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'I Am The Son Of Chatrapati'

One afternoon as usual the Queen was giving alms. Four 'Jangamars' (monks) appeared. They looked very radiant. The four waited till all the others had received their alms. Then they went up to the Queen. Seeing their bright faces, the intelligent Queen realized that they were not ordinary monks. Their leader saluted her. Chennamma said in a friendly voice, "Holy sir, you should bless me, and not

Salute me. Where do you come from, and what can I do for you?"

He came a little closer and again saluting her, said, "Great Queen, I am not a monk."

"Not a monk? Then why have you come in this garb? Who are you?

"I am Rajaram, the son of Chatrapati Shivaji."

The Queen was startled. "Are you the son of Chatrapati Shivaji, the great man who fought to save Hinduism in South India?
Heavens, what difficult days are you passing through! Please be seated, Prince; what can I do for you?"

"Mother, my brother Sambhaji has been cruelly murdered by Aurangzeb. He has sent a huge army to kill me also and destroy my kingdom. His army has already captured a few forts. Aurangzeb thinks that if I am captured then he can swallow the whole of Maharashtra. I have managed to hoodwink the enemies in various garbs and have come so far. I have approached several chief and kings to give me shelter."

"Did not the Hindu kings agree to protect you?"

"They all refused, afraid of Aurangzeb's anger."

"Really ! It is unbelievable. Giving shelter to the son of Shivaji Maharaj who fought for saving Hinduism is the duty of every one of us."

"Mother, it is no ordinary thing to face the enmity of Aurangzeb."

"Prince Rajaram, no one who has come to the Keladi palace asking for shelter or other gifts has gone back disappointed. What does it matter if a woman is on the throne now? I am not a helpless woman, but belong to the heroic Kannada Land. It is my religion to give protection to those who need it from me. Please take rest in our Guest House."

"Great Queen, before you give me shelter, please consult your ministers. This is not a mere matter of feeding a person. It is a
question of the kingdom's survival or otherwise."

"Prince Rajaram, the Kannada people never go back on their words. They are not such cowards that they will not help those who come to them for shelter."

"I know that, Queen. I have made bold to come here only after hearing of your valour and generosity. If your ministers agree,
please give me shelter here for a short while and then help me to reach the fort of Jinji. I will never forget your kindness. If that is not possible, I shall leave this place tomorrow morning."

"Prince, I shall summon the royal court this evening and discuss the matter. Whatever might happen, I will give shelter to those
who ask me for it. To act according to the royal code, and to see that you reach Jinji safely, is my responsibility."

"Noble Queen, the royal house of Keladi is very generous. I am astonished that, when powerful kings of big realms have refused to give me shelter, a lady should muster courage to face such a danger. I am greatful to you."

So saying, Rajaram saluted her with great devotion and went to the Guest House.

That evening Queen Chennamma summoned the royal court. She narrated all that had happened and asked her advisers for their opinion.

Prime Minister Thimmanna Nayaka sounded a note of warning - "Your Highness, Aurangzeb's army is chasing Rajaram. It has already captured Raigadh, Panhalgadh and other forts. If Aurangzeb comes to know that Rajaram is in Keladi, it would surely mean our total ruin."

Siddappa Shetty was very clear in his words to his daughter - "What the Prime Minister says is quite true. So far we have fought with the enemies around. Just now peace and order are returning to the kingdom. Fighting with Aurangzeb now is beyond our capacity."

Commander Bhadrappa and Minister Narasappayya also were of the same opinion.

"Gentlemen, what you say is true," said Chennamma. "I have thought about this very deeply. Until this day the kings of Keladi have always given shelter to anyone who sought it. It is my duty to keep up that tradition. Shivaji Maharaj wore himself out to save Hinduism. When his son asks for help can it be denied? The safety of the kingdom is a matter in God's hands."

"I agree, mother," said Basappa Nayaka. "What you say is true. You have always taught me it is nobler to save than to kill. What can Aurangzeb do against God's blessings and- the valour of our heroes?"

All the younger persons in the Court were for giving shelter to Rajaram. Inevitably all the ministers also agreed.

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