There have been several attempts in the past to tarnish Maharaj’s image, when certain elements of the society tried to misuse his name for their personal benefits. The extremists portrayed him as a Hindu saviour and used his name for their Hindutva agenda, even though the term Hindutva was coined posthumously. On the other hand Muslim extremists portrayed him as a Muslim mass killer, which he was not. Despite being such an important part of India’s history, he is mentioned just once in CBSE syllabus, because of his “not-so-secular” image.
This is a story that we came across on web, we don’t know how authentic it is, but even if it’s fiction, it does give a real image of the great Maratha king, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
“There was a Hindu-Muslim riot in Mumbai after the demolition of the disputed land in Ayodhya. Few people from Muslim community started rioting; they attacked and burned Hindu houses. Outraged Hindus in retaliation wanted to take revenge so they started killing Muslim families by entering their houses. During the riots, few men tried raping a young Muslim girl but by God’s grace she managed to escape from their clutches, so the goons started chasing her. She was very scared and ran for her life when she saw a house and entered it. It belonged to a young Hindu guy who saw her entering his house and questioned her. The girl explained him the whole situation. The young Hindu guy asked her to stay calm and relax. The goons were searching her and somehow happened to reach near the house, they asked the Hindu guy if he had seen any Muslim girl around. The guy denied.
The next morning when the situation became a bit calm, she planned on leaving when the guy asked her “When you entered my house did you know that this house belongs to a Hindu?” She said “Yes, i saw some God’s photos on your wall from the window.” He furthered exclaimed “and you still dared to enter thinking that I won’t harm you!” She replied, “At first I wasn’t sure, but later when I saw the photo of Shivaji Maharaj hanging on your wall, I became sure that there is no place for injustice when Shivaji is there.”
To eradicate the misconception of Shivaji being anti-muslim, few facts that prove Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was one of the most secular king ever are mentioned below:
- He fought against the Mughal Empire for the welfare of his people. It is very important to note that any King will fight against an invader, especially a foreign invader. The invaders just happened to be Muslims, if they had been of any other religion even then Shivaji would had fought against them for the protection of his people which also included Muslims.
- He was kind towards people of all religions and supported their religious beliefs. This is a very extraordinary fact as all his opposing thrones were of other religion and they were harassing Hindus. He still persisted that all religions are good.
- His portrayal as a Hindu king who fought against the Muslims is far from the truth. There were several Muslim soldiers and generals in his army, and many of his rivals were Hindus. Also, he was on friendly terms with few Bijapuri generals.Shivaji was a staunch Hindu. Most of his empire’s neighbouring states were ruled by Mughal leaders. Shivaji had to fight with all of them for survival of his state. But all the conflicts and battles were political in nature and not religious. Muslims actively participated Shivaji Maharaj’s army. In fact, the highest chief of his Navy was a Muslim. On the other hand, a large part of his opposition armies were Hindus. In the battles between Shivaji and Mughals, Hindus and Muslims fought against other Hindus and Muslims, however it was never a religious war. They were purely political wars fought only for the expansion of their respective territories.
- On the other hand, Shivaji had fought many battles against many of the Hindu Maratha Zamindars. Chandrarao More of Javli, himself a Maratha, was one of the very first enemies that Shivaji defeated.
- Renowned historian, Jadunath Sarkar mentions in his notes “Shivaji and His Times”: Shivaji’s religious policy was very liberal. He respected the holy places of all creeds in his raids and made endowments for Hindu temples and Muslim saints’ tombs and mosques alike. He not only granted pensions to Brahman scholars versed in the Vedas, astronomers and anchorites, but also built hermitage and provided subsistence at his own cost for the holy men of Islam, notably Baba Yakut of Kelshi.”
- Khafi Khan, the historian from Aurangzeb’s time, mentions that he never invaded the mosques, and if he ever found a copy of the holy Quran during his raids, he would respectfully hand it over to some of his Muslim soldiers also he maintained the honour of Muslim women.
- He had all the might and power to convert people to the faith in which he believed but he never did that, but at the same time he was kind enough to welcome back all the converted people without any bias.
- French traveller, Francois Bernier wrote “The Marathas led by Shivaji chopped the hands of 24 prisoners during the first raid of Surat, after a murder attempt was made on his life. During the same raid, Shivaji ordered his men not to harm the Christian missionaries, saying that The Frankish Padres are good men“.
Today lots of people across every caste, creed, and religion still consider him as their king and so he is conferred with the title of “जाणता राजा” i.e. King of the people. Happy Shivaji Jayanti!