Sunday, 22 February 2009

9. Afzalkhan Meet: 10th Nov. 1659

With Aurangzeb in the north & his son Muazzam holding charge of Deccan, Vijapur got despite from Mughals. They now turned towards Shivaji. Shivaji was aiming at strengthening himself into Konkan. The enemy of Vijapur was the Mughals & not Shivaji. Aurangzeb was kin to get Shivaji away from the districts annexed to the empire. Vijapur undertook to accomplish what the Mughals wanted to do. It was not really Vijapur which fought against Shivaji. The Mughals busy in the north, were fighting with Shivaji by proxy.

So Adilshah instructed Afzalkhan, ‘that in case Shivaji, being hard – pressed by the Vijapur forces, in his habitual deceptive manner offered to make a peaceful negotiations, the Khan must not listen to him but follow no other policy than that of flinging the fire of death on the harvest of his life.’

Afzalkhan was appointed as Governer of Wai. On 16th june 1659 Adilshah wrote farman to Kanhoji Jedhe saying, “Shivaji out of narrow-mindedness & evil propensities, has started troubling the Mohammedans residing in the province of Konkan belonging to the Nijamshahi. He has also plundered them. He has also captured many forts in the Padshahi province. Therefore, in order to drive him out & conquer him, we have appointed Afzalkhan.”

Shivaji fully understood the nature of this threat to his very survival. Same time, his 1st wife Saibai, mother of Sambhaji passed away in sept. 1659. This was great shock to him. Now he made Pratapgad, at a few km from Wai, as his stronghold.

The 2 letters – one from Afzalkhan to Shivaji & other from Shivaji as reply to Afzalkhan are available –

Afzalkhan wrote, “1. The territory. Which after the disappearance of the Nijamshah had been taken by Adilshah, & which had been given by him to Mughals in the interest of peace, that territory full of hill forts, has been taken by you & appropriated by you.

2. The lord of Rajpuri (Siddis) who has more than one besieged & deprived of his territory by you, is angry with you.

3. You invaded & after fighting, forcibly seized this wide kingdom of Chandrarao altogether inaccessible to the enemy.

4. You took Kalyan & Bhiwandi too and, so they say destroyed the mosques.

5. You robbed the Mohammedans of their all & insulted them.

6. Not considering your own strength you have placed under restraint the holy men of Islam & obstructed the practice of the religion of Moslems.

7. As you freely assumed emblems of sovereignty, sit unjustly on a golden throne, award favours & punishments to men on your own authority, and waywardly refuse to render obeisance to those to whom it is due, & move freely as you like, fear nobody, therefore I have been sent by the great Adilshah.

8. The army which is accompanying me is pressing me to fight. Muse Khan & others officers of mine, desiring to fight, as also the chiefs desiring to capture Jawali are pressing to march against you.

9. Sinhagad & Lohagad, great & strong forts, so also the fort of Purandar, & city of Chakan, also the territory between Bhima & Nira, surrender those to the emperor of Delhi of immeasurable power.

10. And Adilshah asks you this Jawali you seized forcibly from Chandrarao.”

It will be seen that Mughals who were waging the war through Vijapur. Shivaji was in a desperate position. Surrender would have meant a political suicide. It was only his supreme self confidence, his conviction that he has fighting for a just cause, & that providence was with him which enabled him to come out of this crisis with success.

He had the unique capacity for inspiring confidence & loyalty among his followers. Moropant Pingle – the Peshwa, Netoji Palkar – commander of the cavalry & more no. of captains with him.
Shivaji called up his army from Konkan. Cavalry operations were handed to Netoji Palkar. Prataprao Gujar surrounded the hills were Afzalkhan camped out.

Now the letter Shivaji wrote to Afzalkhan is a master piece of diplomacy. Here is the letter,

“1. That you, who annihilated all the princes of the Carnataca ( Karnataka) in war, should show even much grace to me is a great deal.

2. In comparable is the strength of your arms. Your valour is like fire. You are an ornament to the earth. There is no guile in you.

3. If you would see the splendor of these woods, come & have a nice view of Jawali.

4. It is best, I think, that you come here now. That will free me from all fear, & will promote my advancement.

5. I have nothing but contempt for the army of the haughty Mughals, also for that of Adilshah, expecting you of terrible power.

6. Come along & be comfortable in the journey. I shall give up the forts, & as you ask for it, this Jawali also.

7. Looking on you, who are terrible to look at, without fear, I shall place my sword in front of you.

8. Seeing this ancient & vast forest, your army will experience all the pleasures of the world in its depth.”

The letter, very carefully worded & full of double meaning, has desired effect on Afzalkhan.

They meet in a pavilion outside fort Pratapgad. There were 10 bodyguards with each one of them placed at the bow-shot. Inside pavilion there will be Krishnaji, the emissary of Afzalkhan & Pantaji, the emissary of Shivaji. Among the bodyguards of Shivaji, Sambhaji Kavji, Katoji Ingle, Siddi Ibrahim were there. Afzalkhan’s body guards were Rahimkhan, Pahilvankhan, Shankraji Mohite & other. This emphasizes the political nature of the struggle. It was not a communal one.

On 10th nov. 1659 they meet. Shivaji had a broad sword, long dagger & tiger claws (waghanakhas). Afzalkhan too had sword & dagger. Inside the tent he said to Shivaji, “with my own hand I shall take you to Vijapur, make you bend your head before the king, & by humble request to that powerful lord, procure for you still greater splendour. Don’t be bewildered. Put your hand in mine & give me an embrance.” With Shivaji in his grip Afzalkhan was tempted to kill him. But an expert wrestler, Shivaji quickly got his own neck released, & keeping head cool, immediately thrust his dagger deep into Afzalkhan. Sonner, Shivaji’s colleagues ran after Afzalkhan & cut his head. Shivaji withdrew to the fort immediately.

“Shivaji had presence of mind, while Afzalkhan paid the price of his rash over-confidence.”

With signal, Shivaji’s army fell upon army of Afzalkhan. It was a surprise attack & Afzalkhan’s army was completely destroyed. The plunder which fell into the hands of Marathas was enormous. 65 elephants, 4000 horses, 1200 camels, Rs.3,00,000/- worth jewelry, 2000 bales of garment, Rs.7,00,000/- in cash,& all cannons, guns, weapons of all kind, & other equipments were capture. It was the great boost to the morale of the Marathas. While one army ran over modern districts of Satara & Sangli to reach Panhala under leadership of Shivaji, other descended into Konkan & spread to its southern extremities. The Maratha state small but compact, was turning into a reality.


  1. Excellent post !
    Keep up inspiring work.


  2. I have finished reading 'Shriman Yogi'. It is good book , but more a story telling about legendary maratha king .
    My curiosity made be find this blog.

    You have included very small details about the event in history, which uncover the character of Shivaji raje as not only brave but determined fighter and great politician.