Wednesday, June 7, 2023
Support Our Journalism
HomeFeaturesChhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, who championed a 'Hindavi Swarajya', wasn't against Islam

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, who championed a ‘Hindavi Swarajya’, wasn’t against Islam

On his 340th death anniversary, a look at Shivaji's relationship with Islam & Muslims while he built a Maratha empire that extended from Pakistan to Tamil Nadu.

Text Size:

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj died on 3 April 1680, but even today, he continues to be celebrated as Maharashtra’s tallest icon — literally, with plans for a Rs 3,000-crore statue, 212 metres high in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai’s coast. In Maharashtra, parks, monuments, Mumbai’s airport and even a political party bear his name.

The warrior king is known for establishing the Maratha empire, which lasted for close to two centuries. At its peak, the empire extended from Attock, which today lies in Pakistan, to Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. The credit goes largely to Shivaji’s passion and vision, and his brilliance as a warrior, leader of armies, and diplomat who could form crucial alliances.

Today, Shivaji is known as the iconic leader who established Hindu rule in the Deccan by defeating the Mughals. Many have championed him as an “important part of Hindu nationalist ideology”, but the truth is that his relationship with Islam and Muslims is not so black and white.

Also read: Modi the new Shivaji? BJP member’s PM tribute angers Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP

What historians say

The earliest use of the term Hindu can be traced back to a letter, allegedly from Shivaji to Dadaji Naras Prabhu Deshpande of Rohidkhore on 17 April 1645 where he wished for Hindavi Swarajya. While the authenticity of the letter is contested, the interpretations of the term are also varied. Scholar Wilfred Cantwell Smith translates it to “Indian independence from foreign rule” and historian Pagadi views it as “Indian rule”. However, religious studies scholar William Jackson takes it a step further, stating it means the “self-rule of Hindu people”.

Author and historian Manu S. Pillai, in his book Rebel Sultans: The Deccan from Khilji to Shivaji, delves into the Maratha king’s familial and ancestral relation with Muslims and the changes this led to in his courtroom and style of diplomacy.

He writes: “Shivaji’s father, for one, was named to honour a Muslim saint called Shah Sharif – while Shahji bore the first part of the pir’s name, his brother took the second and was called Sharifji. His grandfather, Maloji, was not only a loyal officer of the Nizam Shahs of Ahmadnagar, but his samadhi is, evidently, ‘a completely Islamicate’ structure that still stands in Ellora. In the Sivabharathi, when praise is heaped on Maloji, it is in words that confirm his loyalty to his Muslim sovereign: ‘Whatever enemies did arise [to oppose] the Nizam Shah, mighty Maloji opposed them.’ Shivaji’s mother’s family too, similarly, had pledged affiliation to the Mughals years before and had no qualms serving a Muslim emperor. And to top it all, Shivaji himself, when he was in his twenties, had Muslim Pathans in his armies, also employing qazis to administer Islamic justice within his dominions.”

On the other hand, some of the measures the warrior emperor took during his rule would lead one to the belief that his reign was filled with hatred for Muslims. Reworking court culture “derived from classical Hindu texts”, replacing Persian with Sanskrit as the language of diplomacy and appealing to Maratha families for allegiance to “fulfill the desire of creating a Hindavi kingdom” are some such steps. But Pillai argues that “All this was certainly a rejection of an existing system of power built on Islamic ideals, but it does not appear to be a mark of hatred for that religion itself.”

Pillai notes that it was Shivaji’s immense drive to become a powerful presence in Deccan politics that pushed him to take such steps. He also believes this drive was accompanied by the ruler’s empathy for the poor who had been suffering for years in “endless wars due to the Mughal invasion, reducing the region to unprecedented desperation”.

Also read: Why Shivaji Park, where Uddhav will take oath, is so important to Shiv Sena & Thackerays


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism


  1. those were kings who fought with each other
    It was common Hindu kings had Muslim generals and vice versa those were days of only power
    Mughals bought under control around 100 small countries as akanda Bharath

    Those were days of survival.of fittest else loot was done by whoever whenever they won on lose

    Everyone supported Gandhiji to get independence from British
    Sadly our own people killed him
    No war , personal gain only a communal angle

    Shivaji had maximum Muslim bodyguards, the nails to kill a Muslim we’re made by a Muslim to shivaji,
    He instructed his soldier not to loot any religious place instead gave gifts

  2. There was nothing complicated about his relationship with Mughal rulers. He had very clearcut idea on his interactions with them. On ample of locations he has shown courteous behaviour towards them just to keep them in dark about his plans.
    You should read letters written by him to get idea on the strategy of guerilla warfare he used to play on psycological level as well. There are ample evidences that come to fore from writings by his contemporaries as well.
    If u still believe in these writings by leftists ‘thinkers’ that he wanted favours from mughals and wanted their friendship then u are latest one to fall for his psycological warfare tactics.

  3. Firstly have some manners of taking a name of a king. I condemn use of singulars for great CHATRAPATI SHIWAJI MAHARAJ.

    Secondly the write-up is out and out Mughal biased. So long way to go for writer to get glims of HINDAVI SWARAJYA.

    Invedors are falsly glorified.

  4. Shivaji Maharaj didn’t hate Islam but Islamists did hate him because he stopped their ill acts of kidnapping women, enforcing jiziya, killing poor, demolishing Hindu temples.

  5. Shivaji wasn’t against Islam, but the islamists.
    Same way we indians are not against Islam, but we are against islamists. We have seen worst result 1947 in form of Islamic Pakistan.
    “India First ” is a force to unite India.

    • First of all stop naming any architecture in India as Islamic. The Mughals entered India and took control over our architectural blgs and gave their names. Dey converted our temples into mosques. Shahji maharaj went in to serve adilshah bcoz dey had taken control of dat part of the country n he was considerably weak . If it was a choice d feeling of oppression and having d rule of hindus wd not b instilled in Shivaji Maharaj. Lets accept dat d mughal rulers wer extremely cruel and unjust. Dey wer radical and forced conversions. Ppl den wanted social n religious freedom. Therefore a swarajya was formed by Shivaji Maharaj with grt efforts. Well, he was never against any religion, but he was not a fake secular also . If he respected Islam, he made sure dey respect Hinduism too. Nobody had d audacity to destroy anything related to Hindu ideals. Its d same case with d modern hindus. If ppl engage in constant violence and anti national politics dey spoil their own image and bring upon a question on their integrity. Dey have to b responsible and show loyalty to the nation to gain trust.

      • Faltu ki nautanki mat kar.. pata hai modern Hindu..ka.. natak..
        Kisi bhi neta ko dekh hamesh Hindu neta hi Muslim ke khilaf bolta hai..

        Check social media hamesha Hindu hai dikhega Muslim aur unke religion ko gali deta ki koi Muslim dikhega kisi Hindu ko ya uske religion ko gali dete hue..

        Jake social media dekh le.. yaha faltu ka nautanki mat kar

  6. What a half researched, selective article. Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and several native Indian kings were by nature secular. They were only against political Islam. Same is the case today with the Hindutva ideology. If Muslims in India put nation first than religion, nobody will have any qualms against them

    • Shivaji Maharaj never wanted any recognition. He didn’t care about his reputation and all. He only cared for his people and Maharashtra. If he was alive today, he won’t like monuments of him built at every corner of India. All things showing in movies is wrong. Read original books. Shivaji Maharaj never had a big army of Marathas so he created strategy to attack on enemy called ” Ganimi Kava”. At that time Marathas were very skinny so as to have quick reflexes and can go anywhere in mountain without any problems.

  7. Call him with honour Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj..not only shivaji…you called your ancestors with respect not with his name…as you are educated person you should take care of it.. uneducated people are better than you at least they know how to give respect .

  8. श्री छत्रपति शिवाजी महाराज की जय, हर हर महादेव. श्री छतरपति शिवाजी महाराज, जानता राजा थे. दूरदृष्टि रखनेवाले महान राजा थे. वो इस्लाम विरोधी नहीं थे, इस्लाम धर्म मे जो गद्दार हरामी लोगों थे उनके पक्के दुश्मन और यैसे लोगों को चिर डालते थे. जानता राजा दक्षिण से आंटक पार तक कई युद्ध जीते मगर किसी मस्जिद को धावस्थ नहीं किया, धवस्त किया है तो हरामी औरगजेब के नापाक इरादों को. अभिवादन, नमन इस महान राजा को….

  9. He was mostly mentioned as krishnaji bhaskar in most of the books..
    But his full name was
    Krishnaji bhaskar kulkarni
    Yep he was advocate of afjhalkhan who you are mentioned here.
    He was the one who attacked ch shivaji.

  10. Whom should we cherish other than our very own Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj…
    Shall we celebrate Aurangzeb who had imposed jiziya… hated Non-Muslims
    Or shall we celebrate the infamous Plunderer Mohammad of Ghor Or Shall we sing the Glory Of Nadir Shah who looted Indians…
    Jai Marathawada Jai Bharati We are the champions of commoners the downtrodden and secular to the core… We have maximum number of Mosques in our country.. We have maximum number of Muslims in our country compared to other countries.. We will live here together But remote should not be in the hands of Short sighted Pundits or narrow minded Huzors ..or ill trained political party leadership.. It should be only in the hands of the chosen Khadims or Eshwar Peaddatta visionary statesmen like Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.. Jai Bharati..

  11. He was against Muslims who came from outside and outsiders who destroyed temples and hindu dharma at that time. And even though you sickulars want to paint him Green . He will still be against Muslims and favouring hindvi swarajya hindus swarajya. We know your sickular mentalities and communist agendas.

    Not able to post comment don’t know why.

  12. He was against Muslims who came from outside and outsiders who destroyed temples and hindu dharma at that time. And even though you sickulars want to paint him Green . He will still be against Muslims and favouring hindvi swarajya hindus swarajya. We know your sickular mentalities and communist agendas

  13. You should also note that the so called Hindu Nationalists relationship with Muslims are not Black and white like you think.

  14. Chatrapathi shivaji maharaj had no other enemies other than muslims and this bloody politicians have portrayed maharaj as secular

  15. 1) Shri Shivaji’s action on taking back the converted muslims to Hindu again and he only compelled Brahmins for creating new methodology system if same is not in Hindu shastras for converting them in Hinduism.
    2) his father name was Shahaji this doesn’t mean having accepting Islamic teachings, what you will see in now in Amit Shah, do you see any link of his with Islam due to his name is Shah; languages were so mixed and better names Shah, Baji Mahir etc reflected in Hindu generations without having any Islamic teaching, names are social position held in society.
    3) the King Shivaji started Hindutwa kingdom and only on this conceptually flourished,

  16. This is really pathetic to read. Why write only about this aspect of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj today? He was never against Muslims nor others who came to rule Maratha Empire after him.
    But his son was killed in the most brutal wayfor not converting to Islam. Do remember that.

  17. Hello The Print,

    Please take name with respect as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
    Otherwise we will kick your asses.

    • The whole world knows Napoleon (not the case with Shivaji though Shivaji was nobler) . Had been the French so possessive about Napoleon, world would have forgotten him. Try to understand the way English language works.

  18. Rubbish Article…Have you done a research before writing it ?…The Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is a Hindu icon who laid a foundation for hindvi swarajya…

  19. The history is made by the artist and you are all the fools who are barking….but as the history says all..The king is the king ….🚩 Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj ki Jay

  20. Absolutely right the war which chhatrapati shivaji Maharaj fought was against the domination of the oppreser and that was political rather than religious. If it would be so then his army wouldn’t have a single Muslim also he wouldn’t have built mosque in raigad fort along with temple

  21. Even today there are Muslims at key positions in india but on merit like chatrapati shivaji regime despite having HM like mufti mmd sayyed ,who is the conspirator for Pandits exile from kashmir,had maharaj been there he would have cut his arms and legs

  22. The propaganda behind this article is clear that to show how CSM his ancestors were Islam lovers.
    CSM whenever invaded any region he never touched any mosque. There were clear instructions by him to the soldiers. It was not about muslims only, not to go through the crops of farmers.

    So the purpose was social harmony. Not a single section of the society be harmed.

  23. There is was no hatred to Islam the spiritual practice then or now ….the resistance and opposition is to the political Islam which conquered and proletysed by sword destroying native cultures . A juvenile article promoting victim hood for the Muslims .

  24. When Aurangzeb imposed the Jizya tax on non-Muslims on 3 April 1679, Shivaji wrote a strict letter to Aurangzeb criticising his tax policy. He wrote: In strict justice, the Jizya is not at all lawful. If you imagine piety in oppressing and terrorising the Hindus, you ought to first levy the tax on Jai Singh I.

  25. First & foremost Death anniversary has been mentioned as birth anniversary,
    Do u lack so much in common sense…???

    More importantly Maharaj has to be addressed with due salutations & not single mentions.

    Also the article consists of false narratives…historians do read and comment.

    • Hey maratha why don’t you fight with Delhi govt and get a separate “MARATHA” state for u? Not possible by you? Lol

  26. Why should the change of court language from Persian to Sanskrit be seen as offensive to muslims? Sanskrit has played a pivotal role in the development of Indian Civilization, just like what Latin is to the Western Civilization. Sanskrit belongs to all Indians irrespective of their religion.

    • Who told you that…I think your history education is weak …so just go Ani learn about history of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

    • No sai….. He didn’t want to kick Muslims out…. He was not against Muslim…. He was just against the Muslims who were by forcefully converting the Hindus to muslims…. He was only against those who were harassing other people

      • Today Shivaji is being portrayed as an furious attacker in contrast to what he was, a savior !
        Nice name….aarushi !


  27. Why did he reconverted palkar and nimbalkar back to hindu religion then against the wishes
    Of mighty brahmin community of pune……for which he was even denied entry to temples .

  28. But Chatrapati Shivaji also was careful to reconvert people (who had converted to Islam) back to Hinduism

  29. Yeah go on with your propaganda. There’s is no progressive or soft Islam. I won’t be surprised if a study springs up saying Shivaji Maharaj was a Muslim. He was against the Islamic Invaders and Islam and not Indian Muslims, who were converted by force. He was a gentleman and not a barbarian like those Islamic plunderers who used to kill all the men and take women and children as their slaves and destroy the indigenous culture and religion of the land forcefully.

  30. Because the Muslim soldiers were very loyal to Chatrapati Maharaj and the respect was mutual…..
    PVC. Abdul Hamid died for India….for us….

    Sardar Siddhi Hilal (top ranked Maratha sardar) remained loyal to the empire than the religion…..

    In the war of Panipat Ibrahim Khan Gardi the head of Maratha artillery was loyal to Maratha Empire till the last drop his blood…all 10000 Gardi soldiers died with the greatest honour for the Maratha Empire….they died for the people irrespective of the religion….

    Hope you understand….

  31. Neither were his successors. The Peshawa Maratha army in the third battle of Panipat had Ibrahim Khan Gardi as their artillery chief. He had brought French Artillery and guns with him. He fought valiantly till the very end and despite many enticements from the opposite camp remained loyal to the Marathas. True, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his successors were quite secular, but what about the Mughals? Did they consider themselves as Indians? The answer in short is no. Barring perhaps Akbar, all the Mughal emperors thought they were Turki. This is very well evidenced in the annals of history. Converted Muslims of Indian origin hardly enjoyed any substantial power in the Mughal era.

  32. “lead one to the belief that his reign was filled with hatred for Muslims” – really? Name any Hindu ruler who has ruled with ‘hatred’ towards Muslims.

  33. Ms Deol should write less of nonsense, CSM was one of the rulers who clearly espoused Hindu rule. Ms Deol is from Punjab, nowadays a lot of her religious people try to tie bonds with Muslims, don’t push your nonsense to others

    • It was never Hindu vs Muslim , untill unless some rightists who claim to be nationalist started the propaganda.

    • Who was the first person to attack on Shivaji soon after he killed the muslim ruler…..please Google…ms. kulkarni….

      • You are talking about afjhal Khan vadh.The person who attacked ch.shivaji was krishnaji bhaskar..
        Krishnaji bhaskar kulkarni.

        • First of all take the name of such a great king with respect.
          And 2nd thing the writer of this article actually needs some efforts to gain knowledge.
          Read shiv charitra and then only write anything about a glorious king who actually praised as God and indeed he is our God.
          So Mr dumb writer you still have a lot to learn about him.
          At the end.

          Jai shivrai🚩🚩🚩🚩

        tere baap ke naukar hai kya
        Respect the actual father of nation

        Jay shivray
        Jay shambhuraje

Comments are closed.

Most Popular