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King Shivaji and his vision

Updated on May 26, 2017

This hub is in continuation with my earlier article "King Shivaji - The rise of an Indian Legend". While we explored about the circumstances that lead to Shivaji's rise as a legenday King, lets explore his vision and contributions in the context of Indian History.

Source

Outline

  • Shivaji’s contribution and vision
  • Did Shivaji hate other religions? Here are few facts
  • Diplomacy and Strategies
  • Why Shivaji is more respected and revered
  • Shivaji’s place in history
  • If Shivaji wasn't born

Shivaji’s contribution and vision

  • He was the first King in India to have his own powerful Navy and he took help from Portugese to build few of his earlier ships
  • Shivaji invited British and the other European traders for his coronation ceremony and always kept a close eye on their activities
  • He also trained his men to use modern weapons like muskets and upgraded to a better artillery.He was not only a great warrior but also a strong leader, a smart diplomat who believed in modern warfare.

  • He believed in army that is agile and quick in response. He discarded war elephants. His ultimate aim was of causing most damage to the enemy, with least cost on his side. He believed in mobile defense and never hesitated to retreat and regroup if he found himself in a disadvantageous position.
  • While Europe had made great strides into navigation, sea faring and have started trading with the eastern countries, the east was still fighting political wars for regionals power and the religion was a huge factor in all such wars. Shivaji realized that and he went on modernizing his army by getting equipped with better artillery, building his navy and sea forts and also understanding about the western weaponry.

A painted scroll depicting different types of ships of the Marathan Navy including some captured English ships
A painted scroll depicting different types of ships of the Marathan Navy including some captured English ships | Source
  • He created a vocabulary in Sanskrit, which was corrupted with Farsi and Urdu words and had diluted our culture
  • He was a visionary and carved out a kingdom to be known in world history as Maratha kingdom, which was based on the principles of free homeland and equal rights to his citizens. The very Maratha kingdom expanded across India and protected Delhi even during the hay days of Mughal empire. British might have taken over Indian subcontinent much earlier, in the absence of formidable force that they saw in Marathas.

Source

Did Shivaji hate other religions? Here are few facts

  • There is not a single instance of Shivaji destroying any mosque and Muslim literature
  • During the time when he was kept hostage by Aurangajeb at Delhi, Madari Mehtar, his close royal servant was always with him
  • Shivaji believed in modernizing his army and he developed artillery. His chief of artillery was Ibrahim Khan
  • One of the seven brave chieftains who crashed Behlol khan’s army in rage was Siddhi Hilal
  • Siddhi Ibrahim was one of his body guards
  • His navy was led by Daryadarang
  • He had strict orders to all his soldiers against maltreating women or children of any religion
  • During surat loot Shivaji did not plunder the houses of French, Dutch or Portuguese missionaries

In spite of the character of a crusade which Ramdas’s blessings gave to Shivaji’s long struggle, it is remarkable how little religious animosity or intolerance Shivaji displayed. His kindness to Catholic priests is an agreeable contrast to the proscriptions of the Hindu priesthood in the Indian and Maratha territories of the Portuguese.Even his enemies remarked on his extreme respect for Mussulman priests, for mosques and for the koran.

— D. Kincaid says in “The Grand Rebel”

Diplomacy and Strategies

  • Instead of a head-on fight between two unequal armies,Shivaji decided to meet Afzal Khan in person. Although it involved risk, ultimately that avoided huge bloodshed and ended up getting Afzal khan out of his way.
  • The strike on Shahista Khan was no less than today's surgical operation where Shivaji's selected commanders got into Lal Mahal through procession and carried out a operation with minimal losses.
  • Shivaji knew the futility of getting into a war against powerful army of Jaisingh of Jaipur. Instead of fighting he strategically signed a treaty with Mughals
  • Some people say that going to Delhi was his biggest mistake, but he had to take that risk for two reasons. One to keep Jaisingh busy for some time and earn his respect and to evaluate the real intention of Aurangzeb. He used all his resources carefully to ultimately get out of detention.
  • He knew that kingdom's do not survive only on valor and does need funds. Surat loot was carried out very systemically making sure that people are not harmed.

Surat Loot
Surat Loot | Source
  • Coronation gave him recognition as a king and it was his statement to the kingdoms around that a ruler, who is protector of people of the land and strong enough to crush the onslaught of cruel sultanates is at rise and be aware.
  • Although a Muslim sultan, he did allied with Kutub shah for fight against Mughal, since he was focused on his ultimate goal and understood the real threat. He was never emotional during his decision making and was very focused.
  • Shivaji owned one of the best intelligence agency of those times, headed by Bahirji Naik, who was master of camouflage. They played vital role during Surat loot and his escape from Agra.

Why Shivaji is more respected and revered

Although there have been great kings before and after Shivaji in and outside India, Shivaji claims his uniqueness through the circumstances and intent. He was not born as a king, but rather he carved out a kingdom out of nothing, in the middle of fierce opposition and difficulties. He was a freedom fighter and wanted justice for his people.

He had inspiration from Mahabharata and Ramayana and consented Ramdas Swami a great saint of his times. His mother Jijabai was a woman of courage and believed in the valor and bravery of Marathas who were tough, faithful and loved their land. She trained and inspired her son to rise above and become the savior for the people of the land, who were severely oppressed and were undergoing continued sufferings through brutality of existing rulers and had nobody to look up to.

He promoted the term called “People’s State” and did everything to promote prosperity, freedom and respectful life for his people. The “Astapradhan Mandal” (Senate) made sure that the justice is unbiased and on time. Several projects were undertaken to resolve issues of water, irrigation, protect religious places and saints. The antisocial elements committing crime against women and children were severely punished and there wasn’t any mercy for these elements.

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Shivaji’s place in history

Shivaji was never born as a king. He did not inherit any kingdom. What he did inherit was the desire for freedom and ending the brutal, insensitive religious rule and establish a kingdom based on Indian values and traditions, that protected women and poor and was more towards wellbeing of people than the king himself.

He did not have a huge army or established kingdom to go out and conquer the world like Alexander or Julius Caesar. He was more of a William Wallace. He was King Arthur of the land. He was a visionary and above all he had clear intent and great ethics.

Wonderous mystic, adventurous and intrepid, fortunate, roving prince, with lovely and magnetic eyes, pleasing countenance, winsome and polite,magnanimous to fallen foe like Alexander, keen and a sharp intellect, quick in decision, ambitious conqueror like Julius Caesar, given to action, resolute and strict disciplinarian, expert strategist, far-sighted and constructive statesman, brilliant organizer, who sagaciously countered his political rivals and antagonists like the Mughals

— A.B. de Braganca Pereira

The Maratha empire at its zenith

Maratha Empire
Maratha Empire | Source

I think Shivaji ranks among the greatest men of the world. Since we were a slave country, our great men have been somewhat played down in world history. Had the same person been born in a European country, he would have been praised to the skies and known everywhere. It would have been said that he had illumined the world.

— Indira Gandhi

If Shivaji wasn't born

  • India could have been another chaotic country with Hindu's in minority
  • The great Indian culture would have died long ago and the world might have never seen the beautiful historical architecture of temples and monuments, but rather been converted to Taj Mahals and Kutub Minars
  • There would not be any Maratha history and Maratha empire to talk about, which consolidated the rule in India for few years, until they fell to British
  • Even the great contributions of India like Yoga, Vedas, Bhagwat Geeta, Ramayana, Mahabharata, the classical dance forms might have died under the radically religious Muslim rulers.

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    • Darshan Vartak profile image
      Author

      Darshan 6 months ago

      Hi John, thanks for your comment. It must be interesting to be a teacher overseas and surely quite an experience. Happy hubbing !!

    • johnsmither profile image

      johnsmither 7 months ago from Sichuan, China.

      Very interesting article on this period of India's history that I knew very little about.