Shahaji was a Sardar in Nizamshah’s court at Ahmednagar. Nizamshah willingly sacrificed Lakhuji Jadhav for Shahaji. Yet, Shahaji went to Adilshah in 1624. Despite of valiantly fighting for Adilshah for two years, he returned to Nizamshah in 1626. He again changed his loyalties and became Mughal Sardar in 1630. Yet again, after valiantly fighting for Mughals, he returned to Nizamshah in 1632. In all these transitions, he maintained his Jagir in Pune at his discretion. He maintained an army that was loyal to him and him alone, irrespective of the power he was serving. He initiated the policy of uniting Deccan against North Indian Mughals. Many notable people like Khavaskhan, Kutubshah, Madanna and Akanna of Golconda, Murar Jagdev supported this united Deccan policy that Shahaji initiated. Shivaji repeatedly pronounced this policy. Sambhaji considered himself as a patron of Adilshah and Kutubshah.
Shahaji appointed Dadoji Kondadev, a his chief administrator of Pune Jagir. He himself was administrating his Jagir in Bangalore, Karnataka. It was his vision that he distributed his property between two sons in 1636. The Karnataka Jagir was for elder son Sambhaji and Pune Jagir for younger son Shivaji. He made Adilshah to appoint Dadoji Kondadev as Subhedar of Pune and gave him control of some army (about 5000 strong) 15-20 forts, and entire administrative personnel in the form of a Peshwa, an accountant and others. Shivaji took his oath on Rohireshwar of establishing a Hindavi Swarajya in presence of Dadoji. The first letter bearing the official seal of Shivaji is dated 28th January 1646. It is difficult to comprehend that young Shivaji who was a teenager of 15 years, had all this blueprint of establishing a Hindu Swaraj along with seals and official letterheads in his mind. One has to accept the vision and power of Shahaji that was guiding him, correcting him and shaping him.
Shahaji was carving a kingdom of his own in Karnataka. He was doing exactly the same thing through Shivaji in Maharashtra as well. At both places, the administrators, Shahaji in Bangalore and Shivaji in Pune were calling themselves as Raja, were holding courts, and issuing letters bearing official seals in Sanskrit. Adilshah was weary of this and in 1648; two independent projects were undertaken by Adilshah to eliminate these two growing kingdoms in its territory. Shivaji defeated Adilshah’s general Fateh Khan in Pune, Maharashtra. At the same time, his elder brother Sambhaji defeated Adilshahas other general Farhad Khan in Bangalore. The modus operandi of Maratha troops on both the frontiers is similar, again reinstating the guiding vision of Shahaji. The subsequent treaty that was signed between two Bhonsale brothers and Adilshah to rescue Shahaji, who was held captive by Adilshah, marks the first Mughal-Maratha contact. In 1648-49, Adilshah captured Shahaji in order to blackmail his two sons to cede the territory conquered by them and accept Adilshahas supremacy. Shivaji wrote a series of letters to Dara Shikoh (Subhedar of Deccan), pledging to be subservient to Mughals. Mughals recognized Shivaji as a Mughal Sardar and pressurized Adilshah to release Shahaji. In return, Shivaji ceded Simhagad, and Sambhaji ceded Bangalore city and Kandarpi fort in Karnataka.
We can see the coherency in actions of Shivaji and Sambhaji. The men assisting both the brothers were loyal to Shahaji and were trained under him. Even though Shivaji was administrative head of Pune Jagir, many people appealed to Shahaji against Shivaji’s decisions up to 1655. Up to this point, Shahaji’s word was considered final in all of the important matters. Until this point, Shivaji was not at all free to take all the decisions on his will. There was a higher power that was controlling his activities. Gradually after 1655, this interference went on diminishing, and Shivaji started emerging more and more independent.
Thus, if we see these three men in a link, Shahaji, Shivaji and his son Sambhaji, all the actions of Shivaji start making sense. In this way, we are better able to grasp the greatness of the man, Shivaji.
Shivaji had himself coronated as a Kshatriya King in 1674. Shahaji initiated this policy. The Ghorpade clan of Marathas considered themselves as descendents of Sisodiya Rajputs. Shahaji attested his claim on the share in Ghorpade’s property from Adilshah long before 1640. In reality, there is no connectio whatsoever between Sisodiya Rajputs and Bhonsale clan. Nevertheless, Maloji started calling himself as Srimant Maloji Raje after becoming a bargir. Shahaji legalized this claim of being a Rajput from Adilshah. This was of great help to Shivaji at the time of his coronation in 1674. It is interesting to see that even after coronating himself as a Hindu Emperor, Shivaji continued writing letters to Aurangzeb, referring him as Emperor of India, and stating that he was a mere servant of Great Aurangzeb. We can see the basic pragmatic mindset of Shivaji which was fueled by great dream of establishing Hindu Self ruling state.
Source: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj – An Analysis by Manish Zanpure