Military Career of Shivaji
The military career of Shivaji (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj) began at an early age of 18. During the period between 1645 and 1647, he overran few forts near Poona.
He got control over his father’s jagir after the death of his Dadoji Konddeo (Shivaji’s guardian). In 1656, he conquered Javli.
These acquisitions provoked the sultan of Bijapur, and in 1659, Afzal Khan, a distinguished general of Bijapur, was sent to subdue Shivaji. Afzal Khan was killed by Shivaji and soon afterwards, he defeated the Bijapur army in a pitched battle.
After these encounters, he was faced with the powerful Mughal Empire. In 1660, Aurangzeb sent Shayasta Khan, with a large army to crush Shivaji. The Mughal general was outwitted and defeated.
In the meantime, Shivaji advanced to Surat. Finally, Aurangzeb sent his Rajput general, Raja Jai Singh, to deal with Shivaji. Jai Singh captured many of his hill forts which were the main source of Shivaji’s strength and persuaded him to come to terms with Aurangzeb. By the Treaty of Purandar (1665), Shivaji surrendered most of his forts and agreed to travel Delhi to meet the Mughal emperor.
In Delhi, Shivaji was kept under close watch. He felt insulted at the treatment. He soon escaped and returned to the Deccan in 1666.
The following year, Aurangzeb conferred the title of Raja to Shivaji, with the hope that this would check his activities against the Mughals. An uneasy peace ensured for two years during which time, Shivaji re-organized his own government.
In 1670, he resumed hostilities and began extracting tributes from the Mughal officers in the Deccan. Thus, he subdued his immediate opponents and crowned himself King of the Marathas in 1674 at Raigad.
Buy the time of his death, Shivaji had extended his dominions over the entire western Carnatic from Belgaum to the Tungabhadra.
Shivaji was an outstanding military commander and adopted the guerrilla tactics he overwhelmed large armies with a small force.
He was also a shrewd and practical administrator which placed him on a pedestal much higher than any of his contemporaries.