The life and personality of Shivaji Maharaj, have fascinated the whole world, right from a common Indian man, to Moghuls, Nizam, French, Dutch, Portuguese and English. So many layers are hidden behind the personality of Shivaji.
In Maharashtra- a state of India, you will rarely see a person calls him Shivaji, he is Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj for Marrattha (people from the land of Maharashtra). One will find historic pages and a lot of literature on Shivaji Maharaj in Marathi, Urdu, Hindi, French, English, Portuguese and Dutch. On the occasion of Shivaji Maharaja’s Birthday here is a small compilation. This compilation will certainly help us as to how the world looks at his greatness.
One of the historic poets, Kavi Bhushan (1613-1712) writes about Shivaji Maharaj as
कौन करै बस वस्तु कौन यहि लोक बड़ो अति।
को साहस को सिन्धु कौन रज लाज धरे मति।।
Who has the power to conquer all; who is the greatest of them all? Who is the ocean of courage; who is consumed by the thought of protecting the Motherland?
दच्छिन नरेस सरजा सुभट साहिनंद मकरंद सिव
He is the ruler of the Deccan, the great warrior, the son of Shahaji, and the grandson of Maloji, i.e. Shivaji.
Shivaji Maharaj was definitely a rebel, his rebel was against the powers destroying the real essence of the land of India. His rebellion was definitely not against any particular religious belief, but it was against the incompetent, non – progressive, dominant rulers of his time.
October 1670, London Gazette News publishes an Extract of a letter written from Aleppo-
Two days since we received Letters from India, written by the English President residing in Suratte, who acquaints us with the daily fears that have there, from Savage the Rebel, who had beaten the Mogul in several Battles, remains almost Master of that Country and takes the boldness to write to all European Ministers in Suratte, that if they refuse to send him such and such immediate presents of Money (which as he puts them would amount to vast sums) by way of Contribution, he will return and ruin that City.
In the 17th century when Shivaji Maharaj had to depend upon his own sources of income howsoever they were limited. He faced a number of difficulties & hurdles. Shivaji Maharaj had to toil & use his skill as an administrator to utilize these available scarce resources for the upliftment of his subjects. He always faced this problem, the problem of resources, he had many ideas in his mind.
The whole life of Shivaji Maharaj was spent in battles, wars & fights earlier to extend the kingdom or to earn money to meet the expenses of administration or raising & expanding the army. He preferred to invade the surrounding areas of his kingdom belonging to the Mughals or the Adilshah of Bijapur to raise necessary funds but he never imposed heavy taxes on his Subjects. Whenever he can short of funds he ransacked the territory but never exploited his people. He wanted to reduce the financial burden of his people therefore he never imposed heavy taxes on them.
Mahatma Phule writes about Shivaji Maharaj as
कुळवाडी – भुषण पवाडा गातो भोसल्याचा | छत्रपती शिवाजीचा ||
लंगोट्यास देई जानवी पोषींदा कूणब्यांचा | काळ तो असे यवनांचा ||
He clearly mentions that Chhatrapati Shivaji was King of Farmers, and people who are linked to the land, and he was death personified for the cruelty of Moghuls and incompetent kings.
He further says,
सावंताची खोड मोडून ठेवी चाकरीस | धमकी देई पोर्तुगीस ||
नवे किल्ले बांधी डागडुजी केली सर्वांस ||
बांधिले नव्या जहाजास | जळी सैनापती केले ज्यास भिती पोर्तुगीस | शोभला हुद्दा भंडार्यास ||
He was not just against a Moghul, but he was against all those who were against the concept of “Swarajya- Own Competent Nation”, that did not let go away his own relatives or cast men. He made arrangements so that his men who were against the concept of “Swarajya” would get appropriate punishments. He also made the point that foreign traders will follow his rules, he was not only king of the land, and mountains but he also established his kingdom on the ocean through his naval and marine power.
One of the original paintings was made by Kalayogi G. Kamble in 1970. This painting was then accepted by Govt. of Maharashtra as an official painting. My father when in government service got one of its original copies. It is preserved at my home.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru writes about Shivaji Maharaj as,
“Shivaji did not belong to Maharashtra alone; he belonged to the whole Indian Nation. Shivaji was not an ambitious ruler anxious to establish a kingdom for himself but a patriot inspired by a vision and political ideas derived from the teachings of the ancient philosophers.”
Shivaji Maharaj inspired a Noble laureate, Rabindranath Tagore, who wrote full-length poetry on him. An extract of it says,
“In what far-off country, upon what obscure day I know not now, seated in the gloom of some Mahratta mountain wood O King Shivaji, lighting thy brow, like a lightning flash, this thought descended, into one virtuous rule, this divided broken distracted India, I shall bind.”
British Sir E. Sullivan says,
“Shivaji possessed every quality requisite for success in the disturbing 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 energy and decision that would in any age have raised him to distinctions.”
Whenever I read about Shivaji Maharaj, I feel proud that I stay in a city which was ploughed and cultivated by Shivaji Maharaj during the time when this land was in distress, he was king of common men and women. He was king of farmers and people linked to the land, he was a great economist. He is the heart of every person who sees the whole world as their own country “Swarajya”
I strongly stress and agree with the thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi on Shivaji Maharaj. Gandhiji says,
“I think Shivaji ranks among the greatest men in 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”.