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Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj History, Biography, and Administration

By Manasvi GuptaJanuary 28, 2023
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Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was one of the courageous, most progressive, and rational warriors in history who always upheld Swarajya and Maratha heritage and founded the Maratha empire in Western India. 

He is regarded as one of the eminent fighters of his era, with remarkable military war strategies, determination and administrative skills that further helped him set up his kingdom from the deteriorating Adilshahi sultanate of Bijapur. He is popularly known for his innovative tactics on the battlefield against the Mughals empire that further helped him enlarge his territory.

The Impact of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj on the Maratha Empire

Also Read: Find Out About Shivaji Maharaj’s War Tactics

Apart from this, the great warrior also implemented an effective and progressive administration during his reign. In 1674, he became the ruler of his kingdom at Raigad Fort. He was a brave warrior of the Bhonsle Maratha clan and was known as the Father of the Indian Navy. Shivaji soon realised the importance of building a naval force to protect the coastline forts of Maharashtra. Besides this, he opposed violence, harassment and disrespect against women. Anyone under his reign violating women's rights was punished.

In this blog, you will learn about different aspects of his life. Let’s do a quick scan of Chhatrapati Shivaji history.

Who was Shivaji Maharaj? Childhood and Early Life

When was Shivaji Maharaj born? Shivaji was born on February 19, 1630, at Shivneri fort, near Junnar, Pune, to Shahaji Bhosle and Jijabai. His father was a Maratha commander who possessed the jagirs of Pune and worked as a general for the Bijapur Sultanate - a tripartite association of Bijapur, Ahmednagar, and Golconda. His mother, Jijabai, was a devoted religious woman and daughter of Sindkhed founder Lakhujirao Jadhav. Shivaji was close to his mother, who taught him a strong sense of justice and injustice from a very young age.

Shivaji spent a significant period of his life in Pune, where he was educated under the supervision of a small council of ministers, including a Peshwa, a Mazumdar, a Sabnis, a Dabir and a Chief teacher. Further, he was taught military and martial arts skills by Kanhoji Jedhe and Baji Pasalkar. In 1640, he married Saibai Nimbalkar. 

Shivaji was a born leader. Soon, he got well-versed with the Sahyadri mountains surrounding the Shivneri fort and built a loyal group from the Maval district by age 15, who later guided him in his initial victories.

Shivaji’s Struggles with Bijapur

By 1645, Shivaji had acquired several prime areas in the neighbourhood of Pune from the Bijapur dynasty, including Torna, Chakan, Kondona, Singhagarh and Purandar. Soon, he appeared as a threat to Mohammad Adil Shah, who ordered the imprisonment of Shahaji in 1648. But he was released on the condition that Shivaji avoids much publicity and further victories. 

Later in 1665, after the death of Shahaji, Shivaji recommenced his conquests by getting control over the valley of Javali from Chandra Rao More, a Bijapur jagirdar. Soon, Mohammed Adil Shah threatened Shivaji by sending Afzal Khan to defeat him. On November 10, 1659, these two met to debate the terms of the trade. Shivaji was attacked by Afzal Khan but got saved by his armour. 

In response, Shivaji attacked him with a concealed weapon and ordered his forces to attack leaderless Bijapur. They easily won in the Battle of Pratapgarh, where the Maratha forces killed thousands of Bijapur soldiers. 

Mohammed Adil Shah sent a huge force accompanied by General Rustam Zaman, who Shivaji killed in the Battle of Kolhapur.

Shivaji’s Dispute with Mughals

When Shivaji’s Maratha army started robbing Mughal territories near Ahmednagar and Junnar in 1657, Aurangzeb called Shaista Khan, the governor of the Deccan, who further attacked Shivaji with immense force. Shivaji defeated his large force and expelled him from Pune. After that, Shivaji got attacked several times by Shaista Khan, weakening his position in the Konkan region. 

Aurangzeb sent Jai Singh I with a group of 1,50,000 people to capture Shivaji’s castles, robbing their treasures and killing his defenders. He agreed to the Treaty of Purandar with Aurangzeb to avoid any nuisance.

Shivaji’s Connection With the British 

Maratha empire Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj maintained a cordial relationship with the Britishers during his reign until they supported the Bijapur sultanate against him at the acquisition of Fort of Panhala in 1660. In response to their opposition, Shivaji attacked them in 1670. 

This disagreement continued and several negotiations held between the two parties to come to an end failed.

Coronation and Rise of Maratha Power

In June 1674, Shivaji was crowned the king of Marathas at Raigarh in a coronation ceremony that demonstrated the rise of the Hindu kingdom in the Muslim-dominated south. He earned several titles like Chhatrapati (vital sovereign), Kshatriya Kulavantas (leader of Kshatriyas), Shakakarta (founder of an era), and Haindava Dharmodhhaarak (one who raises the holiness of Hinduism). 

After the coronation, the Marathas followed Shivaji’s orders. They launched several aggressive attempts to unify the majority of Deccan states and successfully defeated Khandesh, Bijapur, Karwar, Kolhapur, Janjira, Ramnagar, and Belgaum.

Shivaji’s Administration

The administration imposed by the Maratha empire Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was greatly influenced by Deccan administrative techniques. He appointed a team of eight ministers (Ashtapradhan) to assist him in enforcing several policies. These ministers held significant rights in executing policies imposed by the king. This group comprised:

  • The Peshwa or Prime Minister takes care of all the finance and general administration matters. 

  • The Majumdar, or the Auditor, maintains the kingdom's accounts and financial status.

  • The Pandit Rao or Chief Spiritual Head, oversees the spiritual situation of the kingdom, such as organising or fixing dates for spiritual ceremonies etc.

  • The Dabir, or Foreign Secretary, helps the king with foreign affairs.

  • The Senapati, or Military General, handles every aspect of the military, like recruiting and training soldiers. 

  • The Nyayadhish or Chief Justice handles laws and regulations of the Kingdom and their imposition.

  • The Mantri or Chronicler maintains records of the King’s daily routine.

  • The Sachiv or Superintendant who handles royal correlation.

How Did Shivaji Maharaj Die?

Shivaji died on April 3, 1680, at 52, at the Raigarh fort after suffering from illness. This led to a disagreement of accession between his son Sambhaji and his third wife Soyrabai for his 10-year-old son named Rajaram. Sambhaji brought down Rajaram and sat on the throne on June 20, 1680.

Summing Up

There is no doubt that Shivaji Maharaj was a great warrior and ruler of his time who was a man of principles and possessed outstanding war tactics and administrative skills. He was regarded as a national hero during Indian independence for his significant contributions. In less than 40 years, he united a kingdom that served as a secured support for the Maratha empire.

FAQs on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj History, Biography, and Administration

1. Who was Shivaji Maharaj?

Shivaji Maharaj was the bravest ruler and member of the Bhonsle Maratha clan, who carved out his kingdom from the diminishing Adilshahi Sultanate of Bijapur, which resulted in the rise of the Maratha empire.

2. What does Chhatrapati mean?

It is a royal title from the Indian subcontinent that is considered equivalent to the emperor and was used by the House of Bhonsle.

3. What is guerilla war by Shivaji?

The Maratha army fought a battle under Shivaji’s supervision with General Kartalab Khan of the Mughal Empire, who was defeated by Shivaji’s guerrilla warfare tactics. The fight is known as the Battle of Umberkhind.