Today is the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj who was one of the bravest, most progressive, most secular and sensible rulers of India. He was one of few rulers who practiced true religious tolerance and was true founder of SWARAJYA. Born on 19 February 1630 at Shivneri Fort near Pune, Chhatrapati Shivaji, over the course of his life, engaged in both alliances and hostilities with the Mughal Empire, Sultanate of Golkonda and Sultanate of Bijapur, as well as European colonial powers.
The greatness of Shivaji’s genius can be fully realized not from the extent of the kingdom he won for him, nor from the value of the hoarded treasure he left behind him, but from a survey of the conditions amidst which he rose to sovereignty.
According to well-known historian Jadunath Sarkar, “Shivaji was truly an original explore, the maker of a new road in medieval Indian history, which no example or guide before him. When he chose to declare his independence, the Mughal Empire seemed to be at the height of its glory. Every local chief who had, anywhere in India, revolted against it had been crushed by the Mughals. For a small jagirdar’s son to defy its power, appeared as an act of madness, a courting of sure ruin, Shivaji, however, chose this path of Swarajya and he succeeded.
His success can be explained only by the analysis of his political genius.”
In the book “Shivaji and His Times’ Jadunath Sarkar writes—“Shivaji had proved that the Hindu race can still produce not only zamindars (or non-commissioned officer) and clerks, but also rulers of men, and even a King of kings (Chhatrapati). Shivaji has shown that the tree of Hindusim is not really dead, that it can rise from the beneath the seemingly crushing load of centuries of political bondage, exclusion from the administration, and legal repression; it can put forth new leaves and branches; it can again lift its head up to the skies.”
Leadership means handling people; gathering them, keeping them along and maturing them. Shivaji possessed the true master’s gift of judging character at sight and choosing the fittest instruments for his work.
According to Prof Namdev Rao Jadhav, who has authored several books on Chhatrapati Shivaji and Maratha history, Shivaji was not only great in ‘Leadership’, but he had proved his ‘Management Skills’. Apart from Maharashtra or Maratha, his army consisted of people from 13 nations that includes—British, French, Portuguese, dutch, Bhilla, Gond, Telugu, Kannadi, Tamillion, north Bundellian, Gujarathi, Rajasthani etc. He was the first King in the world who used to offer a guarantee of employment. He was widely known for his guerrilla warfare tactics. His awareness in the geography of his land, and guerrilla tactics like raiding, ambushing and surprise attacks on his enemies was so brilliant.
Shivaji’s private life was marked by a high standard of morality. He was a devoted son, a loving father and an attentive husband. According to Prof Namdev Rao Jadhav, -- “Another name was Shivaji Maharaj is discipline. His discipline was so strict that even General or minister could not dare to break it. When Netaji Palkar (his Army General) had gotten lad and could not reach at a given time, he was directly dismissed instead of giving memo, warning or reminder.”
In the summer of 1674, Shivaji had himself enthroned with great fanfare as an independent sovereign. The suppressed Hindu majority rallied to him as their leader. During his 35 years of ruling, Shivaji constructed more than 110 forts and reconstructed or got renovated 49 forts. And there were 360 forts were in possession of Shivaji’s kingdom. Prominent and famous among them were ---Raigarh, Sinhgarh, Shivneri, Pratapgarh, Vishalgarh, Mangarh, Bhivgarh, Sudhagarh, Jaigarh, Bhavangarh, Kangori, Moujgarh, etc.
Shivaji is also known as the Father of Indian Navy because he was the first to realise the importance of having a naval force, and therefore he strategically established a navy and forts at the coastline to defend the Konkan side of Maharashtra. The Jaigad, Vijaydurg, Sindhudurg and other such forts still stand to testify his efforts and ideas.