Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj – The Warrior King

Sambhaji Maharaj

History has created numerous hero’s who are worshiped across the globe. Our country, India has a long list of leaders. They have played a significant role in shaping our nation. The evaluation of any leader is carried out to locate his or her position in the annals of history. The life and formidable work of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj is also no exception to this.

Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj fondly called Shambhuraje will always be remembered for his dedication and devotion as well as his sacrifice.

Also, though he had a very short reign, Sambhaji Maharaj in his death achieved much more than what he did during his lifetime. In his death, he came to be eulogized as the true Hindu martyr, that preferred death, to the ignoble life of subservience.

The rise
Statue of Sambhaji Maharaj

The time when Sambhaji Maharaj accreted the throne, the situation was very adverse. The Maratha power center was in splits and there were a lot of strategies planned against him. Soyarabai and her supporters plotted to arrest Sambhaji at the fort of Panhala, where he was staying at the time of Shivaji Maharaj’s death.

They wanted to crown Rajaram and not allow Sambhaji to become the Maratha emperor. However Sarnobat (the Supreme Commander of the Maratha forces) and Soyarabai’s brother, Hambirrao Mohite supported Sambhaji Maharaj since he was the rightful heir to the throne. At the time of Shivaji Maharaja’s death, there was news of an impending attack of Aurangzeb’s army on Maharashtra and at such a crucial juncture, a strong leader like Sambhaji Maharaj was the need of the hour. Therefore Hambirrao did not support his own sister and sided instead with Sambhaji Maharaj. The royal seal of Chhatrapati Sambhaji , reads- “श्री शंभो: शिवजातस्य मुद्रा द्यौरिव राजते। यदंकसेविनी लेखा वर्तते कस्य नोपरि।।The lines mean – “The empire of Sambhaji, the son of Shivaji is limitless as though the sky and it will be a rule assuring safety for all. Who won’t like to have such a benevolent leader?”

Fort Ramshej

nnaji Datto Surnis and other courtiers namely Hiroji Bhosale (Farjad), Balaji Aavji and Rupaji Mane were arrested for supporting Soyarabai and were punished in a rather cruel way, by being killed when trampled upon by War-elephants. It was chiefly because of Hambirrao’s support that Sambhaji Maharaj was able to ascend to his rightful place on the Maratha throne in 1681. He valiantly faced the 8 lakh strong army of Aurangzeb and defeated several Mughal chieftains in the battlefield forcing them to retreat. Because of this, Aurangzeb remained engaged in battles in Maharashtra, thus keeping the rest of India free from Aurangzeb’s tyranny for a long time. This can be considered as the greatest achievement of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj.

Battle against the Mughals
Resting Place

The Mughals started their aggression in 1681 in Nasik-Baglan in the northern region of South Maharashtra. Till the year 1686, the Mughal forces had not succeeded in capturing any forts. Though the Mughal forces captured some forts during the last 2 years of Sambhaji’s reign, Aurangzeb was forced to resort to encouraging treachery. At the end of 1686, Salher fort was taken by the Mughals after bribing the Killedar Asoji with a mansab. Ramsej was also won by treachery in 1687. At the end of 1688 and the beginning of 1689, Mughals got Harishgad, Tringalwadi, Madangad, Mordant, Aundha and Karani by treachery.

At the beginning of 1689, Matabarkhan captured Trimabkgad by offering cash and mansab to Shyamraj and Telangrao. Pattagad is an exception to this pattern. It was captured after a straight fight. In short it can be said that the Marathas were in command of almost all their territory till 1686 and in the end, only the weapons of treachery and not arms proved effective against them. The Mughals turned to the central part of southern Maharashtra i.e. Talkonkan, Kalyan Bhiwandi, Kothalagad, Pune and Satara region from 1681. Matabarkhan who had informed Aurangazeb about the difficulties in these regions, captured Kalyan-Bhiwandi, Purgadi and other-other forts in Talkonkan only after the death of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj.

In the middle of the year 1684, even though Aurangzeb succeeded in taking Surapur, Shirval, and Supe, Sambhaji continued to hold all the important forts like Rohida, Purandar, Shrivardhan, Rajmachi, Sinhagad, Rajgad, and Raigad. At the end of 1687, the Mughals were able to establish their hold on Satara, Parali, Nimb, Chandan, Vandan, Karad, Majgaon, and Masar by Sept’1689. From 1689, the Mughal posted their thanedar at Wai.


One thing can be said for certain that Aurangazeb who was not wholly successful, won a large part of the Maratha Kingdom immediately and only after Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaja’s death. The collective leadership under Chhatrapati Rajaram and Tarabai fought very gallantly so that the Mughal emperor could not achieve what he had vowed to do even after a long struggle of a quarter of a century. He could never secure full control over the Maratha state. His resolve and ambition to become the master of the south soon after Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaja’s death were foiled by Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj and his successor, younger brother, Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj.

It is well said that along with Aurangazeb’s person, his ambition to annihilate the Marathas was also buried deep in the Deccan. One may also add that the generation of brave patriots created by Shivaji held against the forces of Aurangzeb for twenty-five years of agonizing privations and against a vast and well-equipped force. It can be said that world’s history records few, if any, struggles of such heroic grandeur and inspiring resistance, led by a young king, his still younger brother and a woman. Herein lies the real success of the genius of Shivaji Maharaj.


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