Shahaji Raje Bhonsle

shahaji,raje,bhonsle

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maloji,umabai,shivaji,verul,jijabai,maratha,personality

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Shahaji Raje Bhonsle


Shahajiraje Bhonsle was father of Shivajiraje Bhonsle. He was the son of Malojiraje Bhonsle and Umabai Bhonsle. Like his father, he had continued the tradition of valour, religiosity and service to the erstwhile factions of the Bahmani Sultanate in the Deccan.

Shahajiraje Bhosale

Date of birth 1594
Mother Umabai Bhosale
Son Shivajiraje Bhosale
Father Malojiraje Bhosale

Shahajiraje's Birth

Shahajiraje was born to Malojiraje Bhonsle and his wife Umabai. She was the daughter of Phaltan’s Naik Nimbalkar family. Umabai’s brother Wanangapal alias Wangoji Naik Nimbalkar was a Sardar in Bijapur’s Adilshahi court. But Malojiraje and Umabai had one problem for many days. They didn’t have any child! The couple kept asking for a child to all the Gods they visited.

Raje and Umabai used to worship Lord Shiva, and perform various vows and lent to gain an offspring. Umabai was also devoted to various Saints and Sadhus. She had also promised something to Ahmednagar’s Shah Sharif Pir. Her one and only demand to all the Gods was, she should become a mother of a great child!

And soon she became pregnant. Both were happy. The King of the Shikhar (Shingnapur) – (Shiva) Shambhu was satisfied with them. She gave birth to a son (around 1600 AD). The son was very handsome and healthy. He was named ‘Shahaji Raje’. Malojiraje performed a lot of charity on childbirth. He celebrated the birth as well.

Two years went past and they had a second son. He was named Sharifji. Shahaji and Sharifji were the two names after the Pir Shaha Sharif of Ahmednagar.

Childhood

Malojiraje was happy in the company of his kids. Shahaji Raje became five years old. He was a very handsome and bright looking child. Sharifji Raje was three years old at this time. These royal looking kids had topped Malojiraje's and Umabai’s domestic bliss with sugar. Both of them were feeling completely satisfied. These Bhosale sons were growing slowly but surely like Ram-Laxman.

Malojiraje had also grown up in stature at the Nizamshahi court. The court also had many other Maratha Sardars. But Malojiraje had slightly different notions about his own people and religion as compared to other Sardars. Rest of them kept busy in royal service. For the rest, worship was only limited to demanding something from God and fulfilling their promise upon getting the demand satisfied.

Malojiraje had kept the Pune district’s people happy. Umabai and the subjects were really lucky.

Malojiraje's Death

Nizamshah sent a sudden order one day to Malojiraje. There was one campaign planned, and he was to start immediately! Raje stopped midway through his lunch. Ordered the horses to be made ready. Malojiraje started the preparations. He wore armour, tied all his other arms on his war attire and picked up his favourite bow. He sought God’s blessings. Accepted farewell from the family, and dug his heels into the horse’s side. Raje went on the campaign.

He went! But never came back! There was a battle at Indapur, and Malojiraje was killed in it! The good luck of Umabai and Pune district collapsed. Finally, a great Maratha was sacrificed at the altar of the competition of the two Sultans (around 1605 AD). Malojiraje was no more!

Umabai decided to commit Sati (self-immolation) after him. Shahajiraje and Sharifjiraje were just five and three years old respectively that time. Vithoji had lost his Shriram. He was extremely grieved. Even in that condition, Vithojiraje tried to console her very much. Requested her. Umabai was also devoted to her husband, very adamant, but she also put this misery behind her. She quit her insistence on going Sati.

And Malojiraje’s ashes were entombed in a Samadhi at Indapur. Around seventeen-and-half Ruk (probably a unit of measurement) land was granted for the upkeep of Malojiraje’s Samadhi at Indapur.

Pune's Jagir Retained

The next challenge troubling Vithojiraje was of the Pune district Jagir belonging to Malojiraje. He was afraid that the Sultan and Malik Ambar would work together to take the Jagir away from Bhosale family. Because Shahajiraje was just five years old. 

Father dead. Son too young. So, it was clear that the Jagir would be taken back by the Sultan. But Vazir Malik Ambar was too foresighted for that. He calculated that, Vithoji Bhosale was a brave man. He would take care of the Jagir. Malojiraje’s Jagir should continue in Shahajiraje’s name as is. Bhosale family was immensely efficient and courageous. They needed to be nurtured. They would come handy in wars. If Shahajiraje grows up to be a brave man then fine. Else the Jagir would continue until Vithoji was alive, and then they would take it back. Thus, he decided to keep the Jagir intact.

Sultan Nizamshah himself ordered Vithoji for a personal audience. Accordingly, Vithoji along with his two nephews went to the court. Sultan Nizamshah personally consoled them saying that, Raje Maloji Bhosale’s death had reduced the splendour of the Royal Throne itself. Malojiraje was excellent with the sword. But no words could stand before fate. Sultan completed the consolation ceremony perfunctorily. And he completed the ritual of being a part of the family’s grief. He conferred upon Shahajiraje the grants of the Jagir and bade them farewell. Shahajiraje became Nizamshahi’s Jagirdar at the age of five years.

Teenage

Vithojiraje started taking care of the Pune and Supe Jagirs. He was also attentive towards the upbringing of all the children of the household. The boys started growing up. Infancy finished. Childhood came. Childhood also started fading. Teenage arrived. Shahajiraje with his broad chest, meaty shoulders, glittering eyes, strong arms and hooked nose also started growing a fuzzy moustache. Thirteen years’ milestone went past. Raje was slowly becoming an expert in all kinds of arms.

Marriage with Jijabai

Vithojiraje and Umabai started thinking of getting both the sons married off. Malojiraje had nursed a great desire to establish relations with Sindakhed’s Lakhuji Jadhavrao. He had spotted a very smart and witty star in Jadhavrao’s household. He was very intent on getting this girl as his daughter-in-law. But that desire remained unfulfilled. Malojiraje went to heaven in the middle of the married life.

Lakhujiraje Jadhavrao

Lakhujiraje Jadhavrao of Sindakhed was a very big name in Nizamshahi. He owned the Jagir of twenty-seven mahals (old unit of measurement of area). Besides Sindakhed, Mehkar, Sakharkherda etc. private mahals were also part of his own watan-grant. Jadhavrao had established the grandeur of his Jagir by building big stately mansions at Sindakhed and Deulgaon. His family deity was Balaji. He had maintained Balaji’s temple quite well. He also owned a tough fortress in Deulgaon. Lakhuji was the commander of twelve-thousand men in the army. Sindakhed was a bustling town. Jadhavrao had wealth. Rights to keep cavalry. He commanded respect. He even owned a few elephants. But God had also blessed him with a very important treasure. This treasure was his daughter Jijau.

This daughter of Jadhavrao was indeed beautiful and virtuous. As if a golden flame fluttering in a traditional golden lamp. Agile, delicate, beautiful, serene, and equally bright flame. She was the darling daughter of Lakhuji Jadhavrao. Jijau! How would Jijau look beside a smiling Shahajiraje? Like Uttara basides Abhimanyu. Jijau was a daughter born of Goddess Laxmi herself!

Vithojiraje broached the subject of this relation with Jadhavrao. The lilt of Shehnai (Clarinet) filled the air. He was very happy seeing that he was getting a pure-gold son-in-law in Shahajiraje. Everybody got busy in the marriage arrangements. Everybody’s forehead was glowing with the tilaks. Thresholds of houses were adorned with Ganapati idols.

A decorative tent was erected for Jijau’s marriage. The marriage area within it had special decorations. Jadhavrao’s Jijau was decorated in the full marriage attire. Her dainty feet were decorated with the swastika symbols drawn with Kumkum. There was a tinkle of her green bangles in the air. Her forehead was decorated with Kumkum. Auspicious rice was stuck over it. Decorative headgear adorned both the foreheads. Shahajiraje was also attired in his marriage clothes. There was a streak of becoming a groom in his eyes.

The princess of Krishna’s dynasty stood up to garland the prince of Rama’s descendants. The auspicious appointed moment arrived. There was a deafening sound of cannons, guns, and applause. The intervening piece of cloth separating the bride and groom was taken away. Auspicious rice rained on them. Shahajiraje bowed his head before his Laxmi. Jijau garlanded Raje. It was a union of the dynasties of the sun and the moon. Jijau became the blessed daughter-in-law of the Bhosales.

In the clamour of auspicious instruments, bound by the marriage knot with Shahajiraje, in the soft tinkle of the toe-rings and anklets, walking down slowly like a swan, Jijau entered her own house – Bhosale house. Jijau came to Shahajiraje’s home. The couple was looking absolutely beautiful like Goddess Laxmi and Narayana himself. Other adult ladies in attendance appreciatingly did her aarti.

Bhosale family was blessed. There was a new happiness in the air. Varhad’s (Berar) Rukmini had walked into Pune district with her golden feet.

Sharifjiraje was also married off soon afterwards. His spouse was the daughter of a genteel Maratha Sardar Vishwasrao. Her name was Durgabai. These two sisters-in-law made their husbands happy. Allayed their mother-in-law’s misery. And Umabai forgot her grief in the company of sons and daughters-in-law.

Vithojiraje had continuously and lovingly toiled for these children. He had maintained his own family as well. His wife was called Aaubai. He had a total of eight sons. They were named Sambhajiraje, Khelojiraje, Malojiraje, Mambajiraje, Nagojiraje, Parsojiraje, Tryambakjiraje and Kakkajiraje. All these Bhosale brothers were living amicably and lovingly around Vithojiraje.

Initial Disaffection

Jijau was still young. While she was in Sindakhed her whole world was inside the threshold of her house. But now she had to live at Daulatabad, the royal capital, and then she came to witness numerous exploits of the Sultans. She started hearing new terrible incidents every day. Her innocent heart started getting frightened. Stories of plunder, demolition of temples and idols to dust, floods of arson, massacres etc. were especially quite usual during the campaigns of Mughal and other Sultans. Marathas were not only dying on the battlefield, but even were being killed in villages, cities, even their own houses! Jijabai used to feel terrible looking at all this. But why did all this happen and until when would this go on, was something she couldn’t understand. She started getting disgusted of the Sultanate rule.

Word on the street was that, Malik Ambar was a very good Vazir in Nizamshahi. But he also had his talons. He had a different set of rules for some people. He had imposed a tax similar to Jizya in Konkan. This tax was called ‘Zakat-e-Hinduwani’.

Mughal Campaigns on Deccan

Around the time of Malojiraje’s death, the Mughal Emperor Akbar died at Delhi (Dt 15 October 1605). His son Salim alias Jehangir assumed the imperial throne. He was as hungry as his father to win over Deccan. He started sending huge influx of armies towards the Deccan, and the Maratha country was overwhelmed with warfare.

Year after year the Mughal campaigns were continuously on in Deccan (from 1608 to 1615 AD). Jijau started to understand the motives behind, and the outcomes of, all these wars. She started understanding all this without someone explaining. Royal campaigns meant massacres, loot, arson, farms and even households done to dust, and overall destruction. It was clear to her that, if seventy-two diseases came together as compared to the Sultanate campaign, people would bear them happily, but they wouldn’t like the campaign! Because the Sultanate armies hungrily attacked the one thing that was never attacked by any of the diseases. And that was one’s self-respect! Peoples’ self-respect was also being plundered along with their everything. Jijau started getting restless.

Malik Ambar's Defeat

And soon a vast Mughal army entered Marathwada. Varhad (Berar) was routed. The screams of the victims would make even stones shed tears. The pots and pans of poor households started breaking under the horses’ hooves. Malik Ambar, with Adilshahi support put together an army to stop the Mughals around Jalna (December 1615 AD). Finally, Nizamshahi’s Malik Ambar, Babaji Kate, Shahaji Raje and all his brothers, and the Adilshahi forces met in a very big battle with Delhi’s Mughal Sardars like Asaf Khan, Shahnavaz Khan, Raja Mansingh etc. (Dt 4 February 1616), and Malik Ambar was defeated. Mughals attacked Khadki (Aurangabad). They completely routed Khadki and the region around it. Mughals, with heaps of loot, went on towards the Balapur fort via Rohinkhed.

At this time Daulatabad was the capital of Nizamshahi. Because Ahmednagar itself had been won by the Mughals.

Shahjahan's Deccan Campaign

Emperors at Delhi had been thirsty for Deccan since many years. Immediately after this battle, Mughal prince Khurram alias Shahjahan started his campaigns taking large armies from Delhi. The same saga of destruction continued. He again destroyed the Khadki town (Dt 5 May 1621).

In all these battles, utmost damage was borne by the Marathas. Maratha youth were dying. But for whom? Some or the other Sultan. Finally, Marathas would turn to dust! Some questions kept burning like crackers in front of Jijabai’s eyes. All these brave Marathas were fighting and dying for some or the other Sultan; some on the Nizam’s side, some on Adilshah’s side, while some others with the Mughals. But nobody was ready to fight for their own families! Jijau’s heart was growing plaintive due to this.

Estrangement

The shields and swords of Bhosalerao and Jadhavrao had come together because of the marriage between Shahaji and Jijau. It was coming together of two mighty Maratha families. The two families had almost become one. The moment some hopefuls started hoping that at least now luck would smile upon them, a bad influence made its entrance! Luck was left aside. Good luck farther away. Widowhood made a grand entrance. Dattaji Jadhavrao and Sambhaji Bhosale’s wives lost their Kumkum (husbands)!

Blood had already flown. Now tears were flowing. Bhosales were grieving for Sambhaji. Jadhavrao family was grieving for Dattaji.

Whom should Jijau grieve for? Brother or Brother-in-law?

She was crying for this whole immature Maharashtra!

The elephants struggled with each other and died. Bhosale and Jadhavrao families became sworn enemies of each other. Jijau’s maternal connection was broken!

Jijabai’s life, however, went on. Bhosales and Jadhavraos were permanently estranged after the fight. Blood relations snapped quickly. But neither Jijau nor Shahajiraje allowed to let this fight between the two families impact their day-to-day life. Shahajiraje did not turn his anger with his father-in-law towards his wife. Instead, he used to respect Jijabai a lot in family matters. He used to love her a lot. Around the same time Jijau was pregnant. Soon she gave birth to a son. He was named ‘Sambhajiraje’ (around 1623 AD). Even before Sambhajiraje and after, Jijabai had given birth to four sons. But all four of them were snatched away by death. Sambhajiraje however lived and was growing up slowly but surely.

Lakhujiraje Joins Mughals

Lakhuji Jadhavrao one day got hints about a conspiracy to kill him being cooked directly in Daulatabad’s royal reaches. Lakhuji understood that Nizamshah himself wanted to kill him. He stood up and straightaway went and joined the Mughals. He left Nizamshahi. Lakhuji became a Mughal Sardar.

Around the same time, the Shehzada Shahjahan had rebelled against his father. And that new hurricane had begun (July 1623 AD).

Battle of Bhatwadi

Clouds of a terrible Sultanate war started gathering over Maharashtra. Malik Ambar requested Bijapur’s Adilshah to help protect Nizamshahi. But Adilshah, instead of helping Nizamshahi, went and befriended the Mughals. Mughal and Adilshahi forces joined up and attacked Nizamshahi. This was an eighty-thousand strong army. Vazir Malik Ambar prepared the Nizamshahi army against them. In this army, Shahajiraje, Sharifjiraje, all sons of Vithojiraje, Hambirrao Chavan, Mudhoji Naik Nimbalkar, Vithoji Kate, Nrusinhapant Pingle etc. Maratha Sardars were more in number. There were others also like Mansoor Khan, Yakut Khan, Fateh Khan. But as compared to the Marathas, they were less in number. This meant, Marathas would die to save Nizamshahi.

Finally, there was a terrible battle (October 1624 AD). It was fought at Bhatwadi near Ahmednagar. Thousands of men died. Shahajiraje, along with all other Marathas fought with great valour. Especially Shahajiraje’s prowess knew no bounds. The enemy side had his own father-in-law Lakhuji Jadhavrao himself! Actually, whose enmity, and who were fighting! What relation did the Marathas have with this human sacrifice? The sacrifice definitely had the Marathas dying! Thousands were being sacrificed. Father-in-law and son-in-law were fighting each other passionately.

Finally, Bhosales also ended up offering their own blood! Sharifjiraje died fighting. Shahajiraje’s own younger brother was killed. Jijau’s sister-in-law was widowed! For whom? This sacrifice was to sustain another Sultanate! Finally, Shahajiraje and other Marathas completely routed the combined Mughal and Bijapur forces, and made Nizamshah and Vazir Malik Ambar victorious. They won the war (October 1624 AD).

Shahajiraje's Disaffection

Nizam and Malik Ambar were both very happy. They both knew that this victory was only due to Shahaji Bhosale. The awe of Raje’s valour began to increase surprisingly in the Nizamshahi, and this somehow became a thorn in the flesh for Malik Ambar! Malik started fearing Shahajiraje’s prowess. This Maratha had been brought by him, but now he was becoming a potential challenger! He must be removed! And Malik Ambar started hating Shahajiraje. The unity amongst Shahajiraje and his cousins Khelojiraje, Parsojiraje was disturbed. The cousins also started hating Shahajiraje. There were disagreements with Malik Ambar also. Raje started getting insulted constantly. Shahajiraje didn’t understand all this. People whom he served loyally, for whom he fought over his own life, did they value him so meagrely? His father and younger brother had given their life for the throne. Still they didn’t care about him. Shahajiraje’s mind started spinning. Why was he being subjected to all this?

Shahajiraje Joins Adilshahi

Shahajiraje got very angry. But what next? Finally, he decided to quit Nizamshahi. But where would he go? To another Sultan! Meaning only a change of cart and driver! The yoke of slavery would remain as it was! How would he get away from the trappings of slavery? Shahajiraje was getting all this. But he was not able to find a solution. He was annoyed. He just stood up. In a fit of frustration, he went straight to Bijapur’s Adilshah asking for work. One brave tiger went and changed his owner. Bijapur’s Adilshah happily gave him the designation of Commander-in-Chief. Shahajiraje became Sarlashkar (Commander-in-Chief).

Incessant fighting was still on. Malik Ambar, well supported by the cannon named Mulukhmaidan, had won Solapur (Dt 16 June 1625).

Around this time, there was a big churn that was taking place in the politics of all the Sultanates! Three big personalities died in a span of one year. Nizamshahi’s Vazir Malik Ambar died (Dt 14 May 1626). Bijapur’s Sultan Ibrahim Adilshah died (Dt 12 September 1627). And Delhi’s Mughal Emperor Jehangir died (Dt 29 October 1627).

Shahjahan ascended the Delhi throne. Mohammed Adilshah became the Sultan at Bijapur and Fateh Khan became the Vazir in Nizamshahi. This Fateh Khan was Malik Ambar’s son.

Even these three were equally bad. Shahjahan sent vast armies to the Deccan and started constant campaigns.

Nizamshahi's Vazir Fateh Khan

This Fateh Khan was extremely cruel and insidious. The administration had gone haywire due to constant wars. Even white foreigners were astonished to witness the Sultanate domination here. Administration only meant chaos and oppression! The ‘Black-enclosure’ of Daulatabad was literally hell. People used to rot there and die because of extreme torture. No justice. No investigation. No appeal.

Tumultous Times

Shahajiraje’s wealth had increased so much that he could maintain elephants. Such wealth, right to maintain palanquins and associated paraphernalia, servants, elephants and horses kept Bhosale family’s big mansion all the time busy. If Jijabai wished, it was easily possible for her to just spend her whole life dressing up, decking herself up in ornaments, and strutting around. Her bedroom had a big vessel-full of ornaments. Bhosale family’s respect in the society was very high. They had everything.

But Jijabai was thirsty for Swarajya. She wanted their own independent kingdom. This thirst was impossible to be quenched with any other mirage. She was in a different league altogether. She was a devotee of Tulajabhavani. Like the Mother Goddess Jagadamba, who fought for nine days and nine nights continuously and killed all the demons, she used to feel, she should also start a war against the Sultanates, and free this land of Gods and Saints. She was not able to bear the misery being wrought on the Maratha households, region, Hindu Gods and religion. She was not to be imprisoned in palanquins and ornaments, like any other Sardar-wives. She always felt, they were the original Marathas, Kshatriyas; motive of their birth was to take care of the subjects, their lands, saints and righteous people. This whole land was overcome by these Mlenchhas. So instead of freeing it and establishing the righteous throne, should one bow down to these arrogant Sultans? She used to despise such yes-men.

Jijabai could not stand the idea of slavery. She wanted her own kingdom. She wanted an independent throne. She wanted her own standard (flag), own army, own artillery, own commanders and own ministers! Our country will be ruled by our own sovereign Sun and Moon, and our own sovereign King! This was her dream.

She (Jijabai) was dissatisfied. She used to get angry at these Jagirdars and Sardars. They did not have self-respect, no consideration of their family name, no anger against the demeaning treatment given to them. These helpless, selfish slaves won’t even think twice about selling their own mothers for Sultanate recognition. These were men? Man is one who would guard Gods, religion and the country!

Shahajiraje also felt the same way. His own kingdom, with him as the king. But was it possible? He used to get angry at the Sultanate rule. But he had to swallow it down. If he had rebelled against all the injustice, he would have been alone in front of one lakh swords. Nobody would have stood in his support and then his body itself had been torn to pieces under the sword as a rebel. The beads from Jijabai’s Mangalsutra, and the pieces of Shahajiraje’s body, would have got thrown away such that they would have been difficult to find! Actually, Shahajiraje was a self-respecting person. He was really proud of being a Maratha and a Rajput. He always felt love and sympathy towards his Marathas. He used to do whatever little he could for their benefit. He had done so much for Mohites and Ghorpades! But his power was less as compared to the Sultans. On getting insulted, apart from moving from one Sultanate to another, he didn’t have any other remedy. From Nizamshahi to Adilshahi, from Adilshahi back to Nizamshahi, from Nizamshahi to Mughals, and from there somewhere else! Only Sultanate masters went on changing. As if the Marathas were in a fit state to understand all this? One who fights or acts against the foreign power would be a ‘sinner’! He who would bow down in front of adulterous, drunkard, oppressors was the real loyalist! Then he would be given titles like Umrao, Nusrat-Jung, Himmat-Bahadur, Arkan-e-Daulat, Umdet-ul-Mulq! If Shahajiraje had tried to establish his own kingdom, Marathas themselves would have opposed him tooth and nail!

Jijabai's Ardent Wish

Jijabai had also realised that, some mighty hero like Ram was needed to bring all these brave Marathas together and revolt against these Sultans, what if some mighty powerful man was born…? Would he be born?

She was really fond of Ramayana, Mahabharata. Her mind was deeply influenced while listening to the stories of Ram, Hanuman, Sita, Krishna, Draupadi, Kunti, Vidula etc. She felt, whether she would be able to be listed alongside Kunti ever? Kunti’s Bheem and Arjun were mighty and powerful. They had killed the demons and the Kauravas. They had established a happy, prosperous, and righteous kingdom. Kunti became renowned as the mother of bravehearts, the mother of Kings. Jijabai wanted to be like her! Would it be possible?

Her dissatisfaction started increasing. Her devotion towards Jagadamba started increasing. She started feeling confident, that she would be instrumental in changing the situation and Mother Bhavani would help her in it. But she had grown to be extremely impatient.

However, even in this explosive mental state she never forgot that she was a married woman. She was the wife of a very courageous man. She knew that Shahajiraje was serving Nizamshah out of sheer helplessness. Sometimes unknowingly she used to get a feeling that Shahajiraje himself should throw away all these Sultanate bonds of slavery, and should start the enterprise of an independent kingdom himself. But she was aware of the difficulty and caustic nature of the ordeal it was. She was ambitious, but not indiscreet. She knew that she would have to bide her time patiently for the favourable opportunity. She was looking out for the ray of hope with discretion, so that she could pounce at the opportune moment. Jijabai was truly the Goddess Durga in Bhosale’s sanctum sanctorum. But her real form lay dormant. Her thousand hands were invisible so far. So far, this Ambika hadn’t stepped out of the sanctum into the battlefield.

Political Guidance

Jijabai was learning the many intricacies of politics in the company of old experienced stewards in the Bhosale household like Sonopant Dabir, Naropant Mujumdar, Balkrishnapant Hanmante etc. She used to continuously hear the various happenings from the four Sultanates. She used to understand the situation of the country and her people. She was directly witnessing Shahajiraje’s political moves. She had perfectly gauged the silent minds of her people. If you left out selfish Sardars and big Watandars, the common poor Maratha public was fed up of the Sultanate power; but it did not have the courage. If someone gave these hardworking, honest and brave Marathas some support, this Sahyadri with hundreds of its forts and this Maharashtra with its tough Marathas wouldn’t remain a slave even for one more second. The devotees of Tuljapur’s Bhavani were brave like their deity. They just needed a leader. She (Jijabai) understood.

Jijabai understood and internalised politics. She started feeling all the more impatient. She started requesting Jagadamba to satisfy her deepest wish!

Some Respite

The Mughal menace was continuing. Daryakhan Rohilla was routing Khandesh into desolation. Shahajiraje who was back with Nizamshahi, was fighting him at the instance of the Sultan. Erstwhile Mughal Sardar Khanjahan Lodi had also joined Nizamshahi after revolting against Shahjahan. Nizamshah had awarded him the Jagir of Beed Pargana, but due to that Beed had been rendered chaotic with incessant battles. Shahajiraje was fighting with Daryakhan. At this time Shahjahan himself was getting ready for a Deccan campaign at Agra (June 1629 AD). The Mughal Sardar Iradatkhan was attacking Lodi in the Beed Pargana. However, Lakhuji Jadhavrao (Jijabai’s father) had quit the Mughal service and had joined back Nizamshahi.

And in the Vaishakh month of Saka 1551 (Apri-May 1629 AD), Shahajiraje got some amount of respite, and he came home. Jijabai was overjoyed. He was scarcely home. His whole life was being spent on the battlefield. Family life was getting ignored in all this running around. Jijabai had to be content in her devotion towards him only in her mind. Raje came home. Jijabai busied herself in serving Shahajiraje to satisfaction. Forgetting all her travails, she became one with Lord Shiva, Goddess Bhavani and Shahajiraje, asking all three of them her only wish! It was the Jyeshtha month. Lord Shiva was content! Mother Goddess was content! And Shahajiraje was content with Jijabai’s care!

Jijabai Gets Pregnant

Jyeshtha days were passing like one would finish reading the chapters of Ramayana. Jyeshtha ended. Ashadh began. Jijabai’s face started glowing with some extraordinary light! Her joy became a little bashful! The chains of cradle started clinking! All the flames of the traditional lamps became aglow! The face of the Goddess in sanctum got its smile back! Astute ladies in the family quickly recognised the signs! Shahajiraje also understood! Jijabai’s eyes started talking! Jijabai was pregnant! Pregnant! Trees and creepers in the courtyard started showering their flowers on the ground! Monsoon started wetting the thirsty earth!

Shahajiraje was happy. Jijabai’s behaviour started changing slowly. A different kind of brilliance started showing around her. New desires, wishes started growing in her heart. Mothers and sisters around her started asking her what she desired?

Independence! Might! Vengeance for insults!

Answers unspoken were clearly visible in her eyes.

Leaving Jijabai in the watchful care of trusted old stewards, Shahajiraje again started on a campaign. He turned his attention towards Beed now.

Now everybody busied themselves in Jijabai’s care. The family ladies were always ready to fulfil her every wish. Now they started taking a special interest. Stewards started keeping their ears attuned to hear any new orders.

But Jijabai’s desires were extraordinary! She didn’t want sweetmeats. She didn’t want Pomgrenates from Muscat. She didn’t want perfumed syrups. She didn’t want the rose-water sprays. She didn’t want any other perfumes either. She didn’t desire for boating or roaming around in beautiful gardens, she had different kind of desires. She felt like sitting atop elephants. She started feeling like climbing hilly forts. She had a great desire of sitting on a golden throne and perform charitable donations with Chhatra (umbrella, part of royal insignia) held over her head. She suddenly became eager for other royal insignia as well. Planting very high standards and listening to the welcoming clamour of war-drums, was something she longed for. A wondrous desire was produced in her heart to fight with full armour, bow and arrow, spear, swords etc. weapons. She started longing for winning forts and registering big victories. And most extraordinarily, she started feeling like sitting on a Tiger!

Like Tuljabhavani! With all her weapons! All these desires, wants were almost like Parvati and Subhadra!

All the ladies in her family were taking extreme care. The moment she uttered anything, her friends were up and away to fulfil it. They were doing everything as per her wishes.

Shahajiraje Quits Nizamshahi - First Attempt at Swarajya

Shahajiraje and Jijabai's father Lakhuji had the old feud. Their relation had already been cut to pieces under the swords. But still Shahajiraje had little bit of love left for his father-in-law. He also got very angry about the betrayal of his father-in-law and brothers-in-law. He was aggrieved. He was sick of Nizamshahi and decided to quit it again. But where to go? That was the question. Where else to go? Again, under another Sultan only, right? But wherever one went, all the Sultans were the same. These Sultans didn’t care about anybody. Didn’t Shahajiraje remember the killing of clever Sabaji Anant, a well-meaning Brahmin Sardar who had been killed by Nizamshah without reason? He was such a great, sacred, and loyal pandit, that he had served the Sultan humbly till his last. He had such good character, that once even a prostitute sent to him to ensnare him, had surrendered and paid tributes to him. But this same Sabaji Anant was accused of adultery, and the Sultan had him crushed under an elephant’s feet.

Shahajiraje remembered all this. He started thinking. If this was the treatment given to the elite, then what must have happened with the poor? There was no limit to their grief. Nobody could hear that litany of woes. Shahajiraje could see that thousands of such Jijaus across Maharashtra were crying for their brothers, fathers, mothers, and sisters-in-law.

Shahajiraje was suddenly disturbed because of the Jadhavrao assassination. Even if he quit Nizamshahi, the competitors Mughals, Adilshah or Qutubshah were also the same! Slavery was at the root of all this misery. So, Shahajiraje who was fed up with this whole slavery, started to plan something really brave. Revolt! He didn’t want to be a part of this yes-men clan; he didn’t want this slavery! No Sultans needed, no Jagir needed! A courageous thought of raising a rebellion arose in Shahajiraje’s mind, with the help of his own land, his own people, his own might, and his own swords! Revolt! Such courageous idea! Revolt against Sultanates! And Shahajiraje put these thoughts of rebellion in action! That time he was near Parinda fort. From there he travelled to Sangamner. From there on to Pune. He had held the Jagir of Pune since the time of Malojiraje. He had an old mansion there. He declared this whole region as ‘Independent’! This was the day ‘Independence’ dawned on Pune after three hundred years! Shahajiraje quickly established his control over the region surrounding Pune. This region belonged to Bijapur’s Adilshah.

It was a chaotic time everywhere. Army campaigns, battles, and everything else was on. Shahajiraje had attempted an extraordinarily courageous act amidst all this. He had one big worry. That was concern about Jijabai. It was risky to keep her in open towns. Where to keep her safe in all this chaos of the campaigns, was a big question. A strong shelter ideal to keep her safe would be some hilly fort on the shoulders of Sahyadri. And Shahajiraje suddenly remembered one such a lofty fort. Shivneri!

Jijabai kept at Shivneri

Shivneri! Really top-notch fort. The officer-in-charge was also powerful. Besides, he was a relative. Durgabai from his family was Jijabai’s sister-in-law. She was married to Sharifjiraje Bhosale (Shahajiraje’s brother). The officer-in-charge was named Vijayrao Sidhoji Vishwasrao. Shahajiraje decided, Jijabai would be kept under the care of Vishwasrao. Only that family could take care of Jijabai, even more than her own family. They would take care of the delivery like she was their own beloved daughter.

Raje immediately prepared for Jijabai’s travel. He took with him some armed cavalry. It was a chaotic time. There was no guarantee that the convoy would not face any attacks while travelling. So Raje decided to drop her to Shivneri himself. Along with experienced, aged stewards, who were extremely trusted, wise and bore immense affection towards the Bhosale family, like Naropant Mujumdar, Malharbhat Upadhye, Balkrishnapant, Gomaji Naik Pansambal etc., Shahajiraje started the journey towards Shivneri with Jijabai. Her own female retinue was also in the tow. Closed palanquins and dolis were hurrying towards their destination. Dense forests and mountains. It was important to take utmost precaution on the way.

Shivneri fort was a very special fort. There was no other fort like it in the whole Junnar basin. Twenty-six kos towards the north of Pune, this fort sat pretty in the matted dreadlocks of the Bhimashankar range, and right in the mouth of Naneghat (old Satavahana trade route). It was bounded on all sides by straight hewn cliffs, strong ramparts, gigantic turrets and powerful doorways. As one entered through the Elephant Darwaja (doorway), Bhavani Shivai Goddess in her temple on the right-hand side watched over the fort.

Shahajiraje reached the fort-base slowly but surely with the whole convoy. Vishwasrao himself came to the fore to receive him. Raje and Jijabai went up to the fort. The Elephant Darwaja of the fort opened up. The whole convoy with horses and palanquins went inside. All paid tributes to the Shivai Bhavani. A cool breeze of Sahyadri’s winds patted Jijabai’s back affectionately.

Raje entrusted Jijabai’s responsibility to Vishwasrao. He also accepted the risk very affectionately.

First Attempt Crushed by Adilshah

At the same time, Pune started burning! All the houses in Pune had been set afire! Adilshah was beside himself with anger, when he came to know that Shahajiraje had started a rebellion in Pune, and had won over the surrounding Adilshahi region. Vazir Khawas Khan sent a big army on a campaign to break the back of this rebellion. It was under the command of another Maratha Sardar named Rayarao. Adilshahi armies entered Pune. Royal forces started playing havoc with arson and massacres. Shahajiraje’s mansion was burnt down. Such big mansions. The wooden beams treated with anti-termite oil for years together, took to fire quickly. The flames of fire and clouds of smoke started reaching the sky. The poor had to bear the brunt. They started running helter-skelter, shouting and screaming to avoid the flames of fire and attacks by swords. Those who came under the sword died! Actually, escaped. But those who somehow managed to run away under the shadows of night, forests, where would they run away? Rayarao completely demolished the ramparts around Pune. Royal cavalry was overseeing the rout they had wrought with extreme vanity. All of Pune’s graceful Veshis (gateways), were blown to the skies with mines. Kumbharves, Mavalves, Kedarves, started looking like human skulls from which the flesh had melted away. Numerous funeral pyres were lit all over. Mohammed Adilshah and Vazir Khawas Khan completely destroyed Shahajiraje’s ‘Swarajya’ in this manner. And that too at the hands of another Maratha Sardar! Rayarao literally routed Shahajiraje’s Swarajya to dust. This Rayarao proudly attached an epithet ‘Pratapvanta’ to his name! He actually brought a pair of donkeys, attached them to a plough and paraded them through the whole Pune region (an erstwhile symbolic gesture that this region was now uninhabitable)! He also drew into the ground an iron crowbar, and hung a broken skull and piece of torn sandal! It meant as a warning to the people, that rebel Shahaji Bhosale’s Pune had been destroyed! There won’t be any light here anymore! This has become a cemetery, a place where death reigns! This is the outcome of revolting against the Sultanate!

Swarajya was vanquished! Raje and Jijabai got the news. What more was possible for them apart from tightly closing their eyes and gulping down this bitter poisonous insult?

The sacred rebellion Shahajiraje had started, was burnt to ashes. How would a weak Swarajya last? But everybody witnessed what happens if one acts against the Sultanate, how everything gets destroyed, and the symbolism in broken skull and torn sandal. Jijabai also saw it. Everybody was filled with terror. But Jijabai? Of course, not! In fact, her brow clouded all the more with fury!

Shahajiraje Joins Mughals

Shahajiraje was staring at a question of existence after his first play had failed. Now what? What else? Slavery! Weak Garuda also should once again enter his cage silently. He sent an application to Shahjahan via Azamkhan, a Mughal Sardar (December 1629). And Shahajiraje quietly accepted the Panchhazari Mansab (a military commander of 5000 soldiers) with the Mughals.

An erstwhile Mughal Sardar Daryakhan Rohilla had come to the Deccan in Marathwada after revolting against Shahjahan. Shahajiraje was given the task of defeating this Daryakhan. Shahajiraje took leave of Jijabai and started his campaign against Daryakhan from Shivneri.

Raje left. Jijabai was left behind on the fort. She used to look at the high peaks and huge cliffs of Sahyadri from the fort.

She was looking at Sahyadri with high hopes.

Even Sahyadri was looking at her with equally high hopes.

Amidst all these, Shivajiraje was born atop Shivneri on Falgun Vadya Tritiya (third day of the waxing-moon fortnight in Falgun month - Dt 19 February, Friday, 1630).

Around the same time, Shahajiraje was impressing the world with his might. But for the Mughals! Actually, this proud lion who would never accept slavery, was helplessly serving as a Panch-Hazari Sardar (commander of five-thousand strong battalion) under Delhi’s Shahjahan. Raje was anxious to see the face of his new-born son. But there was no respite from the incessant campaigns! Shivba also was anxiously waiting to see his father, through Jijabai’s eyes.

And Raje defeated Daryakhan and turned his horses towards Shivneri.

Shahajiraje Visits Shivneri

Shahajiraje reached Shivneri. The fort was drowned in the sweet visit. Jijabai’s personal quarters were especially happy. Shivba was waiting for his father all ready. Raje came. Jijabai gave Shivba in Raje’s caring hands. Raje looked at his son with loving gaze. Saw his son’s face for the first time. He had come from the embattled, bloody and fiery surroundings of a campaign. The joy felt to his hands like the cool wetness of rose petals. He was so overwhelmed with joy, that he immediately started showering countless rewards, gifts, donations in charity on everyone around. He kept on giving. His largesse included all shapes and kinds from elephants to diamonds. The people on the fort felt, that this was a celebration of the birth of a Prince, not the son of a Sardar!

Shahajiraje spent a few days in the happiness atop the fort.

Emperor Shahjahan himself had come to Deccan along with the royal army and had reached Burhanpur (Dt 1 March 1630). The master was here! Shahajiraje took leave of Shivba and his mother. He climbed down the fort, and galloped towards his service.

At Daulatabad, Nizamshah had appointed Malik Ambar’s son Fateh Khan as the Chief Vazir on the insistence of his wife. The Vazir after assuming the office imprisoned the Shah himself and murdered him in captivity! Fateh Khan then enthroned Prince Hussein Shah.

Shahajiraje Joins Nizamshahi

Emperor Shahjahan had decided to end Nizamshahi. He gave full freedom to Mahabat Khan to win over the fort of Daulatabad. Mahabat Khan had a son named Khan Zanan. He was also a part of this campaign. Till now Bijapur’s Mohammed Adilshah was helping the Mughals against Nizamshahi. But the moment he realised that these Mughals would destroy him next, he came over and helped Nizamshah against the Mughals. Shahajiraje also left the Mughals and joined Nizamshahi again. If such people who had left earlier returned back, the Sultan would quietly keep them in his service. The reason was ‘they needed the fighters’! Otherwise they would have blown them away by cannons. Nizamshahi needed brave people like Shahajiraje.

Emperor Shahjahan had already left for Delhi himself. Because his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal died during childbirth at Burhanpur (Dt 7 June 1631). This was her fourteenth childbirth. She gave birth to Gauhar-aara Begum at this time. Shahjahan didn’t leave Deccan alone even in this grief. He kept Mahabat Khan and Khan Zaman fighting in the Deccan. Besides, they had a lot of other Sardars to help them.

Nizamshahi Falls

Mahabt Khan besieged Daulatabad (Dt 1 March 1633). Shahajiraje and all the Adilshahi Sardars fought to their limit to save Daulatabad. But finally, Daulatabad fell and Nizam Hussein Shah and Vazir Fateh Khan themselves were captured alive by Mahabat Khan (Dt 17 June 1633).

Nizamshahi sank!

… This is what Mahabat Khan and Shahjahan felt! But Shahajiraje played a great move. He said to a big Sardar of Bijapur, Murar Jagdev, even if Daulatabad, the capital of Nizamshahi fell, he was ready to prop-up a new heir to the throne and set up a new capital. He requested Murar Jagdev for help to drive away the mughals.

Effort to Prop-up Nizamshahi

Such a big political move! Shahajiraje had played for achieving concentration of all power in his hands by propping up a puppet Emperor. This was the way in which his efforts to gain power were on for so many days, by one or the other means. Shahajiraje’s political work and capability was mighty. Finally, his plan bore fruit. Bijapur’s Adilshah agreed to help Shahajiraje to re-erect Nizamshahi. Murar Jagdev stood behind Shahajiraje in full support. Adilshah also sent Ranadullah Khan and other Sardars for Shahajiraje’s help.

One small heir to the Nizamshahi throne Murtuza was imprisoned in the Jivdhan fort. Shahajiraje quickly went to Jivdhan fort and took this child under his control. Jivdhan fort is in Junnar Tehsil. Raje took Murtuza to the Pemgiri fort near Sangamner, and quickly arranging for a ceremony, he installed this Murtuza on the throne as Emperor Nizamshah. He held the royal umbrella over Murtuza’s head and himself became his Chief Vazir. Shahajiraje became Vazir! Afterwards he himself used to sit on the throne with Murtuza on his lap and used to drive the administration! The image of Shahajiraje behind Murutza was of an independent Maratha king!

Shahajiraje had changed a lot of jobs before. He used to quit serving one of the Sultans, and go to another’s court. His heart was unsatisfied in serving any Sultanate anyways. He was disgusted with this bondage. Finally, he had also tried to establish an independent state around the Pune region. Unfortunately, that had also failed. But that experience was not wasted. Raje, very diplomatically, had played this completely new move now. Hold a namesake Emperor on your own lap, and control the whole administration yourself!

Looking at this play, the Mughals, who were celebrating that they had finished Nizamshahi, became very angry. And now a struggle started between Mughals and Shahajiraje. Shahajiraje won back quite some area that Nizamshahi had lost to the Mughals!

Jijabai was looking at the real greatness and politics of her husband sitting atop Shivneri. It was an especially proud achievement.

Shahajiraje’s close friend Murar Jagdev carried out the responsibility of keeping the Bijapur court continuously in support. Besides Ranadullah Khan had also helped Raje immensely. Only because of these two, Adilshahi Vazir Khawas Khan was in favour of Shahajiraje. Murar Jagdev was a much-respected Sardar at Bijapur court. He had been given the epithet ‘Maharaj Rajadhiraj’. He was also known by the name ‘Murarpandit’.

Shahajiraje Vs Mughals

Shahajiraje had reached the absolute limit of his efforts in protecting Nizamshahi. First, he recaptured almost all the area in the Bheema and Godavari Doab, which had been captured by the Mughals. Emperor Shahjahan got upset at this great achievement. One Maratha named Shahaji, assumes all power under the guise of Nizamshahi? This is not good! He ordered his Sardars for a campaign (against Nizamshahi) with absolute determination. He himself was in Agra. The construction for the Taj Mahal had begun.

The fort of Parinda was in Nizamshahi’s, meaning Shahajiraje’s control. Mahabat Khan’s son Khan Zaman attacked this fort. Shahjahan’s own son Shehzada Shuja came to Deccan himself, and then the Mughal Commander-in-Chief Mahabat Khan opened up a full front against Shahajiraje, including Burhanpur, Jafarnagar, Jalna, Beed, Parinda in a straight line. The campaign involved huge armies, money and ammunition.

The moment Shuja landed in the Deccan, he and Mahabat Khan joined Khan Zaman’s siege of Parinda in order to capture it quickly. Shahajiraje and Bijapur’s Adilshahi Sardars rendered the region surrounding Parinda completely desolate. Mughals started going hungry in the siege of Parinda. Besides Raje started the guerrilla attacks from outside. The Mughal Prince and his two biggest Sardars finally accepted defeat in front of Shahajiraje’s Parinda. In their miserable plight, Shuja and Mahabat Khan left dejected from Parinda towards Burhanpur! Shahjahan got terribly angry at this defeat. He scolded Mahabat Khan using very strong words. Taking those to heart, an already ailing Mahabat Khan, finally took his last breath (October 1634).

This increased Shahajiraje’s awe-inspiring stature very much. Day-by-day he was winning everywhere. Murar Jagdev, Randullah Khan, and other Adilshahi Sardars were helping Shahajiraje with all their heart. One whole year went by in this heady victory. Meanwhile Raje had visited Shivneri and took Shivba and Jijabai along with himself to Vaijapur. After the Vaijapur stay, Jijabai and Shivajiraje were continuously accompanying Shahajiraje on his campaign.

Now Shahjahan himself started the campaign to break the rebellion erected by Shahajiraje (Dt 29 September 1635). And he made straight to Daulatabad.

Shahjahan first sent a letter to the Bijapur Adilshah, which was coercive as well as alluring, because of which the scales turned! Shahjahan had warned Adilshah, if they did not stop helping Shahaji, then the Mughals, after vanquishing Shahaji, would turn on the Adilshahi Sultanate as well. Instead of Adilshah helped them, they were ready to give half the Nizamshahi realms that were being controlled by Shahaji as spoils of war.

The arrow found its mark. And at this time, one terrible incident happened in Bijapur. Mohammedshah Adilshah arrested Murar Jagdev, cut off his tongue, paraded him through the city, and killed him by cutting him to pieces! Vazir Khawas Khan was also murdered and Mustafa Khan became the new Vazir. This Mustafa Khan used to nurse immense animosity towards Shahajiraje (Murar Jagdev’s murder October 1635).

Second Attempt Fails

The scales had upturned. It was like Shahajiraje’s right hand was cut off. Adilshahi armies joined the Mughals against Raje. All his mighty enemies cornered him. Raje took Murtuza Nizamshah and reached Mahuli fort. He had also brought along Shivba and Jijabai to Mahuli. Khan Zaman besieged Mahuli. Now this was the final battle! Shahajiraje tried very hard to keep his indirect Swarajya alive. He sent a letter to the Portuguese Governor at Chaul, and asked them whether they will provide asylum to him and Murtuza Nizamshah in the Chaul fort. The foreigners replied ‘No’. All solutions had failed. Mahuli was cornered in a noose. Raje was feeling very sad. The play which had involved such huge efforts was getting destroyed. In the last three years, he and all his men had worked to the limit.

Mughal armies were commanded by Khan Zaman in the Mahuli siege. Vazir Mustafa Khan had sent Malik Rehan, Siddi Marjan and Ranadullah Khan from Bijapur to help him. Ranadullah Khan had a soft corner for Shahajiraje. He had a big heart. He couldn’t tolerate this destruction of Shahajiraje’s work. But the prevention of that was not in his hands. Still he had started working towards that. Ranadullah Khan started secret parleys with Shahajiraje. He also started a conversation with the Emperor Adilshah in the Bijapur court and tried to propose a Jagir for Shahajiraje at the Bijapur court itself. Adilshah agreed. Khan Zaman implemented the siege with such tight controls, that finally Shahajiraje put down his sword with a heavy heart. Mahuli’s gates were thrown open. The Mughals took Murtuza Nizamshah under their control. Raje climbed down the fort with a heavy heart and Jijabai and Shivba in tow. Ranadullah Khan brought them to his own camp with much respect.

Nizamshahi fell! Meaning Shahajiraje’s efforts to establish Marathashahi were vanquished!

"Keep Shahaji Out"

Shahjahan and Adilshah split the spoils of Nizamshahi areas amongst them. Shahjahan assumed control of the region to the north of Bheema river. Adilshah got the region to the south and from Konkan. Shahjahan told Adilshah one condition in no uncertain terms about Shahajiraje, that he should be kept away from Maharashtra. As far as possible!

The intention was clear. If kept in the vicinity of Maharashtra or Sahyadri, this lion will rise again! Adilshah retained Shahajiraje’s Jagir in the Bheema and Nira doab untouched, and decided to give him the responsibility of the Karnataka campaign. Meaning he broke the relation with Sahyadri! Shahajiraje had to silently witness whatever was happening.

Settling Down in Bijapur Sultanate

In all this running around, one Marathi person was anxiously watching Shahajiraje. He had started doting on Raje. His name was Kanhoji Naik Jedhe Deshmukh. Kanhoji Naik was in Ranadullah Khan’s service. His household steward Dadaji Krishna Lohokare was also with him. Shahajiraje recognised Kahnoji’s devotion to him. He requested Ranadullah Khan, to allow Kanhoji Jedhe to work for him.

Khan Sahab happily agreed. He didn’t decline Raje’s request. He allowed Kanhoji Jedhe and Dadajipant Lohokare too to go and work with Shahajiraje.

Kanhoji Jedhe was the Deshmukh of the Rohida basin. This basin lies towards the south of Bhor region. The village Kari beneath the towering mountain of Raireshwar, belonged to Kanhoji Naik. He was a very courageous man. He was well-respected in the whole area as well. Shahajiraje was fortunate to receive the services and loyalty of such an important man. Along with Kanhoji, his steward Dadaji Krishna Lohokare also began serving Shahajiraje. Dadajipant was also a very righteous and dutiful man. He was a Deshasth Rigvedi Brahmin living in the same Rohida basin. Dadajipant’s family was equally accomplished in the realm of the pen as well as the sword.

Shahajiraje had run an independent kingdom for three-and-a-half years taking the Sultanate under his guardianship. He had fought with the powerful Mughal Sultanate from Delhi. Numerous people had worked and had got trained under him in all this enterprise. He had gathered fantastic experiences. These people had become expert in battlefield and politics, by facing fire and sword. By keeping the Sultanates engaged in battles, these people had become fearless and wise. They had become one with the Bhosale family. Shahajiraje retained all of them with him. The company of these people was the only invaluable wealth that Raje had gained during all this. How to put these people to some constructive use, and how to ensure proper arrangements of the Pune Jagir, was the only thought in Shahajiraje’s mind, and at that time he got an idea, that one of these wise men should be given the responsibility of the Pune Jagir. The Sultans had broken his relation with Sahyadri and the Maval region of the Marathas. But he decided to keep Shivba behind in the Pune region. Along with Jijabai.

Raje departed for Bijapur along with Ranadullah Khan. He reached Bijapur. Till now he was a Vazir. Now he was back to being a nominal Sardar. He went to the court in front of Adilshah. Adilshah ordered him to go to Bengaluru in Karnataka.

Raje bowed in front of the imperial forces.

Shivba was six years old at this time.

Shivba's First Marriage

Shivba became ten years old. Aaisaheb liked the daughter of Faltan’s Naik Nimbalkar. She asked her parents for her hand in marriage to Shivba. The girl’s name was Saibai. She was still young. Aaisaheb had liked her. All said and done, there’s a different kind of ‘joy’ in becoming a mother-in-law!

Dadaji Konddev sent the marriage invitation to Shahajiraje. But Raje was stuck in faraway Bengaluru. It was not possible for him to attend. But he did send his blessings.

Pant and Aaisaheb got busy in the marriage preparations. Decorative pylons were hung all over the Lal Mahal. Haldi ceremony was celebrated with the application of auspicious turmeric paste to Shivba. He was looking so handsome. Decorative headgear adorned Shivba’s forehead. Saibai garlanded Shivba in the thunder of Dhol-Tasha (Dt 16 May 1640). The whole marriage ceremony was arranged by Pant with ardent dedication. Shivba entered Lal Mahal with Saibai. Saibai’s beauty was standing out besides Shivba, like a delicate jasmine bud beside a well-rounded daisy.

Shahajiraje couldn’t attend this marriage. He had to send his appreciations from afar. Raje was in Bengaluru.

Shahajiraje's Karnataka Campaigns

Sultan Adilshah had sent Shahajiraje to the south with Ranadullah Khan. Raje had to work under the Khan. But Ranadullah Khan had a big heart and was very generous. He used to dote over Raje from the beginning. He had a lot of Sardars working under him like Ankush Khan, Masood Khan, Yakut Khan, Hussein Ambar Khan etc. Besides there were Maratha Sardars like Gade, Ghorpade, Pawar, Ingle etc. But Ranadullah Khan gave especially respectful and loving treatment to Shahajiraje. He knew Raje’s capability.

This campaign was against smaller states in Karnataka like Penukonda, Basavapattan, Hospet, Bednur, Shrirangapattan, Kaveripattan etc. Raje started his campaigns in the south. There was no dearth of prowess. Victories abounded. But Raje did not follow a policy of completely destroying all these states. He was inclined towards keeping them intact as much as possible. He started trying to keep these local kingdoms intact by engineering various treaties, tributes, contracts, feudatory statuses etc. Because of this the heads of all these states started feeling a sense of belonging and respect towards Shahajiraje. They started honouring Raje very much.

Ranadullah Khan was really very happy with Raje. He had lovingly gifted Bengaluru city to Shahajiraje.

Bengaluru

Shahajiraje started living in Bengaluru. The city was excellent in all three respects – beauty, protection and health. Raje liked it very much. He built his mansion there like a palace. The whole look and feel, was like a sovereign king’s palace, with gardens, fountains, water-bodies, halls, and stables. Raje collected different arms, virtuous artists, wise pandits, scientists, singers, dancers, poets, everything like a king. Besides he already had cannons, elephants, horses, brave warriors, diplomats etc. people with him as well. People were witnessing a confluence of high taste, lofty culture and passion in Bengaluru.

Raje’s administration was under the watchful gaze of statesmen like Naropant, Balkrishnapant, Raghunathpant, Janardanpant etc.

Shahajiraje’s life at Bengaluru was like a prosperous and independent king. He had quite a few Shahirs singing ballads, dancers, singers etc. serving him. Raje’s son named Koyaji, with one of his maids, was an expert in the performing arts like singing and dancing. Many linguist pandits and poets used to serve him. Anantashesh Pandit, Raghunath Vyas, Raghunandan, Ali Khan, Vishwambhar Bhat were some of the important ones.

Shivba visits Bengaluru

Shivba and Aaisaheb were in Pune. Even though living in Bengaluru, Raje’s attention was continuously directed towards them in Pune. He used to continuously send letters, clothes, and his favourite things to his favourite Shivba in Pune. Pant Dadaji Konddev also used to send regular reports about Pune’s progress to Raje. Raje used to feel satisfied hearing the progress of Pune Jagir. Now he started feeling anxious to meet his first queen and Shivba. He wrote a letter to Pant asking himself to visit Bengaluru in Karnataka, accompanied by Jijabaisaheb and Shivba.

The messenger from Bengaluru came to Pune’s Lal Mahal. Pant read the message. He rushed straight to Aaisaheb to give her the message. Jijabai was overjoyed. Shivba was happy too. He would get to meet his father! Immediately the preparations for the travel to Karnataka started. Palanquin, horses, camels, treasury, cavalrymen, servants, tents etc. all material required for the impending travel started getting collected. Pant took a stock of all the accounting records of the Jagir so far, and the collected revenue as well as saved treasury, and packed all of it up for the journey.

An auspicious day was fixed, and on the day the journey began. The convoy took the path leading to Bengaluru. Shivba was going to witness a new region, new people, new behaviours, overall a wholly new world. This was also going to be an important learning point in his education. Vision doesn’t grow unless one visits ten different places.

The convoy started travelling and taking scheduled stops along the way. The message that Jijausaheb and young Raje was travelling towards Bengaluru had already been sent ahead. Shahajiraje was waiting anxiously. Shivba’s elder brother, Jijau’s elder son Sambhajiraje was also in Bengaluru. He used to always accompany his father from the beginning. Similarly, his step-brothers and everybody else would meet Shivba for the first time.

Pant entered through Bengaluru’s gateway with the whole convoy and the associated retinue. Shivba was avidly taking in new houses, new roads, high ramparts, imposing gateways, beautiful turrets, equally beautiful buildings, big plazas, fountains and the fort itself. This was the beauty of Bengaluru.

The whole palace was bustling with activity for receiving its eldest queen. Pant entered the palace gates with all the palanquins, the retinue and Shivba, and there was an instant commotion of meetings, bowing down, touching feet, seeking blessings, embraces, and celebration. Father met his son after a long time. Such joy! The whole palace was full of joy.

Shahajiraje’s second queen Tukabaisaheb and her first-born Ekojiraje met Jijausaheb and Shivba. Shivba’s own elder brother Sambhajiraje also met. Everybody felt full of satisfaction.

Diwali had come early to Shahajiraje’s household. These were the days of highest familial happiness in Raje’s household. Everybody had gathered round him. Such familial delight never arrived in his life again. Raje felt ultimate appreciation. He held Shivba close to his heart. Shivba seemed like the Syamantak gem living inside Raje’s heart (a reference to the mythological story of Syamantak gemstone).

Each day was being spent in the joy of togetherness.

Shivba's Second Marriage

Since Raje himself could not attend Shivba’s marriage, he decided to marry him one more time! Shivba was married one more time to Soyarabai, the daughter of the well-known Mohite family, in royal style. Raje celebrated this second marriage of Shivba with all his passion. Like the best father in the world!

Pant presented all accounts of the Pune Jagir, and the detailed report of the activities undertaken in front of Raje. Raje was extremely happy. Raje was utterly satisfied looking at such progress, growth, high income and exceeding satisfaction in Pune. He showered immense laurels on Pant. He said he felt blessed to have Pant. Looking at the fruit of his toils and sweat, even Pant felt blessed. God should give such master to everybody.

Preparations for Maharashtra's Swarajya

Shahajiraje also recognised that it won’t be possible to keep Shivba’s brilliance under the wraps now. He actually felt happy about it. Shivba was probably born for a different purpose. Perhaps Shivba was getting special inspiration from Lord Narayana resident in his heart to protect the temples, households, religious places, religion itself, livestock as well as people in general! Shivba was an illuminated soul. This Marathi land probably had a glorious destiny! Shivba would perhaps achieve what Raje himself had not been able to achieve. Shri Kuladev (family-deity) Bhavanishankar (Lord Shiva) also seemed to desire this. Shivba would happily offer himself to be blown off a canon for Maharashtra’s religion; but he won’t serve the Sultan, even if he is given the whole Deccan as Jagir. This blatant reality was visible in his daily behaviour. So Shahajiraje thought it better to keep Shivba in and around Pune’s hilly region.

Shivba couldn’t bear to see the shamelessness and the dogfight amongst Maratha Sardars, for somehow protecting their own religion, language, culture and people. Raje prepared to send Shivba back to Pune. He also decided to send with Shivba, some more brilliant and efficient people. While doing this, Raje’s vision and intention was clear and grand. All preparations to leave were completed. Raje appointed Shamraj Neelkanth Ranjhekar as the ‘Peshwe’ and asked him to accompany Shivba. He appointed Balkrishnapant Hanmante as the ‘Mujumdar’, Sono Vishwanath as ‘Dabir’, Raghunath Ballal Atre as ‘Sabnis’. This way Raje had sort of created for Shivba his first council of ministers, by sending these experienced and loyal people with him, with these appointments of Peshwa, Mujumdar, Dabir etc offices. Shahajiraje had quite a few stewards and officials serving under him, holding different kinds of designations. But nobody amongst them held the office of the ‘Peshwa’. However, Raje had given Shivba a ‘Peshwa’. Peshwa meant chief minister, Prime Minister.

Thus, Raje gave Shivba these trusted ministers, some elephants, horses, treasury, and some brilliant and peerless stewards. Besides he also appointed Balaji Hari ‘Majalsi’ and Narhar Ballal ‘Bakshi’. Apart from that, Raje also gave Shivba his own flag. Pant was always there like before. Completely satisfied with his service, Raje had increased his annual income and had given him an extension. And taking into account an auspicious day, he bade farewell to Pant Dadaji Konddev, Jijabaisaheb and Shivba, who started their journey back to Pune.

Betrayal

After coming back to Pune, Shivajiraje started the sacred task of establishing Swarajya slowly but surely under Pant's guidance and Jijabai's direction. Dadajipant took his leave of this world around March 1647. Shivajiraje engineered a bloodless coup in Javli to install a preferable candidate there as the next Jagirdar Chandrarao More. Thereafter, with the help of Bapuji Mudgal Deshpande, Shivajiraje also acquired the fort Kondhana again without any bloodshed.

And Miya Raheem Mohammed, nominated Subedar of Fort Kondhana (after Dadajipant's death), started towards Kondhana from Shirval to assume office of his Subedari. Kondhana was just eleven kos from Shirval. And Subedarsaheb got the news, that Bhosale’s son has captured the fort through subterfuge! Miya Raheem had to turn back wringing his hands. Poor guy lost the opportunity on the way. He just relayed this news to Bijapur.

Till that day several times such news had reached Bijapur. These tidings had started with, Shivaji Bhosale gathers vagabonds around him. Badshah had laughed it off when he had heard the first news. His laughter had reduced to a smile at the next message. Thereafter Badshah didn’t even smile at all. One day the ash on his hookah flared up a bit. And today’s news was that Shivaji Bhosale had captured the fort Kondhana!

Badhshah exploded! The ash on his hookah just burst out! He felt really astonished thinking, how could Shahaji’s little son carry out such a courageous act. The kid just captured the fort without shedding a single red drop. The Lion’s cave had been captured by a rabbit! Now if we remain careless, this Shivaji’s menace will spread around. We must control it now, and Badshah got engrossed in these thoughts.

Shivajiraje immediately set right all administration of Kondhana once it was captured, and after that started planning for the next pounce. And suddenly he pounced directly on the Shirval cantonment itself! This was Miya Raheem Mohammed’s residential cantonment. Raje quickly captured the fort Subhanmangal, by defeating the force stationed there. Miyasaheb’s own household was disturbed! The excitement of Shivajiraje’s Marathas was on the upswing like high tide.

And this fresh news that Shivaji had also captured the Shirval fort as well, reached Badshah’s ears! It felt to him, someone had unknowingly produced a gunshot just beside his ears. Shivaji captured Shirval cantonment, fort Subhanmangal! Badshah’s anger was stoked further. He started thinking. In fact, he became quite concerned with the matter.

Why? Why would he think so much to decide to crush this small rebellion? Wouldn’t this child’s play be blown to the skies if he sent one big well-armed Sardar and ten cannons? Then why was he thinking so much for that? Why the concern?

Because it was not that simple. Even Badshah thought, that breaking the back of Shivaji’s rebellion was absolutely nothing for him. He had become impatient to order a big Sardar carry out this campaign on Shivaji. But he was afraid how Shahajiraje would react while he did this. If Shahaji had got this news in Karnataka about the big army sent to attack his son, then he would turn traitor as well. He had around fifteen thousand strong army in Karnataka, ready to give their lives for him. Shahaji was prone to revolts and rebellions. The same was now visible in his son as well. The southern kafir kings also loved Shahaji a lot. Shahaji's rebellion would descend upon the Sultanate. That was why giving due consideration to Shahaji was important.

Winds of Conspiracy

At the same time, there was one more message that reached Bijapur from Karnataka. It was sent by Badshah’s famous and trusted lieutenant Afzal Khan. Khan and Shahajiraje had encamped beside each other in the military siege beneath the fort of Jinji. Afzal Khan had written to Badshah, complaining that Shahajiraje was betraying the Badshah! He was related to the Ranchewar Marathas, the residents of Jinji, and kept helping Badshah's enemies on the inside. This was betrayal, and Afzal Khan requested the Badshah to settle the matter urgently!

Reading this letter from Afzal Khan, Badshah was stunned. If one tries to capture Shivaji, Shahaji would rise, and if one tries to capture Shahaji, then he’ll ensure the fire of rebellion engulfs the whole state. And then Qutubshah and Mughals are ready to strike. What to do? What should he do?

Around the same time, one more letter was received from a royal official named Lahamaji Jyoti. Lahamaji had complained that, Shahajiraje was almost trying to become the emperor of Karnataka, the local kings respect Shahajiraje a lot.

Sultan Mohammed Adilshah started thinking seriously.

And his typical diplomatic advisors were at hand. Badshah called Vazir Mustafa Khan. Around this time, the Sardars at the Bijapur court, like Mustafa Khan, Baji Ghorpade, Afzal Khan, Mambaji Bhosale, Fateh Khan, Farad Khan etc. used to nurse extreme animosity towards Shahajiraje. These fellows were always on the lookout for any opportunity to harm Raje. At this time, Afzal Khan was in Karnataka. Rest of them were in Bijapur.

Mustafa Khan and Baji Ghorpade got very much excited looking at this golden opportunity to throw Shahaji Bhosale and his family into the fire of Sultanate vengeance. Badshah told his problem to Mustafa Khan. Nawab Mustafa Khan gave perfect advice on it. Bajiraje Ghorpade and Badi Begum, Badshah’s wife also had the same opinion. It was to first arrest Shahajiraje, and immediately send a big army to attack Shivaji. Looking at the arrest of his father, Shivaji would surrender unconditionally. Everybody agreed with the plan. But to arrest Shahaji was not child's play. He maintained an army, was powerful.

But to Nawab Mustafa Khan, this was not a hurdle at all. That responsibility was picked up by Mustafa Khan himself. Most loyal servant Bajiraje Ghorpade was always ready to help Khan. Immediately Badshah ordered Nawab Mustafa Khan to go to Karnataka and arrest Shahajiraje.

This plan had been hatched with utmost secrecy. It was known only to the Sultan and very few trusted people. Mustafa Khan took a huge army and Bajiraje Ghorpade along, and started from Bijapur towards Jinji (Dt 17 January 1648). Nawab’s army had many famous Sardars like Khankhanaan, Rustum Zaman, and Bahlaul Khan.

Nawab Mustafa Khan was himself an accomplished and famous Sardar. He was the main Vazir of Adilshah. And most importantly he was the Badshah’s father-in-law. His daughter Taj-Jehan Begum was wedded to the Sultan. And besides, Mustafa was honoured to be the son-in-law of the famous diplomat, and Nizamshahi’s last Vazir Late Malik Ambar. So, he was an old, well-known person. Mustafa Khan’s full name along with his epithets was, Mirza Mohammed Amin Laree Nawab Mustafa Khan Mansab-i-Kar-i-Mulki alias Khanbaba. He was originally from the Khorasan country.

Mustafa’s army started on its journey towards Jinji to arrest Shahajiraje.

Both of them, Shahajiraje in Karnataka and Shivajiraje in Maval, did not have the slightest idea, that they were facing a terrible calamity that was about to befall them.

Mustafa Khan's Trap

Nawab Mustafa Khan reached near Jinji. Shahajiraje’s camp was nearby. The moment Shahajiraje got news that the Nawab was on his way, he started ahead to meet him. But not alone, he started with the whole army. There was no love lost in Shahajiraje’s heart for the Nawab. Because he knew from experience, that this Nawab used to nurse extreme hatred for him, his religion and his coreligionists. But he was the main Vazir. And even if he didn’t feel like, only because of protocol, he had to be shown respect by going out to receive him.

Raje immediately started from his camp to receive the Vazir. With his whole retinue. Vazir was kind of surprised to see Raje along with his army. He was slightly disappointed as well. He wanted Raje to come alone. Because he wanted to arrest him! Still Khan met with Shahajiraje with a deceptive smile on his face.

The meeting took place. It was followed by standard reception protocols. Khanbaba set up his camp right beside Raje’s own camp. He started behaving very lovingly with Raje. Jinji’s fort was under the control of a king named Venkat Nayak. The campaign to win it over was about to start. Mustafa Khan was taking Raje’s advice in every aspect, respecting him very much, and giving him the full initiative. But in his heart, he had a great sinful intent.

He took great care to ensure Raje was trapped. But he realised, that Shahaji was always surrounded by his own men and soldiers. He was not able to pounce on Raje, even after planning for it many times. But he kept on the crafty pretence of brotherhood all the while. Every time Raje came to meet him, he used to stand up in false respect and welcome him saying, ‘Please come, Janab!’ He would even walk four steps to receive him. He would hold Raje’s hands tightly in his own, and laughingly, talking sweetly, he would make Raje sit right beside him. He would engage in loving conversation. He would offer invaluable gifts to Raje. Absolute sweetness on his smile. He would confide in Raje by telling him plans of utmost importance and secrecy. Sometime after Khan would start behaving so intimately, that he would engage in playful banter as well. Sometimes he would engage in serious lofty discussions on spirituality as well! Khan started casting new wider nets one after the other, every day, to somehow win over Raje’s trust.

And Raje also felt really suspicious. Raje could not unravel the mystery, that why would this person, who would always be jealous of him, be so loving towards him suddenly. Because Khan’s behaviour was such a façade. Still Shahajiraje jokingly once said to Khan that such kind of deep love was shown only by people with an intent to betray later.

Hearing this Mustafa Khan was stunned! He felt, this Shahaji has recognised his gameplan! Khan was suddenly dismayed. Actually, Raje’s remark was not replete with craftiness. But Khan, being a shrewd fox, was startled! A bewildered Khan quickly took Raje’s hands in his own, and in all seriousness pledged upon his son Aatish Khan, that he would never betray Raje.

Now Raje was convinced, that Mustafa Khan was a very good person! Khan-Bhosale were like brothers! There is nobody like Khan!

And on the same night (Dt 25 July 1648), Nawab Mustafa Khan gathered all his Sardars around in complete secrecy, and plotted with them. In that secret plot, Fahad Khan, Bajiraje Ghorpade, Yakut Khan, Azam Khan, Ragho Mambaji, Vedaji Bhaskar, Balaji Haibatrao, Sidhoji Pawar, Mambaji Pawar, Mambaji Bhosale etc. many Sardars were involved. Nawab Mustafa Khan reminded everyone that the Badshah was their master, and they should always be ready to serve him. He ordered them to arrest Shahajiraje while he was sleeping.

Khan ordered all Sardars to be ready for the raid. It was well past midnight when the discussion on this secret plot finished. The most excited of the lot was Baji Ghorpade. Because he used to nurse extreme hatred towards Shahajiraje.

Shahajiraje was also awake for a long time. He went to sleep quite late. It was the month of Ashadh. And it was the full-moon night. Radiant moon was shining in the sky. But it was enveloped in the dark clouds of Ashadh. Raje slept in his camp tent. A short while afterwards, the curtain over the tent doorway was lifted up surreptitiously! Raje woke up startled. One man quickly came to the fore and bowed down to Raje. He was one of Raje’s own spies. Raje asked him ‘What’. He told Raje the terrible news in hushed tones, that Nawab Mustafa Khan had held a secret discussion well past midnight with his own sardars. All of them were waiting in their own tents, absolutely ready with all the battle gear!

The spy told Shahajiraje the secret news, that Khan intends to betray. But Raje didn’t believe it at all. Raje couldn’t digest it either. Mustafa Khan, who behaves with him so lovingly, would betray? No! How would Khan engage in such betrayal? No! Impossible! Besides Khan had himself pledged, on his son Aatish Khan and Quran Sharif itself, that he wouldn’t betray. Shahajiraje’s eyes started seeing the venerable brotherly figure of Mustafa Khan holding his hands tightly, smiling sweetly, speaking with absolute affection, and assuring him with such compassion! He was sure that Khan’s loving hands, his genteel tongue, would never betray him! It was impossible!

And the curtain on the tent doorway fell back as it was.

Raje completely ignored the news brought by the spy! Raje went to calm and carefree, deep sleep! Raje had also fallen into the deep sleep like the rest of the Hindu society! The full cantonment slept!

Imprisonment

The night went on. There was a cool breeze. The camp was silent. Only the patrolling soldiers around the camp were awake. However, all preparations had been completed in the Nawab’s camp. The poisonous whispers between Nawab Mustafa and Baji Ghorpade had finished. This Baji himself had taken the main responsibility. The night was now well past midnight. Shahajiraje and his army was in the deep, early morning sleep. It was around 3:30 in the early morning.

Suddenly thousands of soldiers who were waiting, got their orders! And thousands of cavalrymen and foot soldiers from Khan’s camp, fell on Raje’s camp with all their weapons. Dilawar Khan, Masood Khan, Sarjayakut Khan, Ambar Khan, Farad Khan, Khairiyat Khan, Yakut Khan, Azam Khan, Bahlol Khan, Malik Rehan Khan, Ragho Mambaji, Vedaji Bhaskar, Balaji Haibatrao, Sidhoji Pawar, Mambaji Pawar, Mambaji Bhosale, King of Adoni, King of Karnapuram, Mudholkar Baji Ghorpade, Baji’s three brothers Khandoji, Ambaji, Bhanaji, Yashwantrao Wadve, Maloji Pawar, and Tuloji Bhosale etc. Sardars fell upon Shahajiraje’s sleeping, and due to that, completely unsuspecting camp upon Mustafa’s orders! Mustafa Khan himself, however, did not go! Because he had given Raje his word! But he was marshalling the troops by standing behind all of them.

This raid of thousands of soldiers suddenly attacked Raje’s encampment and it simply besieged the camp. Their clamour was so loud, that the sleeping soldiery in Raje’s camp suddenly woke up disoriented. There was utter chaos.

Baji, Khandoji, Ambaji and Bhanaji all Ghorpade brothers directly made way towards Shahajiraje. Shahajiraje’s sworn enemy Yashwantrao Wadve was also with them. The unsuspecting army of Shahajiraje was utterly routed. Hearing all this commotion, Raje himself woke up and ran outside taking his shield and sword. He was shouting to all his people, ‘Get ready! Get ready!’ Immediately, Raje mounted a horse.

There was a loud din outside. Raje’s soldiers were shouting, ‘Horse, horse! Soldier, soldier! Spear, spear!’ Because none of these things were quickly to hand. The attack was terrifying. A brave warrior named Khandoji Patil in the service of Raje saw Baji Ghorpade coming towards Raje’s tent at full gallop. He had already mounted his horse with his spear even in that commotion. The moment Khandoji Patil saw Baji Ghorpade and his gang he also dug his heels into his horse’s side and made a straight run for Baji. Baji, Baji’s brothers, and other soldiers shouted, and innumerable soldiers started attacking Khandoji Patil alone. Khandoji Patil started wielding his spear even from his horse, and that too with such brilliance, that the Gorpade soldiery started falling in front of him like a house of cards. The dancing cavalrymen from the enemy’s side had encircled him, and he was fighting with all of them. But the rest of the camp resembled a loose heap of straw caught up in a cyclone. Khandoji fighting alone was parrying the attacks just with his spear. The enemy soldiers around him were aiming and throwing projectiles at him. He was ensuring they all ricocheted away. Suddenly Baji Ghorpade attacked Khandoji Patil with a mace-like heavy weapon called gurj. It had found its mark and Khandoji Patil fell off his horse. He took his last breath.

Shahajiraje himself was fighting from his horse using the sword and shield. Baji Ghorpade wanted Raje himself. Baji left and made his way straight towards Raje. Shahajiraje was shocked to see Baji Ghorpade himself! Raje was stunned for a minute looking at Baji Ghorpade, his own blood-brother, for whom he had toiled so hard, now attacking him. But parry after parry started swishing on him like lightening.

Ghorpades were actually cousins for Bhosales. Same lineage. Same bloodline. The Bhosales of Mudhol had accepted the surname ‘Ghorpade’ for their own family. Baji Ghorpade was adhering to the age-old tradition of familial quarrels with all his heart. Today’s fight amongst blood-brothers was instigated by clever Mustafa Khan. Raje’s nephew Tryambakji Sharifji Bhosale and Yogaji Bhandkar, Santaji Gunjavatkar, Meghaji Thakur, Dasoji Gawli and many other soldiers came to Shahajiraje’s help, and then fierce fight started. Baji was fighting really hard. Raje and his soldiers were also defending at their limit. It was alight now. Full moon night had finished and Vadya Pratipada (first day of the dark fortnight) had begun. Raje’s soldiers were falling down one by one either dead or wounded. Raje was also getting tired. Normally the moon loses its sheen in the darker fortnight. Raje was bleeding from the various wounds on his body.

… And Raje suddenly felt giddy while fighting, and he fell down to the ground from his horse! And Baji Ghorpade yelped at the top of his voice with glee! All the enemy’s soldiers and Sardars started raising slogans of victory. Raje’s army was routed. It was clear that now Raje’s body will be crushed beneath the horses’ hooves. At this instant, one of the Sardars from the enemy force jumped down his horse, ran ahead, and started protecting Raje by holding his own shield over Raje’s head. This Sardar of Mustafa Khan was named Balaji Haibatrao.

Finally, this lion was ensnared in deceptive net of lies!

Baji Ghorpade also jumped down quickly, and like an expert snake-charmer captures a defanged snake, Baji himself arrested Shahajiraje, who had already fallen unconscious. Such a display of skill by Baji!

Mustafa Khan was happy. Raje was taken to the tent. Mustafa Khan confiscated all the decorations and tentage from his camp. This Khan and Baji had achieved on of the toughest things. Shahajiraje’s hands and feet were clapped in irons. Brave Shahajiraje, who had kept Emperor Shahjahan and Adilshah himself engaged, for years together at one time, had fallen prey to these cowardly royal Sardars quite easily.

When he came about, Shahajiraje noticed that he was a prisoner! There were fetters in his hands and feet!

On the other side, Rajgad was overflowing with joy and excitement. Shivajiraje, Aaisaheb, and all the diplomatic members were engrossed in planning new political plays for the new Swarajya. What to win next, how to do it, which rampart to build, where to build turrets, where to appoint outposts, how to patrol borders, how to maximise the perfection in the management of forts like Rajgad, Torana, Subhanmangal, Kondhana etc., how to enhance their fighting capacities, how to obtain confidential information from the Sultanate forts, and from the secret discussions of Sardars and Jagirdars, etc. numerous things were being constantly discussed in secret meetings, under the light of traditional lamps, and at the feet of the Goddess Jagadamba. Maval hearts were raring to perform new adventures, to prove their prowess, and to earn Shivba’s accolades.

… And just at that time, that bitter poisonous news reached Rajgad! After the midnight of Shravan full-moon, Mustafa Khan and Baji Ghorpade raided Maharaj Shahajiraje’s camp by subterfuge! And Baji Ghorpade arrested Shahajiraje! The whole camp was destroyed. People were killed, camp was looted. Shahajiraje was wounded. He was now in Mustafa Khan’s captivity. And he had been clapped in irons. Mustafa Khan committed this act of terrible betrayal even after promising otherwise. Badshah had played this move with Shahajiraje through the hands of Khan and Baji.

Hearing this news, Rajgad was stunned! It was like an axe had fallen over its head! Such a terrible calamity over Swarajya, Shivajiraje, and Aaisaheb’s own marriage itself! Aaisaheb’s heart contorted. Badshah had surreptitiously captured her mangal-surta itself! There was no guarantee, when he will swipe and break it. Everybody’s chests started heaving wildly. Shivajiraje’s heart started trembling. The whole past history started standing in front of their eyes. What happened to Murar Jagdev! What happened to his own grandfather Lakhuji Jadhavrao? What happened to his three uncles? What happened to clever Sabajipant? What happened to Babaji Kate? Now it was his own father’s turn! What would happen now? Shivajiraje’s heart darkened with the thoughts of terrible future. But how would this happen suddenly? How was the betrayal perpetrated?

And more detailed intelligence also started reaching one-by-one. Detailed information about, how Shahajiraje believed Mustafa Khan’s promise, and how Khan betrayed with Baji’s help, was conveyed to Rajgad. Even when his spies had informed Shahajiraje that Khan would betray, he chose to ignore and trust Khan and went to sleep, was also conveyed to Shivajiraje!

Shahajiraje, now sitting in fetters in Mustafa Khan’s camp at Jinji, was repenting with his head down. He only knew, what level of anger was coursing through his mind about Mustafa Khan and Baji Ghorpade. Mustafa had also arrested Raje’s two main assistants. Kanhoji Naik Jedhe Deshmukh and his steward Dadaji Krishna Lohokare were both arrested by Khan, and had been transported under full protection to the fort of Kanakgiri. Dadajipant Lohokare’s son Ratnaji Dadaji Lohokare was also arrested.

Mustafa Khan Dies

Badshah Adilshah had sent an order to Mustafa Khan from Bijapur, to present Shahaji Bhosale in front of him.

Khan had started preparing to send Shahajiraje to Bijapur. But meanwhile he himself fell ill. His disease started increasing day-by-day. It reached its climax, and it looked like his time was near. His final moment approached. Khan was actually quite aged. He gathered all his trusted sardars together. He entreated everyone, to capture the Jinji fort and take Shahaji to Bijapur in tight security.

And Mustafa Khan took his last breath (Dt 9 November 1648)! One extremely capable, brave, and diplomatic man permanently vanished from the Deccan politics. The biggest speciality of this Khan was, that he was a sworn enemy of Shahajiraje. Shahajiraje’s dream political move to prop-up Nizamshahi, was broken down by this same Khan, and now he had been fighting till his last breath to uproot the whole Bhosale family completely.

Commander-in-Chief Khan Mohammed entrusted to Afzal Khan the responsibility of taking Shahajiraje to Bijapur. Around the same time, Farad Khan was sent to Bengaluru to fight with Sambhajiraje, and Fateh Khan was sent to fight Shivajiraje. This Sambhajiraje was Shivajiraje’s elder brother. He was at Bengaluru. The rest of the Bhosale family was also there.

Dual Calamity

At this time, the Bengaluru town and its fort were under the control of Shahajiraje’s eldest son, and Shivajiraje’s elder brother Sambhajiraje. Raje’s family was in Bengaluru. Mustafa’s insidious sight was actually set on Raje’s household. He immediately sent three of his bravest Sardars along with some force to Bengaluru to capture the town. Farad Khan, Tanajiraje Dure and Vitthal Gopal were the three, who started on the campaign to capture Bengaluru with a substantial force.

Mustafa himself decided to win over the Jinji fort, which was in control of an independent king named Venkat Nayak. Accordingly, he besieged the fort and appointed outposts to tighten the grip.

Bijapur was overflowing with joy. Sultan Mohammed Adilshah was very happy. Not only had a dishonest Shahaji, who had become sort of a challenge lately, been imprisoned, but his rebellious son Shivaji would also now be captured in a snap of his fingers. Convinced of this, the Badshah decided to immediately send one more large force to attack Shivajiraje. He ordered Sardar Fateh Khan to start the preparations. The campaign work started in the earnest. This Fateh Khan was a Sardar of highly ruthless nature.

Shivajiraje fought the crisis and emerged victorious at the battles of Subhanmangal as well as Purandar against Fateh Khan.

Fateh Khan was utterly routed. He ran away to Bijapur. Shivajiraje came to Rajgad with the victory. Aaisaheb was concerned about Shahajiraje. The fact that Fateh Khan was so summarily beaten by the children, was such a happy fact. But this happiness could only fill half her heart. The other half was still being hollowed out by the concern for Shahajiraje. She was now even more concerned, whether Badshah would get angrier because of this defeat, and would harm Maharajsaheb in any way.

And Raje was also preoccupied because of the same concern about his father. At the same time, one very important news came. Farad Khan who had attacked Bengaluru, was dealt another terrible defeat by Sambhajiraje! This report also brought great happiness.

Diplomatic Solution

But again, the concern increased about the reaction of the Badshah now. Raje became even more anxious. But his anxiety vanished quickly. He got an idea! Raje thought of an amazing and perfect trick to ensure Shahajiraje was released. He decided to send a letter to Delhi’s Mughal Sultan Shahjahan. The letter was to contain an offer of surrender to Mughal Badshah along with his father Shahajiraje. It requested the Badshah to grant his favour and send a firman accepting their service. He highlighted that both father-son duo would enter Mughal service upon Shahajiraje's release by Adilshah.

This diplomatic move by Raje to give Delhi’s Mughal Emperor’s check to Bijapur’s Adilshah was amazing and wild. One of the Shehzada (prince) of Delhi's Emperor Shahjahan was a Subedar at Ahmedabad in Gujarat. This Shehzada was named Murad Baksh. He was Aurangzeb’s brother. Raje wrote out the letter like above, and rapidly sent to Murad. At that time Raje’s age was just eighteen years.

But Raje himself agreed to enter imperial service and sent such request to the Mughal prince. How so? How could Shivajiraje, who had planted a rebellious standard saying he won’t serve any Sultan, he will establish Swarajya; agree to serve another Sultan? Then this type of service he would have got at the Bijapur court any time! Would Raje become a slave to the Mughals?

Never! Raje was just using his honeyed tongue for Delhi’s Emperor, for getting his father out of captivity. Shahjahan knew Shahajiraje’s capability well enough, and even Shivajiraje had displayed his brilliant spark in the battle with Fateh Khan. Shahjahan and Murad Baksh thought, if this father-son duo came to serve under them, it would be accretion of much larger power to help the Mughals capture the whole of Deccan. They were happy.

At this time, Afzal Khan had started towards Bijapur taking Shahajiraje along. Commander-in-Chief Khan-i-Khanan Khan Mohammed had handed over the responsibility to safely transport Shahajiraje to Afzal Khan. The immense loot captured while winning over Jinji, was also loaded onto eighty-six elephants, and that was also being transported to Bijapur with Afzal Khan. All the elephants were carrying the loot, and one of them was carrying Shahajiraje.

Afzal Khan entered Bijapur (Dt 10 March 1649). That long serpentine queue of elephants was chugging along with the rhythm of tolling bells round their necks. Eighty-six elephants were loaded with the wealth, and a prisoner even more valuable than those eight-six elephants worth of wealth, was loaded onto another separate elephant, although clamped in fetters. Raje Shahaji Bhosale! With his hands and feet fettered in chains, Raje was sitting with his head down, burning in repentance. Cavalry carrying unsheathed swords and spears was marching with resonating sound of hooves in their arrogant splendour. Afzal Khan was on seventh heaven. This sight was witnessed by thousands of citizens from Bijapur’s roads, homes, windows, and shops. The awe of Adilshahi prowess itself was being paraded down the road. Some years back this same Bijapur had witnessed the shameless treatment given to Murar Jagdev. Thereafter they had also seen the beheading and hacking of Murarpant’s body to pieces. Today it was Shahajiraje’s turn. The roads were resounding with the sounds of bells, hooves, snorts of the horses, and screams of the elephants. Terror! Sultan Mohammed Adilshah’s terror was parading with angry hooves. This was the outcome of trying to utter even a single word against the Badshah. It should be considered fortunate, that Raje was sat on an elephant. Otherwise, such betrayers should be paraded on donkeys… Afzal Khan had purposely sat Raje on an elephant. As a mark of respect to him!

Shahajiraje was sent to the prison. People were confident that, Raje would very soon be sent to ‘hell’! At the mouth of a cannon! Because very recently two Sardars had been beaten black-and-blue and had come to Bijapur crying. Farad Khan had returned from Bengaluru and Fateh Khan had returned from Purandar. Badshah and the court had been incensed because of the utter rout Shahajiraje’s sons had dealt to these two Sardars. The outcome was imminently visible. Shahajiraje’s death!

The court somehow got wind of the news that, Shahaji Bhosale’s son Shivaji, had entered a diabolical alliance with Delhi, and was conspiring to bring the bigger Mughal calamity over Bijapur, to get his father freed of the prison! That was it! All the carefully woven conspiracies to end Bhosale seed started crashing down one after another. The court could see clearly, that Delhi’s Shahjahan would now become a menace for the Adilshahi, making Shahaji his front. Probably even a firman would also reach tomorrow saying, ‘You have imprisoned ‘our Sardar’ Shahajiraje through subterfuge. While Raje Shahaji Bhosale’s son Shivajiraje is a candidatue being considered for service to the Mughal Sultanate, keeping his father in prison like a common criminal, is not going to have beneficial consequences for you. If you don’t free Raje Shahaji Bhosale immediately, we will forget all the previous understandings!’ What if such a firman arrives from Delhi? It would become a question of Adilshahi’s esteem. And if Shivaji and his brother Sambhaji become one with the Mughals and erect an open standard of revolt, then it would become terribly difficult to control both. Shivaji had openly sent his application to Delhi.

Even Badshah Adilshah was a little confused because of this political move by Shivajiraje. Now how would he come out of this tangle unscathed, with esteem? If Shahaji was to be punished, that Shivaji had created the terror of the Mughals. If Shahaji was let off from the prison, the court esteem was at stake. What would he do now? There was no point sending another force to attack Shivaji. Fateh Khan had totally got a taste of how Shivaji was! And now even Mughals would come for his help. All the Badshah’s counsellors, diplomats started looking concerned. Shivajiraje had challenged Bijapur by aligning with Delhi behind their backs!

And they got a solution! Badshah thought this was the one and only solution! What? Shahajiraje was to be honourably released!

And the Sultan quietly ordered Shahajiraje to be freed after breaking down his fetters (Dt 16 May 1649, Jyeshtha Pournima)!

Shahajiraje Released

It was the Jyeshtha month. Day of the Pournima – full moon. Eons ago, one devoted wife had stubbornly insisted to Yamraj on this same Jyeshtha Pournima, asking for her husband’s life (a reference to the mythical tale of Savitri and Satyawan). That Sati, already frail due to her vows and lent, had gone behind Yamraj falling at his feet and begging for her husband’s life.

This was the same Jyeshtha Pournima. Aaisaheb’s heart was anxious for Shahajiraje’s freedom. And Shahajiraje was freed! Aaisaheb’s blessed marriage was returned to her. And Swarajya was implicit in this Saubhagya (blessed, marital status). Aaisaheb was as happy as that Sati Savitri herself. Swarajya was saved. Even Saubhagya (husband’s life) was returned completely. Jagadamba had smiled upon Purandar, Bengaluru, Belsar and Subhanmangal battles to grant victory. Jagadamba herself had protected her Saubhagya.

Shahajiraje had no guarantee, what would Badshah do with his life. He was also anxious. He was repenting the fact, that he had been captured purely because of his own carelessness. He was sure, that the Badshah’s order will be on its way to kill him, sooner or later.

And Badshah’s orders were received in the prison, that the guards should present Raje at the court. Immediately Raje was honourably released from captivity. He was respectfully offered clothes and ornaments. Badshah’s order was recited in front of him, that he should accept these special clothes and headgear, and wearing them he should present himself for a personal interview, of Hazrat Zille-ilahi (Sultan Adilshah). Raje was stunned because of these unexpected laurels and his freedom being granted.

Raje took his bath and wore the newly gifted clothes and headgear and entered the court. Adilshah met him in Kalyan mahal. Raje kept wondering how the Badshah’s mouth had opened in surrender. But soon he realised that it was Shivba who had tightly clasped the Badshah’s proud nose between two fingers, because of which he had had to open his mouth, gasping for breath! Badshah, who had tried this whole trick to ensure Shivba surrenders unconditionally, the same trick had now started troubling him. Raje’s heart was suddenly touched by thousands of rippling sensations of paternal-love, appreciation, happiness, pride and blessedness. But his anger about the betrayal and insult didn’t die away. It was impossible to extinguish until the time, Baji Ghorpade, who had captured him, and Afzal Khan, who had transported him insultingly to Bijapur were punished. Not to forget, that feline Mustafa Khan, however, was already dead! No use fretting about that!

Shahajiraje’s rebellious streak was even more brilliantly shining today in the court than loyal Sardars like Mane, Ghatge, Nimbalkar, Pawar, Ghorpade etc.!

Badshah addressed Raje with a sweet smile, regretting about the treatment given to him through misunderstanding. He reiterated his trust in Shahajiraje's honesty and bravery. However, he introduced a pre-condition to restore Shahajiraje to his prior stature, that the fort Kondhana to be returned back, and subsequent pardon for Shivajiraje's mistakes.

Badshah asked Shahajiraje for Shivajiraje’s beloved fort Kondhana! Returning invaluable Kondhana to the Sultan was a must. But Shahajiraje smiled in acceptance, thinking one whose sword had the power, would capture thousand forts like Kondhana. Raje unwillingly agreed to return the Bengaluru city, Kondhana and Kandarpi forts to the Sultan. Raje also intended to ensure that Shivba’s political play should get to its intended outcome and should not get disrupted midway.

Badshah honoured Shahajiraje. He gave him elephants, horses, new clothes and ornaments. Baji Ghorpade and Afzal Khan were burnt black with jealousy and hatred, at these honours being showered on Raje. Looking at the felicitation being offered to Shahajiraje who deserved beheading, all the jealous courtiers were beside themselves with envy. Even other neutral ones were surprised.

[ref]

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