O my Lord! Without rage or scorn

Since so long – you live in this dark mansion

Devoid of grandeur and spirit divine –

Marking your forehead with slavery’s stain?

 

A few days after Saryu met Sadanand Swami, a council was called at midnight in Raigad, capital of Shivaji’s kingdom. All his generals, ministers, priests and erudite Brahmins along with reputed warriors, sharp courtiers, and grey-haired pundits adorned the council. Devoted to the well-being of the country, they had always supported Shivaji. But that day, all were quiet – they were supposed to bid farewell to the dream of freedom.

Shivaji at Raigad

Shivaji at Raigad fort : Wikimedia commons

Shivaji asked opinions of his courtiers regarding accepting subordination of Emperor of Delhi – and remain as Jagirdar under him. All of Peshwa Mureswar, Awaji Swarnadev and Annaji Datto suggested him not to retreat from his previous decision of surrendering. The king should concentrate on his next actions in Delhi. The leader anyway was not being able to forget the objective he had set long back – the hope which he planted in heart in his childhood while climbing rows of mountains or roaming in the valleys below. He lamented, “But how could I forget the dream to liberate Maharashtra again. Why did Goddess Bhabani show this dream to me if this is never to be fulfilled?”

Everyone went speechless as the King took a pause repenting of his surrender for long. In that eerie silence, one deep voice from a relatively dark corner of the hall announced, “Goddess does not deceive. She does not stop supporting a fearless person with perseverance.”

Shivaji was surprised at the young saint’s words. Sadanand Swami joined his court only a few days back.

The saint had to tell more, “Following a righteous path brings great success. If we give up on the way being distracted, is it because of Dadoji’s or Goddesses’ misguidance or our cowardice? Pardon my blabbering. Pardon if I have told anything wrong. But ask your brave heart whether I am right or wrong. Can the man who acquired the title of a King instead of the title of Jagirdar, cleared the road to freedom with sword in hand, marked the mountains, valleys, villages and forest with the sign of bravery, forget the route of gallantry forever? The beam of Hindu empire is seen in the morning sky of this land – shall we let it die down so soon? I am religious preacher only – do not have right to suggest. Please consider my words yourself.”

Everyone remained silent. Shivaji took time to reply, “Saint! I came to know you very recently; do not even know whether you are a human or a god. But your words sound meaningful. I would like to ask you only one thing – the Hindu general of the Emperor is immensely powerful. Not only he plans sharp war strategy, also owns numerous skilled soldiers. Where shall I find force to fight against them?”

Sadanand: “Rajputs are great warriors. But Maharashtrians are no weak fighters. Jai Singh is brilliant at war strategy, but Shivaji is also born in a warrior clan. Defeat comes only when one fears the defeat. Do proceed ignoring all difficulties and taking support from divine power. All gods from heaven will support you.”

Shivaji: “I understand. But if Hindus fight against each other giving the country a bloodbath, how that fight will help the country? Is that righteous?”

Sadanand: “Who is at fault for this?  – The person who fights for own people and own country or he who turns hostile to own people being bribed by Mughals?”

Shivaji understood. Waves of thoughts were flowing in his mind. After a long pause, he slowly lifted his head to respond, “Sadanand! Now I know Maharashtra is not devoid of heroes till date – the country is not going to lose independence. A battle will be fought again! I do not need any other wise adviser or gallant soldier than myself to guide me. But the time of battle has not yet arrived. I do not apprehend defeat, do not even apprehend extinction of my religion, but do not want to engage in war now. Listen to me – I conspired a lot, played many tricks to accomplish the great vow I have taken. Foreigners went against treaties and I too breached those. Now that I have signed a treaty with Jai Singh –the icon of Hindu prowess, I am unable to breach that treaty. I cannot disregard an agreement with the noble Rajput in his lifetime. I will go there to meet the Mughal! If the clever Aurangzeb disrespects the agreement between us, then I will accept your suggestion; then Shivaji will not hesitate to hold his sword. But showing disrespect to the treaty signed with the truthful Jai Singh is not possible.”

None in the assembly found anything else to say. Some of the courtiers still expressed doubt against being loyal to a treaty with cunning Aurangzeb, whether to believe him without bothering about his actual intension. Shivaji was sure that Jai Singh himself would protect him in Delhi. In case of betrayal by Aurangzeb, the fire of rage lit in Maharashtra would set the entire Mughal Empire ablaze. Blunder is always paid. Aurangzeb too is susceptible to universal rules. Mureshwar, Swarnadev and Annaji accepted the responsibility of running administration in his absence. Malashri was to accompany him to Delhi.

After all vital decisions were taken, Sadanand expressed his desire to go for pilgrimage during Shivaji’s stay in Delhi. The leader agreed.

Everything had to be planned accordingly.