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Great Kings & Queens
Vikramaditya Kharvela
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SHIVAJI
The Terror Of The Enemies

Sultan Adilshah saw how Shivaji’s dream of Swaraj would come true, and felt both 
anxious and helpless. Every day he received news of some fort or the other falling into Shivaji’s hands! The Sultan had a foster mother, by name Uliya Begum. She hated Shivaji like poison. One day she herself held a Durbar. The far-famed heroes of Bijapur all attended it. At that Durbar Uliya Begum threw out the challenge to all present: "if there is one amongst you who can capture and bring Shivaji captive here, let him accept this token gift of ‘pan’." So saying she held out the silver platter in which was place the 
ceremonial ‘pan’ and betel-nut offering. A sever-foot tall robust general stood up and 
accepted the gift. The general was Afzal Khan. He was a Pathan general who was as brave as he was cruel and deceitful. The Sultan sent a strong force of 25,000 soldiers to help him.

Afzal Khan first proceeded to destroy Bhavani of Tuljapur, the family deity worshipped by Shivaji. His axe broke. The idol of the Goddess Bhavani of Tuljapur to pieces. The Khan desecrated this idol and another in Pandharput. Shivaji was being informed of all these happenings daily. The Khan knew that as long as Shivaji was safely behind his fortresses and was in the jungle areas, it was difficult to defeat him. He hopped that Shivaji would come into the open plains and offer battle if he indulged in such desecration of temple, slaughter of cows and the molestation of women. Then it would be easier for him to defeat Shivaji.

Shivaji was not slow to understand this scheme; he knew that the Khan would overpower him if the came down from the forts and offered battle. So he made up his mind to proceed to the new fort of Pratapagadh which he had built in the forest of Javali. He then planed to attract the Khan to this place and fight him there. Just at this time he had a dream’ in this dream Goddess Bhavani appeared to them and blessed him saying that he would be victorious.

Afzal Khan wanted to make Shivaji come down from the fort of Pratapagadh and meet him on the plains. Towards this end he sent a representative of his with secret 
instructions. He met Shivaji and politely informed him that Afzal Khan was a great of his father and that he did not intend any harm and Shivaji should come down to meet him. In reply, Shivaji sent a flattering letter through his own representative. He wrote, ‘You are like an uncle to me. You must forgive all my crimes. You should come to Pratapagadh and uplift me and take me to the Sultan of Bijapur." The humble and pleading tone of Shivaji’s letter deceived the Khan. And the representative sent by Shivaji praised the courage of the Khan and made fun of Shivaji’s cowardice. So the Khan was very much pleased.

The Khan arrived at the forest of Javali with all his forces. He stationed himself right at the foot of Pratapagadh. It was decided that Shivaji and Afzal Khan should meet as friends. It was also agreed that as Shivaji was a little terrified, Afzal Khan alone should meet Shivaji and the body guards of both should remain at some distance.

It was the night before this meeting. Who could sleep on such a night? Netaji, Tanaji, 
Kanoji and other trusted lieutenants of Shivaji came down from the fort and with their battalions, hid in the forest; they stood ready for action. They had been instructed that they should fall upon the enemy ranks and destroy them the moment they heard the booming cannon on the fort. The day dawned. As usual Shivaji bathed, and worshipped Lord Shiva. He put on a metallic helmet to protect the head and a metallic cost to protect he chest. In the scabbard at his waist were the dagger ‘Bhavani’ and a sharp knife. Meditating on Goddess Bhavani he went down from the fort, to meet Afzal Khan. They were to meet halfway down the hill; the place was hidden from view from the came of Afzal Khan. In the shamiana the Khan waited for Shivaji. He rose as soon as he saw Shivaji. Their eyes met for short while. Pretending to offer him the customary embraceof friendship, the Khan invited Shivaji. He stretched both his powerful and long arms in an act of embrace of friendship, the Khan invited Shivaji. He stretched both his powerful and long arms in an act of embrace. It seemed as though it was an embrace of death itself. But whose embrace of death itself. But whose death? Shivaji too came forward and embraced him. At once the Khan drew out his sharp knife and biting his lips in anger thrust it into the side of Shivaji. Shivaji’s steel vesttore with a grating noise, Quickly Shivaji released himself from the hold of the Khan and dragging out his own sharp knife thrust it deep into the entrails of the Khan. The Khan tried to run away. But Shivaji flung his sword at him and at one stroke the head of the khan fell down severed.

Shivaji stuck the severed head of the Khan on his sword and ran up the fort. Simultaneously the cannon also boomed as if it I would cut opens the skies. The Khan’s soldiers were rejoicing, forgetful of the situation in the thought that the Khan would have caught Shivaji. Suddenly the soldiers of ‘Shivaji pounched upon them like leopards. Godess Tulaja Bhavani was now fully avenged. The Khan’s forces were completely destroyed. Shivaji was all-victorious. He sent Jijabai a gift. Can you guess what gift was? The head of Afzal Khan!

Shivaji fame as the slayer of Afzal Khan spread everywhere in our own country and 
abroad. A dark and dismal gloom descended on the Sultan of Bijapur. But Shivaji did not grow careless in the joy of victory. Taking advantages of this temp of victory he proceeded to other places and annexed quite a few forts of the Sultan of Bijapur.

The Sultan of Bijapur again chose another general and sent him to attack Shivaji with a force seventy thousand strong. The general, Siddi Jauhar, tried hard to capture Shivaji who was then in Panhalgadh. Even the English came to his assistance with their artillery. The attack gathered more and more strength. Shivaji hoped that the attack would lose its force and strength as soon as the monsoon set in. But in this Shivaji was disappointed. At the same time, in answer to a request from theSultan of Bijapur, the Badshah of Delhi sent his uncle Shaista Khan with an army, ahundred thousand strong, to attack Shivaji. All thought that the hopes of Swaraj and the survival were completely blotted out.

During this period of great danger Shivaji’s mother Jijabai took charge of the administration in the place of her son and managed the affairs ably. In the meanwhile 
Shivaji came to the decision that he should few himself from this encirclements. But 
how? For Siddi Jauhar guarded the fort from below. Shivaji thought of the less dangerous mode of escape. He sent to Siddi Jauhar through his envoy a letter offering to surrender. He had appealed earnestly that he would surrender unconditionally the next day and that he should be given pardon. The moment news of this surrender reached thesoldiers of Jauhar they spent the whole night in great merriment. They hardly knew that such letters from Shivaji were sweet only to deceive. It was night of pouring rain, and terrible thunder and lightning. Just at that moment Shivaji and 800 of his men got down the fort and proceeded stealthily towards Vishagadh. The soldiers posted to watch the enemies were no doubt in their tents, by they were lost in merriment thinking of the surrender of Shivaji. Even the slightest suspicion would have resulted in utter destruction. Hence Shivaji’s men were anxious at every step. But Bhavani’s blessings wee with this mall battalion. They were able to Escape unnoticed.

The group of Mavali soldiers carrying Shivaji in a palanquin ran faster and faster. As they ran the whole area was lit up with a large streak of lightning. One of the spies of Siddi Jauhar noticed the party and he ran to inform Siddi Jauhar of this escape. On hearing this Jauhar was thunder-struck. Still he did not lose heart. He sent for his son-in-law Siddi Masood. He wasentrusted with the cavalry and was sent in hot pursuit of Shivaji. Shivaji too felt that it would be difficult to escape from this case. But once again he thought of plan. He sat in another palanquin and traveled in a different direction. There was a man in the army who was like Shivaji. These man put on the clothes of Shivaji and sat in the first Shivaji’s soldiers, captured him and proceeded to Siddi Jauhar. But when the captive was questioned it was found that he was a ‘Shivaji’ by name and was just a barber of Panhalgadh! All were put to shame.

So Siddi Masood again took up the chase. By that time Shivaji and his soldiers had 
already covered twenty-five miles and were now near the valley of Gajapur. Vishalgadh was a few miles from there. Five thousands soldiers of Masood raced towards the group. Shivaji had a brave lieutenant, a man strong like Bheema. He was Baji Prabhu Deshpande. He asked Shivaji to proceed to Vishalgadh taking half the force with him. With the remaining half he was their face the mighty battle on of Siddi Masood. It was a sight to see Baji Prabhu wielding two swords in both his hands.

In that narrow valley Baji Prabhu began cutting down the Pathan soldiers who rolled in again and again like waves. In the battle he too was wounded all over the body and blood was flowing out. In spite of this he gave battle till the evening. Many of his soldiers too fell in this battle. Finally Baji Prabhu fell a victim to an enemy’s sword that severely wounded him. At the same time Shivaji had overpowered the soldiers who were attacking Vishalgadh, and climbing up the fort let the cannon resound in Victory. As Bajji Prabhu lay dying he heard this sound. He died in peace, happy that his efforts for his master had not been in vain. The valley was made scatted by the blood of this martyr. From hence this valley came to be known as Pavan Khindi or the Sacred Valley.

The news that Shivaji escaped from Panhalgadh and reached his capital fell on the ears of the Sultan of Bijapur. He felt like one who was struck by a thousand thunderbolts at once. He could not summon again the courage to attack Shivaji. But Shivaji had the other danger from Shaista Khan to attend to. How was he to free himself from this? For this Shivaji chose the month sacred to the Muslims when they observe Ramzan. It was a time when the community would fast all day and then eat sumptuously and be fast asleep at night. The day also was the anniversary of the coronation of Aurangzeb. Need it be said that on that day there would be all the revelry and merriment of a great feast? On that day Shivaji came down from Raigadh with an army of two thousand soldiers. He stationed himself at a distance of some two miles from Poona. Shaista Khan was then camping in the Lal Mahal at Poona, Where Shivaji had been brought up as a boy. In and around Poona a hundred thousand soldiers of the Moghul Emperor were stationed.

A childhood friend of Shivaji by name Babaji moved towards the Moghul camp with a small force of soldiers. Behind him proceeded Shivaji with another small troop. Babaji entered the city, chatting and shouting. The sentries stopped him and his men. But without a moment'shesitation, Babaji said, "We too, are the Khan's men-, we just went out to keep watch and are now coming back." He and his men disregarded the sentries and   quietly entered the city. Shivaji's soldiers followed them. Shivaji went directly towards the gates at the rear of the Lal Mahal. From there he went to the Kitchen and cut down all who were there. From there he proceeded to the place where Shaista Khan was sleeping. He had to pull down a small wall that obstructed his entry. A servant heard the wall collapse and went to inform the Khan of what was happening. But the Khan was so sleepy ' that he drove the servant away saying that it must be some rat in the kitchen.

Shivaji and his men rushed in. By that time the entire Lal Mahal was never be rating 
with shouts which announced that the enemy had broken in. The wives of Shaista Khan hid him behind a curtain. Shivaji burst in and flung his sword. Three fingers of the Khan, one as it were for the three syllables of the name of Shivaji, were chopped off by this throw.

The Khan jumped down from the window. By then the Moghul army had surrounded the Lal Mahal.In this utter confusion Shivaji and his men shouted, "Catch the enemy, cut him into piece ' s!" They opened the doors of the Lal Mahal and went away. They' escaped and raced to Simhaoadh on the horses that were waiting for them in readiness, This incident convinced Shivaji's enemies that he was not just a mountain rat' but some sort of a fiend or demon, of superhuman powers.Aurangzeb was put to unbearable shame and even transferred Shaista Khan to Ben gal as a punishment.

To build up such a vast kingdom independently and to rule it with an army and a navy, Shivaji needed lots of money. Where could he hope to obtain so much wealth for the purpose? He decided to extract this money from Aurangzeb himself who was enjoying the wealth of this country. In those days Surat was known to be almost the city of Kubera, the God of Wealth. So he attacked Surat on one occasion and then emptied the city of its great wealth.

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