Shahaji Raje or Shahaji Raje Bhosale was a prominent 17th century military leader and a Maratha noble of Indian history who had served three kingdoms during his career, Ahmednagar sultanate under Nizamshahi of Malik Ambar, Mughal Empire under Jahangir and Bijapur sultanate under Adil Shah dynasty . His courage and unusual warfare tactics made him won the battle against his opponents.
He was the father of the Great Shivaji Maharaj who had put the foundation of the Maratha empire in 1674 AD. Shahaji Raje belonged to a Maratha family who had migrated from Daultabad and entered into the service of Nizamshahi kingdom of Ahmadnagar. He had played a magnificent role in rising the power of the Marathas.
Shahaji Raje was the one who had challenged the Mughal Empire and saw the guts to fight a battle against them in the early 17th century. Under Shahaji Bhonsle , the Marathas started to become powerful as he had paved a path for his son Shivaji to become fearless like him and always ready to defy the opponents .
Name Shahaji Raje Birth 18th March 1594 Famous for Rising the power of Maratha and serving the three kingdoms Parents Name Maloji Bhosale and Uma Bai Wife Jijabai , Tukabai , Narsabai Sons Sambhaji , Shivaji Maharaj , Vyankoji Death 23rd January 1664 CE
18th March 1594
Rising the power of Maratha and serving the three kingdoms
Maloji Bhosale and Uma Bai
Jijabai , Tukabai , Narsabai
Sambhaji , Shivaji Maharaj , Vyankoji
23rd January 1664 CE
He had kept changing his position whenever he found a core difference between himself and the king. He had given his first service to Nizamshahi Kingdom , then Sultan of Bijapur under Adil Shah and after that to Mughal empire then again back to Bijapur . But there is interesting history behind changing his position which we will discuss below in detail .
After collapsing of Nizam Shahi Kingdom in 1636 AD, Shahaji Raje enlisted himself in the armies of Bijapur and served them till his death.
Shahaji Raje was also the pioneer of the Maratha culture which was later passed on to his son Shivaji Maharaj who spread it to the whole Nation. He had also imbibed different shades of Vijayanagar culture and tradition in himself.
Shahaji Raje Bhosale was born on 18 March 1594 AD in Maharashtra in the family of the descendant of the Sisodia Clan ( Ranas of Udaipur). He was the son of Maloji Bhosale and Dipa Bai.
His father Maloji Bhosale used to content himself as a petty horseman in the employ of the Jadhavas. Jadhavas were then the strong power serving the Nizamshahi Kingdom with their seat at Sindkhed.
Lakhuji Jhadhav, the father of jijabai, was the one under whom Maloji Bhosale was serving the Nizamshahi kingdom.
One day Lakhuji arranged for a celebration of Holi in his mansion where Maloji with his son, Shahaji Bhosale, came to attend the festive. There, both the child started to do the mimicry of the people around them which was liked by everyone and in zest, Lakhuji spoke ” They are a good couple ” .
Hearing this, Maloji became happy and announced that both the child are going to marry soon.
This statement of Maloji irritated Lakhuji and for that he cleared his view that that statement was given in zest by him and he didn’t mean to say that. Also he found his post and class more superior and powerful than Maloji.
Maloji took it as a great insult and wanted to show him his power. Malik amber, then the leader of Nizamshahi Kingdom didn’t want to lose any of them beacuse both of them were the treasury for him.
Maloji now started to give his soul to become a great Warrior and gradually he upgraded his position and became the Jagir of territorries. Poona was one of them.
Maloji Bhosale was now nearly of the same status as Lakhuji Jhadav. He immediately put a proposal to Lakhuji to marry his daughter with his son.
Lakhuji was not still convinced but somehow the marriage happened. The marriage ceremony of Shahaji Bhosale and Jijabai took place at Sindkhed on 5th November , 1605 AD. Jijabai became the first wife of Shahaji . He later married to another lady , Tukabai, from the Mohite family of Supa .
As the marriage didn’t happen on good terms, the relationship between Shahaji and Jijabai didn’t go well. The bitterness between the two families remained the same which adversely affected the marriage relationship of Shahaji and Jijabai.
From Jijabai, he had 6 sons but unfortunately 4 of his sons died in infancy while 2 of his sons, Sambhaji and Shivaji Maharaj lived a manhood life. From Tukabai, he had a son named Ekoji (Vyankoji) who later found the Maratha Kingdom of Tanjore.
Shivaji Maharaj , 2nd child of Shahaji and Jijabai , took birth on 6th April 1627 ( according to some official sources , 1630 AD ) in the Fort of Shivner near Junnar.
Shahaji was of 26 years old when his father Maloji Bhonsle died (1620 AD ). After the death of Maloji, Shahaji Raje inherited the position of Jagir under the Sultan of Ahmednagar, Malik Ambar.
Rise of Shahaji Raje
The rise of Shahaji Bhosale took a new shape when the Army of Malik Ambar, the Sultan of Ahmednagar , won the battle of Bhatavadi under the leadership of Shahaji against the combined force of the Mughal and Adil Shah.
The battle of Bhatavadi was fought in 1624 AD at the field of Bhatavadi which was 10 miles east of Ahmednagar. The opponent force was led by general Mullah Muhammad Lari of Bijapur.
Conspiracy against Shahaji Bhosale
The increase power of Shahaji Bhosale started to threaten Malik Ambar ( Nizamshahi kingdom ) . This fear caused a dispute between them which finally ended when Shahaji left the service of the Nizamshah in 1625 AD.
Ibrahim Adil Shah II ( 1570- 1627 AD) took advantage of this opportunity and accepted Shahaji as his new army chief. He also awarded Shahaji in his court. Shahaji didn’t leave his hold on his Jagir of Poona even after leaving the service of Malik.
Malik Ambar, sultnate of Nizam Shahi Kingdom, died on 14th May 1626 AD. The death of Malik Ambar was the beginning of the declination of Nizam Shahi Kingdom.
Soon, the death of Jahangir on 29th October 1627 AD brought a major change in the politics of the Deccan .
On 4th February 1628, Shahjahan, son of Jahangir, accessed the throne of Mughal. He had a great vision to bring back the power of the Mughal. He played a well planned conspiracy against Nizamshahi Kingdom to subjugate them.
The conspiracy of Shahjahan became the sole reason of the murder of Lakhoji and his sons by Nizamshahi kingdom in the Fort of Daulatabad on 25th July 1629. This henius Murder deeply impacted the life of Shahaji Bhosale
He was horribly threatened by the people of Lakhuji which paved a path for Mughal to take the advantage of Shahaji’s critical situation and forced Shahaji to join his army. He was left with no choice but to accept the offer.
He served the Mughal emperor for a year and half, from November 1630 to March 1632 AD. This desertion of Shahaji, agitated the general of Bijapur, Murar Jagdev. He burnt down the residence of Shahaji at Pune.
War against Mughal
Shahaji Bhosale gradually found it unbearable to work with Mughal. As a result, he left the service of Mughal on March 1632 and again consolidated his power towards Nizam Shahi Kingdom. At that time, Nizam Shahi Kingdom had already gone through a great declination.
Murtaza Shah ,Nizam shahi king,had been confined by his minister Fath Khan. After Confinement of Murtaza, he made his son , Hussain Shah ,the king of Nizam and he, himself conducted negotiation with Mughal for his submission.
Fall of Daulatabad in 1633 AD made the situation much more critical for Shahaji to restore the power Nizam. But his determination was much more superior than the situation.
After the fall of Daulatabad, Shahji made Pemgiri, fort of Ahmednagar, as the capital of Nizamshahi state. He then placed a puppet Nizamshahi Prince On the throne and himself took the charge of the administration.
He brilliantly managed to gain the support from Bijapur. His successful negotiation brought Murar Jagdev in his support against the war with Mughal.
Shahaji with his 12000 troops started raiding the Mughal territories as far South as Bedar and concentrated his main activities in the regions of the north Konkan and he personally took the charge between junnar and Sangamner .
The first big success came to Shahji Bhonsle when the general Mahabat khan of Shahjahan was defeated. But the attack of Shah Jahan on his family became one of the aspect which weakened the power of Shahji Bhonsle.
Royal seal to Shivaji Maharaj
Shahaji’s wife, Jijabai was captured by Mahaldar khan. Jijabai somehow managed to escape his child, Shivaji, from this capturing.
The life of Shahaji’s family was on stake. This statement became solidified when he requested Portuguese governor of chaul to provide shelter for his family. Portuguese was then under the pressure of Mughal so they didn’t take the risk to give shelter.
Soon, Shah Jahan began his March in 1635 AD against Shahji . He reached Daulatabad in 1636 AD.
He had came with his young son Aurangzeb and other generals like Shaista khan, Mirza Raja . The Sultans of Bijapur and Golkonda were forced to co-operate with Mughals in defeating Shahji.
Shaista Khan in 1636 AD took the charge of fort Trimbak from Shahji and chased him down from junnar and Sangamner.
The Bijapuris who were fighting from Shahji’s side didn’t resist for longer time and finally surrender themselves to the Mughals.
They accepted the terms which were offered by the Mughals and deserted Shahji. This surrender left Shahji alone to bear the brunt of this relentless war.
Shah Jahan won the greatest Battle of his life by subjugating the Nizam Shahi Kingdom in 1636 AD. Shahaji Bhosale was hemmed in at fort Mahuli. Later, on October 1636 AD , he agreed to serve the Bijapur Sultanate.
South campaign of Shahji bhosle (Later career)
When the Sultan of Bijapur, Mohammad Adil Shah ,was pressurized by the Mughals, he surrounded with the fears of losing his territories . So, to compensate that he turned his Evil Eyes towards the south campaign or expedition.
He was of the thought of gaining the untouched territories of the south which were riched in Hindu values like outstanding Hindu temples, architectures, Hindu deities and richness of Hindus. He wanted to expand his belief of Islam all over India by gaining south territories.
Shahaji and Randaula Khan were entrusted for this expedition. Then , the South territories were ruled by the Hindu King Venkatapati and his son Srirang Rai.
Shahaji Raje under Randaulla khan’s command participated in three successive expeditions into the Western Karnataka between 1637 to 1640 AD. Afzal Khan had also played a significant role in second expedition against Kasturi Rang Nayak in South.
From these expeditions, an enormous wealth around more than 4 crores of Hons or 16 crores of Rupees brought into Bijapur.
Meanwhile Shahaji proceeded against Bangalore and captured the Fort from its keeper Kemp Gauda. He was permanently posted there by Randaula khan with the sanction of the Adil Shah.
Shahaji’s Leadership in Bangalore
Shahaji Bhosale made Bangalore his principal station with Governor court and Insignia.
Due to long distance, the communication between the Sultan of Bijapur and Shahji was happened hardly ever. But still Shah Ji was very loyal to the Bijapur .
Though he was serving the Islamic Kingdom, he had heart for his Hindu values. So to make Bangalore a prosperous place to live he spent most of his time at Bangalore and occasionally visited the court at Kolar and Balapur.
The people of Southern lands looked upon Shahji’s rule as the continuation of the old Vijayanagar tradition.
Below are some of the steps taken by shahji to make Bangalore a prosperous place.
- For the military and administrative work he recruited many Brahman and Maratha families from Maharashtra and trained them hereditary officials loyal to his cause.
- He made Marathi as the court language into the Karnataka region.
- He introduced Maharashtra system of revenue and accounts.
- He also introduced the idea of rewarding musicians, poets ,writers and Saints in his Court.
Shahaji’s first son Sambhaji was working under him, another son, Ekoji, from the second wife was just 10 years old. And the third son, Shivaji was living with his mother jijabai under the guardianship of Dadoji Konddev.
The act of his third son Shivaji like : starting his own organisation, military, Civil and revenue against the Islamic invaders put Shahji ‘s career on stake. Shahji was also threatened by the Bijapuri officers for the act of his son.
Shahaji wanted to stop Shivaji and keep him to the path of serving Bijapur sultanate. To have a better communication with his son, he called upon his son, wife and Dadoji to Bangalore and then to Bijapur in between 1640 – 1643 AD.
Arresting Shahji by Bijapur Sultan
Absence of Shahaji Bhosale in Bangalore gave opportunity to Srirang Rai to organise army and other resources to recapture Vellore. Soon he successfully took the charge of Vellore in his hand.
The news soon reached to the ears of Mohammed Adil Shah which made him to doubt the loyality of Shahji for him. He started to believe that Shahji must have helped Srirang Rai to establish Hindu authority in the South.
So ,Mustafa Khan was given the task of arresting Shahji if he would find guilty of deception. But, Shahji was found loyal to his service when he fought a battle and uprooted Srirang Rai from Banglore . This loyalty restrained him from arresting.
Again, another expedition took place in 1648 under the command of Mustafa Khan. This time it came from vellore upon Jinji which was the centre of Hindu revolt.
Mustafa Khan had immense hate for Shahaji. He had already concluded that Shah Ji was the sole origin of the trouble and with great wariness tried to create proof of his guilt.
During the expedition, Mustafa Khan had a fracas with Shahji. In retaliation, Shahaji threatened to withdraw his troops unless he was paid in cash for the expenses. This argument had given fuel to the fire. Mustafa Khan’s hate for Shahaji culminated to its highest peak.
To take the revenge from Shahji, Mustafa Khan with the support of Baji Ghorpade of Mudhol arrested Shahaji at jinji at midnight on 25th July 1648 AD along with his trusted helpmate Kanhoji Jedhe.
Both of them where brought to Bijapur. The Sultan of Bijapur had the fear if Shahaji Raje who had proven his mettle against the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan,wasn’t deal carefully then there is great possibility that his sons Shivaji and Ekoji could lay thorns in the road for him.
So, indirectly Shahaji was suggested by Ahmad Khan to surrender Bangalore and to convince his sons to drop the authority on Sinhgad. And also suggested to continue to serve the state as before.
According to ” Muhammad-namah “ written by Zahur after getting the order of Muhammad Adil Shah , Shahaji Raje during the battle for Jinji refused to continue fight as the troops of him were starving for food .Mustafa Khan assumed that he is just making excuses to get out of the war . The argument between them reached its highest peak and finally resulted in arrest of Shahaji Raje . He was brought to Bijapur court and his all properties were confiscated to the government in 1648 AD .
According to Maratha traditional source , ” The door of Shahaji’s cell was slowly walled up and later compelled him to stop Shivaji to disrupt Bijapur “
Shahaji agreed to the compromise adding that neither he nor his sons were hostile towards the Bijapuri Sultanate. Shahaji gave his own autograph letters to his sons to give up Sinhgad and Banglore to the Adil-Shahi officers.
Release of Shahaji Bhosale
On 16th May 1649 AD, Shahji was on honorablely set at liberty after a detention of nearly 10 months along with kanhoji Jedhe.
Shahaji returned to the Karnataka again and sent Kanhoji to help Shivaji in his efforts to settle the Pune regions.
He mentioned in his letter to Kanhoji to always stand with Shivaji either the Mughals or the authorities of Adil Shahi sent forces to Chastise Shivaji.
Shahaji , while fully sympathizing with the plans and movements of his son Shivaji in designing an independent principality for himself, was shrewd enough not to involve himself in his sons affairs and remained loyal to Bijapur.
Shahaji Bhosale died on 23rd January 1664 near Basavapattan while hunting an antelope. His death was a accidential event as he fell from his horse when he was hunting .
Hearing the death news of Shahaji , Jijabai wanted to commit Sati but she was however convinced by his son Shivaji Maharaj to not commit Sati . She agreed but put a condition that she will only live for next 10 years . And she finally died in 1674 .
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