Monday, December 31, 2018

Brutal execution of Shambhaji set Maratha Hearts on fire of freedom

Shivaji married to Saibai while they were in childhood in 1640. His mother Jijabai arranged the marriage. The marriage was neither attended by his father Shahaji nor his uncles. Shahaji was living in Banglore with his second wife Tukobai.

Shambhaji the eldest son of Shivaji born on 14 May 1657, but his mother Saibai died at the age of 26 on 5 September 1659. Shivaji married to Soyarabai, the younger sister of his Sardar Hammirrao Mohite in 1659. Soyarabai was a niece of Tukobai, the step mother of Shivaji. Shambhaji was raised by his grandmother Jijabai. Brave Shivaji fought with Mughal, Bijapur and Golkonda forces and became Chatrapati on 6 June 1674 but only after 10 days, his mother Jijabai died on 16 June 1674. Soyarabai the mother of Rajaram gained prominence in the family.

Motherless Shambhaji was then was moving with his father. When he was 11, Shivaji took him to Agra Court of Emperor Aurangzeb on 12 May 1666. They were kept under house arrest by Aurangzeb but had escaped smartly.

When 51 years old Chatrapati Shivaji died of dysentery or food poisoning in 1680, Soyarabai got her 10 years son on the throne with the help of courtiers. But with the help of Hammirrao Mohite (brother of Soyarabai) the eldest Shambhaji removed Rajaram and became the Chatrapati at the age of 23 in 1680. Soyarabai then tried to dethrone Shamlaji and when her henchmen tried to poison Shambhaji, she was executed in 1681.

Shambhaji was married to Jivubai/Yeshubai, the daughter of Shivaji’s Sardar Pilojirao Shirke of Sangarpur of Ratnagiri. His previous patron Suryajirao Surve was defeated by Shivaji and had hold the Konkan area under command. Shivaji’s daughter Rajkunvarbai from third wife Sagunbai was married to Ganoji Shirke the son of Pilojirao. Sagunbai was a sister of Pilojirao Sirke. Pilojirao Shirke demanded for the Vatan of Port Dhol from Shivaji but Shivaji didn’t gave and abolished the Vatandari system from Maratha Kingdom to stop it’s misuse.

Shambhaji had been described as irresponsible and addict of sensual pleasure, therefore, he was imprisoned in Panhala fort in 1678 by Shivaji but he with wife Yeshubai escaped and defected to the Mughals December 1678 for a year but when he knew the plan of his arrest by Diler Khan, he returned to Shivaji. Some people interpreted it as an act of diplomacy by Shivaji and Shambhaji to ignite war of succession amongst the heirs of Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb declared Azam Shah (son of Begam Rabia Durani) as his political heir in 1681. His eldest son Bahadur Shah (son of Nawab Bai) was a rebel.

After the death of Shivaji in 1680, when Shambhaji became Chatrapati, his brother in law Ganoji demanded the Vatan of Port Dabol but was denied. There was some family dispute going on. Therefore Shambhaji and Yeshubai both went to Sangarpur (in-law place) in February 1689. After the meeting, they were returning to Raigadh. They had troops for their protection. But Shambhaji stopped at Sangameshwar (39 kms from Sangarpur) with his poet friend Kavi Kalash with little force and sent major troops for protection of his wife Yesubai, travelling ahead of him to Raigadh. It was a mystery why was he stayed back in Sangameshwar with a little force though there was impending risk of attacks from the enemies.

What fuel unrest against Shambhaji in that family meeting, his brother in law Ganoji Shirke led Sheikh Nizam Hyderabadi (Muqabarkhan) the Mughal Sardar from the dense forest of Sayadri hills to Sangameshwar, where Shambhaji was fell in trance with Lord Shiva, was caught with his friend Kavi Kalash. Might be to malign him, some Mughal records mentioned him marrying at Sagameshwar.

Tired of guerrilla warfare technique of Chatrapati Shivaji whom they couldn’t win, Mughals had Chatrapati Shambhaji in hands without a big fight. They removed his hairs to avoid identity and took him far away to Bahadurgadh and then Tulapur, near Pune and was put in brutal torture for 40 days. No rescue operation was conducted by his Maratha Sardars during those 40 days of captivity. He was presented before Aurangzeb and was told to surrender all his forts, give details of his wealths and convert to Islam, that he denied. He was made blind, his tongue was torn but he didn’t accept Islam. He reacted: ‘he would not accept Islam even if the emperor bribed him with his daughter!'. Nicole Manucci, an Italian artillery officier in Aurangzeb's service, mentions in his memoirs that Sambhaji's side was torn with an axe and heart removed while he was still alive. He was beheaded and all the pieces of his body were thrown into river Bhima on 11 March 1689.

The skin of the head was filled with straw and displayed in various cities, finally hanged on gates of Delhi city, as per Ishwardas Nagar's memoir, Futuh-i-Alamgiri. He didn’t follow the example of Netaji Palkar, who changed the faith when was in trouble and when opportunity arose, joined hands with Shivaji, became Hindu again and was the Commander in Chief of the Maratha Army. Shivaji then said, “religion is for men, men is not for religion”. Brave Shambhaji sacrificed his life but not his faith. Aurangzeb had five daughters. Elder two Zeb un Nissa and Zeenat un Nissa remained unmarried and were much older to Shambhaji. Badr un Nissa died unmarried in 1670 and Mihr un Nissa and Zubadat un Nissa were married to their cousins Murad Bakhsh and Sipihr Shikoh respectively. Therefore, it would be incorrect to infer that Shambhaji was offered Aurangzeb’s daughter to marry if he had proclaimed Islam.

People were warned by the Mughals that whoever would come forward to stitch and cremate the body of Shambhaji would be killed with his family. None came forward but on the downstream of river Bhima, one brave wrestler like man of Mahar community of depressed class of Koregaon-Vadhu came forward, assembled and stitched the body parts of his Chatrapati and then with the help of few local cremated him. Their heirs were surnamed themselves Shivale (those stitched the body) thereafter. That depressed man with his family was killed by the Mughals.

After the death of Shambhaji, Rajaram assumed the throne and shifted the capital to Jinji.

The brutal murder of Shambhaji filled the hearts of Marathas with vengeance and fire. His death ignited the fire of freedom in the masses against Mughals and Aurangzeb. Maratha guerrilla fighters under Shantaji Ghorpade and Dhanaji Jadhav made the life of Mughals tougher. In one such attack, they cut down the ropes of the tent of Aurangzeb. He survived because he went to his daughter’s tent at the time of attack.  Fighting against guerrilla warfare of Marathas, and with other rebels in the country, dreadful fear was created amongst the Mughals and their treasury was getting emptied. Son of Aurangzeb, Muhammad Azam Shah was building Bibi ka Makabara, a replica of Taj Mahal, in the memories of his mother Begam Rabia Durani, couldn’t made it of marbles. Aurangzeb and Azam Shah died in 1707. Mughal Empire was declined thereafter in succession wars.

Weak Mughals released Yeshubai and Shahu (son of Shambhaji) and Shahu became the Chatrapati in 1707. Tarabai (wife of Rajaram) claimed the throne for her grandson Shivaji-II, but Shahu could win over them after a brief war. He with his Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath then made Maratha stronger and extended their rule over larger area.

Koregaon-Vadhu and Tulapur are the adjutant villages on the bank of river Bhima where Shambhaji was executed and his body parts were thrown away into the river which were gathered, stitched and cremated by the Mahars, the depressed. Maratha rulers were using their services limited to guards or scouts but British took them into the British force. Therefore, after 129 years, in 1818, Koregaon Bhima battle, 800 soldiers of British fought a battle against 2000 Maratha soldiers of Peshwa Bajirao II, and defeated them. 22 of 50 British soldiers killed in the war were Mahars, the depressed. They were part of the British force due for their loyalty and had fought Anglo- Maratha wars bravely. Dr. Ambedkar’s father Ramji Maloji Sakpal was a Subedar Major in British Army. Later, there was a Mahar Regiment established in British Army. Indian Forces were weaved in castes those days.

Due to his conservative religious policies, Aurangzeb couldn’t win the hearts of the Hindus and the brutal murder of Shambhaji lit the fire of freedom in the hearts of Marathas. Brahmin Peshwas took swords in their hands (became Kshatriya) to weaken the mighty power of Mughals, and by the year of mutiny in 1857, Mughal Empire of 42 lakh sqkm was squeezed within the city of Delhi. After Mughals and before British, there was Maratha Empire. But in the third war of Panipat against Ahmedshah Abdali of Afghanistan and the Rohilas on 14 January 1761, no Muslim rulers joined them, and they were defeated and lost the suzerainty over Punjab and north India. There were three Anglo-Maratha wars in which the first (1775-82) was fought bravely by the Marathas but lost their major territories to British in the Second (1803-05) and Third (1817-18) wars. Maratha rule of Princely States thereafter continued till independence in some parts of Maharastra, MP and Gujarat with the subsidiary alliance with the British.

Polygamy was one of the major reasons of succession wars in all the kingdoms in India. Each mother dreamed for making her son the successor and weakened the kingdom/empire.

British came, rule us for 190 years, freedom movement led by Gandhiji brought us independence, but the fire of freedom ignited by Shivaji and Shambhaji is still burning in the hearts of Marathas.

28 December 2018


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