Sage of Shivaji Author: Bhaskar Kelkar Publication: Organiser Date: June 23, 2002 Introduction: Shivaji demolished a mosque near Tiruvadi (TN) which was built after razing a temple and rebuilt the temple on the same site. During Shivaji�s rule Aurangzeb destroyed the Kashi Vishwanath temple. Shivaji had vowed to pull down the mosque and rebuild the Vishwanath temple. (June 24 is celebrated as Hindu Samrajya Diwas as the day marks the coronation of Shivaji.-Ed.) Bhaskar Kelkar SHIVAJI was a noble soul sent down on earth by God in answer to the austerities practised by many a saint in the middle ages. After the long tyranny of Muslims and after the fall of the mighty Vijayanagar empire, whosoever Hindu rulers existed were vassals of one or another Muslim rulers who imposed the zijiya on Hindus who were considered kafirs. Destruction of temples and their conversion into mosques was a common practice. Butchering of cows specially in religious places was a cherished practice. Forced conversion to Islam was a routine affair for the poor sections of Hindu society. The worst state of affairs was the acceptance of slavery and service under the sultans by the Hindu rulers who competed with each other in showing fidelity to the Muslim rulers. It was the darkest period in Indian history marked by absolute lack of self-respect, lack of love for the Motherland and Dharma. At 'such a time was born Shivaji the Great who started the era of Hindu victory at a time when Hindus were nearly totally vanquished at the hands of Muslims. Shivaji's mother Jijabai took up his upbringing. She instilled in him the qualities of a king should cherish and a fierce pride in his Dev, Desh and Dharma. He was trained under Dadoji Konddev. Shivaji mastered the use of weapons under his tutelage. Speed was his mantra. He was very fast player who would leave the enemy miles behind him after he carried out the strikes. He was also a meticulous planner. He developed a well-oiled network of spies across India and using their services he could keep track of all the activities of the power centres, whether Mughal, Adilshahi, Nizam, British or Portuguese. Based on the leads of these spies he used to strike in a manner and at a time and pace which the strongest and nearest enemy would not dream of. The best example is his attack on Surat which was the commercial capital of the Mughal Empire. Shivaji cherished a dream of Hindu Swarajya right from his childhood. When he was an adolescent with a few friends he took the pledge of Hindavi Swarajya at Rohideswar Temple and throughout his life strove for and achieved it. The passion he had for the fulfillment of this dream never subsided. Shivaji built 160 forts in his lifetime, a sort of record. After Raja Raja Chola he was the only king in India to build up a strong navy. Shivaji started a separate naval unit at Cuddalore, a port on the Bay of Bengal in Tamil Nadu. All the recruits were soldiers of swarajya. This was the system prevalent among the Europeans. All the Indian kings before (barring Chandragupta) and after Shivaji and his son followed the feudalist practice, whereby the king used to allocate a few villages or towns his knights. Under this system the feudal lord used to maintain his own army and the revenue of the estate used to go entirely to the plight used to change masters from one to another but their fiefdom remain with them. Thus the knights were loyal to their own lands not to the kingdom. None of Shivaji knights was given this benefit; they were on the payroll of the government and the salary of the soldiers also used to be disbursed by the Swarajya administration. Shivaji was the first Indian king to conduct amphibious operations, i.e., joint attack using cavalry, army and navy. e.g. the strike on Savanur, Karwar and Goa. He built a unique fort Sindhudurga on an island near Malvan. He laid the foundation of the fort with concrete mixed with molten lead. Even today the mortar used between two stories is intact whereas the stones used in the fort have worn out with the continuous onslaught of the ocean waves. He also built a few more sea forts like Suvarnadurga, Padmadurga and Vijayadurga. These sea forts used to be the shelters for his navy and also remained impregnable to the enemy who did not have a navy. This used to also help in checking activities of the naval powers like the British, the Portuguese and the Abyssinians. He stopped the use of Persian in administration and published a glossary of equivalent words with Sanskrit origin called Rajvyavahar Kosha. Shivaji started cannon factories set up, a unique act in itself. Earlier Hindu rulers used to buy cannons from the Portuguese, British or other Europeans. Later his son Sambhaji went one step further land started ordinance factories. Marathas thereafter produced both cannons and ammunition themselves. He stopped the practice of rewarding people by giving land to subjects. Earlier kings used to reward subject with rights to revenue to eminent citizens 'or war heroes. These people then used to act like local rulers, become a power centre and have their own rule within the kingdom. Owning cavalry (even one war horse) was banned by him. In his kingdom all horses were property of the state. His favourite maxim was �Yasya ashwah tasya medini�. He imposed severe punishments for rapes and disrespect to women like chopping of hands. His rules for the army and civil servants and authorities' were very strict. He has written in a letter to a general on the dos and don'ts for the army �Sutalicha toda kinwa kothimbiricha deth dekhil mulya deunach ghetla pahije�. Even a thread of the length of a finger or even one coriander leaf stalk has to be bought by an official, failing which a penalty was imposed. Today government officials just do the opposite. Shivaji encouraged independent functioning of the judiciary; it then did not report to the executive. On the occasion of his coronation he started a new calendar called Rajashaka. New currency called Hona was introduced. He started the concept of Council of Ministers, the Ashta Pradhan Mandal, where each minister was given the responsibility of major departments of administration. Clear-cut job descriptions were given and these concerned was given the responsibility and authority as required. Major decisions used to be by consensus and after discussions by the Council. This system was much different from the standard darbars in India. He recommenced the practice of shuddhi or re-conversion. 'nose days if a Hindu was converted to other religion he would never be allowed entry back into Hinduism. Shivaji took those subjects back into Hindu fold who were forcibly converted by Muslims. Shivaji demolished a mosque near Tiruvadi which was built after razing a temple and rebuilt the temple on the same site. Tiruvadi is a place near Chennai. Shivaji's empire extended till Tamil Nadu. Shivaji stopped the practice of slavery and bonded labour which was prevalent in India. The Europeans (specially the Portuguese) used to enslave Indian labourers and sell them to Africa, East Asia and South America. This used to happen with the support of local touts who would do it for a paltry sum. Shivaji imposed severe punishment on this trade. He also banned the in-house slavery. Shivaji's agrarian reforms were also as monumental as his other achievements. He reintroduced a dual tax structure where different slabs of taxes were prevalent depending on the condition of soil and on whether the land was irrigated or arid. In his childhood he used to play with the lads of local fanners and had seen their woes and joys closely. As a ruler he was always compassionate to his subjects and keen to help them in their problems. He was relentlessly sought ameliorate the lot of the masses by giving loans to farmers, allowing taxes to be paid in kind, he simplified the tax structure imposing lower taxes on poor farmers. The above moves helped the poor subjects to free themselves from the clutches of the local moneylenders and landlords. He sunk wells, lakes and constructed water tanks, inns, temples and roads across his kingdom. Shivaji banned cow-slaughter in his kingdom. Napoleon and Alexander were also great rulers and so were many other Indian kings and emperors but history says -that all of them had vices. Shivaji was the only king probably free from vice. So he was described by his guru Ramdas Swami as a rajayogi. He was known to be a frugal eater and usually subsisted on a single meal. He had the unique knack of reading people's mind. He meticulously endeavoured to find people with best quality and character in the service of swarajya. His human resource management was excellent. He instilled pride and passion for the Hindavi Swarajya in every member of his team. Shivaji was a great trainer and trained his team members very well. His administrative and military systems were phenomenally great. This and the pride he instilled in his people and the strong kingdom he built created history. The Maratha power was the only kingdom in the world which fought for seventeen years without a king too against Aurangzeb who had come to Maharashtra, with a vow to annihilate the Hindu kingdom of Marathas and struggled for twenty-two years, but had to finally die in Maharashtra and could never return to Delhi. This resulted in reducing the mighty Mughal Empire to a puppet in the hands of the Marathas. His ultimate aim was to win, for which he would not mind a tactical retreat. So he surrendered to the Mughal representative Raj a Jai Singh as a tactical retreat and bounced back when times changed and turned out the winner in the end. He followed the principles of Chanakya of samadamadandabheda to ensure victory for the Hindavi Swarajya. However g one cc of pardon to Rayabaghan, a Hindu lady warrior in the service of Mughal Empire he never gave refuge to anybody. He ensured that the enemy was completely routed and annihilated. During Shivaji's rule Aurangzeb destroyed the Kashi Vishwanath temple. Shivaji had vowed to pull down the mosque and rebuild the Vishwanath temple. As Ramdas Swami said let us remember Shivaji, let us remember his resolve and endeavour to excel him. Only then can one call onself Man. --------------------------- Please rate and respond the mail -vijay p 9810471479
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