Sambhaji Maharaj, the second Maratha Ruler and son of great Shivaji Maharaj. In his reign of 9 years, he fought many wars and the fiercest of them was with the Mughal dictator Aurangzeb which led to Sambhaji’s barbaric death.
We bring you the complete story of this great warrior who would be remembered for his bravery and valour in the Indian history in the next few sections.
Sambhaji Bhosale the eldest son of Shivaji Maharaja and his first wife Saibai was born in Purandar Fort in Pune 14th May 1657. He was the successor Maratha empire after Shivaji’s death.
His 9 years rule was constantly affected by the ongoing wars with Mughals, Portuguese & Mysore empire.
Till the age of 13, he had knowledge in many different languages like Deccan, Portuguese, the language of Mughals, and other south Indian languages and written many Indian Scripts and literature.
From his childhood, he got expertise in Horse riding, Archery and other war skills.
Kavi Kalash was a close friend of Sambhaji Maharaj and an advisor to the Maratha Kingdom played a vital role during war with Mughals.
He was imprisoned in Panhala Fort in 1678 by Shivaji because to curb out his irresponsible behaviour, but he escaped with his wife Jivubhai and stayed with Mughals for a year but he returned back after learning about the evil plans of Dilir Khan (viceroy of Mughal) to arrest him, after returning back he was again imprisoned.
Early Face off with Mughals
At the age of 9, Sambhaji was sent as a hostage to Raja Jai Singh I to ensure consent for the Treaty of Purandar which was signed between Shivaji and Mughals on 1665 because of this treaty Sambhaji Bhosale became Mansabdar to Mughals.
Shivaji and Sambhaji were put on house arrest by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in Agra, both of them were presented in his court in May 1666 but they escaped after 2 months.
During 1666-1670 they had a bitter relationship with Mughals and a fought a war with Sultan of Bijapur.
After the death of Shivaji in 1980, Soyarabai (Sambhaji stepmother) along with his son Rajaram and other ministers plotted a conspiracy against Sambhaji to make Rajaram ascend the Throne. Sambhaji Maharaj learnt about this conspiracy.
After this, he escaped from the Panhala Fort after killing the commander and acquired the control of Raigad Fort and ascended the throne. He imprisoned Rajaram, his wife and Soyarabai for their conspiracy.
Wars After Sambhaji Ascended the Throne
Burhanpur fort which was used to known as Aurangzeb biggest fort and was loaded with Jewels. Sambhaji Maharaj along with 20000 troops attacked Burhanpur in 1680. Looted the treasury and attacked the Mughal Garrison and Bahadur Khan who was in charge of the fort.
Attacks on Portuguese
In 1682 Sambhaji sent his commander to seize Portuguese Port in Anjadiv island. Marathas acquired the port and wanted to turn it as their naval base but later on, they were expelled by 200 Portuguese soldiers which fuelled a major conflict between both of them.
The Portuguese colonies in Goa had a major coalition with the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. They used to provide supplies to Mughals through their Ports. Till that time Mughals had controlled over the North except the Deccan.
In order to obstruct this alliance, Sambhaji Maharaj along with his troops attacked Goa 1683 attacking Portuguese soldiers and acquiring the settlements and forts, the matter became so serious that Portuguese viceroy Francisco de Tavora along with supporters went back to the cathedral and sought for Mughal help.
Read here about how Goa got freedom from Portuguese rule
Sambhaji attacks on Mysore
In 1681 Sambhaji attacked Mysore which was then ruled by the Chhikkadevaraja Wodeyar, but it was repelled, and the Wodeyars signed treaties with the Marathas. However 1683-1686, Chhikkadevaraja Wodeyar connections were getting closed to Mughals and therefore Sambhaji with Kavi Kalash attacked and invaded Mysore.
Read about the majestic Mysore Palace
The biggest achievement of Sambhaji was that he fought around 120 wars in his lifetime and never got defeated.
The war between Marathas led by Sambhaji and Aurangzeb led Mughals(a fight between 20000 Marathas soldiers and that to lacs of Mughal soldiers) went on till 9 years due to which Aurangzeb whole attention got shifted to South from North and he had to shift to Deccan because of the ongoing rebellions against Muslims.
It said that Aurangzeb 4th son Akbar fled with Muslim mansabdars and joined the rebels in Deccan however the rebels were suppressed and Akbar sought help from Sambhaji Maharaj.
Meanwhile, the conspiracy against Sambhaji by his own ministers including Annaji Datto grew to enthrone Rajaram again but Akbar came to know about this and narrated to Sambhaji after which he executed the plotters.
Akbar stayed as a refugee with Sambhaji to seek help to rebel against Mughals but that didn’t work and had to fled back to Persia with the help Maharaj.
Battle of Wai between Maratha and Mughals
The most intense battle during the reign of Sambhaji between Maratha and the Mughals with the allies of Golconda Bijapur. The battle was fought in 1687 between jungles of wai and Mahabaleshwar led by Hambirao Mohite who was the commander of Maratha army.
Both the Muslims Kingdoms of Bijapur and Golconda were allies of the Maratha empire but in 1685 Aurangzeb attacked them and captured them.
Marathas won the Battle of Wai but their army got weakened and their commander Hambirao got killed in the War.
One can say it was the biggest victory of Marathas over Mughals led by Sambhaji.
Sambhaji’s and Kavi Kalash Captured and their Barbaric death
Sambhaji Maharaj and Kavi Kalash were spied by there own Shirke family and helped the Mughals for capturing him. He along with Kavi Kalash and his 25 advisors were captured in Sangameshwar in Feb 1689 by Mughal Forces led by Muqarrab Khan.
Sambhaji Maharaj war with the Mughals kept on going till 9 years but Aurangzeb could not be any match to them. This made Aurangzeb so frustrated.
Sambhaji And Kavi Kalash were captured and taken to Ahmadnagar district and were brutally tortured and humiliated by Mughal soldiers.
Sambhaji and Kavi Kalash were asked to surrender all their treasures, fort and names of Muslims who helped him in the war. Aurangzeb also told them to convert into Islam, both of them refused to do so.
The agitated inhuman Aurangzeb started brutal torture of them after both of them denied their condition. Sambhaji and Kavi Kalash eyes were pierced, their nails of skin plucked, fingers were chopped slowly each day. Their skin was getting peeled off by Tiger claws and man more inhuman acts.
This torture went ongoing for a period of 40 days, both of them refused to accept any food, they were beheaded and bodies were cut into pieces and were let off at Tulapur on the banks of River Bhima.
There is a Statue of Sambhaji at Tulapur as a tribute.
Sambhaji Maharaj was also known as Dharamveer after he denied conversion after all that torture.
His death fuelled all Marathas and fought with Mughals from their Invasion until Aurangzeb deaths.
After Sambhaji took Maratha empire after Shivaji’s death and he followed his father policies. Agriculture was the backbone of the Maratha empire. Kavi Kalash, Chandogomatya and his council of 8 ministers were the backbones of his governance.
During his reign Maharashtra witnesses many famines and drought. Shankar Narayan Joshi states that he had constructively tackled all those situations by implementing policies related to irrigation, water storage and crop patterns.
Sambhaji Maharaj always encouraged agricultural activities, provided the farmer’s tax redemption, grain seeds and agricultural equipment. He also focussed on cultivating barren land and generating revenue through agriculture activities.
Sambhajis Contributions to Literature
Dharamveer was well versed to different languages and written many books. Budhbhushanam one of its notable contribution written in Sanskrit in which we wrote poetry related to politics.
The other notable books by Maharaj Sambhaji was Saatsatak, Nakhshikha, Nayikabhed.
Innovation during his Regime
He came up with many innovations during the wars.
Arrows-Arrows used during the wars by the Maratha army was not just normal, their heads were made of Gun powder with rubber and oil, which was used to get blasted after striking the target.
During the war with Mysore, they used jackets that were made of leather to protect themselves from the poisonous arrow from the Mysore army.
an 800 Mtrs causeway was built from Rajapuri to the gateway of Janjira but it was not completed due to Mughal Invasions.
After his Sambhaji’s death, his half-brother Rajaram became the ruler of the Maratha empire.
Sambhaji Maharaj Jayanti is celebrated on 14th May in remembrance of this brave legend.
Also, the Pune International Airport is named after him
Endnote:-one could say that the biggest achievement of Sambhaji Maharaj is that he fought around 120 wars in his entire life but didn’t lose any of them, his battle with Aurangzeb went for 9 years till he got captured still he didn’t compromise and didn’t surrender himself and their Maratha empire to Mughals. India will always remember the valour and sacrifice of the Maratha Legend.