Chhatrapati Shivaji , an inspiration for Indian Freedom Struggle

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Chhatrapati Shivaji was an inspiration for freedom fighters throughout the length and breadth of India during the freedom struggle. From Punjab in the north to Tamil Nadu in the south and from Gujarat in the west to Assam in the east , we find a host of nationalists invoking Chhatrapati Shivaji to inspire people to rise against British oppression. Famous luminaries such as Lala Lajpatrai , better known as Punjab Kesri and Rabindranath Tagore have written about the great man in glowing terms. Plays have been staged during those days in Bengal and Assam , where the authors have aroused nationalist passion through  characters representing Shivaji.  Chhatrapati Shivaji was thus a truly national figure.

What enabled a seventeenth century warrior to capture the imagination of so many across India ? It is the personality of Shivaji which made this possible. The values he espoused were evergreen , not merely limited to the seventeenth century. In many matters, he was far ahead of his times. His treatment of women was exemplary , at a time when enslaving the opponents women after war was common among the Mughals as were expansive janazas. He set up salaried armies , at a time when mansabadari was the norm. The greatest facet of Shivaji’s personality was perhaps recognising the inherent flaws in the thriving mansabdari system. That it depended on a strong ruler and never aroused any pride for the land among the mansabdars and soldiers. The Mughal empire was simply a bunch of mansabdars forever trying to earn brownie points over each other.

To go from this system , to one which inculcated pride in the land and make pronouncements in favour of the rayat or people needed immense courage and farsightedness. It is for this reason , that the ideal of swarajya as espoused by Shivaji was readily adopted by freedom fighters.

It is hence indeed sad , that such a person who had rightfully acquired “national” status in the days leading to freedom has now been relegated to one province. NCERT books give a grand total of four lines on Chhatrapati Shivaji , and in general the consensus is that he is Maharashtra’s hero , not India. Which brings me to another point – about how our heroes , save a select few adhering to particular ideology, are heaviy regionalised. Rajasthan’s Rana Pratap , Tamil Nadu’s Raja Raja Chola , Maharashtra’s Shivaji , Assam’s Lachit .. so on .

It is indeed sad , that a person who turned India’s fortunes one hundred eighty degrees, is today hardly known outside Maharashtra, except perhaps a chance encounter with the name.

Anyways , I digress.

Following are words of various Indians inspired by Chhatrapati Shivaji

  1. Rabindranath Tagore says –

“ कोन दूर शताब्देर,कोन एक अख्यात दिवसेनाहि जानि आजिमराठार कोन शैले अरण्येर अंधकारे बसे हे राजा शिवाजीतव भाल उदभासिया ए भावना तडित्प्रभावत एसे छिवो नामिएक धर्मराज्य पाशे खंड छिन्न विक्षिप्त भारत वंदे दिवो आमि !”

  1. Famous Telegu writer Shri Kamaraju Venkat Lakshamanrao has written :

धीर ग्रसरमूर्ति हइंदवधरित्री भाग्य सत्यापनम्!प्रारंभुडु दयागुणाम्बुधी महाराष्ट्रान्वयत्तोम सुंडौवीर क्षत्रीय मौली देशमत गोवेदादि रक्षार्पितधीरम्युंड भवानी भवत्त्तुंड शिवाजी राजु सामान्युडे !!
Translation : leader of warriors, initiator of best of Hindu land, sea of mercy, kind hearted, symbol of maharashtrian characters, protector of warrior, country, cow and ved, Laxmi loved on whom, and worshiper of Bhavani such was the Shivaji – a unique person.

  1. Kannad poet Shrinivas has written in his poem “ mavlegal”

शिवराय शत्रुरायर गंड शिवरायर हगेयजवरायतवकित म्लेंच्छर कत्तले तंडके शिवराय चंड मार्तांड !!

  1. The first work in an Indian language other than Marathi was by Lala Lajpatrai , who wrote his book on Shivaji in Urdu (Lahore , 1898) . Given below is English translation of its preface :lala lajpatrai
  1. Chhatrapati Shivaji found his way into literature written by the Assamese too , as following excerpt from the book “ Shivaji The Great – Vol 4” by H.S Sardesai shows


Thus Chhatrapati Shivaji’s influence was far reaching and he had become a pillar of inspiration for nationalists all over the country.

I would conclude this write up and with it this three part series with a quote by imminent Bengali historian Sir Jadunath Sarkar.

Sarkar Shivaji

Ref : Shivaji The Great Maratha Vol 4 – H.S Sardesai . Inputs from write up by Kiran Kharade.

© Aneesh Gokhale

Author of two published books –

  1. Brahmaputra : The Story of Lachit Barphukan , Assamese contemporary of Chhatrapati Shivaji
  2. Battles of the Maratha Empire – Important and pivotal battles from the days of Chhatrapati Shivaji to the fall of the Maratha Empire.
  3. Sahyadri to Hindukush (out of stock)