Power attracts attention – scares the submissive, angers the free mind
In the spring of 1666, Shivaji arrived near Delhi with five hundred cavalry and one thousand foot-soldiers. His camp was set approximately six kilometres south from the city of Delhi. Apart from the small armed force, the old reliable minister Raghunathpanth Nyayshastri also came with him.
Shivaji and his son Sambhaji were waiting in the camp for the permission to enter the Capital when a sentry entered with a message – Ram Singh, the son of the King Jai Singh, accompanied by a soldier arrived to welcome him on behalf of the Emperor from Delhi.
Shivaji ordered the messenger to welcome them. The young Sambhaji sounded annoyed, “Father! Aurangzeb sent only two emissaries to welcome you!”
Even Shivaji was disappointed with that humiliation, yet did not express himself. Ram Singh entered after a short while. His simple face assured the experienced Shivaji of his honesty and spirit; still the warlord wanted to know if Aurangzeb had any sinister motive which could pose threat to his entering Delhi. The prince had heard of Shivaji’s bravery from his father – the presence of the Maharashtrian hero before him made him spellbound. He turned to be an admirer as he stated, “I did not meet the king of Maharashtra before but I have heard a lot about his gallantry from my father. I find myself fortunate today having the opportunity to meet him in person.
Shivaji: “On the other hand I find meeting the son of the virtuous hero an auspicious sign for me!”
Ram Singh: “The Emperor sent me to meet the king as soon as he received the information of his arrival. When does the king want to enter the capital?”
Shivaji: “What is your suggestion about entering the capital?”
Ram Singh: “I think this is the best time to enter. The wind will be hot after sometime – summer is u here.”
Shivaji told laughing, “I did not ask you that. You are living in Delhi – you have all information about the capital. You should also know how secure it is for me to enter Delhi.”
Knowing his intention, the earnest Ram Singh replied, “Pardon me. I would have lived in the mountain for ever depending on my sword if I was in your place. I find none else so faithful a friend like my sword. But I am unaware of these affairs. As my father suggested the king to come, then I think his decision to come down is commendable. He is wise.”
Shivaji understood that there was no plan to detain him in Delhi, even if there was one, Ram Singh did not have any information about it. He felt little relaxed. He smiled, “Then I will take your suggestion. The heat will be unbearable if I am late – let us move to Delhi now.”
The entire route to Delhi went through ruins of mansions owned by Mohammedans. The first group of Mohammedans built their capital near the old fort of the King Prithwiraj Chauhan after conquering Delhi. Hence the mosques, palaces and tombs of the old Mohammedan rulers were situated in that Meherauli area. Mughals started building new mansions and palaces in the north expanding the capital far towards north. Countless palaces, mosques, pillars and tombs left in rubble at the entrance of capital. Ram Singh described places as he was guiding him though. Both came to know each other. Both found good friends in each other. Shivaji realised he would find a sincere support in Delhi if needed.
They marched past the enormous tomb of Humayun, crossed Choushat Khamba, a large mansion on sixty four pillars. There were wide graveyards after that. Shivaji saw the history of entire Bharat illustrated in the canvas between the forts of Prithwiraj to that of the Mughals. As they proceeded to the wall of Delhi’s fort, Jai Singh showed him another building, “That is the astronomical observatory my father built. Experts from different countries come here to study the sky here.”
Shivaji: “Your father is learned person. I have heard he had built an observatory in the holy Kashi too!”
He felt a little nervous as they crossed the wall. He stopped his horse for a moment – looked behind. There was still a chance to run away – he was still independent; could be arrested any moment after submitting himself in the royal court. Next moment he remembered the words he had given to Jai Singh, looked at the sincere face of Jai Singh’s son, looked at own sword “Bhavani” tied in his waist. The free Maharashtrian warrior was locked in the cage of the Capital before knowing it!.
Aurangzeb was not fond of much luxury, but aware of the importance of a gaudy Capital in running successful administration. Aurangzeb thought, exhibiting the power, grandeur and wealth of Mughals to the leader of the poverty-ridden land of Maharashtra would help in convincing him about his own inadequacy and the greatness of Mughals. In turn, Shivaji would realise the futility of fighting against the Mughal. The city was extravagantly decorated upon his order.
All of them galloped together. Numerous carriages, palanquins, elephants, horses and pedestrians crowded the roads. The shops and markets showcased expensive goods for sale. Shivaji noticed classy cloths, gold and silver jewellery, food and other materials on his way. He saw flags on some of the mansions beside road, indicating the aristocracy of their owners. Warriors and traders and noblemen were seen everywhere. The cavaliers were shaking the ground galloping fast. The elephants, dressed in heavy cloths and jewels were walking slowly moving their trunks. The noisy humming by palanquin-bearers announced the nobility of the riders inside. Shivaji had never seen such a city before!
As they arrived in front of the Jama Masjid, the royal palace and large fort wall made of red stone became visible. The river Yamuna was flowing behind the fort. Hundreds of flags on the top of the fort were flying in the strong wind, revealing the power and glory of the Mughal Emperor. A trusted Mansabdar’s camp was located at the entrance, so that he could protect the gate. The armed force was standing in rows there; the barrels of their guns were dazzling in sunlight; the red flag tied up with each barrel was flying in pride. Observing all these with surprised admiration, Shivaji entered through the gate.
The view inside the fort was more amazing. Large number of artisans from different parts of the world displayed different luxurious items in the artisan’s shops scattered everywhere in this part of the fort. But the guest was not supposed to roam around. He arrived in front of Dewan-i-aam, the mansion made of red stone, The Emperor usually met people here, but that day he decided to call his court in Dewan-i khass, the wonderfully designed marble-built mansion decorated with precious stones – probably to allure Shivaji. As the Maharashtrian leader entered, he saw the Emperor sitting in his stone-studded stunning Mayur-throne, unique in the world. The throne was separated from the other attendees in the court by silver-railings. Many reputed kings, mansabdars, amirs and army-generals were standing silently outside the railing. Ram Singh introduced Shivaji before all of them. The grandeur of the capital clarified the Emperor’s mind to the leader; the view of the court confirmed his understanding. The leader who protected freedom for twenty long years, who became best supportive strength of the Emperor since he surrendered to the Emperor, arrived Delhi from the distant land of Maharashtra only to meet the Emperor once, did not expect the way he was welcomed. He could not accept himself standing in the court like a common employee. His blood started boiling – but there was no option for him to react. He saluted the Emperor like a common subordinate and presented the royalty he brought. Aurangzeb’s shrewd purpose was fulfilled – the whole world, as well as the King Shivaji came to know that they do not belong to same status. A servant is obliged to obey his master; weaker person’s fighting against the stronger is foolishness.
Aurangzeb accepted royalty from Shivaji, but arranged a seat for him among commanders of five thousand soldiers without giving him much importance. Shivaji eyes started burning in anger. He murmured biting his lips – “Me among five thousand! If the Emperor came to Maharashtra, he himself could see how many commanders of five thousand works under Shivaji. They do not hold swords in weak hands!”
The court was adjourned for the day. Leaving the court, the Emperor proceeded towards another marbled building built for personal use. The crowd that was assembled in the court flowed like a river through the gate. The river met in the large human ocean on the Delhi roads.
A house inside the fort was arranged as Shivaji’s accommodation there. Annoyed Shivaji arrived there in the evening; cogitating sitting alone in one corner of the house was only option left for him.
Soon he received a message from the Emperor’s palace. The Emperor has heard Shivaji’s angry words. He did not want to take any punitive action, but Shivaji would not get permission to meet him again. He would not be allowed in royal court.
Shivaji realised that his future would be at stake. Like a hunter traps a lion, the shrewd Aurangzeb planned a trap to slowly detain him. He tried to presume whether he would be able to find freedom again cutting the net of the plot he was entangled in. He found himself hapless – as he remembered Sadanand Swami, the saint who advised him to continue his war against Delhi Emperor. He murmured, “Beware Aurangzeb, I have been truthful to you till date. Do not play a trick with me! I am not inexperienced in deceiving. By the grace of Goddess Bhavani, I will ignite such a battle-fire that it will burn your entire empire including your beautiful capital of Delhi.”