Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chhatrapati Sambhaji

There has been no other character in Maratha history that has been so enigmatic and controversial as Ch.Sambhajiraje.
What makes Sambhaji so very controversial is the fact that Sambhaji  has as many loyalists as he has his share of critics. There have been historians dismissing him as hedonistic, reckless and cruel , whereas some revere him as the bravest Maratha king that ever lived. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between these two distinctly conflicting versions.

Sambhajis reign was short and very tumultous to say the least. His life was abrupt and death so very tragic. But despite all his accomplishments, Sambhaji in his death achieved much more than what he did during his lifetime. In his death he came to be eulogised as the true hindu martyr, that preferred death, to the ignoble life of subservience.

Early Life

Sambhaji was born on 14th May 1657 at Fort Purander.  Sambhaji or Shambhu raje as he was fondly called, was the eldest son of the legendary maratha king, Ch.Shivaji Maharaj (Bhosale). Sambhajis mother was Saibai from the family of Nimbalkars of Phaltan. She died early (5th September 1659, at fort Rajgad) after a brief illness, leaving the young Sambhaji in the care of his grandmother Jijabai. 
Shivaji being away on his various campaigns and expeditions,  Sambhaji was raised by his grandmother and his stepmothers.
A very young Sambhaji was married to a minor, Jivubai (renamed , Yesubai) , the daughter of Pilajirao Shirke. It was a matrimonial alliance. Pilajirao was an powerful Deshmukh  from the Konkan region. He owed allegience to the court of Bijapur . However after marriage , Pilajirao provided Shivaji access to Konkan belt paving the way for his southern ambitions. 

Note: Ch.Shivajis second wife Soyrabai (mother of Ch,Rajaram) was from the house of the Mohites.

Sambhaji was exposed to the cruelties of politics at a very young age. When Mirza Raje Jaisingh cornered Shivaji and forced on him a humiliating treaty at Purandar, a part of the agreement stipulated that young Sambhaji was to be kept as a collateral towards Shivajis satisfactory adherance to the agreement. Sambhaji was also to serve as a courtier in the mughal Viceroys camp at Aurangabad.
Later Sambhaji also came to be a part of Shivajis entourage to Agra and was subsequently confined there along with his father. When Shivaji escaped from Agra, Sambhaji was left behind in the care of some friendly brahmins (relatives of Moropant Pingale the Peshwa). A rumour was also floated that Sambhaji had died during his escape and at Rajgad even his obsequies were performed. This was ofcourse done to throw the Mughal search parties offguard. Sambhaji was sent back to Maharashtra much later, once the danger to his life had elapsed. 

The Battle of Succession

A couple of years , prior to and post Sambhajis reign ,  have always been a matter of conjecture, innuendos and debate. But one needs to go through all accounts before drawing any conclusions regarding the most controversial part of Sambhaji's life. 
One may notice that untill Shivaji's coronation at Raigad, Sambhajis life has been fairly unblemished. Even the European records (Abekare's chronicles, Childs letter from Rajapur , John Friar's account, Father Arlins. Ref. N.Kurundkar) till then have testified to the same. Some have even praised him for his virtues and qualities and have certified him fit for a future king. 
However it was towards the last years of Shivajis life that accusations directed at Sambhaji seem to emerge . Interestingly, these accusations came to light through some bakhars written several years after Sambhajis death. 

Note: Bakhars are historical records written by individuals/maintained by certain aristocratic families. Famous amongst them are Chitnis bakhar, Sabhasad bakhar, Sivadigvijaya, Jedhe shakhavali etc.

These bakhars (barring Sabhasad who was a courtier in Ch.Rajarams court) seem to have been written by descendents of those people who at some point of time crossed swords with Sambhaji. Hence their veracity will always remain in doubt.  However they were the only complete narrative available for modern historians and they were always used as a reference tool. It would be wrong to dismiss these bakhars completely, but a historian and a reader needs to be very discerning while referring to their contents. 
Latter day historians like Bendre have also come out with varying claims based on documents, letters which have contradicted these bakhars on many accounts.
The bakhars allege that Sambhaji had a troubled relationship+ with his stepmother Soyrabai because she harboured ambitions for her son Rajaram. She wanted Rajaram to succeed Shivaji, as the next Maratha king and she started poisoning Shivajis mind to that effect. 

+ Note: Interestingly in a few letters (e.g one to Kudalkar shastri) uncovered,  Sambhaji has mentioned a good word for his stepmother calling her as 'pure as crystal'. This makes the allegations of Sambhajis alleged troubled relations with his stepmother, all the more baffling for the historians.

According to historians like Sardesai , Sarkar ,  Duff , Kincaid (most of whom have based their versions on the contents of these bakhars) or Mughal historians like Khafi Khan and Mannucci, rumours of Sambhajis indulgences of youth were reaching Shivajis ears. 
There were even reports of Sambhajis misdemeanor towards one Hansa, the daughter of a minister , Annaji Datto Surnis  ref. historian Setu Madhavrao Pagdi. (Annaji Dattos daughter later commited suicide). 
In some versions she was the daughter of Moropant Pingale. There is also a letter from Mumbai British correspondence (as also a mention by Manucci-an Italian chronicler in the mughal camp) which indicate towards this flaw in Sambhaji. But some letters recovered curiously mention Sambhaji conducting administrative affairs in Shringarpur, several miles away from Rajgad where Sambhajis alleged dalliance is said to have taken place. This puts the merit of the bakhars in a serious doubt.
Shivaji having maintained high standards regarding the behavior of his men towards women, did not take kindly to this damaging news about his own crown prince.
To make matters worse, Sambhaji did not get along with many of Shivajis ministers. There were reports of Sambhaji's interference in their tax collection efforts. It is said that Sambhaji, on more than one instance sided with the ryot (common subjects) and often publicly defied the authority of his own ministers (ref. Parmanand), often accusing them of high handedness and corruption.
But many historians like Bendre who have researched extensively on Sambhaji have refuted these allegations that cast aspersions on Sambhajis character. They have laid the blame for Sambhajis actions squarely on a clique of ministers who resented Sambhaji and wanted a more pliant Rajaram to replace Sambhaji as the crown prince. 
According to these historians,  most of the allegations against Sambhaji was nothing short of calumny spread specifically with the intention to malign Sambhaji. 

However acc. to renowned critic and thinker, Narhar Kurundkar, it is to be noted that when Bendre dismisses these ministers as corrupt, he provides no proof for the same either and though his work overall is exemplerary, this part of the argument should be assumed more of his own personal analysis rather than based on historical facts. Not to mention the fact that these ministers (Annaji Datto, Moropant Pingale, Balaji Avji Chitnis, Hiroji Farzand etc) were competent in their own right and had served Shivaji with utmost loyalty over a long period of time.
At the most it is possible that there may have been a conflict of authority between the ministers and Sambhaji and it is also possible that Sambhajis impetuousness of youth may have triggered the conflict. Unfortunately Shivaji did not live long enough to resolve the disputes and they took up a rather catastrophic turn. 

The Sabhasad  bakhar mentions that Shivaji wanted to divide the kingdom into two halves with the northern region going to Rajaram and the southern region to Sambhaji. But seem to be there are no conclusive documents to prove the veracity of the claim. 
But it can be conclusively said that  'at that point of time' there was definately something amiss between the King and his crown prince. Because Shivaji did detain the crown prince in the Parnala fort at Parli . 

Then in a fit of rage arising out of an emotional distress, Sambhaji  apparently took off in the middle of the night with his wife Yesubai ++ and joined the Mughal forces of Diler Khan . 

++ Note : Whether the wife accompanying Sambhaji during his escape was Yesubai is again disputed, because as per some records it was Durgabai, another of Sambhajis wives  who was said to have been along with him during his flight.

This took place sometime in 1678.  But within a years time, the crown prince realised the folly of his actions after he witnessed the atrocities of the mughals on the ryot (especially the massacare of the marathas by Diler Khans army in fort Bhupatgad, which was surrendered without a fight by its killedar Firangoji Narsala as his prince Sambhaji himself was in the forefront of the mughal army. It is said that Ch.Shivaji was so horrified by the subsequent massacare that he awarded the fort keeper Narsala the death sentence for his meek submission of the fort and shirking away from his responsibilities) and escaped back to the Maratha camp at fort Panhala (1680). Sambhaji apparently reconciled with his father, but was still kept under surveillance at the fort( in some letters uncovered, Sambhaji is mentioned administering the affairs in the region of Panhala- said to be almost a second capital of the maratha kingdom).
Rajaram was to be married in the same year. Sambhaji was however not present during the wedding of his brother, perhaps, because of Sambhajis ongoing disharmony with Soyrabai,  (Rajaram was then married to Janakibai, the daughter of Prataprao Gujar, the late sarsenapati of Shivajis army).
Then Shivajis untimely death (3rd April 1680) took place in fort Raigad . 
This was followed by a lot of palace intrigues. Many of Shivajis ministers like Annaji Datto, Pralhad Niraji, Balaji Avaji Chitnis, Moropant Pingale, Hiroji Farzand etc colluded with Soyrabai and installed a ten year old Rajaram as the next king. Balaji Avaji even dispatched a letter addressed to the killedar(fort in charge) of Panhala to imprison Sambhaji with immediate effect. Janardhan Pant Hanumante was asked to take the custody of Sambhaji. But the message was discovered by some of Sambhajis well wishers, who promptly informed the prince of the conspiracy being hatched against his person. Sambhaji and his men immediately took charge of the fort. The killedar was executed. Two hundred of the conspirators were arrested and put to death. Notable amongst the conspirators were Khandoji Naik the messenger,Bahirji Ingle ,Somaji Banki,Suryaji Kank and Hiroji Farzand ( Hiroji had managed to give the slip ,but was rearrested at Chiplun ).Janardhan Hanumante was seized in Kolhapur.
Sambhaji then secured the support of some leading Maratha nobles like Hambirao Mohite (the Sarsenapati/commander in chief of the Maratha army, who was also incidently  Soyrabai's brother and also the father in law of Rajaram viz. father of Rajarams wife Tarabai. Nevertheless, he sided with Sambhaji, whom he considered the rightful heir to the throne by primogeniture ). 
Sambhaji marched along with twenty thousand troops to fort Raigad. Yesaji Kank, an old Shivaji loyalist opened the fort gates for the prince. Raigad fell without much resistance to Sambhaji. Even the killedar Kanhoji Bhadwalkar switched sides to Sambhaji.
Soyrabai was (allegedly) imprisoned by Sambhaji on charges of plotting against him and also poisoning the late king .Both she and her son Rajaram were imprisoned. Soyrabai died within a week, put to death on Sambhajis orders, as alleged by a section of historians like Kincaid-Parasnis,Sarkar etc based on the text ' Sivadigvijaya' , some other bakhars and some European records (but recently some historians like Bendre have put forward evidences that Soyrabai infact lived a year or two after Shivajis death. Sambhaji even performed the last rites of the queen mother with due state honours).

Note: Historians siding Sambhaji also raise a very valid point. If Sambhaji had indeed executed his own step mother then why would her brother (Hambirrao Mohite) support the cause of Sambhaji? Hambirraos daughter Tarabai was later married to Ch.Rajaram (younger son of Ch Shivaji from Soyrabai).In fact it was Sambhaji who supervised 3 marraiges of his younger brother. At the most it is possible his brother was kept under surveilance. But it is unlikely that it was imprisonment.

In February 1681, Sambhaji declared himself the new Chatrapati (king) of the Maratha throne. The king wanted Ramdas Swami, the aged spiritual guide of Shivaji to be himself present at the coronation ceremony. But the old man politely declined citing health reasons , and sent his emissaries instead. As some historians allege, Ramdas was very much perturbed by the bloodshed that took place, prior to the coronation, hence declined his personal presence. But the teacher didn’t fail to give Sambhaji a personal letter along with his blessings. In the letter Ramdas swami advised the young king to follow in the footsteps of his great father. Be more tolerant towards his people, avoid decisions in anger and haste and he advised Sambhaji to be more discreet and prudent in the future.
In consonance to the saints advice, Sambhaji decided to let bygones be bygones. He released several of the conspirators. He even reappointed Moropant Pingale as his Peshwa ( the loyal Hambirao Mohite already being the commander in chief of the forces).

Note: As per some records Moropant Pngale died in prison and Sambhaji who had a lot of respect for Moropant Pingale despite their differences. So as a consolation he appointed his son Nilopant Pingale as the next Peshwa.

Then it so happened, that Prince Akbar (son of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb) who had rebelled against his father sought refuge with Sambhaji, something which was readily accepted (Netaji Palkar the veteran ex senapati was sent to receive the prince, considering his experience in the north).

Note: Sambhaji giving refuge to Akbar, incensed Aurangzeb to no end. He took it very personally.

The discredited ministers once again decided to take their chances by enlisting the help of the mughal prince in overthrowing Sambhaji. They tried to induce Akbar, over to their side, and even plotted to poison Sambhaji.
But the prince Akbar, grateful for the protection he had received from the maratha king, informed Sambhaji about the attempt to be made on his life. On hearing the news, Sambhaji's fury was let loose once again.He arrested the conspirators (Annaji Datto, Hiroji Farzand,Balaji Avji etc) and had them trampled under the feet of an elephant. 

Note: Balaji Avjis son Khando Ballals name figures in the material written about Sambhaji, which probably indicates that Khando Ballal was pardoned on advice from Sambhajis wife Yesubai and he once again resumed Sambhajis service. Khando Ballal was even said to have saved Sambhajis life in a Goa expedtion. Khando Ballal also accompanied Rajaram during his hazardous journey to Gingee and remained his close aide in those years. Khando Ballal also served Tarabai and later Shahu and was responsible in saving Pant Pratinidhi from Shahus wrath, when Pant Pratinidhi acting in favour of Tarabai went against the interests of Shahu. Khando Ballals son Govind Chitnis served Ramrajas cause and helped Balaji Bajirao in installing Ramraja on the maratha throne. It was Govinds son Malhar Chitnis who later wrote the Chitnis bakhar a treatise on Maratha history (including the events related to Sambhaji). His son Balwantrao served Ch. Pratapsinh at Satara.

But this incident,  sowed the seeds of permanent distrust in Sambhajis mind, towards many of his men. This also led to the prominence of a Brahmin from Kannauj , by the name of Kavi Kalash (Kalash the poet).Kalash soon became Sambhajis closest confidante and adviser. Note: This is again as per the bakhars. Whereas Historian Bendre says that Sambhaji's queen Yesubai was the one who handled day to day affairs of the administration while Sambhaji was away on campaigns.Kalash was a friend, a confidante, but no more than that. His post of Chhandogamatya was more honorary in nature and never a part of the chief ashtapradhans.

As per some historians and bakharkars, Kalash (allegedly) took advantage of Sambhajis distrust towards his other ministers and widened the rift between them. Kavi Kalash was to be a hated figure amongst a section of Marathas and is often called ‘Kalusha Kabji’ (the evil instigator). 

Though there are also many historians who swear by Kavi Kalashs intentions and devotion towards Sambhaji, thus making him as much an enigmatic personality as his master.


Sambhajis first campaign was immediately in May 1680. He openly challenged the Mughal Viceroy Khan Jehan alias Bahadur Khan Koka. The Maratha regiments split into three , one attacking the mughal territory of Surat, the other raiding Khandesh and the third taking on the imperial forces at Aurangabad. The attacks proved a success for the Marathas and they came back with a rich booty. Sambhaji and Habirrao Mohite even looted the mughal camp at Burhanpur divesting it of twenty million rupees.
Sambhajis second campaign was a daring attempt to capture the sea fort of Janjira, which unfortunately proved a failure. He even lost a brave officer by the name of Kondaji Farzand. Kondaji had managed to befriend the guarding Siddis (Abyssinians) of Janjira . He had gained their trust by citing his differences with Sambhaji. He thus managed to enter the fort and was about to capture it from within. But unluckily,Kondajis plan was exposed at the last minute and he was arrested and beheaded by the Siddis. A second attempt by another officer Dadaji Raghunath was also foiled, this time by the cruel sea, when the fierce sea waves wrecked his attacking boats. A third attempt was made when Siddi Misri, who was once a part of the Siddi contingent of Janjira switched sides over to the Marathas. Sambhaji made him the commander of his naval fleet. Siddi Misri led the Maratha navy against his fellow Siddis of Janjira. But Siddi Misri lost the naval battle and was himself fatally wounded.
Meanwhile, the Portuguese had aligned themselves with the Mughals. The Portuguese Viceroy Alvor had allowed the Mughals to set up their naval base in Portuguese territory. To punish the viceroy, Sambhaji attacked Portuguese territory (1683-84) , and at one point surrounded Alvor himself. But as fate would have it, Aurangzeb sent a large army to take on the Marathas, forcing Sambhaji to retreat.
Sambhaji then sent a contingent to ravage the mughal territory of Khandesh, and a second contingent to attack the mughul prince Shah Alam in the south (Karnataka region).The Maratha forces met with success and Shah Alams forces had to retreat from several fronts.
Then there was also a campaign against Chikkadevraja the king of Mysore. Chikkadevraja had challenged the Marathas by intruding in their territory. Sambhaji dispatched an army against him, forcing Chikkadevraja to sue for peace.It is said that to counter the barrage of arrows by a huge army of archers from Mysore, Sambhaji had on a ad hoc basis got oil laden rubber armour 
prepared for his soldiers thus blunting their attack. At the same time he used oil fired arrows to subdue the enemy.
The period from 1684-1686, Aurangzeb concentrated on his southern campaign. Both Bijapur and Golkunda fell in quick succession. Sambhaji may have made a tactical error by not aligning with the combined armies of Bijapur and Golkunda to face the mughal onslaught (But a group of historians lay the blame squarely on the monarchs of Golkunda and Bijapur for the loss of their kingdoms. They maintain the Golkunda king was hedonistic , careless and the Bijapur king was too young and inexperieced to retain their kingdoms). By 1687, the out of service Bijapur troops (mainly the hindus, who felt ignored by the bigoted muslim emperor) joined the Maratha ranks and captured almost hundred and twenty towns which were once a part of the Bijapur provinces.
Meanwhile, Aurangzebs rebel son,prince Akbar (who had sought refuge with the marathas) was feeling the heat of his fathers troops. He therefore took leave of Sambhaji and fled to Persia.

But the emperor Aurangzeb was in no mood to forgive and forget.With the Bijapur and Golkunda kingdoms annexed to the mughal empire, the emperor Aurangzeb decided to concentrate on Sambhaji. He wanted to punish Sambhaji for harbouring his rebel son (and other rebels like the Rajput Durgadas).
In 1688, Aurangzeb sent Sarja Khan an ex Bijapuri officer to recover the lost Bijapur territory from the marathas.
Sarja khan was led into the jungles of Wai by Sambhajis erstwhile commander in chief , Hambirao Mohite. Though Sarja Khan and his forces were routed by the Marathas, Hambirao Mohite became a casualty of that battle. 

The death of his most trusted noble was a big blow for Sambhaji.

Sambhajis character

Till date Sambhaji continues to evoke mixed reactions. Some hail him as a bravest Maratha warrior that ever lived , whereas some critisise him for his indolence and weakness for a good life (which is again open for a debate). But even his critics concede the mans genius. Sambhajis critics like Kincaid-Parasnis mention him spending months in pleasure seeking, only to emerge out of hibernation one fine day, and put up a string of military succeses, wiping out all the blots of procrastination he may be accused of. 

Many (Like Dramatist Kanetkar who has written a famous play on Sambhaji titled 'Raigadala jevha jaag yete i.e when Fort Raigad came alive) attribute his split personality to the early plots of his step mother and the ministers against him .This made him wary about the people around him. He wasn’t able to trust easily.The historians further conclude that he gathered some wrong people around him, who deliberately led him astray to suit their purposes. He probably spent months under their unsavoury influence,only to be shaken back into reality and good sense by some of Shivajis old loyal aides like Hambirrao Mohite. 
But one has to understand that all the historians who have written adversely about Sambhaji either belonged to enemy camps (Mughal, British,Portuguese) or have based their reasons on the Chitnis bakhar, a treatise written 120 years after the death of Sambhaji and that too by a descendent of a man (Balaji Avji Chitnis) who was executed by Sambhaji. Hence one has to be very circumspect before giving complete credence to this bakhar. Even the Sabhadsad bakhar written (4-5 years after Sambhajis death) by Krishnaji Anant Sabhasad, an contemporary of Shivaji, was in his final years (when he wrote the bakhar) an employee of Ch. Rajaram. So its not surprising that he has many a kind word for Rajaram, but presents Sambhaji in a negative light. 
Similarly the Sivadigvijaya bakhar though attributed to Khando Ballal Chitnis , the son of Balaji Avji in fact appears to be written by someone else (probably by someone amongst the Chitnis descendents themselves).
Also it must be noted that Sambhaji had to face a formidable opponent in the form of the mughal emperor Aurangzeb himself, something which even the great Shivaji was spared of (luckily as Aurangzeb was busy with his Afghanistan campaign).
The mughal might was several folds greater than that of Bijapur and to Sambhajis credit he gave the mughals a very tough fight. He also added several territories to Shivajis existing kingdom like parts of the Portuguese empire in Konkan and Goa, tracts of the Bijapur territory in Karnataka etc. As the acclaimed author Narhar Kurundar says - if five to six forts were indeed lost to the mughals four to five were also wrested away from this strong enemy.
Also the charge that Sambhaji couldnt evoke loyalty from his men is also flawed. Excluding the conspirators majority of his men stuck by the side of Sambhaji. Treachery by men was a part and parcel of the Maratha history. These took place in Shivajis time as well and continued during Sambhajis time and also thereafter. Mughals were financially strong and would often buy loyalties of men. This is ofcourse more telling about the character of certain people rather than about Sambhaji's ability to command loyalty in his people.
Another charge levelled on Sambhaji is that he was a alcoholic, addicted to opium, a hedonistic person, and very careless and irresponsible towards the day to day administration of his kingdom. Assuming that he consumed  alcohol, dosent automatically make him an alcoholic. Nor does it mean that he was negligent in his affairs. Even the part of him being a womaniser may have been grossly exaggerated and more is a part of chronicles written in the enemy camp.
Moreover a king whose kingdom was under seige by the mighty mughal empire can hardly afford to lead a life of a hedonist. His brief reign of eight years witnessed several campaigns which wouldnt have been possible without Sambhajis personal attention.

Sambhaji : The Poet

Shivaji ensured that  despite the tumultous nature of their lives, his son got the best education befitting a prince. Sambhaji grew up to be a well read person as also a soldier with commendable martial skills.
It can also be concluded from various records available that besides marathi , Sambhaji was versatile in Hindustani and Sanskrit. The Sanskrit treatise Buddhabhushan which is a commentary on various philosophies, cultures and poetry is attributed to Sambhaji. 
Sambhaji was also known for being a patron of arts. He employed a learned man called Keshav Pandit Adhyaksh, to read with him Valmiki's celebrated epic, the Ramayan. As a reward, he gave Keshav ( 1684 A.D.) sixteen hundred small silvercoins known as 'ladis'. The king was also no mean versifier. He is known to have written two books of Hindi poetry, The first was called Nakhshikh, in which he described the pleasures of love. The second was named Nayakabhad. In it he sang the varying charms of the beauties who beguiled his leisure moments.(ref. Kincaid)

Sambhajis capture and execution

At Kalashs insistence Sambhaji decided to spend the hot summer of 1688 in a palace built by Kavi Kalash at Sangameshwar, a small but climatically cool township, twenty miles north from Vishalgad, and twenty two miles north east from Ratnagiri (this may have proved a mistake on the part of Sambhaji, as for once, he was away from the safe protection of the impregnable fort of Raigad). The news of Sambhajis whereabouts soon reached the mughals. The Mughal commander Muqarrab Khan then devised a daring plan to capture Sambhaji in person. They were helped in their endeavour by the estranged brother in law of Sambhaji, by the name of Ganoji Shirke *, who showed the mughal army the way through the adjoining dense forests, simultaneously providing the mughals, logistics and information about Sambhajis movements. In Feb 1688, Sambhaji and Kavi Kalash were surrounded and captured (the maratha commander in chief Mhaloji Ghorpade, the successor to Habirrao Mohite was killed in the skirmish). They were brought before Aurangzeb, who had himself encamped at Akluj (near Pandharpur). 

* Note: The bakharkars say that Ganoji Shirke belonged to the same family as Sambhajis step mother Soyrabai and because they had supported Soyrabais cause against Sambhaji, the latter had them killed in what is infamously called as 'Shirkan'. But latter historians like Bendre with the help of documents has proved that Shirkan was infact the jagir of the Shirkes which Sambhaji confiscated due to their treachery (there was a land dispute over the rights of Dabhol, over which the Shirkes had sought employment with the Mughals) and there was no bloodshed called Shirkan involved.
Dabhol was later given to the Shirkes by Ch.Rajaram (younger brother of Ch,Sambhaji who succeeded him post Sambhajis death) after the Shirkes helped him escape from the Ginjee fort.

Note: Mughal historians mention Sambhaji being in an inebriated state at the time of his capture and in the midst of courtesans. But recent evidences state that he was accompanied not only by his wife (Yesubai) and ministers (Mhaloji Ghorpade,Dhanaji Jadhav,Santaji Ghorpade) but also by Ranganath Swami, the leading disciple of his spiritual guru  Ramdas Swami. Then the question arises whether a person would indulge in such indiscretions in the company of such people? Also as far as accusations about Sambhajis careless behaviour goes, there are letters that record Sambhaji repairing a fallen bastion at Vishalgad just two days before his capture.Also that he had gone to Sangameshwar to attend a case of treachery (ironically). If Sambhaji was such an irresponsible king then would he have looked into such minute details of his kingdom. So in fair conclusion we can only derive that Sambhaji was betrayed and cleverly captured by the Mughals.

They were both humiliated in public and paraded before the crowds in a buffoons attire. Aurangzeb (as per the bakhars) then offered Sambhaji an insulting proposition. Sambhaji should surrender all his forts and the amassed Maratha treasure to the mughals . Secondly, he should reveal the names of all mughal officers who were secretly colluding with the Marathas, and thirdly Sambhaji should convert himself to Islam and serve the emperor in near future. In return Aurangzeb would spare Sambhajis life.
But the fearless Maratha king scornfully retorted, that he would accept the emperors conditions , only if Aurangzeb agreed to marry off his daughter to him (this is again attributed to the literary imagination of some historians as all of Aurangzebs daughters were quite elderly) . Sambhaji then apparently exchanged insult for insult. This audacity incensed the emperor to no end, and he ordered Sambhajis execution .For three days Sambhaji was tortured at Tulapur, on the banks of river Bhima , near Pune. Aurangzeb ordered the blasphemous tongue to be pulled out, his eyes were gouged,his limbs severed (ref. Alamgirnama by Ishwardar Nagar- Persian translation to marathi by Setu Madhavrao Pagadi) . Sambhaji was subjected to a very horrific ordeal. But he bore it bravely until ,on the third day, when his head was decapitated.
His aide and confidante Kavi Kalash also remained loyal to his master till the very end. He too met the same fate as Sambhaji.

Note: Again the above reports of Sambhajis treatment in the mughal camp are by the bakharkars. In the official reports there is no mention of Sambhaji being asked to convert to Islam . But was simply told to reveal the details of his wealth and the names of spies/traitors in the Mughal camp. Something which Sambhaji refused to do and thus his execution was ordered.

There is also another story of one mughal officer, Mian Khan, associated with Sambhajis final days. Earlier Sambhaji had given some valuable help to this Mian Khan and the latter was indebted to Sambhaji for this. This same officer was posted at Tulapur during Sambhajis torture. But when asked to gouge out the eyes of Chhatrapati, he had preffered killing himself instead.

 Sambhajis disembered remains were later sewn together by some brave people of Vadu (later to be called as Shivle Patils or the Patils who sewed the mortal remains of the king) and finally cremated there with ritual obsequies and  honours.
Thus ended the life of a controversial but brave king ( 11th March 1689) . In death he became a martyr, inspiring a Maratha fightback.
After Sambhajis death, all Maratha nobles forgetting their differences, united under the banner of Chatrapati Rajaram (Sambhajis step brother) and continued their struggle against the Mughals.

Referances: History of the Maratha People by Kincaid, History of the Mahrattas by Duff, Chatrapati Shivaji by Setu M.Pagadi, Shivaji and his Times by J.Sarkar, Translation of Sabhasad/Sivadigvijaya/Chitnis bakhars by Surendranath Sen,Works on Sambhaji by W.S.Bendre (V. N.Kurundkar), Novels on Sambhaji by Shivaji Sawant and Vishwas Patil.


  1. Thank you very much for giving info abt ch sambhajirajeraje

  2. The pleasure was mine Deeps.

  3. in a nutshell you hve beautifully explained this controversial figure giving both the sides in a equitable way.

  4. Thank you 'manwithoutaname', I was indeed walking a tightrope, was'nt I? :-)

  5. Thaks! Mr.Abhijit Rajadhyaksha that nice written by you

    Historian VS Bendre, the man who restored Sambhaji Maharaja's name and gave the world the true picture of have a look..thanks.

  7. Sadhna, congragulations for your blog. It is quite interesting. I am looking forward to more details(selected from the works of the esteemed historian Shree Bendre) on the enigmatic Sambhaji maharaj on your blog.

  8. I am a great admirer of Chhatrapati Shivaji and Chhatrapati Sambhaji since childhood,not to forget Kavi Kalash as well and their sacrifices that never went invain..........

  9. We all are Maria73. For the first time in history of Maharashtra there was a kingdom that strove to be different from that of their predecessors, genuinely interested in public welfare.

  10. Thank You for this wonderful information and knowledge on Sambhaji Raje.

  11. Informations abt raje SAMBHAJI
    Is very good and true
    Detail on kavi kalash in v patil books are also
    Not to let behind.
    Frm where i can get those
    Historical mail paper(sandesh patra. )for reference of ividence

  12. I feell proud to publish the works of the great historian "V.C.Bendre" through my Parshwa Publications , Kolhapur .I have published four tit
    les : " Maloji Raje ani Shahaji Maharaj "
    " Chatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj "
    " Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj " VOL : 1 & 2
    " Shivarajya Abhishek Prayog " .
    Rahul Mehta , Kolhapur.
    9689895289 / 9373765511

  13. what is the history of Sambhaji second wife durgabai and her son Madansinh..and sambhajis sister Ranuakka..

    1. Chaava Kadambari vachat astana hach prashnaa padlay mala pan

      kuthech kahi sandarbh sapadat nahiye

    2. I also want to know about them. If anyone knows Plzz let us know about them

    3. I am also searching for same information. If anyone has reference please share.

  14. Thank's Alot for Sharing This with Us........

  15. Desh dharm pe mar mitne vala
    sher shiva ka chava tha
    mahaveer mahabalidaani
    woh toh sambhaji raja tha
    woh toh sambhaji raja tha
    we are indebted to each drop of blood spilled from the body of the great man

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  18. Shambhaji maharaj bravest of brave

  19. Shambhaji maharaj bravest of brave

  20. Can you all please give your valuable knowledge about sambhaji maharaj death and relation of gudi padwa festival. any proof of ancient times with this i need. please mail to

  21. What a blog! Great work...
    This seems brief version of Vishwas Patil's work "Sambhaji".
    You've thrown away false allegations and depicted true versions beautifully!
    It had took 3 centuries to bring Sambhu Raje's true history in light.

    Keep it up!

  22. Very interesting will restore the well deserved respect for this great maratha King.

  23. Thanks to Zee Marathi for instilling the interest in the subject. The above author has indeed put up the entire life of Chatrapati Sambhaji Raje Bhonsale in a nutshell and made it really interesting for the reader to learn more and more about the controversies that haunted the poor Shambhu Raje, the most unappreciated Maratha King inspite of the great values he held.

  24. Mr. Ace...i stopped reading this blog 2 paragraphs into it...
    1. Sambhaji Raje was born on 14th May "1657" and not 1647 as you have mentioned.
    2. Soyrabai was from the "Mohite" family...SarSenapati Hambirrao Mohite being her elder brother

    1. Yes u r right.saibai rani mother of sambhaji raje died after two years of his birth in 1659.soyrabai was from Mohite family.she is from Karnataka.

    2. It's not the real truth of exceution and death of Sambhaji Raje ,,,,I will request you to write the real truth

    3. Nikhil Ghawali I stand corrected.

    4. RajDeepti, the due changes have been made.


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  26. Shambhaji ji ka Death kaise hua tha
    kya aurangzeb ne unhe 30 din band kar ke rkha tha aur unke hath pair kate the unhe islam kabul karane ke liye force kiya tha
    ye sahi hay????

  27. Somebody needs to edit the information on Wikipedia, the history of Ch. Sambhaji Maharaj is very badly written there

  28. In my opinion, Shambhu Raje was the bravest king in Indian history. Unfortunately his destiny was not favouring him. His mother died in his young age, Rajmata Jijau also died earlier. Shambhu Raje faced most dangerous situations in early age like remaining hostage with Mirza Raje, remaining in exile at Agra. In these types of situations remaining motivated is very rare. Though he became martyer in young age but he lived life of a great king & faced death like a lion. He will inspire humanity till the end of humanity.Infinate salutes to the lion king Sambhaji Maharaj.

  29. I am presently seeing the serial on zee Marathi on chatrapati "Samnhaji". I have gone through your personal profile also and very interestingly your interest and mines seems to match in many cases.grreat info so
    .hats off

  30. Thanks for such a informative account on such a great personality and kingdom! : )

  31. thanks sir such a great information on our hero Chatrapati Sambhaji Raje thanks to bring real history of our shambhuraje

  32. Very enlightening. Bravo. The great Sambhaji has been deservedly resurrected by you by painting the true picture of this valiant braveheart king! The serial Sambhaji seems to follow this storyline. We hope that plays are now made based on your revelations.

  33. शिवाजी महाराजांचा काळ डोळ्या समोर उभा राहिला. आणि तो आम्ही जगला. चित्रपट बघताना रोमांच येत होता, बघताना एवढ्या वेदना होत होत्या मग त्यांना किती वेदना झाल्या असतील याची कल्पना करवत नाही. हर हर महादेव, जय भवानी जय शिवाजी !!!
    Kondaji Farzand

  34. Wikipedia History about Sambhaji Maharaj is wrong in some parts. Someone needs to show the right picture in Wikipedia since it is accessible to whole world.

  35. Sangameshwar is a problem even today. We had an employee from this place who turned out treacherous. Annaji datto and sambhaji execution both are linked to Sangameswar

  36. Just like Tanaji movie which is a big hit starring Ajay Devgan, there should also be a movie on the Great Sambhaji raje in Bollywood so that everyone in India should know about this great warrior.