T.T. Sharma, one of the pioneers and doyens of Kannada journalism left behind a memorable thought when he said that the foundation of living an ideal and virtuous life is not logic or intelligence but a refined temperament and Samskara. When we regard the lives of those we consider as inspirations and heroes and role models in Hindu history, this is precisely what we see in them.
Chhatrapati Shivaji undoubtedly belongs to that league.
On the occasion of Shivaji’s tricentennial celebrations, the Gujarati poet and writer, Sri Nanalal Dalpatram Kavi wrote a heartfelt and extremely moving tribute to this great hero of Sanatana Renaissance in the 17th century, the warrior-king who singlehandedly stood up to Aurangzeb’s fanatical incursions in the Deccan and beyond.
The original Gujarati text was translated into English by Sri N.H. Pandia. We give below the excerpts from this magnificent eulogy to Chhatrapati Shivaji. It is hard not to shed tears as we read it.
Some editorial amendments have been made.
I consider it an honour as a Gujarati to take part in the celebration of the tricentenary of Shivaraj Maharaj, the hero of Maharashtra.
My salutations to the hero of the re-establishment of Hinduism, the salutations of all Gujarat. As a representative of Gujarat, I stand up in these celebrations and bow to the hero of India.
For Gujaratis the present occasion is a period of spiritual exaltation. You will say: this is a celebration by Maharashtrians. What have Gujaratis got to do with it? What concern has Gujarat with it?
History tells a different story.
If it is a historical fact that Shivaji Maharaj was eleventh in descent from Prince Sajjansingh of Chittor—
If history tells that Shivaji Maharaj belonged to the family of Sisodia Bappa Raval—
Then in that case—
It is also history that Gujarat gave Bapa Raval to Chittor. Gujarat also gave the Gehloti Sisodia dynasty to Chittor.
If the ancestors of Shivaji Maharaj had Chittor as their home, then history also records that the home of the Maharanas of Chittor lay in Gujarat.
In other words, it is an historical fact that Vallabhipur in Gujarat was the ancient home of the ancestors of Shivaji Maharaj.
You bathe in the Gangateertha of Kashi and Prayag. That is Maharashtra.
The Gangateertha at Hardwar and Rishikesh—that is Chittor. There the mother Ganges left the row of mountains, and descended on the level plains of the earth.
Gangotri, the source of the Ganges at Badri-Kedar, that is Vallabhipur. That is Gujarat. That is the auspicious place of the family Ganges of Shivaji Maharaj.
In our country of Gujarat lies the holy place of pilgrimage where the family of Shivaji Maharaj had its origin.
My dear Maharashtrians, as a representative of Gujarat, as a Gujarati, I feel pride in taking part in your celebrations.
Next, what agencies shaped Shivaji Maharaj?
Of course, you all know about it. As the poet Kalidas says —
जगतः पितरौ वन्दे पार्वति परमेश्वरौ ||
I bow to Parvati and Parmeshwar, the parents of the world ||
Like the parents of the whole world, like Parvati and Bhagvan Shanker, are the parents of each of us. To them should be our first salutation for giving life.
The holy Shrutis recite
मातृ देवो भव पितृ देवो भव ||
Respect your mother as God, respect your father as God ||
The first preceptors of Shivaji Maharaj were his parents, Shahaji and Jijabai.
Even like the rocks of Sahyadri, like a Vajra (thunderbolt) was Shahaji. He was a Sardar of the Islamic kings of the Bahamani dynasty of Maharashtra; but he was also a swordsman, grim like a Rajput, dignified, self-respecting, and inclined to stand by his word.
Jijabai was a creeper from the tree of the Yadavas of Devgiri and could thus claim descent from the Yadukula of Shree Krishnachandra.
Of these parents, Shivaji was born.
The father was born in the son; the son sucked life and love from his mother and the parents gave him good advice in his youth.
After seeing the installation of her son, having attained the goal of her life, she felt that there remained nothing in life for her. Having performed the closing ceremony of worship at the sacrifice of life, having made her name on earth, Jijabai departed from this life and attained salvation.
The good mother in fact attained salvation while yet alive. The mother attained all the desires of her heart while yet on the lap of the Earth.
The third preceptor of Shivaji Maharaj was his religious father, the great Ramdas Swami.
The foundation of life is Dharma. Dharma is the foundation of the State. Dharma is the mainstay of the whole world—this is the belief of the Aryas.
Shri Ramdas Swami instilled and reared these sentiments in Shivaji Maharaj.
Grant Duff has stated that Shivaji Maharaj was born a tiger of Sahyadri. What Grant Duff failed to observe was that it was the great Shri Ramdas Swami who made an Aryan hero of the tiger.
Shivaji Maharaj was Arjun, holding the Gandiv bow.Shri Ramdas Swami taught him the Dharma of the performance of duty without desire. The powerful Shri Ramdas Swami gave him the message of the Gita, conveyed to the world from age to age.
It was the great Shri Ramdas Swami who taught Shivraj to unfurl the Bhagva Jhenda, the crimson banner, on the field of battle.
Grant Duff has been able to understand neither Ramdas Swami nor his teaching of selflessness. Had he really and truly understood Ramdas Swami and his ascetic cloth of flag, he would not have called Shivaji a tiger of Sahyadri or a robber outlaw of Sahyadri.
Sahyadri bred lions. Shivaji is the Arjun of Sahyadri. The powerful Shri Ramdas Swami is the Krishna-deva of Arjun.
It was Shri Samarth Ramdas Swami who transformed the battles of Shivaji into holy Yajnas, who transformed the banner of Shivaji into the banner of Hindu Dharma.
Shri Ramdas Swami, the religious father, was the third architect of Shivaji.
And the fourth maker and moulder of Shivaji was Tulja Bhavani, the All Powerful, the mother of the world, the Goddess Tribhuvaneshwari of Tuljapur.
She gave the sword to Shivaji.
Ramchandraji had been presented with Brahmastra by Agastya Rishi when entering the precincts of the Dandakaranya forest.
So did Tulja Bhawani present the Sword to Shivaji Maharaj. It was the embodiment of the Great Force for re-attainment of Swaraj by India.
These four were the creators of Shivraj Maharaj.
Two incidents in the life of Shivraj Maharaj stand out before me today.
Some may have the capture of Torna in view. Others may think of the fall of Sinhgad. The “fortress was conquered, but the Lion was lost.” Some may remember the Durbar at Agra. Others may remember the installation ceremonies at Raigad.
My gaze is riveted, however, on two other incidents in his life.
One, the gift of the Empire to Shri Ramdas Swami.
The pages of history have registered many a gift, but it is difficult to find another to match this.
That was the supreme sacrifice of the goal and success of Life itself. It was the grand donation of attainment after long striving.
On that occasion, Shivraj Maharaj was laying down the exploits of his life, the entire battlefield of his life, all the powers of life, his all and all at the feet of the great Swami Ramdas.
He was making a present in the fold of his hands, of all Maharashtra, of all hope of Swaraj, of the entire regeneration of Hinduism.
The episode is well-known. Understand the significance of the incident, and let it enter your soul.
What was Shivraj Maharaj presenting to Shri Ramdas Swami? He was pouring at the feet of his preceptor the wealth of a lifetime, the treasury of his very soul.
That great donation stands before us today.
Also, another incident. The hermitage at Alandi, the cottage of Sant Tukaram, like that of Sudamaji. As if Krishadev himself visited Sudamaji.
A desire to adorn Poona was born to Shivraj. He said, "I shall make Poona the centre of the progress of my kingdom. I shall make it the home of my great power, the capital of Maharashtra, the Heaven on Earth of the soul of Maharashtra.”
The Ministry of Eight proceeded to Alandi, bowed down before the saint and, delivered the message of the king: "The king beseeches you to come to Punya-Pattana or Poona.”
Sant Tukaram said, “ Our work does not lie in the resort of pleasures, the centre of policies, in that Dwarika. I ask you to give this Abhang to Maharaj and tell him that he should protect Hindu Dharma as he protects life itself.”
Was the king offended by this, or did he think that the invitation of Krishna Dev had received an insult?
No way. Shivaraj Maharaj was made of divine soil. He himself proceeded to the house of this Sudama and said, “O Prince of Devotees! Grace by your presence, my Punya-Pattana. Best of Poets! Please come and adorn the grandeur of my Empire!”
The Prince of Devotees did not accede to the Prince of the Empire. The Prince of Poets rejected the glories of Empire. "Oh King! Enjoy the pleasures of Empire and fight the battlefield of life. But always guard one thing with your life, namely your sacred Sanatana Dharma.”
Historians have not called this the arrogance of a poet. Students of Time have not called this an insult to the great king.
Historians have styled this as the ancient path of the saints of India. Kanva Muni did not go to Hastinapur of Bharata. Sandipani Muni did not visit the Dwarika of Shri Krishna. Samarth Ramdasji did not abandon the forest caves of Mahableshwar, the abode of tigers and seek in order to seek protection within the fort walls of Pratapgad. Similarly, Tukaram also did not leave Alandi at the invitation of the king and make Punya-Pattana his abode.
Even to this day, a palanquin treads the path which Shivaji trod from Punya-Pattana to Alandi, in remembrance of the reverence of the devotee and the greatness of the best of poets.
And to those who read this, I ask: for the last three centuries, what has Bharatavarsha worshipped? Has it worshipped the mortal frame of Shivaji Maharaj? Has it worshipped the conquering sword of Shivaji?
No. Hinduism does not worship Shivaji’s mortal frame today; it does not invoke his all-conquering Sword in battle.
Hinduism today does reverence a thousand times to the heroic sentiment pervading His Great Heart.
Gentlemen, do you know Shivraj? Who was Shivraj Maharaj?
Shivaji Maharaj was the greatest Hindu, the crown and essence of Hinduism of the last seven centuries.
Prithviraj Chauhan fell in the year 1193. With him, Delhi fell. With it fell Hinduism, the sun set on the Hindu Empire. Shivraj Maharaj dreamed of re-establishing a Hindu Empire. He declared, "I will conquer Delhi from its ancient throne, I will resuscitate Hinduism.”
However, that great and burning desire of his heart was not given to Shivraj Maharaj to attain. A descendant of his grand-son's minister, for a moment, did indeed capture Delhi for a short while, unfurled the Bhagva Jhenda on the hoary walls of its old Pandava fortress; for a little time, he re-established Hinduism on that ancient throne of Bharatavarsha. For a while, the dream of Shivraj Maharaj came true.
But the decrees of Fate had been inscribed otherwise.
The Hinduism of Bharat today worships the unsatisfied Fire of Shivaji’s Soul.
Shivraj Maharaj was the banner on the temple of Hinduism of the last seven centuries. The entire career of Shivraj Maharaj was the Great Sacrifice at the altar of Hinduism. Today, the Hinduism of Bharat puts upon its forehead the ashes of the fire of that Great Yajna and hangs its destiny upon it, and lays down its soul before it.
With you all, I too, bow to the Great Hero. My reverent salutations from the depths of my soul to the Fire of the Heart of that Hero of Bharat, to that great ideal of the Hindu Banner, to that bearer of the Gandiv bow of Hinduism of the 17th century.
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