Sunday, May 26, 2024

Shambhu Raje and his forgotten glory

Written By Ojas Koneripura (Grade 12)


Born in the rooms of the Purandara Kila located in present day Pune, on 14th May, 1657, the Maratha Empire and the whole of Bharath was to witness an embodiment of bravery, the man who upheld the daring attitude of never-say-die, and a major obstacle who hindered Aurangzeb’s Deccan expansion. Born to be the eldest son of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, and to be only the second Chhatrapati of the Maratha Empire, Sambhaji Raje, also known as Shambhu Raje, etched himself in the annals of history.

Immensely trained in sword fighting, horse riding, wrestling, war tactics and diplomacy, Sambhaji assured that he would be a great warrior and the upholder of his father’s dream, Swarajya. Sambhaji’s life starts off with an adventure. When he was just 9 years old, the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, had invited Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to Agra for his 50th birthday. The father-son duo decided to accept the invitation and leave for Agra, of course sensing the faint signals of betrayal and treachery. In the court of Alamgir, their suspicion came true. He was not welcomed grandly: no presents, and to receive him, Aurangzeb had ordered his two unimportant subordinates, one Ram Singh and Mukhlis Khan. This angered Shivaji as his ego was played with, since he was made to stand with commoners and ‘third grade nobles’ (as Sir Jadunath Sarkar writes in his work- Shivaji And His Times.) He found himself standing behind several nobles who almost completely shut him off from the eyes of the Emperor. Angered by this, Shivaji argued with the person in charge for the hospitality of the father and son, Ram Singh. He stated that he couldn’t stand with the nobles of ranks so low, definitely not in the land of the enemy. This psychological insult and mockery of his high status seemed to have taken a toll on him, ‘when he fell down in a swoon’ (J.Sarkar, Shivaji And His Times). After being treated for some months, Shivaji declared himself as ill and ordered his generals to leave Agra and return back to their original place. This illness made Shivaji feel he was under arrest, house arrest. He now had to make plans to escape. Since he was ill, he wished to distribute sweets to the learned Brahmins and religious saints and courtiers. Everyday huge baskets of sweets were dispatched from the Kingdom. One day, Shivaji finally found the chance to escape Agra. He made his half-brother Hiraji Furzanand; who looked somewhat like Shivaji, lay on the cot, with a quilt covering all his body, except his right arm, with a golden wristlet, outstretched and clearly visible. Shivaji and Sambhaji cleverly got inside the baskets of sweets, and silently escaped as the guards did not suspect the baskets as they knew these were sweets. The next day, the guards found Hiraji (in the disguise of Shivaji) still sleeping with the gold wristlet visible, and a servant massaging his legs. After a while, late in the afternoon, Hiraji (now in his actual guise) with the servant, ordered the guards to make less noise as the Maratha King was taking much required rest. The guards became a but suspicious, they did not see the crowd that usually came to see Shivaji. When the checked his whereabouts, lo! He was not found! He had eacaped! But, Shivaji’s wit and achievements must be reserved for another time.

At such a young age of just 9, Sambhaji had managed to cooperate with his father, without fear and with booming confidence he showed himself at the court of Alamgir in Agra, when his father lay ill on the cot.

After the untimely death of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Sambhaji now had to take up the reigns of power to govern the Maratha Empire. Just when he was in his 20s he was placed on the throne and declared as the King of the Marathas. In his ruling years from 1681 to 1689, Chhatrapati Sambhaji fought 120 plus battles against Aurangzeb mainly, and lost NONE. He was the king of the people, just like his father. Shambhu had completely destroyed Aurangzeb every time he fought a war. His heroic resistance is what played a major role in the safekeeping of the Deccan from the Mughals. The greatness in him and his massive success, caused great envy in many including Sambhaji’s own brother in law, Ganoji Sirke, brother of Yesubai, the wife of Sambhaji. Sirke (or Shirke, as many say) shifted his loyalty towards Aurangzeb and secretly spilt all the beans, by letting out confidential information about Sambhaji and his secret routes of travel. Unfortunately being betrayed by Ganoji Sirke and captured by Aurangzeb, Sambhaji was tied to a camel and was dragged on the streets with stones pelted on him and people having the pleasure to urinate on him. He was laid in front of 3 conditions set by Aurangzeb, one of course was to convert to Islam, but he never gave up on his dharma. The barbaric bigot that Aurangzeb was, he inflicted inhuman tortures on Sambhaji for 40 straight days. Chilli powder stuffed into his eyes, nails pulled out from every finger and toe, hair being pulled out, skin peeled out with various instruments, fingers cut one by one, limbs being cut, hot iron rods being shoved deep into his eyes, his tongue being cut and so on. Aurangzeb broke his body for 40 days in prison, but failed miserably to break Sambhaji’s spirit. After beheading him on 11th March, 1689, Aurangzeb stuffed the loose head with hay, and cut his body into pieces and threw it into the river without giving him any last rites as a Hindu and as a King. This undying spirit of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj,  proves his attitude of never-say-die.  A hero completely forgotten and completely ignored in the textbooks, fought to keep Swarajya alive. Renaming Aurangabad (named after Aurangzeb) to Sambhaji Nagar is just one small step taken, that has revived the lost glory.


Featured Image Courtesy – Times Now



Ojas Koneripura
Ojas Koneripura
A history-freak and a passionate researcher of India's untold history!

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