Introduction to HSS Festivals
JYESHTHA SHUKLA TRAYODASHI
The thirteenth day of the bright half of Jyeshtha
This function is to commemorate the Coronation of Chhatrapati Sri Shivaji Maharaj in 1674 A.D., at Raigadh in Maharashtra. According to Hindu calendar, the day was Jyeshtha Shuddha Trayodashi of Aananda Samvatsara of the Shalivahana Era 1596 (or Vikrama Era 1731).
The choice of this particular occasion for celebration lies in its inspiring historical significance. The occasion holds up for the HIndu people inspiring lessons for their future march - perhaps unequalled by any other single event during the past 3-4 centuries of their history.
The greatest contribution which Shivaji made to the freedom struggle of Hindusthan lay in the fact that he infused in it the right kind of national idealism. Even at the tender age of fourteen, he wrote to his friend, Dadaji Narasa Prabhu Deshpande, that he had vowed in the presence of God to achieve Hindavi Swaraj. Shivaji further expressed his supreme confidence that it was God's will that this mission should succeed.
This pledge, it should be remembered, Shivaji took when the whole of Hindusthan was held under the firm and suffocating strangle hold of the Moghals ruling at Delhi, of the Adilshahi and Kutubshahi in the South and of the West Coast. It was these almost superhuman challenges that Shivaji had accepted even as a teenaged boy.
The challenge posed to him by Maratha chieftains themselves who had joined the Muslim camp was no less formidable. The Hindu generals of Rajasthan like Jaisingh and Jaswant Singh also had cast their lot with the Delhi Moghals in order to crush Shivaji.
The secret of Shivaji's success lay chiefly in motivating the people to strive and sacrifice for the establishment of a free Hindu State and not for the sake of any individual king or chieftain. He transformed the idea of personal loyalty to some particular chieftain into one of loyalty to the entire nation and ins liberty. The ruling belief of those times was that whoever ruled from the established thrones of the Muslim dynasties like Delhi, Bijapur or Bhagyanagar were alone the legal masters of the land, and any attempt to assert the freedom of the Hindus was dubbed as merely an anti-State revolt and sought to be put down. There existed no legally constituted Hindu throne to which the entire Hindu world could offer its loyalty. Shivaji's extraordinary achievement lay precisely in establishing such a centre of people's faith which even after his death continued to inspire his successors to enlarge their area of freedom-battle so as to encompass a major part of the country in course to time. They even finally succeeded in breaking the backbone of the Islamic hegemony both of the Moghals and the Deccanites. To Shivaji, undoubtedly, belongs the chief credit of lighting up the torch of the final freedom struggle against the several centuries old Islamic aggression, and ultimately reducing that foreign slavery to ashes.
Rightly did the great Hindi bard Bhushana, who forsook the royal favors of the Moghal court to come over to Shivaji to record his glories, sing:
Kashiji ki kalaa jaati, Mathura masjid hoti |
Shivaji na hote to sunnat hoti sab ki ||
(The artistic beauty of Benaras would have perished, Mathura would have turned into a masjid, and all would have been circumcised, had not Shivaji been born).
Shivaji infused in the Hindu society a new and dynamic religious cum social vision by removing the ostracization of the converts to Islam and welcoming them back to the parental Hindu fold. He personally set up a glowing example by taking back Netaji Palkar and Balaji Nimbalkar, two of his top-ranking commanders who had been forcibly Islamized, and establishing their marital ties with members of his own royal family. Shivaji was also the first to do away with the Jahagirs and distribute the land to the farmers. He did away with every kind of superstition, religious or otherwise, such as the religious ban on sea voyage, which came in the way of nation's security and progress.
The new military strategies, the new weapons and the new type of training to soldiers which Shivaji introduced in his army speak of his matchless genius on the battlefield. This apart, his personal heroism outshone many a powerful adversary like Afzal Khan and Shaista Khan. His sagacity in escaping from the death trap of Aurangzeb at Agra has indeed few parallels in the annals of thrilling escapades. No wonder, the very name Shivaji became a legend even in his own lifetime.
Shivaji was also the first national leader of Bharat to recognize the looming threat of naval aggression by the western nations and took prompt and strong measures to strengthen the country's defences on that front also.
Shivaji's military and organizational genius in creating his own valiant army and invincible generals out of the unlettered and untrained village folk; the building up of his own resources starting from a scratch; his ability in facing and humbling incomparably more powerful armies and seasoned generals with limitless resources of great empires; his humane policy of never indulging in massacres and inhuman atrocities even in the wake of momentous victories on the battlefield; his sublime traits of religious catholicity, reverence to womanhood, sterling personal character, justice and fair play in every field of administration - well, all these have made Shivaji a matchless hero not only in the military sense but one inspired with the noblest of human values, unsullied by any taint of personal ambition.
It is hardly surprising that an institution of experts in Britain which carried out a comparative assessment of the various celebrated heroes of the world - such as Hannibal, Julius Caesar, Alexander, Napoleon, etc. - to decide `who is the greatest world hero?' chose Shivaji for that unique honor.
Jadunath Sarkar, the famous historian of Bengal, giving out his assessment of Shivaji, wrote that Shivaji symbolized the immortal spirit of the Hindu Race. Swami Vivekananda spoke of him in these glowing terms: "Shivaji is one of the greatest national saviours who emancipated our society and our Dharma when they were faced with the threat of total destruction. He was a peerless hero, a pious and God-fearing king and verily a manifestation of all the virtues of a born leader of men described in our ancient scriptures. He also embodied the deathless spirit of our land and stood as the light of hope for our future."
The celebration of this day as Hindu Saamraajya Dinotsav, therefore, carries the spirit of victorious resistance to foreign aggression and presents a glorious vision of national freedom rich with its Hindu content.
The motto Shivaji inscribed on his coin even at the early stage of his endeavors amply reflects the age-old Hindu ideal pulsating in Shivaji's mind -
Pratipatchandralekheva vardhishnurvishwavanditaa |
Shaahasoonosshivasyaisha mudraa bhadraaya raajate ||
'This Royal Seal of Shivaji the son of Shahaji, ever increasing in splendor like the moon on the first day of the bright half of the lunar month, shall shed auspicious beneficence and command the homage of the entire world.'