Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj: An Outstanding Leader

Any empire, however big the leader is, can’t sustain if the highest government order isn’t well managed. The administration and its stakeholders are liable for success or failure of an empire. One of the key reasons for the fulfillment of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was that he ran a superb administration with best talent at his disposal.

Early Life Of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was born on 19th February, 1630 CE to Shahaji and Jijabai in Shivneri fort, Junnar near present day Pune. He had leadership in his genes as his father Shahaji was a Maratha General working under the Deccan Sultanates.

Mother of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Jijabai was a deeply dharmik lady and she made sure that Young Shivaji grew up with Sanatani Sanskar deeply instilled in him. Shivaji had studied various hindu texts including Itihas like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata which posed a great influence on his life and attitude. He was deeply curious about Sanatana teachings, and frequently accompanied Hindu saints to get benefitted from their knowledge and intellect.

Many of Shivaji’s associates came from the Maval region, including Yesaji Kank, Suryaji Kakade, Baji Pasalkar, Baji Prabhu Deshpande and Tanaji Malusare. Baji Prabhu Deshpande and Tanaji Malusare are a famous name when it involves the service of the state and Sanatana. Shivaji in very young age traveled the forests and hilly areas of the Sahyadri range together with his close friends and associates, gaining skills and familiarity with the surroundings that might prove useful in his military career. As early as 1645, the young Shivaji expressed his concept for Hindavi Swarajya during a letter.

Why Siege of Surat is an example of expertise of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

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Earlier Mughal forces had taken Pune from Shivaji. He was in the search of an opportunity for revenge. He decided to attack and loot Surat to gain resources for his army. Surat was the foremost important port city for Mughals, as also a city of factories for the foreign traders from China, France, England, Denmark and Portugal. Being situated on the bank of River Tapti, Surat has all the conditions fulfilled to make a natural port. Surat had been a posh city as many rich merchants and business-persons lived there.

In December 1663, Shivaji disguised as a beggar looking very ragged and dirty with a bamboo staff and a begging bowl conducted a recce of the roads and important houses of Surat. Few days later, he reappeared in his camp with 4,000 cavalry. In January 1664, Shivaji attacked Surat and looted the town . The Mughal Governor was so terrified of Shivaji and the maratha soldiers that he locked himself up in his palace without caring for the local citizens and his soldiers. Shivaji ordered his soldiers to sack and loot the city. According to an english historian, the sole resistance came from English merchants. But Shivaji used his cunning and negotiating skills and extracted the maximum amount as he wanted from these merchants also without engaging them during a fight. It took four days to soldiers of Shivaji as they looted the whole city systematically and  with certain methodology. 

In the meanwhile, Mughal Governor remained brooding for 2 days behind the walls of his Fort. He then sent out a young officer to assassinate Shivaji. Shivaji agreed to satisfy the young officer and greeted him with gifts saying that the Mughal Governor was sitting sort of a shy girl in his Palace. The officer was enraged by this remark and tried to attack Shivaji with his dagger. Instantly a Maratha guard sprang forward and chopped off the Mughal officer’s hand and as he collapsed traverse his skull.

Interestingly, it’s recorded that while Shivaji ordered four of his Mughal prisoners to be beheaded and therefore the hands of 24 others to be chopped. When it was revealed that there was an Englishman accidentally present among the prisoners, Shivaji directly released him and sent him under escort to English factory. This proves that Shivaji knew about the art of Kootneeti and that when one of Saam, Daan, Dand or Bhed should be used.

Ashtpradhan: The Eight Ministers of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

To Run the administration smoothly, Shivaji had made a ministry consisting of eight members who were known popularly as Ashtpradhan. The names are as follows: Peshwa, Waqia Navis, Amatya, Sachiva, Sumant, Senapati, Panditrao and Nyayadheesh. Each minister had control of a specific ministry.

Peshwa was liable for taking care of administration, public welfare and setting communication between other ministries. In emergency situations, Peshwa was the representative of the king. Peshwa was like prime minister in the Maratha Empire. His seal would be affixed below the royal seal everywhere.

Amatya was liable for all the accounting related tasks. Waqia Navis took care of the interior security and daily activities inside the dominion. Sachiva was head of national gazette and royal mail. He would audit the account of states too. Sumant was the external affairs minister. He would advise the king about truce and agreement also during conflict and war situations. He would meet the ambassador of other kingdoms and manage and recruit the Maratha ambassadors. Senapati was responsible for the management and control of the army. Pandit would check out Charity and non secular works. Judge was the judge of the dominion.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had divided the kingdom into three parts and every had a chief officer. Northern part was managed by the peshwa Moropant triyambak pingle. Southern part was managed by Annaji datto. Dattaji Pant was manager of the South East part.

The army of Shivaji was well organized. It was made sure that they had a proper salary. Their role was well defined, and they had regular and high level training. These steps had made their army considerably powerful.

Highly skilled Army management, guerrilla warfare and Being in war for eight months a year had made Shivaji army an elite warrior class. In the late 17th century they were almost invincible. The Maratha navy was considerably capable too which took care of coastal areas. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was the only medieval ruler with a strong naval army.

The revenue system of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was also very strong. Land and trade taxes were the main source of revenue. He ended the Jagir system and began paying Monthly salary to his officials, which improved the financial management. Kingdom took taxes directly from farmers and thus ended the role of middlemen. The revenue was wont to pay the salary of employees, manage the army and for public welfare works.

This is just a brief introduction of Maratha kingdom during Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. How he managed and grew his empire in diverse situations may be a cue for today’s rulers. And surely a subject of research.

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