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King Shivaji: The Great Warrior of India (Part I)

Updated on February 18, 2016
A painting of the great warrior Shivaji, by Mir Mohamed.
A painting of the great warrior Shivaji, by Mir Mohamed.

Shivaji's Conflicts with Adil Shah

Shivaji was a great warrior of 17th Century India. He formed a tiny army of villagers when he was a teenager, and fought against Vijapur Sultanate and established his own Kingdom. In later period, he fought against the mighty army of Aurangzeb, the Mughal Emperor. Shivaji's small kingdom became an empire in next few decades after him.

Shivaji was an expertize of guerrilla warfare. He knew well when to attack and when to withdraw. Unlike many other Kings, he himself took part in most of the battles his army fought. His army was a paid army, consisting soldiers from all sections of society, including a large number of Muslim soldiers, although his main enemies were a Muslim sultanate and a Muslim empire.

Birth of Shivaji and His Early Life

Shivaji was son of Shahaji, a brave general of Vijapur Sultan Ali Adilshah. Shivaji's mother Jijau was daughter of Lakhujirao Jadhav, a king of Jadhav dynasty, which was a branch of Yadav Dynasty.

Shivaji was born on 19 February of 1630 at Fort Shivneri, a fort in present day Pune district of Maharashtra, India. This area was part of Deccan. At that time Deccan was divided in three sultanates, namely Bijapur, Ahmednagar and Golconda. Shivneri was under rule of Bijapur Sultanate.

Shivaji had an elder brother, Sambhaji, and a stepbrother Ekoji, who resided at Bangalore in Karnataka with his father. Shivaji was sent to Bangalore when he became 12 years old. Jijau, his mother stayed at Shivaneri. All the three brothers were trained in warfare and other subjects. After two years, Shivaji returned to Pune.

Shahaji wanted to establish his own kingdom and he wanted that Sambhaji, his elder son would take initiative to fulfill his wish. But unfortunately, Sambhaji was killed in a battle in Karnataka. Now Shivaji became Shahaji's only hope.

Shivaji Captures Forts of Adil Shah

After returning from Bangalore, Pune became center of Shivaji's activities. At the age of 16, he captured Torana, an important fort which was in possession of Inayat Khan, a chieftain of Adil Shah. In his next steps, he captured two more forts of Adilshah. Angry Adil Shah imprisoned Shahaji, Shivaji's father to contain Shivaji.

Adil Shah sent an army to fight against Shivaji, but Shivaji defeated it. As his father was in prison of Adil Shah, Shivaji petitioned to Mugal Governor of Deccan, showing his loyalty to Mughals, and requested his help in safe release of Shahaji. The mighty Mughals recognized Shivaji as a Sardar of Mughal Empire and pressurized Adil Shah to release Shahaji.

Torna Fort

Torna was the first fort captured by Shivaji
Torna was the first fort captured by Shivaji | Source

More Conflicts with Adil Shah

Battle of Pratapgad
Disturbed by the rising power of Shivaji, Adil Shah sent a huge army led by experienced General Afzal Khan to teach a lesson to Shivaji. Shivaji sent a message to the General, willing to meet and negotiate instead of meeting on the battlefield. Accordingly, they both met in a tent at the foothills of Pratap Gadh, a fort in Sahyadri Mountain. Both of them brought their five loyal men with them, who stood outside the tent. Shivaji and Afzal Khan met in the tent accompanied by one each of their followers. Afzal Khan tried to kill the king by foul play, but the agile king quickly used secret weapon which he had carried with him and killed Afzal Khan. Then there was a scuffle between the men of both sides, in which all the men of Afzal Khan were killed. Shivaji's army was signaled to attack on sultanate's army.

In a rapid action by Shivaji's army, the enemy was defeated. Shivaji's army captured a large number of weapons, horses and other material, which strengthened him.

This battle took place on 10th November of 1659.

Battle of Kolhapur
In next month, Adil Shah sent another army with 10000 men along with cavalry and elephants to counter Shivaji. The king attacked Adil Shah's army near the city of Kolhapur with his 5000 men. In the rapid action, the king defeated Adil Shah's army once again. This time also, the king gained many horses and weapons, and also some elephants. Shivaji lost his 2000 men, while Adil Shah's army lost 7000 men. This battle extended southern border of Shivaji's Kingdom.

Adil Shah Attacks Panhala Fort
In 1660, Adil Shah sent another army to fight against Shivaji, which was led by Siddhi Jouhar. At that time Shivaji was at the fort of Panhala, on southern border of his Kingdom.Siddhi Jouhar seized the fort cutting of supplies to the fort. He bombarded the fort with help of English Artillerymen. But Shivaji was successful to escape from the fort. He went to another fort. Meanwhile Adil Shah himself came to the foothills of the fort to observe the situation. The fort was captured by Adil Shah's army after 4 months of siege.

Battle of Nesari
In 1674 a battle between the forces of Adil Shah and Shivaji took place at Nesari near Kolhapur. Shivaji had ordered his Chief General to attack the enemy force which was led by Bahlol Khan, a General of Adil Shah. As the enemy force was very large, the general realized a sure killings of his entire force, decided not to lose his entire army. So he and his six lieutenants went on suicide mission, attacked the enemy forces. The General and all of his six lieutenants were killed. Later the Maratha forces took a revenge of the deaths of their great chiefs by defeating Bahalol Khan.

Shivaji's aggression against the Bijapur Sultanate destroyed the power of Adil Shah. Now it was Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb turn.

In next part of this article, I will write about Shivaji's war against the mighty Mughals.


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  • jainismus profile image

    Mahaveer Sanglikar 4 years ago from Pune, India


    Thanks for reading this hub and appreciating it.

  • jainismus profile image

    Mahaveer Sanglikar 4 years ago from Pune, India

    First he was Prime Minister and General of Maharana Pratap. His role as a financer is disputed.

  • profile image

    atibir singh jain 4 years ago

    is Bhama Shah was Jain.

    Great Financer of MahaRana Pratap

  • jainismus profile image

    Mahaveer Sanglikar 4 years ago from Pune, India

    Thanks Asp52 for reading the Hub and commenting on it. Surely I would like to throw light on the various chapters of the less known history of ancient, medieval and modern India.

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 4 years ago from south Florida

    Very fascinating information and details, jainismus, I am learning much about the history of India that I did not know before. Shivaji was not only a great warrior but an accomplished strategist it would appear.

  • Asp52 profile image

    Asp52 4 years ago from England

    Thank you for a good overview of pre-Colonial India, in the 17th Century I know very little of the History or the characters of these lands before it was part of the British Empire. So your hub was very interesting for me, keep up the good work.