A WARRIOR IS BORN Shivaji Raje Bhosle popularly known as Chhatrapati Shivaji was the son of Shahaji Raje Bhosle and Jijabai. Shivaji's birth date has been a matter of controversy but recently a consensus has been reached and is deemed to be 19 February 1630. He was born on Shivneri Fort, Junnar, 60 kilometres north of Pune and was named Shiva after Goddess Shivai, deity of the fort. Shivaji was the fifth son born to Jijabai, three of whom had died as infants and only Sambhaji survived. While Shivaji was accompanied mostly by his mother, Sambhaji lived with his father Shahaji at present day Bangalore). His father, Shahaji, was a Maratha general who rendered military services at various times against the Bijapur Sultanate and the Mughals. Shahaji following in the footsteps of his father Maloji Bhosale, began service with the young Nizamshah of Ahmednagar and together with Malik Amber, Nizam's minister, he won back most of the districts for the Nizamshah from the Mughals who had gained it during their attack of 1600. Thereafter, Lakhujirao Jadhav, Shahaji's father-in- law, attacked Shahaji at the Mahuli fort and laid a siege. Shahaji was accompanied by Jijabai, who was four months pregnant. After seeing no relief coming from Nizam, Shahaji decided to vacate the fort and planned his escape. He sent Jijabai off to the safety of Shivneri fort, which was under his control. It was here at Shivneri that Shivaji was born. During the period of Shivaji's birth, the power in Deccan was shared by three Sultanates - Bijapur, Ahmednagar, and Golconda. Most of the then Marathas forces had pledged their loyalties to one of these Sultanates and were engaged in a continuous game of mutual alliances and aggression. Shahaji Raje decided to part ways with the Nizamshahi Sultanate and raise the banner of independence and establish an independent kingdom. And soon Ahmednagar fell to the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, and shortly thereafter Shahaji responded by attacking the Mughal garrison there and regained control of this region again. In response the Mughals sent a much larger force in 1635 to recover the area back and forced Shahaji to retreat into Mahuli. The result of this was that Adilshah of Bijapur agreed to pay tribute to the Mughals in return for the authority to rule this region in 1636. Thereafter, Shahaji was inducted by Adilshah of Bijapur and was offered a distant jagir (landholding) at present-day Bangalore, but he was allowed to keep his old land tenures and holdings in Pune. Shahaji thus kept c hanging his loyalty among Nizamshah, Adilshah and the Mughals but always kept his jagir at Pune and his small force of men with him.
Influence of Jijabai Even when he was a little child his mother Jijabai used to tell him stories of heroes, of saints and sages who appear in the Ramayana, the Mahabharatha and the Puranas. As Shivaji listened to these tales of heroism and Dharmic deeds, he grew more and more eager to be like Rama or Krishna, Bheema or Arjuna. He was further blessed in that he had for his teacher and guides such a great man as Dadaji Kondadev was. He was also inspired by the memories of the glorious empire of the Vijayanagara Kings in Karnataka. Her piety and commitment to indigenous culture molded Shivaji's character.
His mother made an indelible impression on him with her teachings, with her love for the homeland and its people. Shivaji learned much from his father's failed attempts at political independence, his exceptional military capabilities and achievements, his knowledge of Sanskrit, Hindu ethos, patronage of the arts, his war strategies and peacetime diplomacy. He was inspired and informed by his family's vision and quest for independence and freedom. Furthermore, his mother, having lost her father and three brothers to a treacherous p lot hatched by Nizamshah, was opposed to those who she considered alien rulers, due to their suspicions and callousness toward the local population. Jijabai thus instilled in...