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Sunday, June 4, 2023

Shivaji’s Letter to Ekoji

This is the first of a new series we are starting to reproduce essays and articles from the book ‘Prabodhan – Thoughts on Hindu Society’, edited by Prof. Saradindu Mukherji, which was released during the inaugural World Hindu Congress 2014. ‘Prabodhan’ consists of a set of articles by outstanding thinkers/writers – from both pre and post independence period – who have studied deeply matters relating to our society, culture, Hindu dharma – and our concerns generally, affecting both our present and future, and whose brilliant work has been systematically kept away from the public discourse by vested interests.

On the occasion of Shivaji Jayanti, our first article is a letter from Chatrapati Shri Shivaji Maharaj to Ekoji, his younger half-brother-

“Many days have passed without any communication from you, which makes us [i.e. Shivaji] uneasy of mind. Raghunathpant wrote to us at length that you are melancholy and dejected; that you are not taking due care of your health; that you have stopped celebrating festivals and performing religious rites; you have a large army but it is idle because you are in no mood to send it out on expeditions; and generally that, entertaining thoughts of renunciation, you are talking of retiring to some place of pilgrimage, there to while away your time.

You are aware how our late father unceasingly strove against adversity and, while serving under the Muslims, achieved so much renown through individual effort, merit and ability… You know also, and are witnessing, the manner in which we have faced every difficult situation to establish our independent rule. We are therefore at a loss to comprehend what circumstance could have caused you to believe you have fulfilled your life’s work at such early juncture, and has instilled in you untoward reclusive thoughts so that you have turned away from the path of enterprise, are squandering your wealth by letting your men earn without doing any work and are also neglecting your person. What kind of wisdom or policy is this? What can ail you when you have in our person an elder who will always care for you?

So live your life, henceforth by removing from your mind every thought of dejection and asceticism. Take part in every festival and religious ceremony as before and take proper care of your person. Put your soldiery to good use by assigning them to expeditions and thereby earn fortune and renown. If you exert your best efforts and attain fortune and happiness in those parts, we will only be contented and full of pride that our younger brother has accomplished much.

Raghunathpant, who is in that province, is no outsider; he is our very own man. He respects you as much as he respects us. He is skilled and knows only too well how you ought to conduct yourself. We have placed our trust in him. So should you and, through mutual understanding and co-operation in matters of state, employ his finest abilities to attain fame and fortune.

Do not sit idle and squander time by allowing your men to be paid for doing no work. This is the time for action; you have enough time in your old age to become an ascetic. We, too, would like to see your abilities and achievements. What more may be written? You are wise.”

(Gajanan Bhaskar Mehendale, op.cit. p. 28)

Author Info

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (1630-1680), founder of the Maratha kingdom, he symbolized Hindu Bharat’s death-defying resistance to the Islamic rulers of India. Over the centuries Hindus have fought the Muslim rulers but Shivaji through his visionary leadership, military conquests, good governance and determination dealt a fatal blow to the Mughal empire and hastened its downfall.

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