Sivaji(redirected from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj)
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See biographies by V. B. Kulkarni (1963) and K. L. Mahaley (1969); J. Sarkar, Shivaji and his Times (5th ed. 1952).
(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.
REFERENCESBalkrishna. Shivaji the Great, vol. 1, parts 1–2. Bombay, 1932.
Sarkar Jadunath. Shivaji and His Times, 4th ed. Calcutta, 1948.