Sambhaji Raje Bhosle
was the eldest son and successor to Emporer (Chhatrapati
Chhatrapati is the Indian honorific title equivalent to the European Emperor. It is more formally written as Kshetrapati, from the Sanskrit kshetra- and -pati...
, the founder of the Maratha empire
The Maratha Empire or the Maratha Confederacy was an Indian imperial power that existed from 1674 to 1818. At its peak, the empire covered much of South Asia, encompassing a territory of over 2.8 million km²....
Sambhaji was born at Purandar fort
Purandar fort पुरंदर किल्ला figures repeatedly in the rising of Shivaji against the Bijapur kingdom and the Mughals. Purandhar fort stands 4,472 ft. above the sea in the Western Ghats, 20 miles southeast of Pune. It actually consists of two forts - Purandar and Vajragad...
. He was 17 years old when his father Shivaji was crowned in 1674. His grandmother and mentor Jijabai
Jijabai was the mother of Shivaji, founder of the Maratha Empire.-Birth date and family life:Jijabai was born on 12 January 1598 and a daughter of Lakhoji Jadhav in present-day Buldhana district of Maharashtra State...
died the same year. Sambhaji was taken as security by Mughal sardar Mirjha raja Jayasingh utill he receives all forts of agreement which Shivaji Maharaj did with him to stop his attack on maratha kingdom under his control. Sambhaji was 9 years old at that time.
In a marriage of political alliance, Sambhaji was married to a minor Jivubai, renamed (as per Maratha custom) Yesubai
Yesubai was the wife of the Maratha emperor Sambhaji.Yesubai was the daughter of Pilajirao Shirke, an illustrious Maratha sardar , who was in the services of Chhatrapati Shivaji. Yesubai was by various accounts extremely beautiful, wise and prudent. She was fiercely loyal to the goals of her...
, daughter of Pilajirao Shirke who came to service of Shivaji Maharaj after defeat of a powerful Deshmukh he was serving.Thus giving Shivaji access to the Konkan coastal belt.
Annaji Datto, Somaji Datto and some others in Shivaji's court wanted to oust Sambhaji to enhance their own positions and power in the affairs of the state and use it to their advantage. They poisoned Sambhaji's food but Sambhaji was fortunately saved as the plot was uncovered. Sambhaji forgave them. Still, they conspired again and wanted to arrest Sambhaji at the Panhala Fort
Panhala fort , also known as Panhalgad, Pahalla and Panalla , is located in Panhala, 20 kilometres northwest of Kolhapur in Maharashtra, India. It is strategically located looking over a pass in the Sahyadri mountain range which was a major trade route from Bijapur in the interior of Maharashtra to...
, where he was staying at the time of Shivaji's death. They wanted to crown his minor stepbrother, Rajaram
Shrimant Rajaram Shivaji Raje Bhonsle Chhatrapati Maharaj was the younger son of the first Chhatrapati Shivaji, stepbrother of the second Chhatrapati Sambhaji, and took over the Maratha Empire as its third Chhatrapati after his brother's death at the hands of the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb in 1689...
as Maratha king and wanted take full control over Maratha Kingdom. Rajaram's mother, Soyarabai, was involved in the plan. However the Supreme Commander of Maratha forces, Hambirrao Mohite, who was Soyarbai's brother, supported Sambhaji as the rightful heir to the throne. It was chiefly because of Hambirrao Mohite's support that Sambhaji was able to ascend to the throne in 1681. Sambhaji pardoned all involved in plan and reappointed Moropant Pingale
Moreshwar Nilkanth Pingley , often referred as 'Moropant', was a senior RSS leader in India. He is merited as "हिन्दु जागरणाचा सरसेनानी", literally, "Commander of Hindu awakening"...
Attack on Burhanpur
Bahadurkhan Kokaltash, a relative of Aurangzeb was in charge of Burhanpur, a Mughal stronghold. He left Burhanpur
Burhanpur is an important city in Madhya Pradesh state, India. It is the administrative seat of Burhanpur District. It is situated on the north bank of the Tapti River, southwest of Bhopal and northeast of Mumbai...
to attend a wedding, giving the charge of Burhanpur to Kakarkhan. Bahadurkhan also took with him a territorial army to showoff at the wedding. Sambhaji tricked Mughals into thinking that Marathas were going to attack Surat that had been twice plundered by Shivaji. However, Hambirrao Mohite, the commander of the Maratha army surrounded Burhanpur. Sambhaji also reached Burhanpur in a short time. Thus, within a fortnight of his coronation, Sambhaji along with Hambirrao attacked Burhanpur. In face of sudden surprise attack the Mughals could not save Burhanpur. The Marathas plundered all the Mughal treasure in Burhanpur, about twenty million rupees. Sambhaji purchased horses from an Arab trader although the utterly frightened trader was ready to give the horses for free. The people of Burhanpur, especially women and children, were not harmed. The Marathas safely reached Raigad with all the loot.
War against the Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire , or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...
In an act of political acumen, Sambhaji gave shelter to Sultan Muhammad Akbar, the fourth son of Aurangzeb
Abul Muzaffar Muhy-ud-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb Alamgir , more commonly known as Aurangzeb or by his chosen imperial title Alamgir , was the sixth Mughal Emperor of India, whose reign lasted from 1658 until his death in 1707.Badshah Aurangzeb, having ruled most of the Indian subcontinent for nearly...
, to cause revolt against Aurangzeb. Within a year or so of Sambhaji's coronation, Sultan Muhammad Akbar took shelter with him and sought Sambhaji's aid in winning the Mughal throne from his father Aurangzeb.
Upon the death of Shivaji, Aurangzeb had come to Deccan in 1680 CE with about half a million troops and 400,000 animals, which at that time was perhaps the largest army in the world. With the help of such a massive army, he defeated the Adilshah (Bijapur) and Qutubshah (Golconda) empires. Aurangzeb acquired two generals, Mukarrabkhan and Sarjakhan, from Qutubshahi and Adilshahi empires respectively. However, he was not able to bring an end to the Maratha empire. It was a disproportionate battle in all senses. Aurangzeb's army was about ten times the Maratha army. Sambhaji did not let Aurangzeb win major victories. Aurangzeb's commanders claimed that they would win the Ramshej fort near Nashik
within hours but the fight for the fort lasted seven years.
War with Siddis of Janjira
The island of Janjira was under the control of the Siddis. Janjira was strategically a very important and impregnable fort in the Arabian Sea
The Arabian Sea is a region of the Indian Ocean bounded on the east by India, on the north by Pakistan and Iran, on the west by the Arabian Peninsula, on the south, approximately, by a line between Cape Guardafui in northeastern Somalia and Kanyakumari in India...
, with cannons embedded all around. It also had high economic importance as the traders had to pay large amounts to pass by this fort. The Marathas had earlier tried conquering Janjira but failed. Sambhaji wanted to capture Janjira. The Marathas attacked the fort from all sides. Siddis also retaliated with their cannons and ships and did not give up. Sambhaji ordered a break in the attack. Other Maratha chiefs did not know that Sambhaji had planted spies in the Janjira fort and he was waiting for them to blow up the gunpowder store in the fort. Unfortunately the spies were caught as a female servant came to know about this and informed the Siddis. One of them managed to escape but the others were killed. When Sambhaji got this news, he decided to build a bridge of stones from the shore to the island fort. The construction was very risky, difficult and consumed time. When about half of the bridge had been built, news came that Aurangzeb had sent about 100,000 troops to ravage the Maratha kingdom. Sambhaji had to leave Janjira to counter the Mughal army.
War with Chikka Devraja of Mysore
When he learnt of intrusion into Maratha territory by Chikka Devaraja
Chikka Devaraja was the wodeyar ruler of Mysore from 1673 to 1704. During this time, Mysore saw significant expansion and also recognition by the Mughal empire as a tributary state...
, Sambhaji had sent his emissary to Chikka Devaraja. The emissary was insulted in the Mysore
court. Furious at this, Sambhaji decided to attack Chikka Devaraja. The Marathas marched but Chikka Devaraja prepared to fight and decided to stop the Marathas before they could reach Mysore’s territory. Both the armies were poised for a battle. The Mysore bowmen started striking and the Maratha army was greeted with a heavy shower of arrows. The long-ranged metallic arrows from the Mysore bowmen started inflicting fatal wounds on the Marathas. Thus, realizing the increasing Maratha casualties, Sambhaji retreated for the time being and camped nearby. Sambhaji then ordered all the local cobblers to prepare leather clothing. These garments were ordered to be laden with oil
An oil is any substance that is liquid at ambient temperatures and does not mix with water but may mix with other oils and organic solvents. This general definition includes vegetable oils, volatile essential oils, petrochemical oils, and synthetic oils....
. Marathas then started making bows and arrows using a locally available wood. These bows and arrows were ordinary and crude. However a piece of cloth bound to the arrowhead made it deadly when lit with fire using oil as fuel. Thus, Sambhaji transformed ordinary arrow
An arrow is a shafted projectile that is shot with a bow. It predates recorded history and is common to most cultures.An arrow usually consists of a shaft with an arrowhead attached to the front end, with fletchings and a nock at the other.- History:...
s into fiery arrows.
The Mysore bowmen had longer, stronger and better quality bows and arrows than the Marathas. Marathas started attacking the forts in Mysore. The bowmen from atop the forts commenced striking. But, their arrows proved futile, as the oil-laden leather clothing neutralized the effects of the arrows. To counter them, Maratha bowmen began responding with lit arrows. Some of them struck the explosives (gunpowder) store and caused explosions. This led to high casualties in the Mysore army. The Marathas pressed on attacking and the forts of Chikka Devraja fell into Maratha hands. Thus, Chikka Devraja realising the situation he was in, and sued for peace and agreed to abide by the terms of the Marathas.
Capture and Attempts to rescue
Sambhaji warned Siddis, Chikkadev Rai and Portuguese from crossing the path of the Marathas and ordered them to refrain from helping Aurangzeb in any way. In this way, Sambhaji nullified any threat that the Maratha kingdom had from these three powers.
Sambhaji also beat back the two Mughal armies of 100,000 troops each, which were sent by Aurangzeb. In fact, the second army was so badly defeated that only a few troops could return to the Mughal camp. Aurangzeb decided to defeat Sambhaji by deceit.
In early 1689 CE, Sambhaji called his commanders for a strategic meeting at Sangameshwar in Konkan
The Konkan also called the Konkan Coast or Karavali is a rugged section of the western coastline of India from Raigad to Mangalore...
to decide on the final blow to oust Aurangzeb from Deccan. In order to execute the plans soon, Sambhaji sent ahead most of his comrades and stayed back with a few of his trustworthy men. Ganoji Shirke, one of Sambhaji's brother-in-laws, turned a traitor and helped Aurangzeb's commander Mukarrab Khan to locate, reach and attack Sangameshwar when Sambhaji was in the garden of Sangameshwar
Sangameshwar is a tehsil in Ratnagiri subdivision of Ratnagiri district in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Sangmeshwar is situated at the confluence of the two rivers Sonavi and Shastri. In fact, the very meaning of Sangama in Marathi is confluence, and so the name Sangmeshwar...
, resolving some issues and was about to leave the town.
Sambhaji, Kavi Kalash (a Brahmin) and his men were surrounded from all sides. Marathas took out their swords, roared ‘Har Har Mahadev’ and pounced upon the far too numerous Mughals. A bloody skirmish took place and Sambhaji was captured on 1 February 1689.
Maratha soldiers and other faithfuls unsuccessfully tried to rescue Sambhaji but were killed by Mughals on 3 February 1689.
Sambhaji was beheaded and his body was cut into pieces. It is said that people from village Vadhu (which is half kilometer away from Tulapur)collected those pieces and did Sambhaji's funeral ceremony by Gorakhnath who was follower of Samarth Ramdas
Ramdas was a prominent Marathi saint and religious poet in the Hindu tradition in Maharashtra, India. Samarth Ramdas was a devotee of Lord Hanuman and Lord Rama...
Immediate after-effects of Sambhaji's execution
Immediately after Sambhaji's death, Maratha confederacy was thrown in a disarray. He was succeeded by his younger brother Rajaram. The Commander-in-Chief of Maratha army, Mhaloji Ghorpade, who succeeded Hambirrao Mohite, died in the ambush at Sangameshwar. A few days after Sambhaji's death, the capital Raigad fell to the Mughals and Sambhaji's wife and son were captured. However, Rajaram shifted the Maratha capital to Jinji in deep South. Marathas under Santaji Ghorpade
Santaji Mhaloji Ghorpade, popularly known as ‘Santaji’ or ‘Santaji Ghorpade’, was one of the greatest warriors and the chief General of the Maratha Empire during Chhatrapati Rajaram’s regime. His guerrilla technique of war is supposed to be the best besides that of Shivaji and Bajirao...
and Dhanaji Jadhav
Dhanaji Shambhusinha Jadhav , popularly known as Dhanaji Jadhav, was one of the great warriors of the Maratha Empire. His name became inseparable from the name of Santaji Ghorpade with whom he made terrifying campaigns against Mughal Army continuously from 1689 to 1696...
harassed the Mughal army!
After Sambhaji's torture and death, Aurangzeb continued his grim war against the Marathas for another 18 years,though he occupied the whole of Maharashtra and nearly the whole of India except Mysore and Tamil Nadu yet he could not win and ended up wasting resources and also lacked a good successor which hastened the end of the Mughal Empire.
There is some dispute among historians about Sambhaji's ability as a ruler. Some historians have portrayed him as ineffective while other historians, notably S.G. Shevde, portray Sambhaji as a capable ruler. But whatever may have been his inadequacies as a ruler, his redemption and symbolism came in his death, and it is for this that he is mostly remembered to this day.