Saaji chaturang veer rang mein turang chadhi,
Saraja Sivaajee jang jeetan chalat hai.
‘Bhushan’ bhanat naad vihad nagaaran ke,
Nadee nad mad gaibaran ke ralat hai.
Ail phail khail-bhail khalak mein gail-gail,
Gajan ki thel pel sail usalat hai.
Taara so tarani dhoori dhaara mein lagat jimi,
haara par paara paaraavaar yon halat hai.
This is how Kavi Bhooshan describes how Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj looks when he begins his march for war. He says the sounds of kettle drums are deafening and the young bull-elephants are secreting so much musth that there are rivers of them flowing.
The elephants are spreading such commotion that there is chaos and disorder in the paths of the enemy, where they tread. So thunderous is there a movement that the hills along are being uprooted.
The feet and the hooves of this army raise so much dust that it covers the sky and the shining sun is reduced to but a twinkling star. As the massive army marches through, the earth trembles like mercury on a wobbling plate. (translation by Atul Sabnis for The Custodians).
There cannot be a more evocative description of the great armies of Shivaji Maharaj that established the Hindavi Swarajya, which eventually went on to become Hindavi Samrajya.
There are multiple heroic moments in the life of Shivaji Maharaj that recount his greatness. But one incident, one moment of his life that changed the course of the history of India, is the Rajyabhishek i.e. coronation.
The Sabhasad Bakhar (Chronicle) says, “Ya yugi sarva pruthvivar sarva mlechha baadshaha. Ha Maratha Patshah yevdha Chhatrapati zhala. Hi gosht kaahi samanya zhali nahi..” meaning, there are only Mlechha kings in current times. A Maratha king becoming Chhatrapati is not an ordinary thing.
And indeed it wasn’t ordinary. And we are celebrating the 350th year since the Rajyabhishek of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, to be rightly called Hindu Samrajya Din.
The greatness of Shivaji Maharaj is sung by many, in multiple formats like chronicles, ballads, poems, mahakavyas, and many more. This piece is an attempt to look at how poets — those contemporary of Shivaji Maharaj and modern — described the Chhatrapati in their works.
There were poets contemporary to Shivaji Maharaj who wrote about his greatness, like Kavindra Paramanand Newaskar, Kavi Bhooshan, and Ajnandas.
In the succeeding centuries, a large number of poets sang of Shivaji Maharaj, here is an attempt to glimpse the work of some of them, including Mahatma Phule, Swatantryaveer Savarkar, Shankar Vaidya, Kusumagraj, etc.
Kavindra Paramanad Newaskar was contemporary to Shivaji Maharaj. He was with him during the Agra campaign, where Shivaji Maharaj mysteriously escaped from the captivity of Aurangzeb. He had given an order to Kavindra Paramanand to write his biography. According to it, Paramanand wrote the Shiv Bharat. This Sanskrit biography is in the form of a mahakavya.
Modern historians consider this as one of the most authentic sources of history related to Shivaji Maharaj. Kavindra Paramanand being contemporary to the life and times of founder of Hindavi Swarajya, describes the battles, incidences, and the character of Shivaji Maharaj as Dharm Abhimani very well.
There is a glorious tradition of ‘Powada’ i.e. ballads, based on the heroics of the great men in Maharashtra. There have been many ‘Shahirs’ contemporary to Shivaji Maharaj who composed these ballads.
Shahir Ajnandas is one of the most important among them, who composed a ballad on the battle of Pratapgad i.e. slaying of Adilshahi general Afzal Khan. The ballads are mostly composed in Veer Rasa.
Modern Shahirs and poets too composed ballads on the life of times of the great king. Social reformer Mahatma Jyotiba Phule was among them. The Shivaji Cha Powada composed by him is quite well known.
There is another important name in this league: Swatantryaveer Savarkar, who composed ballads on the battles of Pawankhind and the battle of Sinhagad. These ballads are sung, and presented by many modern folk artists in Maharashtra, along with new compositions also.
The topic of poems on Shivaji Maharaj would be incomplete without mentioning Kavi Bhushan. He was born in Trivikrampur (Tikmapur) in Uttar Pradesh.
He travelled across India in the seventeenth century and met multiple kings and people at different places, but says it was Shivaji Maharaj who he admired the most. Kavi Bhushan has composed the Shiva Bavani and many chhandas praising Shivaji Maharaj.
The chhand quoted at the beginning of this piece is from Shiva Bavani. No other contemporary poet has described Shivaji Maharaj as Kavi Bhushan has done.
In modern times, a poetic, musical masterpiece in Marathi Shiv Kalyan Raja was created by the genius minds of Pt. Hridayanath Mangeshkar, Lata Mangeshkar, and Babasaheb Purandare. In this musical, the poems, chhandas of Kavi Bhushan, Swanatntryaveer Savarkar, Kusumagraj
(Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar), Govindagraj (Ram Ganesh Gadkari), Shankar Vaidya, Samarth Ramdas, are together to describe the life of Shivaji Maharaj. Babasaheb Purandare narrated the background story brief.
It has a lori (lullaby), written by Govindagraj, where Jijabai is igniting little Shivaji’s mind for the cause. It has the aarti of Shivaji Maharaj written by Savarkar, which he had written in his college days.
The aarti was sung at the meetings of the secret revolutionary organization Abhinav Bharat. It has another poem by Savarkar, He Hindu Nrusinha Prabho Shivaji Raja describing Shivaji Maharaj as ‘Hindu Nrusinh’. It has two chhanda by Kavi Bhushan. It also has the long open letter written by Samarth Ramdas, not just to Shivaji Maharaj but to the people of Maharashtra describing him as:
Nishchayacha Mahameru, Bahut janaansi aadharu.
Akhand Sthiticha nirdharu. Shrimant Yogi.
The musical has another most important poem by Shankar Vaidya describing how the Rajyabhishek was a saffron light that emerged from a Yajna going on for centuries.
Shatakanchya yajnatoon uthali eka keshari jwala
Daha dishanchya hrudayamadhuni arunodaya zhala
The coronation of Shivaji Maharaj is one of the most important moments in the history of India. It has changed the past, and present and will shape the future.
To this end, the Shahirs, poets have composed ballads, poems, and mahakavyas on that history that will keep our emotions ignited.
In the end, the last stanza of Shiva Bavani is evident to be cited as it sums up the importance of Shivaji Maharaj in the history, present, and future of India. It says,
Kasi hu ki kala jati, Mathura masit hoti,
Agar Shivaji na hote to sunnati hot sabki.
Shaunak Kulkarni is a digital marketing professional based in Pune. He writes on current events especially with a Maharashtra focus.
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