With “Jai Bhavani, Jai Shivaji!” set to boom across Rajpath this Republic Day, India is finally honouring her legendary king blessed by the Gods themselves

On the occasion Republic Day, Maharashtra will honour one of its greatest monarchs, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, with a tableaux themed on his coronation. In a dream come true scenarios for Hindus, chants of ‘Jai Bhavani Jai Shivaji’ shall boom across Rajpath in honour of the man who founded the empire that would go on to destroy the Mughal Dynasty.

For a long time, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj has not been honoured in the fashion that his legacy commands. Of course, it has always been a different story in Maharashtra, where there is a whole textbook in schools dedicated to the legacy of Shivaji Maharaj.

Nehru did not hold a very charitable opinion about Shivaji Maharaj, it’s not surprising then that in Nehru’s India the great Maratha king was not awarded the recognition that he truly deserves. However, for the good of all of us, the days of Nehruvian secularism are thankfully over and now we have finally begun to honour our heroes from the past.

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The Shivaji Maharaj tableaux in the Republic Day parade is not the only significant symbol of the restructuring of Indian sociopolitical realities. Maheish Girri, MP from Delhi and National Secretary of the BJP, recently announced on Twitter that a ‘Mahayagya’ shall be organized at the Lal Qilla grounds for the safety and security of our great nation. The significance of the Yagya at the Red Fort grounds should not be underestimated. For centuries, Red Fort was symbolic of the Islamic rule over India. For a long long time, our ancestors could not even have imagined that one day, their descendants shall organize a Yagya at its grounds.

Of course, one could attribute all of it to political opportunism. And it is true that every political party in Maharashta, the BJP, Shiv Sena, NCP, the Congress, all of them lay a strong claim to the legacy of Shivaji Maharaj, as otherwise, electoral campaigns are doomed to failure. However, Narendra Modi quoting from ancient Hindu scriptures at international forums, Yoga celebrated at an international level, all of it point to the simple reality that India is finally posturing itself globally as the land of the Hindu civilisation. In Samuel Huntington’s terms, the great Hindu civilisation is finally gearing itself to participate in the clash of civilisations.

Honouring the life of Shivaji Maharaj is important even for our national character. As a consequence of the deification of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, entire generations of our country have imbibed a pacifist tendency towards conflict. In time of chaos, when we are surrounded by existential threats from all fronts, we do not need the pacifism of Gandhi, for our enemies shall not be defeated by mere words and appeals to their conscience. We need the valor and strength of Shivaji Maharaj and the resolve in our hearts to march forward even on the face of great adversity as the great Maratha king did, for it is our duty to honour the sacrifices of our ancestors and secure a bright future for our descendants. When Shivaji Maharaj went against the Mughals, hope for success was little and the risks were huge, but that did not stop him from fulfilling his duty towards his nation and his Gods. For duty is supreme. On one hand lay the scope for immense torture and eventual death and on the other, immortality. Shivaji Maharaj grabbed immortality by the collars and etched his name in golden colours across the pages of history.

More than 330 years after his death, Shivaji Maharaj still has the ability to unite Indians under one banner. During his time, he gave the slogan of ‘Hindavi Swaraj’ and despite what his detractors in these times might say, his scope for Swaraj was pan-Indian. In his letter to Mirza Raje Jai Singh, Shivaji Maharaj expresses his earnest desire of not wanting to battle another valorous Hindu monarch and urges the king to reconsider his decision made at the behest of Aurangzeb. Shri Aurobindo in his works imagines a conversation between the two great Kings where Shivaji Maharaj has the last say with the words, “I undermined an empire and it has not been rebuilt. I created a nation and it has not yet perished.”

It is understandable why our eminent historians haven’t paid proper tribute to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. In his letter to Raje Jai Singh, Shivaji says of the Mughals, “They are Rakshasas in the guise of men, devoid of justice and religion.” It is obvious then that their rather morbid adulation of Mughals wouldn’t have permitted them to honour a man who had such great compliments to offer for their favorite historical characters.

There have been moments in Hindu history when reality seemed to defy all proportions of sanity. When it’s very existence hung at a fine precipice, when obliteration seemed only moments away and mere existence felt like prolonged death, the universe acted in mysterious ways and almost always, a hero has emerged from the cesspit of abyss to rescue the great civilization from certain eradication and propel it to new heights. Shivaji Maharaj was certainly one such man. Legend has it that Shivaji Maharaj was blessed by Maa Bhawani herself and given a sword, the Sword of Bhavani, to march forth and vanquish the enemies of the Hindu nation. And vanquish, he did. Kavi Bhushan says in one of his poems that “Chandi grows fat” chewing the heads of the Mughals that Shivaji and his army had slain. The Sword of Bhawani, interestingly, resurfaces every time the Hindu nation is in great peril and judging from recent events, one cannot shake off the feeling that time is ripe for another hero to reach out and grasp Maa Bhavani’s sword and do the Goddess’ bidding.

Another such event was the escape of Shivaji Maharaj and the Battle of Pavan Khind. Baji Prabhu was the second in command of the contingent when Shivaji made his escape. Circumstances forced Baji Prabhu to stay back with 300 of his men to ensure that Shivaji Maharaj could reach Vishalgarh when the Adilshahi forces, 10000 strong, gave them chase. The 300 Marathas then decided to make their last stand at Ghod Pind. During the battle, the heroic Baji Prabhu suffered several mortal wounds, and yet he rose every single time, to continue the fight, a man possessed by dedication towards his King and sense of duty. Historian Dennis Kincaid says, “The defence has become legendary in Western India. The action is remarkable as an example of the spirit which Shivaji’s leadership infused into his followers.” Later, the Marathas renamed the Battle at Ghod Kind as the Battle of Pavan Khind, “The Battle of the Sacred Pass.”

More than three centuries after Aurangzeb described him as a “Mountain Rat”, Shivaji’s name shall resonate across the place which was the very seat of Mughal power in India. From then until now, we have traveled a great distance and yet here we are, at this critical juncture of history, with the light from the beacon of Shivaji Maharaj’s legacy guiding us into a new era of prosperity. Unlike our pagan cousins, we are still right here. And we are still a billion strong. And we are ready to play our cards in the world.

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