March 15, 2017 marks the 387th birth anniversary (as per Hindu Samvat Calendar) of an Indian warrior king who established the Maratha Empire. The king established a progressive civil rule and well organised administrative organisations. He came up with several military tactics and mastered non-conventional methods that made complete use of geography and strategy to defeat powerful enemies. Till now, you might have guessed the name of the warrior. For those who haven’t, this piece celebrates the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and here are 10 lesser known facts about him.
- Origin of name
Opposing the belief that Shivaji got his name from Lord Shiva, the truth is his name has been derived from regional Goddess Shivai. His mother prayed to the goddess for a son and was blessed with Shivaji.
- Bribed at the age of 15
In 1645, at the age of 15, Shivaji bribed Inayat Khan, a Bijapuri commander of the Torna Fort, to surrender the possession of the fort to him.
- A secular king
Though most of his enemies were Muslims, he treated Muslims under his rule with tolerance of their religion. This can be clearly noticed from his letter to Aurangazeb, he wrote:
Verily, Islam and Hinduism are terms of contrast. They are used by the true Divine Painter for blending the colours and filling in the outlines. If it is a mosque, the call to prayer is chanted in remembrance of Him. If it is a temple, the bells are rung in yearning for Him alone.
In fact, several of his soldiers and Navy commanders were Muslims including Siddi Sanbal, Noor Khan, Siddi Ibrahim Khan and Daulat Khan.
- Got his daughter married to a converted Hindu
The secular king never negotiated on his own religious roots. He married his own daughter Sakhubai to her cousin Mahadji, the son of Bajaajirao Naik Nimbalkar, who was converted to Islam by Mughal viceroy Aurangazeb. The ceremony took place in 1657 with an aim to help Bajaajirao return to Hinduism.
- Respected women
Shivaji always stood for the honour of women and made sure that whoever dishonoured women has to undergo harsh punishments. Even women from captured territories were treated with respect and released unharmed.
- Cruel towards criminals
He was cruel towards criminals and made sure that the punishments were equal to the severity of the crime. Those found guilty of rape and molestation were severely punished.
- Shivaji assisted Aurangazeb conquer Bijapur
Shivaji Maharaj helped Aurangazeb to get hold of Bijapur, the both share a peaceful relation. But the relation between them was affected when Shivaji’s officers raided the Mughal territory of Ahmednagar and Junnar. And to seek revenge, Mughals raided Shivaji’s territory.
- Father of Indian Navy
Shivaji is also known as the Father of Indian Navy and was the first to understand the importance of having a naval force. He worked strategically to establish a navy and forts at the shores to protect Konkan of Maharashtra.
- Known as ‘Mountain Rat’
He was popularly known as the ‘Mountain Rat’ for his awareness of land and guerrilla methods like ambushing, raiding and surprise attacks on rivals.
- Importance of team work
Shivaji knew the importance of a good army unit. He expanded his soldiers from 2,000 to 10,000 and perfected their skills with the help of an intelligence unit.