Gone are the days of staying loyal to master.
Mere ethics not enough to relinquish –
Blood, brotherhood and nation.
Even if stranger virtuous and kinfolk inept,
Worthless kin, as Scriptures mention-
Stays closer than the stranger competent.
In the middle of that very night, the Rajput King Jaswant Singh was sitting alone in the tent resting his face on his palm. What was the thought he was consumed with? The shadow in the tent created by the dim light of a single lamp portrayed his shadowy mind.
Mahadeoji Nyayshastri entered the tent. Jaswant started conversation, “Tell me what proposal you brought from your master.”
Mahadeo: “My master did not send me with a proposal. He wanted me to meet you.”
Jaswant Singh: “Is he disappointed only because we have captured the forts of Puna and Chakan?”
Mahadeo: “My master is disappointed seeing the gem of the Hindu kings, who he considers a treasure of the Kshatriya clans and the custodian of Hindu ethics serving foreigners.”
Jaswant’s face showed sign of embarrassment. Mahadeoji noticed that but ignored. He continued, “The person who married a kinswoman of Udaypur Rana, whose throne is established under the royal umbrella of Marwar, whose fame is spread throughout Rajasthan and whose prowess by the river Sipra frightened Aurangzeb, is fighting against own kith and kin taking the side of foreigners! My master is depressed seeing the person whom the entire Bharatbarsha considers a strong pillar of ancient chivalry fighting for outsiders. My king! I am a minor messenger – I might have lost my sense how I should talk to you – please forgive my audacity – but why is this display of warfare? Against whom did you assemble so many armed soldiers? To celebrate which event are these flags of victory raised? Is it going to liberate us? Is it going to ensure freedom for us? Is it going to accomplish the reputation of a Kshatriya? You are the guardian of the warrior clans. Please give this a thought.”
Jaswant Singh looked at him, “You are brilliant messenger. Your words are touching my heart. But I am a subsidiary under the Emperor of Delhi. I came to fight against Maharashtra and will do my duty.”
Mahadeo: “And you vouched to slaughter hundreds of folks of own brotherhood. You ensure that one Hindu beheads another Hindu, one Brahmin stabs another Brahmin, and Kshatriya doesn’t protect anyone!”
His comments left Jaswant red-faced. His voice sounded harsh, “How shall I make friendship with your master, when everyone knows that he is a rebel – cunning Shivaji breaks his promise given one day readily on the next day?”
The emissary couldn’t stop himself from behaving outrageous, “Your Majesty! Please don’t criticize him like this! When did Shivaji break a promise made to own countrymen? Did he ever forget protecting countrymen? Hundreds of villages and thousands of temples in the country know him as protector. Please find out if he is not ready to provide shelter to Brahmins, support Hindus, or worship Gods. What ethics one should follow when engaged in war against foreigners? Where in this world the winner and the loser make friends? When an eagle catches a snake, the snake pretends to be dead; the moment eagle leaves it considering it dead, the snake bites it – is this treachery or only pretention for survival? Almighty taught all animals the way to self-defence. Didn’t he teach the same to human being? How do we build sincere bond of friendship with those who have stolen our freedom, destroyed our strength, honour, pride and morals? You mean pursuing an option to regain that treasured freedom and protect own faith a trickery? This is path of liberation. Can we define a stag’s fleeing for self-defence as revolt? The bird tries to distract attention of the attacker to save the chicks – is that blameworthy?”
The messenger’s emotion moved Jaswant. He sounded softer, “You are only an emissary; I didn’t mean to hurt you. I intended to ask why Maharashtra can’t guard own liberty showing courage in the battlefield as we do.
Mahadeo: “Rajput fights for freedom since ages. They are wealthy; reside in beautiful capital cities in the land surrounded by mountains and desert. You fight against enemies following your proven strategy when you are attacked; you show your bravery and skill developed since ages; the Mughal army retreats if they have to confront the vigorous Rajput force. We Maharashtrians have neither legacy, nor enough number of soldiers.What shall we do if the Mughals attack our land? When the Emperor deploys his skilful armed force from Kabul, Punjab, Oudh, Bihar, Malav or even Rajasthan- the land of heroes, sends hundreds of unbeatable horses and elephants, brings together thousands of carriages carrying cannons, guns, loads of gunpowder, gold and silver coins, what option Maharastrians are left with? What else but following war-strategies suitable for the hilly areas would help us? The poor nation does not have any other go in the beginning of their journey. But yes, by the grace of God, once they earn wealth and expertise, they will also follow the path shown by Rajput.”
The power of the speech convinced Jaswant. His gesture of contemplating holding his forehead with palms assured Mahadeo that his words didn’t go in vain. He continued unhurriedly, “You belong to the best of the warriors; why are you doubtful about joining Shivaji? Both of you and Shivaji have same intension of upholding the reputation of the land. If you don’t find him suitable to support, please take up the responsibility on your own. Be the ruler of this land. Give an order- the gate of the forts will be opened instantly; the subjects will pay you the tax. You are thousand times stronger than Shivaji, thousand times more prudent than Shivaji, a thousand times preferable to him as ruler. Shivaji will be happy to destroy foreign invaders being a commander under you. He doesn’t want anything else.”
The ambitious Jaswant was pleased with this proposal; but took time before answering, “The distance between Maharashtra and Rajputana is too wide to be ruled by a single ruler.”
Mahadeo: “Assign the responsibility to a worthy son of yours or engage one of your kinsmen in this task. Shivaji will work under a ruler from the Kshatriya clan, but will never fight against a Kshatriya.”
Jaswant: “I don’t have any relative who can protect this land confronting Aurangzeb.”
Mahadeo: “Deploy a Kshatriya commander then.”
Jaswant: “I don’t know any commander like that.”
Mahadeo: “Then please support the one who can take up the task. With your help, Shivaji will be able to take the reputation of own land to a new height. Everyone of this land, every deity from the sky will praise you for this.”
Jaswant found no other reason to disagree. He sounded serious. “You are right. I should fight same way Shivaji does for the land. When do you think I can meet your noble warrior?”
This was time for the person playing the role of a Brahmin to reveal his identity. He removed the Brahmin’s turban’ – a soldier’s helmet was seen under that; also the armour under his cotton vest. The Maharashtrian told, “My king, pardon me that I came here in disguise. I am not Brahmin, but a Maharashtrian Kshatriya. I am not Mahadeoji. I am Shivaji.”
The king Jaswant Singh looked at the legendary warrior astounded. It took moments for him to digest the reality of seeing the leader before him. He cheerfully embraced his apparent enemy who embraced him with respectful affection. There discussion continued rest of the night. A detailed war-plan was settled before Shivaji bid adieu. He requested bidding farewell before daybreak, “My king, it will be better if you keep yourself away from Puna tomorrow.”
Jaswant asked, “Why so? Are you going to capture Puna tomorrow?”
The warrior smiled, “No, we are going to celebrate a wedding. The presence of the King may hamper that.”
Jaswant: “Well, I will be far away then. but please remember what we have discussed.”
Shivaji: “I will tell my master Shivaji to act accordingly.”
Jaswant: “Oh yes, I forgot! Please tell your master to act accordingly.” He returned to his tent with a smile.
Shivaji said his goodbye and set off – satisfied that his power of speech had helped him gain a strong ally.