Shivaji was the founder of Marathatta Empire in India. He was the first Hindu to establish a Hindu Empire after centuries of Muslim rule.
Birth and Childhood:
Shivaji was born in 1627 in Poona. His father, Shahji Bhonsla, was a Jogirdar. He was a General in the service of the king of Bijapur.
Shivaji lived at Bijapur and so the charge of Shivaji’s education was given to a Brahmin named Dadaji. His mother Jija Bai was a very pious lady. Shivaji got best qualities of his character from her nature. He did not learn how to read and write. But he became very skillful in all sorts of manly games. When he was quite young, he was a master of riding and arts of warfare and fighting. Dadaji used to read to him the stories of the Ramayana and Mahabharata which were full of patriotism and heroism. Thus the fire of patriotism was kindled in him while he was quite young.
The stories of oppression of Mughals upon the Hindus also had a great influence upon him. He made up his mind to free his country and people from the hands of Mughals.
His Preparation in Youth:
Shivaji was not on good terms with his father because he had married another wife. So he and his mother went to live in Poona. There he gathered a small band of young men. He was a born leader. With the help of his young men he captured many small forts which belonged to the king Bijapur. At the age of 20 he captured the important fort of Purindhar. He also organized the Mawilis, a hill tribe. He enforced discipline among them. He taught them how to fight.
His Struggle with Muslim States:
With the hope of this small army of hill men he began his struggle. He first took some forts and districts belonging to Bijapur. At last the king of Bijapur sent a famous general named Afzal Khan to arrest him. Afzal Khan tried to kill him in a private meeting. But Shivaji was on his guard. He killed Afzal Khan and destroyed Bijapur army. The king of Bijapur made peace with him.
He now began to quarrel with Aurangeb. Aurangzeb sent Shaista Khan and other generals against Shivaji. Shivaji and his brave companions formed a marriage party and attacked the house where Shaista Kahn was putting up. A hand to hand fight took place. Shaista Khan’s son was killed. But he managed to escape with a loss of his fingers.
Imprisonment and Escape:
Later on, Raja Jai Singh, the best General of Aurangzeb, was sent against him. He persuaded Shivaji to submit and meet Auragzeb. He reached Delhi. But Aurangzeb, instead to treating him kindly, made him prisoner. Shivaji managed to escape by a clever fraud. He reached his Kingdom safely.
On his return to Raighar he restarted war with greater energy. He got back all the forts which he had given to Aurangzeb at this persuasion of Raja Jai Singh. He then became the crowned king in 1674 at Raighar. He died in 1680 at the age of fifty three.
He was very hardy. He was also painstaking. Thought he was not educated yet he had the wisdom of a great statesman. He organized his government in a better way than the Mughal Empire. He was truthful, kind and an orthodox Hindu. He was a great patriot. He respected all religions. He never destroyed any mosque and the Quran. He had high regard for women of all castes. He considered it is his duty to protect the cow and the Brahmins.
Had Shivaji lived a few years more, he could make the Hindu great again. He not only raised himself but rose to make his nation great. He was, in short, one of the greatest heroes, India has ever produced.