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SIVAJI (1627—1680)

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Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 163 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SIVAJI (1627—1680), founder of the Mahratta power in India, was born in May 1627 He was the son of Shahji Bhonsla, a Mahratta soldier of fortune who held a jagir under the Bijapur government. From an early age he excelled in horsemanship and the use of weapons, and regarded himself as appointed to free the Hindus from the Mahommedan yoke. With this object he formed a national party among the Hindus of the Deccan, and opposed in turn the vassal power of Bijapur and the imperial armies of the Mogul of Delhi. By dint of playing off his enemies against each other and by means of treachery, assassination and hard fighting, Sivaji won for the Mahrattas practical supremacy in western India. In 1659 he lured Afzul Khan, the Bijapur general, into a personal conference, and killed him with his own hand, while his men attacked and routed the Bijapur army. In 1666 he visited the Mogul emperor, Aurangzeb, at Delhi, but on his expressing dissatisfaction at not being treated with sufficient dignity, he was placed under arrest. Having effected his escape in a sweetmeat basket, he raised the standard of revolt, assumed the title of raja, and the prerogative of coining money in his own name. But whilst at the height of his power he died on the 5th of April 168o at the age of fifty-three. Sivaji was an extraordinary man, showing a genius both fcr war and for peaceful administration; -but he always preferred to attain his ends by fraud rather than by force. He is the national hero of the Mahrattas, by whom he is regarded almost as a deity. See Grant Duff, History of the Mahrattas (1826) ; Krishnaji Ananta, Life and Exploits of Sivaji (1884); and M. G Ranade, Rise of the Maratha Power (Bombay, 1900).
End of Article: SIVAJI (1627—1680)

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