(SHIVAJI & AVATAR MEHER BABA)
Meher Baba said, “In past time, I was Shivaji.” During His minor advent as Shivaji He planned activities of His present Avatarhood Brief description of Shivaji and statements of Meher Baba on being Shivaji in the past are given as under:
Shivaji (also Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Shivaji Raje Bhosale) was the Founder of Maratha Empire in India. He was born in 1627 A.D. (or 1630 A.D.) at Shivneri, a hill fort near Poona. Shivaji’s father Shahaji Raje Bhosale was employed as an officer in the army of the Sultan of Bijapur. Shivaji was brought up under the care of his mother Jijabai and guardian Dadoji Kondadev.
Shivaji’s mother Jijabai and his guru Ramdas inspired him with the noble and patriotic ideas and infused in him love for the religion and the motherland. Shivaji got military training and learnt the art of government from Kondadev. He organized a number of Marathi hill-folk into a fighting force and began to raid neighboring territories.
In 1940, he was married to Saibai.
Shivaji started his conquests: Chattrapati Shivaji began his early career of conquests at the age of nineteen by capturing the fort of Torna, about twenty miles from Poona. After this he conquered other forts like Chakan, Singhagarh and Purandar, situated within the territories of the Sultanate of Bijapur. In order to put pressure on Shivaji the Sultan of Bijapur imprisoned Shahaji Raje Bhosale, Shivaji’s father. After that Shivaji kept quiet for a few years. Shahaji Raje Bhosale was released by the Sultan. But Shivaji again started his activities of conquest. By 1655 Shivaji had occupied the northern part of Konkon and the fort of Javali.
These acquisitions provoked the Sultan of Bijapur who sent against Shivaji in 1659 a large army under a senior general named Afzal Khan, with instructions to bring Shivaji to the court dead or alive. In a clash between Afzal Khan and Shivaji, Afzal Khan was killed by Shivaji.
The army of Shivaji defeated the Bijapur Sultanate in the Battle of Pratapgarh (November 10, 1659). Huge quantity of weapons and war-materials were collected, which further strengthened the Maratha army. This success gained him much reputation among the Marathas. He became a Hero.
The Sultan of Bijapur again sent a large army, under the leadership of Rustom Zaman, which also failed to curb the power of Shivaji. The battle took place on December 28, 1659. The Maratha army of Shivaji defeated the Bijapur army in the Battle of Kolhapur. A large number of horses, elephants and warfare materials were gained by the Marathas.
Shivaji and the Mughals: Emboldened by his success Chattrapati Shivaji began raiding Mughal territories in 1657. Aurangzeb felt the necessity of chastising him and sent a big army under Shaista Khan. He occupied Poona and encamped there. One night Shivaji made a surprise attack on Poona. A large number of Mughal soldiers were killed and Shaista Khan had a narrow escape.
Thereafter, in 1661, Kartalab Khan was sent to counter Shivaji. In the Battle of Umberkhind, the large Mughal forces were defeated by relatively smaller forces of the Marathas.
After this incident in 1664, Shivaji sacked Surat and carried off a huge booty.
Treaty of Purandar: Aurangzeb then sent Raja Jai Singh of Amber and Dilir Khan to subdue Shivaji. Jai Singh captured a number of forts held by Shivaji and compelled Shivaji to conclude the treaty of Purandar (1665 A.D.). By the terms of the treaty Shivaji had to cede 23 forts to the Mughals, acknowledge the supremacy of the Mughal emperor and agreed to assist the Mughals in their fight against Bijapur. Jai Singh also persuaded Shivaji to pay a visit to the imperial court at Agra.
Escape of Shivaji: Aurangzeb did not treat him well and kept Shivaji and his son Shambhaji, imprisoned under careful watch. But Shivaji managed to escape from Agra with his son. Reaching home he started war against the Mughals with renewed vigor. At last Aurangzeb was obliged to recognize him as a Raja (king).
In 1674 Shivaji declared himself an independent ruler of Maharashtra and amid great pomp and grandeur celebrated his Rajyabhishek (coronation ceremony). He assumed the title of Chattrapati. Then he conquered Jinji, Vellore and a large part of Tanjore. Shivaji died in 1680 A.D.
Estimate of Shivaji: Shivaji was a born leader and a great administrator. He had a successful military career. He is known for establishing a well managed administrative and military system. His charisma drew people around him. In him they found the leader who never hesitated to risk his own life in times of danger. Shivaji had a constructive genius of a high order. The army of Shivaji was well organized. The most significant achievement of Shivaji was the welding of the Marathas into a nation. He infused a new spirit of unity and dignity into the Maratha people consisting of 96 clans.
In recruitment to services Shivaji showed no partiality to any community. There was no discrimination, no casteism, and no communalism. He, however, laid emphasis on the recruitment of the son of the soil. Though a champion of Hinduism, he extended his liberality to the people professing other religions.
Art and Culture: Shivaji was a patron of art and culture, piety and letters. Shivaji has the grace two Perfect Masters of Ramdas and Tukaram, Other prominent among the saintly persons were Baba Yakub, Mauni Baba, etc. Sanskrit poets like Jairam, Paramananda, Gaga Bhatt, and some Hindi poets received his patronage.
Administrative system of Shivaji: The administrative system of Shivaji was largely borrowed from the administrative practices of the Deccan states. It was also influenced by the principles laid down in Kautilya’s Arthasastra and the Dharmasastras. In the discharge of his duties he was assisted by a council of ministers.
Provincial administration: Shivaji divided the territory under his direct rule (which he called the Swaraj territory) into a number of provinces. The ancient institution of the Panchyat was preserved in the rural areas. The head of the village, administered the village with the help of the panchyat.
Revenue system: Shivaji laid down an excellent revenue system based on the principles adopted by Todar Mal and Malik Ambar. His officers made an elaborate survey of the land and fixed the rent at 33 per cent of the gross produce. Shivaji afterwards demanded a consolidated rent of 40 per cent. It is however; wrong to assume that Shivaji abolished the jagirdari system.
Chauth and Sardeshmukhi: Chauth and Sardeshmukhi were also the main sources of income of the state. They were levied on the territories which were not under the direct control of Shivaji. The inhabitants of these areas paid the Chauth or one fourth of the standard revenue as protection money against the plundering raids of Shivaji. The territories and principalities which paid chauth were also required to pay an additional tax called Sardeshmukhi. This was one tenth of the revenue of those areas. Those who paid Sardeshmukhi received Marathi protection against other invaders. Both the taxes together made a sizeable income for the Maratha kings.
Military system: Shivaji created and maintained an organized and disciplined army consisting of infantry, cavalry and navy. Shivaji recruited only able persons in his army. He had the skills to manage a huge army. His army mostly composed of light infantry and light cavalry was admirably well-adapted to guerilla warfare and hill campaign. The army movements were extremely quick.
Forts played an important role in Shivaji’s military system. Every fort was kept under three officers of equal status. They acted together but served as a check on one another.
Shivaji recognized the necessity of a strong navy. He had a navy of about 200 warships. The creation of a navy shows the foresight of Shivaji. A number of coastal fortresses kept guard over the sea. The Portuguese, the British, the Siddis and the Mughals were thus effectively kept in check.
Nor were Shivaji’s intelligence service neglected. The espionage system formed a well-paid and efficient wing of the Maratha army.
Death of Shivaji: Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj died on April 3, 1680. After the death of Shivaji, his son Sambhaji Maharaj (1680-1689) succeeded him. After the death of Sambhaji, his brother, Rajaram Maharaj, assumed the leadership of Maratha Empire and continued the struggle.
Avatar Meher Baba as Shivaji
In 1925, at the time of the Poona Hut, Baba had spoken of the Maratha king, Shivaji, and hinted that Shivaji was one of his minor incarnations.
He repeated something similar at Kaka Shahane's House, when he wrote on his slate and swore it was true: "Although European historians paint Shivaji in a different light, there was no warrior so brave, so sincere, so clever, so gentle, or so pure. He was a perfect devotee and a true disciple of his Spiritual Master, Swami Ramdas. It is the same Shivaji that is now present in this form to perform a great part in the tremendous spiritual outburst that is meant to occur in the near future."
Then Baba remarked, "I was present at the time of Jesus, too, but that is another matter. It is a secret, but a part of it I have thus revealed."
In reference to Shivaji, Arjun asked, "Are the men of that time present here?"
Baba nodded and then asking for the slate, he wrote: "Although many were with him, about 24 played a key role at that time. Ten out of these 24 will once again, within two years, be the instruments of great spiritual workings in the world. Afzal Khan, who was killed by Shivaji, will assume the lion's share of the work. One foreigner at that time played a key role, too, and he likewise will be one of the most prominent members of Shivaji's circle. Shivaji has now realized Truth, and through him at the appointed time in the near future, these companions will also realize they played a powerful part in the scheme. "
Baba concluded, "Don't think about it. Let it go, it is all a mystery. But the knowers will know within two years from this date."
The next day, Baba wrote another cryptic remark: "The secret will be out in the year 1927 when, at a touch, again the blind will be given sight and the dead will be raised with a breath."
During the early phase of His Universal work Baba declared to a foreign journalist that He was Chattrapati Shivaji in one of His previous incarnations. According to History, Shivaji came into contact with two perfect Masters, namely Sant Tukaram and Ramdas Swami beside some Muslim saints.
On 4th November, 1927, in morning, Meher Baba made following comments before mandali on historical figure Shivaji.
Shivaji was the greatest warrior of them all, even greater than Napoleon. Napoleon, though brave and clever, was proud, greedy and vicious. Shivaji was brave, but less clever than Napoleon; yet Shivaji was not proud or greedy. He was guided in all his actions by his Guru, Swami Ramdas. Everything is fair in war, even trickeries, yet Shivaji actually offered his whole kingdom to his Guru. He had great administrative powers, pure motives and conduct; hence he was great in every way – the only great king of the Hindus since the time of Ashoka.
Statue of the great warrior—king Shivaji had been erected in Poona. One day, during a stroll through the city, Baba explained that for certain spiritual work, there occur in varying centuries two types of Avataric incarnations: major and minor. He then revealed one of his past minor incarnations had been as Shivaji: "In a past lifetime, I was Shivaji. Until recently, the British have left nothing undone to detract from Shivaji historically. Yet, they have now, when I am present in this form, had a statue unveiled by the Prince of Wales last year in Shaniwar Wada."
Glancing at the men present, he revealed, "You were all with me at the time of Shivaji. Behramji was Afzal Khan, the Moghul general who was killed by Shivaji. Sadashiv Patil was Tanaji Malsoore, the man who gave his life to save Shivaji." Later, in private, Baba explained to Gulmai's son Adi that he had been Shivaji's wife.
In Maharashtra, people have great reverence and love for Shivaji, and these statements by Baba further consolidated the early disciples' faith in Baba's greatness. After he revealed this, the men talked of it for days among themselves.
There is significance in the role of Shivaji's activities in founding the Maratha kingdom (which later became the state of Maharashtra) in the Deccan plateau during the 17th century. Born in 1627, Shivaji was a versatile personality and leader — a statesman, social reformer, brilliant military strategist and advocate of religious tolerance. Called "the Grand Rebel," he was devoted to Hindu religious freedom and fought against the Muslim oppression and persecution of Hindus that had been instigated by the Mogul ruler Aurangzeb. Shivaji was spiritually guided by Swami Ramdas, a Sadguru. Although veiled from his true identity, Shivaji reorganized the country of India and prepared the people's consciousness for the advent of the Avatar, especially the Muslims and Hindus in the Deccan.