It was a winter midnight. The entire city of Surat was drowned in a deep slumber. All of a sudden big cries arose from certain buildings situated on the richest commercial street of the city. Wherefrom they had come was a mystery. How many of them had swarmed in was least known to anybody. They had sharp weapons in their hands and like ferocious warriors they were busy looting the wealth from those who unjustly accumulated it.
Fear went down the spines of merchants. The Maratha warriors appeared to be dropping down from the sky above.
They came from various directions. Their attack was meticulously planned. The city was almost lost in the utter confusion.
Surat was then one of the richest cities of India. It was an important commercial centre for overseas merchants. The wealth of the city was concentrated into the hands of the Muslim Sultan and his henchmen who ruled the region. The English traders had also established their firm base in Surat. These traders amassed huge wealth from Surat and carried it to their homeland. The sons of the soil had to suffer privation. This merchants? community almost sucked the blood of a common man.
Shivaji the great, wanted to establish a common man'srule where the poor and downtrodden can breathe a fresh air and flourish. It was in the fitness of things on the part of Shivaji to confiscate the wealth unjustly accumulated by a few and utilise it to promote swaraj. This was one such expedition planned by Shivaji'sarmy in that direction.
In the corner of the city, there was a small bungalow. It was a residence of a Catholic missionary who was engaged in conversion of the Hindus to Christian faith.
The missionary had gone to his home country viz. Holland for certain work. He was to return soon. The missionary'swife and his small two kids were staying in that bungalow. With the sudden and incessant cries this family woke up, as if from a horrible dream. They heard the war cries. The lady understood the situation. She was convinced that she and her little two children will soon fall prey to the sharp swords of the Maratha warriors.
The lady was trembling with fear. Her two little children held the mother in tight grip. They were sobbing.
The mother peeped through the slit of the door of the bungalow. She was shocked to see seven Maratha warriors on the horseback heading to her bungalow. The sharp blades of their weapons were glittering in the light of the flames they were carrying. They were shouting Jay Bhavani, Har-Har Mahadev and were moving fast straight towards the bungalow.
The lady firmly gripped her children to her breast. She was sure that the last hour of their lives had arisen and soon they will be killed by the soldiers.
The lady was trembling and she was in tears.
The soldiers approached the bungalow. But there was no knock coming from their end. Nor did they attempt to enter the bungalow. They were sitting around the bungalow and chit-chatting the whole night.
During early hours of the dawn they quietly left the place.
The lady was surprised over the phenomenon.
Later on the lady came to know that the entire operation of Maratha warriors was carefully organised. Shivaji the great had collected discreet information through his intelligence wing about the exact centres where wealth was concentrated. He had also gathered specific information about the places of worship as also the priests and their residence in respect of all the religions. Further he had issued clear instructions to his soldiers not to harm any place of worship and not to harm in any way the priest or preachers of any religion. With a view to making sure that his soldiers do not violate the instructions unwillingly, he had posted special guards around such places.
Secularism is another name of Hinduism and Shivaji the great practised it in letter and spirit.