There are many families in Maharashtra with the surname Bhosale, but
not all of them can trace their lineage to the royal Bhosales (who
were later the
successors to the thrones of Satara and Kolhapur). Their most famous
son was Shivaji raje Bhosale, also the progenitor of their
One of Shivaji's early known ancestors was his great-grandfather, Babaji Bhosale. He was the headman of the villages
of Hingane Beradi
and Diwalgaon in Pune district (or Poona or Puna, in the modern state of Maharashtra
). His sustenance mainly depended upon
his farm fields and his income as the headman of the villages .
Both Maloji and Vithoji had some friction with the locals in their
village, and shifted with their entire family to Verul (Ellora in
Aurangabad district, in Maharashtra). The land there wasn't very
conducive for farming and both the brothers sought service in the
army of Lakhujirao Jadhav (Lakhuji Jadhav was a noble in the
Nizamshahi army of Ahmednagar, his jagir being Sindkhedraja in
present day Buldhana, Maharashtra. He also claimed lineage to the
royal family of the Yadavas of Devagiri).
Due to their bravery, the brothers rose through the ranks in Lakhuji's army
Then the story goes this way, that in a 'Holi'
function (the festival of colours), Lakhujirao praised the handsomeness of the young Shahaji,
son of Maloji (from his wife Umabai, from the family of the Nimbalkars of
Phaltan, also serving in the Nizamshahi. It is to be noted that
Maloji was childless for a long time and he had two sons, Shahaji and
Sharifji, after blessings from the Sufi saint Baba Shah Sharif and
was therefore named after the sufi saint).
Lakhujirao even mockingly said that
the young Shahaji and his little daughter Jijabai would make a fine
couple. But these words were taken too seriously by
Maloji Rao Bhosale. He proudly pointed out this incident in
public, which irked Lakhujirao Jadhav no end. An indignant Lakhuji Jadhav promptly dismissed Malojirao from his services, after
rebuking Maloji for dreaming that the son of a 'shiledar' can
marry the daughter of a 'sardar' (a shiledar is just higher than a
common soldier in the hierarchy, and is someone who has his own
sword and horse, besides what is given to him by his master, while a
sardar is a noble - the author and historian, Vaidya, says that
Lakhuji declined to accept Shahaji as his son-in-law despite his
Humiliated, Maloji retreated to his village in Verul.
Meanwhile he had also become the headman of his village.
his brother Vithoji served the Nizamshah with distinction and
received many 'mokasas' for the maintenance of forces, and
many villages and lands in Inam. These were as follows: the three
perganas (parganas) of Elur (Verul ), Derhadi and Kannarad. Kannarad
was given with a 'kot' and four 'kila' or forts, and included
Jategau and Vakadi. The towns were: 1. Pedgaon, now in ruins, eight
miles from Shrigonda, on the Bhima, with the Hemadpanti temples of
Shiva and Rameshwar; 2. (Kasba) of Lasur pergana Gandapur, Adharsul
pergana Ahmedabad, and the villages of Porle (ditto), Pimpalvadi
pergana Paithan and Gaudagau or Ahmedabad. So far as we have
ascertained, Jategaon is in Karmala (Sholapur ), and Adharsul is
near Yeola .)
The brothers spent the next few years tilling their fields. Then one day Maloji noticed a snake coming out of a hole in his field. As per popular
superstitions, snakes are said to guard hidden treasure, so Maloji began
digging. To his joy he found seven pots of gold coins. He wisely lodged
them at the house of a local banker named Punde at Chamargunda . He
called over his brother, and together they bought horses, saddles, arms,
tents and employed a thousand troops. With his small army, Malojirao (and
his brother Vithoji), aligned himself with his in-laws, the Nimbalkars of
Phaltan, and entered directly into the service of the Nizamshah of Ahmednagar.
They participated in many a battle against the Bijapuris and the
Mughals (there were conflicts with the Mughals during the early
century when Akbar's forces invaded Ahmednagar), who were constantly
at war, trying to gain each others' territories. They fought under
the command of the famous Abyssinian general of Nizamshah,
Malik Ambar, and his fellow compatriot, Ranadaulla Khan (Khan i Zaman).
That is where they honed their skills in the art of warfare.
Malojirao also spent a large portion of his newfound wealth in the
construction of several temples, giving alms to the poor and the
Brahmins, and also for excavating a large tank on the arid Shambhu
Mahadev hill in the Satara district. This brought him a lot of
praise from the pilgrims who flocked to this holy place.
The Bhosales had by now grown in stature in the Nizamshahi court.
The courtiers and the king had even managed to persuade Lakhujirao
Jadhav to give his daughter Jijabai's hand in marriage to Malojirao
Bhosale's son, Shahaji, something to which Lakhuji reluctantly
Young Shivaji with his mother, Jijabai, in this statue at
 As per author historian C V
Vaidya, Babaji Raje Bhosale then was the feudal lord of Pande
Pedgaon and the same fief continued for a time in the possession
of Maloji. Indeed Maloji was still associated with Babaji in its
possession in 1596.He had two sons: Maloji Bhosale, the eldest,
and Vithoji, his younger sibling.
 Some derive the Bhosale name
from Bhose, a village in the Verul district where the family
first settled, and Bhosala means 'of or from Bhose village'.
Extract C V Vaidya.
 Source Rajwade Khmnd XV, No
 Source Sir Jadunath Sarkar.
After Malojirao's death, the army of the Bhosales was commanded by
his younger brother, Vithoji (Vithoji had eight sons, 'four have been
found to be in Mughal service at the beginning of Shah Jahan's reign: Kheloji Parsuji, Maloji II, and Mambaji
). Later, after Vithoji's death in 1623, the army was commanded by Maloji's son,
Shahaji Raje Bhosale .
Meanwhile, Malik Ambar, who had even humbled the might of the
Mughals, died in 1626. He was succeeded by his son, Fateh Khan,
as the next regent of the Nizam Shah of Ahmednagar. Shahaji was deputed
by Fateh Khan to raid East Khandesh against an invading Mughal
force, and Shahaji displayed great valour there.
Friction soon developed
between Fateh Khan and his king and Fateh Khan was placed under
arrest. This was a time of political intrigues amongst the various
nobles of the Nizamshahi court. Sensing the coming chaos, Lakhujirao
Jadhav had left the services of the Nizamshahi and had joined the
Mughals (authors like C V Vaidya have put forward the fight between
the Bhosales and the Jadhavs (as mentioned below in detail), and the
subsequent siding of Malik Amber with the Bhosales, as the cause for
Lakhujirao's disenchantment with the Nizamshahi and his desertion to
the Mughal camp).
Disenchanted, he soon returned to the Nizamshahi court.
However, the Nizam wasn't ready to forgive and forget, and he murdered Lakhujirao
along with his sons in the very court in which they had once served.
Angry at the treatment meted out to his father-in-law, Lakhuji Jadhav,
and his sons, Shahaji left the Nizamshahi's services. He rebelled
against the Nizamshahi and tried to seize the country between Junnar
Ahmednagar. Later, he joined the service of the Mughals. He served there
for a year and half (from the end of 1630 to June 1632), but finding little
scope amongst the largely predominant north Indian courtiers, he
left and joined Adil Shah I of Bijapur, who had been eyeing
the brave warrior for a long time (but Vaidya states that Shahaji's
cousins had grown jealous of him, and created bad blood between him
and the rulers of the Nizamshahi, hence Shahaji moved over to the
There his courage impressed Adil
Shah I and his deputy Murar Jagdev. But Adil Shah I died within a
year. He was succeeded by his son, Adil Shah II. This Adil Shah was
ill-disposed towards his Hindu nobles and had Murar Jagdev murdered.
Shahaji, sensing the danger to his own life, left the services of Adil
At some point in 1629, the Mughals were preparing a renewed attack on the
kingdom of Ahmednagar (after Khan Jahan Lodi, the governor of the Deccan,
had rebelled against the Delhi court and had sought refuge in
Ahmednagar). Scared, the Nizam Shah (Burhan Nizam Shah) released
Fateh Khan and made him regent again. But this time Fateh Khan
had his master murdered (Feb 1632) and installed a puppet successor
named Hussain Nizam Shah in his place. Fateh Khan therefore became the
ruler of the Nizamshahi kingdom. He even invited Shahaji Raje
Bhosale to be the commander of his forces. Shahaji accepted the
Fighting the Mughals
Fateh Khan bought temporary peace by accepting vassalage
from the Mughals. But secretly he desired freedom from the
Mughal yoke. He simultaneously opened diplomatic channels
with the Deccan kingdoms of Bijapur and Golkunda in an attempt to unite them
against the Mughals.
 Source Sir Jadunath Sarkar -
Shahaji, the son of the up-and-coming Malojirao Bhosale
 It is certain that Maloji
died at about the end of 1528 or in the middle of 1606 as in a
sanad of 'ravan'. In 1529, we have the mention of Maloji as
being deceased and subsequent documents mention Vithoji alone.
Maloji is said to have been killed in the Battle of Indapur,
fought by the Nizamshahi forces against Bijapur. With Vithoji
dying some time afterwards, the leadership of the family fell
naturally to Shahaji, son of the elder Maloji, along with his
brother Sarfoji and his eight cousins (the sons of Vithoji).
Extract C V Vaidya.
When the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, discovered
Fateh Khan's duplicity, he ordered his general, Mahabbat Khan, to
attack Ahmednagar. The Mughals came down heavily on Fateh Khan and
he was soon defeated and captured. Fateh Khan and Hussain Nizam Shah
were sent as prisoners to Delhi, and Ahmednagar was formally annexed
to the Mughal empire.
But nobles like Shahaji Raje Bhosale refused to submit to the
Mughals. He rallied the forces of Ahmednagar under him and installed
the young Murtuza III (a descendent of the Nizamshahi), as the
successor to the throne. Shahaji acted as his regent. He once again
retrieved several captured districts from the Mughals including
North Konkan. He repossessed more than a quarter of the old Nizamshahi territory
with Bijapuri help (with a revenue worth two million (or twenty lakh) 'Hun'
coins), and even thwarted Mughal attempts to seize Parenda. He
ruled on behalf of the young king for three long years.
This time the Mughals decided on another strategy. Shah Jahan sent
peace overtures to the Bijapur court. Both reached a pact in which they decided to jointly invade Ahmednagar and split the spoils of
the war amongst themselves. Shahaji was isolated and completely
He finally accepted defeat and ceded his seven earlier
captured forts to the enemy in October 1636, and as per the treaty
entered into the service of Adilshah of Bijapur. (It is said that
earlier, Shahaji had protected Shah Jahan for eight months in the
Deccan when as a prince Shah Jahan had rebelled against his father,
Jahangir, and had sought refuge in the Deccan. This prompted Shah Jahan
to spare Shahaji's life and even press Adil Shah to enlist Shahaji
in his court.)
The site of Shivaji's birthplace in Fort Shivneri
Shahaji was given the territory of Bangalur
(Bangalore in state of Karnataka ) as his jagir (estate). He was
also allowed to keep his estate of Pune and Supa.
Shivaji was born to Shahaji and his wife Jijabai, during
tumultuous period (Shivaji was born on 18 February 1630 as per Jedhe
Shakavali and referenced by Tilak, Shiv Bharata, and the Tanjore
stone inscription, against another date given by author and
historian Grant Duff on the basis of the bakhars, who gave Shivaji's
date of birth as 3 May 1627). The birth ocurred in Fort Shivneri (which was
under the care of Vishwasrao, a relative of Shahaji's), while Shahaji
was busy fighting the Nizamshahi forces.
While Jijabai gave birth to Shivaji, at the fort of
Shivneri, Shahaji was on the run from his father-in-law, Lakhuji,
both being in opposite camps. For some time there had been friction
between Lakhuji and Shahaji. Maratha sardars were attending a Durbar
(court session) of the Nizamshah. While they were departing the
palace, each one trying to crowd out the others, the elephant of a
sardar named Khandagale became unruly and trampled some footmen to
death. Dattaji, son of Jadhavrao, attacked the elephant, and a
skirmish began between him and Khandagale, with the latter being
assisted by the sons of Vithoji. A duel ensued between Dattaji and
Sambhaji, son of Vithoji, in which Dattaji was killed. Lakhji
Jadhavrao, who had already departed, heard the terrible news of his
son's death and, infuriated, returned to attack Sambhaji. Shahaji
now went to the help of his cousin Sambhaji and a battle was fought
which saw Sambhaji killed. On hearing of this scuffle, the Nizamshah
himself came out, and, intervening, he separated the combatants.
Thus began that enmity between Jadhavrao and Shahaji, according to
Shiva-Bharata, which the Bakharkars have wrongly carried back to the
time of Shahaji's marriage with Jijabai.
A selection of Maratha swords, laid around a parrying shield
One result of this scuffle was that Jadhavrao
thought that the Nizamshah was unduly in favour of the Bhosales, and
he left his service and went over to the Moguls. This desertion was
taken advantage of by Adilshah, who invited the Moguls to attack the
Nizamshahi from the north while he attacked it from the south. A
battle was fought between the two sides at Bhatavadi in 1624. This
was the time when Shahaji found himself besieged by his
father-in-law, Lakhujirao, and he sent his pregnant wife to the
safety of Fort Shivneri where she gave birth to Shivaji. Shiva-Bharata
gives a detailed description of this battle and mentions by name the
many captains in the three armies, namely of Delhi, Bijapur and
Eventually Malik Amber obtained a signal victory
over the two allies, Muila Mahmad, Sar-Lashkar of Bijapur, being
killed and many captains of the Mogul and Bijapur armies being taken
prisoner. The Bhosales fought bravely on Malik Amber's side,
Sharifji (Shahaji's brother) being among the slain in the army of
Ahmednagar. This was Shahaji's first brilliant exploit on the
battlefield. The battle is referred to in a letter of Pedro, an
Italian traveller, dated 31 October 1624 which supports the account
of Shiva-Bharata and may therefore be taken to have been fought some
time in the middle of that year.
It is probable that at this time Shahaji received
as a reward the mokasas ('inams' means reward while 'jagirs' means
estates) of Poona and Supa, which were beyond the Bhima and which
were, as stated before, the subjects of frequent conflicts between
Ahmednagar and Bijapur. Shahaji was appointed Sar-Lashkar or general
in the Ahmednagar army. Shiva-Bharata relates that the sons of
Vithoji became jealous of Shahaji's greatness from this point. Malik
Amber seems to have supported Shahaji's cousins in the quarrel, as
it was in his interests to encourage disputes in the powerful
The tomb of Malojirao Bhosale, grandfather of Shivaji at Verul
Shahaji was dissatisfied and he retired
to Poona where he built a house for himself. From there he was
invited by Ibrahim Adilshah to enter his service and Shahaji with
his followers became an Adilshahi sardar. This is supported by a
document dated 19 December 1625, in which Shahaji is contemptuously
described as 'Shahaji Bhosala, Adilshahi'. Another document, a sanad
dated 28 July, describes him, however, as 'Meherban Shahaji Raje
Sarlashkar'. Both these documents relate to the Poona District and
show that in July 1625, Shahaji was a Sarlashkar or commander of
forces in the Nizamshahi and enjoyed the fief of Poona. In December
1625 he was in the Adilshah's service and Poona had been taken away
from him. Shahaji rendered important services to the Adilshah by
conquering Mudhoji of Phaltan and some refractory chiefs in Karnatic
and in Keral. He remained in the Adilshah's service from about
October 1625 to about the end of 1627.
From a document dated 10 January 1626, it
appears that he was then a Sarlashkar in the Adilshahi, and at his
request the Adilshah granted the desagata of Talebid and some rights
to the fort of Panhala to Sambhaji and Dharoji Mohite. These were
probably relatives of Shahaji's second wife who belonged to the
Mohite family. In May 1626 Malik Amber died and about a year or so
after Ibrahim Adilshah had also died. The former was succeeded by
his son Fattehkhan, who was favourably disposed towards Shahaji, and
the latter by Mahomed Adilshah who was a staunch Shia and an
Maratha axes, parrying shield, swords, and daggers
The change of policy initiated by the latter
shall be covered in due course; but Shahaji now thought it safe to
leave his service and go to the Nizamshah, his old master. He
received back his Poona mansab to which was apparently added Patas.
It also seems that the Nizamshahi was threatened at this time by
Shahjahan and Shahaji, being called by the Nizamshah, thought it
proper to join his old master. The Poona pergana with Patas was
given him again and he was sent against the advancing Mogul force.
Shahaji remained in this service till the fall of Nizamshahi in
1636, with the exception of a short interval, when he had gone over
to the Moguls (covered below) .
 Source for text on Shivaji's
birth to 1636 inclusive: C V Vaidya.
From Jijabai, Shahaji already had an elder son
in Sambhaji. When
settled in Bangalore, Shahaji took on a second wife called Tukabai, from
the Mohite family. This act has been attributed as the reason why Jijabai moved away, along with her son Shivaji, to their estate in
Pune. But historians differ on this. Some say that it was a regular
practice in those days for people of higher social standing to have
more than two wives, so Jijabai couldn't possibly have been
displeased on this account, and she had agreed to move to Pune only
to manage Shahaji's estates there (because, as per the treaty
with Bijapur, Shahaji wasn't to enter the boundaries of the old
Ahmednagar kingdom, lest he decided to rebel again). Sambhaji stayed
on with his father Shahaji, and his step mother Tukabai, while Shivaji grew up in the wild lands of Pune under the care of his
mother, Jijabai, and his guardian (and the manager of his estates), Dadoji
Later, when Shivaji grew into manhood, he challenged the very
court of Bijapur, where his father Shahaji was a courtier. In all
probability Shahaji supported his son's activities, due to which, for a brief period, Shahaji even had to face
confinement in Bijapuri prison. The Bijapuri forces even invaded Shahaji's estates
at Bangalore and Pune. But his brave sons, Sambhaji at Bangalore and
Shivaji at Pune, stoically repelled these attacks. Soon the Bijapur
court reached a compromise of sorts and Shahaji was released from
prison. During this period Sambhaji was killed, treacherously
murdered as historians say, by Afzal Khan, a fellow Bijapur courtier
and Shahaji's most bitter rival. But Shivaji had his
revenge when he killed Afzal Khan in an later encounter.
Shahaji's son Ekoji (or Vyankoji) from Tukabai went on to establish
the royal Bhosala dynasty at Thanjavur (in Tamil Nadu state, south
India). Shahaji died in an accident when he was thrown from his horse. Shahaji died in 1665.
There are different versions of the Bhosale origins. Some
(including Shivaji) claimed descent from the Sisodiya clan of
Chittor, in Rajasthan, while one historian, Dr Ramchandra Dhere, has
even claimed their origins from the Hoysalas of Karnataka (Bhosale-Bhosala
being a distortion of Hoysala). But the Rajput theory seems better documented.
Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was the founder of the
Some of the Bhosale genealogical claims are as
Note: From an enquiry by Pandit Sukhdeo
Prasadji, prime minister of Udaipur, it appears that "the name
Bhosaji, does not occur in their genealogical tables nor is it
common among Rajputs". It is probable that this name was inserted by
pedigree-writers to explain the surname .
Thanjavur stone inscription (surprisingly
very different from Maratha records)
Venkoji - Sharabhoji (came to southern India) - Mahasena - Ekashiva -
Ramachandra - Bhimaraya - Ekoji - Variha - EkojI II - Brahmaji -
Shahaji - Ambaji - Parasoji - Babaji - Maloji - Shahaji - Ekoji or
Vyankoji (first Maratha king of Thanjavur).
The Jintikars of Gwalior give the following
Bakhtaji (came to southern India from the north) - Nagoji - Ekoji/Vyankoji
- Babaji - Maloji - ShahajI - Sambhaji (elder brother of Shivaji) -
Umaji - Parsoji (may not be a real son) - Jintikar Bhosales.
Note 1: the 'Rajput Theory' puts forward an
alternative version of Shivaji's history, and this is available to
read via the link in the sidebar, right.
Note 2: As per the History of the Marathas
by C A Kincaid and Rao Bahadur D B Parasnis, Lakshman Singh was the
ancestor of the house of Udaipur. One of the family, Devrajji by
name, fled to the Deccan after a quarrel with the Rana of Udaipur.
There he and his descendants assumed the name of Bhosle from the
family fief of Bhosavat in Udaipur. Another story is that two
brothers, Kheloji and Malkamaji or Maloji, came together from
Udaipur to offer their services as free lances (hence the word
freelancer) to the king of Ahmadnagar. Khelkamaji or Kheloji died in
battle. Malkamaji was drowned while bathing in a river. Malkamaji's
son Babaji purchased the Patilki or headship of the village of Verul
near Daulatabad. Babaji had two sons, Maloji and Vithoji, who were
the real founders of the greatness of the Bhosle family.
All genealogies are pretty conflicting, but there is a common
lineage amongst all the Maratha genealogies, ie. from Babaji to
Maloji to Shahaji to Shivaji.
There is a lot of controversy about whether the Bhosales were indeed
descendents branching out from the famous rajput clan of the
Sisodias. The Sisodiyas in turn claim to belong to the earliest of
the ruling dynasties (the 'Suryavanshis' or descendents of the Solar
dynasty from Ishvaku and the Raghu vanshis of the Ramayana) from
ancient India. The Sisodiya clan boasts of great kings like Rana
Sangha and Rana Pratap and a connection from them to the reviver of
Hindu fortunes (Shivaji) after a long period of Islamic rule is indeed
It is alleged by many historians, such as Sir J Sarkar,
that Gaga Bhatt, the Brahmin from Benaras, contrived Shivaji's genealogy
for the Sisodiyas, in order to prove him a Kshatriya (warrior), when
in reality he was of the shudra (peasant) stock, so that he could be crowned
officially. But many historians including the contemporaries of Shivaji have
attested to the fact that Shivaji was indeed a Rajput Kshatriya. Some
of the notables amongst them were:
Shivabharata of Paramananda: Shivaji and Shahji
are of the Ikshvaku lineage, just like the Sisodiyas.
Parnalaparvata grahanakhyana states that Shivaji
is a Sisodia.
Hindi poet Bhushan speaks of the Bhosales being
In his letter to Sultan Adilshah, Shahji states
he is a Rajput.
Mughal historian Khafi Khan describes Shivaji as
a descendent of the ranas of Chittor. (Khafi Khan was a very harsh critic
of Shivaji and has even personalised his accounts, condemning Shivaji to
hell. Khafi Khan has claimed that though Shivaji's ancestors did come from
the family of ranas of Chittor, they (Dilip Singh) were their illegitimate offspring.
But Khafi Khan was a Islamic historian and most of his accounts of Shivaji
are very harsh and biased).
An intelligence dispatch by the East India Company
from 28 November 1659 reports: "Sevagy (Shivaji), a great rashpoote
(Rajput) issues forth from his fort of Rayguhr (Raigad) to strike blows on
the emperor, Duccan, Golconda and the Portuguese".
Tod and Ojha, who had access to the Rajput records,
claimed that as per those records there is a mention of the Bhosles
descending from Ajay Singh, the uncle of Vir Hammir.
Radha Madhava Vilasa Champu by the poet Jayarama
(written in the court of Shahaji at Banglur, 1654) describes Shivaji as
descending from the Sisodias of Chittor. Jayarama's poetry was
composed much before Shivaji's coronation.
The fort of Raigad which was the base of Shivaji in 1659
Note: We find that this same Rajput descent has been mentioned
by Jayaram who, years before Shivaji's coronation, wrote a poem on
Shahaji. Therein he says that Shahaji was descended from Dalip, born
in the family of the Rana who was the foremost among all kings of
the earth. This Dalip was, we find, a grandson of Lakshmanasen, rana
of Chitod, who came to the throne in 1303.
One of those sons of Ajay Singh, Sajjan Singh, founded the Bhosale
clan in Maharashtra.
Sajjan Singh was considered to be the patriarch of the Nagpur Bhosales.
According to the Chitnis bakhar, after the death of Shivaji, (with his
sons, Sambhaji under house arrest in Panhala and Rajaram being
absent), Sabaji Bhosale of Nagpur, who was serving in Shivaji's army,
performed the final rites for Shivaji, which is possible only for a
Moreover, Shahu, Shivaji's grandson was childless, so he wanted to
make one of the Nagpur Bhosales his successor (to the Maratha throne of Satara),
before finally settling for Rajaram's descendent, as he was closer from amongst
Shahu's kin. Again this can be possible if the Nagpur Bhosales were indeed
relatives of the Bhosales of Satara.
From this it can be seen that there are several reasons
for the theory that Shivaji did indeed have Rajput genes and those of the Sisodiyas in particular.
The fort of Devgiri, later known as Daultabad, eleven kilometres
north-west of Aurangabad
Duff, James Grant - History of the
Mahrathas, Exchange Press, Bombay
Kincaid, C A & Rao Bahadur D B Parasnis - A
History of the Maratha People, Humphrey Milford Oxford