Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Bhosale Family

After the disintegration of Bahamani kingdom, the five powers of Deccan ruled, relying heavily upon the local chieftains. Major amongst these were the Jadhav and Bhosale. The history of the Bhosale family since MalojiRaje is well documented. MalojiRaje was one of the Chief Mansubdars of Nijamshah. He had two sons, Shahaji and Sharifji. Shahaji’s wife was Jijabai who was the daughter of another prominent chieftain, Lakhuji Jadhavrao. ShahajiRaje and Jijabai had two sons: SambhajiRaje and ShivajiRaje. ShahajiRaje shot to fame after the battle of Bhatavdi.
SambhajiRaje was killed in battle. After working with the Nijamshah, Adilshah, and the Mughals, ShahajiRaje came to realize the importance of an independent State. Though he could not establish it himself, his dream was realized by his son ShivajiRaje.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj: the Founder of an Independent State:
Shivaji was born on the Shivneri fort, near Junnar, on 19th February 1630. Adilshah had given the territory of Pune and Supe to ShahajiRaje. ShahajiRaje at that time resided in Bangalore, so in order to look after the running of the territory, Jijabai, Dadoji Kondadev and ShivajiRaje came to Pune. ShahajiRaje had made excellent provisions for the education and training of his son. ShivajiRaje reorganized the territory, gave priority to agriculture, created an independent judiciary. Mother Jijabai nurtured her son’s ambition. The twelve river valleys to the west of Pune, the twelve Maval were brought under control. Even though ShivajiRaje had the control of the territory, the forts came under the rule of Adilshah. Shivaji Maharaj began with the repairs of the forts in the territory. Using rules, finance, power and strategy he captured Purandar and Kondhana forts. Shivaji Maharaj laid the foundation of an Independent State(SWARAJYA) at the tender age of fifteen. After 1647 he captured Murambdev alias Rajgarh forts. Threatened by these activities, Adilshah captured and imprisoned ShahajiRaje. ShivajiRaje prepared for battle; Adilshah sent his General Fattekhan to attack Shivaji’s territory. The brave Marathas fought hard and won the battle against Fattekhan around Purandar. Adilshah released ShahajiRaje in exchange of Bangalore, Kandarpi and fort Kondhana. After this incident ShivajiRaje concentrated on improving the administration of the territory. Around 1646 ShivajiRaje’s seal started appearing on documents, which read as follows:

Pratipakshanchadrarekhev vardhishnurvishwavandita
Shahsuno :Shivsaishya mudra bhadraya rajate
(Ever increasing like the new moon and saluted by the world,
this seal of Shivaji, Shahaji’s son, stands for the welfare of all)

The instability in Adilshahi court was used by ShivajiRaje to consolidate his position. By capturing the Javali valley from Chandrarao More, ShivajiRaje established control over the Konkan region. He constructed Fort Pratapgarh , captured Supe, captured Fort Rohida, looted the Kalyan treasury, and constructed Fort Raigarh on the Rayari mountain. Around 1657, he captured Kalyan-Bhivandi and laid the foundations of ship-building workshops, in order to have maritime power.The Mughals recognised Shivaji as a Mughal Sardar and pressurised Adilshah to release Shahaji. In return Shivaji had to cede a fort and Sambhaji had to cede Bangalore city and a fort to Adilshah.The Sultan had a foster mother, by name Uliya Begum. She hated Shivaji like poison. One day she herself held a Durbar. The far-famed heroes of Bijapur all attended it. At that Durbar Uliya Begum threw out the challenge to all present: "if there is one amongst you who can capture and bring Shivaji captive here, let him accept this token gift of 'pan'." So saying she held out the silver platter in which was place the ceremonial 'pan' and betel-nut offering. A sever-foot tall robust general stood up and accepted the gift. The general was Afzal Khan. He was a Pathan general who was as brave as he was cruel and deceitful.While ShivajiRaje was busy consolidating his power in Konkan,The Sultan sent a strong force of 25,000 soldiers to curb ShivajiRaje.Afzalkhan was a powerful and able general and a cunning strategist. He started off his campaign by attacking the Hindu shrines of Pandharpur and Tuljapur in order to entice ShivajiRaje in an open warfare. But ShivajiRaje tricked him to come for a meeting in the Javali valley, at the base of Fort Pratapgadh. ShivajiRaje killed him there on 10th November 1659.He sent Jijabai a gift.The head of Afzal Khan!!!! The death of Afzalkhan shocked the Adilshahi power and ShivajiRaje’s name and fame spread all over India. Another general of Adilshahi court, Siddi Johar held ShivajiRaje under siege at Fort Panhalgarh. ShivajiRaje escaped from the siege to go to Fort Vishalgarh. One of ShivajiRaje’s men, Bajiprabhu Deshpande, laid down his life in Ghodkhind and made ShivajiRaje’s escape successful.

Shivaji and the Moghuls:
An important instance in the ShivajiRaje and Moghul confrontation is the defeat of Shaistekhan. Moghul emperor Aurangazeb sent his maternal uncle Shaistekhan to curb ShivajiRaje. Shaistekhan established base in Lal Mahal, ShivajiRaje’s childhood home. Putting his life at stake, ShivajiRaje attacked Lal Mahal with a handful of soldiers. Shaistekhan was taken by surprise in his bedroom and started to flee out the window. But ShivajRaje managed to swing his sword just in time to slice his fingers off. Immediately after this incident ShivajiRaje looted Surat, Aurangazeb’s financial capital, targeting the non-local traders who cheated the locals.
In order to avenge the loot of Surat, Aurangazeb sent MirzaRaja Jaisingh ,a capable general. MirzaRaja Jaisingh and Dilerkhan defeated Shivaji’s forces and forced ShivajiRaje to surrender twenty three forts and a region worth the revenue of 400,000. ShivajiRaje was sent to Agra to meet Aurangazeb. In Agra Aurangazeb put ShivajiRaje under house arrest with the intention of killing him. But ShivajiRaje along with his son Sambhaji escaped miraculously. This escape was one of the wonderful events of the history. Aurangazeb received an unpleasant surprise. Upon his return, ShivajiRaje started a crusade to win back the forts handed over to the Moguls. In the battle of Fort Kondhana, ShivajiRaje’s general Tanaji Malusare lost his life but the fort was recaptured by the Marathas. In 1670 ShivajiRaje looted Surat for the second time and added immense wealth to his treasury.
Another important milestone in the history of Maharashtra took place on 6th June 1674: the coronation of ShivajiRaje. On this occasion, ShivajiRaje established a council of eight ministers. He issued two new coins, a copper one named Shivrai and a golden one named Shivrai Hon. It isn’t a small deed for a Maratha general to become an Emperor. On the occasion of the coronation, Raghunath Pandit and Dhundiraj Lakshman Vyas compounded a glossary of terms of administration. ShivajiRaje’s efforts to replace the Persian terms with indigenous terms and to adapt them in day to day usage were commendable. He also initiated improvements in the almanac through astrologer Krishna Jyotishi who wrote Karana Kaustubh, a new treatise on improved calendar. A new calendar Rajshak was implemented after the coronation. ShivajiRaje’s mother JijauSaheb expired after the coronation. ShivajiRaje then focused on expanding his rule in the south. In order to form a union of the southern powers, he joined hands with Kutubshah in Bhaganagar. On 3rd April 1680 ShivajiRaje died at the age of fifty.

Chhatrapati Sambhaji:
Sambhaji, the elder son of ShivajiRaje, was born on 14th May 1657 on Fort Purandar. After the demise of his mother at a young age, SambhajiRaje was brought up by his grandmother JijauSaheb. SambhajiRaje accompanied ShivajiRaje on his Agra trip. At the time of the coronation SambhajiRaje was anointed the prince heir. On the death of ShivajiRaje, SambhajiRaje became the king. He fought enemies on several fronts in his lifetime. SambhajiRaje helped Prince Akbar, Aurangazeb’s son, who rebelled against the Mogul power and sought help from Marathas. The Siddis, Portuguese, Adilshah and the moguls were in awe of SambhajiRaje’s bravery. Aurangazeb himself led a campaign to Deccan in order to destroy the Maratha power. He destroyed the reign of Adilshah and Kutubshah. He had only one enemy in the entire India and that was the Marathas. Aurangazeb’s commander Mukarrabkhan captured SambhajiRaje in Sangameshwar on 1st February 1689. SambhajiRaje was as brave as his father. After having escaped from Agra, SambhajiRaje became a constant headache for Aurangazeb. Aurangazeb did not want history to repeat itself. Like the other two powers of Deccan he wanted to vanquish the Maratha power too; so he killed SambhajiRaje. But on hearing the news of SambhajiRaje’s death the Marathas gathered under Rajaram Maharaj and continued the struggle.

Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj and Maharani Tarabai:
Rajaram Maharaj, the younger son of ShivajiRaje was born on 24th February 1670. On 12th February 1689 he was crowned the king of the Marathas. Zulfikarkhan, Aurangazeb’s general, laid a siege on the fort when Rajaram Maharaj was residing at Raigarh. Apart from Rajaram Maharaj, SambhajiRaje’s wife Yesubai and son Shahu were also present on Raigarh. To avoid capture and avoid compromising the Swarajya movement, Rajaram Maharaj escaped to Jinji in Karnataka. Soon after Rajaram Maharaj’s escape, Raigad fell and other members of the royal family were captured and sent to Aurangazeb. An unequal battle between the Moguls and Marathas in Maharashtra and Jinji began. Rajaram Maharaj, Santaji Ghorpade, Dhanaji Jadhav, Pralhad Niraji Pratinidhi and HukumatPanha Ramachandra Amatya Bawadekar kept the Marathas fighting against the huge army of Aurangazeb. The fort of Jinji was again surrounded and kept under siege by Zulfikarkhan. Yet again, Rajaram Maharaj escaped and returned to Maharashtra.
All these years Aurangazeb won several battles but he could not win the war. Rajaram Maharaj passed away on 3rd March 1700 making it a critical point in time. The Maratha resistance was in a grave danger. The heir to the throne, SambhajiRaje’s son, Shahu was in Moghul captivity. At this juncture Rajaram Maharaj’s queen Tarabai shouldered the responsibility. She valiantly fought Aurangazeb. She opened the war against Aurangazeb on several fronts simultaneously. In the face-to-face combats, Aurangazeb could not capture the forts, hence he attempted to ‘buy’ the forts. The Moghul emperor died on 20th February 1707 at the age of ninety, defeated and lonely. He was the only Moghul Emperor to die while on a campaign.
Impeccable leadership that rose from the ordinary ranks, guerrilla warfare, simplicity and revival of feudal ties were the reasons the Marathas could defeat Aurangazeb. After the death of Aurangazeb, his son Azamshah freed SambhajiRaje’s son, Shahu on 8th May 1707 with the aim of instigating factionalism amongst the Marathas. Several Maratha knights pledged their allegiance to Shahu upon his return. But Maharani Tarabai did not recognize Shahu’s claims to the throne. In the battle of Khed, Shahu defeated Maharani Tarabai and Shahu was coronated in Satara on 12th January 1708. With the help of faithfuls like Dhanaji Jadhav, Khando Ballal, Balaji Vishwanath, Shahu began his rule.

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