Shahaji was a Sardar in Nizamshah’s court at Ahmednagar.
Nizamshah willingly sacrificed Lakhuji Jadhav for Shahaji. Yet,
Shahaji went to Adilshah in 1624. Despite of valiantly fighting for
Adilshah for two years, he returned to Nizamshah in 1626. He again
changed his loyalties and became Mughal Sardar in 1630. Yet again,
after valiantly fighting for Mughals, he returned to Nizamshah in
1632. In all these transitions, he maintained his Jagir in Pune at
his discretion. He maintained an army that was loyal to him and him
alone, irrespective of the power he was serving. He initiated the
policy of uniting Deccan against North Indian Mughals. Many notable
people like Khavaskhan, Kutubshah, Madanna and Akanna of Golconda,
Murar Jagdev supported this united Deccan policy that Shahaji
initiated. Shivaji repeatedly pronounced this policy. Sambhaji
considered himself as a patron of Adilshah and Kutubshah.
Shahaji appointed Dadoji Kondadev, as his chief administrator of
Pune Jagir. He himself was administrating his Jagir in Bangalore,
Karnataka. It was his vision that he distributed his property between
two sons in 1636. The Karnataka Jagir was for elder son Sambhaji and
Pune Jagir for younger son Shivaji. He made Adilshah to appoint
Dadoji Kondadev as Subhedar of Pune and gave him control of some army
(about 5000 strong) 15-20 forts, and entire administrative personnel
in the form of a Peshwa, an accountant and others. Shivaji took his
oath on Rohireshwar of establishing a Hindavi Swarajya in presence of
Dadoji. The first letter bearing the official seal of Shivaji is
dated 28th January 1646. It is difficult to comprehend that young
Shivaji who was a teenager of 15 years, had all this blueprint of
establishing a Hindu Swaraj along with seals and official letterheads
in his mind. One has to accept the vision and power of Shahaji that
was guiding him, correcting him and shaping him.
Shahaji was carving a kingdom of his own in Karnataka. He was
doing exactly the same thing through Shivaji in Maharashtra as well.
At both places, the administrators, Shahaji in Bangalore and Shivaji
in Pune were calling themselves as Raja, were holding courts, and
issuing letters bearing official seals in Sanskrit. Adilshah was
weary of this and in 1648; two independent projects were undertaken
by Adilshah to eliminate these two growing kingdoms in its territory.
Shivaji defeated Adilshah’s general Fateh Khan in Pune, Maharashtra.
At the same time, his elder brother Sambhaji defeated Adilshah’s
other general Farhad Khan in Bangalore. The modus operandi of Maratha
troops on both the frontiers is similar, again reinstating the
guiding vision of Shahaji. The subsequent treaty that was signed
between two Bhonsale brothers and Adilshah to rescue Shahaji, who was
held captive by Adilshah, marks the first Mughal-Maratha contact. In
1648-49, Adilshah captured Shahaji in order to blackmail his two sons
to cede the territory conquered by them and accept Adilshah’s
supremacy. Shivaji wrote a series of letters to Dara Shikoh (Subhedar
of Deccan), pledging to be subservient to Mughals. Mughals recognized
Shivaji as a Mughal Sardar and pressurized Adilshah to release
Shahaji. In return, Shivaji ceded Simhagad, and Sambhaji ceded
Bangalore city and Kandarpi fort in Karnataka.
We can see the coherency in actions of Shivaji and Sambhaji. The
men assisting both the brothers were loyal to Shahaji and were
trained under him. Even though Shivaji was administrative head of
Pune Jagir, many people appealed to Shahaji against Shivaji’s
decisions up to 1655. Up to this point, Shahaji’s word was considered
final in all of the important matters. Until this point, Shivaji was
not at all free to take all the decisions on his will. There was a
higher power that was controlling his activities. Gradually after
1655, this interference went on diminishing, and Shivaji started
emerging more and more independent.
Thus, if we see these three men in a link, Shahaji, Shivaji and
his son Sambhaji, all the actions of Shivaji start making sense. In
this way, we are better able to grasp the greatness of the man,
Shivaji had himself coronated as a Kshatriya King in 1674.
Shahaji initiated this policy. The Ghorpade clan of Marathas
considered themselves as descendents of Sisodiya Rajputs. Shahaji
attested his claim on the share in Ghorpade’s property from Adilshah
long before 1640. In reality, there is no connection whatsoever
between Sisodiya Rajputs and Bhonsale clan. Nevertheless, Maloji
started calling himself as Srimant Maloji Raje after becoming a
bargir. Shahaji legalized this claim of being a Rajput from Adilshah.
This was of great help to Shivaji at the time of his coronation in
1674. It is interesting to see that even after coronating himself as
a Hindu Emperor, Shivaji continued writing letters to Aurangzeb,
referring him as Emperor of India, and stating that he was a mere
servant of Great Aurangzeb. We can see the basic pragmatic mindset of
Shivaji which was fueled by great dream of establishing Hindu Self
ruling state.

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