HOW AFZAL KHAN OF BIJAPUR KILLED SAMBHOOJI THE ELDEST SON OF SHAHJI RAJE AND BROTHER OF SHIVAJI MAHARAJ
HOW AFZAL KHAN OF BIJAPUR KILLED SAMBHOOJI THE ELDEST
SON OF SHAHJI RAJE AND BROTHER OF SHIVAJI MAHARAJ
Dr K Prabhakar Rao
Maratha history usually revolves around Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj who carved out an independent Hindu Kingdom ( Swarajya) in 17 century against all odds at a time when anti Hindu forces were at peak. These forces were let loose by the religious bigot Aurangzeb the Mughal emperor at Delhi duly abetted by the Bijapur kingdom of Adilshahis and Golconda Kutubshahi. There is no doubt that achievement of Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj was immensely great and entire nation has to be indebted to him for inspiring the nation with his achievements. After the fall and disappearance of Vijay nagar empire in 1646, rise of Shivaji Maharaj was the only hope for Hindus in this country. Shahaji Raje Bhonsle a descendent of Sisodia Rajputs was a very able General and he originally served with Nizamshahi kingdom of Ahmed nagar and later shifted to Bijapur. It is believed that he never lost a battle. Although he made efforts to carve out an Hindu kingdom, circumstances were not favorable to him and he had to continue in the service of Ahmednagar initially and later at Bijapur. The history books do not give detailed accounts of Shahji Raje and his life and due credit has not been given to this magnificent personality in the history of India. Similarly, brave Sambhooji ( Sambhaji) the eldest son of Shahji Raje and brother of Shivaji Maharaj ( Later Chatrapathi) go unnoticed in the Indian history. Sambhooji died fighting bravely in his youth in a battle due to treachery by Afzal Khan while he was in his teens. Very few know how he died at such an young age. The brave elder brother of Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj has vanished into history without a recognition. Had he lived long life probably Maratha empire would have flourished further and hands of Shivaji Maharaj would have become further stronger. But god willed otherwise. Shivaji Maharaj named his eldest son as Shambhaji in memory of his brother. It is a must to know the accomplishments of Shahji Raje to understand the life of Shambhooji Raje .
The period saw the declining Vijaynagar empire in south India. The empire under Aliya ( Araveeti)Rama Raya suffered greatly after defeat of Hindu army at the hands of confederation army of Deccani sultans at Tallikota battle on Jan 26, 1565 owing to the betrayl my the Mulsim generals of Vijay nagar army. Venkatapathi Rayalu II who ruled for 30 years at Chandragiri as emperor of Vijaynagar redeemed the prestige of the empire to a very great extent. However after his death ,war of succession took place. The Hindu empire was greatly wakened due to inner rivalries of Nayaka chieftains of Madurai, Jinjee, Tanjavoor and Kalahasthi after Topur Battle on the banks of Kaveri river in 1616. The battle took place between rival factions of Vijaynagar empire over the issue of succession to the throne of Vijay nagar. Ramadeva son of Sriranga II succeeded to the throne after the battle. The next ruler was Sri ranga III who succeeded Ramadeva to the throne of crumbling Vijayanagaar empire. Bijapur and Golconda sultans were eagerly waiting to ensure the demise of the Hindu empire that was struggling. These Deccani sultans were already vassals to the Mughal emperor and were constantly pressurized to destroy the Hindu kingdoms in the south India as a policy of Islamization. Shahji Raje was serving Bijapur sultan under these prevailing conditions. His inner spirit craved for establishing a Hindu kingdom although he was loyally serving the Bijapur sultan. Shahaji Raje was a very capable General and Mughals, Nizamshahi sultan of Ahmednagar and Adilshahi sultan of Bijapur desired to have him with them. . He was well known not only for his military and leadership skills but also as a Man who kept his word. Shahji Raje served under all these important dynasties in his eventful career. Shahaji Raje had a chequered career and he served Nizamshai kingdom in the initial career. He was very impressed by Malik Amber who steered the troubled Nizamshahi kingdom in the most crucial days. Shahaji observed him very closely and grasped the intricate techniques of Guerilla warfare and the methods to counter enemy’s large forces with small number of troops. This helped him very greatly in his later campaigns against Mughals and while in service of Adilshah of Bijapur. These were the days when emperor Shahjehan was hell bent on destroying Nizamshahi kingdom based at Ahmednagar at any cost.
Shahaji Raje had three surviving sons. He had six sons from his queen Jijabai daughter of Raja Lakhooji Jadhav who wasa senior noble in the service of Nizamshahi kingdom. However four of them passed away in childhood . The third son Shambhooji Raje (Shambhaji) and fourth son Shivaji Raje ( Chatrapathi) survived and grew up as brave and able warriors and administrators and men of high taste, virtues and culture. Venkoji ( Enkoji I) Raje was the youngest son born to Shahji’s other wife who came from the family of Mohites. Venkoji I in later part of his life ruled at Tanjavur after the fall of it’s Nayaka dynasty as independent king and the kingdom lasted till it was annexed by the English men in 19 century.
The battle of Bhataudi wasa very crucial battle in the career of Shahji Raje that brought him great fame. It was fought in 1624 in Ahmednagar ( Maharashtra ) between forces of Maharaja Shahaji, Nizamshah led by Malik Amber and the combined forces of Mughals and Adilshahi Sultan of Bijapur . Mughal forces of 1,20,000 strength were led by Lashkar Khan , Mughal commander-in-chief . He was supported by 80,000 strong army of Bijapur . Against this massive force of 2 lakhs army, Maharaja Shahaji had an army of 20,000 at his disposal. Maharaja Shahaji assigned 10,000 of these, the task of protecting and defending the Ahmednagar fort and town. The remaining 10,000 were with Maharaja Shahaji.
Mughal and Adilshahi forces were encamped on the bank of the Mehkari River that had a dam to conserve water, as Ahmednagar experienced water shortage. The dam was full as there had been good amount of rainfall. Maharaja Shahaji came up with a brilliant idea. With utmost care, cracks were developed in the dam. It was the time of night; the whole Mughal and Adilshahi encampment was fast asleep and suddenly, water gushed out of the cracks and flooded Mughal and Adilshahi camps . There was chaos and confusion. Enemy’s equipment like clothes, rations, arms, ammunitions, cannons and cattle and horses everything were drowned. There was huge loss of life. Many were taken as prisoners including 25 renowned, Mughal and Adilshahi chiefs. It was a huge win for Maharaja Shahaji, after which Maharaja Shahaji became famous and well known. But Shahji lost his brother in this battle. He later however left Ahmednagar being unhappy with policies of Malik Amber.
Nizamshi kingdom was passing through difficult phase. Jahan Khan, the wazir of Nizam shah killed Nizamshah on the reasoning that he was an incapable and unwise ruler, who couldn’t take appropriate decisions and was easily deceived by some people. Jahan Khan greeted Maharaja Shahaji with open hands and asked Maharaja Shahaji to join him. Maharaja Shahaji started leading Nizam’s forces. However, at that time, the Mughal forces on the order of Shah Jahan had slain all the men in relation to Nizamshah and also killed two pregnant women. This was done to finish off the Nizamshahi, as there wouldn’t be any male heir to the throne of the Nizamshah. However, Maharaja Shahaji, in order to protect Nizamshahi dynasty decided to crown a child named Murtuza, who was in relation with the late Nizamshah, as the next ruler. Maharaja Shahaji assured Murtuza’s mother that he would not be harmed and vouched for his safety.
Shahajahan soon dispatched a force of 48,000 to suppress Maharaja Shahaji, Nizamshah and his ally Adilshah. Under such mounting attack Adilshah sued for peace. With the withdrawal of Adilshah's support, Maharaja Shahaji could not hold much against the Mughals. His possessions were reduced quickly. In the fort of Mahuli he was besieged. Portuguese did not offer any help from naval side due to fear of the Mughals. In this war, Maharaja Shahaji fought till the last. But, unfortunately Nizamshah Murtaza, the little kid, was being kidnapped by Mughals and for the purpose of saving the life of Nizam, it became necessary for Maharaja Shahaji to make compromise. This compromise finished Nizamshahi kingdom. Maharaja Shahaji, on the condition of protecting the life of little Murtaza Nizam at any condition, handed him over to Shahajahan. Murtuza was taken away by Shah Jahan to Delhi. Shahji Raje was inducted into Adilshahi forces. As a precaution Shahajahan ensured that Shahaji Raje was posted in deep south so as not to pose any challenge to Mughals. He finally became one of the top generals in the Adilshah's army, accepting a Jagir in his court. In 1638, a large Bijapur army led by Ranadulla Khan and accompanied by Shahaji defeated Kempe Gowda III and Bangalore was given to Shahaji as a jagir Shahaji successfully led the Bijapur army to many victories against the Rajas ( Nayaks ) of southern India. Instead of punishing or executing them, Shahaji reprieved all the Rajas. The Rajas thus developed healthy relations with Shahaji and offered military support to Shahaji whenever required.
The eldest son Sambhooji stayed with his father Shahaji Raje along with Venkoji at Bangalore which he was given , while young Shivaji was sent to live at Pune the original jagir of Shahji Raje. Mother Jijabai was the queen regent for Shivaji. He also sent many worthy people like Shyamraj Ranjhekar, Balkrushnapant Hanmante, Raghunath Ballal Atre, Kanhoji Jedhe Naik and Dadaji Kondadev to assist Shivaji Maharaj prepare thoroughly for establishing his governance. This was a very wise step by him as events proved later. Adilshah suspected that Shahji was secretly assisting his sons Shambhooji and Shivaji in their anti state activities and summoned him to stay at Bijapur with his family. Shahji Rajeof course smelt foul and avoided the orders. On 25 July, 1648, Adilshah’s Prime Minister Nawab Mushtafa Khan, with the help of Baaji Ghorpade, Mambaji Bhosale, Mambaji Pawar, Balaji Haibatrao and Fatehkhan, betrayed and captured ShahajiRaje near Jinji in Karnataka. He was chained and dragged through Bijapur and brought to the court.
Following Shahji’s arrest, his sons Sambhooji in Banglore and Shivaji in Pune started asserting their independence against the Moslems. With the help of the Brahmin advisers they started acting as independent *Hindu* rulers and did not remit any tributes to the Adil Shah. The Sultan acted quickly and sent a force under Asad Khan from Jinji to take Bangalore from Sambhooji. Sambhooji gave a notable display of his valor by routing the Moslem force advancing towards Banglore by after intercepting it on the way to the city. Shivaji was in the mean time attacked in both Purandar and Kondana by two columns of the Sultan’s army, but he too gave an ample taste of his valor by defeating both the Moslem armies. The action by Shahji’s sons and their ability to punish the Moslem armies both in North and South made the Sultan wary of any action on Shahji. In the meantime, the brothers tried an unusual political move by contacting a representative of the Moghul emperor to negotiate with the Sultan for their father’s safety and possible release from captivity. Ahmad Khan the Moslem commandant agreed to negotiate his safe release provided his sons surrendered Kondana and Bangalore. Shahaji agreed to such a deal and was released. His sons on the surface agreed to do so but secretly harbored plans to seize back their territory from the Muslims.
Soon they had their chance when the two Moslem Sultans, the Sunni and Shia sultans of Bijapur and Golconda started fighting amongst themselves over their territorial possessions after the battle of Jinji. In course of this fight, Shahji Raje and Sambhooji secured Banglore and went on take Kanakagiri for themselves. When Mir Jumla of Golconda started driving the Adil Shahi troops, Shahji Raje and Sambhooji intervened with their forces. To the Hindus, they were protectors from Moslem depredations and for Adil Shah they were the only hope to survive Mir Jumla. They caught Mir Jumla in an ambush between their columns near Bangalore and defeated him . They held him ransom for 900,000 gold pieces and with this victory became the most powerful force in South India. In Kanakagiri, Sambhooji saw the remnants of the past Hindu glory and the idea of founding an independent Hindu kingdom with this fort as a base came to his mind. Sambhooji accordingly dispossessed local Moslem officials and appointed his Hindu ministers instead. Abba Khan the local Moslem Adil Shahi warlord was furious over these movements and raising a force of ghazis launched a fierce attack on Sambhooji. Shahji Raje tried a political move by representing to the Adil Shah that he was holding the territory for the Sultan while Abba Khan was revolting against him. Afzal Khan was sent to settle affairs, and he long wanted to punish the Maratha upstarts severely. He also had a grudge against Sambhooji due the defeat at his hands in the Bangalore encounter.
Afzal Khan laid a cunning plan. He sent a message to Sambhooji that he would help him against Abba Khan and asked the former to storm the defenses of Abba Khan. Sambhooji vigorously attacked and was in the thick of battle when the detachment of Afzal Khan which had supposedly come to help turned against him and surrounded him. He bravely tried to cut his way out, but received several gun shots and was killed. Thus at the age of 25, Sambhooji, the poorly known brother of the future Chatrapathi laid down his life in front of Kanakagiri. His mother Jijabai bore a long-standing grudge against Afzal Khan after this event, and finally had her satisfaction, when Shivaji slew Afzal Khan at Pratapgarh and restored the Hindu prestige. In fact Shivaji Maharaj tore open the bowels of Afzal Khan apart from stabbing him and he enacted Lord Narasimha whotore open the belly of Hiranyakashipa the most cruel Rakshasa and Afzal Khan was no less. Afzal khan’s severed head was presented to queen mother Jijabai and she was satisfied. Soon Shivaji Maharaj became Chatrapathi and carved out a Hindu kingdom against all odds and Jajabai passed away soon after coronation of Shivaji Maharaj. The dreams of his elder brother Sambhooji was thus realized at the hands of his younger brother.
LONG LIVE THE MEMORIES OF SAMBHOOJI RAJE