Shahaji Bhosle was a successful general who switched from Adil Shah of Bijapur to Nijam Shah of Ahmednagar to the Moghuls many times during his career in the early part of the 17th century. He kept an army of his own and at one point had declared himself to be a king. Shivaji (b. 1627 – d. 1680) was his son born by his influential wife Jijabai Nimbalkar on Feb 19, 1627 at fort Shivaneri. Shivaji had for his teacher and guides as a great man like Dadaji Kondadev.
On a certain occasion Shahaji took his son to the court of the Sultan of Bijapur. Shivaji was then not even twelve years of age. Shahaji touched the ground thrice and saluted the Sultan. He asked his son to do the same thing. But Shivaji only retreated a few steps. He stood erect with his head unbent. His dazzling eyes seemed to carry with them his determination that he would not bow down to a foreign ruler. He walked back from the court with a lion-like gait and bearing. When Shivaji was 18 years old he took the oath at Rohedeshwar Temple to establish a nation of the natives which he maintained was the will of the providence . In his next 35 years he lived an epic which thrilled the imagination of his friends and foes alike. His dazzling adventures have inspired generations of young people.
Shivaji had the born leader’s magnetism and threw a spell over all who knew him, drawing the best elements of the country to his side and winning the most devoted service from his officers. His dazzling victories and ever ready smile made him the idol of his soldiers. A royal gift of judging character was one of the main causes of his success. His light cavalry, stiffened with swift-footed infantry was irresistible in the age of Aurangzeb.
The greatness of Shivaji’s genius can be realized from a survey of the conditions amidst which he rose to sovereignity. He brought peace and order to his country, assured the protection of women’s honour and the religion of all sects without distinction.
Shivaji taught the people of the country to hold their heads high, develop self-confidence and face foreign invasions boldly. He emphasized on native talent, strict discipline and believed in solicitude for peasants, old women, men and children. Shivaji’s private life was marked by a high standard of morality. He was a devoted son, a loving father and an attentive husband.
It was in part to mark his independence from the Mughals, and to repudiate his formal relation to them of a feudatory, that Shivaji had himself crowned, but the very gesture of defiance points to the fact that he recognized the overwhelming power of the Mughals. Moreover, as a Shudra or low-caste person, Shivaji had perforce to enact some ceremony by means of which he could be raised to the status of a kshatriya or traditional ruler. Not a single brahmin was ready to do the coronation ceremonial function of the shudra shivaji. To this end, he enlisted the services of Gagga Bhatta, a famous Brahmin from Benaras, who did the Brahminical thing in falsely certifying that Shivaji’s ancestors were kshatriyas descended from the solar dynasty of Mewar and that too the coronation was made by the thumb of the leg only of shivaji belonging to shudra. This coronation ceremony took on June 6,1674. Few days after the coronation ceremony Ramdas Swamy went to Shivaji Maharaj and demanded for a free land besides his math(where ramdas swamy was staying). To this Shivaji Maharaj replied that we had captured this land for Rayat(shudra-atishudras) and not to give it to so called saints like you. But still the print media had propogated Ramdas Swami as Guru of Shivaji Maharaj. If Shivaji maharaj is speaking against Ramdas Swami, how can he be a guru of him?
Some historians have argued that Shivaji grew up with a hatred for Islam, but there is little in the historical record that directly substantiates any such reading. Nehru made the pointed remark, in his Discovery of India, that “Shivaji, though he fought Aurangzeb, freely employed Muslims” (p. 272). For a good many years, Shivaji and his band of Marathas, who can with some justice be claimed as having originated the idea of guerrilla warfare in India, plundered the count and Shivaji came to acquire a formidable reputation as a warrior. Mahatma Phule tried to look into origin of castes and untouchability ryside, He pointed out that Shivaji was NOT a “go brahman pratipalak” (protector of cows and brahmins). Much literature has come now in Marathi to support this view. He also opined that, apart from harming shudras, Britishers would be harming themselves by supporting Brahmins. It is well known that the Phule was happy that the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, the so called “First war of Independance” failed. He further says in his book “Slavery” how Brahmins try to divert the attention away from. Brahmins are the real enemies of bahujans, (shudra-atishudra of Phule). Though the British are the de-jure rulers of India. The defacto authority vests in the hands of the Bhats in all walks of life. Hence, the Bhats are harming not only the interests of the Shudras but also those of the British rulers themselves. Then the Maha-aris (Mahars) began to attack and harry the Bhats to free their Shudra brethren from their clutches? That is why the Bhats began to hate the Shudras so intensely that they abjured the food touched by the Shudras. The modern Bhats in keeping with this silly practice do not partake of food or drink water touched by a Shudra as being polluted. They invented the practice of observing certain taboos (sowale) so as to avoid contact (touch) with them.
Shivaji was a genius, a leader par-excellence. He always respected women, inspite of the fact that many Muslim women who were taken as prisoners by his armed forces, he never allowed his men to disregard them.
Shivaji died on April 3, 1680. By the time of his death in1680 he had left behind a compact, well organized kingdom in western India. The greatest legacy he has left us is his courage, his magnamity, his sense of justice and the spirit of sturdy independence and self-reliance. He remained throughout his life abstemious and free from vice. In stressing the need for toleratance of all faiths, Shivaji emerges not only as a national figure in the history of India, but also a great humanitarian.