Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Biography

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj - The Creator of Purna Swaraj

Shivaji Maharaj is also spelled as Sivaji was born on 19 February 1630. He was born at Shivneri which is a hill fort in Junnar in Poona, now known as Pune. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj took birth into a family of bureaucrats. His father Shahji Bhonsale was a great Maratha general in the army of Bijapur Sultanate and his mother Jijabai was a great devotee of religion. He was the founder of the great Maratha kingdom of India. He was one of the bravest and marvelous rulers in the 17th century.

 

Life History of Shivaji Maharaj

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was the founder of the Maratha kingdom of India. The security of the kingdom was entirely based on religious tolerance and also on the functional integration of Brahmans, Marathas, and the Prabhus.

 

Shivaji who was the descendent of a line of prominent nobles was very brave and fought many wars to consolidate India. At that time, India was under the Muslim rulers and divided. The Mughals were in north India and the Muslim sultans of Bijapur as well as of Golconda in the south of India. 

 

The ancestral estates of Shivaji Maharaj were situated in the Deccan region in the realm of Bijapur sultans. He found the suppression of the Muslim rulers and the persecution of all the Hindus in the region. He was sad due to the devastating condition of the Hindus that by the age of 16 he convinced himself to be the cause of the Hindu’s freedom. It was a conviction that was to sustain him throughout his whole life.

 

Childhood and Early Life of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

He grew up studying Ramayana and also Mahabharata. He showed intense interest in the religious teachings especially to the Hindu and Sufi Saints. He was brought up by his mother Jijabai and also by his administrator Dadoji Kond Deo. Dadoji taught him horse riding, archery, patta, and also several other fighting techniques after his father left for Karnataka with his second wife Tukabai.

 

Conquests of Shivaji  

With this motive, Shivaji began to seize the weaker Bijapur outposts along with his band of followers. In this process, he ruined a few of his very influential coreligionists. They had aligned themselves with the sultans. His daring military skills and also his sternness towards the oppression of the Hindus had him win many battles and administration. His depredations grew very audacious and various minor expeditions sent to chastise him always proved to be ineffective.

 

In the year 1659, when the sultan of Bijapur sent an army of around 20 thousand soldiers under the leadership of Afzal Khan to defeat him, Shivaji Maharaj intelligently defeated Afzal Khan. He pretended to be intimidated and enticed the force deep into the difficult mountain terrains and then killed Afzal Khan at a meeting to which he had lured him by all submissive appeals. 

 

For the time being, the handpicked troops that have been previously positioned swooped down on the unwary Bijapur army and routed it. Overnight, Shivaji Maharaj became a daunting warlord with the possession of horses, the guns, as well as the ammunitions of the Bijapur army.

 

Alarmed by the rising strength of Shivaji, the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb ordered his viceroy of the south to march against him. Shivaji encountered himself by carrying out a very daring and brave raid right within the encampment of the viceroy. In this raid, he lost the fingers of his one hand and also his son. 

 

Embarrassed by this reverse, the viceroy withdrew his force. After this incident, Shivaji was thought to provoke the Mughals. He attacked the rich coastal town of Surat and took immense booty.  Aurangzeb disappointed and raged by this incident could hardly ignore the loss and to avenge Shivaji he sent out his most prominent general, Mirza Raja Jai Singh. Mirza Raja was sent along with 100 thousand men. 

 

The pressure that was exerted by this vast force which was also combined with the drive and tenacity of Jai Singh very soon compelled Shivaji Maharaj to call for peace. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj undertook that he and his son will attend the court of Aurangzeb at Agra to be formally accepted as Mughal vassals. In Agra, hundreds and thousands of miles from their homeland, Shivaji and his son both were placed under house arrest. During the house arrest, they lived under the threat of execution.

 

Fearlessly, Shivaji feigned illness, and therefore as atonement, he began to send out enormous baskets filled with delicious sweets that were to be distributed among the poor. In the year 1666 of 17 August, he and his son had themselves carried past their guards in these baskets. His escape was the most thrilling and daring episode filled with very high drama which was about to change the course of Indian history. 

 

His devoted followers welcomed him back as their great leader and in the coming two years from this escape he achieved many wars. He not only conquered and won back the lost territories but also had expanded his domain. He collected tribute from the Mughal regions and also raided their rich cities. He also reorganized the army as well as instituted reforms for the welfare of his subjects. 

 

Taking lessons from all the English traders as well as from the Portuguese traders who had already gained toeholds in India, he began to build a naval force. He was the very first Indian ruler of his time to use sea power for trade and also for the defense of his region.

 

Almost as though jabbed by Shivaji’s meteoric rise in power, Aurangzeb intensified his genocide and persecutions of Hindus. Aurangzeb also imposed a poll tax on them, connived at forcible conversions, and also demolished temples, and erected mosques in their places.

 

Independent Sovereign (Purna Swaraj) 

In 1674 during the summer, Shivaji Maharaj had himself enthroned with great fanfare as an independent sovereign. The entire suppressed Hindu majority rallied to him as their great leader. He ruled his domain for almost six years through a cabinet of eight ministers. Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj who devout Hindu, who prided himself as the protector of his religion, broke the tradition by commanding that two of his relatives who had been forcibly converted to Islam should be taken back to Hinduism. 

 

Even though both the Christians, as well as the Muslims, often kept on imposing their creeds on the population by force, he respected the beliefs and protected the religious places of both communities. Along with Hindus, many Muslims were also in his service. After his coronation, his most remarkable campaign was in the south. During this campaign, he allied with the Sultans and blocked the grand design of the Mughals to spread their rule over the entire subcontinent.

 

Spouses and Children of Shivaji Maharaj

Shivaji Maharaj had several wives and two sons. His elder son at one stage defeated the Mughals and was brought back with the utmost difficulty.  Many are unaware of the fact that Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj has eight wives. His first wife was Saibai also known as Nimbalkar. 

 

The names of the other wives were Soyarabai, Mohite, Putalabai, Palkar, Sakvarbi Gaikwad, Sangunabai, and Kashibai Jadhav. His first wife Saibai bore him Sambhaji and three daughters. Soyarabai bore him a son named Rajaram and a daughter whose name was Deepabai. His other children were Rajkunvarbai from his wife Sagunabai and also Kamlabai from Sakvarbai. In the year 1659, his first wife Saibai passed away at a very young age due to a prolonged illness.

 

How Did Shivaji Maharaj Die? 

The exact reason behind the death of Shivaji Maharaj is still unknown. Reportedly, Shivaji Maharaj died on the eve of Hanuman Jayanti. Many scholars and historians say that he died after falling severely sick. Myths also claim that his second wife Soyarabai poisoned him to make their 10-year-old son Rajaram be the successor of the kingdom.

 

The Rise of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

By the 16th Century, The Deccan region of India came under the rule of the Mughal Empire established at Delhi. The uplands of Maratha were captured by the Adilshahi Sultanate on its north which was a tributary state of the Mughal Emperor.  Shahaji Bhonsle was established as the chieftain of this region who belonged to the family of the Bhonsle clan. Later he turned into a rebel and started campaigns and raids against the Mughal Empire established forts. Though he was supported by the Bijapur government but was never successful. So he had to run from fort to fort with his Jijabai and son Shivaji. Such was the condition in which Shivaji grew up that made him a great king later. 


By the age of 16, he had his own band of fighters and continued the fight for Shahaji. In 1647, he took over the administration of Poona against the Bijapur government. This was a major step and led to conflict with Bijapur. Subsequently, in a very short period, he also captured the forts of Purandhara, Kondhana, and Chakan. Then Supa, Baramati, and Inderpuri came into the control of Shivaji. The loot gathered helped him to build a capital fort at Raigad. Shivaji is more famous for the new military tactics he formulated and used to fight his enemies in such terrains. This new method of gorilla tactics helped him to capture many forts within no time and brought a significant portion of the region under his control.


Bijapur government became conscious of his wins and imprisoned Shahaji in 1648. After his release in a year, Shivaji stayed low and consolidated the region already under his rule. In 1656 he again began his raids and campaigns and captured the valley of Javali, near Mahabaleshwar. Along with this Shivaji successfully subdued many other families with Deshmukhi rights under Adilshah of Bijapur. 


In conclusion, Shivaji's life was full of hostilities with the kingdoms surrounding the Maratha region and also alliances to fight the wars. Finally, he established the Kingdom of Maratha and is still remembered as a great king of India.

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Who were the successors of Shivaji?

As per the history recorded by British historians after the death of Shivaji in 1680 the future of the Maratha Kingdom was uncertain. His 10-year-old son Rajaram was crowned against disputation with his stepbrother Sambhaji. In the course of time, Sambhaji rebelled against Rajaram and started his campaign to conquer the Raigad fort. After taking possession of the fort he was formally crowned to the throne. Rajaram was imprisoned with his wife and mother. In the later developments, Shivaji's grandson Shahu became the ruler by the help of Balaji Vishwanath. To name some of his later successors are Sambhaji, Rajaram, Tarabai, Shahuji. In later days Peswas emerged as the major inheritor of the power.

2. What was the extent of the Maratha Empire?

By the end of the 18th century, the Maratha Empire or Maratha Confederacy was at its peak. It extended from the Peshawar of Pakistan area in the North to the regions of Tamil Nadu in the South. For the eastern extent, it had control up to Odisha and Hoogly river in Bengal. At a certain time of history under Peshwas, the Marathas also tried to dethrone the Mughal Emperor at Delhi. Though they were not successful and lost in the 3rd Battle of Panipat of 1761 it gives a picture of the vigor and enthusiasm for expansion they possessed.

3. Why is Shivaji known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj?

In history, we get to learn about many titles adopted by various rulers to proclaim their power and territory. The petty rulers with small areas of jurisdiction were usually subsidiaries of a greater king with titles such as Emperor, Maharaja, Badshah, etc. Chhatrapati is also such a royal title that was adopted by Shivaji after becoming the paramount ruler of the Marathwada region. This word was derived from the Sanskrit language and was later used by the successors of Shivaji too.

4. Why should students learn the biography of Shivaji?

The rise of the Maratha Kingdom was a watershed movement. For the students of history, it is very important to understand the importance of background over which various events lead to the formation of such a powerful Kingdom. As Shivaji was the founder of this empire so it makes his biography more than a narration of chronological events. It inspires children of the courage and determination he exuded in the course of his life and struggle to achieve his dreams. 

5. How did Shivaji Maharaj die? Write about the Childhood and early life of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

The exact reason behind the death of Shivaji Maharaj is still unknown. Reportedly, Shivaji Maharaj died on the eve of Hanuman Jayanti. Many scholars and historians say that he died after falling severely sick. Myths also claim that his second wife Soyarabai poisoned him to make their 10-year-old son Rajaram be the successor of the kingdom.


Shivaji Maharaj was born in the year 1630 on 19 February. He was born at Shivneri a hill fort near Junnar in Pune to a Maratha family. He belonged to a Bureaucrat family. His father’s name was Shahji Bhonsale who was a Maratha general in the army of the Bijapur Sultanate and his mother was Jijabai.  His mother Jijabai was extremely religious which had a great impact on his upbringing. 


He grew up studying Ramayana and also Mahabharata. He showed intense interest in the religious teachings especially to the Hindu and Sufi Saints. He was brought up by his mother Jijabai and also by his administrator Dadoji Kond Deo. Dadoji taught him horse riding, archery, patta, and also several other fighting techniques after his father left for Karnataka with his second wife Tukabai.

6. Write about the accession and reign achieved by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was a great ruler who made his first military conquest at the very young age of 16, by attacking and capturing Torna Fort in the Bijapur Sultanate. It was followed by the conquest of other forts named Chakan, Kondana, and also Rajgad. Fearing his braveness Mohammed Adil Shah who was the Bijapur Sultanate imprisoned his father. 


He had to halt his conquests until his father was released. He resumed his conquests after his father’s death and seized the northern parts of the Konkon as well as the forts of Purandar and Javali. Upon Aurangzeb’s invitation, he and his son went to Aurangzeb’s court where they were kept on house arrest but somehow managed to escape. Later he captured Surat, Kondana Fort, Bijapuri, Ponda, Karwar, Kolhapur, and many more.

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