The Emperor -The Protector Of The
Land And Its Dharma
Shivaji established an independent
empire that was a source of inspiration to all the
Hindus. Yet he had not been crowned
in accordance with the rites of the Shastras. Many, therefore, did not
feel that he was truly the - King. So a great pundit from Kashi came down
south to remedy this shortcoming in the life of Shivaji. This great pundit,
Gagabhatta, crowned Shivaji King by name, in accordance with the rites
of the Shastras. This great event took place in 1674. Shivaji was then
44 years of age. The towering fort of Raigadh became the capital. After
touching his mother's feet and obtaining her blessings, Shivaji sat on
a golden throne on the fort. Gagabhatta held over his head the golden umbrella,
The symbol of Kingship, and proclaimed that Shivaji had become the Chatrapati.
Women offered 'arati'. Sages and saints blessed him. The people assembled
shouted in great joy "Victory to Shivaji
Maharaj!" The cannons over the forts
resounded. The Sultan of Bijapur and
the English acknowledged Shivaji as an
independent King and sent him gifts.
Samarth Ramdas sang in praise of this great event: "The land and its Dharma
have been uplifted. A kingdom of bliss has arisen.
Shivaji did not just content himself
with establishing an independent kingdom by
defeating his enemies. He also undertook
reforms to make his people happy and
contented. To him the people were
the gods and he would let no one harm them. His soldiers had to go far
to defeat the enemies. To these soldiers he had laid down a firm rule:
"No harm should come to the people whom you meet on the way. Their standing
crops should not be touched." Shivaji would always mete out severe punishment
to those who disobeyed his orders. Shivaji was all affection for the poor
farmers of villages. They were all, at that time, groaning under the injustice
of wealthy Zamindars. Shivaji took over the land of such Zamindars and
distributed them among the tillers of the soil.
Untouchability too was rampant, among
the Hindus at that time as it is today. Society
had branded some amongst its own members
untouchables and had kept them at, a distance from the others. Shivaji
loved them also. He invited them to join his army and promoted them, to
high positions and offices in it. They too served Shivaji and looked up
to him with great devotion. They struggled hard for the establishment of
Swaraj. Many of them gave up their lives too fighting. Shivaji set an example
to all Hindus that they belonging to the same faith should not hate one
Shivaji was also greatly interested
in the education of the people. Sanskrit language had lost its glorious
position. Everywhere Persian was being held up to esteem. Shivaji saw to
it that Sanskrit words were substituted for Persian words.
Sometimes, Hindus who had been forced
to become Muslims wished to go back. But the Hindus refused to take back
such converts. Shivaji felt that this- was not right. So he reconverted
all those who wished to return to their old faith. He also cast aside the
foolish belief that it was sinful to undertake a journey on the seas. He
undertook expeditions on the sea and established forts.
Shivaji was very angry with people
who were corrupt or who worked against their
country. He hated those who betrayed
the land. He would have punished even his own son if the son had turned
against his country. Shivaji was an embodiment of justice. He never showed
any special favors to his relatives. He always encouraged those who were
virtuous and meritorious. This enabled those who were virtuous to progress
and occupy high places. There was no scope for selfish contrivers in his
kingdom. In this manner Shivaji revolutionized every department. of life.
This is the thrilling tale of how Shivaji
won Swaraj. As we read it don't we feel that we too should follow the example
of Shivaji? Why is this so? It is because Shivaji underwent all hardships
for the sake of his country, for the sake of its Dharma. He did not care
for his own life and quite often entered the very jaws of death. Till his
last breath he lived for his country and for the Dharma of the Hindus.
It is nearly three hundred years since he died but the memory of this great
man lights up the torch of inspiration.