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Dharmaveer Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj 

6th April is the Jayanti (birthday) of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj. Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj was a true Dharmaveer, who did not bow before Aurangzeb though Aurangzeb brutally tortured him for more than 40 days. Hindus must learn how to sacrifice for Dharma from Sambhaji Maharaj. He was a scholar of Sanskrit language. He single handedly fought with massive army of Aurangzeb for 9 years. He kept Aurangzeb in Maharashtra for 27 years, which finally resulted in foundation of Hindu emperors in North India. Sambhaji Maharaj also fought against the Portuguese in Goa, as they were doing conversions of Hindus and demolishing Hindu Temples in Goa.

The details about Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj is as follows:

Early Life

Sambhaji lost his mother Sai bai at the age of 2. After her death, his paternal grandmother Jijabai looked after him. Initially his stepmother, Soyarabai, also doted on him a lot. Sambhaji was a cub of tiger in true sense. He was extremely handsome and possessed immense bravery. He was a scholar of Sanskrit and eight other languages. In 1666, he was married to Yesu bai, and later the couple had a son – Shahu. On June 6th, 1674 at the time of coronation of Shivaji Maharaj, he was declared as the prince of the Sovereign Maratha Kingdom. Many visiting dignitaries at the coronation ceremony have written about his acumen, intelligence, personality and most important of all, modesty. As a prince, Sambhaji proved his bravery and military brilliance on more than one occasions. He led and won his first war in Ramnagar at the age of 16. During 1675-76 he led successful campaigns in Goa and

Estrangement and reconciliation with father

The politics fuelled by Wife of Shivaji Maharaj - Soyarabai with some other courtiers led to Sambhaji's estrangement. For almost one year, Sambhaji left Shivaji's kingdom and joined Aurangzeb's commander, Diler Khan as part of politics. This came as a rude and extremely sad shock for Shivaji. This process caused further widening of the rift between Sambhaji on one side, and Soyarabai on the other side. As a result, Sambhaji was not invited for Rajaram's wedding and moreover he was not even informed of sudden death of Chhatrapati MAHARAJ Shivaji a few days thereafter. Rajaram was child of Shivaji Maharaj & Soyarabai.


Soyarabai and her supporters plotted to arrest Sambhaji at the fort of Panhala, where he was staying at the time of Shivaji's death. They wanted to crown Rajaram and to not allow  Sambhaji to become the  Maratha emperor. However Sarnobat (the then Supreme Commander of Maratha forces) and Soyarabai's brother, Hambirrao Mohite supported Sambhaji since he was the rightful heir to the throne. At the time of Shivaji's death, there was news of impending attack of Aurangzeb's army on Maharashtra and at such a crucial juncture, a strong leader like Sambhaji was need of the hour. Therefore Hambirrao did not support his own sister and sided with Sambhaji.

Annaji Datto Sabnis and other courtiers namely Hiroji Bhosale(Farjad),Balaji Aavji,Rupaji Mane were arrested for supporting Soyarabai and were punished in a rather cruel way of being killed under a War-elephants legs. It was chiefly because of Hambirrao's support that Sambhaji was able to ascend to his rightful place on the Maratha throne in 1681.

However Sambhaji pardoned Moropant Pingale as he was not deeply involved against him and again re-appointed him on the post of “Peshwa”.Later there were no differences between Sambhaji Raje and Moropant Pingale due to which  Moropant Pingale participated in Burhanpur's war during 1681 along with Sambhaji Raje.

War with Mughals

Within a year or so of Sambhaji's coronation, Sultan Muhammad Akbar took shelter with him and sought his help in winning the Mughal throne from his father Aurangzeb. The Mughal Emperor invaded the Deccan vowing to destroy the Maratha state that had been founded by Shivaji. He headed the full strength Mughal army, which at the time was perhaps, the largest land army in the world. Sambhaji led the Maratha fight against the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. It was to be the final war in both men's lives, and would last all of 27 years.

It was a disproportionate battle in all senses. Aurangzeb's army was at least 8 to 9 times larger than Sambhaji's. His whole empire was around 15 times bigger than Sambhaji's. However Sambhaji led the fight valiantly and did not let Aurangzeb win even a single major victory. The tenacity and sheer will of the Maratha resistance to the mughal invasion is best illustrated by the story of the Ramshej fort near Nashik. Aurangzeb's commanders claimed that they would win the fort within hours but the fight for the fort lasted for over six years. Sambhaji also made strategically adroit moves by comprehensively defeating the enemies of his kingdom (Swarajya) like Siddi of Janjira, Chikkadev Rai of Mysore and Portuguese of Goa and Thane-Vasai before they could turn on him and support Aurangzeb.

The Marathas lead by Sambhaji fought almost single-handedly against all the enemies. To make matters worse, there was a devastating famine in Maharashtra in 1686-87.

War with Portuguese

Sambhaji Maharaj fought with Portuguese in Goa who were very busy in forced conversions of Hindus through various ways like ‘Inquisition'. He was very angry on them due to these conversions & demolition of Hindu Temples in Goa.Portuguese were very frightened to the assault of Sambhaji Maharaj, which reflects in their letter to British where they wrote that ‘Now-a-days Sambhaji is most powerful person and we have experienced it'.

Efforts for Reconversion to Hinduism

We all know that Shivaji Maharaj reconverted Netaji Palkar to Hinduism. Similaraly Sambhaji Maharaj started one different office for the reconversion of Muslims & Christians to Hinduism. Many converted Hindus came back to Hinduism due to efforts of Sambhaji Maharaj.

Capture & Execution

In early 1689, Sambhaji called his commanders for a strategic meeting at Sangameshwar in Konkan. In a meticulously planned operation, Ganoji Shirke ( Brother of Sambhaji's wife Yesubai) and Aurangzeb's commander, Mukarrab Khan attacked Sangameshwar when Sambhaji was about to leave the town. A small ambush followed and Sambhaji was captured by Mughal troops on 1 Feb, 1689. He and his advisor, Kavi Kalash were taken to Bahadurgad. Aurangzeb humiliated them by parading them wearing clown's clothes. Later, Sambhaji and Kavi Kalash were tied upside down to camels with Mughal soldiers throwing stones, mud, and cow dung at them.

When they were brought face to face with Aurangzeb, the latter offered to let Sambhaji live if he surrendered all the Maratha forts, turn over all his hidden treasures and disclose the names of all the Mughal officers who had helped him. Sambhaji refused, and instead sang praises of Mahadev (Lord Shiva). Aurangzeb ordered him and Kavi Kalash to be tortured to death. Sambhaji and Kavi Kalash were brutally tortured for over a fortnight. The torture involved plucking out their eyes and tongue and pulling out their nails. The later part involved removing their skin. On March 11, 1689, Sambhaji was finally killed, reportedly by tearing him apart from the front and back with 'Wagh Nakhe (Tiger claws, a kind of weapon), and was beheaded with an axe. This grievous death was given to him at Vadhu on the banks of Bhima river, near Pune.

After every torture, Aurangzeb would ask him if he had had enough and wanted to convert – but the courageous king kept refusing. By doing so he earned the title of Dharmaveer (Protector of the Religion) by which he is known to this day. Aurangzeb ordered to cut Sambhaji's body into pieces and to be thrown  in to the river. Residents of nearby village named 'Vadhu' collected as many pieces of his body as they could find, sewed them together and performed the final rites on his body. These villagers later went on to use the surname 'Shivle' or 'Shivale', as per spelling preference, which means sewing in the Marathi language.

Immediate aftereffects of Sambhaji's execution

With Sambhaji's death, Maratha confederacy was thrown in disarray. He was succeeded as leader of the Marathas 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, Sambhaji's torture and heroic death unleashed an unprecedented unity and heroic spirit among the Marathas. Aurangzeb continued his grim war against the Marathas for another 18 years but could not subjugate the Maratha state.

Aurangzeb spent the last 25 years of his life in the Deccan, in constant warfare to vanquish the Marathas. He died in 1707, at Ahmednagar, Maharashtra. In 1737, within 50 years of the torture and death of Sambhaji, Maratha - Jat Allied armies entered Delhi and had re-established Hindu rule over all of western, central and much of northern India. It was the first time after 1192, when Prithviraj Chauhan was defeated by Mohammed Ghori, that a Hindu army was in control of Delhi except for a brief period by Hemu in 1556. The Maratha empire would remain the foremost military power in India till they lost power to the British after 3 Anglo-Maratha wars, the last of which ended in 1818.


There is some dispute among historians about Sambhaji's ability as a ruler. These disputes came mainly from British & Mughal historians like Khafikhan & Grand Duff. These historians have portrayed him as ineffective and alcoholic. Other historians, notably S.G. Shevde, portrayed Sambhaji as a capable ruler. However many historians like Babasaheb Purandare, Shivaji Savant have let the truth out about him to society.

It is quite interesting to look at his own version. After he assumed the charge of Chhatrapati, he issued a Danapatra which is a eulogy right from his great grandfather Maloji to himself. He writes about him' Balbhavendra prasthadhinathanudnyat mallayudhadatt adnyabhanga :It means he(Aurangzeb) asked me to show his skill in wrestling to him to which he refused.' This was during his visit as child prodigy along with his father to Aurangzeb's' court in Agra.