‘Shivaji’s swaraj was not for Hindus alone” (Book Review)

Who was Shivaji?  Author: Govind PansareBy M.R. Narayan Swamy,

Title: Who was Shivaji? Author: Govind Pansare; Publisher: LeftWord Books; Pages: 110; Price: Rs.150

Who was Shivaji? A medieval ruler (1627-80) who embraced what is known today as Hindutva politics and was bitterly anti-Muslim? Or was he an able king who did not discriminate on the basis of religion and constantly worked to better the lives of peasants and other oppressed communities?

This is the book – the outcome of a speech delivered in May 1987 – that probably cost CPI leader Govind Pansare, 67, his life. Two gunmen on a motorcycle shot him when he was on a morning walk with his wife in Kolhapur in Maharashtra on February 16, 2015. He died in Mumbai. The killers were never caught.

Read the racy and hugely informative book, and it is clear that Pansare was most probably killed for portraying Shivaji in a rare new light – based on sound research. It is no wonder the book has been printed in eight languages and is seen as a counter to Shivaji’s image portrayed by dominant Hindu nationalist discourse.

Shivaji was a hugely popular king because he reined in feudal lords and introduced rules and regulations regarding what the Jagirdars, Deshmukhs, Vatandars (landholders), Patils and Kulkarnis should do and should not. Shivaji’s state punished guilty feudal bosses, a dramatic development in the life of peasants who immediately identified themselves with the king and willingly took part in his military expeditions.

Shivaji maintained low rates for rent and taxes on land, severely punished rapists, took the administration close to the ordinary folks by doing work in Marathi, told his soldiers never to loot from peasants or torment women, and led a life of personal morality.

Contrary to popular perception, Shivaji had many Muslims working under him. They held very important positions in his army and administration. His naval chief was Darya Sarang Daulat Khan, a personal bodyguard was a young Muslim, and the head of infantry was Noor Khan Beg. Around 1649, about 500-700 Pathans from the Vijaypur Army joined Shivaji.

“Shivaji’s lieutenants, soldiers and chieftains were not Hindus alone. They were Muslims as well. If Shivaji had undertaken the task of eliminating Islam, these Muslims would certainly not have joined him. (However) Shivaji had set out to demolish the despotic and exploitative rule of Muslim rulers.”

Shivaji was no doubt religious and proud of being a Hindu. But he fought the Marathas as well. When Mughal warlord Shaista Khan invaded Shivaji’s dominion, many Hindu noblemen accompanied Khan, including four of Shivaji’s relatives. And in 1665, Shivaji had to concede defeat to Mirza Raja Jai Singh, a satrap of Emperor Aurangzeb, leading to the humiliating treaty of Purandar that led him to surrender his forts, money and son Sambhaji to the Mughal regime. And to oppose Shivaji, some Brahmins in his kingdom performed a ‘Kot Chandi Yajna’ on behalf of Raja Jai Singh.

Sadly, Pansare says, modern history presents Shivaji as virulently anti-Muslim – which the late author says he was not. “Shivaji’s Swaraj was not for Hindus alone. It was equally for the Muslims in Maharashtra.” Shivaji, Pansare tells us, was “a man of his times” — “neither a Hindu fundamentalist nor a secular socialist”.

(29.02.2016 – M.R. Narayan Swamy can be reached on narayan.swamy@ians.in)—IANS

Also read-

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Stories

Bar on Muslim traders near temples, Hindu fairs, says Karnataka govt

0
Bengaluru : The ruling BJP in Karnataka quoted the rule book on Wednesday to blunt the opposition attack over the calls to ban Muslim...

Farmers unions to launch pan India struggle unitedly against  Hindutva’s divisive politics

2
By Special Correspondent New Delhi: At a joint meeting, major farmers’s unions on Friday announced that they will start a united all India struggle against...

Maharashtra Police nabs suspect in Pansare, Lankesh killings

0
Kolhapur, June 11 The Maharashtra Police on Tuesday arrested right-wing activist Sharad B. Kalaksar in connection with the killings of Communist leader Govind Pansare...

Malegaon’s wanted are linked to Sadhvi Pragya, held bomb training camps in many states : Investigation

2
By Muslim Mirror Special Correspondent New Delhi : In a startling revelation it has come to fore that four missing members of Hindutva outfit Abhinav...

We are Gau Mata country: Himanta on DMK MP’s comment

Guwahati : Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday said India is a “Gau Mata” country and asserted that there is no dispute...

‘Here to make it easier for Muslims in India to go to Makkah, Madinah”: Saudi Minister of Hajj

New Delhi : Saudi Minister of Haj and Umrah Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah on Wednesday said “We are here to make it easier for...

31 years after Babri Mosque demolition: Perpetrators rule India

By Shamsul Islam Criminal Hindutva perpetrators instead of being punished rule India The RSS-BJP government of India led by a seasoned RSS whole-timer, Narendra Modi has...

Indian Army Major dismissed for ‘ties with Pakistani intelligence operative’

An Indian Army Major, who was recently dismissed from service by the President in October, is alleged to have been in contact with a...

Postpone probe into madrasas: UP madrasa board to Yogi govt

Lucknow : Following the Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to initiate a probe into the availability of basic facilities and competent teachers at state-funded madrasas,...

Turkey, Qatar sign 12 agreements, issue joint declaration after high strategic committee meeting

DOHA, Qatar : Turkey and Qatar on Monday signed 12 cooperation agreements in various fields and the joint declaration of the 9th meeting of...

Anti-terror case: NIA searches in 5 J&K districts

Srinagar: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday carried out searches at several places in five districts of Kashmir valley as part of a...

Almost 1.9M Palestinian displaced across Gaza Strip since Oct. 7: UN

ISTANBUL : Almost 1.9 million people, or over 80% of the population, have been displaced across the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7, the UN...

Modi will become PM for third time: Badruddin Ajmal

Guwahati : All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) chief, Badruddin Ajmal said that the BJP’s victory in the three state Assembly elections have proved...

Saudi Arabia gears up to deliver world-class services to Hajj and Umrah performers

By Tareq Wahab In recognition of its historical obligation and with a deep sense of honor, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques government has...

Afghan tragedy unfolds in Pakistan

By Asad Mirza For the last two months the international attention has been focussed on the continuing Gaza crisis, yet in its background another human...

2022 sees 24% rise in crime against women, minors, SC/ST: NCRB report

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) recently released its comprehensive data for 2022, shedding light on the surge in crime against women, children, Schedule...

Hindu young women will lose rights if they marry Muslims: Karnataka BJP leader

Dakshina Kannada : BJP leader Malavika Avinash asserted that Hindu young women who marry a Muslim would lose their rights. She also raised questions about...

Is the party now over for Mayawati and BSP in UP?

Lucknow : The Bahujan Samaj Party has miserably failed to arrest its downslide in politics. The BSP failed to open its account in Chhattisgarh, Madhya...

FIR against Kafeel Khan for ‘objectionable’ content in his book

Lucknow : A case has been registered against Kafeel Khan, a former doctor at the BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur, and five unidentified people...