VEER BAJI PRABHU DESHPANDE WHO SACRIFICED HIMSELF TO
SAVE HIS KING
Dr K Prabhakar Rao
A country that does not respect past history and its heroes will never prosper and would decay and it is a naked truth. This we are experiencing every day in India. This is because national spirit will dwindle in such societies and this is happening in our country. Major portion of our Youth have no time, no interest, no zeal, no aptitude and no respect to our historical past and its heroes. They are carried away in modern vices, western life style, pub culture and discothèques. This article is a call to our youth to spend some time in remembering our past valiant men as it is their noble duty towards motherland.
Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj established Swarajya right under the nose of religious bigot Aurangzeb in 17 century. This was possible mainly due to un-flinched support and loyalty from his nobles, Generals and commanders. Each and every one was as determined as the Maharaj himself over the issue. Probably there was no occasion in his life where he had to goad his men to fight even under adverse conditions against superior enemy. The magical leadership qualities of Maharaj inspired every one towards Swarajya. Baji Prabhu Deshpande is one such General who shines like a glorious star in the history of India. His sacrifice did not go invain as Shivaji Maharaj escaped the seize by Bijapur army at Panhala fort to Vishalgad near Kolhapur to fight on another day. Safety of the leader is a most important aspect in achieving the results. Sadly the aspects of leadership has changed very greatly in the present times where we find all types of men and women masquerading as leaders and patriots keeping themselves busy with self interests and personal rise and glory.
Baji Prabhu served under Chandra Rao More of Javli a feudal lord before he joined Shivaji Maharaj. He was 15 years elder to Shivaji Maharaj. Shivaji defeated Chadra Rao More and persuaded baji Prabhu to jin the cause of Swarajya and he accepted. He earned the confidence of his king and soon rose in position and importance. After slaying of Bijapur General Afzal Khan by Shivaji Maharaj at Pratapgarh, Sultan of Bijapur made another strong attempt to capture the Martha leader under the able leadership of Siddi jauhar assisted by Siddi Masud and Fazal Khan . Bijapur army laid a seize with 15000 strong army to Panhala fort once they knew that Shivaji was at Panhala with limited troops. He had only 600 light infantry assisted by Baji Prabhu, Jadhav Rao and Bandal. It was an intense operation. At the same time, Shaistan khan the Mughal governor also attacked Pune provinces to keep Maratha armies occupied. All approaches to the fort were cut off and the invading army was far superior in numbers that could not be defeated in open battle by Maraths as they had very limited strength. The seize lasted for long period and efforts to defeat the Bijapur army by the Senapati Netaji Palkar of Shivaji Maharaj from outside did not yield results. The situation soon was becoming desperate and Shivaji Maharaj devised a plan. He sent an emissary to the Commander of the invading army that he was willing to negotiate with him. This made the Bijapur army slightly complacent and the army lowered the guard.
On one full moon stormy night Shivaji Maharaj escaped the seize along with his troops led by Baji Prabhu without getting detected. However soon the Bijapur army got the news and started chasing them. They caught some Maratha soldiers and captured a person who was looking like Shivaji. Soon they realized that he was an imposter named Shiva kashid a barber. They started the chase again. But in this mean time, Shivaji Maharaj with his men reached a very strategic location called Ghod khind which is a very narrow defile through which very few soldiers could pass at a time .At this point of time Baji Prabhu persuaded Shivaji Maharj that he along with 300 men would defend the Ghodkhind that would enable the Maharaj to escape to Vishalgad fort. Shivaji Maharaj did not accept the suggestion that was very dangerous to the lives of his men. But Baji Prabhu prevailed over him and guarded the pass. Soon the Bijapur army arrived at the pass and there was an intense fight between Marthas and enemy soldiers.
The pass was very narrow and the Bijapur army found it extremely difficult to pass through it and there were many casualties among them. But their strength was very high. The dare devil Marathas led by Baji Prabhu, his brother Fulaji and Sambhaji Jadhav successfully defended the pass till Shivaji Maharaj reached Vishalgad fort and fired a cannon. Maratha soldiers sacrificed themselves at the pass fiercely fighting with swords in both hands and profusely bleeding and it was shock for the Bijapur soldiers. They gave up only after listening to the firing of cannon.
When Shivaji reached Vishalgad fort he found enemy troops led by another officer Surve and with a violent charge they broke through them and reached the fort safely and fired the cannon. The Bijapur army after passing the Ghod khind attacked Vishal gad fort. They were defeated with heavy losses by Rango Narayan Sarpotdar an young and brave officer of the fort. Marathas lost 300 men while Bijapur army lost 3000 men . Soon Shivaji learnt about the sad demise of Baji Prabhu in the operation and the place of his sacrifice has been named as Pavan khind. Shivaji was much grieved at the loss of Baji Prabhu and visited his house at Kasabe sindh near Bhor at Pune to console the family. The family was given suitable honors and his sons were taken care of.
Battle of Pavan khind was the lost major battle with Bijapur sultans and after this Shivaji Maharaj consolidated his position as independent kingdom.