General Studies IHISTORYMedieval India

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

About Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj:

  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj born on 19 February 1630 at the Shivneri Fort
  • He was an Indian ruler and a member of the Bhonsle Maratha clan.
  • Shivaji Maharaj carved out an enclave from the declining Adilshahi sultanate of Bijapur that formed the genesis of the Maratha Empire.
  • In 1674, he was formally crowned the Chhatrapati of his realm at Raigad Fort.
  • Over the course of his life, Shivaji Maharaj engaged in both alliances and hostilities with the Mughal Empire, the Sultanate of Golkonda, Sultanate of Bijapur and the European colonial powers.
  • His military forces expanded the Maratha sphere of influence, capturing and building forts, and forming a Maratha navy.
    • Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is known as ‘Father of Indian Navy
  • Shivaji Maharaj established a competent and progressive civil rule with well-structured administrative organisations.
  • He revived ancient Hindu political traditions, court conventions and promoted the usage of the Marathi and Sanskrit languages, replacing Persian in court and administration.
  • His legacy was to vary by observer and time, but nearly two centuries after his death, he began to take on increased importance with the emergence of the Indian independence movement, as many Indian nationalists elevated him as a proto-nationalist and hero of the Hindus
  • He established a competent and progressive civil rule with the help of disciplined military and well-structured administrative organisations.
  • He innovated military tactics, pioneering non-conventional methods(guerrilla warfare) and leveraged strategic factors like geography, speed, and surprise.
  • He focused on pinpoint attacks to defeat his larger and more powerful enemies.
  • He placed the well-being of his people above everything.
  • brave and genuinely secular ruler, he respected women and cared for the downtrodden and farmers.

Early Life:

  • Born on February 19, 1630, at Shivneri Fort in Pune.
  • He was born to Shahaji Bhonsle, a Maratha general who held the jagirs of Pune and Supe under the Bijapur Sultanate.
  • Shivaji’s mother was Jijabai, a pious woman whose religious qualities had a profound influence on him.
  • Shivaji was not named after Lord Shiva. 
    • His name was derived from the name of a regional deity – Goddess Shivai.
  • He was brought up by his mother and his administrator, Dadoji Konddeo, who taught him horse riding, archery, marksmanship, patta and other fighting techniques after his father left for Karnataka with his second wife, Tukabai.

Accession & Reign

  • He made his first military conquest at the age of 16 in 1645 by attacking and capturing Torna Fort in the Bijapur Sultanate, followed by conquest of other forts – Chakan, Kondana, and Rajgad.
  • Fearing his rising power, the Bijapur Sutlan, Mohammed Adil Shah imprisoned his father, following which he halted his conquests and built a stronger army until his father’s release in 1653 or 1655.
  • The Bijapur Sultan sent his general, Afzal Khan, to supress Shivaji in November 1659, who, fearing Afzal’s deceitful plans, came armed with bagh nakh (tiger claw) in one hand and a dagger in the other, and slayed him at the Pratapgar Fort.
  • He was attacked by the army of Adilshah’s general, Siddi Jauhar, while camping at Panhala Fort, near present-day Kolhapur, in 1660, but Shivaji escape to Vishalgad fort to regroup his large army for a battle. Backed by his Maratha sardar Baji Prabhu Deshpande, who wounded himself while holding back the army at the Battle of Pavan
  • Khind, he reached Vishalgad safely, resulting in a truce between him and Adilshah in July 1660.
  • He resumed his raids after his father’s death in 1664-65 and seized the northern parts of Konkon and forts of Purandar and Javali.
  • His peaceful relations with the Mughals saw conflicts in 1657 when he raided the Mughal territories in Ahmednagar and Junnar, following which Aurangzeb sent a 150,000-force under Shaista Khan, in 1660, to chastise him.
  • The Mughal army captured Pune. When they encamped there, Shivaji made a surprise attack killing Mughal soldiers and guards, with Shaista Khan narrowly escaping. Soon after in 1664, he raided Surat and looted its treasure.
  • He made a visit to Agra, along with his nine-year old son Sambhaji, upon Aurangzeb’s invitation in 1666, who planned to send him to Kandahar (now in Afghanistan) to handle the Mughal empire’s northwestern frontier.
  • He was ill-treated by Aurangzeb at his court and offended. He was taken into custody and put under house arrest. However, he managed to escape with his son and spent the next three years strengthening his administration.
  • With the end of the Treaty of Purandar in 1670, he attacked the Mughal forces in Maharashtra and re-captured the forts he had surrendered to them.
  • In 1670, he launched an expedition under Tanaji Malusare to capture Kondana For, which was under Mughal possession, in the Battle of Sinhagad. While the fort was seized, Malusare died and hence, the fort was renamed Sinhagad.
  • He raided Surat for a second time in 1670 and defeated the Mughal army under Daud Khan in the Battle of Vani-Dindori (close to present-day Nasik) while returning back.
  • After spending the early 1670s in capturing land and expanding his domain, he crowned himself as the king of the Marathas at Raigad in 1674, earning the title Kshatriya Kulavantas Sinhasanadheeshwar Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
  • He went on an extensive campaign of raiding more territories in the later half of 1674, capturing Khandesh, followed by Bijapuri Ponda, Karwar, Kolhapur and Janjira in 1675, and Ramnagar, Athani, Belgaum and Vayem Rayim in 1676.
  • He moved southwards at the end of 1676, seizing the forts at Vellore and Gingee (in present-day Tamil Nadu), once ruled by the Adilshahi Dynasty.
  • Despite being a devoted Hindu, he showed great respect to all religions, including Islam and Christianity, and was unbiased towards other castes and communities.


  • He divided the territory into three provinces. Provinces were divided into Prants which were subdivided into Parganas or Tarafs.
  • Shivaji had well organized Army & Navy. The regular army was called Paga, while the loose auxiliaries called silahdars & were supervised by havildars.
  • Salary in cash was paid to the regular soldier, though sometime the chiefs received revenue grants (saranjam).
  • He was assisted by a council of ministers called “Ashtapradhan” Mandal. Each minister was directly responsible to Shivaji. (No collective responsibility).


 Peshwa (Mukhya Pradhan)Finance & general administration. Later became prime minister
Senapati (Sar-i-Naubat)Military commander
Majumdar (Amatya)Accountant General
Waqenavis (Mantri)Intelligence, posts and household affairs
Sachiv (Surnavis)Correspondence
Dabir (Sumant)Foreign minister & Master of ceremonies.
Panditrao (Sadar)High Priest, managing internal religious matters

  • The revenue system of Shivaji was based on that of Malik Amber of Ahmednagar.    
  • Land was measured using measuring rod called Kathi.          
  • Discouraged revenue farming          
  • Chauth (1/4th of land revenue) paid to Marathas to avoid Maratha raid.          
  • Sardeshmukhi was additional levy of ten percent, that is.1/10 of standard land revenue on those lands on which the Marathas claimed hereditary rights.        
  • Reduced the power of existing Deshmukhs and Kulkarnis.        
  • Appointed own revenue officer called Karkuns.

List of Battles fought by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

Name of BattleDescription
Battle of PratapgadFought on November 10, 1659, at the fort of Pratapgad near the town of Satara, Maharashtra, India between the forces of the Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the Adilshahi general Afzal Khan.
Battle of KolhapurFought on December 28, 1659, near the city of Kolhapur, Maharashtra between the Maratha Chhatrapati Shivaji and the Adilshahi forces.
Battle of Pavan KhindFought on July 13, 1660, at a mountain pass in the vicinity of fort Vishalgad, near the city of Kolhapur, Maharashtra, India between the Maratha Sardar Baji Prabhu Deshpande and Siddi Masud of Adilshah.
Battle of ChakanFought between the Maratha Empire and the Mughal Empire in the year 1660.
Battle of UmberkhindFought on 2 February 1661, between the Maratha under Chhatrapati Shivaji and the Kartalab Khan of Mughals.
Sacking of SuratFought on January 5, 1664, near the city of Surat, Gujarat, India between Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Inayat Khan, a Mughal captain.
Battle of PurandarFought between the Mughal Empire and Maratha Empire in 1665.
Battle of SinhagadFought on 4 February 1670 on the fort of Sinhagad near the city of Pune, Maharashtra, India between Tanaji Malusare, a commander of Maratha ruler Shivaji Maharaj and Udaybhan Rathod, fort keeper under Jai Singh I who was a Mughal Army Chief.
Battle of KalyanFought between 1682 and 1683 in which Bahadur Khan of the Mughal Empire defeated the Maratha army and took over Kalyan.
Battle of BhupalgarhFought between the Mughal and Maratha empires in 1679 in which Mughal defeated the Marathas.
Battle of SangamnerFought between the Mughal Empire and Maratha Empire in 1679. This was the last battle in which the Maratha King Shivaji fought.

Source: Indian Express

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