14 May 1657
Birth of Sambhaji, second Chhatrapati of the Maratha Kingdom.
The second ruler of the Maratha Empire and the eldest son of Shivaji, Sambhaji Bhonsale was born on 14 May 1657 at Purandar Fort near Pune.
- Sambhaji was the son of Shivaji Maharaj, the first ruler/Chhatrapati of the Maratha Empire and his first wife Saibai.
- Losing his mother at the age of two, he was raised by Shivaji’s mother Jijabai. When he was nine years of age, he was sent to live as a political hostage at the palace of Raja Jai Singh I of Amber. Shivaji had to do this as surety that he would comply with the Treaty of Purandar he signed with the Mughals in 1665.
- Sambhaji was thus a Mansabdar of the Mughals. In 1666, Shivaji and Sambhaji presented themselves at the court of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb put the duo under house arrest. Two months later, father and son escaped.
- Both sides reconciled following which there was a brief period of friendship between 1666 and 1670. During this period, Sambhaji fought alongside his father to support the Mughals against the Bijapur Sultan.
- In 1678, Shivaji kept Sambhaji imprisoned at the Panhala Fort to curtail his bad and irresponsible behaviour.
- Sambhaji escaped the fort along with his wife but he returned home after one year.
- After Shivaji died in April 1680, there were attempts by some ministers in the Maratha court to crown Sambhaji’s half-brother Rajaram as the king. Rajaram was Shivaji’s second son from his wife Soyarabai.
- Sambhaji, however, got wind of the plot and soon took possession of the forts at Panhala and Raigad. He was crowned the Chhatrapati on 20th July 1680. Soon after, he imprisoned Rajaram, Soyarabai and Rajaram’s wife. He also executed all the ministers who had conspired against him.
- After ascending the throne, Sambhaji started his military campaigns against various neighbouring kingdoms.
- Unlike his father, however, Sambhaji permitted his soldiers to plunder and loot the conquered regions.
- There were frequent clashes with the Mughals starting with the attack on Burhanpur. Sambhaji also had conflicts with the Siddis of Janjira and the Portuguese in Goa.
- He signed a treaty with the English in 1684 realising the need for English weapons and gunpowder.
- Sambhaji also attempted to take on Mysore which was ruled by Chikkadevaraja Wodeyar.
- In 1687, the Battle of Wai was fought between the Maratha and the Mughal forces. The battle was fought in the dense forests of Wai and Mahabaleshwar. Even though the Mughals were defeated in the battle, the Marathas lost their commander-in-chief Hambirao Mohite, which was a big blow to them.
- Sambhaji’s position weakened and people in his own court and family spied upon him.
- In February 1689, Sambhaji was captured along with 25 of his counsellors at Sangameshwar. His close friend Kavi Kalash was also among the captives.
- Sambhaji and Kalash were taken to Bahadurgad in Ahmednagar District by the Mughals. Both of them were humiliated and tortured heinously before being executed.
- Sambhaji was executed on 11 March 1689 by beheading at Tulapur.
- Sambhaji is also known as ‘Dharmaveer’.
- The Maratha throne was succeeded by Sambhaji’s younger half-brother Rajaram.
- Sambhaji was a scholar in Marathi and a few other languages as well. He authored a Sanskrit book Budhbhushanam. This poetic work is on politics where he discusses military tactics and the do’s and don’t’s for rulers. He also wrote books in Hindi such as Saatsatak, Nayikabhed and Nakhshikha.
Also on this day
1879: The first ever group of indentured labourers reach Fiji from India.
See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.