Sep 29 2009
Shivaji Maharaj was the son of Shahaji and Jijabai Bhonsale. Shivaji Maharaj’s birth date has been a matter of controversy but recently a consensus has been reached and is deemed to be 19 February 1627. He was born on Shivneri Fort, Junnar, 60 kilometres north of Pune and was named Shiva after Shivai, deity of the fort. Shivaji Maharaj was the fifth son born to Jijabai, 3 of whom had died as infants and only Sambhaji survived. While Shivaji Maharaj was accompanied mostly by his mother, Sambhaji lived with his father Shahaji at present day Bengaluru. During the period of Shivaji Maharaj’s birth, the power in Maharastra was shared by three Sultanates – Bijapur, Ahmednagar, and Golconda. Most of the then Marathas forces had pledged their loyalties to one of these Sultanates and were engaged in a continuous game of mutual alliances and aggression.
Shahaji Bhosle – Shivaji Maharaj’s father – was the elder son of Maloji Bhosale of Verul (present day Ellora, Maharastra). Legend has it that Maloji Bhosale was insulted by Lakhujirao Jadhav, a sardar in Nizamshahi, due his refusal to allow his daughter Jijabai’s (Shivaji Maharaj’s mother) marriage to his son- Shahaji. This led Maloji to greater conquests to obtain a higher stature and an important role under Nizamshahi, something that eventually led him to achieving the title of Mansabdar (military commander and an imperial administrator). Leveraging this new found recognition and power he was able to convince Jadhavrao to give his daughter in marriage to his son Shahaji.
Shivaji’s birthplace on Shivneri Fort
Shahaji following in the footsteps of his father, began service with the young Nizamshah of Ahmednagar and together with Malik Amber, Nizam’s minister, he won back most of the districts for the Nizamshah from the Mughals who had gained it during their attack of 1600. Thereafter, Lakhuji Jadhav, Shahaji’s father in law attacked Shahaji at the Mahuli fort and laid a siege. Shahaji was accompanied by Jijabai who was four months pregnant. After seeing no relief coming from Nizam, Shahaji decided to vacate the fort and planned his escape. He sent Jijabai off to the safety of Shivneri fort which was under his control. It was here at Shivneri that Shivaji Maharaj was born. In the meanwhile, suspecting his disloyalty, Lakhuji and his three sons were murdered by the Nizamshah in his court while they came to join his forces. Unsettled by this incident, Shahaji Raje decided to part ways with the Nizamshahi Sultanate and raise the banner of independence and establish an independent kingdom.
After this episode Ahmednagar fell to the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, and shortly thereafter Shahaji responded by attacking the Mughal garrison there and regained control of this region again. In response the Mughals sent a much larger force in 1635 to recover the area back and forced Shahaji to retreat into Mahuli. The result of this was that Adilshah of Bijapur agreed to pay tribute to the Mughals in return for the authority to rule this region in 1636. Thereafter, Shahaji was inducted by Adilshah of Bijapur and was offered a distant jagir- land holdings, at present-day Bangalore, but he was allowed to keep his old land tenures and holdings in Pune.