Shivaji The Mountain Rat


Written by Sulaiman Razvi

The battle between Indian Hindu kings and Muslim rulers is depicted as a religious war by Hindus. And even small-time Hindu rulers whose names should’ve been unknown in history books are made popular just because they fought Muslims. This includes rulers like Rana Pratap, Prithviraj Chauhan, Shivaji etc. who all lost to Muslim rulers. Rana Pratap and Prithviraj Chauhan were not Marathas hence I shall not discuss them.

In Hindu society, anyone can be made a hero overnight, the same is the case with Shivaji. Today, grand celebrations of Shivaji’s birth anniversary are made. Shivaji Jayanti was not at all celebrated in the past just a little over 100 years ago, Shivaji Jayanti celebration was started by a radical Brahmin leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak who upon failing to mobilize non-Brahmins with Ganesh Chaturthi started Shivaji Jayanti. He started the public celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi only to deter Hindus from attending Muharram, on failing to attract non-Brahmins, he started Shivaji Jayanti celebration. Shivaji was so unpopular that his Samadhi was in despair, according to some the Samadhi of Shivaji was discovered by Jyotiba Phule. Historian Biswamoy Pati wrote in his book, Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular readings whose excerpts are available in my article that Tilak collected funds to repair the tomb of Shivaji, “The popular (non-brahmin) journal Din Bandhu began to oppose Tilak’s attempts to co-opt the figure of Shivaji. Countering such opposition Tilak declared that ‘it is the duty of every Hindu to celebrate the Shivaji festival’ and elevate it to the level of a national festival. Tilak called for a public meeting in May 1895, in order to raise funds to repair the tomb of Shivaji, to erect a suitable canopy, and to arrange a permanent endowment that would provide the necessary funds for an annual festival at Raigadh. He had limited success. The Maharaja of Kolhapur who was a descendant of Shivaji provided no financial assistance and the Gaikwad of Baroda gave 1,000 rupees, a tiny sum in comparison with his contribution of 33,000 rupees to the Deccan Association around the same time. During the debate, Shivaji as a just king was completely sidelined and the killing of Afzal Khan was a focus that emphasized the Hindu-Muslim aspect.”

History is a very lengthy subject, it’s not possible to mention each and every action of the Marathas hence I shall quote a few passages. Shivaji was the founder of the Maratha Empire. His rebellion against Aurangzeb is communalized and it is also claimed that he revolted due to the “oppression” by the Mughals. That’s quite ironic since Shivaji the bandit used to pillage villages and carried out arson attacks on the houses of common civilians. So it is not true that he revolted against the so-called oppression as he had higher political ambitions to become a king.

Shivaji had sent several apology letters to Aurangzeb, I shall mention some of them here.

Shivaji wrote a letter to Nasiri Khan offering submission after being defeated in Ahmednagar by the latter when Shivaji tried to plunder the city, on not getting any response Shivaji later sent a diplomat to Aurangzeb who outwardly pardoned Shivaji as he was busy in the war of succession for the next two years.

“When in September his liege-lord, the king of Bijapur, made peace, Shivaji found it useless and even ruinous to himself to continue the war with the Mughal empire single-handed. He must try to save his patrimony. So, he wrote to Nasiri Khan offering Submission, and the Khan replied in a conciliatory tone. Then Shiva, as requested, sent a trusty agent (probably Raghunath Ballal Korde) to the Khan to state his demands. These were reported to Aurangzeb (Adab. 165b, 157a); but no definite agreement followed. Shivaji now sent Raghunath Pant to Aurangzeb directly. The Prince was just started on his march to Northen India (25 Jan., 1658) and wrote to Shiva in reply, “Though your offences do not deserve pardon, I forgive you as you have repented…” Shivaji and His Times, p.61, by Sir Jadunath Sarkar, second edition, published by Longmans, Green and Co

Shivaji to Aurangzeb, June 1665

“Although this offender and sinner was deserving of all kinds of punishment, yet, through the mercy and grace of the gracious and favour-showering (imperial Court), which is the shadow of the mercy of the Creator and the reflection of the pity of the Nourisher, he has, by means of submission and humility, turned the face of deliverance towards the hope of life and the safety of his life and property, in the shelter of the promise and agreement of the officers of the lofty Court which resembles Heaven in splendour; he has reached the abode of safety of his desire, obtained a new life, and made his forehead of servitude auspicious with the brand of a slave (of the Emperor). He begs to represent that hereafter he will remain firmly engaged in performing the Emperor’s work, as a reparation for his past life and an amendment of his uselessly spent days; he will never deviate from the position of rendering service, risking his life and carrying out the imperial mandates, which is a means of glorification to the rulers of the seven climes of the globe, not to speak of this most abject particle and hunblest of drops (i.e., Shiva himself), the (worth of) whose life is well known. Hereafter he will not consent to ruining his own house and destroying the foundation of his own life (by rising in rebellion). A detailed account of this slave will reach the imperial presence from the despatch of the chief of the Rajahs of the age, Mirza Rajah Jai Singh. He hopes that ouf of the store-house of (your majesty’s) grace, pardon of offences and cherishing of offenders, life to this slave may be granted, and an imperial farman may be issued pardoning his offences, granting security to his house and family, and bestowing life on him.” House of Shivaji, p.148-9, by Sir Jadunath Sarkar, Second edition, Published by S.C. Sarkar & Sons

Shivaji had begged Jaswant Singh to be his intermediary in making peace with the Mughal empire in 1668. The fear of Mughal army is apparent in the words of Shivaji.

“…As early as April 1667 he had sent a letter to the Emperor professing terror of the imperial army which was reported to have been despatched against him, and offering to make his submission again and send a contingent of 400 men under his son to fight under the Mughal banners. (Akhbarat, 10-9.) Aurangzib had taken no notice of this letter. Some months later Shivaji made another attempt. He entreated Jaswant Singh to be his intermediary in making peace with the empire. He wrote to the Maharaja, “The Emperor has cast me off. Otherwise I intended to have begged the task of recovering Qandahar with my unaided resources. I fled (from Agra) in fear of my life. Mirza Rajah, my patron, is dead. If through your intercession I am pardoned, I shall send Shambhu to wait on the Prince and serve as a mansabdar at the head of my followers wherever ordered.” (Dil. 69-70) Jaswant Singh and Prince Muazzam jumped at the offer and recommended Shiva to the Emperor (9th March 1668), who accepted the proposal, and thus a peace was made which lasted two years…” Shivaji and His Times, p.183*4, by Sir Jadunath Sarkar, second edition, published by Longmans, Green and Co

Following is another letter sent by Shivaji,

“3rd October, 1667, Persian Akhbar
The Emperor received a letter from Prince Muhammad Muazzam (the new viceroy of the Deccan) to this effect:- Shivaji has written a letter to me saying “I am a hereditary slave of the imperial Court and my son Shambhuji has been created a Commander of Five thousand (with 5,000 troopers tank), but has received no jagir as tankha (or subsistence allowance.) I now beg that His Majesty would pardon the offences of this servant, restore the mansab of my son and assign a jagir to him. I am ready to render service in person wherever I am ordered.” As Shivaji is at present manifesting great misery of heart, I beg Your Majesty to forgive his past misdeeds and to restore the mansab formerly [i.e., in 1665] granted to Shambhuji. His Majesty after reading the despatch, handed it back to the prime minister and remarked, “I order the restoration of the mansab of Shambhuji. Do you assign him jagirs in the territory of the forts surrenderd to me [by Shiva] He should come [with a contingent of troops] and render service under the Prince [Muazzam].” House of Shivaji, p.179-180, Second edition, Published by S.C. Sarkar & Sons

This shows that Shivaji was an egoistic, shameless, power and money-hungry guy. Did Mughal’s ‘oppression’ against Hindus suddenly come to an end while asking for jagirs from Aurangzeb? This letter is dated 1667 which is 3 years after Shiva looted the city of Surat. If the purpose of revolt was to end Mughal’s ‘oppression’ then he shouldn’t have begged for jagirs (grants). Aurangzeb made a huge mistake by showing benevolence to the bandit Shivaji by repeatedly forgiving him though he was capable of punishing him as his commanders had many times defeated Shivaji. In the battle of Raigarh, Aurangzeb ordered his general Zulfiqar Khan to capture Maratha king Rajaram a son of Shivaji, Shivaji’s son Rajaram fled leaving women of his household, they were captured by Mughals and treated graciously. Aurangzeb ordered a tent to be set-up for them in Gulbarga and they were accorded all respect, privacy and an annual pensions were fixed on all of them.

Shivaji is portrayed as an undefeated brave warrior but he mainly resorted to guerrilla tactics, there are numerous instances where so-called “Veer (Brave)” Shivaji fled the battlefield. The following para is taken from Maharashtra government’s website,

– “In Feb 1670, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s tried to conquer Mahuli, but failed. Thousand of Marathas were killed by Moghals. It was a bad blow to Marathas.”

– Battle of Pavan Khind: In 1659, after the death of the Bijapur general Afzal Khan, in the ensuing confusion Shivaji took Panhala from Bijapur. In May 1660, to win back the fort from Shivaji, Adil Shah II (1656–1672) of Bijapur sent his army under the command of Siddi Johar to lay siege to Panhala. Shivaji Maharaj fought back and they could not take the fort. The siege continued for months, at the end of which all provisions in the fort were exhausted and Shivaji Maharaj was on the verge of being captured.
Under these circumstances, Shivaji decided that escape was the only option. He gathered a small number of soldiers along with his trusted commander Baji Prabhu Deshpande and, on 13 July 1660, they escaped in the dead of night to flee to Vishalgad. Baji Prabhu and a barber, Shiva Kashid, who looked like Shivaji Maharaj, kept the enemy engaged, giving them an impression that Shiva Kashid was actually Shivaji Maharaj. In the ensuing battle (Battle of Pavan Khind), almost three quarters of the one thousand strong force died, including Baji Prabhu himself. The fort went to Adil Shah.

– Battle of Purandar: The Treaty of Purandar was signed on June 11, 1665, between the Rajput ruler Jai Singh I, who was commander of the Mughal Empire, and Maratha Shivaji. Shivaji was forced to sign the agreement after Mughal commander Diler Khan besieged Purandar fort. When Shivaji realised that war with the Mughal Empire would only cause damage to the empire and that his men would suffer heavy losses, he chose to make a treaty instead of leaving his men under the Mughals.

– Battle of Bhupalgarh: The Battle of Bhupalgarh occurred between the Mughal Empire and Maratha Empire in 1679. After a fierce bloody resistance to the siege lasting over 55 days, the battle resulted in the razing of the fort of Bhupalgarh and a decisive victory for the Mughals over the Maratha Shivaji, under general Diler Khan. The Maratha king Shivaji was defeated by the Mughals in this battle. Also the fort of Bhupalgarh was razed by the Mughals.

– Battle of Sangamner: It was fought between the Mughal Empire and Maratha Empire in 1679. This was the last battle in which the Maratha King Shivaji fought. The Mughals had ambushed Shivaji with a large force when he was returning from the sack of Jalna. The Marathas engaged in battle with the Mughals for three days but lost to the Mughals. Shivaji successfully escaped with 500 soldiers while the combat continued until Maratha general, Sidhoji Nimbalkar was killed along with 2000 soldiers whereas Santaji Ghorpade finally took to flight after being routed, with Hambir Rao injured and many Maratha soldiers arrested. Shivaji returned to Raigad safely early in December that year.

Shivaji’s loot of Surat

Shivaji plundered the city of Surat and its residents and later burnt down the houses. Sir Jadunath Sarkar writes,

“At 11 o’clock in the morning of Wednesday, 6th January, 1664, Shivaji arrived at Surat and pitched his tent in a garden a quarter of a mile outside the Burhanpur or eastern gate. The night before he had sent two messengers with a letter requiring the governor and the three most eminent merchants and richest men in the city, viz., Haji Said Beg, Baharji Borah, and Haji Qasim, to come to him in person immediately and make terms, otherwise he threatened the whole town with fire and sword. No answer had been given to the demand, and the Maratha horsemen, immediately after their arrival on the 6th, entered the defenceless and almost deserted city, and after sacking the houses began to set fire to them. A body of Shivaji’s musketeers was set ‘to play upon the castle, with no expectation to take it, but to keep in and frighten the governor and the rest that had got in, as also [to prevent] the soldiers of the castle form sallying out upon them whilst the others plundered and fired [the houses.]’ The garrison kept up a constant fire, but the fort-guns inflicted more damage on the town than on the assailants. Throughout Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, this work of devastation was continued, every day new fires being raided, so that thousands of houses were consumed to ashes and two-thirds of the town destroyed. As the English chaplain wrote, “Thursday and Friday nights were the most terrible nights for fire. The fire turned the night into day, as before the smoke in the day-time had turned day into night, rising so thick that it darkened the sun like a great cloud.” Near the Dutch factory stood the grand mansion of Baharji Borah, then ‘reputed the richest merchant in the world,’ his property having been estimated at 80 lakhs of Rupees. The Marathas plundered it at leisure day and night till Friday evening, when having ransacked it and dug up its floor, they set fire to it. From this house they took away 28 seers of large perals, with many other jewels, rubies, emeralds and ‘an incredible amount of money.” Shivaji and His Times, p.74, By Jadunath Sarkar, Orient Blackswan, 01-Jan-1992

“The looting of Surat went on till the sun ascended atop the sky. The houses looted were burnt down by pouring on them oil procured from the oilmen. The smoke-clouds floating over Surat screened the sky. The Maratha soldiers made a beeline for the camp along with the hostages as also the booty.” Shivaji the Great, p.387, Ranjit Desai’s Marathi Novel Shriman Yogi, translated into English by Dr. V.D. Katamble, Balwant Printers Pvt. Ltd., 2003

Shivaji ransacked the city of Surat twice, looted entire city burned the houses just like a bandit. Shivaji first looted Surat in 1664 and the second time in 1670.

“Six years later in October 1670 Shivaji once again sacked Surat. He arrived at Surat on October 3 and the city was open for him as the defenders fled to the Fort after a slight resistance. The Marathas pillaged homes and the sarais, burnt down nearly half of the town and retreated on the 5th carrying with them enormous booty.” Surat In The Seventeenth Century, p.25, By Gokhale, Popular Prakashan

“On 5th October, about noon Shivaji suddenly retreated from the town, though no Mughal army was near or even reported to be coming. ‘But he had got plunder enough and thought it prudent to secure himself. When he marched away he sent a letter to the officers and chief merchants, saying that if they did not pay him twelve lakhs of Rupees as yearly tribute, he would return the next year and burn down the remaining part of the town. No sooner Shivaji was gone than the poor people of Surat fell to plundering what was left…Here the shah-i-bandar (harbour and custom-master), the qazi, and the most eminent merchants (Hindu, Muslim and Armenian) of Surat had taken refuge with the English. Many rich people of the town, too, had fled to the villages north of Surat, across the river and close to Swally. On the 3rd it was reported that Shivaji wanted to send 500 horsemen north of the river to plunder the villages and seize these rich men; and it was feared that he might even come to Swally to deman the surrender of the Surat refugees and blackmail from the European merchants.” Shivaji and His Times, Ch VII, p.200-1, by Jadunath Sarkar, Second Edition, Longmans, Geen and Co, 1920

Plundering Hubli and Vingurla

“Early in December 1664 Shivaji looted Hubli and many other rich towns of that region, holding several eminent merchants prisoners for ransom. He had sent only three hundred horsemen to Hubli, but these did their work so thoroughly that the town ‘was little better than spoiled.’ The merchants who had fled at the attack were too frightened to return there soon, even after the departure of the Marathas. The raiders were said to have been assisted by some of Rustam’s soldiers…Soon afterwards, Shivaji plundered Vingurla, an important sea-port and trade centre, form which he carried away vast riches. ‘Shiva and his scouts range all over the country, making havoc wherever he comes, with fire and sword.” Shivaji and His Times, Ch X, p.274, by Jadunath Sarkar, Second Edition, Longmans, Geen and Co, 1920

Hubli was plundered by Shivaji’s general in 1673,

“In 1674 Hubli is mentioned as a place of much wealth and of great trade. It was plundered by Annaji Datto one of Shivaji’s generals and the booty is said to have exceeded any previous Maratha plunder. Merchants of all nations were plundered and the Bijapur troops, which had been stationed for the defence of the town, destroyed any property which the Maratha left.” Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency …, Volume 22, Chapter XIV, p.758, Printed at the Government Central Press, 1884 – Bombay (India : State)

Plundering Golconda, Bijapur and Yadagiri and taking many people for ransom

“During this period Shivaji plundered Bijapur and Golconda territories; at the same time his men pillaged two towns in Portuguese territory; Shivaji also captured Kolhapur. In November, Bahadur Khan marched to Kalyan and pressed hard the Marathas. About this time, Hambirrao, the Commander-in-Chief, plundered Gujrat.” Shivaji, the Great Maratha, Volume 3, p.789, By H. S. Sardesai, Genesis Publishing Pvt Ltd, 2002

“Meantime, while the Mughal viceroy was being lulled into inactivity by these peace overtures, and Shiva was hastening to the siege of Ponda, he captured Kolhapur (March) but failed at Raibagh. A little later another division of his army ranged far eastwards, plundering Bijapur and Golkonda territories, especially Yadagiri and two towns near Haidarabad, ‘bringing away a great deal of riches besides many rich persons’ held to ransom. At the same time his men robbed Cuculle and Veruda in the Portuguese territory (middle of April.)” Shivaji and His Times, Ch IX, p.257, by Jadunath Sarkar, Second Edition, Longmans, Geen and Co, 1920

Plundering Rajapur and its merchant, sacking its factory and taking captives for ransom

“Shivaji punished this act of hostility about 3rd March 1661, when he surprised Rajapur, plundered the English factory, and carried off four of the factors, Henry Revington, Richard Taylor, Randolph Taylor, and Philip Gyffard, as prisoners. A graphic account of this second sack of Rajapur is given by the Dutch Chief at Vingurla: ‘Shivaji sent 1,000 horse and about 3,000 foot soldiers to take possession of Rajapur. This force, on reaching the town, invited the principal inhabits to come out and escort it in, according to custom, promising to do no harm. These simple men, suspecting no evil, went to the place of meeting, accompanied by the English President Revington, with two or three other Englishment, who thought it well to play this mark of respect. They were are all immediately seized and their property confiscated, after tortures had been inflicted. Revington and those who accompanied him were placed in one of Shivaji’s fortresses…The factory was entirely stripped, even the floor being dug up in search of hidden treasure. The robbers also plundered many foreign merchants, who yearly brings goods to Rajapur from Persia and Musqat’…Then Shivaji laid a ransom on the captives, and sent them to Waisati fort. Many other persons Hindu merchants (banians), Indian Muslims, Persians and Arabas were kept there in his prison in a miserable plight and beaten to extort ransom.” Shivaji and His Times, p.263, By Jadunath Sarkar, Orient Blackswan, 01-Jan-1992

“In 1660 and 1670, Shivaji plundered the town of Rajapur, sacking the English factory. In the terms of a treaty with Shivaji, the factory was again established but it was never profitable. Though several other factories were abandoned by the English, they had retained the one, at Rajapur. Though Shivaji had punished the factors for furnishing the Bijapur king with war stores, and the factors were imprisoned, until a ransom was paid, Shivaji and Sambhaji after him always professed to be very anxious to have a factory at Rajapur.” http://ratnagiri.nic.in/gazetter/gom/his_english.html

“In 1660 and 1670 Shivaji plundered the town sacking the English factory.” Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency …, Volume 10, Chapter XIV, p.360, Printed at the Government Central Press, 1880 – Bombay (India : State)

Plunder of Baglana, Burhanpur (Khandesh) and Karanja (Berar) and carrying off its inhabitants for ransom

“Meantime, Shivaji had left Surat, entered Baglana, and plundered the villages nestling at the foot of the fort of Mulhir.” Shivaji and His Times, Ch VII, p.205, by Jadunath Sarkar,
Second Edition, Longmans, Geen and Co, 1920

“In October, Shivaji himself led an expedition through the Deccan plateau and plundered several towns near Aurangabad. Thereafter, he burst into Baglana and Khandesh and plundered them in November and December.” Shivaji, the Great Maratha, Volume 3, p.787, By H. S. Sardesai, Genesis Publishing Pvt Ltd, 2002

“From Fardapur, Daud Khan swerved to the west and entered Baglana on the heels of the Marathas. While Pratap Rao had been sacking Karinja in Berar, another Maratha band under Moro Trimbak Pingle had been looting West Khandesh and Baglana, and now these two divisions had united in the neighbourhood of Salhir. They had plundered the village under the hill-fort of Mulhir and laid siege to Salhir. Daud Khan arrived near Mulhir at about 8 P.M., but could advance no further as most of his camp and army were lagging behind.” Shivaji and His Times, Ch VII, p.210, by Jadunath Sarkar,
Second Edition, Longmans, Geen and Co, 1920

“In 1672 Mulher and Salher were plundered by Shivaji.” https://cultural.maharashtra.gov.in/english/gazetteer/Nasik/022%20Places/001%20Place.htm

“Early in December a Maratha force under Pratap Rao made a raid into Khandesh. Advancing by rapid marches, he plundered Bahadurupura, a village two miles from Burhanpur (the capital of Khandesh), but did not com did not come closer to that city, because of the warning of Jaswant Singh, who had been posted there since September last.” Shivaji and His Times, Ch VII, p.208, by Jadunath Sarkar, Second Edition, Longmans, Geen and Co, 1920

“Early in December he himself traversed Khandes capturing some forts of the Baglan district on the way. His general Prataprav Gujar plundered Bahadarpura, a suburb of Burhanpur and quickly passing into Berar plundered the rich city of Karanja. [In 1660 Khandesh was regarded as one of the few rich parts of the Moghal empire. Its revenue amounted to more than Rs. 2,70,00,000. The ways were safely guarded and it was full of villages and well peopled towns. Probably no part of India was richer in cotton, rice and indigo and in many places  were sugarcane plantations with mills and furnaces to make sugar.” https://cultural.maharashtra.gov.in/english/gazetteer/dhulia/his_mediaeval%20period.html

“Shivaji looted Karanja as it was known for its wealth. How rich and prosperous the town was is evident from the following story.” http://akola.nic.in/gazetteers/maharashtra/places_Karanja.html

“But that city was not Shivaji’s objective now. He made a lightning raid into a different corner of the Mughal Empire. He sent his light cavalry to plunder Berar and Telingana. The viceroy Bahadur Khan, on hearing of it, set out from Ahmadnagar due eastwards, left his heavy baggage at Bir (70 miles to the easst) and Qandahar, and arrived as fast as he could near the fort of Ramgir (1835 N. 7935 E.) in pursuit of the raiders. But they had been two days beforehand with him, looted the village at the foot of the fort, and carried off the families of most of the inhabitants for ransom. So the baffled Mughal general returned by way of Indur (Modern Nizamabad), 95 miles due west. Entering the Qutb-Shahi territory, he ravaged the land at the instigation of Dilir Khan. The Marathas in their retreat divided into two bodies; one escaping south into the Golkonda State and the other turning northwards to Chanda, and thence westwards into Berar proper. Dilir Khan was sent off to pursue the first division, while Bahadur Khan tried to cut off the retreat of the second.” Shivaji and His Times, Ch VIII, p.223, by Jadunath Sarkar, Second Edition, Longmans, Geen and Co, 1920

Plundering Dharangaon

“During the seventeenth century, under the forms Dongaong, Dorongon, and Drongom, it is several times mentioned as a trade centre of considerable importance. Here, in 1674, the English established a factory. The following year (March 1675)’the town was plundered by Sivaji. [ Bruce, Annals, II. 36, 37.] Four years later (1679), Sivaji, joining his forces with those of the Raja of Berar, again plundered Dharangaon” https://cultural.maharashtra.gov.in/english/gazetteer/JALGAON/places_Dharangaon.html

“Shivaji had been greatly relieved by the return of his prodigal son Shambhuji to Panhala (2nd December.) At the head of 20,000 horse he set out and overtook his army. The Maratha flood swept into West Khandesh, plundering Dharamgaon, Chopra, (4th-6th Dec,). and other rich trade centres, and then turning sharply to the south entered Balaghat, and reached Jalna…” Shivaji and His Times, Ch XIII, p.377, by Jadunath Sarkar, Second Edition, Longmans, Geen and Co, 1920

Plundering Bahadurgad

Pedgaon is known as Bahadurgad. Shiva plunder the city as well as Bahadur Khan’s camps,

“Bahadurkhan reached the fort. He saw the horsemen of the advance party enter the gate; but minutes after, they came back. He saw the residents of Bahadurgad come running towards him, beating their chests. There was an immoderate crying! ‘We have been looted! O master, Shivaji has looted us!’ ‘O Allah! Where is that son of Satan- Shivaji? Where did he go? What did he do?’ Bahadur alighted his horse and walked frantically. The whole atmosphere was full of fury, cries and shrieks. The tents were burnt to ashes. Now he understood the true import of the fleeing of the Marathas. He was watching under heavy showers the way the Marathas looted them. And the very moment, Raje was riding fast towards Raigad, Hambirrao being the vanguard. They were riding at a full gallop towards Raigad with two hundred handsome horses captured during the attack and a cash worth a crore rupees.” Shivaji the Great, p.747, Ranjit Desai’s Marathi Novel Shriman Yogi, translated into English by Dr. V.D. Katamble, Balwant Printers Pvt. Ltd., 2003

“Towards the middle of July, a body of 2,000 Maratha light cavalry, made a false demonstration and lured Bahadur Khan some 50 miles away from his cantonments at Pedgaon, when Shivaji himself with another division, 7,000 strong, swooped down by another route on his defenceless camp, carried away a krore of Rupees in booty and 200 fine horses collected for presentation to the Emperor, and burnt all his tents. (F.R. Surat 88, Oxinden to Surat, 21 May; Vol, 87, Surat to Bombay, 1 Aug., 1674.)” Shivaji and His Times, Ch IX, p.253, by Jadunath Sarkar, Second Edition, Longmans, Geen and Co, 1920

Plunder of Bankapur, Kanara and Sampgaon

Shivaji looted Bankapur and also attempted to loot Karwar but was resisted,

“In June Bahlol Khan with a large Bijapuri army held Kolhapur and defeated the Marathas in several encounters, forcing all their roving bands to leave the Karwar country. He also talked of invading South Konkan and recovering Rajapur and other towns next autumn. In August he is still spoken of as ‘pressing hard upon Shivaji, who supplicates for peace, being fearful of his own condition.’ But soon afterwards Bahlol Khan, his irreconcilable enemy, fell ill at Miraj…At the end of September we find Shivaji at the head of a great army raised for ‘some notable attempt against the Mughal.’ He also sewed 20,000 sacks of cotton for conveying the plunder he expected to seize! But on the dashahara day (10 October), an auspicious time with the Hindus for setting out on campaigns, he sallied forth on a long expedition into Bijapuri territory, with 25,000 men, robbed many rich towns including Bankapur, and then penetrated into Kanara, ‘to get more plunder in those rich towns to bear the expenses of his army.’ Early in December he reached Kadra (20 miles north-east of Karwar) with a division of 4,000 foot and 2,000 horse, and stayed there for four days. The bulk of his forces occupied a hill near Hubli. But two severe defeats at the hands of Bahlol and Sharza Khan at Bankapur and Chandagarg (a fort midway between the Belgaum and Savant-vadi towns) respectively forced him to evacuate Kanara quickly.” Shivaji and His Times, p.187, By Jadunath Sarkar, Orient Blackswan, 01-Jan-1992

“Ali Adil Sah II died on 24th November 1672 and soon afterwards the government of Bijapur fell into weakness and disorder, which Sivaji fully utilised. He took Panhala (6th March 1673) and Satara (27th July), while Pratap Rav Gujar raided the inland parts of Bijapur Kanara, looting Hubli and many other rich cities. Sivaji himself, at the head of a vast army, plundered and occupied Kanara, (October—December 1673).” HISTORY PART III—MARATHA PERIOD, Chapter 1, p.16 https://gazetteers.maharashtra.gov.in/cultural.maharashtra.gov.in/english/gazetteer/History%20Part/History_III/chapter_1.pdf

“Anand Rao, penetrating further into Kanara robbed the bazar (peth) of Sampgaon, about 20 miles from Bankapur, in Bahlol’s jagir, capturing 150,000 hun worth of booty (23 March). Thence he set out on return with 3,000 ox-loads of plunder.” Shivaji and His Times, p.154, By Jadunath Sarkar, Orient Blackswan, 01-Jan-1992

Plunder of Junnar

“In May 1657 Shivaji surprised and plundered Junnar in a night attack and carried off about 110,000£ (3 lakhs of pagodas) in cash, 200 horses, valuable cloth, and other articles.” Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency: Poona, Ch XIV, p.226, Printed at the Government Central Press, 1885 – Bombay (India : State)

“While Minaji was raiding the Ahmadnagar district in the east, Shivaji was busy looting the Junnar subdivision in the north. One night he silently scaled the walls of Junnar city with rope-ladders and after slaughtering the guards, carried off 300,000 hun in cash, 200 horses, and much costly clothing and jewellery. (Sabh. 8; Adab. 153b.)” Shivaji and His Times, Ch III, p.57, by Jadunath Sarkar, Second Edition, Longmans, Geen and Co, 1920

Plunder of Ahmadnagar, Barcelor (Basrur) and seizure of Muslim pilgrims

“In 1664, after his return from sacking Surat, Shivaji heard of the death of his father Shahaji. He came to Sinhgad and spent some days in performing his father’s funeral rites. He then took the title of Raja, struck coins in his name, and spent some months at Raygad hill in Kolaba arranging his government. His fleet scoured the coast and enraged the Musalmans by seizing some holy Mecca pilgrims. In August Shivaji surprised and plundered the town of Ahmadnagar and swept across the country east to Aurangabad. In October the Bijapur troops broke the truce and made a vigorous effort to regain the Konkan. Shivaji seemed to be everywhere and ready at all points. He met the Bijapur army and defeated them with great loss. He burnt Vengurla in Ratnagiri, and hastened to Sinhgad to watch the Moghals who had sent a strong reinforcement to a camp at Junnar. Finding the Moghals did not intend to act on the offensive, he returned to the coast, embarked from Malvan with 4000 men, plundered the rich town of Barcelor about 130 miles south from Goa, sailed back to Gokaru in North Kanara, scoured the country, re-embarked, and returned to his capital.” Gazetteer, Volume 18, Part 2, Ch VIII, p.231, Musalmans, Shivaji’s Rise 1663-1665, Government Central Press, 1885 – Bombay (India : State)

Plunder of Ahmadnagar also mentioned in http://ahmednagar.gov.in/gazetteer/his_moghal.html

“Shivaji had stayed in the Junnar subdivision for some time, robbing the villages, as the Mughal reinforcements were late in arriving there and he found the field clear. But, at the approach of Rao Kam and Shaista Khan, he fled from the neighbourhood of Junnar city and wandered over the district for some time, as he could not be caught and crushed. (Adab. 110b, 111b, 112a.) But when the pressure became great, he slipped away to the Ahmadnagar district and began to plunder it. By this time (end of May), however, Nasiri Khan had reached the scene. By a forced march he surprised Shiva’s army and nearly encircled it. Many of the Marathas were slain, many wounded, and the rest put to flight. But there was no pursuit, as the Mughal horses were too tired. (Kambu, 4b, Adab. 154a, 156a.)” Shivaji and His Times, Ch III, p.58, by Jadunath Sarkar, Second Edition, Longmans, Geen and Co, 1920

Plunder of Daulatpura, Khusraupura, Zuhrapura and kidnapping banias

“The Marathas were detected in trying to smuggle arms and men into the fort, by concealing the arms in sacks of grain and disguising themselves as drivers of the pack-oxen! Then Shiva threw off the mask. He began to plunder and devastate Adil-Shahi territory again. His men looted the suburbs of Bijapur, Daulatpura (=Khawaspura), Khusraupura and Zuhrapura, and carried off the rich banias for ransom.” Shivaji and His Times, Ch XIII, p.363, by Jadunath Sarkar, Second Edition, Longmans, Geen and Co, 1920

Plunder of Jalna and the curse by saint that lead to the death of Shivaji

Shivaji died of disease, some ascribe the death of Shivaji to the curse of Sayyid Jan Muhammad of Jalna a Muslim saint whose hermitage was plundered by Shivaji.

Sir Jadunath Sarkar mentions Shivaji’s plunder of Muslim saint’s hermitage which according to Jadunath Sarkar was Shivaji’s last campaign. He wrote,

“We shall now trace the history of Shivaji’s movements fom 4th November, 1679, when he marched out of Selgur (55 m.w. of Bijapur.) The Maratha cavalry, 18,000 strong, rapidly moved northwards in two parallel through the districts of Mughal Deccan, plundering and burning all the places in their track and taking an immense booty in cash and kind. In the middle of the month, Jalna, a populous trading town, 40 miles east of Aurangabad, was captured and plundered. Here the godly saint, Sayyid Jan Muhammad, had his hermitage in a garden in the suburbs. As Shivaji in this raids always spared the holy men and holy places of all religions, most of the wealthy men of Jalna had taken refuge in this hermitage with their money and jewels. The raiders, finding very little booty in the town and learning of the concealment of the wealth in the saint’s abode, entered it and robbed the refugees, wounding many of them. The holy man appealed to them to desist, but they only abused and threatened him for his pains. Then the man of God, ‘who had marvellous efficacy of prayer,’ cursed Shivaji, and popular belief ascribed the Rajah’s death five months afterwards to those curses. (K.K. ii. 271; Dil, 165;91 Q.B. 88.)” Shivaji and His Times, p.256, By Jadunath Sarkar, Orient Blackswan, 01-Jan-1992

“In the meantime a quarrel arose with Bijapur, and a Moghal army advanced from Aurangabad against the Adil Shahi capital. The campaign was unsuccessful and Khan Jahan was recalled in 1677. The emperor also disapproved of the compact that had been entered into with Sivaji. Sultan Mu’azzam was again appointed viceroy, but Diler Khan retained the command in the field, and in 1679 a fresh expedition was sent against Bijapur. Sivaji ravaged the country up to Jalna, and ransacked this city for four days. A Moghal force under Ranmast Khan was hastily despatched from Aurangabad. Sivaji was attacked near Sangamner, and only escaped by the help of his guides.” https://cultural.maharashtra.gov.in/english/gazetteer/Beed/his_mediaeval_period.html

Killing of two Bishops

“The Viceroy in 1667 issued an order that all except the Roman Catholics were to be deported from Goa. The threat of a large-scale massacre of the Hindus was feared as a consequence. Shivaji the Maratha king, in retaliation detained four missionaries from Bardez and asked them to embrace Hinduism, but when they refused to do so, they were killed. The Portuguese Viceroy withdrew his order of deportation as a result.” Discoveries, Missionary Expansion, and Asian Cultures, p.93, By Teotonio R. De Souza, Concept Publishing Company, 01-Jan-1994

So the life of Shivaji was nothing but like a bandit. Who plundered cities and its residents, burned houses. From begging for jagirs to plundering cities, it proves that Shivaji was a money hungry man. And such bandit is hailed as a national hero just because of his battle against Mughals. Even when he had Muslims and some of the high rank officers in Mughals were Hindus.

Other Maratha kings followed the footsteps of Shivaji in plundering cities. Balaji Baji Rao plundered many cities. Moropant plundered Nasik. Shivaji’s son Sambhaji and grandson Shahji also plundered cities and villages,

“Shivaji plundered Khandesh, sacking and burning the great marts of Chopda and Dharangaon, two of the most flourishing places in the district. His death in 1680 did little to restore peace. Four years later (1684), the Emperor Aurangzeb, entering Khandesh with a great army, after a fierce resistance gained the forts of Chandor, Galna, and Salher, and passed to the south. No sooner were the Moghalss gone, than (1685) Sambhaji overran and plundered the whole district, took Burhanpur, and retired ravaging the country along the base of the Satmala hills towards Nasik…After Aurangzeb’s death (1707), disorder still further increased. In 1708, Shahu, Shivaji;s grandson, gaining his liberty, raised a body of troops in the west of Khandesh and plundered the country from Surat to Burhanpur.” Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency: Khandesh, Chapter VII, p.251, Printed at the Government Central Press, 1880 – Bombay (India : State)

Plunder of Nasik by Marathas

“In 1682, Prince Akbar, the rebel son of Aurangzeb, took refuge in Nasik, hut being closely pursued passed on to the Konkan. In 1684 the Marathas plundered round Nasik, but fled on the approach of the Moghal general Khan Jahan.” https://cultural.maharashtra.gov.in/english/gazetteer/Nasik/022%20Places/001%20Place.htm

The 1741 Maratha invasion of Bengal is also important.

“In the 10 years that they plundered Bengal, their effect was devastating, causing great human hardship as well as economic privation. Contemporary Dutch sources believed that the Bargis killed 4 lakh Bengalis and a great many merchants in western Bengal, writes historian PJ Marshal, “were permanently crippled by losses and extractions”.
In the Maharashtra Purana, a poem in Bengali written by Gangaram, the poet describes the destruction caused by the raiders in great detail:

This time none escaped,
Brahmanas, and Vaisnavas, Sannyasis, and householders,
all had the same fate, and cows were massacred along with men.

Not only did the Bargis [Marathas] loot the countryside, but in a sign of their effectiveness, managed to raid the capital of Bengal, Murshidabad and even sack the house of one of the richest Indians at the time, the Marwari banker, Jagat Seth.” http://scroll.in/article/776978/forgotten-indian-history-the-brutal-maratha-invasions-of-bengal

“The Marathas first invaded Bengal in 1742. Of their behaviour, the New Cambridge History of India tells us that “all authorities, both Indian and European are agreed”. A contemporary writer calls them “slayers of pregnant women and infants” and Sarkar has recorded their gang-rape of Hindu women, inexplicably stuffing the mouths of their victims with dust and breaking their arms and tying them behind their backs. The only Indian to try and protect his subjects against the Marathas incidentally, was the Mughal governor Ali Vardi Khan. So much for Akhand Bharat. But I must say that the Marathas did not behave differently from any other ruler or warrior community, and the idea of a unified Hindu sentiment exists only in the imagination of those who get their history from the movies.” http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/aakarvani/bajirao-the-great-hindu-nationalist-thats-only-in-the-movies/

Marathas even looted temples. When a part of the Maratha contingent returning form defeat in the third Mysore war (1791) against Tipu Sultan plundered Sringeri and looted its temples, Tipu Sultan, commiserating with the matha, sponsored the restoration of the temples.

Maratha kings were also casteist. Maratha Empire was later controlled by Brahmins who oppressed the low caste and this lead to a battle between Peshwas and Mahars. 500 Mahars in 1818 under the flag of British defeated strong army of 25,000 Peshwas.

“Although the first Maratha ruler, Shivaji, freely recruited Mahars in his army, two centuries later, by the time of the Peshwas, the status of Mahars was lower than ever. The Peshwas were Brahmins of a particularly orthodox bent. Stories told even today recall how when Mahars entered towns, they were made to tie brooms behind their backs to sweep up the dust of their footprints and to tie pots in front on their necks to collect their spittle. It was also a criminal offence to hide one’s caste.
Dalit recountings of the battle emphasise that when the English were approaching, Mahars offered their services to Peshwa Bajirao II. It was only when he rejected them yet again that they switched their loyalty to the British instead.

As the story goes, on New Year’s Day in 1818, about 500 soldiers of the East India Company’s Bombay Native Infantry regiment led by Colonel FF Staunton waded across the Bhima river and, at Bhima Koregaon, routed a superior force of 25,000 well-equipped soldiers of the Peshwa.
There is some room for exaggeration. Contemporary English accounts, for instance, mention 900 Mahar soldiers instead of 500, and 20,000 Peshwa soldiers not 25,000. Besides, the Peshwas were already on the back foot by the time of this battle – the East India Company had taken Pune, the Peshwa’s capital, some months before and had raised its flag at the palace at Shanivarwada.” http://scroll.in/article/801298/why-lakhs-of-people-celebrate-the-british-victory-over-the-maratha-peshwas-every-new-year

“Pre-colonial Maharashtra was ruled by the Peshwas who were Chitpavan Brahmins. A major part of their state policy included the enforcement of varnashrama dharma, or caste privileges. The Peshwa state decided and fixed caste hierarchies and sought to regulate both the public and private behaviour of individuals. Caste norms that were customs in other parts of India were legally enforceable in Maharashtra. Lands belonging to Saraswat Brahmins were confiscated as the state decided that they were not high status (trikarmi) brahmins. The Prabhus were directed to visit only temples frequented by shudras. The sonars, the goldsmith community, was ordered to wear dhotis, like shudras, and to give up the salutation namaskar, and use Ram Ram instead. The Peshwa state fined or arrested, and confiscated the property of non-Brahmins if they performed Vedic rituals. The state controlled the tiniest of social space, viz., dressing habits and the social and public behaviour of people in the remotest villages through its efficient bureaucracy. Brahmin and non-brahmin men were punished for not marrying off their daughters before the age of twelve. Ramakrishna Gopal Bhandarkar, the famous Sanskrit scholar of the nineteenth century, has called Peshwa rule a triple trianny ‘political tryanny, social tryanny and priestly tryanny or the tryanny of caste’.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Popular Readings, p.11-12, by Biswamoy Pati, Published by Primus Books, 2011

Shivaji was basically a plunderer. He was a small-time ruler. Sir Jadunath Sarkar called him a “chieftain”. Mughal, Portuguese and East India Company’s several records indicate that Shivaji was a plunderer. Eliot, Dawson, Ishwari Prasad, Akhilesh Mishra and Sacchidanand Sinha went to the extent of calling Shivaji a “self-styled king” who manipulated his way to the throne. Shivaji’s entire life was a saga of plunders. He was indeed brave but never so great as people in Maharashtra think he was, thanks to the emergence of Hindu political outfits like Shiv Sena, Sambhaji Brigade and MNS. Their distorted versions of history and Shivaji’s exaggerated “exploits” have been further exploited by a rabid Hindu leader like Modi, who has a political agenda and is blissfully unaware of his country’s history.

One wonders who made Shivaji so great? He was never a real threat to the Mughal empire and it’s a fact that had Aurangzeb wanted, he could have had Shivaji eliminated in Agra itself. Shivaji’s much tom-tommed escape from Agra in a fruit-basket is apocryphal. This never happened. Mirza Raja Jai Singh’s son Ram Singh helped Shivaji escape from Agra. Alas, we’re too gullible and believe without ever questioning.”

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