Death and succession

Chhatrapati Shivaji died at 12 noon, 3rd April, in 1680 at Raigad, after running a fever for three weeks. It is said that he died due to contracting a disease Bloody Flux, Intestinal anthrox. The funeral ceremony was arranged in Raigad in presence of his son Rajaram, and Soyarabai. After Shivaji's death, his elder son Sambhaji and Soyrabai , fought for control of the kingdom. After a brief struggle Sambhaji was crowned king.

A few years after Shivaji's death, Aurangzeb's son, Prince Akbar, rebelled against his father and was sheltered by Sambhaji. Thereupon, Aurangzeb, his army, entourage and the royal court moved to the Deccan in 1681 to wage an all out war for the complete destruction of Maratha power. This was the beginning of the twenty seven year war, initially the Marathas were overwhelmed by the might and the great power of the Mughal empire. Under the overpowering and unrelenting Mughal assault the endangered Maratha capital was moved and evacuated from Raigad to Jinjee in the south and for a time it seemed that Aurangzeb's objective of stamping out the Maratha threat would be achieved. However, in the following months and years the tide of the war began to change.

The Marathas adapted very well to the Mughal menace and fought Aurangzeb to a stalemate. And towards the end of the second decade the Marathas gathered more strength and began to turn the tide of the war. The Mughal forces were dealt several serious body blows by able Maratha generals like Santaji Ghorpade and Dhanaji Jadhav. They effectively employed lightning fast and highly mobile attacks, tactics initially developed and effectively used by Shivaji.

Eventually a broken, defeated Aurangzeb retreated in sickness from the Deccan in 1705. The final Mughal withdrawal came two years later. He had spent most of his remaining resources and manpower trying to defeat the Marathas and ended up significantly weakening the once mighty Mughal Empire. Aurangzeb's heirs never again challenged the Marathas and were themselves finally overtaken and utterly dominated by the Peshwa's Maratha Sardars, namely Scindia and Holkar, within eighty years of Shivaji's death.

This 27 year war, was a tribute to Shivaji's genius, in which even after his death, Maratha forces felt a great sense of privilege to fight to honour his memory to expel Aurangzeb out of the Deccan to preserve the Maratha self-rule swarajya and expand upon Shivaji's goals of independent Maharashtra and Hindustan.

Jadunath Sarkar, a noted Indian historian and a scholar, estimates that about 500,000 Mughal soldiers and 200,000 Marathas died during this decades long epic struggle for dominance.

Shivaji's leadership and successes contributed significantly to stiffening up of Hindu assertiveness and resurgence in post Islamic India. He was the first of many great Indian leaders and the most successful in the fight for freedom, for Swaraj.

Sankalp Unit