Birth and Early Life of Shivaji

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (also known as Kshatrapati Shivaji, Shivaji Raje Bhonsle) belonged to the Bhonsle clan of the Maratha caste. He was the son of this Shahji Raje Bhonsle by his first wife Jijabai. It is believed that he was born on 19th February, 1630 in the hill fort of Shivneri, near Poona.

The mother of Shivaji, Jijabai, was a highly devout and pious lady. Shivaji and his mother became thoroughly attached to each other Shivaji grew up into a fearless boy with no sense of subordination to a higher authority, and was instructed in the Hindu religion and shastras by his mother and his tutor and guardian Dadoji Konddev. Shivaji was given military training and became skilled in racing and other military accomplishments. But he did not learn to read and write. Though illiterate, he mastered the contents of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and the Hindu shastras through the ear. He was fond of participating in religious kirtans, and of the society of saints—Hindu or Muslim.

Shivaji learned his early administrative training to the instruction and example of Dadoji Konddev who was a practical man of affairs. At the age of twelve, he was married to Saibai Nimbalkar. The land of Shivaji’s birth and early activity known as Maval country, being full of hills and valleys and studded with forts which often changed masters, inspired him with the spirit of adventure which gradually developed into patriotic fervor. The people who inhabited the Maval country were mostly Kolis and Marathas. They were very hardy and industrious and formed a good material for a first-class fighting force.

Shivaji gathered round him a large number of young men from among these people and started on a career of capturing fort after fort. The decay of Ahmednagar and Bijapur kingdoms, the unsettled condition of the country and want of peace and security among the people made Shivaji adopt a career of adventure and have the ambition of acquiring for himself a position of independent sovereignty. It is doubtful whether at this time he conceived any design of standing forth as a liberator of the Hindus. Whatever might have been his true intention, he began at an early age capturing the forts in the neighborhood of Poona.

Dadoji Konddev in March 1647 and Shivaji now became his own master at the age of twenty.