Rise of Shivaji
With the emergence of Shivaji the history of Maratha became the history of Shivaji. The rise of Shivaji is a fascinating chapter as he rose to the highest glory from being a small Jagirdar of Pune. In the rise of Shivaji we find both the circumstance and his amazing personality helping him to realize the ambitions of Marathas, Swaraj.
The factors responsible for the rise of Shivaji are:
1. The great Maratha bhakti movement provided ideological basis for the rise of Shivaji even before his birth. Started with Gnaneswar the Maratha bhakthi reformers like Eknath, Namdev, Bhakth Tukaram and Samartha Ramdas strobe for cultural unity amongst the Marathas. They created a sense of pride and responsibility in protecting the Maratha culture with the idea Maratha Dharma.
2. The geographical location of the Maratha state also benefitted Shivaji in his rise. The hill tracks of Deccan enabled Shivaji in organizing guerilla warfare against the enemies. The less fertile tracks and ruggered soil naturally man made Marathas quite hardship. Moreover the hill tribes called Muwalis helped Shivaji helped Shivaji in all his expeditions. Thus the geographical setup did benefit Shivaji in his rise.
3. The sense of insecurity the Marathas were facing with the advent of Islam into the south benefitted Shivaji in projecting himself as the champion of the Marathas.
4. The Marathas acquired rich experience by joining as civil servants in the courts of Bahmani Sultans and the Mughals. This benefitted Shivaji in the wars against Sultan of Bijapur and the Mughals.
5. The time and condition also favoured Shivaji. The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb was preoccupied with his own problems in suppressing the revolts in the north. It gave enough time for Shivaji to consolidate his position in Deccan.
6. Apart from the conditions favouring his amazing personality and leadership qualities also helped in establishing himself as leader. Highly sagacious and tactful Shivaji utilized every opportunity that came in his way. Even though defeated by Raja Jai Singh sent by Aurangzeb in 1665. Shivaji turned the Purandhar treaty into his advantage and acquired the right to collect “Chouth” in the Mughal territories in Deccan. With the same tact he got his father released from the Ahmadnagar Jail and revived his conquest later.
7. As a Genious he entrusted the responsibility of defending the forts to the people instead of Armies and succeeded in making the Maratha movement as people’s movement.
8. As a Statesman and great visionary Shivaji followed the principles of Secularism and granted freedom of faith to all religions and communities in his Swaraj.
9. As a benevolent king he banned bonded labour and took measures for protecting the peasantry from the exploitation of money lenders.
Thus the rise of Shivaji was the result of his great personality and administrative reforms.