgressions of ordinary people, they were accorded due consideration.
The story of the cowherdess Hirkani is famous. She used to come to Raigarh fort to sell milk. One day she stayed back late in the fort. According to the rules, all doors of the fort were closed at dusk. How was she to return to the village? She fretted about the fate of her child left in her house at the foot of a mountain. In her anxiety, she jumped from a steep unscalable boulder on the edge of the fort and went out. Shivaji Maharaj came to know of this. On the one hand, he called the cowherdess Hirkani to the court and felicitated her bravery. On the other hand, he had the boulder broken, the side made more unscalable, and built a bastion over it to close passage. Even today, that bastion is called the “Hirkani bastion”.
History tells us that while making forts or strengthening old forts he used to organise competitions inviting ordinary people to find out secret or difficult ways of scaling the fort. After the competitors had located all the paths, he used to retain one and blow up the other paths. The best competitors would be rewarded. Such was his people friendly, wise, and just government.
There was no discrimination between subjects. There was consideration. There was toughness. It was a people-friendly and compassionate government. But compassion did not mean that it was wobbly and weak. It was very strict. The status of a person did not mitigate the crime. He did not forgive his own son. Even Sambhaji Maharaj was punished. He did not spare his friend. When Kanhoji Jedhi complained to him that Khandoji Khopade had committed a crime, but that he had good relations with him, and consequently should be forgiven in consideration of friendship, he spared him his life, but cut off his hands and legs. His explanation was that in view of you entreaty, I did not kill him, but cut his hands that were treacherous and his legs that took him. Thus, he did not forgive and was very strict.
His administration was strict, just, in popular interest, wise, people friendly, and compassionate. Shivaji Maharaj was himself an ideal leader. His character was unimpeachable, beyond the reproach of even his enemies. The story of the daughter-in-law of a subedar of Kalyan is very famous. There are many such instances in the life of Shivaji Maharaj.
In spite of being an extremely popular and all powerful king, he was very humble before gentlemen. He respected the arts. He was artist. He would himself perform and then ask others to do so. He was courageous, had faith in his victory, and was a strategist. He was skilful in work, and had the Gurumantra to perform every task with excellence. Even an extremely discerning person like Samartha Ramadasa Swami praised Shivaji Maharaj as follows.
“Remember the form of Sivaraj,
Remember the valour of Sivaraj,
Remember the earthly abilities of Sivaraj,
How Sivaraj walked
How Sivaraj talked
How Sivaraj counselled
The famous, strategist, capable, blessed, merited, well known, knowledgeable king, honoured yogi”
Such was Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, whose personal vision of an ideal king, and ideal citizen of Hindu society, an ideal leader of Hindu society, lives on as an ideal even today; whose self-confidence and spirit of conquest kindled the self-confidence of the entire society, whose endeavours took with him the entire society, whose leadership led to the establishment of the throne of Hindu Rashtra; the victory of that Shivaji Maharaj was the decisive victory in the first stage in the long war for Hindu Rashtra. If we had followed Shivaji’s policy in the second stage of this war, we would have achieved the same kind of decisive victory. We did not follow him, and so we got Pakistan.
Exemplary Message in Contemporary Context
Circumstances remain the same today. Today’s need is the same. We have to rouse the same spirit of conquest, self-confidence, and endeavour in today’s society. Every individual needs to emulate Shivaji Maharaj’s character, his virtues. And living in Hindu society, become an able leader of Hindu society, not for self, but for the allround progress of Hindu Rashtra; raise the self-confidence of the entire society to new heights, helping the society to establish a Hindu rule, that is, a rule in people’s interest: wise, compassionate, egalitarian, and driven by tough policies.
This is the remedy for today’s ills and it will emerge from the organisation of the society. It will emerge on the foundations of the society’s virtues, endeavours and self-confidence. We have a living example in the endeavours of Shivaji Maharaj in similar circumstances in the past. In those days, he had become an living example to all people. Bringing together all past experiments, correcting their mistakes, and putting them to practice in this final successful experiment was the Shivaji Maharaj’s achievement, and that is why his coronation day is a memorable day.
We in the Sangh do not observe his birthday or death anniversary. That is because, many are born and many die – what is important is what they have achieved in the world.
His coronation was the successful consummation of the efforts of Shivaji Maharaj for an integral state. That is why we do not call this the anniversary of Shivaji’s Empire. We call it the Hindu Empire Day (Hindu Samraajya Diwas). That is why, our first three Sarasanghachalakas said several times – Doctorji used to say, Guruji said, and Balasahebji said, that our ideal is the abstract principle, the saffron flag, but many a time, the ordinary person does not understand abstract formless principles. He requires a concrete form and such a concrete form with characteristics is present in the person of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, whose every aspect enlightens us. We need today that character, that policy, that skill, and the sanctity of that ideal.
It is with this understanding that our Sangh has decided to observe this Jyestha Shukla Trayodashi, the day of the coronation of Shivaji Maharaj as the Hindu Samrajya Divas. That is why, in today’s circumstances, we will observe it all over India. Shivaji Maharaj’s dedication to work, his virtues, the inspiration from his character, provide us with guidance in circumstances that are similar to his. They are exemplary even today. Understanding the importance of the Hindu Samrajya Divas, let us celebrate it every year. Let its message properly reach not only the Swayamsevaks, but the entire society, let it reach their minds, and from there enter their hearts. Let it inspire from their hearts and manifest in the behaviour of every individual. Let us all understand the object of Sangh and participate in its efforts to achieve it.
With these few words, I conclude my address.