The Marathas have made deep imprint in the history of medieval India and fought valiantly against all the islamic invaders both in north and south India. The surge of Marathas in India during medieval era is also considered as revival of Hindu power to resist the tyranny of Islamic empire which is continuously playing havoc on Hindus in India. During 1650’s a three way war was occurring among Mughals, Qutub Shahi, Adil Shahi. Mughal were attacking Qutub Shahi and Adil Shahi in the South India so that they could expand the Mughal Empire, at the same time both Qutub Shahi and Adil Shahi were keeping each other in constant check, In 1656 Shahjahan felt ill and so Aurangzeb took the command for conquest of South India, in 1659 when two sons of Shahjahan started claiming the throne of their father, Aurangzeb then suddenly abandon all his military expedition In south India and went to North India so that he could become next emperor leaving his brother behind.
This internal upheaval in Mughal empire gave some relief to both Qutub shahi and Adil Shahi Kingdom in the South, on the west of Adil Shahi there was a one man who in the midst of this three way fight quietly laying the foundation of Hindu Kingdom which later rose to become a Maratha Empire. The name of that Charismatic figure was none other than Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. He was given the charge of Pune province of Adil Shahi Empire but instead of naming it in the name of Adil Shahi he decided to rule it in the name of Himself with its own Bhagwa flag and an empire where rule of justice would prevail with no place for tyranny which was the essence of the Hindu Swaraj, after war with Mughal was over, Ali Adil Shahi now turned its attention to rebellion of Shivaji Maharaj and sent his most capable and trusted general Afzal Khan to curb down the Shivaji.
Shivaji Maharaj not only captured territories of Adil Shahi but also annexed areas under the Mughal empire, the capital of his Kingdom was Rajghad where he was stationed in 1659 during the early part of war, Afzal Khan with 12,000 Cavalry,10,000 Infantry and marched from Bijapur to liberate their territory from Shivaji Maharaj, his army went to tuljapur were they plundered and looted people, raped women desecrated temple of goddess Bhawani where Shivaji used to offer Prayer, then they headed towards Pandharpur and caused turmoil there too. All this was done to provoke Shivaji Maharaj to come in the open ground for the battle since Afzal khan’s army was far superior than army of Shivaji Maharaj as they have artillery and mountain guns thus the chances of Afzal Khan’s victory would be very high and also among the masses a message would go that Afzal khan decimated idols of most revered deity goddess Bhavani but still Shivaji choose to be a coward and stayed in his fort, Afzal khan thought that by doing this he would shatter the morals of Shivaji Maharaj.
After destroying the temples, causing bloodshed in Tuljapur, Pandharpur the army of Afzal Khan reached WAI, a city which was under control of Adil Shahi was also important as far as strategic significance is concerned, he deployed his troops in Wai and also called some more additional troops to surround Shivaji Kingdom from different direction, it was evident that at that time balance of the war was in favor of Afzal khan, Shivaji maharaj was also working on its own plan and persuaded some local chieftains to join his side who can raise troops at their own demand. The province of Pune was hill terrain consisting of ghats and dense forest and since the monsoon also arrived so it was extremely difficult for Afzal khan to advance and attack Shivaji whose troops were at higher altitude which was considered to be an advantageous position during the warfare. Shivaji Maharaj then played his next move and he went to Pratapgard Fort which was at a very considerable height that now it was impossible for afzal khan to combat him under this circumstances, Afzal khan then decided to change his stance and used a tactics of deceit by sending his local officer Krishna ji Bhaskar with a message in which he was pretending to be harmonious and desiring for peace asked Shivaji to surrender in front of him by coming on his camp and in return he would plead emperor of Adil Shahi to forgive Shivaji and let him rule Pune province in his name, Shivaji was aware of the pretense of Afzal khan and knew that going to camp of Afzal khan was as equal as inviting the disaster. Shivaji then sent his envoy Patanji Gopinath who was capable diplomat spread rumours in the Afzal khan camp that Shivaji is very scared and terrified of them that he couldn’t gather courage to face Afzal khan and made a negotiation with Afzal khan that he would come to meet Shivaji near his fort of Pratapgard, Afzal khan then started his journey leaving his half troops at Wai, his army reached on the banks of Koyna river and made their camps there, Shivaji’s patience and diligence was working very well at that moment since half of his army was far away in Wai thus reducing Afzal’s manpower to large extent, negotiations again started for the meeting, Shivaji was firm that he won’t go in the camps of Afzal and Afzal refused to meet Shivaji on his Fort, finally the two parties decided to meet at a third spot.
It was the day of 10 November 1659 when meeting of Afzal khan and Shivaji Maharaj was going to held, both the parties reached to terms of the meeting that each of them would bring 10 troops which would be at a distance of range of one arrow and one bodyguard that would escort them till inside of royal Tent which was erected on the spot, Afzal khan was asked to reach first and then Shivaji Maharaj reached after that but on seeing the Afzal khan bodyguard Saeed, he requested Afzal khan to ask Saeed leave the tent with an excuse that Shivaji was scared and frightened of Afzal khan, overjoyed Afzal khan then asked Saeed to go out of Tent, Shivaji entered the tent and with huge laugh Afzal khan said to Shivaji that you think that you are very brave and with courage you defied Adil Shahi empire but he would forgive you, handover all the forts to us, then he opened his arms widely and hugged Shivaji, since gigantic Afzal khan was very tall therefore he grabbed Shivaji in armpits and took out his dagger from one hand and started stabbing shivaji but it is of no avail as he was wearing metal armor, Shivaji without losing a moment immediately took out his tiger claws and disemboweled Afzal khan, Afzal han started crying in pain with heart wrenching sound that he has been tricked and betrayed and holding stomach he went outside tent, Saeed who was bodyguard got agitated and attacked Shivaji on his head with his sword but as he was wearing Metal cap so nothing happened to him and Jeeva who was Shivaji’s bodyguard then beheaded Saeed, many troops were already hiding in the bushes near the meeting place also came out and attacked other 10 troops of Afzal khan, soon all troops of Afzal khan got killed and Afzal khan with help of his some carrier was running to fled from Shivaji, Sambhaji Kavoji who was also bodyguard of Shivaji then chased him and beheaded Afzal khan.
Shivaji Maharaj got triumphant in the battle which marked the resurgence of Hindu empire and kept his vow of establishing Hindu Swaraj, he risked his life and there was higher probability of any mishap but he had no option apart from that. This battle was starting point of the consummation of Maratha Empire and after that Shivaji Maharaj’s empire was flourishing that paved the way for the decline of all Muslim empire in India. Shiavji Maharaj very meticulously watched all developments in the course of war and prepared a strategy that deceived his opponents completely which illustrates us that not only he was a brave,gallant warrior but was very adept in psychological warfare and even today we need to learn and imitate his plans to fight the oppressors so as to save your culture, tradition from the aliens. The Slaying of Afzal Khan also gave justice to the residence of Tujlapur who were wrecked by the bloodbath caused by Afzal Khan and Chatrapati Shivaji avenged him for all the wrongs he did with Hindus. Shivaji Maharaj would always remain in the heart of a true Hindu who feels pride in his culture and would show them the path to resist the tyranny of evil forces.
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