Timeline History

Chhatrapati Sambhaji

Sambhaji Raje Bhonsle (May 14, 1657 March 11, 1689) was the eldest son of the Maratha king Shivaji, and succeeded him as the Chhatrapati i.e a Maratha king, after Shivaji's death in 1680.
Sambhaji was born in a crucial phase of Indian history. His father, Shivaji, was in the process of expanding his new 'Hindavi Swarajya'. He lost his mother, Saibai, when he was just a few months old. After her death, a woman named 'Dharau' from a village called 'Kapurhol' in Pune district fed him with her milk while his paternal grandmother Jijabai looked after him. Initially his stepmother, Soyarabai, also doted on him a lot.
Sambhaji was a cub of tiger in true sense. He was by several accounts extremely handsome and possessing of immense bravery. He was a scholar of Sanskrit and eight other languages. He gained proficiency in the matters of politics at a young age and by the time of Shivaji's coronation in 1674, dignitaries visiting Shivaji's capital Raigad were highly impressed with Sambhaji's acumen, grasp of strategical moves, his personality, and also his modesty. Unfortunately within two weeks after Shivaji's coronation, Jijabai died and Sambhaji was left with nobody to look after him. Shivaji was too busy with the affairs of the state. Soyarabai increasingly became jealous of Sambhaji after a son, Rajaram, was born to her in 1670. She thought that if Sambhaji succeeded Shivaji to the maratha throne, then her son Rajaram would have no place in the power structure. Sambhaji, being young and enthusiastic, often fell out with senior courtiers in Shivaji's court like Annaji Datto. Some historians point out that the reason of their clash was Sambhaji's opposition to certain corrupt practices by Annaji Datto, as well as the death of Annaji's daughter, who committed suicide out of unrequited love for Sambhaji.
However, any joy thereof was to be very shortlived. Within a year or so of Sambhaji's coronation, Sultan Muhammad Akbar took shelter with him and sought Maratha aid in winning the Mughal throne from his father Aurangzeb. The Mughal Emperor invaded the Deccan vowing to destroy the maratha state that had been founded by Shivaji. He at the head of the full strength of the Mughal army, which at the time was the largest and most powerful land army in the world. Sambhaji led the Maratha fight against the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. It was to be the final war in both men's lives, and would last all of 25 years. It was a disproportionate battle in all senses. Aurangzeb's army was at least 8 to 9 times larger than Sambhaji's. His whole empire was around 15 times bigger than Sambhaji's. However Sambhaji led the fight valiantly and did not let Aurangzeb win even a single major victory. The tenacity and sheer will of the maratha resistance to the mughal invasion is best illustrated by the story of the Ramshej fort near Nashik. Aurangzeb's commanders claimed that they would win the fort within hours but they had to fight for over six years to win it! Sambhaji also made strategically adroit moves by comprehensively defeating the enemies of Marathas like Siddi of Janjira,Chikkadev Rai of Mysore and Portuguese of Goa and Thane-Vasai before they could turn on him and support Aurangzeb. The Marathas lead by Sambhaji fought almost singlehandedly against all the enemies, both in the Deccan and the mughal power. To make matters worse, there was a devastating famine in Maharashtra in 1686-87. Moreover some selfish Maratha commanders did not understand the worthy goals of independence and were too eager to stab Sambhaji in the back for some money and 'vatan' (Proprietorship) of a few villages. Sambhaji's brothers in laws, Ganoji Shirke (brother of Sambhaji's wife, Yesubai) and Mahadaji Nimbalkar (husband of Sambhaji's sister) turned against him and joined the Mughals for the same reason.


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