Dharmaveer Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj
Son of Chhatrapati Shivaji, who refused to convert in spite of the merciless torture inflicted on him by Aurangzeb
Mrutyuche aavhaan peluni, toch varasa aamhaala dila l
Shivrayaancha Shambhu chaava, Hindu mhanuni amar jahala ll
(Coming from the same legacy that confronted death,
Shivaji’s son Shambhu, became immortal as a Hindu)
The above two lines encapsulate the spirit of an independent nation and dignity advocated by Shivaji and his son, Sambhaji, to the people of Maharashtra.
Sambhaji Maharaj was born to Shivaji and his first wife Saibai on Purandar fort on 14th May 1657 (12th day in the first half of month of Jeshtha, Shake 1579). When he was only two years old, his mother passed away. Shivaji’s mother, Jijabai, took on the responsibility of raising Sambhaji. Keshavbhat and Umaji Pandit were his tutors. There are records found in the historical memoirs of the members and the secretaries of those times of Sambhaji having received training in the disciplines of horse-riding, armoury, and body building.
Sambhaji was taught reading and writing. He was taught law, order and politics. He was taught to worship his father. He was also taught not to be too proud when he would be handed the reins of the empire. If a lawless heir were born to a king, then the entire kingdom and the royal family would be wiped out; hence it was imperative that the future king should know law and order. He was also routinely made to sit with senior officials in court to familiarize him with day-to–day business. To infuse leadership qualities in the young Sambhaji, Shivaji Maharaj took the young Sambhaji with him on his missions or encouraged him to lead a small army of about 5000-10000 men. This structured, formal and informal instruction moulded Sambhaji Maharaj in his formative years.
During these formative years, one event certainly enriched Sambhaji Maharaj’s experience and that was of his escorting Shivaji Maharaj to Agra. It was during this period that he encountered the many facets of Chhatrapati Shivaji and was subconsciously influenced by his personality. He was exposed to Shivaji’s political and tactical acumen and was a witness to his immense courage. After their escape, he spent a few years in disguise and closely experienced the social fabric of the State. This experience was to later help him immensely during his reign as a King. The experiences of being held hostage with King Mirza or giving out royal orders also helped him as a future ruler. Having spent a good amount of his time in enemy precincts since a young age, he was able to learn a lot about their way of working.
Sambhaji was not only capable academically, in weaponry, court administration, martial arts and in leading armies but was also proficient in Hindi and Sanskrit languages. He authored four prose compilations, BuddhaBhushan being one of them. Out of the two sections, one deals with Swakul (own lineage) and Swakavya Varnan (description of own poetry) while the other deals with Rajniti (politics) and Durg Nirupan (information about forts).
He led many a battle post Chhatrapati Shivaji’s coronation. However, it was only after the death of Shivaji that people truly recognized the personality of Sambhaji. He proved that he was an able successor as proficient and valiant as Chhatrapati Shivaji.
In just nine years, he managed to win 128 battles and brought glory upon his father’s name. During this time when religion was playing havoc in the Konkan region he handled the fanatics; he also attacked the Portuguese in Goa. During one such attack, he demonstrated his fearlessness and disregard for his own safety and rode all the way through the middle of a creek; he managed to reconvert the Hindu thus managing to keep alive Shivaji’s work; he brought Aurangzeb to his knees with his incessant attacks and made him head south. As an aggressive warrior and a competent administrator, Sambhaji, thus handled his empire well.
Chhatrapati Sambhaji has this inscription on his royal seal
Shri Shambo ShivajaTasya mudra ghauRiva Raajate
YadamKasevini lekha varTaTe Kasya no pari
(The Royal Seal of Sambhaji, son of Shivaji, shines radiantly in the brilliant sky
Even the crescent moon that halos great men acquiesces to this seal)
Chhatrapati Sambhaji always put up a brave face to the adverse circumstances he encountered all his life. His ability to ward off the Mughal invasion with a meagre army of about 30,000-35,000 against Aurangazeb’s experienced and mighty army of over 7,00,000 stood testimony to this. Double-crossers, traitors and conspirators always made matters worse. One such traitor caused his arrest In the year 1689. The Mogul, Murkharab Khan arrested Sambhaji at Sangameshwar when he was proceeding to Raigarh from Vishalgarh and brought him to Tulapur. He was brutally treated and mercilessly tortured by Aurangzeb in an attempt to coerce him to change his religion. He died, heroically standing by the strength of his religious beliefs and for the independence of his homeland.
A samadhi of Chhatrapati Sambhaji has been erected at Vadu in Pune district. On visiting the samadhi, a poet aptly described the king as under:
kaviRajKushal, rajKaaryaDhurnadhar ha sinhaCha Chava l
pidhyaPidhyana det prerana gheii yethe visava ll
(The versatile King among poets, the adept ruler, this progeny of a lion
Rests here, inspiring generation after generation)