Sunday, 22 February 2009

4. Poona Jagir ...

The jagir, though not big, was strategically located. The Sahyadri hill ranges, running from Khandesh in the north to the borders of Goa in the south, devide Konkan from Ghats. These hills rise at some places to 1,218 metres above sea level & provide an excellent defence to the terrain. Small offshoots from these ranges, running west to east, provided enough land to brave, hardy population – fiercely independent & assertive. Small rivers running through the villages enabled the small farmers to cultivate the lands between Junnar in the north & Mahabaleshwar in the south. The valleys known as ‘khores’ were often named after the streams flowing through them. Since they were situated in the west (Mavalati – the land of sunset), the land come to be collectively known as Maval. Each valley boasted of a high hill crowned by a fort or fortress, providing good defence to the people.

Shivaji grew up amidst the hills & valleys of Poona district. The people he administrated were sturdy & manly.
‘Great events usually develop from small beginnings.’

‘Laying the foundations for a purely native, independent & welfare state, national in every sense of the word, with vast potentialities of expansion throughout the country, is greatest achievement of Shivaji. He awakened the national feeling, He imbeded confidence in an apathetic people. He fought against in tolerance, arrogance & pride of his enemies & proved to them that no power can stand & flourish without the tactic support of the people.’

But this was to come later. The beginning reveals a young man moving step by step, defining his objectives, extremely shrewd, & charged with an admirable mixture of caution & adventure.

In 1645, he was barely 15 yrs old. The Vijapur ruler, Muhammad Adilshah, was taken ill. Little time later, Dadoji Konddev, Shivaji’s manager of Poona estate, died on 7th march 1647. His death naturally removed the restraints imposed by as older & cautious generation. Shivaji took possession of the half built fort of Murumbdev (later called Rajgad – capital of Swarajya till 1671) & fort Torna (prachandgad). However, his biggest achievement was the peaceful possession of Kondana, which come to know as Sinhagad in 1647 only. The Vijapur court was naturally alarmed. Adilshah ordered, his general Fateh khan, & Khudavant khan, to march against Shivaji. Maintaining the base at Purander, Shivaji prepared to meet the 1st danger. Mean while Shivaji heard the shocking news of his father’s arrest nr. Jinji fort. This happened on 28th july 1648. Shahaji’s jagir in Banglore was also invaded, which was defended tenaciously by Shivaji’s older brother Sambhaji.

The Vijapur forces included Maratha contigents led by the Ghatges & Nimbalkars of Phaltan. Shivaji’s wife, Maharani Saibai was the sister of Balaji Nimbalkar of Phaltan. After a fierce encounter, the Vijapur forces break & fled, leaving their leader, Muse khan, among the dead. Shivaji’s early companions like Kavji Malhar, Godaji Kamble, Bhimaji Wagh, Sambhaji Kate, Shivaji Engle, Bhikaji Chore, & Bhairav Chore. It was wide strata from which Shivaji drew his forces. While Baji Jedhe, son of kanhoji Jedhe, distinguished himself in this battle, Shivaji suffered a great loss in the death of his staunch follower, Baji Pasalkar. Shivaji corresponded with prince Murad, son of Shahjahan & Mughal governer of Deccan with latter dated 14th march 1649. Much later Shahji was released on 16th may 1649. but Shivaji pay the price of relinquishing the fort Kondana / Sinhagad back to Vijapur.

Between 1649 to 1655 it seems a slow career for Shivaji & nothing special happened. But that was silence before the thunderstorm. By 1655, Shivaji was in full possession of Poona, Chakan, Baramati & Indapur. He also secured the forts like Torna, Rajgad, Purandar, and Lohagad. The northern borders of Shivaji’s jagir were the same as southern borders for Mughal Empire. Any question of advancing in that direction was unthinkable. His eastern borders were enclosed by well-administrated & strongly guarded Vijapur districts of Satara, Sangli & Kolhapur also know as Balaghat. So ???

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