Poets and writers have eulogised Shivaj as a great general and true patriot of India who belongs to all ages. He was a devout Hindu but he was secular In his outlook as he respected all religions. He was impartial and liberal in his treatment towards Muslims and Christians who held positions of trust in his kingdom. Similarly, he was charitable not only to temples but also to mosques and churches. He was a man of strong character and considered all women like his mother. Once his soldiers captured the most beautiful daughter-in-law of Mulla Ahmed in an attack. When she was presented before Shivaji, he said that if his mother had been so beautiful he would have been a handsome man. He sent the woman back to Mulla Ahmed expressing regrets at the misbehavior of his soldiers.
Shivaji was born in Maharashtra in the year 1627. His father Shalji was a jagirdar in the state of Bijapur which was a subsidiary of the Moghul Empire then ruled over by Aurangzeb. Jija Bai was his mother who was a pious lady of a very strong character and influenced him most. She taught him lessons of bravery, truthfulness, patriotism and deep religious feelings. Shivaji learnt many things about the art of warfare under the able guidance of Dadaji Konadev. He became an adept in horse-riding, sword-fight and the use of lance. His family guru was Ramdas who was a source of inspiration to him at every step. He had no formal liberal education but he was a trained soldier and warrior who was liberal in his views.
Shivaji organised a band of young and brave warrior followers at the age of 20 years. They attacked and conquered fort after fort and soon a large number of forts came under his control. Shivaji knew he could not face enemy numbers and so he adopted the gorilla warfare, hit and run policy, utilising the element of surprise. The rising power of Shivaji made the Sultan of Bijapur afraid of him and he sent Afzal Khan to catch or kill him. Afzal Khan was a crafty person who wanted to kill him by a stratagem but was outwitted by Shivaji and killed. Then Aurangzeb sent a large army under his maternal uncle Shaista Khan to crush him but Shivaji surprised him and he had to run away to save his life.
Aurangzeb then sent Jai Singh with a large army and he persuaded Shivaj ito go to Delhi and meet Aurangzeb. But Aurangzeb insulted him and imprisoned him. Shivaji proved too clever for Aurangzeb and escaped in a big basket of sweets with the help of his men. On reaching his kingdom, Shivaji was crowned king. In 1680, at the age of 52 he breathed his last peacefully.
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