Foundation and Expansion of Swarajya




Foundation and Expansion of Swarajya:

In the first half of the 17th century, Nizamshahi and Adilshahi had established their rule in Maharashtra. Malik Ahmad, the Bahamani governor of Junnar after defeating the Bahmani army led by general Jahangir Khan on 28 May 1490 declared independence and established the Nizam Shahi dynasty rule over the sultanate of Ahmednagar. Initially, his capital was in the town of Junnar with its fort, later renamed Shivneri. In 1494, the foundation was laid for the new capital Ahmadnagar. Many eminent Maratha sardars flourished under their rule. They held Jahagirs in the remote regions of the Sahyadris. The difficult terrain of Sahyadri allowed them to operate independently. Shahajiraje Bhosale was a prominent sardar in the Nizamshahi kingdom. After the end of the Nizamshahi rule, he accepted the rank of a Mansabdar in the Adilshahi court. Shahajiraje was valiant, courageous, wise, and well-versed in the science of statehood. He had successfully handled many Adilshahi expeditions in Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. The provinces of Pune, Supe, Shirwal, Indapur, and Chakan were given to Shahajiraje as Jahangir. He personally aspired to establish Swarajya. He is regarded as the visionary of Swarajya. He sent his son Shivajiraje and his wife, Veermata Jijabai from Bengaluru to Pune along with his loyal and capable associates. Veermata Jijabai encouraged Shivaji Maharaj to fulfill the dream of Shahajiraje of establishing Swarajya. She was a visionary and an efficient administrator. She constantly guided her son in the mission of establishing Swarajya and provided him with the excellent education necessary for the king of Swarajya. The concept of Swarajya was visualized by Shahajiraje and it was turned into reality by Shivaji Maharaj.  Shivaji Maharaj laid the foundation of Swarajya from the Mawal region. Several factors like the topography of Maharashtra, valour of the local Mawalas, the administrative, and military experience gained by the Maratha sardars while working with Nizamshahi and Adilshahi, and above all these the able leadership of Shivaji Maharaj could make it possible.

The one ‘who owns the forts owns the land’ was the ruling of the day. Hence Shivaji Maharaj began with capturing the forts in the vicinity of his jahagirs. He took over the fort of Torana and laid the foundation of Swarajya. Shivaji Maharaj established the first capital of Swarajya at the fort of Rajgad. Chandrarao More proved to be a hindrance in Shivaji Maharaj’s efforts to create Swarajya. Shivaji Maharaj successfully took over Javali. After this victory, the activities of Shivaji Maharaj in Konkan were escalated. Realizing the danger of the increasing activities of Shivaji Maharaj, the Bijapur court sent their powerful General Afzalkhan to curb the increasing power of Shivaji Maharaj. He met Afzalkhan at Pratapgad. As expected Afzalkhan attempted treachery but Shivaji Maharaj was well prepared and killed Afzalkhan in self defence. Afzalkhan’s huge army was set on the run and huge booty and weapons were collected left behind by them. This made Swarajya’s treasury richer.

After Afzalkhan’s defeat, the Bijapur court sent Siddi Jauhar to attack Swarajya. He seized the fort of Panhala and closed all possibilities of escape for Shivaji Maharaj. In this difficult situation Shiva Kashid, a loyal servant of Swarajya, disguised himself as Shivaji Maharaj and made it easy for Shivaji Maharaj to escape. When Siddi came to know the truth he killed Shiva Kashid. Shivaji Maharaj attacked Surat, the prosperous economic capital of Aurangzeb, and collected a large booty. Enraged by this, Aurangzeb sent his powerful sardars Mirza Raje Jaising and Diler Khan to attack Swarajya. They captured many forts in the Swarajya. Shivaji Maharaj had the wisdom to comprehend the situation and decided to retreat tactically by signing the ‘Treaty of Purandar’. According to the treaty, Shivaji Maharaj had to present himself before Aurangzeb at Agra, along with his son Sambhaji Maharaj. Aurangzeb acted treacherously and put Shivaji under house arrest. Shivaji Maharaj very cleverly misled the guards and escaped from Agra.

To announce the sovereign and independent status of Swarajya it was necessary to make it official. Realising this Shivaji Maharaj decided to get himself coronated. With his coronation as a sovereign king, the provinces under his rule assumed the status of an independent kingdom. After the coronation, he began the Karnataka expedition. However, he did not live long after the victory in the south. He passed away on 3rd April 1680. His untimely death caused an irreparable loss to Swarajya.

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