Swami Vivekananda has rightly said, "Shivajee was the greatest Hindu king that Hindus had produced within the last thousand years, one who was the very incarnation of lord Shiva, about whom prophecies were given out long before he was born"
Grant Duff, the first Known British historian on the history of Marathas has wrongly mentioned the rise of the Marathas as a sudden affairs and a conflagration in the forests of Sahyadri. In fact Shivajee was the product of the blessings of great saints, sadhus, poets and writers who nurtured the soil of India by their noble deeds. The Marathi people gained consciousness and unity first and then came a brilliant and brave national leader to lead them to victory.
Shivajee showed signs of extraordinary talents even as a boy. Shivajee was a man of multifarious activities. He was a great soldier, military genius and an outstanding General. In all his campaigns he always came out successful and at the same time he showed great humanity in the conduct of his wars. Similarly he was a qualified administrator and an accomplished statesman. He had a keen insight into politics and got out of different situations by dint of diplomacy, statecraft and unerring practical sense. His life is like a steady burning flame lighting up the path of the national consciousness and unity, crossing all the political and sectarian boundaries.
Shivajee was a great protector of true Hinduism. His life was marked by a high standard of Hindu morality. His Dharma always remained with him as a fresh fountain of right conduct and generosity. He infused a new life among the Hindus throughout the country. Like a true Hindu, he was known for the protection of cow, women's honour and of all sects without distinction. Shivajee's contemporary, the Muslim historian Khafi Khan, though naturally inclined to paint him in unfavorable colors praised him like anything for Shivajee's respect for the mosques, the holy Koran, honour of women and children of the Muslims.
Bhushan , the great Hindu poet who forsook the royal favour of the Mughal camp, came over to Shivajee and glorified him thus-
"Kashijee ke Kala Jaiti, Mathura masjid hote!
Shivajee na hote to sunnat hoti sabki"
[Had not there been Shivajee, Kashi would have lost its culture, Mathura would have been turned into a mosque and all would have been circumcised]
Shivajee was a great spiritual spirit who imbibed among the Indians a feeling of self-reliance, self respect, and self confidence. Sir Jadunath Sarkar, the great authority on Shivajee has written that Shivajee brought the modern Hindu to rise to the full stature of their growth. Shivajee had shown that the tree of Hinduism is not really dead, that it can rise from beneath the seemingly crushing load of centuries of political bondage, that it can put forth new leaves and branches; it can again lift up it's head to the skies.
Shivajee was a truly original explorer of a new spirit in medieval India. His life mission was the establishment of the Hindu Sawrajya. He did this superhuman task with the help of a large team of his dedicated friends and followers. G.S. Sardesai, the prominent historian on the history of the Marathas, is of opinion that Shivajee did not restrict his vision to secure Maharashtra but wanted to establish a Hindu Empire for the 'Whole of India'. He was a great contributing genius. The coronation of Shivajee in 1674 at Raigarh was an international event which had world wide impact. It was the re-establishment of the Hindu Kingdom after hundreds of years of foreign domination. It would be worth while to quote again Prof.Jadunath Sarkar. According to him, "Before his rise, the Maratha race was scattered like atoms through many Deccani Kingdoms. He welded them into a mighty nation. And he achieved this in the teeth of the opposition of four great powers like the Mughal Empire, Bijapur, the Portuguese India and the Abyssinian of Janjira? No other Hindu has shown such capacity in Northern India."
Shivajee was a bold and fearless freedom fighter. He was an icon of freedom fighters. In the independence struggle of the following two centuries from Vasudev Balwant Phadke to Subhash Chandra Bose, all the revolutionaries got impetus and inspiration from him. Once a freedom fighter asked Veer Savarkar, "In what ways India would gain freedom?" Savarkar answered, "With the ideas of Swami Vivekananda and the methods of Shivajee." He further enquired "You mean, the Violent methods." Savarkar replied a bit loudly, "No, Shivajee." In fact all the freedom fighters and the revolutionaries got stimulation from the towering personality of Shivajee.
However, it is surprising that in independent India no significant place has been given to Shivajee, one of the greatest national heroes. It is regretted that in the history text books (class VI to class XII) of NCERT, no mention has been made of Shivajee except in one and a half line on him (in class XII).
The present work entitled `Shivajee: The Great Liberator' by a learned and meritorious scholar, Sh. Aanand Aadeesh, consisting of more than three dozen inspiring episodes and activities of Shivajee's life is an excellent exposition of Shivajee's chivalry, patriotism, devotion as well as sufferings and sacrifices. This insightful study illustrates various anecdotes leading to the concrete and logical conclusions. The work is based on thorough and intensive study of the contemporary and modern sources.
Undoubtedly it is a welcome addition to the literature and historical writing. I congratulate the renowned author Sh. Aanand Aadeesh for this noble task. Infact it is a precious gift to the nation. The work is certainly highly inspiring and informative to the general readers as well to the decision makers of Modern India.
Though initiated into the genre of stories from the life of Greatmen of our sacred motherland in my early ',childhood by my parents and grand-parents, the credit to inspire me to delve a little deeper into the life and work of Shivajee largely goes to late Sh. Raja Bhau (D.V.) Paturkar of Nagpur (Maharashtra) with whom way back in 1973, I had the privilege of working as a co-author of SWARAJYA SANSTHAPAK SHIVAJEE in Hindi (2 volumes) which was very well received all over the country, even abroad and has since then run into several editions in almost all the major languages of India.
Apart From Shivajee's heroic deeds at an extremely crucial stage of Indian history, his purity of purpose and unblemished character present him in true Vedantic tradition which permits no dicotomy between the life mundane and life divine, life personal and life social. Keeping in mind the ultimate goal of his life -emancipation of Mother India and crores of her oppressed children from the yoke of satanic foreign rulers - he faced every situation with exemplary farsightedness and fortitude, always self-assured that each adversity would contribute to the victory of truth over falsehood, goodness over evil and would even lead to the process of his own inner growth.
Humility in Victory and detachment in attainment were Shivajee's attributes that carved out a unique place for him in the annals of Indian history. He was always insulated whether by the joys of the world or by its sufferings ( cl) cell wrgrorill wzrr wt. Of course the ecstasy of the life mission - Hindvi Swarajya - achieved was no short of divine embrace to him. Shivajee, in that sense was certainly part of the Ram-Krishna continuum in our long and chequered, yet cherished history. A cursory comparative study, based on the records and observations of their contemporary writers and outstanding modern-historians here under, of the two main characters, Shivajee and Aurangzeb, should suffice to confirm my contention in this connection.
Shivajee : Brave and benevolent
Shivajee's contemporary Aungier, the second Governor of Bombay in 1672 compares him with Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great and Hannibal. (English Records on Shivajee, II. No. 270). French traveller (1672-74) Abbe Carre comparing him with the great king of Sweden, Gustavus Adolphus says, "A conqueror, who had all the qualities of a great general and above all a clearness of resolution and an unusual activity that almost always prove decisive in affairs of war.... To this quickness of movement he added, like Julius Caesar, a clemency and bounty that won him the hearts of those his arms had worsted." (S.N. Sen, Foreign Biographies of Shivajee, 203).
Robert Orme, official historian of the East India Company who came to Calcutta in 1742, records, "Shivajee possessed all the qualities of a commander. ...In personal activities he exceeded all the generals of whom there is record. ...He met every emergency of peril howsoever sudden and extreme with instant discernment and unshaken fortitude. (Historical Fragments, pp. 93-94: Bal. Krishna, Shivajee the Great, Vol. II, Part II, 12).
Sir E. Sullivan writes: "He (Shivajee) possessed every quality requisite for success in the disturbed age in which he lived: cautious and wily in council, he was fierce and daring in action; he possessed an endurance that made him remarkable even amongst his hardy subjects, and an energy and decision that would in any age have raised him to distinctions." (Warriors and Statesmen of India, 384).
James Grant Duff, the nineteenth century historian of Marathas, views Shivajee's genius with wonder and admiration: "Whether planning the capture of a fort, or the conquest of a distant country, heading an attack or conducting a retreat, regulating the discipline to be observed amongst a hundred horse, or laying down arrangements for governing a county; we view his talents with admiration, and his genius with wonder. For a popular leader his frugality was a remarkable feature in his character; and the richest plunder never made him deviate from the rules laid down for its appropriation. (A History of the Mahrattas, Vol. I, 296).
In his tribute to Shivajee, Samarth Guru Ramdas says, "He is like a firm, huge mountain of determination, a support to most people, always resolute, an ascetic among riches. ... He is the master of men, horses, elephants, forts; he is the lord of the lands and the seas; and he is backed by the lord of the gods and the prime force behind this universe. He is victorious, famous, powerful, blessed, full of merit and morality, an understanding king. He is well behaved, thoughtful, philanthropic, virtuous and knowingly noble towards all. He is patient, generous, handsome, brave, active and has reduced other kings to insignificance by alertness." (letter in Marathi to Shambhajee, son of Shivajee).
Aurangzeb : Bigoted and Barbarous
The history of the reign of Aurangzeb, including the story of his cruel and oppressive conduct vis-a-vis the Hindus and the Sikhs, was first put together after a life-time of research into the edicts passed by him, by Jadunath Sarkar, one of India's greatest historians. Sarkar's work on the Mughals - and thereafter the four volumes he wrote, especially on Aurangzeb - is considered the most definitive account of events of that time. Sarkar translated - a history of the reign of Aurangzeb - by Saqi Mustad Khan. Khan's narration was based on orders passed by Aurangzeb and material available in state archives in 1710. Sarkar also translated Akhbarats, which were essentially reports on the orders passed by Aurangzeb. In addition, there are other accounts like Mirat-i-Alam and Alamgir-Nama written by persons employed by Aurangzeb. Eliot and Dawson's History of India (as told by its own historians) aggregates much of the work done by these historians.
There have been several other accounts, including the much acclaimed series titled The History and Culture of the Indian People edited by the eminent historian R.C. Mazumdar and published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, and the monumental series on civilization by Will Durant.
A common thread that runs through all these accounts is the zeal displayed by Aurangzeb to promote Islam and to crush other faiths. Aurangzeb issued an order on April 9, 1669 to the governors of the provinces, directing them to demolish the schools and temples of the infidels and put down their teachings and religious practices strongly. Besides innumerable temples throughout the empire, even the famous Hindu temples of Vishwanath at Banaras, of Keshav Dev at Mathura, and Somnath at Patan were destroyed. Even the loyal state of Jaipur was not spared, and sixty-six temples were razed to the ground at Amber. Ten years later, on April 2, 1679, he imposed Jaziya on Hindus. This was an oppressive commutation tax that had to be paid by Hindus in order to be allowed to continue to practice their faith.
According to Sarkar, Jaziya was imposed by Aurangzeb "with the object of spreading Islam and overthrowing infidel practices". Majumdar says, "He felt gratified when many Hindus, unable to pay it, embraced Islam." But, destruction of temples and Jaziya were just the tip of the iceberg. Various other measures were adopted to force Hindus to convert to Islam. In April 1665, Aurangzeb fixed customs duty on goods imported into his kingdom at 2.5 per cent for Muslim merchants and 5% for Hindu merchants. He offered Government jobs and commutation of prison terms for those who converted to Islam. In 1668, Aurangzeb prohibited all Hindu religious fairs. In 1671, he passed an order dismissing all Hindu head-clerks and accountants and hiring Muslims in their place.
Aurangzeb also went after the Sikhs with a vengeance. He ordered the destruction of Sikh places of worship and the expulsion of the Sikh Guru's representatives from the cities. He imprisoned Guru Tegh Bahadur and killed him after torturing him for several days because he refused to convert to Islam. The attack on Sikhism continued during the tenure of the next Guru, Guru Govind Singh. His headquarters in Anandpur were attacked several times and his four sons were slain. On Mathura, Masir-i-Alamgiri says, "During the month of Ramzan, the Emperor issued orders for the demolition of the temple in Mathura. In a short time the destruction of this strong foundation of infidelity was accomplished, and on its site a lofty mosque was built. The idols, large and small, set with costly jewels which had been set up in the temple were brought to Agra, and buried under the steps of the mosque of the Begum Sahib, in order to be continually trodden upon. The name of Mathura was changed to Islamabad."
Truely Aurangzeb's life would have been unblemished and he would have brought heaven on earth for Muslims had he no father to depose and imprison, no brothers to kill and no Hindus to oppress.
Shivajee : The Great Liberator' is not about two individuals; not in the least about Hindu versus Muslim. It is all about a heroic struggle to uphold and protect age old Indian ethos and human values which are now being cherished universally as liberty, Equality and Fraternity as against Imperialism, Narrow-mindedness and Fundamentalism, the forces which unfortunately looted and ruled ruthlessly over major parts of our peace loving country for a couple of centuries.
Unfortunately Shivajee lived in this world only for 50 Years (1630-1680 AD.) where as Aurangzeb for 89 years (1618-1707 A.D.). Only if God could grant Shivajee a few more years matching the long life-span of his adversory, the course of Indian history would be totally different; India could have been saved the misfortune and ignominy of slavery of a prolonged Mughal and later an of European Imperialist rule. The world knows how even after Shivajee's unfortunate and untimely demise, his able and brave lieutenants - the Peshwas - humbled the mighty Mughals and realised Chauth and Sardesai from Delhi Durbar. If the all powerful Mughal-Empire crumbled like a pack of cards it was in no small measure due to 'The Shivajee Effect'.
I am extremely grateful to eminent historian Prof. (Dr.) Satish Chandra Mittal for his scholarly, lucid and inspiring foreword, ever anonymous `Shaklesh' and Dr. R. Balashankar, Editor of leading national weekly The Organizer for sagacious suggestions and Sh. R.B.L. Nigam, Sh. Suresh Sharma and Sh. Pramod Kaushik for useful help.
I am also beholden to our eldest daughter Kavita, her illustrious husband Sanjay Mittal and both of their sons-Divye and Bhavye-for certain valuable in-puts.
I also owe my sincere thanks to highly professional yet self-effacing publishers and Sh. Balraj, the renowned artist for the task so punctually and excellently executed.
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