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The 27 Year War That Changed Course Of Indian History – VII


For centuries , the mountains and valleys, towns and villages of Deccan had gotten used to being a pawn in the game of power. They changed hands as kingdoms warred with each other. They paid taxes whoever was in a position to extract them. For the most part they remained in a sleepy slumber, just turning and twisting in their bed.
Once in a while they sent their sons to fight in battles without ever asking why exactly the war is being launched. Other times they fought amongst themselves. They were divided, confused and did not have high hopes about their future.
This was the condition of Deccan when Shivaji launched his first expedition of fort Torana in 1645. By the time of his death mere 35 years later, he had transformed Deccan from a sleepy terrain to a thundering volcano.

Finally, here was a man whose vision of future  was shared by a large general audience. An unmistakable characteristic of a modern concept of “nation-state”. Perhaps the most important factor that distinguishes Shivaji’s vision  is that it was “unifying”. His vision went beyond building an army of proud warriors from warrior castes. It included people from all rungs of society sharing a common political idea and ready to defend it at any cost. His vision  went far beyond creating an empire for himself in Maharashtra. It included a building confederacy of states against what he thought were foreign invaders. He was trying to build an Alliance of Hindu kingdoms. He went out of his way to convince Mirza-Raje Jaisingh to leave Aurangzeb. He established relations with the dethroned royal family of Vijaynagar for whom he had tremendous respect. He attempted to unify the sparring Hindu power centers.

And  they responded. Sikhs in Punjab, Rajputs in Rajasthan,  Nayaks in Karnataka, rulers of Mysore, the royal family of Vijaynagar were of valuable help to Shivaji and later to Marathas. It was certainly a step towards a nation getting its soul back.

While he was creating a political voice for Hindus, Muslims never faced persecution in his rule. Several Muslims served at high posts in his court and army. His personal body guard on his Agra visit was Muslim. His Naval officer, Siddi Hilal was Muslim. Thus Shivaji’s rule was not meant to challenge Islam as a personal religion, but it was a response to Political Islam.

Last but not the least, we must give due respect to one more thing. The seeds of every political revolution can be traced back to a spiritual one and this was no exception. The “Bhakti” movement in Maharashtra that began with 12th Century saint Dnyaneshwar and spearheaded by saint Tukaram (who was contemporary of Shivaji), played a role of social catalyst of immense effect. It created a forum, a pool in society where everyone was welcome. The shackles of cast system were not broken, but were certainly loosened. Once people were on the same page spiritually, it was easier for Shivaji to get them on the same page politically.

It’s tempting for a Maharashtrian to claim the root of success of Marathas solely be in Maharashtra. But at the height of it’s peak, only 20% of Shivaji’s kingdom was part of Maharashtra. When Marathas launched northern campaigns in 18th century, it was even more less. Soldiers in Maratha army came from diverse social and geographical backgrounds including from areas as far away as Kandahar to West and Bengal to East. Shivaji received a lot of support from various rulers and common people from all over India.

Thus limiting Marathas to Maharashtra is mostly a conclusion of a politician.  It must be noted that the roots of Maharashtra culture can be traced to both ancient Karnataka and Northern India. Shivaji himself traced his lineage to Shisodia family of Rajputs. Maharashtrians should not be ashamed to admit that their roots lie elsewhere. In fact they should feel proud that land of Maharashtra is truly a melting pot where Southern and Northern Indian cultures melted to give birth to a new vision of a nation. Shivaji was far more an Indian king than a Maratha king.

Dear readers, here ends the story of an epic war. I hope this saga gives you a sense of realistic hope and a sense of humble pride. All you might be doing today is sitting in a cubicle for the day ,typing on keyboard. But remember that the same blood runs in our fingers that long long time ago displayed unparalleled courage and bravery, the same spirit resides within us that can once soured sky high upon the call of freedom.

Jai Hind !!

27 Year War – Some Reflection..Next Post



“History of Mahrattas” by James Duff –   http://www.archive.org/details/ahistorymahratt05duffgoog

“Shivaji and His Times” by Jadunath Sarkar – http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924024056750

“A History Of Maratha People” by Charles Kincaid – http://www.archive.org/details/historyofmaratha02kincuoft

“Background of Maratha Renaissance” by N. K. Behere – http://www.archive.org/details/backgroundofmara035242mbp

“Rise of The Maratha Power” by Mahadev Govind Ranade – http://www.archive.org/details/RiseOfTheMarathapower

“Maratha History” by S R Sharma – http://www.archive.org/details/marathahistory035360mbp

(visit the links to download the full books in PDF form free)

42 Responses

  1. Kedar,

    Great series. Especially liked your statement that Shivaji was more than a Maratha king.

    It would be great if you could give references for additional reading.

  2. […] empire. The war lasted 27 years and Aurangzeb lost. Kedar has a seven part series (1,2,3,4,5, 6,7) on this war which is barely mentioned in our books. For the most part, Aurangzeb was a religious […]

  3. Excellent read! Thank you for posting it.

  4. Very good series, Kedar.

    I second JK’s request. Please share references/books so that we can learn more…

    – Ketan

  5. Kedar,
    We need more of this to be published in all regional languages and news papers to bring back the sense unity and this time for a well defined goal. That making Bharat a nation of Ch. Shivaji Maharaj’s dream. We need to seed the thought by such initiatives.
    Once again I thank you whole hartedly for your series. Keep up the good work and let me know if you ever need any help.

    “जय भवानी! जय शिवाजी!”

    जय भारत!
    संदीप नारायण शेळके

  6. Namaste Kedar,
    Me and my friend Shantanu, both followed your blog and especially this series on forgotten war. We also share your thinking and wish to take this (your)effort further in order to make it available to larger part of population.
    We were thinking of printing this series in booklet with more material and references. Also wish to translate this in as many languages as possible. Our first effort would be to convert this into Hindi and then regional language Marathi, (because many Marathis already are aware of heroics, extra ordinary work of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj for this nation) so we can get this to maximum crowd by distributing the booklets in schools, with newspapers, and many otehr ways.
    We are waiting for your permission and support.
    Hope that Bharatiyas will learn about their original heros from the effort like yours. Thanks.

    Note: I could not find your mail id so posting this message publicly on your blog.

    जय भारत!

  7. […] (continued…) Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)The 27 Year War That Changed Course Of Indian History – IShivaji: Looking Beyond PrejudicesShivaji BhosleOpening Conference, Sofia 28 October 2008 […]

  8. Thanks a lot for a great post Kedar. I have been following your blog for some time now…


  9. Dear Sir,

    i want to copy this entire item and put it in the BR forum under Historical and Medivial Bettles so that more people can read it. Do you permit it? Email me please.

  10. Thank you Kedar, for the series of blogs on 27-year-war that changed the history of India. What struck me the most was your brilliant analysis of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s strategical planning and vision. Using the modern management principles (horizontal management) in evaluating military, sociological, economic and administrative measures you have shown what a great visionary Shivaji was, and how he kept the pride and glory of India in tact.

    The military of India lives on the tradition of its sense of loyalty, glory of the unit rather than individual exploits, and above all, dedication to the leader who leads through personal example. The 27-Year-War history shows that the Marathas set these norms repeatedly through their victories over a superior force and gave new dimension to the Indian military history. Unfortunately, their role has always been overlooked by the so called ‘modern’ historians brought up in the biased Marxist tradition. I cannot understand why cannot they take pride in this brilliant part of Indian history.

    In England, the soldiers were asked to fight for their King and the Country. You have shown that the King and the Queen (Tarabai) personally led their troops to fight for their country, their people and their honor without discrimination of faith. And people fought for them. In a country which is feeling ashamed of even mentioning Shivaji in the NCERT-sponsored school books, your blog has highlighted the role played by the Great Maratha, his generals as well as individual commanders of the forts and leaders of the small bodies of troops,

    Excellent work, Kedar, and thank you for sharing your site.

  11. Awesome. Looking at the mechanism for tactical warfare is only better when you’ve got clear examples of underdogs (by numbers).

    Is there some sort of controversy over this history?

  12. Excellent post which I could not stop reading. A map with locations of forts and other major events would be helpful. Consider putting some of this n wikipedia.

  13. Kedar,

    In this lecture series at UCLA http://www.oid.ucla.edu/webcasts/courses/2009-2010/2009fall/hist9a-1 the lecture of 11-20-2009 is about Shivaji.

    Since you have written so much about Shivaji, you may be able to clarify/refute/confirm certain points which the instructor makes.

    Would appreciate a post on this lecture.

  14. Thank you Bhai makes me proud to be Hindu.

    We will return India to its former glory soon my brothers and sisters, we must retain our morale until a true leader (Narendra Modi?) can lead Bharat to its glory.

  15. hi ,
    excellent description as if happening these eventful struggle in front of us. These chronicles of indian history are mark of glorious past.

  16. Kedar – Excellent write up. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

  17. Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu! I was in tears towards the end of it. Great post my friend. Yes Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is one of the true national hero’s ever. Every Indian should have his portrait along with our Gods.

    I just finished reading Jadunath Sarkars Life of Shivaji, please share more books and reference material. You encapsulated all of it in 4 or 5 pages but I want to read the full history after 1680. Also if possible share reference material on the Peshwas and their rise to power.

  18. Thanks kedar for a good review of the happenings in India during the period of shivaji-aurangzeb. I learnt a lot about them. I did not learn them in history in my school. i will inform my friends also.

  19. Hi,

    I’m part of an editorial team that runs a monthly magazine for the youth. Our team went through this article in particular and your blog on the whole. We find it to be both inspiring and informative.

    We would be heartened, if you allow us to publish this article about the Marathas as a series on our magazine.

    Let us know your thoughts.

  20. Excellent series.. I wish, this history be written as a beautifully woven novel, so that it would be in the people’s vision for long..

    For example in tamilnadu, the famous writer Kalki authored his hit novel called “Ponniyin Selvan” which is based on historical facts. Today, much of chola’s history is remembered through his novel..

    I wish some one could take up the case of maratha’s too..

    • Is Ponniyin Selvan available in english and in a book. Please tell me Yes and where?

  21. excellent series. nice work 🙂

  22. namo namah Kedar,

    I’m ethnically from the South but a staunch Mumbaikar. Since childhood Shivaji & the Maratha empire has been a that I loved and respected..and this awesome series has reminded me why. Had there been no Shivaji , I shudder at the thought of what would have happened to hindu Bharat …probably one colossal Pakistan.

    jai hind

  23. I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the glorious stories of Maratha resistance, resilience and finally the victory over the mighty Mughal emperor, Aurangazeb. It is unfortunate that free India has not recognised these true heroes and their names are not even mentioned in our text books !

    My sincere thanks to you for enlightening me about our rich and valiant heritage. I feel very honoured and humbled upon learning about the heroic exploits of our ancestors.

    Thank you, thank you and thank you.


  25. Kedar,
    Thanks for such wonderful article. We have almost forgotten this glorious victory, what amazes is the indomitable spirit of then common man who fought for his motherland.

  26. I am overwhelmed. Wish we had a Shivaji today.

  27. Great series on the 27 year war and Maratha empire. I had tears in my eyes as I finished the last paragraph. I would request you to write more on History. What I like about your writings is you give a modern context to explaining history. The way you linked Shivaji’s Ashtapradhan to a small and conservative government is Great.

    Before Shivaji the rule of the time was the local chieftains could exploit the people as they wanted as long as a share was given to the Mughal sultanate. Not very different from the present Congress Party setup.

    Thanks a lot for writing this series and sharing reference books. All the books written by western authors on war or strategy ignore Indian stories and victories. We ourselves need to start learning our history correctly and also start bringing it to a wider audience.

  28. great work by author in school it is different history that is thaught really proud of shivaji and marathas

  29. Tears of pride and humility (yes both these emotions together) rolled down my eyes as I progressed to read this incredible 7 part blog! Cannot even thank you! :’)

  30. Dear Kedar,
    Excellent Post on the true history of the Marathas. Its a shame that truthful history is never taught in our schools. In spite of the excellent historical references available the academicians still write the syllabus of history to suit the ruling ‘ dynasty” ( This part has not changed even after the British left and even during moghul times). I believe only truthful history will truly liberate our young minds . Unfortunately we middle aged people born in so called independent India are not liberated and the onus is on us to change this. Your post is a right step in that direction and its a great work done.

  31. Excellent post!!. Really appreciate the effort. I hope the Indian government teaches the right history to our children in school and works on restoring most of these monuments and forts that have been an edifice of pride.

  32. Great piece of information. Please write articles on 1st Bajirao Peshwe

  33. I want to know about Karnataka marath

  34. I want to know about Karnataka maratha in Belgium

  35. i liked the blog very much.a great job,analysis,efforts by u.go on writing similar blogs on our history.

  36. Absolutely great series. I learnt so much about Shivaji Maharaj today. Will look forward to learn more about real Indian history.

  37. Hey…its really a nice collection. . . . Me too belongs to maratha clan . . . . Sambhaji raje . . . And we know that it was his bravery that reflects and give inspiration to soldiers to fought for our swarajya. . .i would like if you forward of some articles and scanned pictures you got

    • I don’t understand why we people lock great people in any field whether history,science,literature,business etc into cages of the castes in which they took birth.Nobody can choose his/her parents.All these great personalities rose to the fame not because they belonged to particular caste/sect/religion.They did not become PUJNIY(पूजनीय,वंदनीय ) only because of their caste.The qualities like,kindness,impartiality,welfare of masses,protection/support to weaker sections,respect not only to knowledgeable people but to all and above all unflinching faith in the tasks undertaken (अविचल श्रद्धा )has made them our Hero.We should try to inculcate values,ethos for which all these great persons even sacrificed their lives.There is nothing wrong in feeling proud of belonging to the caste of particular personality but inculcating their virtues for which we feel prou d will make entire society happy.

  38. This is one of the most beautiful articles I have read recently. Hats off to the writer for sending an unpolitical message to the people of our country. The beauty of this article is that it tell’s you in meticulous detail about an important event in Indian history without glorifying about one side which won the war but shedding light on an important hidden message that people come and go but it is the idea or vision that lives on. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  39. Wow, I am in tears after reading the whole article. Kedar, you definitely have captured that least discussed era in a truly magnificient way. Shivaji Maharaj will remain a true spirit for all of us in every respect. As you have clearly explained, it was his vision that saved our motherland from foreign atroticius expeditions and Marathas never surrendered. Hats-off to your article again. I am going to spread this message to each one I know.

  40. Kedar, I am in awe after reading your series. Please publish more blogs like this or better publish a book. Let the world know story of valor and sacrifice of Marathas.

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