Short Biography of Sambhaji

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Sambhaji (1680-89)

After the death of Shivaji, Sambhaji, his eldest son, ascended the throne. He was a man of loose character and spent all his time in merry-making. He completely ignored the work of reorganisation of the Marathas.

When Aurangzeb was busy in his campaigns against Bijapur and Golconda, he and his followers did not take full advantage of the opportunity, nothing was done to harass the Mughal armies.

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When Bijapur and Golconda were conquered. Aurangzeb decided to deal with the Marathas.

Many of their forts were captured and Sambhaji moved to Sangameshwar. He wasted a lot of his precious time at that place. The result was that Muqarrab Khan, the Mughal General, made a surprise attack and captured him along with his friend Kavi Kulesh and their wives and daughters.

The prisoners were brought in heavy chains to the Imperial camp. In the words of J.N. Sarka, they were presented to Aurangzeb in the following manner: ‘Four miles outside the encampment, Sambhaji and Kavi Kulesh were addressed as buffoons with long fool’s caps and bells placed on their heads, mounted on camels, and brought to Bahadurgarh with drums beating and trumpets pealing Hundreds of thousands of spectators lined the roads to gaze

Sambhaji as a new kind of wild-beast or demon. Thus degraded, the captives were slowly paraded through the entire camp and finally brought to the Emperor who was sitting in full Durbar for the occasion.

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At the sight of the prisoners Aurangzeb descended from his throne and kneeling down on the carport bowed his head to the ground in double thankfulness to the Giver of this crowning victory. Alter he had looked at them, the captives was removed to prisons.”

Khafi Khan tells us that when Kavi Kulesh saw this devotion of Aurangzeb, he addressed verses to Sambhaji to this effect: “Oh Rajah, at the sight of these the King Alamgir, for all his pomp and dignity, cannot keep his seat upon the throne, but has perforce descended from it to do the honour.” Another story is that Aurangzeb sent an officer to Sambhaji enquiring as to where the latter had hidden his treasure and which Mughal officers had intrigued with him.

It is stated that Sambhaji abused Aurangzeb and the Prophet and demanded the hand of Aurangzeb’s daughter as the price of his friendship. When all this was reported to Aurangzeb, he decided to take severe action against him and his followers.

Consequently, Sambhaji and his followers were tortured and put to death in March 1689, “their limbs being hacked off one by one and their flesh thrown to the dogs.” According to the custom of the Mughals, the heads of the culprits were stuffed with bran and were exposed in public in all the chief cities of the Deccan. Probably, Sambhaji deserved his fate. He had to pay heavily for his vices.

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However, by his death, Sambhaji achieved what he had failed to do in life. The effect of his imprisonment and death was that the Marathas were united and they made up their minds to carry on a relentless struggle against the Mughals. The Mughals carried on their struggle with the Marathas with vigour and the result was that they were able to capture a large number of forts in a short period.

Intifada Khan conquered Raigarh and was also able to capture the family of Sambhaji including his son, Shahu. Raja Ram, a son of Shivaji by another wife, escaped in the guise of a Yogi and stationed himself in the fort of Jinji in the Karnataka.

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