Shivaji Bhonsle also known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, was an Indian warrior king and a member of the Bhonsle Maratha clan. Shivaji carved out an enclave from the declining Adilshahi sultanate of Bijapur that formed the genesis of the Maratha Empire. In 1674, he was formally crowned as the Chhatrapati (Monarch) of his realm at Raigad.
Shivaji established a competent and progressive civil rule with the help of a disciplined military and well-structured administrative organisations. He innovated military tactics, pioneering the guerrilla warfare methods (Shiva Sutra or Ganimi Kava), which leveraged strategic factors like geography, speed, and surprise and focused pinpoint attacks to defeat his larger and more powerful enemies. He revived ancient Hindu political traditions and court conventions and promoted the usage of Marathi and Sanskrit, rather than Persian, in court and administration.
Shivaji’s legacy was to vary by observer and time but began to take on increased importance with the emergence of the Indian independence movement, as many elevated him as a proto-nationalist and hero of the Hindus. Particularly in Maharashtra, debates over his history and role have engendered great passion and sometimes even violence as disparate groups have sought to characterise him and his legacy.
Shivaji was born in the hill-fort of Shivneri, near the city of Junnar in Pune district on 6 April 1627 or 19 Feb. 1630. The Government of Maharashtra accepts 19 February 1630 as his birthdate, other suggested dates include 6 April 1627 or other dates near this day. Per legend, his mother named him Shivaji in honour of the goddess Shivai, to whom she had prayed for a healthy child. Shivaji was named after this local deity. Shivaji’s father Shahaji Bhonsle was a Maratha general who served the Deccan Sultanates. His mother was Jijabai, the daughter of Lakhujirao Jadhav of Sindkhed (Sindkhed Raja).
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj founded the Hindu Kingdom in the Deccan against all odds, fighting against the mighty Mughals. He inspired and united the masses to fight the tyranny of Mughal ruler Aurangzeb, by inculcating a sense of pride and nationality in them. Shivaji Maharaj successfully led and marshalled his forces to cope and overcome several major enemy invasions of his territories. He was also relentless in expand-ing his Kingdom’s boundaries.
The history of Bharat is incomplete without the history of the Marathas and Shivaji Maharaj is the nucleus of Maratha history. Shivaji Maharaj has been a source of inspiration and pride to the past generations and will continue to inspire generat-ions in the future too. We pay our obeisance to this great Hindu King on his birth anniversary, which falls on 19th February 2008