I got heavily influenced by this great king of India during my early school days. Even today each story, each song of this great leader gives me Goosebumps. Being born in the historic city of Vasai which changed hands between Portuguese, Marathas and British I had this huge influence of history when I was growing.
The access to Sahyadris and wandering freely in those valleys and rocky peaks of Sahyadris as a trekker gave me another chance to live that history. Those invincible forts, tough routes through forests, rocky cliffs told the stories of great valour, sacrifice and love for motherland.
Although Shivaji was born in an era full of turbulence and clash between established Sultanates, he got his vision quite at early age. Once he had taken oath to create a kingdom owned by people of the land (Swarajya) and got the allegiance from his brave friends, nothing can deter him from what he had set out to achieve. It called for great determination, faith in purpose and strong will.
The stories of his great valour, diplomacy, devotion towards his subjects and vision can be a great learning. Even today’s world, he can be a great inspiration for youth, not only from the patriotic angle but from the perspective of being modern, progressive and secular.
Learning from his efforts –
- Shivaji was very good at picking people and he had developed his circle of well-wishers and leaders at very early stage
- One must know his weaknesses and strengths. Shivaji understood the important of Sahyadris and developed a warfare that would enable him to take advantage of those tough rocky mountainous terrain. He built his forts strategically to be able to place his army in advantageous position, providing a formidable retaliation for anyone trying to attack them.
- Integrity was one of his strength and he showed by example what a good king can do by addressing issues, having a reasonable taxation system, having strong punishments for those, offending wellbeing of women and poor
- Although his fight was against most of the Islamic Sulatanates and Mughals in Delhi, he did not mind employing Muslim leaders in his army. He showed by example that he was against religious fanatism and intolerant behaviour of those Sultanates, but did not hate any religion as such.
- He saw how the so-called traders from Europe like British, French, Dutch and Portuguese are superior in their sea fair and navigation. He knew that at some point even these traders can pose a huge thread to our country. He decided to build Sea forts and create a naval fleet. This navy went a long way to help fight these traders in future and laid the stone for Indian navy.
- He never gave upper hand to any caste or creed or religion and his army employed people from all caste based on their ability.
- He was very good at strategizing his plans and every detail of those plans would be rehearsed and discussed to look for any loopholes. The plan A would always have pan B and C to make sure, all the possible events can be handled.
- He was the inventor of surgical operation as well, as most of his raids have been to make sure the enemy is caught absolutely unprepared and unalarmed. He would make use of this surprise to achieve what he wanted to, with minimum damage.
- He had a very strong network of intelligence agents spread all across and they would spread rumours in line with pre-defined strategy to confuse enemy as well as keep them unalarmed and inattentive
- He was very diplomatic and always based his strategy on a situation. He knew that every war can’t be won merely using a brute force. He did not mind retreating from the battle field, in case the enemy got into a more advantageous position.
- He knew that war in open spaces, with elephants and large armies is not going to help him and is more damaging. This is where guerrilla warfare was born.
The more you learn about him you would find how modern his thinking was, compared to his contemporaries. He made sure he learns from others and allied with those who can help him in the long run. But he was equally brutal to his enemies and did not spare them whenever it’s the question of integrity of our nation.
One of the great qualities that anybody can learn from, is his vision. No matter how difficult the situation might be, if you have clarity of vision and faith in your purpose, there would always be a way. This was exemplified by many of his narrow escapes due to valour of his devoted soldiers as well as well-planned strategies.
While we still keep fighting with our deep rooted caste system and religious fanaticism still poses huge opposition to our progress, we can learn a lot from, how brutally he dealt with these non-progressive entities.
Our history is rich with warriors and leaders like him and Shivaji himself was a product of all these stories of our ancestors described to him by his Mom in his early childhood. The acute patriotism, well being of our fellow countrymen and staying strong in any situation helped him to carve a kingdom out of literally nothing.
In today’s world, we are much more well placed in terms of resources. What we probably need is a little bit of more dedication, love for nation and a vision which will not cripple us, due to short sighted selfish goals and make our country as great as it used to be.
The truth is we have all the talent, all the man power that we might need to build a nation that is modern, progressive and strong. Instead of looking around and pointing fingers, I guess we all can take an oath to do something that is within our reach and possibility. To contribute as much as you can to make our society a progressive society.
There are few things that we cannot change. Shivaji did not went ahead and attack Aurangzeb as he posed the biggest threat to India. He went step by step by first acquiring forts around and slowly building his army who were dedicated and loved their nation. The atrocities of the Islamic leadership were at peak and there was no end to their barbarism. The common man wanted to do something to end their life of slavery. They definitely had a bigger pinch.
We probably do not have that pinch as we stay in a free India. But then we do not respect that freedom, which got compromised for several years in past due to same qualities of ours that we exhibit today. If we still keep remain negligent and do not learn from our past we can still get into those times full of turbulence and chaos.
We really do not have to sacrifice our lives in today’s time, but we can be more patriotic, more vigilant, more progressive and do our duties to be a person that would help build our nation and gain respect from outside world.
Time has come to understand our values laid out by great kings and leaders like Shivaji centuries ago. Parents should ingrain these values in their own life so that they can be a role models for future generation. The caste, creed, religion, colour is the baggage that we carry over centuries and it continues to weaken our nation. There should be strong sense of nationalism and rather than being divided on regional politics, we should find common grounds to work on and develop our nation. And we should start from our self, by asking question “What can I do for my Nation”
Remember we are the legacy of all this great heritage and sacrifices of leaders that kept this nation intact and empowered. Let’s continue that legacy.