Shivaji Bhonsle (1630-1680 C.E.) was a great warrior King of Marathas who established the Maratha Empire. He was born in 1630 to Shahaji Bhonsle and Jijabai near the city of Junnar in Pune district, Maharashtra. Shivaji Bhonsle is popularly known as Chhatrapati Shivaji.
Shivaji was the son of Shahaji Raje Bhosale and Jijabai. Shahaji worked for the Adilshahi sultanate of Bijapur at that time. Shivaji was named after the goddess Shivai. The young Shivaji was brought up under the watchful eye and tutelage of his mother. She told him stories from Ramayan and Mahabharat and kindled the flame of freedom in the young Shivba. She taught him politics and religion, at the same time trained him in the art of fighting by wielding the stick and dandpatta (a kind of sword with protective armour for the arm). Shivba became a skilled swordsman and a horse rider too. Shivaji who was a secular ruler had many Muslim soldiers in his army. His sole aim was to overthrow Mughal empire and establish Maratha rule in the state. He was called the ‘Father of Indian Navy’ for his strategic plan to protect the coastline from other rulers. He established the navy, which no other Indian ruler ever did.
Shivaji knew that “He who has control of fort, has control of territory” and he decided to capture the Torna fort. Shivaji and his friends made a plan and attacked Torna in late night hours. Even before Adilshahi forces on Torna could realize that the fort has been attacked, Shivaji had captured it when he was just 16. After Torna, many other forts like Rajgad fort, Chakan fort, Kondhana fort, Purandar fort were captured.
His combat with Afzal Khan is very popular. He defeated the veteran with a single strike when they had met in a hut where they were allowed to carry a single sword. In 1659, Adilshah sent Afzal Khan, an experienced and veteran general to destroy Shivaji in an effort to put down what he saw as a regional revolt. Afzal Khan desecrated Hindu temples at Tuljapur and Pandharpur, hoping to draw Shivaji to the plains where the superior Bijapuri army could destroy him. Shivaji sent a letter to Afzal Khan requesting a meeting to negotiate and pretending that he was afraid of the mighty general and so they meet at Pratapgad foothills. The two met in a hut at the foothills of Pratapgad fort on 10 November 1659. The arrangements had dictated that each come armed only with a sword, and attended by a follower. Shivaji, as a protection, wore armour beneath his clothes, concealed a bagh nakh (metal “tiger claw”) on his left arm, and had a dagger in his right hand. As predicted by Shivaji, the meeting turned to be a fight. In the fight, Afzal Khan’s dagger was stopped by Shivaji’s armour, and Shivaji’s weapons inflicted mortal wounds on the general.
In his rule, any crime against women was a punishable offence. By order, in his kingdom, no one was allowed to harm women. Strict punishments were meted out to people who harassed women. He is accredited for reviving Hindu traditions and promoting usage of Marathi and Sanskrit. His legacy increased with the emergence of Indian independence movement which people hailing him as a nationalist.
Scholars have two different opinions on the exact date of his birth. The one group propose February 19, 1630 and the other proposes April 6, 1627 as the birth date of Chhatrapati Shivaji.
The date of February 19, 1630 has been accepted as the birth anniversary of Shivaji Jayanti by the government of Maharashtra. However, very few people realize that this date is marked on Julian calendar and not on the Gregorian calendar currently used throughout the world.
When consider the first date which has been proposed by the committee of eminent scholars. On converting February 19, 1630 from Julian calendar to Hindu lunar calendar (as per Amanta lunar calendar followed in Maharashtra) and marks Krishna Paksha Tritiya during Phalguna month as birth anniversary of Shivaji. The same Hindu date has been proposed by the eminent scholars of the committee.
Maharashtra government is all set to build the tallest statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial in the Arabian Sea and have increased the size from 192 metres to 210 metres after the state government got the approval from the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA). In December 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone for the memorial by performing the ‘jal-poojan’. The increase in height of the statue will make it the tallest in the world and in process will overtake the height of the Spring Temple Buddha in Zhaocun township of Lushan County in Henan, China.