Whether Sambhaji consumed alcohol? Was he charged for rape of a
woman? Was he involved in orgies with women? Can his behavior with
Soyarabai, Moropanta, Annaji Datto, be justified? All these questions
are difficult to answer and are muddled in mutually contradictory
dubious claims. The personal qualities are anyways not of any use
while determining the greatness of an individual in politics.
Shivaji arrived at the conclusion that Maratha state will have
to fight a decisive war with Mughals, somewhere in 1660-1664. He knew
that the Shaistekhan campaign was just a beginning. Mughals had
started deploying their armies on the frontiers of Maratha Kingdom in
Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Madhya-Pradesh since 1679. The news that
Aurangzeb himself is coming to invade Deccan reached Maharashtra in
January 1680, just 2-3 months before death of Shivaji. By that time,
Mughals had already deployed 150,000 to 200,000 men. The clashes
began in the very week Shivaji died. Moropant Pingle (the Peshwa),
Hambirrao Mohite (chief of armed forces), Annaji Datto (head of
finance department) were preparing to face this impending invasion.
Since 1678, Shivaji was continuously purchasing weapons, firearms,
and was upgrading his armies, his forts and his navy in anticipation
of this final showdown.
This much-anticipated invasion started in 1681 with 250,000 men,
new king, and opponent Aurangzeb himself with all the might of Mughal
Empire behind him. In spite of this, the continuous warfare from 1681
to 1685 resulted in retreat of Mughals from Maratha territory and
redeployment of troops against Adilshah and Kutubshah. All
capabilities of Sambhaji in his territorial administration, his
strategic understanding, his ability to boost the morale of troops,
his ability to make right moves were at stake and were thoroughly
tested and sharpened. Shivaji never had to face such an enemy in his
entire lifetime like Sambhaji. This feat demands immense patience and
will power. Therefore, given the fight that Sambhaji put forth,
should we give weight age to adjectives like frivolous, incapable,
impatient, and all other jargons used by Marathi chroniclers OR the
adjectives used by Dutch and English as patient, and stubborn warrior
is an individual choice.
The personal character of Sambhaji was not that bad either, as
against that portrayed by some Bakhars. Many a Maratha Sardars were
mildly addicted to alcohol, hemp, opium etc. Rajaram, second son of
Shivaji, was highly addicted to opium.
Aurangzeb himself was addicted to alcohol until his death.
However, that never interfered with politics. Aurangzeb captured and
brutally murdered Sambhaji in 1689. By that time, the result of
warfare was as follows- Sambhaji had conquered three fourth of
Portuguese Empire in Goa and assimilated it into Maratha state. The
region in Karnataka under Maratha rule doubled. The Maratha army
doubled itself in numbers and became better equipped. Five-six forts
in Maharashtra were lost. Gained three-four new ones; Aurangabad,
Burhanpur, Goa, plundered. Dhanaji Jadhav illusively kept the Mughal
army, 75,000 strong, away from Maharashtra in Gujarat. Thus, we can
see Shivaji’s understanding of politics inherited in Sambhaji.