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Early Modern India

The Marathas: Shivaji

by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha, 4 April 2010

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

Part 3: All the Kings Men

Shivaji was a great judge of human character. He was a great leader who inspired loyalty in his people. His men willingly laid down their lives for his cause.

There was many a person who rose to prominence in his kingdom and became legends in their own right.

Here is a list of some of his celebrated warriors:

  • Kanhoji Jedhe (Shahaji's trusted aide, assisted Shivaji in his early battles).
  • Gomaji Naik (earlier employee of Lakhuji Jadhavrao. He was sent along with Jijabai to serve the Bhosales. An early aide of Shivaji).
  • Baji Pasalkar (one of the earliest aides of Shivaji.He was the deshmukh of Muse Khore. He was one of the earliest martyrs who laid down his life fighting the Adilshahi).
  • Yesaji Kank (one of the early aides of Shivaji. He was the killedar of Torna fort).
  • Phirangoji Narsala (defended Chakan fort against Shaista Khans army).
  • Netaji Palkar (commander-in-chief of Shivaji's army).
  • Baji Prabhu Deshpande (laid down his life at Pawan Khind and allowed Shivaji's escape from Panhala).
  • Murar Baji Deshpande (defended fort Purander with his life against Diler Khan the Mughal commander).
  • Chimnaji Deshpande (was a part of Shivaji's team that raided Shaistakhan at Lal Mahal, Pune).
  • Bapuji Mudgal Deshpande (wrested Kondana fort by guile from the Adilshahi).
  • Prataprao Gujar (commander-in-chief of Shivaji's army).

  • Hambirrao Mohite (commander-in-chief of Shivaji's army).
  • Tanaji Malusare (laid down his life while capturing Kondana from the Mughals).
  • Suryaji Malusare (assisted his brother Tanaji in capturing Kondana, spearheaded the Maratha forces after Tanaji fell).
  • Bahirji Naik (Shivaji's famous spy).
  • Moro Trimbak Pingale (Shivaji's Peshwa).
  • Hiroji Farzand (replaced Shivaji at Agra. Was said to be a lookalike of Shivaji).
  • Jiva Mahala (Shivaji's bodyguard who slew Sayyid Banda, associate of Afzal Khan).
  • Sambhaji Kavji (beheaded the escaping Afzal Khan).
  • Baji Bandal (assisted in the attack on Afzal Khans forces and during the Battle of Pawankhind).
  • Daulat Khan (Shivaji's naval admiral).
  • Darya Sarang (Shivaji's naval commander).
  • Noor Khan Beg (Shivaji's first Sarnobat).
  • Ibrahim Khan (Shivaji's naval commander).
  • Madari Mehtar (Shivaji's bodyguard during Agra visit).
  • Baji Jedhe (son of Kanhoji Jedhe).
  • Siddi Hilal (assisted Shivaji during Battle of Kolhapur).
  • Siddi Sambal (was once in charge of Mughal navy, but fell out with his fellow Siddi's (Qasim and Khairiyat of Janjira) and joined Shivaji).
In Depth
  • Siddi Misri (nephew of Siddi Sambal, who switched sides to Shivaji along with Siddi Sambal and died in battle for Sambhaji fighting Siddi Qasim of Janjira).
  • Haider Ali Kohari (he was a warrior and also an Islamic scholar. He also served as Shivaji's secretary).
  • Antaji Konde-Deshmukh (Antaji Konde-Deshmukh was associated with Shivaji in his initial period when Shivaji first came to Pune from Shivneri and got settled in Lal Mahal. It was 1636 when, the family met Jijabai and offered her their own house to stay. He was associated with Bapuji Mudgal deshpande at Khed).
  • Santaji Ghorpade (later played a prominent role after Sambhaji's death in battling the Mughals).
  • Dhanaji Jadhav (son of Sambhaji Jadhavlater played a prominent role after Sambhajis death in battling the Mughals, along with Santaji Ghorpade).
  • Balaji Avaji Chitnis (Shivaji's secretary).
  • Rango Narayan Orpe Sarpotdar (defeated the Adilshahi army at Vishalgad, later made the killedar of Vishalgad fort).
  • Kavaji Kondhalkar (First Battle of Shivaji Maharaj - Shirval khot).
  • Sambhaji Jadhav (laid down his life in the Battle of Pawan khind).
  • Raghunath Ballal (killed Hanumantrao More of Javli. Played an important role during the expedition of Tale, Ghosale, where he fell ill and died).
  • Vyankoji Datto (played an important role during the expedition of Danda Rajapuri).
  • Bhimaji Wagh (early aide of Shivaji).
  • Sambhaji Kate (early aide of Shivaji).
  • Shivaji Ingle (early aide of Shivaji)
  • Bhikaji Chor (early aide of Shivaji).
  • Bhairav Chor (early aide of Shivaji).
  • Godaji Jagtap-Patil (early aide of Shivaji).
  • Ragho Atre (early aide of shivaji. Played an prominent role while routing Afzal Khans army).
  • Hussain Fahn Miyan, Siddi Wahwaha, Siddi Ambar Wahad, Sultan Khan.
  • Daud Khan, Harji Nimbalkar, Fullaji Prabhu Deshpande, Gangadhar Pant.
  • Keso Narayan Deshpande, Kondaji Farjand, Lay Patil Koli.
  • Ajitsingh Paigude Deshmukh, Neelkanthrao Surnaik, Suryaji Kakade.
  • Yesaji Dabhade, Laksmanrao Paigude Deshmukh, Ramoji Dhamale Deshmukh.
  • Jaswantrao Dalvi, Palvan, Indroji Gawade, Kaldhonde, Kondaji Vadkhale.
  • Krushnaji Bhaskar, Gunoji Darekar, Changoji Kadu, Dhavalekar.
  • Tansavant Bhosale, Tansavant Mavale, Tanaji Tunduskar, Tukoji Kadu.
  • Trimbak Prabhu, Dattaji Idilkar, Nagoji Pralhad, Javaji Mahanlaj, Jamaji Paye.
  • Balajirao Darekar, Bhakaji Dalvi, Mahadji Farzand, Mal Sawant.
  • Munbaji Benmana, Mudholji Sondeo, Yesaji Darekar, Pilaji Gole, Pilaji Sanas.
  • Ram Dalvi, Ramaji More, Vithoji Lad, Sonn Dalve, Hiroji Bhaldar, Hiroji Marathe.

  • Shama Khan, Anandrao Hasham Hazari, Udoji Pawar, Krishnaji Ghatage.

  • Khandoji Jagtap, Gondaji Jagtap, Gunoji Shirke, Jetoji Katkar, Tukoji Nimbalkar.

  • Shivajirao Telangrao Sardar, Bhavanrao Sardar, Baloji Katkar, Yesaji Katkar.

  • Manaji More, Ramji Kakade, Rupaji Bhosale, Vaghoji Shirke, Venkoji Khandkar.

  • Santaji Jagtap, Niloji Phate, Nimbaji Patole, Parsoji Bhosale, Sambhaji Hanbirao.

  • Savaji Mohite, Amaroji Pandare, Uchale, Krushnaji Bhandade, Keroji Pawar.

  • Chando Narayan, Chando Hirdeo, Janrao Waghmare, Trimbak Vithal.

  • Devaji Ughade, Narsoji Shitole, Nagoji Ballal, Nemaji Shinde, Bayaji Gadadare.

  • Balwantrao Gadkate, Bahirji Ghorpade, Bahirji Vadgare, Balaji Nilkant.

  • Balaji Bahirav, Khemani, Khandoji Atole, Ganesh Tukdeo, Ganesh Shivdeo,

  • Balaji Shivtare, Mahadji Narayanrao, Maloji Thorat, Mudhoji Thorat, Ragho Balal.

  • Ramaji Janardhan, Sankaroji Mane, Hiroji Shelke.

Besides these illustrious men there were many unknown soldiers who contributed to Shivaji's Swarajya ('The Freed Land').

Shivaji's Forts

Achalgiri, Ahivantgad, Ankole-Koat, Kurudu or Mandargad, Kushtarga Koat, Kechar Koat, Kopalgad, Kondhana or Shingad, Khelna or Vishalgad, Dhangad, Chandan, Chaud or Prasanngad, Jaygad, Javalegad, Jivdhan, Mahulegad, Mangalur Koat, Yelbargigad, Rasalgad, Rangana or Parshidhagad, Rohidagad, Thakarigad, Tanvada, Trimbak or Shrigad, Noobadgad, Panalgad, Paraligad or Sajjangad, Pali or Sarasgad, Pandavgad, Purandhar, Phonda Koat, Bahadurgad, Bhorap or Sudhagad, Madgirigad, Manohargad, Masitwade or Mangad, Vandangad, Shiveshavar Koat, Satargad, Salerigad, Salobhagad, Lavadkoat, Linganagad, Lohagad, Valabhagad, Hadpsar or Parvatgad, Harushgad, and Haliyal.

Forts Shivaji built or reconstructed

Anjanveli, Kthorgad, Kankandrigad, Kapalgad, Kamargad, Kamalgad, Kalanidhigad, Kambalgad, Kangori or Mangalgad, Kanchangad, Kangorigad, Kunjargad, Kelanja, Kothalagad, Kohajgad, Kholgad, Gagangad, Gajendragad, Gadagad, Gahangad, Gandharvagad, Gambhirgad, Janjire Kulaba, Janjire Khanderi, Janjire Ratanagiri, Bhaskargad, Bhivgad, Janjire Vijayduraga, Janjire Shindhuduraga, Janjire Suvarnadurga, Dholagad, Tikona or Vitandgad, Tunggad or Kathingad, Torana or Prachandgad, Dahigad, Nargundgad or Mahadgad, Nanchanagad, Nakgad, Patgad, Patakagad, Padmagad, Pavitragad, Pargad, Pavangad, Prachitgad, Pratapgad, Prondagad, Balvantgad, Bahiravgad or saranga, Bahulgad, Baleraja, Botgiri Koat, Ramsejgad, Rudramalgad, Bhudargad, Bhushangad, Machaindragad, Madangad, Mardangad, Manranjangad, Mahindragad, Mayorgad or Navalgund, Mahipatgad, Mahipalgad, Mahimangad, Mangalgad, Mandangad, Mandargad, Manikgad, Murgod, Mohangad, Yelurkoat, Rajegad, Ravalagad, Rajkot, Rajgad, Ramdurga, Sundargad, Sevanagad, Sevakgad, Lokalgad, Loanjagad, Vardhangad, Vangad, Vasantgad, Valabhagad, Varugad, Vasota or Vyagragad, Virgad or Ghosala, Vairatgad, Venktgad, Shrigaldavagad, Shrimantgad, Shrivardangad, Sabalgad, Sargad, Sahangad, Samangad, Sarangagad, Sindhichangad, Sidhagad, Subakargad, Sumangad, Surgad, Songad, and Harishachandragad.

Other Gadkot forts in Shivaji's kingdom

Arkotgad, Karnatakagad, Kasturigad, Kevalgad, Krishnagiri chandi, Krushnagiri gad, Kujargad, Gagangad, Gavargad chandi, Chavi kot, chelgadchandi, Chintahar kot, Jagadevgad, Trichandikot, Trikalur, Trimalkot, Devgad, Prabalgad, Prangad, Bahiravgad, Birge Valugugad, Madgad, Mangad, Malakarajungad, Malharrajgad, Martandgad, Yeshvantgad, Ratangad, Ranjangad, Ramgad, Lavvad chandi, Vishalgad, Vetaval or kemal, Vrudhacalkot, Devanapati kot, Sarangadchandi, Sidhagad, Sudarshangad, Subhakot, and Nilsajitgad.

Forts in the Karanataka region

Shrivardhangad, Ahinijadurga, Akatigad, Arajungad, Bramagad, Bhanjangad, Banturgad, Bhaskargad, Kattargad, Kailasgad, Kolar Kadim, Kolhar, Ganeshgad, Chandangad, Thamakurkoat, Durgamgad, Nandigad, Padavirgad, Palegad, Pimpala or Prakashgad, Balapur Bhor, Bindanur, Bhuravdgad, Bundikot, Bhimagad near Kapsheri, Bhumandangad, Makarandgad, Mardangad, Mandonmattgad chandi, Mahipalgad, Mahimandangad, Mukhanegad Kotvel, Mej Kolhargad, Yelur Kot, Rajgad Chandi, Vajragad, Saragad, Soamshankargad, and Hatmalgad.

Shivaji's council of ministers

In the early days of Dadoji Kondeo, the council of ministers was composed of four officers only: the Peshwa (chief minister), the Majumdar (auditor), the Dabir (foreign secretary), and the Sabnis (paymaster). After the death of Dadoji, Shivaji added a Sarnaubat (master of the horse and commander-in-chief of the army), and a second Dabir to the four positions mentioned. After the conquest of Javli (1656), the council was further expanded by creating a Surnis (superintendent to keep the palace accounts), and a Waqnis (chronicler), and two distinct commanders for the infantry and the cavalry. After his return from Agra, Shivaji appointed a Nyayaadheesh (lord justice) to try all suits in the kingdom according to the Sanskrit law books. By 1674 (at the time of his coronation), the number of ministers had risen to eight, and were known as the Ashta Pradhan (the council of eight ministers). The role of these ministers was more or less advisory and Shivaji kept all the strings of the administration in his own hands. (Source: J Sarkar.)

Shivaji's army organisation

Every fort and outpost was placed under three officers of equal status: the Havaldar (chief constable), the Sabnis, and the Sarnaubat. Stores and provisions for the forts were under the care of the Karkhanis.

In the state cavalry (paga), the unit was formed by 25 troopers (bargirs), over 25 men was placed one havaaldar, over five havaaldars was one jumlaadaar, over ten jumlaadaars (or 1,250 men) was one hazari. Over five hazaris was the sarnaubat.

The Silahdaars, or troopers, supplied their own horses and arms and acted under the Sarnaubat.

In the infantry, there was one Nayak (corporal) to every nine Paiks (privates), over five nayaks one havaldar, over two-three havaldars one jumladar, and over ten jumladars one hazari. Over seven hazaris were one Sarnaubat of the infantry.

Shivaji inspects his naval forts
Shivaji inspects his naval forts


Shivaji's revenue system and administration

Earlier it was seen that the revenue collectors for the sultanates (the Patils, Desais, Deshmukhs, etc), were powerful in their own right and at times challenged even their king's armed forces. They often behaved like tyrants in their fiefs, often harassing the ryat (citizens). Shivaji therefore saw to it that the castles and armies of these revenue collectors were dismantled. Even the military fief holders were divested of any political power. Their land was subjected to assessment like the fields of the other ryat . Also, it was ensured that no one was given proprietary rights over an entire village. The revenue officers were kept on a fixed salary. By this means, no individual officer was made powerful enough and was kept under the purview of the law just like any other citizen.

Shivaji also ensured a fixed tax that was to be taken from the ryat, unlike before. Shivaji provided seeds, fertilisers, soft loans to the farmers. He evenly distributed his land between his subjects. He took into consideration the rain and the harvest before levying his taxes.

Shivaji's religious policy

Though a devout Hindu, Shivaji had a very liberal policy towards other religions. Shivaji's spiritual teacher was Swami Ramdas, whom he had had seated in Fort Parali, and who was later named Sajjangadh. But Shivaji had tremendous reverence towards seers of other faiths as well, such as Pir Baba Yakut, a Sufi saint. Shivaji's respect for the holy book, the Quran, is even conceded by his critic, Mughal historian Khafi Khan. Shivaji had given standing instructions to his men that in any encounter, if they came across any holy book including the Quran, it was not to be defiled, but treated with the utmost respect. Also, religious places belonging to other faiths were not to be desecrated.

At the same time Shivaji was a proud Hindu, and was always quick to take up the Hindu cause. When Aurangzeb levied the Jaziya Tax on his non-Muslim subjects, Shivaji sent him a bold letter castigating him for his intolerance and bigotry. But Shivaji himself never was fanatical about his religion. He never advocated forceful conversions to Hinduism. He allowed people of other faiths to practice their religion without the fear of persecution. No wonder he had such a large number of Muslim officers in his army, even in the highest ranks.

Shivaji's family

In keeping with the prevalent practice of those times, Shivaji had eight wives. His marriages were matrimonial alliances which gained him the support of the powerful families of Maharashtra.

His first wife was Saibai from the house of the Nimbalkars of Phaltan. He married her sometime in 1641 (she died in September 1657). She bore him his eldest son Sambhaji and three daughters: Sakwarbai, also known as Savitribai, who married Mahadji Nimbalkar of Phaltan; Ranoobai, who married into the family of the Jadhavraos; and Ambikabai, who married Harjiraje Mahadik (later governor of Jinji).
His second wife was Sagunabai, a close relative of his commander, Netaji Palkar. She became mother of Rajkunwarbai, who married Ganoji Shirke (he was in the service of the Mughals).

Shivaji's third wife was Sakwarbai from the house of the Gaikwads (married on 10 January 1657). She bore a daughter called Kamlabai who married the son of Netaji Palkar. Sakwarbai's brother, Sakhoji, was blinded by Shivaji, allegedly for a moral lapse.

Shivaji's fourth wife was Kashibai (who died on 6 February 1674), from the family of Jadhavraos. She had no issue.

Shivaji's fifth wife was Putlabai (married 15 April 1657) from the Ingle family. Putlabai performed Sati on the death of Shivaji.

Shivaji's sixth wife was Soyrabai from the family of Mohites. She bore him a son named Rajaram and a daughter named Dadubai aka Balubai. Soyrabai died on 27 October 1681, allegedly after being imprisoned by Sambhaji after she tried instating her son Rajaram onto the throne after the death of Shivaji. Rajaram succeeded to the throne after the death of Sambhaji.

Shivaji had two more wives, Laxmibai and Gunwantabai. Not many details are available about them.

Shivaji's character and personal attributes

Shivaji was a person of impeccable character. This probably was something to do with the upbringing of his mother, Jijabai. She had raised him to be a man of virtuousness and had instilled into him the values of rectitude. He was always conscious of the honour of the womenfolk. Shivaji was very chivalrous in his behaviour towards them. He never gave free rein to his lust and also expected the same moral high standards from his men. He had issued orders to his army that no womenfolk were to be touched during raids into enemy territory. There are records of him having punished even his close relatives for moral infringements against women. There are stories of him returning the captive daughter-in-law of the Muslim governor of Kalyan (who was taken a prisoner during a raid), unharmed and with full honours.

Shivaji was a great judge of human character. No wonder he was able to hand pick gems from amongst the people who ably supported him in his goal of swarajya. He inspired people with his personal morality and loftiness of aim, and people willingly gave their lives for his cause.

Shivaji's bravery is also without doubt, after all he dared to challenge the supremacy of two great powers, when his contemporaries preferred meek submission to them. But at the same time Shivaji was never reckless. When the moment arose, he always thought it prudent to retreat rather than to risk lives. But after waiting patiently for the right opportunity, he struck back at the enemy with equal vigour. His military astuteness is very evident.

Shivaji was very austere in his tastes. He never spent lavishly on constructing magnificent palaces, rather he spent his wealth constructing strong and practical forts which provided security for his kingdom. He never indulged himself in the worldly pleasures, rather he preferred spending his time and money on his people and their welfare. Shivaji was devoid of vices.

He lived his life like a puritan as per the code of morality set up by his mother Jijabai and his spiritual guru, Ramdas Swami.

Shivaji's greatness is not gauged from the territory he added, nor by the treasure he left behind, but as J Sarkar says, from the survey of the conditions amidst which he rose to sovereignty. His other achievement was the feeling he gave his ryat, that the kingdom he had formed was their own kingdom, created for their well being.

Shivaji was a devoted son, very respectful towards his elders and seers, a loving husband, and a doting father. Shivaji had in him all the prerequisites of an ideal man (a Maryada Purushottam, like Lord Ram).

No wonder Shivaji was deified as a demigod in his state.

 

Main Sources

Bendre, W S and Patil, Vishwas - Works on Sambhaji

Duff, James Grant - History of the Mahrattas, Associated Publishing House, New Delhi, 1971

Kincaid G A - A History of the Maratha People, Oxford University Press, London, 1918

Pagadi, Setu Madhavrao - Chatrapati Shivaji, Continental Prakashan

Prasad, L - Studies in Indian History, Cosmos Bookhive, Gurgaon, 2000

Sardesai, G S - Riyasat

Sarkar, Sir Jadunath - Shivaji and his Times, Orient Longman

Spear, Thomas George Percival - Penguin History of India Volume II, Penguin, London, 1999

Takakhav, N S - The Life of Shivaji Maharaj, adapted and translated from the work in Marathi by K A Keluskar, Manoranjan Press, Bombay.

Vaidya, C V - Shivaji, the founder of Maratha Swaraj, S R Sardesai, Navin Samartha Vidyalaya's Samartha Bharat Press, Poona.

Plus P Bhosale, J Pawar and M Tendulkar.

 

 

     
Copyright
Text copyright Abhijit Rajadhyaksha. An original feature for the History Files.