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Great Kings & Queens
Vikramaditya Kharvela
Shivaji Harischandra
Keladi Chennamma Jhansi Lakshmi Bai
Hakka - Bukka Yudhistira
Dileepa Ashoka
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Shivaji was born in the fort of Shivneri in 1630. Strangely enough, his task of building up an independent kingdom too was to be accomplished with the help of forts only.Even at the young age of sixteen he captured one of the forts. It was the fort of Toranagadh. Torana! What a beautiful name, full of meaning and significance! It was as though he had woven anauspicious garland for independence. The saffron colored sacred banner, the Banner of the Lord, ‘Bhagavajhenda’, fluttered on the fort. Shivaji ordered his soldiers to strengthen the fort, this first fort that was to lead to independence. When the ground 
was being dug in the fort, the diggers saw hidden treasures. Was that the first gift of the goddess of Fortune to the Goddess of Independence? Strangely, the poor diggers who came by so much wealth were not in the least move by thoughts of greed. The carried the entire treasure to Shivaji handed it over to him. They knew it was wealth granted for the struggle for independence. It belonged to the lord and they were not to touch it.

After Toranagadh Shivaji began to capture one fort after another. The news that Shivaji was capturing forts reached the Sultan of Bijapur. In order to crush Shivaji the Sultan hit upon a treacherous plan. He got Shahaji captured by deceitful means; then Shahaji was brought to the Sultan’s presence and was thrown into prison. A rumor spread that Shahaji would be tortured and executed.

This news was like a thunderbolt to Shivaji who was rejoicing in the birth of an era of 
independence. His other Jijabai was heart-broken. She felt as if the God of Death himself was about t snatch her sacred ‘mangalya’ (The symbol of a life-long partnership with the husband). On the heels of this news came tow other bits of frightening news: one, that Fateh Khan, the valiant Sardar of Bijapur, was proceeding against Shivaji with a large army; another, that Farrad Khan yetanother valiant general was attacking Sambhaji, the elder brother of Shivaji, It was clear the Sultan was posing these threats only to see that Shivaji gave up fighting and surrendered to him. If he did notsurrender, if the continued to fight, his father’s life would be in danger. Shivaji was worried, not knowing what he should do. At this juncture his fourteen year-old wife, Sayibai, said to him; "why do you worry yourself over this? See that your father is freed. See to it also that you retain this state of independence. Destroy your enemies." She was a worthy wife of hero like Shivaji, wasn’t she?

Shivaji came to a decision.Thecommander of Purandaragadh was in the employ of the 
Sultan of Bijapur; Shivaji won his heart with soft-spoken, friendly words. He stationed a 
small army there. The soldiers of Shivaji fought against Fateh Khan who attacked the fort. This was the first test of the battle for independence. So valiant were the men of Shivaji that Fateh Khan had to retreat and run away. Elsewhere Sambhaji to broke the back of the attack of Farrad Khan.

All this was victory. But how was he to save his father? Shivaji was deeply trouble by this thought. Suddenly, like a flash of lightning, a plan occurred to him. His intellect was as sharp as his arms were supple. Shahjehan was the Emperor in Delhi at that time. So he wrote to Emperor: "My father is kept captive by the Sultan of Bijapur. As soon as he is released my father and I will willingly serve you. We are very eager". The Sultan of Bijapur came to know of this. He knew well that theEmperor of Delhi was waiting for an opportunity to attack him. He feared what would happen to him if the Emperor decided to attack him. So with all due honor the released Shahaji. With his valor and his diplomacy, Shivaji thus overcame the first great danger to freedom

Shivaji was twenty-eight. By then Kondana, Purandara, Kalyan, Raigadh and other forts numbering forty flows the flag of freedom. It was also at this time that on the West Coast the English, the Portuguese and other foreigners set foot. Shivaji was apprehensive that some day these foreign armies might occupy the whole land. Intent on containing them he began building fortresses by the sea. He began to equip himself with warships and trained the navy. Shivaji was the first among those who in their farsighted vision saw the lurking dangers of foreign domination, and acted to check such aggression.

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