Sivaji

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Śivaji

Śivaji or Shivaji (shĭväˈjē), 1627–80, Indian ruler, leader of the Marathas. The son of a Maratha chieftain, he was imbued from early childhood with hatred of the Mughal empire, which controlled most of India. From his capital at Pune he made guerrilla attacks on the Muslim kingdom of Bijapur and gradually carved out a considerable domain. In 1657 his troops were soundly beaten by the Mughal army, but the Mughals then withdrew, and Śivaji returned to raiding and several times defeated the Bijapur army. In 1664 he sacked the rich Mughal port of Surat and thus provoked an organized Mughal campaign against him. Defeated in 1665, Śivaji went (1666) to Agra to negotiate with Aurangzeb, the Mughal emperor, but was imprisoned. After a daring escape he returned to W India and undertook a series of raids that were not countered by the Mughals. By 1674 he was secure enough to crown himself king of the Maratha empire, although fighting continued until his death. He is the modern Maratha hero.

Bibliography

See biographies by V. B. Kulkarni (1963) and K. L. Mahaley (1969); J. Sarkar, Shivaji and his Times (5th ed. 1952).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Sivaji

 

(also Shivaji). Born Apr. 6, 1627, or Feb. 19, 1630, in the region of Poona; died Apr. 3, 1680, in Rajgarh. Founder of the Maratha state in India in 1674. Leader of the Maratha struggle for independence.

Sivaji was the son of the prominent feudal lord (jagirdar) and military commander Shahji, who served the sovereigns of Ahmadnagar and Bijapur. Between 1646 and 1655 he captured, by conquest, cunning, and bribery, northwestern Maharashtra and part of northern Konkan. During a war with Bijapur (1658–61) he carried out a series of successful raids, but he was defeated in his war with the Great Moguls (1660–65), notwithstanding several triumphs, notably the sacking of the important Mogul port of Surat in 1664.

Under the Treaty of Purandhar of 1665, Sivaji surrendered the greater part of his territory and most of his fortresses, and he acknowledged himself a vassal of the Moguls. He then traveled to the court of Aurangzeb in Agra, where he was taken into custody. In 1666 he escaped; resuming his struggle against the Moguls in 1670, he recovered his fortresses and lands. Sivaji raided Bijapur, Berar, Telingana (Andhra), Khandesh, and Gujarat and again sacked the port of Surat.

In 1674, Sivaji had himself crowned in Rajgarh, with great pomp and ceremony, the supreme ruler of Maharashtra. Between 1675 and 1678 he carried out successful campaigns in Kanara, Mysore, and the Carnatic. At the time of his death, he ruled all western Maharashtra, northern and southern Konkan, western Kanara, a number of regions in Mysore, and part of the Carnatic (the region of Tanjore).

Initially nothing more than a military commander blessed with success in various internecine feudal conflicts, Sivaji came to inspire the Marathas with the dream of achieving independence from the Moguls. His mobile army was built up by recruiting peasants. By compiling a land cadastre, eliminating the intermediate levels of the feudal hierarchy, putting an end to internecine feudal strife, and creating a centralized administration, he substantially eased the burden of feudal exploitation borne by the Marathas.

On the other hand, Sivaji’s army ruthlessly plundered the population of the conquered territories, sending on the wealth thus obtained to the treasury. Threatened by raids and pillage, the Mogul governor of the Deccan was compelled to pay Sivaji a chauth (one-fourth of tax revenues). Sivaji played a major role in weakening the Mogul state, which fell in the first half of the 18th century. As the liberator of the Marathas from the Mogul yoke, the creator of an independent Maratha state, and a defender of Hinduism, Sivaji is honored as a national hero of the Marathas.

REFERENCES

Balkrishna. Shivaji the Great, vol. 1, parts 1–2. Bombay, 1932.
Sarkar Jadunath. Shivaji and His Times, 4th ed. Calcutta, 1948.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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