According to contemporary literature, Shivaji Maharaj was a “secular” leader. He wasn’t, however. He was a blatantly proud Hindu. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj did not punish people for not being Hindu because that is a natural aspect of Hinduism, not because he was some secular person, as some twits who accept this claim think.
He did not hide his dharma from anyone. He destroyed numerous mosques that these mleccha invaders had erected by destroying temples. They had a famous one close to the Jinji fort. He began converting many people who were forcibly converted to Islam by the Islamists back to Hinduism. He converted Netaji Palkar to Hinduism and married his daughter to Netaji’s son. A Jesuit who visited India during Shivaji’s reign says, “Shivaji knew the great strength of Musalman in India. He had banished them from his kingdom, treated them with great dishonour and desecrated their mosque”.
This can also be testified by the letter written by an English officer. Henry Revington, the Chief Officer of the English East India Company’s Rajapur factory, wrote a letter to Shivaji on February 13th, 1660 CE, not long after Afzal Khan was assassinated. “To Sevagy, General of the Hendoo Forces,” he writes at the start of the letter.
He was deeply interested in promoting Hindu culture. Shivaji actively supported Hinduism and Hindu culture. Every year, grain was supplied to people studying Vedic scriptures so they could eat. Hindu religious observances and festivals depend on the panchanga (or Hindu calendric system), a component of the Hindu way of life.
A treatise on the panchanga known as the Karanakaustubh was written in Sanskrit by a scholar named Krishna Jyotishi. Shivaji gave the order to write the book to improve the already used panchanga. Sanskrit was the language on Shivaji’s seal, which he held in the highest regard. Most of his officials’ seals were also written in Sanskrit or Marathi. Shivaji’s viewpoint didn’t impact two or three exceptions because they were sent to work for Shivaji by his father, Shahji.
Vedic texts dictated the ceremonies used to crown Shivaji. According to several authors, several brahmins at the time condemned the event. But let’s suppose that a conflict of opinion took place. It only demonstrates Shivaji’s commitment to his Hindu beliefs more if he had insisted on a coronation by Vedic customs in the face of opposition. He was used to facing resistance from one’s people. To get rid of him, his people had made no compromises. But despite that, he did not abandon his beliefs or the task he had started.
Nowadays, some people spread the misconception that Muslims make up a significant portion of Shivaji’s military forces. This misinformation is wholly false. Muslims made up only a tiny minority of Shivaji’s staff. Shahji appointed the Muslims who worked for him up until around 1658 CE. At that time, Noor Baig, a Muslim, served as the samaubat (commander) of Shivaji’s infantry, not his entire military staff.
The crucial year in Shivaji’s life was 1658 CE since it was then that he broke political ties with his father, who was working for the Adilshah. Shivaji began his administrative profession without the assistance of his father. There is no information on any Muslim officials Shahji might have assigned to Shivaji who remained in service after 1657 CE. Five of the twelve Muslims reportedly working for Shivaji can be attributed to this. One of them was Noor Baig. Due to their use, some Muslims had to work for Shivaji; for instance, Daulat Khan was a naval commander because the Marathas lacked maritime combat experience.
Shivaji’s ashtapradhan Mandal consisted of 7 Brahmins out of 8 ministers. The Ashtapradhana Mandala of Chhatrapati Shivaji was modelled after the Council of Ministers described in Hindu sastras on Political Science. In Sukra Niti, Adhyaya 2 Sloka 72, an 8-Minister-Council is mentioned.
The only modification made by Chhatrapati Shivaji was that the position of Pratinidhi (Viceroy) was replaced by Senpati (Commander-in-Chief). In the first year after the coronation, Chhatrapati Shivaji spelt out the responsibilities of each of the Ministers in the Ashtapradhana Mandala in a memorandum.
M G Ranade says that even in the Modern Government, the same system of organisation is followed. S N Sen says that although the Ashta Pradhan Council of Chhatrapati Shivaji had a resemblance with that of the Executive Council of the Viceroy, the principles underlying the two were not identical.
The viceroy’s council was a bureaucratic set-up and had therein the clear-cut division of duties. Shivaji’s Ashta Pradhan Council was an organisation for the benefit of his people, i.e., his subjects. Shivaji was a practical statesman and acted as a benevolent ruler. His ministers were his trusted servants. They were proud to carry out his instructions and orders for the advantage of the people.
There was no clear-cut division of duties in the council of ministers of Shivaji; six of his eight members or ministers were to perform military duties whenever necessary, and almost all eight ministers were to attend a Hazir Majalasi to hear appeals in both the civil and the criminal cases.