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The history of India is replete with the stories of innumerable heroes and gallants. Their deeds of bravery, gallantry, chivalry and heroism have left indelible marks on the face of time. Shivaji is one of those Indian heroes who have been acknowledged as one of the most worthy and remarkable personalities. He was born in 1627. His father – Shahji – was a small jagirdar (landlord). His mother – Jija Bai – was a very pious and intelligent woman. She moulded the early life of Shivaji in such a manner as to ensure that he could dazzle like a star in future. She infused in him a burning love for his motherland. Right from the beginning, Shivaji showed himself to be a fearless, brave and kind soldier. That is why he is called the “defender of the Hindu religion.”
His boyhood proved the saying of Wordsworth, “Child is the father of man.” He was very promising, shrewd, intelligent and patriotic right from his childhood. As a matter of fact, his mother was his first teacher who directed the early life and decisions of Shivaji in a manner that he came to be known as a fearless fighter, a brave soldier and great patriot of India. He could not tolerate his countrymen being oppressed under the tyranny of Muslim rule. So, he collected some chieftains, jagirdars (landlords) and others in order to liberate his countrymen from the oppression of the Muslim rule. He conquered the state of Bijapur and other Mughal territories. Aurangzeb could not tolerate this and sent Shaista Khan to fight against him. Shivaji gave Shaista Khan a crushing defeat.
Shivaji, being a shrewd politician and an intelligent statesman, proved more than a match for the tactics of Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb’s attempt to imprison him failed. Shivaji also sensed the mischief of Afzal Khan and murdered him before he could attack Shivaji. Aurangzeb once made Shivaji a prisoner in Delhi but he, with his intelligence, thought of a plan and escaped from the prison with the help of the security guards in a basket of sweets.
All the wealth that Shivaji grabbed during battles was distributed equally among the poor. During battles, Shivaji observed all the canons of morality and decency of behaviour; he did not touch children, women and old persons. Rather, they were protected by him. This shows Shivaji’s secular outlook and a generous heart. Even Khafti Khan, Aurangzeb’s (his enemy) court historian wrote, “Shivaji is a hellish dog. But he has certain qualities. He is most secular and generous.”
Mauser Germaine, the Frence envoy at the time of Shivaji, also paid tributes to the secular greatness and humanitarianism of Shivaji.
Shivaji would go down in Indian history as the defender and saviour of Hindu religion. He gave the enemies of Hindu religion a hard blow and established Maratha Raj. But after his death (due to some disease) in 1680, the entire citadel of Shivaji began to disintegrate because of the quarrels and conflicts among chiefs and jagirdars (landlords). But for Shivaji, Aurangzeb would have destroyed the entire Hindu religion. The Hindu community is proud of this valiant son of India whose deeds of chivalry and bravery have inspired millions of Indian youths. Shivaji has indeed become an immortal hero.