Saturday 8 June 2013

The little-known brother of Shivaji

There are innumerable records, chronicles, annals and even letters  about the life and times of Chatrapathi Shivaji who spent two years in this city from 1640 to 1642. However, the very same records contain scanty or practically no information about Shivaji’s brother, Sambhaji.
When Shivaji came to Bangalore, Shahaji, his father, got him married a second time. He also ensured that Shivaji was trained in statecraft and warfare along with Sambhaji, and their half-brother Vyaknoji or Ekoji who later on went to found the Maratha line of rulers at Tanjore or Thanjavur, now in Tamil Nadu.
Both Shivaji and Sambhaji were the only surviving sons Shahaji and Jija Bai-four sons died in infancy. While Shivaji stayed on in Poona with his mother, Sambhaji was taken to the Deccan by Shahaji and he was with his father for several years. Shahaji had his second wife, Tuka bai Mohite, by his side and Venkoji was their son.  
When the Adil Shahis overran Bangalore in 1638 and defeated Kempe Gowda, the Adil Shahi commander Ranadulla Khan gave due credit to the victory for Shahaji, who was also a frontline  commander. Interestingly, the redoubtable Afzal Khan, who Shivaji later killed, was an understudy of Ranadullah Khan.
It was Ranadullah Khan who sent Afzal Khan to Sira, while he himself proceeded to Bangalore along with Shahaji.
The reason for the mighty Adil Shahi war machine to march towards south Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh were many. The Adil Shahi Emperor, Ibrahim Adil Shah also called Jagadguru, had died in 1627 and he was succeeded by Muhammad Adil Shah (1627-1658). Muhammad never wanted to see the rise of Vijayanagar and he decided to take on Sriranga Raya, the Vijayanagar ruler who was making attempts to reassert his authority.
Sriranganga was in touch with the many erstwhile provincial governors or palegars of the once mighty Vijayanagar Kingdom. At the same time, the Wodeyars of Mysore were emerging as the powerhouse of the south Mysore region. Kempe Gowda in Bangalore was also a prominent figure as were Bidanur and Sira.
Muhammad then ordered Ranadullah Khan and Shahaji to take on the Hindu principalities. They were ably assisted by Afzal Khan and at times by Myustafa Khan and Asad Khan.
Ranadullah Khan first took on the Raja of Dharwar and Lakshmshwar in 1637 and defeated them. He then took on the Vijayanagar King and captured Penugonda, Chandragiri, Adoni or Adwani in Andhra Pradesh, Vellor and Ginge in Tamil Nadu, Ikkeri-Bedanur, Bangalore, Kanakanagiri and Sira in Karnataka.
Ranadulla Khan and Shahaji got on well with each other. Both respected each other’s bravery and the Khan knew that Shahaji was an excellent military strategist. Once the war was over, Ranadullah Khan left the terms of surrender and other aspects to Shahaji and he rarely interfered.
Thus, when Kempe Gowda, the third, surrendered to the Adil Shahi, Shahaji allowed him to leave to Magadi and set up court there. Impressed with Shahaji, the Adil Shah granted him the jagir of Bangalore, which also included the surrounding principalities of Kolar, Chikaballapur, Doddaballapur and Kakakagiri.
Shahaji stayed back at Bangalore and set up court. His headquarters was the present Chickpet where he had his palace called Gauri Mahal.
Shahaji then became extremely busy in wars and campaigns conducted by the Adil Shah. He rarely had time to go back to Pune and meet his first wife Jija Bai and his second son, Shivaji.
Shahaji could not even attend the first marriage of Shivaji. He then invited Jija Bai and Shivaji to Bangalore so that he could meet his daughter-in-law.
Once in Bangalore, Shivaji learnt statecraft and warfare and he stayed here for two years from 1640 to 1642.
In 1642, Shivaji returned to Pune with his mother and he began the task of building up the Maratha Empire. Simultaneously, Shahaji began a process of  Hindu revival in the south. He did not put to the sword the Palegars or Nayakas whose territory he conquered on the behalf of the Adi Shah. He took away the capital cities of these provincial rulers and sent them away to smaller cities and towns. Thus, he earned the gratitude and respect of  the Palegars.
The only exception to this was in Sira where Afzal Khan treacherously murdered Kasturirangan, the ruler, by calling him out of the fort on the pretext of holding negotiations.
Sambhaji slowly earned the respect of his father and soon, Shahaji made him the Governor of Kolar.
When Muhammad Adil Shah called Shahaji to Bijapur in 1648 and imprisoned him, Sambhaji stoutly defended Bangalore against the Adil Shah army led by Farhad Khan and Tanaji Dure and even defeated them. In the Pune region, Shivaji defied the Adil Shah. Both gave up their defiance only after Shahaji addressed a letter to them and pointed out that their resistance might lead to his losing his life.
However, the Adil Shah realised the folly of imprisoning Shahaji and released him and conferred several honors on him. He also restored the jagir of Bangalore to Shahaji who then came back to Bangalore.
Sambhaji then continued to govern from Kolar, while his father lorded over Bangalore. Sambhaji met an unfortunate death in 1654 when the Adli Shahis under Afzal Khan attacked Kanakagiri. The Palegar, Apakhan, had revolted against the Adilshahis.
Afzal Khan once again played the part of a traitor and this led to the death of Sambhaji who was wounded by a cannon ball fired from within the fort of  Kanakanagiri.
When Shahaji heard of his son’s death, he personally marched to Kanakagiri and conquered it. For Shivaji, the loss of his elder brother was devastating. When his mother told him about the complicity of Afzal Khan in the death of Sambhaji, the Maratha swore revenge.
Today, people know about Sambhaji, the son of Shivaji but very few know about Sambhaji, the brother.
Sambhaji was born at Verul or today’s Ellora near Aurangabad in 1619 in Maharashtra. He was married to Makai and they had two sons- Suratsingh and Umaji, who records say was an adopted son. Umaji was believed to be the son of Parsoji Raje Bhamberker
After the death of Sambhaji,  Kolar was continued as Jahagir to his son Suratsing. When Shivaji conquered Bangalore from his half-brother Vyankoji, he continued the jagir of Kolar to his brother’s children.
Kola remained in Maratha hands till Hyder Ali (1721-1781) claimed Kolar as his right. Hyder’s reason for his conquest of Kolar was because he was born at Budikote, a short distance away from Kolar.
The Tarik-i-Shivaji, Siva Digvijaya, Chitnis Bakhars, Sabhasad and Adil Shah records give us information about Shahaji, Shivaji and Sambhaji as does the excellent work by H.S. Sardesai.

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