By Sanket Jain
The fire which is burnt in a young child’s mind is never an outcome of the good things, rather the path of struggle and the days of darkness make one establish their mighty clan, which stands in good stead for hundreds of years leaving behind the legacy.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj one of the finest rulers who made a valiant effort to establish the Maratha clan is a perfect embodiment of vitality. Most of the people are unaware of the great ideas, which were implemented for the first time by Shivaji Maharaj and most of them exist to date.
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Where students have just heard of the names of Ramayana and Mahabharatha, Shivaji studied them carefully and was inspired by them to initiate the process of a change, which would leave everyone star-struck. Usually, at the age of 16, students take the courage to visit a hilly fort and trek for the first time in their life. Shivaji Maharaj captured the fort of Torna, which was under the clutches of the Bijapur kingdom just at the age of 16. This is how his life began!
Shivaji Maharaj built one of the finest economic systems of that period. Rawlinson quoted,
“Like the great warriors-Napoleon is a conspicuous example-Shivaji was also a great administrator, for the qualities which go to make a capable general are those which are required by the successful organizer and statesman.”
Being a great leader he not only fought for the land but also established several life learning lessons. On the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj let’s take a look at a few of his contributions and lessons.
The economic system and revenue
At that point in time, all the officers were given Jagirs (feudal land grant). Shivaji was the first to drop that practice and he started paying all the officers in cash, which turned out to be one of the best decisions. In order to avoid the practice of corruption, he divided the kingdom into 4 parts, and each part had a Viceroy. All of these provinces had a number of sub-divisions called pranths.
The Zamindars and the Deshmukhs used to levy taxes on the farmers, Shivaji gave up this practice. The Government dealt with the cultivators directly and the land was measured using a rod called the Kathi.
Tolerance to all religions
Shivaji Maharaj is considered to be a Hindu and Maratha ruler, which is quite different from reality. There were many Muslim officers in his army and he never had any ill-feeling towards any religion. On the other hand, some of his enemies were Hindus. Rustam-I- Zamani of Rajapur was a close friend of Shivaji and he punished Doroji one of his generals who captured Rajapur. He was the one who helped revive all the good things in Hindu culture and abolished most of the bad aspects.
Father of Indian Navy
Despite having some of the best kingdoms, Indian rulers never built a navy of their own. Shivaji Maharaj was the first to build a navy and owing to it, he is known as the father of the Indian Navy. He established a naval force with cannons mounted on the ships. The fort of Sindhudurg is a perfect paragon of the naval intelligence that he possessed. After the possession of 8 to 9 forts in Deccan, he started trading with the foreign merchants.
Honoring women and mercy to the prisoners of war
Shivaji is one of the very few rulers who treated both men and women equally. His rule could be defined as the term of approbation for women. Maratha’s army captured many forts and towns, but all the women were sent back safe with honor.
The prisoners of war were treated with respect by Shivaji Maharaj. He welcomed the people who were ready to join the Maratha army and never judged anyone on the basis of their heritage and culture.
Patriotism and Nationalism
Shivaji was not an egocentric with an overinflated sense of expansion of his kingdom. Like Chanakya, Shivaji too dreamt of a united India. He was perfectly fine with the other kings and opposed the foreign rulers. Shivaji was the one who wiped away the Mughals who ruled the nation for many decades. Chatrasal Bundela was inspired by Shivaji Maharaj, and Bundela created his own kingdom in Rajasthan.
The governing council of Shivaji Maharaj was divided into 8 parts.
Peshwa– He looked after the welfare of all the states.
Amatya– He looked after the finance of the kingdom and was responsible for all the taxes and their proper collection.
Wakia Nawis– He used to keep a track of the events that happened in the courts and in the meetings.
Samant– He was responsible for all the foreign affairs and was responsible for taking care of the foreign guests and ambassadors.
Sachiv– He ensured that all the orders were implemented carefully and in the right earnest.
Pandit Rao– He was the overall religious head and looked after the religious ceremonies in the kingdom.
Nyayadish– He was responsible for civil and military justice.
Senapati– He recruited the officers for the Maratha army and was responsible for maintaining all of them.
These are just a few points about Shivaji Maharaj. Disguised in the shadows of a Maratha or a Hindu ruler, Shivaji Maharaj was far more than what we perceive him. He was never judgmental about any religion and always respected all the people.
His life inspired thousand of rulers, but we should ask ourselves one question:
Can we look beyond the biases and judgments we create for any particular ruler? The answer and the life of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj will drop you down in the dream below.
(The article was originally written in 2015, and was re-edited on 19 February 2021.)