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Essay On Sambhaji Maharaj

Sambhaji Bhosale

A painting of Sambhaji, late 17th century

2nd Chhatrapati of the Maratha Empire
ReignJanuary 16, 1681- March 11, 1689
CoronationJuly 20, 1680, Panhala
or January 16, 1681, Raigad fort
SuccessorRajaram I
Born(1657-05-14)May 14, 1657
Purandar Fort, near Pune, India
DiedMarch 11, 1689(1689-03-11) (aged 31)
Tulapur-Vadhu Dist. Pune, Maharashtra, India
IssueBhavani Bai
Shahu I

Sambhaji (May 14, 1657 – March 11, 1689) was the second ruler of the Maratha kingdom. He was the eldest son of Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha Empire and his first wife Saibai. He was successor of the realm after his father's death, and ruled it for nine years. Sambhaji's rule was largely shaped by the ongoing wars between the Maratha kingdom and Mughal Empire as well as other neighbouring powers such as the Siddis, Mysore and the Portuguese in Goa. In 1689, Sambhaji was captured, tortured and executed by the Mughals, and succeeded by his brother Rajaram I.[1]

Early life[edit]

Sambhaji was born at Purandar fort to Saibai, Shivaji's first wife. His mother died when he was two years old and he was raised by his paternal grandmother Jijabai. At the age of nine, Sambhaji was sent to live with Raja Jai Singh I of Amber as a political hostage to ensure compliance of the Treaty of Purandar that Shivaji had signed with the Mughals on June 11, 1665.[citation needed] As a result of the treaty, Sambhaji became a Mughal mansabdar.[2]He and his father Shivaji presented themselves at Aurangzeb's court at Agra on May 12, 1666. Aurangzeb put both of them under house arrest but they escaped on July 22, 1666.[3]However, the two side reconciled and had cordial relations during the period, 1666-1670.In this period Shivaji and Sambhaji fought alongside the Mughals against the Sultanate of Bijapur.[4]


Sambhaji was married to Rajau in a marriage of political alliance; per Maratha custom she took the name Yesubai. Jivabai was the daughter of Pilajirao Shirke, who had entered Shivaji's service following the defeat of a powerful deshmukh Rao Rana Suryajirao Surve who was his previous patron. This marriage thus gave Shivaji access to the Konkan coastal belt.[5]:4[5][6]

Sambhaji's behaviour, including alleged irresponsibility and addiction to sensual pleasures led Shivaji to imprison his son at Panhala fort in 1678 to curb his behaviour.[5][6] Sambhaji escaped from the fort with his wife and defected to the Mughals in December 1678 for a year but then returned home when he learnt of a plan by Dilir Khan, the Mughal viceroy of Deccan to arrest him and send him to Delhi.[7] Upon returning home, Sambhaji was unrepentant and was again confined to Panhala.[5][8]


When Shivaji died in the first week of April 1680, Sambhaji was still held captive at Panhala fort. Shivaji's widow and Sambhaji's stepmother, Soyrabai after her husband's death installed the couple's son, Rajaram on the throne on April 21, 1680.[9] Upon hearing this news, Sambhaji plotted his escape and took possession of the Panhala fort on April 27 after killing the fort commander. On June 18, he acquired control of Raigad fort. Sambhaji formally ascended the throne on July 20, 1680. Rajaram, his wife Janki Bai and mother Soyarabai were imprisoned. Soon afterwards, Soyarabai, her kinsman from the Shirke family and some of Shivaji's ministers such as Annaji Datto were executed on charges of conspiracy.[5]:48[10]

Military expeditions and conflicts[edit]

Shortly following Sambhaji's accession, he began his military campaigns against neighboring states. Historians have been quick to note the distinction between the more tolerant and chivalrous practices of his father Shivaji, and the more pragmatic and brutal practices of Sambhaji. In contrast to his father's tactics, Sambhaji permitted torture, rape and violence by his forces against civilian populations.[11] A modern historian described the situation as "barely functioning anarchy".[12]

Attack on Burhanpur[edit]

Sambhaji plundered and ravaged Burhanpur in 1680. His forces completely routed the Mughal garrison and punitively executed captives. The Marathas then looted the city and set its ports ablaze. Sambhaji then withdrew into Baglana, evading the forces of Mughal commander Khan Jahan Bahadur.[13] During the attack on Burhanpur, among his 20,000 troops, many of them perpetrated atrocities against Muslims, including plunder, killing, and torture.[14]

Mughal Empire[edit]

In 1682, the Mughals laid siege to the Maratha fort of Ramsej, but after five months of failed attempts, including planting explosive mines and building wooden towers to gain the walls, the Mughal siege failed.[15]

Siddis of Janjira[edit]

Entering the 1680s, the Marathas came into conflict[why?] with the Siddis, Muslims of African descent settled in India who held the fortified island of Janjira. At the start of 1682, a Maratha army later joined by Sambhaji personally, attacked the island for thirty days, doing heavy damage but failing to breach its defenses. Sambhaji then attempted a ruse, sending a party of his people to the Siddis, claiming to be defectors. They were allowed into the fort and planned to detonate the gunpowder magazine during a coming Maratha attack. However, one of the female defectors became involved with a Siddi man and he uncovered the plot, and the infiltrators were executed. The Maratha then attempted to build a stone causeway from the shore to the island, but were interrupted halfway through when the Mughal army moved to menace Raigad. Sambhaji returned to counter them and his remaining troops were unable to overcome the Janjira garrison and the Siddi fleet protecting it.[16]

Portuguese and English[edit]

Having failed to take Janjira in 1682, Sambhaji sent a commander to seize the coastal fort of Anjadiva instead. The Marathas seized the fort, seeking to turn it into a naval base, but in April 1682 were ejected from the fort by a detachment of 200 Portuguese. This incident led to a larger conflict between the two regional powers.[16]:171

The Portuguese colony of Goa at that time provided supplies to the Mughals, allowed them to use the Portuguese ports in India and pass through their territory. In order to deny this support to the Mughals, Sambhaji undertook a campaign against Portuguese Goa in late 1683, storming the colony and taking its forts.[17] The situation for the colonists became so dire that the Portuguese viceroy, Francisco de Távora, conde de Alvor went with his remaining supporters to the cathedral where the crypt of Saint Francis Xavier was kept, where they prayed for deliverance. The viceroy had the casket opened and gave the saint's body his baton, royal credentials and a letter asking the saint's support. Sambhaji's Goa campaign was checked by the arrival of the Mughal army and navy in January 1684, forcing him to withdraw.[18]

Meanwhile, in 1684 Sambhaji signed a defensive treaty with the English at Bombay, realising his need for English arms and gunpowder, particularly as their lack of artillery and explosives impeded the Maratha's ability to lay siege to fortifications. Thus reinforced, Sambhaji proceeded to take Pratapgad and a series of forts along the Ghats.[19]:91


Much like his father Shivaji's Karnataka campaign, Sambhaji attempted in 1681 to invade Mysore, then a southern principality ruled by WodeyarChikkadevaraja. Sambhaji's large army was repelled,[19]:91 as had happened to Shivaji in 1675.[20] The Chikkadevraja later made treaties and rendered tribute to the Maratha kingdom during the conflicts of 1682–1686. The Chikkadevraja however began to draw close to the Mughal empire and ceased to follow his treaties with the Marathas. In response, Sambhaji invaded Mysore in 1686, accompanied by his Brahmin friend and poet Kavi Kalash.[21][22]

Capture and execution[edit]

The 1687 Battle of Wai saw the Maratha forces badly weakened by the Mughals. The key Maratha commander Hambirao Mohite was killed and troops began to desert the Maratha armies. Sambhaji's positions were spied upon by his own relations, the Shirke family, who had defected to the Mughals. Sambhaji and 25 of his advisors were captured by the Mughal forces of Muqarrab Khan in a skirmish at Sangameshwar in February 1689 .[5]:47

Accounts of Sambhaji's confrontation with the Mughal ruler and following torture, execution and disposal of his body, vary widely depending on the source, though generally all agree that he was tortured and executed on the emperor's orders.[5]:50

The captured Sambhaji and Kavi Kalash were taken to Bahadurgad, where Aurangzeb humiliated them by parading them wearing clown's clothes and they were subjected to insults by Mughal soldiers. Accounts vary as to the reasons for what came next: Mughal accounts state that Sambhaji was asked to surrender his forts, treasures and names of Mughal collaborators with the Marathas and that he sealed his fate by insulting both the emperor and the Islamic prophet Muhammad during interrogation and was executed for having killed Muslims.[23] The ulema of the Mughal Empire sentenced Sambhaji to death for the atrocities his troops perpetrated against Muslims in Burhanpur, including plunder, killing, rape, and torture.[14]

Maratha accounts instead state that he was ordered to bow before Auguranzeb and convert to Islam and it was his refusal to do so, by saying that he would accept Islam on the day the emperor presented him his daughter's hand, that led to his death.[24] By doing so he earned the title of Dharmaveer ("protector of dharma").[25] Aurangzeb ordered Sambhaji and Kavi Kalash to be tortured to death; the process took over a fortnight and included plucking out their eyes and tongue, pulling out their nails and removing their skin. Sambhaji was finally killed on March 11, 1689,[26] reportedly by tearing him apart from the front and back with wagh nakhe (metal "tiger claws") and beheading with an axe at Tulapur on the banks of the Bhima river near Pune.[5]:50

Other accounts state that Sambhaji challenged Aurangzeb in open court and refused to convert to Islam. Dennis Kincaid writes, "He (Sambhaji) was ordered by the Emperor to embrace Islam. He refused and was made to run the gauntlet of the whole Imperial army. Tattered and bleeding he was brought before the Emperor and repeated his refusal. His tongue was torn and again the question was put. He called for writing material and wrote 'Not even if the emperor bribed me with his daughter!' So then he was put to death by torture".[25]

Some accounts state that Sambhaji's body was cut into pieces and thrown into the river or that the body or portions were recaptured and cremated at the confluence of rivers at Tulapur.[27][28] Other accounts state that Sambhaji's remains were fed to the dogs.[29]


The Maratha Kingdom was put into disarray by Sambhaji's death and his younger half-brotherRajaram Chhatrapati assumed the throne. Rajaram shifted the Maratha capital far south to Jinji, while Maratha guerrilla fighters under Santaji Ghorpade and Dhanaji Jadhav continued to harass the Mughal army. A few days after Sambhaji's death, the capital Raigad Fort fell to the Mughals, Sambhaji's widow, Yesubai, son, Shahu and Shivaji's widow, Sakvarbai were captured. Sakvarbai died in Mughal captivity.[30] Shahu, who was seven years of age when captured, remained prisoner of the Mughals for 18 years from February 1689 until Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb's death in 1707. Shahu was then set free by Emperor Muhammad Azam Shah, son of Aurangzeb. After his release Shahu had to fight a brief war with his aunt Tarabai, Rajaram's widow who claimed the throne for her own son, Shivaji II.[31][32][33] The Mughals kept Yesubai captive to ensure that Shahu adhered to the terms of his release. She was released in 1719 when Marathas became strong enough under Shahu and Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath.[34]

See also[edit]


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sambhaji.
Statue of Sambhaji at Tulapur
Stone arch at Tulapur confluence where Sambhaji was executed
  1. ^Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. pp. 199–200. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4. 
  2. ^Rana, Bhawan Singh (2004). Chhatrapati Shivaji (1st ed. ed.). New Delhi: Diamond Pocket Books. p. 64. ISBN 8128808265. 
  3. ^Gordon, Stewart (1993). The Marathas 1600–1818 (1. publ. ed.). New York: Cambridge University. pp. 74–78. ISBN 978-0-521-26883-7. Retrieved 5 June 2016. 
  4. ^Rana, Bhawan Singh (2004). Chhatrapati Shivaji (1st ed. ed.). New Delhi: Diamond Pocket Books. p. 64. ISBN 8128808265. 
  5. ^ abcdefghJ. L. Mehta (1 January 2005). Advanced Study in the History of Modern India: Volume One: 1707 – 1813. Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-932705-54-6. Retrieved 7 April 2016. 
  6. ^ abRana, Bhawan Singh (2004). Chhatrapati Shivaji (1st ed.). New Delhi: Diamond Pocket Books. pp. 96–99. ISBN 81-288-0826-5. Retrieved 26 July 2016. 
  7. ^Bhave, Y.G. (2000). From the death of Shivaji to the death of Aurangzeb : the critical years. New Delhi: Northern Book Centre. p. 35. ISBN 81-7211100-2. 
  8. ^Gordon, Stewart (1993). The Marathas 1600–1818 (1. publ. ed.). New York: Cambridge University. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-521-26883-7. Retrieved 5 June 2016. 
  9. ^Gordon, Stewart (1993). The Marathas 1600–1818 (1. publ. ed.). New York: Cambridge University. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-521-26883-7. Retrieved 5 June 2016. 
  10. ^Sunita Sharma; K̲h̲udā Bak̲h̲sh Oriyanṭal Pablik Lāʼibrerī (2004). Veil, sceptre, and quill: profiles of eminent women, 16th- 18th centuries. Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library. p. 139. Retrieved 30 September 2012.  – By June 1680 three months after Shivaji's death Rajaram was made a prisoner in the fort of Raigad."
  11. ^John F. Richards (1995). The Mughal Empire. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-56603-2. 
  12. ^Abraham Eraly (2000). Emperors of the Peacock Throne: The Saga of the Great Mughals. Penguin Books India. pp. 482–. ISBN 978-0-14-100143-2. 
  13. ^Richard, John F. (26 January 1996). The Mughal Empire. Cambridge University Press. p. 218. ISBN 978-0-521-56603-2. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  14. ^ abJohn F. Richards (1995). The Mughal Empire. Cambridge University Press. pp. 217–223. 
  15. ^Itihas. Director of State Archives, Government of Andhra Pradesh. 1976. pp. 100–103. Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  16. ^ abShanti Sadiq Ali (1 January 1996). The African Dispersal in the Deccan: From Medieval to Modern Times. Orient Blackswan. pp. 171–. ISBN 978-81-250-0485-1. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  17. ^Glenn Joseph Ames (2000). Renascent Empire?: The House of Braganza and the Quest for Stability in Portuguese Monsoon Asia C.1640-1683. Amsterdam University Press. pp. 155–. ISBN 978-90-5356-382-3. 
  18. ^Dauril Alden (1 September 1996). The Making of an Enterprise: The Society of Jesus in Portugal, Its Empire, and Beyond, 1540–1750. Stanford University Press. pp. 202–. ISBN 978-0-8047-2271-1. Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
  19. ^ abStewart Gordon (16 September 1993). The Marathas 1600–1818. Cambridge University Press. pp. 91–. ISBN 978-0-521-26883-7. Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
  20. ^Pran Nath Chopra (1992). Encyclopaedia of India: Karnataka. Rima Pub. House. Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
  21. ^B. Muddhachari (1969). The Mysore-Maratha relations in the 17th century. Prasārānga, University of Mysore. p. 106. Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
  22. ^A. Satyanarayana; Karnataka (India). Directorate of Archaeology & Museums (1996). History of the Wodeyars of Mysore, 1610–1748. Directorate of Archaeology and Museums. p. 94. Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
  23. ^Richards, John F. (26 January 1996). The Mughal Empire. Cambridge University Press. p. 223. ISBN 978-0-521-56603-2. Retrieved 29 September 2012. 
  24. ^S. B. Bhattacherje (1 May 2009). Encyclopaedia of Indian Events & Dates. Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. pp. A80–A81. ISBN 978-81-207-4074-7. Retrieved 6 March 2012. 
  25. ^ abY. G. Bhave (1 January 2000). From the Death of Shivaji to the Death of Aurangzeb: The Critical Years. Northern Book Centre. pp. 60–. ISBN 978-81-7211-100-7. Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
  26. ^"Maasir – I – Alamgiri". archive.org. Retrieved 2017-05-14. 
  27. ^Kamal Shrikrishna Gokhale (1978). Chhatrapati Sambhaji. Navakamal Publications. p. 365. Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
  28. ^Organiser. Bharat Prakashan. January 1973. p. 280. Retrieved 2 October 2012.  – When they were finally thrown away, the Marathas brought Sambhaji's head to Tulapur and consigned if to fire at the confluence of the Bheema and Indrayani rivers.
  29. ^J. L. Mehta (1 January 2005). Advanced Study in the History of Modern India: Volume One: 1707 – 1813. Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. p. 50. ISBN 978-1-932705-54-6. Retrieved 7 April 2016. 
  30. ^Mehta, J. L. (2005). Advanced study in the history of modern India, 1707–1813. Slough: New Dawn Press, Inc. p. 47. ISBN 9781932705546. 
  31. ^Manohar, Malgonkar (1959), The Sea Hawk: Life and Battles of Kanoji Angrey, p. 63 
  32. ^A. Vijaya Kumari; Sepuri Bhaskar. "Social change among Balijas: majority community of Andhra Pradesh". MD. Retrieved 2011-06-24. 
  33. ^Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. pp. 201–202. ISBN 978-93-80607-34-4. 
  34. ^The Quarterly Review of Historical Studies. Institute of Historical Studies. 1971. 

        Today (20th March – Phalgun Amawasya) is the Sacrifice Day of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj as per the Hindu Almanac. He was a true Dharmaveer, who just like his father Shivaji, did not bow before Aurangzeb although Aurangzeb brutally tortured Sambhaji Maharaj for more than 40 days. Hindus must learn how to sacrifice for Dharma from Sambhaji Maharaj. He was a scholar of Sanskrit language. He single handedly fought with the massive army of Aurangzeb for 9 years. He and Maratha rulers after him kept Aurangzeb in Maharashtra for 27 years, which finally resulted in the establishment of Hindu rule in North India. Sambhaji Maharaj also fought with the Portuguese in Goa, as they were orchestrating the mass conversions of Hindus and had demolished Hindu Temples in Goa. The detailed information about Sambhaji Maharaj is as follows :

Early Life

        Sambhaji lost his mother Sai bai at the age of 2. After her death, his paternal grandmother Jijabai looked after him. Initially his stepmother, Soyarabai, also doted on him a lot. Sambhaji was a tiger cub in the true sense. He was extremely handsome and possessed immense bravery. He was a scholar of Sanskrit and eight other languages. In 1666, he was married to Yesu bai, and later the couple had a son – Shahu. On June 6th, 1674 at the time of the coronation of Shivaji Maharaj, he was declared the prince of the Sovereign Maratha Kingdom. Many visiting dignitaries at the coronation ceremony have written about his acumen, intelligence, personality and most important of all, his modesty. As a prince, Sambhaji proved his bravery and military brilliance on more than one occasion. He led and won his first war at Ramnagar at the age of 16. During 1675-76 he led successful campaigns in Goa and Karnataka.

Estrangement and reconciliation with his father

        The politics fuelled by the wife Soyarabai, of Shivaji Maharaj, with some other courtiers led to Sambhaji’s estrangement. For almost one year, Sambhaji left Shivaji’s kingdom and joined Aurangzeb’s commander, Diler Khan as part of politics. This came as a rude and extremely sad shock to Shivaji. This process caused further widening of the rift between Sambhaji on one side, and Soyarabai on the other. As a result, Sambhaji was not invited for Rajaram’s wedding and moreover he was not even informed of the sudden death of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj a few days thereafter. Rajaram was the child of Shivaji Maharaj & Soyarabai.


        Soyarabai and her supporters plotted to arrest Sambhaji at the fort of Panhala, where he was staying at the time of Shivaji’s death. They wanted to crown Rajaram and not allow Sambhaji to become the Maratha emperor. However Sarnobat (the Supreme Commander of the Maratha forces) and Soyarabai’s brother, Hambirrao Mohite supported Sambhaji since he was the rightful heir to the throne. At the time of Shivaji’s death, there was news of an impending attack of Aurangzeb’s army on Maharashtra and at such a crucial juncture, a strong leader like Sambhaji was the need of the hour. Therefore Hambirrao did not support his own sister and sided instead with Sambhaji.

        Annaji Datto Sabnis and other courtiers namely Hiroji Bhosale (Farjad), Balaji Aavji and Rupaji Mane were arrested for supporting Soyarabai and were punished in a rather cruel way, by being killed when trampled upon by War-elephants. It was chiefly because of Hambirrao’s support that Sambhaji was able to ascend to his rightful place on the Maratha throne in 1681.

Sambhaji Maharaj kept Aurangzeb away from North India for 27 years

        The remarkable things that Sambhaji Maharaj achieved in his short life had far-reaching effects on the whole of India. Every Hindu should be grateful to him for that. He valiantly faced the 8 lakh strong army of Aurangzeb and defeated several Mughal chieftains in the battlefield forcing them to retreat. Because of this, Aurangzeb remained engaged in battles in Maharashtra, thus keeping the rest of India free from Aurangzeb’s tyranny for a long time. This can be considered as the greatest achievement of Sambhaji Maharaj. If Sambhaji Maharaj would have arrived at a settlement with Aurangzeb and accepted his proposal of being a tributary prince, then within the next 2 or 3 years Aurangzeb would have captured North India again. However, because of Sambhaji Maharaj and other Maratha ruler’s (Rajaram and Mahraani Tarabai) struggle, Aurangzeb was stuck in battles in South India for 27 years. This helped in the establishment of new Hindu kingdoms in the provinces of Bundelkhand, Punjab and Rajasthan in North India; thus providing safety to the Hindu society there.

War with the Mughals

        It would be appropriate to examine the facile charge that Sambhaji lost his father’s kingdom to Aurangazeb. Let us see what was retained in Maratha hands and how much was lost to the enemy at the time of his cruel death.

        The details of the conflict as a whole, during Sambhaji’s reign, the progress, if any, of the Mughal armies and the gallant defense offered by the Marathas and their aggressive and retaliatory tactics help us to evaluate the efforts of Sambhaji and the Marathas to protect the gains of Shivaji. It also refutes the charge that Sambhaji had lost everything.

        The Mughals started their aggression in 1681 in Nasik-Baglan in the northern region of South Maharashtra. Till the year 1686, the Mughal forces had not succeeded in capturing any forts. Though the Mughal forces captured some forts during the last 2 years of Sambhaji’s reign, Aurangazeb was forced to resort to encouraging treachery. At the end of 1686, Salher fort was taken by the Mughals after bribing the Killedar Asoji with a mansab. Ramsej was also won by treachery in 1687. At the end of 1688 and the beginning of 1689, Mughals got Harishgad, Tringalwadi, Madangad, Mordant, Aundha and Karani by treachery. At the beginning of 1689, Matabarkhan captured Trimabkgad by offering cash and mansab to Shyamraj and Telangrao. Pattagad is an exception to this pattern. It was captured after a straight fight. In short it can be said that the Marathas were in command of almost all their territory till 1686 and in the end only the weapons of treachery and not arms proved effective against them.

        The Mughals turned to the central part of southern Maharashtra i.e. Talkonkan, Kalyan-Bhiwandi, Kothalagad, Pune and Satara region from 1681. Matabarkhan who had informed Aurangazeb about the difficulties in these regions, captured Kalyan-Bhiwandi, Purgadi and other other forts in Talkonkan only after the death of King Sambhaji.

        The Mughals however succeeded in capturing Kothalagad at the end of 1684. Fort Mahuli was captured by Matabarkhan on 21st Aug’1688 by giving a bribe of 2500 Ashrafis to Killedar Dwarkoji.

        In the middle of the year 1684, even though Aurangazeb succeeded in taking Surapur, Shirval and Supe, Sambhaji continued to hold all the important forts like Rohida, Purandar, Shrivardhan, Rajmachi, Sinhagad, Rajgad and Raigad. At the end of 1687, the Mughals were able to establish their hold on Satara, Parali,Nimb, Chandan, Vandan, Karad, Majgaon and Masar by Sept’1689. From 1689 , the Mughal posted their thanedar at Wai.

        In south Konkan, the Marathas held Sangameshwar, Rajapur, Panhala, Malkapur, Khelna, Pargad, Kopal, Bahaddurbanda, Shirole and Phonda till the end of Sambhaji’s  reign.

        In Goa, the Mughals established their rule in Antraj Mahal only from Feb’1689.

        In North Konkan, the Marathas had retained their hold on Kulaba, Khanderi, Rajkot, Sagargad, Padmadurga and Cheul and the region around these places.

        In Karnataka, The Marathas lost Bengalore, Doddabalapur, Tumkur, Chikanhalli in the year 1687-1688 while they succeeded in retaining their hold on Jingee, Tanjore and territories surrounding these places.

        One thing can be said for certain that Aurangazeb who was not wholly successful, won a large part of the Maratha Kingdom immediately and only after Sambhaji’s death. The collective leadership under Chhatrapati Rajaram and Tarabai fought very gallantly so that the Mughal emperor could not achieve what he had vowed to do even after a long struggle of quarter of a century. He could never secure full control over the Maratha state. His resolve and ambition to become the master of the south  soon after Shivaji’s death was foiled by Sambhaji and his successor Rajaram.

        Well known historian Sir Jadunath Sarkar and Vincent Smith have very aptly opined “If Napolean could say that it was  the Spanish ulcer which ruined me, Aurangazeb could also say that the Deccan wars not only undid his own work, but also those of his predecessors”. No wonder Vincent Smith remarks that “the Deccan was not only the grave of his (Aurangazeb’s) body but also his empire”.

         It is well said that along with Aurangazeb’s person, his ambition to annihilate the  Marathas was also buried deep in the Deccan. One may also add that the generation of brave patriots created by Shivaji held against the forces of Aurangazeb for Twenty Five years of agonising privations and against a vast and well equipped force. It can be said that world’s history records few, if any, struggles of such heroic grandeur and inspiring resistance, led by a young king, his still younger brother and a women. Herein lies the real success of the genius of Shivaji.

Reference : Short Resume – page 234 CHHATRAPATI SAMBHAJI by DR.KAMAL GOKHALE,Navakamal Pub.,Pune 

War with the Portuguese

         Sambhaji Maharaj fought against the Portuguese in Goa who were very active in the forceful conversions of Hindus through various means like the ‘Inquisition’. He was very angry with them due to these conversions & the demolition of Hindu Temples in Goa. The Portuguese were very frightened of being assaulted by Sambhaji Maharaj, and this reflects in their letter to the British in which they wrote, ‘Now-a-days Sambhaji is the most powerful person and we have experienced it’. 

Efforts for Reconversion to Hinduism

        We all know that Shivaji Maharaj reconverted Netaji Palkar to Hinduism. However, it is important to note that Sambhaji Maharaj had established a separate department in his province for the ‘reconversion ceremony’ of the Hindus who had earlier converted into other religions. There is a story of a Brahmin named ‘Kulkarni’ of Harsul village in the history of Sambhaji Maharaj. Kulkarni had been forcibly converted to Islam by the Mughals. He tried to reconvert into Hinduism, but local Brahmins in his village did not pay any heed to him. In the end, Kulkarni met Sambhaji Maharaj and told him about his misery. Sambhaji Maharaj immediately arranged for his reconversion ceremony and reconverted him into a Hindu.This noble initiative of Sambhaji Maharaj helped many converted Hindus to reconvert back into Hinduism.

Capture and Execution

        In early 1689, Sambhaji called his commanders for a strategic meeting at Sangameshwar in Konkan. In a meticulously planned operation, Ganoji Shirke (brother of Sambhaji’s wife Yesubai) and Aurangzeb’s commander, Mukarrab Khan attacked Sangameshwar when Sambhaji was about to leave the town. A small ambush followed and Sambhaji was captured by Mughal troops on 1 Feb, 1689. He and his advisor, Kavi Kalash were taken to Bahadurgad. Aurangzeb humiliated them by parading them wearing clown’s clothes. Later, Sambhaji and Kavi Kalash were tied upside down to camels with Mughal soldiers throwing stones, mud, and cow dung at them.

         When they were brought face to face with Aurangzeb, the latter offered to let Sambhaji live if he surrendered all the Maratha forts, turned over all his hidden treasures and disclosed the names of all the Mughal officers who had helped him. Sambhaji refused, and instead sang the praises of Mahadev (Lord Shiva). Aurangzeb ordered him and Kavi Kalash to be tortured to death. Sambhaji and Kavi Kalash were brutally tortured for over a fortnight. The torture involved plucking out their eyes and tongue and pulling out their nails. The later part involved removing their skin. On March 11, 1689, Sambhaji was finally killed, reportedly by tearing him apart from the front and back with ‘Wagh Nakhe’ (‘Tiger claws’, a kind of weapon), and was beheaded with an axe. This grievous death was given to him at Vadhu on the banks of the Bhima river, near Pune.

         After every torture, Aurangzeb would ask him if he had had enough and wanted to convert – but the courageous king kept refusing. By doing so he earned the title of Dharmaveer (Protector of Dharma) by which he is known to this day. Aurangzeb ordered for Sambhaji’s body to be cut into pieces and be thrown into the river. Residents of the nearby village named ‘Vadhu’ collected as many pieces of his body as they could find, sewed them together and performed the final rites on his body. These villagers later went on to use the surname ‘Shivle’ or ‘Shivale’, as per spelling preference, which means ‘sewing’ in the Marathi language.

Immediate after effects of Sambhaji’s execution

        With Sambhaji’s death, the Maratha confederacy was thrown in disarray. He was succeeded by his younger brother Rajaram who became the leader of the Marathas. The Commander in chief of the Maratha army, Mhaloji Ghorpade, who succeeded Hambirrao Mohite, died in the ambush at Sangameshwar. A few days after Sambhaji’s death, the capital Raigad fell to the Mughals and Sambhaji’s wife and son were captured. However, Sambhaji’s torture and heroic death unleashed an unprecedented unity and heroic spirit amongst the Marathas. Aurangzeb continued his grim war against the Marathas for another 18 years but could not subjugate the Maratha state.

         Aurangzeb spent the last 25 years of his life in the Deccan, in constant warfare to vanquish the Marathas. He died in 1707, at Ahmednagar, Maharashtra. In 1737, within 50 years of the torture and death of Sambhaji, the Maratha – Jat Allied armies entered Delhi and re-established Hindu rule over all of western, central and much of northern India. It was the first time after 1192, when Prithviraj Chauhan was defeated by Mohammed Ghori, that a Hindu army was in control of Delhi except for a brief period by Hemu in 1556. The Maratha Empire would remain the foremost military power in India till they lost power to the British after 3 Anglo-Maratha wars, the last of which ended in 1818.


        There is some dispute amongst historians about Sambhaji’s ability as a ruler. These disputes came mainly from British & Mughal historians like Khafikhan & Grand Duff. These historians have portrayed him as ineffective and an alcoholic. Other historians, notably S.G. Shevde, portrayed Sambhaji as a capable ruler. However many historians like Babasaheb Purandare, Shivaji Savant have revealed the truth about him to society.

Powada on ‘Dharmaveer Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj’ by Shahir Yogesh

देश धरम पर मिटने वाला। शेर शिवा का छावा था ।।

महापराक्रमी परम प्रतापी। एक ही शंभू राजा था ।।

तेज:पुंज तेजस्वी आँखें। निकलगयीं पर झुकी नहीं ।।

दृष्टि गयी पर राष्ट्रोन्नति का। दिव्य स्वप्न तो मिटा नहीं ।।

दोनो पैर कटे शंभू के। ध्येय मार्ग से हटा नहीं ।।

हाथ कटे तो क्या हुआ?। सत्कर्म कभी छुटा नहीं ।।

जिव्हा कटी, खून बहाया। धरम का सौदा किया नहीं ।।

शिवाजी का बेटा था वह। गलत राह पर चला नहीं ।।

वर्ष तीन सौ बीत गये अब। शंभू के बलिदान को ।।

कौन जीता, कौन हारा। पूछ लो संसार को ।।

कोटि कोटि कंठो में तेरा। आज जयजयकार है ।।

अमर शंभू तू अमर हो गया। तेरी जयजयकार है ।।

मातृभूमि के चरण कमलपर। जीवन पुष्प चढाया था ।।

है दुजा दुनिया में कोई। जैसा शंभू राजा था? ।।

– शाहीर योगेश

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