Shivaji Jayanti is celebrated all over India, especially in Maharashtra with fervour on February 19. According to the lunar calendar, he was born on Falgun Vadya Tritiya of Shaka year 1551. His place of birth was Shivaneri Fort near Junnar of Pune district. He was named Shivaji after the goddess Shivai to whom his mother Jijabai had prayed for a son.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Bhosale
Shivaji was one of the Kshatriyas (warrior) belonging to 96 different clans of Marathas. The Marathas had a blend of warriors and farmers and were generally found in large numbers in Maharashtra and some in Karnataka, Goa, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.
After the collapse of Nizamshahi, Shivaji’s father Shahji became the Sardar of Adilshah and since he was stationed at jagir (property) of Bangalore, he entrusted the administration of the Pune jagir to his wife Jijabai and Shivaji. Dadaji Kondadev, a loyal and experienced officer, was commissioned to accompany them.
Jijabai was responsible for instilling in Shivaji’s mind, love for independence and distaste for external political domination by Muslim rulers. Dadaji Kondadev taught him general education and offered him necessary military training. Because of this Shivaji became a brave and fearless military leader and responsible administrator.
At Shivaji’s time, most of the territory in Maharashtra was under the possession of Adilshah of Bijapur and the Mughal powers. In the coastal belt of Konkan, there were two power centres-the Portuguese and Sidhi. The British and the Dutch also had their factories on the coast. The conflicts among all these enemies had caused instability and insecurity in Maharashtra.
Shivaji started his career in 1644 just at the age of 14 and captured many forts from the hands of Adilshah and Mughals. He was energetic and enthusiastic and wasted no time in setting off on a path of freedom and glory. He made use of ganimi kava (guerrilla warfare) in the hilly terrain of Sahyadri and many innovative tactics including hit and run skillfully for the purpose of the foundation of swarajya (independence).
Shivaji established a competitive and progressive civil rule with the help of well regulated and disciplined military and well structured administrative set ups. Many companions-Yesaji Kank, Baji Pasalkar, Bapuji Mudgal, Jiva Mahala, Tanaji Malusare, Kanhoji Jedhe, Bajiprabhu Deshpande et al, joined the campaigns that enabled him to expand his territories and forts.
He followed the principles- Maratha tituka melavava Maharashtra dharma vadhavava (unite all Marathas to develop into strong Maharashtra dharma). He focused attacks in the hilly terrain to defeat bigger and stronger enemies by speed and surprise.
Shivaji espoused the ideology of Hindavi Swarajya (self-rule of Hindus) in establishing control of a well-defended territory of Maharashtra during his lifetime and his ideology succeeded in the subsequent expansion of the Maratha Empire after defeating many Muslim dynasties. Shivaji was a religious Hindu King but had shown equal respect to other religions.
Joyous events in Shivaji’s career
Shivaji captured Javali valley in Satara district in 1656 where he attained a huge amount of wealth and subsequently built Pratapgad fort there.
He defeated Afzalkhan in 1659 and Siddi Jauhar in 1660, who were powerful and experienced Adilshahi generals.
He was successful in the offensive he had launched against Mughals and he obtained huge wealth from the Surat campaign. He escaped from Agra.
He accomplished the conquest of South covering Belgaum, Karwar, Dharwad of Karnataka and Jinji, Vellore of Tamil Nadu.
Shivaji emerged successful in all these events and no harm had reached him. He founded Maratha Swarajya that involved a relentless struggle for over thirty years; Shivaji, therefore, had a coronation on June 6, 1674. It was a revolutionary function conducted by a learned Pundit, Gaga Bhatt, at capital place Raigad to win general recognition of sovereignty.
With the coronation he introduced the following:
Rajmudra: The objective of Shivaji Maharaj in founding the swarajya is clearly expressed in his mudra (royal seal) with the following inscribed lines in Sanskrit: Pratipatchandralekhev vardhishnurvishvavandita Shahsunoh shivasyaisha mudra bhadray rajate (Ever-increasing like the crescent moon, the kingdom of Shivaji, son of Shahji, will always seek the welfare of the people).
Rajya Vyavahra Kosha (dictionary showing Sanskrit alternatives for Persians for the state administration) was prepared.
Rajya Pradhan Mandal: His administration was divided into eight departments with the ministers as its heads.
Reforms: He looked to the welfare of the peasants. He encouraged trade. He developed military and also fort organisation for around 250 forts and centralised intelligence department headed by Bahirji Naik.
Navy: He curbed the obstacles of the Portuguese of Goa, the Siddis of Janjira and the British of Surat and Rajapur and subsequently developed his powerful Navy organisation, built sea forts and kept 400 ships of various kinds.
Rajyabhishek Shak (new era); special coins with the inscription "Shri Raja Shiv Chhatrapati"; Rajapatra (royal correspondence) carrying the words, Kshatriya kulawant Gobrahman pratipalaka Shri Raja Shivachhatrapati were also introduced.
The King Chhatrasal of Bundelkhand and many Rajput dynasties in the North were inspired by Shivaji and with this potential, his Hindu Empire had expanded in North India during the rules of Bajirao I and Madhavrao Peshva subsequently, till British took it over. It had reached almost over 60 per cent of India from Punjab to Karnataka (North-South) and Gujarat to Orissa (West-East).