HERE is a book, which as the title suggests, would evidently be the life story of Shivaji and his encounters with his Mughal adversary Aurangzeb or about the struggle of the Hindus against the Muslims. But on reading the book, one finds information on the heroic struggle of the Maratha leader to uphold and protect the age-old Indian ethos and human values which today are cherished as liberty, equality and fraternity against imperialism. It shows narrow-mindedness and fundamentalism ran high all through the country for a couple of centuries.
No matter how much is spoken or written about Shivaji, one can never tire of reading about his being a great soldier, military genius and an outstanding general. In all his campaigns, he invariably emerged successful and at the same time he showed great humanity in the conduct of his wars. The author narrates the scene in the assembly hall of Raigarh where heroes are being given munificent gifts, ranging from ornaments and garments to elephants and palanquins for protecting swarajya, but then it is the turn of traitor Khandoji Jedhe to be awarded. He is given a silver tray containing paan-supari and a jewel-studded sword. Khandoji had helped Afzal Khan’s son Fazal Khan, Muse Khan, Yakut Khan and a whole lot of others to escape after Afzal Khan had paid, the final price for his treachery.
When Khandoji stands before Shivaji with abated breath, Shivaji’s voice rings in the Durbar, “Take the traitor and cut of his right hand and left foot.” The Durbar is shocked to hear Shivaji’s verdict. The latter then explains to his trusted soldier Kanhoji, who had pleaded to Shivaji to forgive Khandoji, “No, Kanhoji, it is only because we respect you that this first time in swarajya a traitor has been given the gift of this life. But if there is no punishment at all for him, no one will respect swarajya in which traitors can go free. So we cut off the hand in which he raised his sword against us, and the foot with which he went over to the enemy…”
Shivaji is shown as an able administrator and an accomplished statesman. He had a keen insight into politics and got out of difficult situations “by dint of diplomacy, statecraft and unerring practical sense.”
The author shows the respect in which Shivaji was held and cites the case of a freedom fighter coming and asking Veer Savarkar, “In what way would India gain freedom?” the reply given by Savarkar was, “With the ideas of Swami Vivekananda and the methods of Shivaji.”
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