The scope of shivAjI’s plan of svarAjya
dADhi ke rakhaiyan kI DADhi sI rahati cHAti bADhI marjAda jasa hadda hinduvAne kI |
kaDhi gaI raiyati ke mana kI kasaka saba miTi gaI Thasaka tamAma turakAne kI |
bhUShaNa bhanata dilIpati dila dhakadhakA suni suni dhAka sivarAja mardAne kI |
moTI bhayI chaNDI binu-choTI ke chabAya sIsa khoTI bhaI sampati chakatA ke gharAne kI ||
The hearts of the beards burn like bonfires, such now are growing the bounds of the Hindu Nation!
Hopes of people are all answered, such is being demolished the vainglory of turuShka-s!
bhUShaNa says this hearing the heartbeat of the lord of Delhi in awe of king shivAjI the manly —
that chaNDI grows fat chewing the shikhA-less heads and wealth of the house of Chaghadai now lies in waste!!
(Verse and translation is provided by shrI Sarvesh Tiwari, whom I would like to thank for bringing my attention to this verse).
The above verse of the hindI kavI bhUShan captures the triumphal spirit of the Hindus that was awakened by the coming of the founder of the mahArATTa nation. As nAlanda and jagaddala were burning the bauddha-s felt that the dharma was supposed to end in jambudvIpa after 1500 years from the birth of the sAkyasiMha. They turned in their last days to the Hindu hope that end of the kAlI would be marked by the coming of kalkin to relieve the world of the sores caused by the dasyu-s, turuShka-s and mlechCha-s (cf. kAlachakra tantra). Now with the coming of shivAjI and with the turuShka-s being routed for the first time in ages, some Hindus even thought it was the epic end of the kali yuga. Even as shivAjI was bringing down the silsila-i-guergen, he was in a sense enacting a Hindu version of the epic played a few centuries ago by Chingiz Kha’khan. On his deathbed, just before the fall of the Tangut kingdom, Chingiz laid out the plans of vast conquest that his successors were to follow. He advised them to finish off the Tanguts and then send an army south-west to crush the remnants of the Moslem sultan and the Kalif of Baghdad. Another army was to be sent westwards to conquer the Russians and advance into Europe. A third force was to conquer the Kin empire and then complete the conquest of China by destroying the Sung. Unfortunately for the Hindus, shivAjI did not live as long as Chingiz Kha’khan. But the evidence suggests that he too had clearly made his grand plans. In a letter of 4th June 1691 CE the mahArATTa ruler rAjArAm lays out the ultimate goal of their struggles to one of his generals, hanamantrAv ghorpaDe: He states that their objective is to first reconquer Raigad, the old capital of shivAjI. Then he proposes the successive conquest of Bijapur, Golconda and Aurangabad to secure the whole of peninsular India. Then he proposes a thrust towards Delhi to put an end to Islamic rule in India. Now, it is a bit unusual for the ruler who was being hemmed in at Gingee by the Moslem marauders to make such a drastic claim. But as TS Shejwalkar pointed out that the evidence of the Aj~nA-patra suggests that this comes from the mind of shivAjI himself (we will return to that shortly). Even as the great Jihad of Awrangzeb was still in progress, in 1697 CE, Moslem astrologers made forecasts that the Mogol empire might come to an end and Hindus might take Delhi. Hindu writers were clearly mentioning the end of Mohammedanism and the end of Masjids. These are other hints that the plan of shivAjI was not an unknown one.
The family of sono paNDit
sono (sondev) paNDit was a R^igvedin brAhmaNa, whose family according to some sources came from the village of Bahut (unlocated) and according to others from a village in the Thane district. He was appointed to the administrative staff by shAhjI. In the beginning of shivAjI’s career a number of young brAhmaNa-s where attracted towards his plan of svarAjya and contributed their intellectual and organizational abilities to his cause. These included the sons of sono paNDit, the sons of nArAyaN paNDit hanmante (raghunAth and janArdan) and the “pillar” (to use MG Ranade’s word) of shivAjI’s power paNDit moro tryaMbak pingLe. Of the sons of sono paNDit, the elder son AbAjI paNDit was the first one to be deployed as a part of shivAjI’s plan to roll back to the Islamic powers from India. After securing the lands originally granted to shAhjI, shivAjI sent AbAjI to sack Kalyan. This old seat of power of the Andhra-s, where the records of the somayAga-s performed by their emperors still survive, had been seized by the Moslems during the great Jihads of Khalji and Tughlaq. The Mogols had taken it during a Jihad initiated by Akbar and a masjid had been erected on a temple during that invasion. So it was of great significance when AbAjI sondev reconquered it from the Moslems against considerable odds due to intelligent strategy, captured the local treasury and even imprisoned its governor Mullah Ahmed. It marked shivAjI-s first successful outward strike, planned to secure an outpost in the Northern Konkan to make further inroads into Islamic territory. AbAjI was also involved the planning of new mahArATTa towns like Kalyan, construction of forts including rAigaD along with moro. He was a revenue auditor for the mahArATTa nation and was one of those entrusted with running the kingdom while shivAjI was detained in dilli. His brother nIlo (nIlkaNTh) paNDit planned and executed the storming of the formidable purandar fort (earlier ceded to the Mogols). He was also the accountant general of the kingdom and also served briefly as a leader of the marATha fleet. He along with shivAjI led the naval expedition to conquer Basrur in southern coastal Karnataka to prevent the mlechCha-s from getting a foothold. Then nIlo died relatively young leaving behind two sons. The first was dull-witted, while the second, named rAmachandra paNDit at the saint rAmadAs’ behest, inherited his family’s intelligence. The rAjan was quick to spot this and had made him the chief administrator of the naval head quarters at the sea fort of Sindhudurg. He was then made accountant general at the age of 20 as the shivAjI felt that he saw in him a man who would rise to even greater heights than his father [Footnote 1]. At the age of 24 he was promoted to the post of amAtya of svArAjya and was one the officiants at the rAjyAbhisheka of shivAjI. Thus, the family of sono paNDit was close to shivAjI and was a part of his plan from an early age. Their numerous memoirs were preserved among the papers of the Kolhapur rAj, in which it is stated that they had the records of the ideas and plans of shivAjI. It was rAmachandra that composed the famous Aj~nApatra which lays out clearly the vision of shivAjI. Here some points are of note in this rather remarkable document: 1) He states that they must not stop after clearing the lands from the Narmada to Rameshvaram of the kaNThaka-s and the followers of the lord of the yavana-s. Instead he makes it clear that the war should be pursued until the lands of Delhi, Agra, Lahore, Dacca, Bengal, Tattha and the whole sea coast is conquered. Finally, after these conquests the li~Nga of vishveshvara should be re-established in vArANasI. 2) He stresses the importance of securing the coast against several types of inimical forces such as phirangi (Portuguese), ingrej (English), valAndej (Dutch) and shyAmala (Africans) by raising a naval force that can counter them.
At the shmashAna of rAjArAm
With the fierce shUdra, the feral brAhmaNa and the most intelligent of strI-s, Mis-creant, we stood atop the massif of kauNDinya beside the samAdhi of rAjArAm, the third ruler of the mAhArATTa nation. The afternoon was exceedingly still and not even a breeze blew. The blazing rays of savitar’s eye glancing of the ear studs of Mis-creant danced all around on the shrubbery – now falling on a hemp herb and then on a dattUra plant. This sent us into a reverie. In 1698 after having escaped from the siege of Gingee rAjArAm returned to mahArAShTra. On the vijaya dashamI of 1699 he decided to take to field himself against the Moslems and proceeded northwards with a strong force commanded by dhanAjI jAdav. They encountered several Mogol detachments on their way and were about to fall into an ambush by a large force under Zulfikar Khan. Here rAjArAm received a secret communication from within the Mogol camp from shambhAjI’s captive wife yesubAI. Seeing, that they were outnumbered by the Mogols, rAjArAm led his men towards Brahmapuri (renamed Islampur by the Padishaw). He hoped to attack the Mogol camp directly to try to liberate shAhu. In December of 1699 rAjArAm launched a furious attack on the Mogols, which he describes in a letter sent on 22 Dec 1699 to inactive marATha sardArs to participate in the fight for the svArAjya. Awrangzeeb getting wind of the attack from his spies quickly escaped. However, the marATha-s arrived before he could complete the retreat and several prominent Mogol families and Awrangzeeb’s daughter were taken captive. In honorable Hindu tradition she was released unharmed. She remembered the favor and made good by helping bAlAjI vishvanAth later to obtain the release of yesubAI. The marATha-s attacked the Mogol baggage train and carried off the supplies borne by 10,000 pack animals. rAjArAm confidently declared that the Mogol army would be routed in the near future. On the way to Satara which was being besieged by Awrangzeeb in person, rAjArAm suddenly collapsed. He was conveyed by a palanquin to Simhagad, where he plied himself with cannabis and opium to ease his pain, perishing on 2 Mar 1700 at the age of 30, probably from an overdose.
Even as the Jihad was thus grinding down peninsular India the plan of shivAjI, outlined in the Aj~nApatra remained imprinted in the mind AmAtya rAmachandra. From his station at Vishalgad he conducted the war non stop, strategizing constantly, and deploying his troops with extraordinary fortitude. His key move was to keep the focus on taking northern India as per the plan even as the Mogol forces incessantly hammered the marATha-s. In 1699 he dispatched nemAjI shinde and a brAhmaNa warrior chimnAji dAmodar to attack Malwa. In the battle with the Mogols, Hussain Khan the governor of Thalner was captured by nemAjI and ransomed for a sum of Rs 200,000. This greatly shook up Awrangzeeb. Then the marATha-s incited the Gond tribals who had been converted to Islam to rise against the Mogols under their leader Buland Bakht of create internal friction in the Islamic ranks. In conclusion the momentum of marATha-s even as their kings perished could be compared to that of the Mongols under the sons and grandsons of Chingiz Kha’Khan. The adherence to the visionary plan helped them achieve much more than what would have been possible given their own personal limitations – especially in the case of shivAjI, given that his successors, rAjArAm and shAhu, lacked his vigor.
mAdaNNA, akkaNNA and Gingee
The sun was barely up but that morning but Bhaganagari was already turning into a cauldron. With the non-jAmadagnya vatsa, whose ancestor had been part of the great marATha thrust to the south and our coethnic, the organic chemist, we set out to the south of the city in a van. We had a raucous time debating on the models of ocular development of insects and at other times on the chemistry of amines. Ere long we were at the suburb of Maheshwaram – it was not swank as it is these days back then. The chemist led us through some interesting sights and finally took us to the ruins of a vast temple of rudra. It was probably the largest temples in south India built since the end of the choLa-s by akkaNNA, the brAhmaNa minister of the Qutbshah. As we took in the ruins we realized that the complex might have been an enormous one announcing the revival of the Hindus in the midst of the turuShka terror. In 1685, after akkaNNA and his brother mAdaNNA had been murdered by the Mohammedans, the Mogol shahzade Muazzam Shah Alam invaded Bhaganagari and ravaged it. The first target of his was this enormous temple of rudra – how, he asked could a temple of the Kaffirs, be constructed in an Islamic sultanate? Promptly he restored Islamic order by demolishing it [Footnote 2]. As we stood there we passed into a reverie for couple of minutes when our silence was broken by the voice of the non-jAmadagnya vatsa. On our return in an animated discourse we pieced together the narrative of the great Hindu “revolution” within the Qutbshahi sultanate. Its great significance to shivAjI’s southern conquest is normally ignored by most Hindu authors who might be caught in the never-ending argument of whether akkaNNA and mAdaNNA were mahArAShTrI or telugu smArta-s.
In the Sultanate of Nizamshah the learned brAhmaNa paNDita dalapati (author of nR^isiMha prasAda) began a project of subverting Islamism from within. He worked his way by his eloquent ways to the Sultan’s inner circle and convinced the Sultan to relax the Sharia on the Hindus and instead allow them to be governed separately by the dharmashAstra. He also got the Sultan to construct facilities for Hindu astronomers to carry out their studies. As a result of such efforts the Hindus got some space for themselves in the Nizamshahi Sultanate and endeavored to defend it when it was targeted by the Mogol invasion from the North (we have already talked about the efforts of shAhji on these pages). The Mogols, hence, clearly saw the Nizamshahi as bad Moslems because they were not following the path of the Rasool and they were a target of Jihad. We have Mohammed Yusuf Alawi who had come from Syria to wage Jihad on the Hindus on behalf of the Mogols but died from his wounds sustained while fighting a mArATha warrior. An inscription from Northern Maharashtra on his grave states that “Alawi fought with the Kaffirs who had blocked the way of the Musalamans had attained daraja-yi shahadat (i.e. martyrdom in a Jihad) along with his son, relatives and servants”. This movement of Hindus working within continued even after the fall of the Nizamshahi, which shAhji tried to save from the Mogols and turn pro-Hindu (there was an opposing faction of fanatic black Mohammedans led by the brave Ethiopian Maliq Ambar). Here it would worth pointing out the case of Khawas Khan and paNDita-s murAri and narahari. Around the 1620s an interesting individual of the name Khawas Khan came to power in the Adilshahi sultanate at Bjiapur. As a youth Khawas Khan belonged to a jAti of indigenous mAhArAShTrI metallurgists known as the tAmbekar-s. He was captured by the Moslems and converted to Islam. Despite his dark skin and lower position as a convert he arose as result of his intelligence and strategy. Even after his conversion for some reason he appears to have retained his affinities for the Hindus. He spotted a poor but highly intelligent brAhmaNa murAri and patronized him even as he rose through the court ranks. Both Moslem and Dutch sources explicitly mention the intellect and military skills of murAri – coming from hostile parties it must have been clearly notable. This brAhmaNa and his capable nephew narahari worked hard to improve the Hindu condition through administrative and revenue reforms (something which Mohammedans understood very little about). For example, he diplomatically negotiated with the Qutb Shah of Golconda to compensate the Hindu farmers who had been mauled by the Moslem force sent by that Sultan. Then when the Qutb Shah wanted to wage a Jihad, promising the Ghazis one golden Hon for every nose or pair of ears of Hindus they collected, narahari successfully negotiated with him to desist from such a plan (even beating back the ulema’s protestations to the contrary).
When the Mogol invasion of Shah Jahan came upon mahArAShTra, murAri and narahari induced Khawas Khan to organize the defense against the Padishah. Another powerful minister, the Turk Mustafa Khan from Iran wanted to pay a tribute with the Mogols and join hands with them to wage Jihad on the Kaffirs. But murAri somehow managed to convince the Adil Shahi Sultan to imprison Mustafa Khan and continue the resistance against the Mogols who could have inflicted devastation on the land. He also made efforts to prepare for the great famine which was spreading through land, for which the Mohammedans were totally unprepared. As a result of Khawas Khan and murAri’s efforts the Mogols were frustrated. Eventually, the Ulema and the core Moslem headed by the Qutbshahi princess who was a wife of the Adil Shah called on the Sultan to destroy Khawas Khan and murAri as their influence was converting the Sultanate into a Kaffir state. The princess declared that murAri had looked at her by lifting her pardhA and had greatly disrespected the Moslems of the land – so the Kaffir must be killed. First an African assassin was sent by the Sultan to kill Khawas Khan. But murAri dispatched his own African assassin to kill the Sultan himself – he cut down several men before being killed himself. Then murAri and narahari with the mArATha-s loyal to him tried to stage a Hindu rebellion to seize power. The sultan acted quickly he posted the head of Khawas Khan atop a minar of his palace and announced that anyone supporting the Kaffir murAri would be put to death. At the same time murAri also realized that the Hindu population with the Sultanate was under threat and opened negotiation with the Sultan to try to reach a settlement wherein he would separately administer the Hindus, but retain allegiance to the Sultan. But the Sultan struck swiftly – a large ghazi force surprised murAri at night and captured him. He was subject to typical Islamic treatment – dragged by a horse through the streets with Mohammedans jeering at him. His nose, ears and hands were lopped off. He still hurled abuse on the Sultan, when his tongue was cut off and he was paraded on a donkey and finally beheaded. This sent a grim message to Hindus regarding their position under the Sultanate – the message which shivAjI answered fittingly.
Nevertheless, the attempts at internal revolution by Hindus within the sultanates did not stop – this is where we come to mAdaNNA and akkaNNA and their brilliant coordination with shivAjI. mlechCha subversionists or authors influenced by them, such as Jadunath Sarkar (prior to his U-turn), Basham, Laine and Gordon, have characterized shivAjI as a bandit whose main objective was to plunder South India to make up for the expenses stemming from his lavishness towards brAhmaNa-s during his rAjyAbhisheka. This line comes straight from the near contemporary thinking of the Dutch and English agents who saw shivAjI’s southward movements with fear. The Dutch in particular were close to the Moslem elite and feared the arrival of shivAjI. However, the French agent and spy Francois Martin correctly records the objectives of shivAjI and mAdaNNA – it became clear to him that their objective was to restore the whole of the south to Hindu regime. At his indrAbhisheka shivAjI had clearly declared that he would put an end to slavery, and make sure that the Europeans comply with that. Thus, when shivAjI conquered south India he sent a strong message to all the European companies that he was abolishing slavery. He made it explicit that, though under Moslem rulers Europeans could buy and transport slaves across South India, it would no longer be possible in his reign. He also said that Europeans could not make slaves not try to sell any and that the marATha-s would strongly prevent any such activities. Thus, informed by the tradition of dharma, in 1677 shivAjI acted to restore human dignity, even as the mlechCha-s made money from sale of humans while claiming to be the bringers of civilization. It is not very surprising that the mlechCha sources engage in negative propaganda regarding the Hindu rAjA, especially his southern campaign.
The family of mAdaNNA came from the town of Hanamkonda, Northeast of Bhaganagari, where under rudradeva kAkatIya a large temple of viShNu and sUrya had been constructed. The father of the brothers, bhANu-jI paNDita was a revenue administrator of the town and was named after one of the deities of the town. The son mAdhava paNDita (mAdaNNA) and arkarAja paNDita (akkaNNa) were also named after the two deities of the temple. They had other siblings, one of whose sons was rAmadasa, the legendary South Indian classical musician whose tale is told in every traditional South Indian brAhmaNa household. The town of Hanamkonda was ravaged by Awrangzeb, the main temple defaced and the large idols of sUrya and viShNu were broken. Based on various lines of evidence it is clear that the brothers were polyglots who were fluent in Sanskrit, Hindi/Urdu, Marathi, Telugu and Persian [the fact they used the Modi script by default has been taken as the strongest support for their origins in mAhArAShTra]. There is an account of the Dutch agents regarding how mAdaNNA used to translate documents extempore between different languages in the court. They two brothers were initially appointed to aid the Persian official Sayyid Muzaffar in administration. It was then that they initiated the Hindu subversion of the Sultanate. In 1674 they intrigued with the new Sultan who had come to throne after the death of his father Abdullah Qutbshah to get Muzaffar dismissed from office and divested of his weapons and troops. The Mohammedan faction, especially backed by Turks and Persians, tried to restore Muzaffar but mAdaNNA maneuvered to keep him out and had himself appointed as Vazir. He quickly dismissed many of the powerful mullahs in the court and appointed Hindus to key positions. He then induced the Sultan to place his cousin yengaNNA paNDita as a military general so that he could get a handle over the army, which was still dominated by the Mohammedans. By the treaty of Gulbarga he moved to place his brother akkaNNA to keep a tab on the Adilshahi sultanate too. An year later (1675) he formulated the plan to restore peninsular India under Hindu control so that it could be a bulwark against the Mogol incursion to the South. He realized that he needed a Hindu military arm and saw that shivAjI was the man in this regard – an ideal brahma-kShatra alliance of yore could be forged. He right away contacted shivAjI and his brAhmaNa minister aNNAjI paNDit to devise a plan whereby shivAjI would be the mighty protector of the whole south against the Afghans and Mogols. shivAjI, raghunAth hanmante and aNNAjI reasoned that as soon as the Mogols were engaged in the North by other conflicts he could conquer the South completely. shivAjI also quickly realized that for his plans of ousting the Mohammedan power in India he needed the entire South as strategic depth when the Mogols would come to bear on the mahArATTa-s with the full force of the Jihad machine. Thus was born the great strategic coalition of mAdaNNA and shivAjI. As shivAjI worked out the military plan with hambIrav mohite, santAjI bhosle, his half-brother through shAhjI’s south Indian concubine, and his son-in-law harjI mAhAdik, mAdaNNA and akkaNNA put various organizational and diplomatic measures in place.
The brothers firstly worked on improving the situation of revenue administration – prior to them the Islamic agents had local tax collectors whose job was to extract taxes. The Islamic agents had their goons who would bash the tax collectors if they did not rake in the money, and in turn the local tax collectors would terrorize the local population to extract the money. In the reform by the brothers, firstly the Moslem agents were dismissed and replaced by Hindu agents under honest brAhmaNa-s. The tax administrators were then given attractive and regular salaries and a fixed schedule to remit their taxes directly to the revenue office under mAdaNNA. The taxes were assessed based on productivity to the locality and the collectors were kept under multiple layers of surveillance to cut out embezzlement. The Sultan was kept as a pensioner by the brothers and the treasury was to a good measure controlled by them. The revenue reforms by mAdaNNA found a remarkable resonance in a parallel move by shivAjI. He destroyed the old Adilshahi and Mogol system of administration under jAgir-s. Instead, he appointed a regular revenue office that would assess tax and have it remitted directly to the royal treasury. The military was then paid directly from the royal treasury. By military and diplomatic means they also checked the influence of the Dutch, English and the French. To the great dismay of the Dutch they found that they had to pay large fines for their profiteering on the coast. A Dutch diplomat complains how the brothers have displaced the Moslems who were favorable towards the mlechCha-s. The same Dutch diplomat however records akkaNNA as making it clear that as a Hindu the brothers had the interest of the true people of the land in mind, whereas the Mohammedans loyalties lay elsewhere. A subtle, but often ignored point, is that akkaNNA realized by studying the Europeans closely that their power derived from controlling sea trade. He decided that best policy was to create his own merchant navy that could operate directly in the open seas for trade – a Hindu answer of the East India companies. He initiated this by launching three large merchant ships under the Hindu entrepreneur li~NgaNNA that would directly operate off Pulicat. It was this point which greatly alarmed the mlechCha-s, especially the Dutch and the English. In particular akkaNNA took up the cause of the merchants from the tamiL country who were being harassed by the English and sent li~NgaNNA to provide them protection. A similar idea was also taken up by shivAjI who launched merchant ships, albeit of a much smaller size on the west coast. shivAjI used his navy to protect them from attacks from various sea-going mlechCha-s and shyAmala-s.
Within two years mAdaNNA and akkaNNA through their shrewd enterprise had amassed considerable surplus revenues under their control, which they decided to use to help shivAjI in his venture to conquer the south. Accordingly in 1676 shivAjI sent the diplomat nirAjI rAv to negotiate a border truce with the Mogol commander Bahadur Khan. Then he sent his other ambassador prahlAd nIrAjI to be in residence in Golconda and set up the plans with the brAhmaNa brothers. Then in the beginning of 1677 he set out to Golconda and made a grand entry into the Qutbshahi sultanate with 50,000 armed men, leaving the brAhmaNa moro tryaMbak as the viceroy in Raigad. The Sultan was in reality alarmed because of shivAjI’s reputation and agreed to come forward to meet him – fearing he might occupy Golconda. But shivAjI charmed the Sultan by stating that in Hindu tradition the junior always go to meet the elder and he would come as a younger brother. He Sultan was impressed by the discipline of the mArATha army and agreed to meet him in a palatial outpost in Golconda. Flanked by hambIrav mohite and his half-brother Anandrav bhosle, shivAjI first met with the brAhmaNa brothers and then disbursed gifts to the citizens of Bhaganagari. The Sultan upon meeting shivAjI offered him tAMbUla and perfumes and in return shivAjI presented him with a green robe. The Sultan flippantly asked shivAjI how many elephants he had. He pointed to his mAvle infantry men from the ghats and said: “These are my elephants”. The Sultan looked at their burly commander, yesAjI kank and asked him he could fight an elephant. The mAvle said it was not a big deal. The Sultan, fond of blood sport, immediately sent a giant elephant in musth against yesAjI, to the consternation of the marATha-s, But yesAjI took it on with his sword and killed it by cutting of its trunk. Now it was the Sultan and his Mohammedan generals who were alarmed at this display of strength and agreed to whatever demands shivAjI might have.
Thus, using the Qutbshah’s resources shivAjI conquered the fort of Gingee and extended his domain into the south ending the careers of several Jihadis and putting a check on the mlechCha-s who were surrounding the coast. As the drAviDa historian of the kOvaLan clan, nArAyaNan kOn put it he restored the rule of law in those regions. A key development of this campaign was the ability of shivAjI to use the entire in length of peninsular India as strategic depth against the Mogols. He rightly realized that in the head on conflict with the Mogols that was to unfold he would need to effectively use the length of the country against them – it was exactly in this regard that the last kings of vijayanagara had failed in their post-Talikota struggle. But shivAjI’s untimely demise on April 3 1680 resulted in a set back for all these plans. In 1683 after the release of the Mogol ambassador to the Qutubshah from imprisonment, he set about instituting an internal counter-revolution with fellow Mohammedans to destroy the brAhmaNa-s. He unleashed a reign of terror on brAhmaNa-s and as Muazzam invaded Bhaganagari he conspired with the internal Moslems to kill mAdaNNA and akkaNNA. The Qutbshahi Begums themselves arranged for African assassins to kill the brothers when they were returning home from court. The severed heads of the two paNDita-s was send to Muazzam, while their mutilated corpses were put on display in Bhaganagari. Immediately after their murder, a major pogrom was launched against the brAhmaNa-s with every one of their houses looted and for a radius of 50 miles around Golconda and numerous brahmANa-s were slain. Nevertheless, the plans of shivAjI ultimately gave rise to the marATha ascendancy, which in turn gave birth to the modern Indian nation and attenuated if not removed the evils of the religion of peace in peninsular India.
shambhAjI’s letter to rAMsingh
The final exhibit in this epistle is the evidence for the plan of larger Hindu unity throughout India in the marATha enterprise. The rAjpUt-s, though diminished in their national sense since the days of the great struggle of mahArANa pratAp and his son amar singh, were still not devoid of their Hindu affinities. There were still pockets of brave rAjpUt resistance that was no less in fury than that of the mahArATTa-s. One of these was led by the last of the bundela chiefs, ChatrasAl. As youth he had journeyed to shivAjI to serve in his army. shivAjI asked Chatrasal to found his own enterprise against the Mogols modeled along the lines of the mArATha one and strike Awrangzeb in the North. Chatrasal did accordingly taking Panna and initiating a great war of liberation in the North. When shivAjI was arrested in Delhi rAm singh the son of jai singh helped him with his dramatic escape and prevented his assassination by the Qazi of Delhi. In 1679 when shivAjI was ambushed in his final campaign against the Mogols, kesari singh in the Mogol camp sent a secret message to shivAjI leaking Mogol plans and allowing him and his commander haMbIrrav mohite to escape. Thus, these rAjpUt-s though given to traitorous ways were prone to express their basic sympathies. Their position was not unlike that of most common Hindus of today – they may work faithfully for the enemy, despite having their sub-current Hindu sympathies still intact. The case of rAm singh of Amber, the son of Awrangzeb’s greatest general jai singh exemplifies this. He received a proper Hindu education in Kashi and was well-versed in various shAstra-s and was a practicing vaidika Hindu in the most fanatic Islamic court, just like his father. In addition to helping shivAjI escape from Delhi, rAm singh also helped at his own cost the sIkh guru tej bAhadUr. Awrangzeb wanted to execute the guru, but rAm singh interceded and enabled him to escape a month after tej bAhadUr was given to his custody. Awrangzeb clearly saw rAm singh as being partial to the Hindus and sent rAm singh as punishment with a mere 8000 men against the rAjA of Assam chakradhvaja singh-deva and his most valiant commander-in-chief lachit barphukan. Initially, the Mogol viceroy in Assam, Rashid Khan turned against rAm singh himself, who had to drive him out by deploying a specially trained force of large war dogs. Then rAm singh advanced valiantly with his small force taking fort after fort with the ahom-s in full flight. Just as he neared the ancient pA~ncharAtrika hayagrIva sthala (the root site of the hayashIrSha saMhitA) of Kamarupa, lachit crushed the Mogol forces and pushed them into a retreat. They next tried to take the Darang fort, but the ahom rANI jayamati routed them in a fierce encounter. Undaunted, rAm singh tried to take Gauhati for the Mogols but lachit defeated them again in a fierce battle. There a shAkta tAntrika from kAmarUpa laid an abhichAra on Munawar Khan, a Mogol subhedar, and rAm singh and the former died as a consequence of it and the later retreated in terror. After he was called back from Assam to return home, the attempt by Awrangzeb to convert ajit singh, the infant rAthoD prince, to Islam took place. The brave durgAdAs rAthoD spirited the infant away from the Mohammedans and raised a rebellion against the Mogols by helping Akbar rise against his father Awrangzeb. Then durgAdAs and Akbar were given shelter by shaMbAjI as they were pursued by the Mogols. Another brave rAjpUt warrior, durjan sAl hADA, also joined the war of liberation in Rajasthan initiated by durgAdAs and caused much havoc by attacking and taking several Mogol outposts and driving them out of much of Marwar which had been taken earlier by the Mogols. There were also great uprisings of the bundela-s Chatrasal, prahAr singh and devI singh and another rAjpUt bhagavant singh against the Moslems in this period. The vaishya gangArAm raised the banner of independence against the Mogols in Bihar and the rAjpUt gopAl singh chandrAvat joined with the marATha-s to launch a series of attacks on the Ghazi-s.
shambhAjI was closely following these developments and he reasoned that a pan-Indian Hindu alliance could bring the Mogols down. Awrangzeb too feared that if the rAm singh, who had returned from Assam, joined hands with his coethnics, who were up in arms against the Mohammedan oppression, he could be cut off from Delhi. Hence, he sent off rAm singh under a Mohammedan general to fight the Afridis in Afghanistan who had risen in revolt against the Mogols. In the mean time Awrangzeb, took away rAm singh’s son kR^iShNa singh to the Deccan where he was personally leading the great Jihad. But he felt that kR^iShNa singh was conspiring with the durgAdas and the marATha-s, so Awrangzeb assassinated him by means of a Pathan servant in his camp. rAm singh was completely broken by this and was shaken even further when Awrangzeb next asked him to send his grandson viShNu singh to the Deccan – after all his own father the famous and faithful general jai singh had been assassinated by Awrangzeb by poisoning him. So around this time shaMbAjI sent two letters in Sanskrit to rAm singh asking him to join the Hindu cause and rise against Mogols. This plan followed exactly along the line shivAjI had laid out earlier, when he tried to induce rAjputs to rise against the Mogols in the North. Thus, it gives a glimpse of the pan-Indian Hindu unity against the Mohammedans that the marATha-s had envisaged.
“vayaM hindUkAH asmAn bhavanto yadAj~nApayanti tad vashyaM vidheyam iti tarhi prakR^ita viShaye shrImadbhir mukhyatAm avalaMbyai tasya yavanAdhamasya sAMprataM sakala hindUkAH sattva shUnyAH shrI-prAsAda-bhaMgAdi dharmopaplavepi svadharma rakShaNAkShamAH svadharmahInA iti manyamAnasthaMs karShaM tathA kShatriya shabdaabidheya viparyathaM tathA shruti-smR^iti-siddha-varNa-ashrama-dharma-prajApAla-rUpa-rAja-dharma-viplavaMchAsahiShNavaH svakosha-desha-durgAdiShu vidhR^itAnAdarA duShTa yavANadhipa pratidvaMdvitayaiva akabara-durgAdAsau svadeshe sthApitau yavanAdhipa-saMbaMdhinaH senAnAyakaH mA kechit kArAgR^ihe sthApitAH kechid dravaM gR^ihItvA mochitAH kechit dharmeNA kechid asmat sainikAnAm utkochaM datvApayAtAH evaM vidhA tat senAnAyakA aprayojakAH asmin samaye yavAnAdhamaH kArAgR^ihastho vidheyaH shrI sthApanAdayaH sarvepi dharmAH pravartitvA iti manasi dhR^itvA tadanukUlam AcharaMa iti vidAM kurvantu tatra bhavantI bhavantaH |”
“We Hindus are weaklings to be ordered around and devoid of an essence, so believes the Mohammedan ruffian (Awrangzeb). The destruction of temples, religious conversions and the idea that we lack the dharma we cannot be borne by us who are known to be kShatriya-s. The shruti and the smR^iti and the ordinance of varNAshrama dharma cannot be desecrated and we cannot neglect the royal duty of taking care of our citizens. We are prepared to sacrifice our wealth, land and forts etc in waging war against the evil lord of the Mohammedans. With this resolve we have offered for two years shelter for Akbar and durgAdAs. We have killed many generals of the Mohammedans, imprisoned others, released some after extracting ransoms, others out of kindness and others escaped by bribery. Thus, the Mohammedan commanders have proved to be useless against us. Now the time has come to put the Mohammedan rogue (Awrangzeb) himself in prison and restore our holy sites and reestablish the practices of dharma. We have firmly decided in our mind to execute all this in the near future.”
These bold words of shambhAjI make clear the ultimate objective of svarAjya of shivAjI – the end of the religion of peace and return of dharma.
A point to note in this letter:
“anya~ncha hADA durjana-siMhaH kIdR^ik tasya koshAdi sarvaM bhavadbhir asmAbhiShcha j~nAyata eva paraMtu tena koshAdisthAne dhairyam eva matvA .asmal likhitaanusAreNa katham upaplavo vihitaH sa bhavadbhir adUravartibhiH shruta evAsti itosmAbhir vidhIyate yat tat vidhIyata evedAnIM akabara-durgAdAsau gurjara-deshaM prati preShyete…”
“There is another point. We both know how wealthy and endowed the hADA chief durjan singh was. But he sacrificed his wealth and valiantly raised the uprising at our instigation and you being so near must have seen all of it. Form our side we are planning to send Akbar and durgAdas to invade the Mogol domains in Gujarat.”
This shows that there was probably coordination between the marATha-s and the rAjpUt-s of Bundi in their uprising against the Mogol yoke. Finally, in the letter shambhAjI mentions how they must prevent the Iranians under Shah Abbas from interfering in the affairs of prince Akbar because this would only lead to increased Moslem interference in India.
Footnote 1: MG Ranade states the rAmachandra paNDit was AbAjI’s son, but most marATha sources to my knowledge state that he was nIlo paNdit’s son.
Footnote 2: The chemist who was a master of the byways of Bhaganagari led us on another occasion to another temple of mAhAkAlI (called the mAhAnkAlI temple) in the heart of the city. It was buried in the property of a Nawab after the murder of the brAhmaNa brothers. After independence and the end of the Islamic tyrant of Bhaga, a moderate Moslem donated the land where the temple material was discovered and returned all temple artifacts that he was able to discover to the Hindus. After this the shrine was revived by purchasing more of the surrounding land from some moslems. However, this fact rankled the inner city Moslems, whose affinity to the Mogols remained undiminished. The non-jAmadagnya vatsa told us that the temple was being targeted by them. In 1998, in supposedly independent India, a Moslem mob attacked the temple and destroyed the image of the deity.