SHAMBHAJI MAHARAJ.. THE BRAVEST OF BRAVE
Prof Dr Colonel K Prabhakar Rao ( retired)
Sambhaji Maharaj ( 1657-1689 ) was the eldest son of the great Chatrapathi Shivaji maharaj who has established a Hindu kingdom in 17 century right under the nose of Emperor Aurangzeb the last great Mughal as depicted by the Indian historians. He was born at Purandhar fort on 11 May 1657 to Shivaji and SaiBai. No amount of praise is sufficient in glorifying the patriot King Shivaji maharaj. Sambhaji who succeeded Shivaji to the Maratha throne in 1681 was no way less than his father. His martyrdom after few years of rule at the hands of Mughals is a testimony to his great patriotism and commitment to the Hindu cause (1).
Sambhaji in the days of youth as per some historians was reportedly pleasure seeking and drew the displeasure of his father. This can not be believed. Sambhaji was great scholar and was master of Sanskrit and eight other languages. It is also learnt that he also went to Mughals for some time. Annoyed at his conduct Shivaji put him under confinement in 1678 at a fort. After Shivajis death, efforts were made to crown Raja ram as the successors to Shivaji by Sorabai the second queen of Shivaji. However Sambhaji acted swiftly and won the confidence of the commanders and chieftains.. e came out of confinement and marched towards Rajgarh , the capital. By the time he reached Rajgarh his forces swelled to 20000 and the fort gates were thrown open and he was welcomed. In those crucial years a strong king was the need of the hour and important commanders favored Sambhaji to Rajaram. Sambhaji was thus crowned as Chatrapathi succeeding illustrious Shivaji (2).
Sambhaji drew the wrath of Emperor Aurangzeb when he gave asylum to Mughal prince Akbar who revolted against his father Aurangzeb and declared himself as the Emperor. Prince Akbar was escorted to Sambhaji by the Rajput commanders who were followers of the great warrior Durga das Rathod. However Prince Akbar left to Persia after getting disillusioned as Sambhaji was engaged in other local conflicts. The next seven years Sambhaji fought Mughals relentlessly and mostly succeeded. It is believed that he patronized a minister named Kavi Kulash from North India and historians claim that Kavi Kulash was responsible for Sambhaji’s waywardness. He was betrayed by one of his relatives Ganoji Shirke when he was in the fort of Sangameswar 20 miles from Ratnagiri that was impregnable. The Mughal commander Mukarrab Khan with his forces was led to the fort by the traitor in 1688 and Sambhaji was caught unawares on 01 Feb 1689. It is also learnt that the traitor Ganoji Shirke was annoyed with Sambhaji at the loss of hereditary WATAN that was abolished. He was taken to Aurangzeb where he was tortured severely and emperor offered to release him if he accepted Islam and gave out details od wealth, handed over all his forts and gave away the names of Mughal commanders who helped him.. But Sambhaji bluntly refused. Inhuman torture followed and Sambhaji’s tongue was cut off and his body was cut and pieces were thrown to dogs and down the river. But Sambhaji did not yield. Sambhaji was then blinded and finally hanged on 11 March 1689 at Tulapur. His head was cut off and stuffed and then it was paraded in towns. It is believed that the people of the Tulapur collected the pieces of Sambhaji as many they could , stitched them together and cremated him at Vadhu. Thus brave Sambhaji faded into to history having become a Martyr and he became a Dharma veer.
Some of the historians have depicted Sambhaji in most derogatory terms based on the writings of Muslim historians. Even eminent historian Sir Jadunath Sircar depicted him as wayward, alcoholic and fallen. His depiction is most tragic by the pseudo historians and Sambhaji’s greatness is no way reduced by such irresponsible writings. These are just not believable. They wrote that Sambhaji said, he would not accept Islam even if the emperor offered his daughter in marriage. He is accused by the historians as a rude one who accused Aurangzeb as the Hindu hater and resorting to ill governance. It could be true that Sambhaji in his younger days was a pleasure seeker. But having succeeded his father, he fought for Hindu cause and held the flag high. With death of Sambhaji, Aurangzeb believed that Maratha power was over, but it did not happen. For the next 20 years the emperor was stuck in Deccan fighting the rejuvenated and inspired Marathas under Rajaram, Tara Bai wife of Raja ram and the valiant commanders such as Santaji Ghorpad, Dhanaji Jadhav, Prahlad Niraji, Ramchadra Pant, Shankaraji malhar, Parashuram trimbak,. Finally Aurangzeb died of shame, exhausted fully, unable to succeed, dejected, humiliated and worn out. Probably not even a bird would have shed tears over the death of the much hated Aurangzeb when he died in1707 at Ahmednagar (3) (4). His body was relieved of his wretched soul that believed only in hate, treachery, cunningness and cruelty and was devoid of finer tastes and an iota of humility. Sambhaji shines gloriously in Indian history as bravest of brave and his firmness and bravery in face of certain death was far greater than what Shivaji displayed in the court of Mughals where he was insulted and was placed along with lower mansabdars. Sambhaji has become a martyr and immortal and a symbol of bravery of highest order.a The torch lit by Shivaji was upheld bravely by his son against all odds and Marathas became formidable power and Mahadaji sindhia in later years dictated terms to Mughal Empire and East India company in course of time.
2.R C Majumdar, H C Roy Chaudhri, Kalikinkar datta, An Advanced History of India,Macmillan, st Martins press, New York, 1967, Edition III, PP 516,
3.Jaddunath Sircar, History of Aurangzeb, Sircar and Sons, Calcuta, Volume V(1689-1707)
4.Edwardes, SM Garette, HLO . Mughal rule in India, Oxford University press, 1930, PP 101-157