(1554 - 1586 / Kent / England)

Owed To Shivaji Maharaj

It was dark and gloomy 17th century, India's fortunes were on the wane
Mughals, Sultanates, Portuguese had carved the country writhing in pain

Loot, rape, plunder and pillage, every village was in a state of chafe
Gods, wealth or their daughters, not a possession of Indians was safe

Indians under the jackboot of oppressors, their liberty and rights denied
Deccani Sultanates were in full bloom, in shambles lay Maratha pride

Land of Satvahans, Yadavs and Chalukyas had turned to a living hell
Adilshah, Nizam and Qutbshah had on Deccan cast a pestilential spell

In this turmoil lived a Maratha warrior, Shahaji Bhonsale was his name
Married to virtuous Jijabai, her folks killed by nobles of Nizamshahi fame

Every Indian under foreign yoke, not even a soul could breathe easy
Jijabai could nottake it any more, such servitude made her queasy

India's knees were in suppliance bent, the invaders were running wild
During such dire days at Shivneri fort, Jijabai gave birth to a radiant child

She taught her son all about dharma, Dadoji Konddev became his guide
Bright and brilliant Shivba trained well, her Joy Jijamata couldn't hide

Swords, daggers, shields and lances became Shiva's childhood toys
Every hill of Sahyadri Shivba would trek with his band of Mavala boys

Shiva ands quad scanned every hill, every pass, every gorge and glen
Tanaji, Suryaji and Yesaji as pals, Shiva turned out natural leader of men

At the tender age of 16 at Raireshwar temple the young Shiva swore
Tyranny and torture of foreign invaders my people shall suffer no more

"The days of those who loot, rape, maim my folks shall now be numbered"
"India shall be ruled only by us Indians", the young leader thundered

A spark was lighted to rekindle and awaken supine India's dead soul
The arduous journey commenced with Hindavi Swaraj as its final goal

Cobblers, blacksmiths, carpenters rose, took up tools of a different kind
Each brave Marhatta man readied arms with only Swaraj on his mind

With his rag-tag hill-men squad Shiva found a firm and loyal support
The battle for Hindavi Swaraj kicked off with the capture of Torna fort

Hardy austere Maratha warriors were a valorous and spartan breed
No greed or possession save for their whetted sabre and battle steed

Kondana, Purandar and Jawli, Bhonsle territory now grew pretty fast
Spunky Shiva was on a winning spree, whole Adilshahi stood aghast

A gauntlet was thrown at Bijapur court, tame and bring Shiva who can?
Assuring Adilshah-Badi begum, arose Afzal Khan-a mountain of a man

A wicked zealot, a mammoth man, Sambhaji's Kanakgiri killer was he
"I'll swat this mountain-rat" said Afzal, of this pest Adilshahi shall be free

With this promise the giant set out, a huge armed contingent he led
Shiva was now living on borrowed time, most gave him up as dead!

On his way Afzal ravaged and pillaged, defiled every shrine he found
Unperturbed Shiva did not budge, firmly stood his mountainous ground

"Meek Shiva, scared of you wants to surrender" said emissary to Khan
Peace meet was held at Pratapgad, brute was unaware of Shiva's plan

Shiva departed for the meet, after mother Jijama and Bhavani's blessing
Though with warmth both foes met, real intentions each was guessing

True to form, Khan cheated, with his dagger he attacked Shivaji first
Shiva was saved by chain armour, had come prepared for the worst

Agile Shiva brought out tiger claws, swiftly into Khan's belly he tore
David had slain the Goliath big, in a dauntless feat unheard of before

Khan's guard Sayad Banda charged, Banda was a swordsman grand
Alert Jiva saved life of Shiva, in a stroke he lopped off Banda's hand

Jijama saw Afzal Khan's severed head and it was a sight to behold
Finally Shiva got an eye for an eye, the trophy was as good as gold

Kanhoji/Netoji swooped on Wai camp, Afzal's men saw utter defeat
The killer of her son was finally killed, Jijama got her revenge sweet

Astounded India saw this feat, with Ganimi Kava they came across
Bijapur was shaken from the core, Badi begum lamented Afzal's loss

Panhala, Wasantgad, Pavangad, Shiva's juggernaut rolled fast ahead
Desperate Adilshah called on Johar-an Abyssinian whom all did dread

Sidi laid a tight siege around Panhala, the situation for Shiva was grave
Food and luck both running out, Maratha position was difficult to save

Astute Shiva busted out from Panhala with Sidi Johar hard on his tail
Veer Bajiprabhu held the rearguard, Shiva in grim danger, should he fail

Ghorkind consecrated by blood of the patriot, Bajiprabhu kept his word
Kept death at bay till Shiva reached Vishalgad, a cannon sign was heard

Events of Deccan sent shock-waves around, Shivaji's stock soared high
The mighty Mughal in Delhi was spooked, conflict with Shiva was nigh

North India was ruled by Aurangzeb, a cruel, fratricidal and despotic king
A revengeful man, a thankless son, more venomous than a cobra's sting

Saistakhan was sent with huge army, to subdue intractable Maratha chief
Outmanned, outgunned Deccanis, were on the back-foot for a period brief

Kalyan, Chakan and even Pune, Marathas were driven out of their land
Shiva scripted a surgical strike on Khan with his selected incognito band

On Mughal camp at Lalmahal Shivaji struck in a daring midnight raid
Khan chickened and scooted sans a few fingers lost to Shiva's blade

Banished from Deccan was Saista khan, to distant Bengal he was sent
Mughal dignity was now in tatters, Mughal reputation Shivaji did dent

Surat the rich Mughal port was sacked, Maratha army was on rampage
The Mughal now was badly rattled, Aurangzeb was seething with rage

Mirza Jaisingh was sent to Deccan, with orders to wipe out Shivaji fast
Maratha winning tide had turned and at Purandar a deadly net was cast

Dilerkhan launched a vicious attack, Maratha resources about to drain
Murarbaji showed steel of his blade, piled the ground with Afghans slain

Shrewd Jaisingh's incessant booming cannons simply did not cease
After sacrificing heroes and heroes, Shivaji helplessly sued for peace

With a one-sided treaty signed, of myriad forts the Marathas lost control
To save his men from decimation, Shivaji had to accept a subservient role

At Agra court Shivaji was spurned, faced the back of coward Jaswant Singh
The hero couldn't take it, threw a tantrum demanding treatment like a king

Perfidious Mughal put Shiva under house-arrest, his life was now in danger
Clever Shiva thought of a plan, to such calamities he was hardly a stranger

Shiva pretended to be ill in Agra, called baskets of alms for many a sage
Empty baskets were put to good use, the bird had now flown the cage

There was racing and chasing all over, but Shivaji they just couldn't find
Shiva and son reached Raigad safely leaving Mughal pursuers behind

World saw daring escape in disbelief, from the Mughal ball of slime
Peaceful Shiva now consolidated his kingdom and bided for his time

Shivaji found an erudite Guru in Shri Ramdas, a great spiritual master
With strong character and Rajdharma, Shiva's glory now spread faster

Aurangzeb grew more fanatical, the iconoclast put manyto sword
Chivalrous Shiva a virtuous and just king, all his subjects he adored

Neither women nor children of enemies, were allowed to come to harm
Religious men were untouched, afar extended Shiva's chivalrous charm

Prataorao Gujjar, Yesaji kank, Moro Pingle-Shiva's army was now ready
Shiva struck again at his foes after making his administration steady

Things were settled but the loss of Kondana rankled to Jiajamata hard
Capturing Kondana was not a joke, a brave Rajput stood there guard

Tanaji led stealth attack on Kondana, an impregnable Mughal fort
Fierce fight ensued with Uday Bhan, Shelarmama gave great support

Tanaji's shield broke halfway but he fought fiercely till his last breath
Shiva's lion captured Kondana fort but kissed the bride called death

Resurgent Shivaji was unstoppable, every Mughal gain he did erase
Purandar, Mahuli, Lohagad were back, of enemies there was no trace

Afghans, Mughals, Uzbecks and Turks, known for their military power
Tasted the the Steel of Maratha sabres, heroic hill-men didn't cower

With Surat sacked once again, Aurangzeb's face was smeared black
Mighty Mughals were easily looted their edifice had now begun to crack

A tumultuous battle at Salher was fought, Mughals saw their utter rout
Shivaji's writ ran far and wide, about his prowess there was no doubt

With riches gained, sea-forts were built and a brand new navy prepared
Now it was time for Shivaji's coronation, an auspicious day was declared

In a grand ceremony at Raigad, sacred mantras many Pandits did sing
6th June 1674, Pandit Gaga Bhatt anointed the Maratha warrior as king

From Shiva he became Chatrapati, his glory spread wide on every mouth
With Mughals under a firm check, Shivaji's attention turned to the south

Ponda, Ginjee and Vellore, southern cities were now under Maratha belt
Triumphant Shivaji entered Hyderabad, and servile Qutbshah almost knelt

Be they Sidis of Janjira, wily Portuguese or British- he chastised them all
The rough and taxing life of the Chatraparti finally had to take its toll

God likes the company of good souls, at only 52 Shivaji breathed his last
Grim reaper silently scythed the hero, a pall of gloom at Raighad was cast

A valiant warrior, a meritorious king, a huge protector of dharma was lost
A benevolent ruler and fearless fighter who held the Saffron banner afloat

The Swaraj spark that Shivaji lit at Torna, later amplified into a huge fire
From south of India till Attock and Peshawar, extended Maratha empire

Shambhu, Bajirao, Sahu and Scindias, Shiva's ideas inspired them all
Palkhed, Vasai, Udgir, Panipat and even Delhi, Marathas stood very tall

The idea ofSwaraj continues to live, to hero Shivaji today we tributes pay
India to be ruled by Indians- the maxim is very much relevant even today!

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Comments (3)

actualy i real shocked that no comment for this lovely poem.
Now that is the way love should conducted- I have his heart instead of mine and he has mine instead of his. That arrangement would certainly put a lot more emphasis on the quality of a person's interior and a whole lot less on his or her outward gorgeousness.
This was one of Jackie Onassis's favorite poems, according to her daughter, Caroline.