The period of late seventeenth century was an era of muted general discontent amongst the Hindu populace of Deccan. Rampant lawlessness, injustice and displaying of religious intolerance made the people secretly desire a liberator. A liberator finally arose. He promised the people a land to call their own, free of oppression and religious bigotry. A great warrior his name is not unknown to any Indian. History names him as Chhtrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
In 1961, India Post issued a 15 naya paisa commemorative stamp of Shivaji Maharaj riding a horse. Another commemorative stamp of Shivaji’s coronation or ‘rajya-abhishek’ was issued in 1974. This 30 paisa 1980 stamp depicts Shivaji as a regal and just ruler against the backdrop of Raigad Fort. It was issued on his 300th death anniversary. The most beautiful stamp of all is perhaps this stamp of 1999. It portrays motherly affection between young Shivaji and his mother Jijabai.
The first conquest of Shivaji Maharaj came at the age of sixteen when he seized the Fort of Torna. In the next couple of decades he successfully tackled two mightiest dynasties- the Adilshahi in the south and the Mughals in the north. He had limited resources and manpower but compensated it with his multitude of courage, brilliant acumen and Kautilya neeti of Chanakya. He established a competent and progressive civil rule with the help of disciplined military and well-structured administrative organizations. He also introduced new military tactics which pioneered in guerrilla warfare methods. He was clever enough to establish a navy to protect the coastline. Step by step Shivaji Maharaj secured the forts of the Western Ghats and Konkan coast, rising to a position of invincible leader.
When Shivaji was became Chhatrapati of the Maratha Empire, special coins were minted called Shivrai or Hon. The gold, silver and copper coins bear Chhatrapati in Devnagari on one side and Shri Raja Siva on the other. The inscription in Devnagari on the coins was a huge step as the ruling powers of that period issued coins mainly in Persian. These coins remained in circulation till the end of 19th century, primarily in the Bombay Presidency region. In 1999, the Reserve Bank of India issued 2 Rupees, 50 Rupees and 100 Rupees coin portraying the bust of Shivaji in his memory.
Shivaji inaugurated a new era called the Rajyabhisheka shaka and declared Raigad as the new capital of the kingdom. In less than 40 years, he consolidated a kingdom so powerful, that it acted as a strong plinth for the Maratha Empire. The next few decades witnessed the spread of Maratha power all over the country. Though he died at a relatively young age of 52, he left behind a strong legacy that that finds its echo till today. This great ruler continues to remain a political icon. A Chhatrapati later but a Hero first, Shivaji Maharaj shall always remain the pride of India.
झनझविला भगव्याच्या समान तुम्ही,
जागविले मरगळलेले मर्द मावळे तुम्ही,
घडविले श्रीं चे स्वराज्य तुम्ही,
ऐसे श्रीमंत योगी अखंड महाराष्ट्राचे कुलदैवत,
श्री राजा शिवछञपती तुम्ही…!!