Swami Vivekananda, when in conversation with Dr. Nanjundarao MC (a famous Dr. and a great disciple of Swami), takes the conversation to a song that he sings in Hindi. The song is about the great king Chhatrapati Shivaji. Angered by the doctor’s question as to why Shivaji should be so respected, Swami continues to say the following quote which is very famous and is even published in Vedanta Kesari Magazine:
What leader, saint, devotee or king greater than Shivaji was ever born? A wonderful king like Shivaji can only be seen in poetry. He was a great king, reflecting true loyalty to India. He gave shape to future generations of Indians. He had a dream of uniting the kingdoms of India into Akhanda Bharat.
Let us begin this article by watching a video on how Chatrapati Shivaji killed Afzal Khan. This video is a mixture of Hindi and Marathi, but you can easily get the essence without knowing the language.
Personality is an outcome of experience and experience is what we get even when we don’t get what we want. So, the more the experiences, whatever type it may be, the more they directly reflect on their personality.
There are three types of people whose personalities impact or inspire others.
1. Common men
After about fifteen days of their deaths, people will gradually start forgetting them. Their experiences, in turn, their personality will be not so inspiring that people will not remember them for a long time
2. Extraordinary men
These types of people would have followed some principles that their experiences and their personalities would have led them in such a way that even after years of death people remember them based on their deeds.
3. Divine men
The divine men are those whose personality will take them to an isolated or a silent mode that their divine experience and personality will overshadow their deeds. They prefer their personality to be encapsulated. Such people are aplenty in this nation.
Since we are talking about a great leader and an unmatchable king, Shivaji, we are obviously talking about the second type, as they cannot prefer being encapsulated, for, they have to guide and take forward the kingdom. There are these inspiring qualities or personalities of a leader that impacts their followers for a long time to come.
Leadership Qualities of Shivaji
The main ingredients in forming of a great leader are the following two:
The following three are the outcomes that are totally dependent on the previously mentioned ingredients.
- Thought process
Shivaji had developed his work ethics on these two main principles.
- The very essence of administration or governance is to run and not to be stopped
- War is to be fought to be won, and not to display bravery
These two principles show his thought about both war and administration, especially at the crucial times when Mughals had invaded the country.
Also, before we forget, let us see more of the principles that contributed to him in a big way moving forward.
- A time dedicated for daily routine
- Not indulging in consuming alcohol
- Not letting his close associates too, in alcohol consumption
- Avoid concentrating on a particular object when without arms
- Practicing armory every now and then
- Always keeping in touch with the acquired skills
- Recapping the essentials of Horse and Elephant riding
Beginning of Shivaji’s Swaraj
- Like what Aristotle says in one of his quotes, “Well begun is half done…”, even in Shivaji’s case, it was right from the beginning that the only vision he strived for till the end was “Swaraj”
- As previously told, he started inculcating this very thought that he had, into whoever he met. Due to slavery in those days, he made it a point to inspire one and all to fight against slavery for Swaraj
- He was given a few small areas of land from his father Shah-Ji that consisted of mainly four different types of people
- Maavalis from Maavala
- Kolis and Bhandaris from the seashore
- Others who were distributed across
- With these people and a few soldiers, he was always with both mass and class, only to win their hearts
- The training of becoming soldiers started for the Mavalis from a very young age from when Shivaji made then into two teams. One, Marathas and the other, Moghuls.
- It was told to them beforehand that the Marathas would always win and the Moghuls would lose
- This inspired the soldiers in the making to believe that they are the winners always and boost confidence in them
- These were the few things that made the beginning of Shivaji’s journey towards Chhatrapati and being a nightmare to his enemies
- A few days before Shivaji’s Coronation, he walks down with his son Sambhaji having good conversations and teaching Sambhaji values of life
- While walking they reach the foothills of Pratapgad where Shivaji remembers the killing of Afzal Khan. When Sambaji asks him about this experience, Shivaji reveals to him that Afzal was no issue, but the real issue was the army that he possessed and its strength
- Immediately he remembers the goddess temple there and credits all the winning to her, seeking her blessing he moves ahead.
- After the blessings, they end their walk and join wandering dancers, dance with them the whole night
- The next morning, despite him not having slept, continues to walk with his son without any clues of fatigue
- After walking for a few miles, they arrive at the forest area where Shivaji moves faster in the expectation of meeting his Guru, Samartha Ramdas, and to invite him to the coronation ceremony, in vain
- From there, they both return to Raigadh, where Shivaji was set to get coronated. This place will be decorated like a new city that Shivaji will be surprised to see
- In addition to that, he sees his daughter Sakhu’s presence and feels happy about it
- Many artists would be invited to the city. He praises the artists and asks them to get more and more artists and encourage them
- Even at that point in time, Shivaji makes sure that everyone is safe and that the security checks are being taken care of
- This is followed by a thread ceremony along with the ceremonial marriage with the senior-most queen Soyarabai and subsequently other queens
- The programs will be associated with music and other accompaniments throughout
- Following the programs, Shivaji comes to the balcony of his room from where he sees Rajgadh, the place from where he would have started all this from scratch, and sleeps
- The very next day Shivaji meets his mother Jijabai and continues with the coronation prerequisites begin with the Tula ceremony, where the king is on one side of a big weighing machine with the other side metals are added of a quantity that weighs exactly of the king. That metal is distributed among the priests
- On the twelfth day of Jyeshtha, the official coronation takes place at Raigad. He comes out in the morning in a white robe, takes a shower in Panchamrita (a mixture of five nectars – Water, Honey, Ghee, Curds, and Milk)
- The coronation takes place amidst a lot of people along with his eight ministers. Subsequently, Shivaji wears the auspicious cloths, and after worshipping the weapons, he holds them by his hands, takes the oath
- The sharp-eyed Shivaji with his sharp nose and beard was a treat for the audience to watch him being coronated
- This was a very important event in the whole of India history
The forethought of the King to move forward with the Subjects
- Consider anyone running a small team to a nation. The foremost aspect of taking the team with them and being successful will be the forethought. The input for this forethought will be the decisions they take
- Failing to make the right decisions might even prove things costly by dooming the whole kingdom, with so many enemies waiting to acquire lands
- If you look at Shivaji’s track record in this regard, it is flawless. Right from how he invited some enemies and killed them all alone… to choose the right ministers
- The previous quote about his principles on Administration and War can be revisited as a testimony to the forethought he had
- As a case study, Shivaji had a differentiation with regard to the Muslims that existed then. He considered Adil Shahis and Qutb Shahis as inhouse Muslims who were converted, whereas the Mughals as invaders who came from outside
- So, he wanted to be friends with the Shahis. For this reason, he always used to mingle with them in order to increase the rapport. This was one of the major forethoughts that further helped him to establish the freedom that he had been keen on right from the beginning.
The devotion of Subjects towards Shivaji
- While initially, we learned about the importance of belief. Added to that, we can say that belief is the source of Devotion, which in turn gives birth to the trust factor
- He had this trust starting from his own family. Coming out of his place, his friends, furthermore, the same trust that Shivaji is the answer to everything. This later came to every subject in his boundary, and soon covered the nook and corner of the nation
- In addition to this, the people of his kingdom always get to hear from him that they are on the right path and that Goddess Durga is always with them and that there was no need to worry.
- This trust got an outcome of devotion and every subject that included both Mass and Class was devoted to him and Goddess Durga
- It can be noted that intentions also play an important role here. Without the right intentions, no matter what we do, the solution will not be accepted for a long time. The king should not just claim that he is in the right direction, but should really be
The devotion from each of the soldiers towards Shivaji gave birth to five important Dal or groups:
- Ashwadal – the team consisting of Horse riders
- Padaati Dal – the team consisting of Soldiers barefoot
- Light Armory Team
- Aggressive Team of soldiers who can attack
- Soldiers involved in Archery
Fearlessness in establishing Swaraj
The toughest quality of a man to achieve is fearlessness. There are many types of fear, and the courage to overcome such fears is not easy. Even some great people have succumbed to fear.
This was perhaps the reason for Maharshi Patanjali to have revealed the first quality of a yogi or a Sadhak. The foremost quality is not Beard, not the Saffron robes, not at all the Kamandala. But, it is this fearlessness that is the first step towards becoming a Yogi.
Let them be in a forest or a palace, in an entertainment program or on a battlefield, they are neither afraid of death nor character assassination. This very quality is more or less the same even with respect to an able leader.
At a particular time, Shivaji happened to be under the control of King Jayasimha, in his place. When everyone from both teams was frightened, it is said that Shivaji was asking about the preparation of Bomb from Niccolao Manucci, in his own words. Very little did he know about his own survival even when he was trying to learn something.
This instance talks about the fearlessness quality of Shivaji.
Ministries in Shivaji’s kingdom, an eye-opener
While we just spoke about the qualities of Shivaji, there needs to be a lot to be mentioned in different parts of his able administration. There were well-planned ministries and successful financial involvements.
One of the very important aspects of the administration is resources. To keep the subjects, near and dear ones, this part of the section place a crucial role.
The main thing that Shivaji was very clear about was not involving any of his family members, especially in taking care of the fort, both in terms of protection and administration. This is a quality of a great king, as, to punish when in the lapse will not be easy and the relationship will be at stake. Let us now take up the ministries one by one. These are very similar to what we see in today’s government.
Handling Finance in a Dharmic and Holistic way
It is evident from the history that there was a special place as far as money was concerned. This could further be seen in Chanakya’s book too. Instead of naming the book “Rajaneeti Shastra”, Chanakya had gone ahead and named it “Artha Shastra” knowing that special status was given to money.
In India finance or money was not confined to profit and loss, or expense and investment. If you see the four Purusharthas of life, they are
So, this clearly tells us that money was a part and parcel of life here, which was treated with divinity as everything else.
Shivaji’s finances were transparent. He made sure that all the account records created for a year be thrown to the public. This was a great practice which in turn brought in trust among his subjects.
On a casual note and inquiry that Shivaji was used to, on a regular basis, he asked his financier about his daily settlement to the main account book that he was supposed to do every day. A negative answer invited trouble to the financier who had to undergo a serious punishment.
Since everything in a kingdom runs on money, it is very important to keep track of money and see to it that there is an increase in the portions on a regular basis.
With money comes responsibility and charity. The king should take the responsibility and compassionately handle the differently-abled, in ways that can help them get through their hardships.
Autonomous Home Ministry
Home Ministry’s foremost responsibility is the fact that the law and order be taken care of. A part of this exercise is again trust. When the king has trust in his ministers and their assistants, the king will build the kingdom in such a way that even in the absence of the king, the kingdom will run on its own. The processes that they follow matters.
At one point in time, Aurangzeb cheats on Shivaji and enslaves him in Agra for more than four months. In those days, even with less communication, the news of Shivaji reached his kingdom. But, thanks to Shivaji, he had set up such an administration in his kingdom, that there was no legal damage that happened during this time.
The critics of those days closely observed these with respect to his kingdom, but unfortunately for them, they could not record any untoward incident in any part of his kingdom. Such was his Home Ministry, an ideal one.
In addition to that, Shivaji had a great affection towards building the forts. He liked them so much that he built over 300 forts and spent 70% of his life in forts. This tells us how important a fort is and to what extent Shivaji liked forts and built them.
Agricultural innovations and resources handling
The source of everything in India is agriculture. It is inevitable for any king to understand this and give prominence to it. Shivaji not only understood this but also stressed on how to do the best agriculture and yield good crops.
Since the source for agriculture is water, Shivaji had also understood the art of saving rainwater. Standing as a witness are the two dams that he had built during his days.
We can see those dams even today. Moreover, he was a very good resource manager. Optimal utilization of soldiers, who were his best resources, was a great idea of his.
During the monsoon and peace in the kingdom, the soldiers used to be relieved from their work and were assigned the work of a farmer. They used to farm, sow seeds during the monsoon and come back on Vijayadashami to their actual job.
Another innovative part of his administration is in solving the problems faced by the farmers. There were different problems like:
- Rain extremes
- Wild animals
- Natural disasters
In such situations, instead of compensating them in cash, Shivaji used to replace the problem. If for some reason, one of their pets died, Shivaji used to replace them with a new one, of course after investigation.
By doing this, he always used to make sure that the farmers remain farmers and not get into something else.
Law & Order and its implementation
India was a well advanced and modern society that had embraced a lot of ways to tackle legal problems. A part of the subjects taught to the students, especially the kings was law. The decisions that the kings used to take were all based on Gautam Maharshi’s Nyaya Shastra.
He had understood about Law in which there were three important principles to follow:
- Accuracy in execution
- Timely execution
- No delay in implementation
And while enforcing the law, the law should be implemented in such a way that it should not be partial to any one individual or group.
Ranjhe was a town in Shivaji’s kingdom. The head of the town used his powers and abused a woman. Shivaji came to know about this incident and summoned the head to his court. Shivaji made the head to read the allegations against him. After a legal debate, Shivaji, without considering any influences agains the culprit gave him the punishment of cutting off hands and legs.
In certain cases, there will be a lot of pressure regarding punishments. In such cases, it is evident from the history that Shivaji used to tackle them intelligently.
In one such case, when a relative of a very close associate of Shivaji’s father, was involved in an anti-national activity. He joined hands with the enemy of Shivaji, Afzal Khan during the attack on Shivaji. After the death of Afzal Khan, Shivaji summoned the person involved in such an activity to his court. This is when his father’s friend pressurized him not to sentence him to death.
Shivaji, though initially agreed to this, was not very happy about it, as he knew that as more and more such incidents happen, subjects will lose trust in Shivaji. After a few days. when the same guy came before him, without even thinking twice he sentenced cutting of the accused legs and hands.
Furious about this decision, when his father’s friend questioned him, Shivaji told him that he never broke his decision and that he had only told that he will not give him a death sentence, and that he stuck to it.
Even from very recent history, it is clear that more than the enemies, those of us who got associated with the enemies are more dangerous. To avoid such repetitions, Shivaji’s forethought helped.
The foreign ministry, enemies and relationships with them
A major part of the foreign ministry is in identifying the enemies, even in today’s situation. We cannot assume that the foreign countries especially those that share a border with us are to be handled extra careful
Being in a similar situation, he had identified nine enemies.
- Adil Shahis
- Qutb Shahis
- Internal Enemies
- He believed, as spoken in the previous section that the enemies who attack us are at least visible, but these internal enemies who work within us cannot be seen until it is too late
- A strong notion about Shahis was this assumption of Shivaji. Though Shivaji treated them like any other countrymen, there was certainly a distinction that only Shivaji could see
- Whereas his thoughts about the Moghuls were that they were from Turkey and that they are to be handled with extra caution.
- The way he used to interact with the neighboring countries was with strength and equilibrium. This was to let them know that there is no selfish motive, it was truly his kingdom centric which was again for freedom
- Before attacking the enemies his thought process always used to analyze the land thoroughly including every house that spread across that land
- Despite all this, he had a good relationship with all the nine enemies that he had figured out for himself, in terms of business that we will be discussing in the coming sections
- Britishers in their opinions have praised Shivaji as one of the intelligent kings with great knowledge in business
- Shivaji used to pay attention to the smallest of the small gestures or etiquette, and this would impress any person who was in conversation with him
When asked about the usage of their currencies by one of the British officers in a discussion, he neither accepts or rejects the proposal, by saying that the people of his kingldom will decide as to what is most beneficial for them.
Commercial and Business opportunities
- His ideology about commerce and money was, Dharma is the source for Money. There is no question of acquiring money in the wrong ways. He always strived in doing this and got indulged in increasing the stock of money in his kingdom by tying up with neighboring lands, even from other countries.
- But, he was careful about establishing ties with the Britishers, surprisingly. This could be his one more forethought that proved right, but unfortunately for him, many other kings form other places indulged in doing the opposite.
- He also opened the coast for sea training with foreign countries. By doing so, he increased his profit and finances, which made his army stronger. This led to an increase in the profit which in turn led to do more business.
Shivaji understood the importance of businessmen, be it SMEs or Big businesses. That they are the hope of a place. All the profits with respect to money grow only with the help of businessmen. The economic growth starts with them. During calamities, it is these businessmen that can save a place. Knowing all this he encouraged business upfront.