We celebrate Shivaji’s birth anniversary every year, but how many people know who Chhatrapati Shivaji really was?

On the birth anniversary of Shivaji Maharaj, it is indeed a matter of pride for every India to know about one of the greatest kings of India who fought protecting this country and culture until his last breath. He is remembered for his valour, courage and skills and the man who rediscovered India after it was attacked by Mughals.

Shivaji Bhonsle was born on 19th February 1630 AD, he was crowned as the Chhatrapati in 1674. Shivaji was well known for his progressive civil rule with disciplined military and well-structured administrative organisations. He invented many military tactics, pioneering non-conventional methods which leveraged strategic factors like geography, speed, and surprise and attacked to defeat the most powerful enemies. He was a great follower of Hinduism and strived to protect the land from foreign invaders of British and Mughals. During his time, he built a modern powerful Hindu Kingdom in the south.

When Chattrapati Shivaji took over, south India was completely devastated by the attack of Mughals. The mighty Vijayanagara Empire had fallen to Mughals and south India did not have a powerful leader to defeat the Mughals who had spread their kingdom far and wide. Many Hindu kings were divided and there was lack of leadership. Aurangzeb had launched jihad against Hindus by destroying their ancient and beloved temples and re-imposing the hated Jaziya, a punitive and offensive tax which every Hindu had to pay or convert to Islam. Just before him, his father and grandfather Shah Jahan and Jehangir had banned the construction of Hindu temples too. The great universities like Taxeela, Nalanda and numerous other educational institutions were destroyed and Indians were falling prey to the western culture. On the other hand, Portuguese, French and the British were already in India and had their vested interest to occupy the country.

Shivaji, just 15 years old got inspired by Mahabharata saying, “One thousand horsemen and one mind are enough to conquer the whole world.” He formed a tightly knit group of Mawala and Konkani men and first lead the fight against the Bijapur Sultan. He defeated the Adilshahi sultanate of Bijapur that formed the genesis of the Maratha Empire. The Marathas, then developed a sense of responsibility that they need to serve their King and help regain the lost glory. He defeated Afzal Khan in one to one battle in the King’s own place.

They fought bravely and smartly in the war starting with guerrilla raids, soon the Marathas were engaging in pitched battles with powerful Mughal emperors. They also attacked and defeated the Portuguese and the British with a much powerful army.

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