Shahjee: progress after entering the service of Beejapoor– marries a second wife – Two sons by his first; wife, Sumbhajee and Sivajee; and one son by his second wife, Venkajee – Shahjee departs for the Carnatic, and sends his first wife and his son Sivajee to reside on his Jagheer at Poona, under the care of Dadajee Konedeo – Political views of the Courts of Beejapoor and Golcondah – The Moghuls introduce a new revenue system, and the Fusslee era into the Deccan – Revenue system of Dadajee Konedeo – The Mawuls – improvement of the condition of their inhabitants. Sivajee’s education – disposition, and early pursuits – His three first adherents – obtains possession of the fort of Torna – manner of justifying the proceeding – builds Rajgurh – Dadajee Konedeo’s death. The Killidars of Chabot and Kondaneh gained over by Sivajee – makes himself master of Sopa, and the fortress of Poorundhur.
When Shahjee was finally driven to seek refuge under the Beejapoor government, his resources and abilities being known to Morar Punt, and all who had served with him, he was readily received and confirmed in possession of Poona and Sopa126, two of the districts belonging
to his family Jagheer, which, by the late treaty, had been ceded to Beejapoor.
Morar Punt was employed, at this period, in the settlement of the newly acquired districts between the Neera and Beema, in which he appears to have been principally assisted by Shahjee. During their intercourse, Morar Punt had additional proofs of his talents and genius; in consequence of which, he loaded him with encomium and favour, and on
their return to court strongly recommended him to the king.
An expedition being then projected against the Carnatic, Shahjee was nominated second in command, under his friend Rendoollah Khan; and was, at the same time, promised a Jagheer in that quarter, consisting of the districts of Kolhar, Bangalore, Ouscotta, Balapoor, and Sera, which were afterwards made over to him, and probably with a view of securing him by an interest in different parts of the kingdom, Mohummud Adil Shah conferred on him a royal grant, for the Deshmookhee of twenty-two villages, in the district of Kurar127, the right to which had by some means devolved on government.
Shahjee’s political connection with his relations, the Jadows, Deshmookhs of Sindkheir, which had never been intimate, was entirely dissolved from the time of his quitting the imperial service; and Jugdeo Rao Jadow, his wife’s uncle, acted on the side of the Moghuls during the war carried on against him. Domestic affairs have great influence on the public conduct of Mahrattas; and there may have been private reasons for Jugdeo Rao’s animosity. Shahjee, in the year 1630, married into another family, named Mohitey, which was resented by Jeejee Bye128, his first wife; and she retired to some of her own relations, with whom she appears to have been residing when taken in 1633.
By this lady, the daughter of Lookhjee Jadow Rao, Shahjee had two sons: the elder was named Sumbhajee, and the younger Sivajee. The elder was his father’s favourite, and accompanied him from early infancy; but the younger remained with his mother. Sivajee was born in the fort of Sewneree129, in the month of May, 1627; and during the turbulent period in which his childhood was passed, he had frequently escaped, by his mother’s vigilance, from falling into the hands of their Mahomedan enemies. It is not known where he was concealed when his mother was made prisoner; but it is probable her release was obtained on the plea of her husband’s neglect, and the disgrace, which many of the relations, both Jadows and Bhonslays, in the Moghul service, would conceive, attached to themselves until they had procured her enlargement.
To the disagreement that arose between Sivajee’s parents, in consequence of the new connection formed by Shahjee, and the troubled state of the country, we may ascribe the circumstance of Sivajee’s not having seen his father for a period of seven years, or from the year 1630 to 1636, inclusive. When Shahjee went with Morar Punt to Beejapoor, Jeejee Bye accompanied him, but only remained until the celebration of Sivajee’s marriage to Suhyee Bye, the daughter of Nimbalkur; after which event Shahjee set out upon the Carnatic expedition, and Sivajee, with his mother, was sent to reside at Poona.
By Tooka Bye Mohitey, his second wife, Shahjee had one son, Venkajee; he had, likewise, an illegitimate son by a dancing girl whom he named Suntajee.
All Mahratta officers of consequence invariably retain a number of Bramins in their service, as writers and men of business130. Shahjee had a vast number of this description, some of whom had followed his fortunes, and, contributed to his success at a more prosperous period; and others, who had been displaced by the Moghuls on occupying the country, now naturally adhered to him, in hopes of finding employment and subsistence. Among all these, his most confidential men were Naroo Punt Hunwuntay, and Dadajee Konedeo; the former he appointed to the management of his
districts in the Carnatic, and the latter had charge of his family and Jagheer at Poona.
Dadajee was an able revenue officer, and under his superintendence the cultivation was soon improved, and the population increased. Further scope for his talents was afforded, by the acquisition of the districts of Indapoor and Baramuttee; which, together with several of those mountain vallies near Poona, known by the name of Mawuls, were added to Shahjee’s Jagheer, in consequence of his eminent services in the Carnatic, and intrusted to the management of Dadajee Konedeo131.
An ambition of extending their boundaries in the Carnatic became prevalent, both at Golcondah and Beejapoor. These states were at peace, but they vied with each other in pursuing aggrandisement, by the easy conquests which the dissensions of the petty rajas in the south afforded; without reflecting on their own precarious situation, or seeking, in a league of common defence against the Moghuls, that security, which rivalry or jealousy had already so much undermined.
A step towards union was, however, made by the marriage of the king of Beejapoor to the daughter of Kootub Shah, in 1641.
Mohummud Adil Shah was personally, not a warlike prince. He seldom quitted the neighbourhood of Beejapoor; and his armies were intrusted to his generals. He improved his capital by the
construction of an aqueduct still in existence, and ornamented it with several magnificent buildings132.
The Emperor Shah Jehan, after the peace of 1636, endeavoured to arrange and improve the lately conquered territory. The two governments in the Deccan were united, and the prince Aurungzebe was appointed viceroy; but at this time he only remained a very short period, and nothing of note was achieved, excepting the conquest of Buglana, a great part of which was afterwards relinquished.
The grand innovation occasioned by the Moghul conquests in Maharashtra, under Shah Jehan, was the introduction of the revenue system of Todur Mull, whose name must be familiar to the generality of oriental readers as an eminent Hindoo statesman, who, by his financial arrangements, and his regulations in the mint department, during the reign of Akber, had acquired a character of no inconsiderable celebrity.
In acting on Todur Mull’s plan, the lands were, in the first instance assessed with reference to their fertility, in a proportion varying from one half to one seventh of the gross produce, according to the expence of culture, or to the description of the article cultivated. The government share was then commuted for a money payment; and in time, when a measurement, classification, and registry had taken place, the regulated assessment was fixed at a fourth of the whole produce of each
field throughout the year133, and thus became the permanent rent of the land. Such was the method now introduced by Shah Jehan in the districts north of the Beema, under the superintendence of Moorshed Koolee Khan, an able officer who was employed for nearly twenty years in its completion.
The system is known by the name of Tunkha, an appellation derived from the name of the silver coin in which Todur Mull collected the revenues, in lieu of the Tukha, a copper coin, previously used in revenue accounts throughout the empire134. It was likewise at this period, (or 1637–38) that the Fusslee year was introduced into the Mahratta country.
Dadajee Konedeo, whose districts adjoined those of the Moghuls, continued the system of Mullik Umber. He levied a proportion of the actual produce of each cultivated field, fixing the proportion every year, or when not collected in kind, he substituted a money payment. This plan differed from the permanent land assessment, as it was not only variable according to the state of the crops, but the rate was probably higher in particular instances. It appears, however, to have been suited to the state of the country, as the districts flourished; and great praise is invariably bestowed
on his management. The mountain vallies, or mawuls, were inhabited by a hardy, poor race of people, whose industry, exerted at all seasons, scarcely procured them subsistence. In the early part of Dadajee’s administration, they were in more than usual distress; though armed to defend themselves against wild beasts, they were destitute of clothing; and the few miserable huts of which their villages were composed, were insufficient to cover them from the inclemency of the weather. Dadajee endeavoured to ameliorate the condition of the Mawulees. For several years no rent was demanded for their lands: a number of them were entertained in his service as peons to assist in collecting the revenue; for which they received a trifling sum as pay, and some very course grain as subsistence.
The family of Shahjee continued to live under the care of Dadajee. Their residence was fixed at Poona, where Dadajee built a large house for Jeejee Bye’s accommodation, and gave the son of his master such an education as was proper for a person of his birth. Mahrattas seldom can write or read; they consider all such learning the business of a carcoon, and if not degrading, at least undignified. Sivajee could never write his name, but he was a good archer and marksman, skilled in the use of the spear, and of the various swords and daggers common in the Deccan. His countrymen have always been celebrated for horsemanship; and, in this accomplishment, Sivajee excelled. By the care of his guardian, he was fully instructed in all the ceremonies and observances enjoined by the
rules of his cast; and such parts of the sacred histories as are generally known, were explained to him. The fabulous exploits detailed in the Mahabharat, the Ramayan, and the Bhagwut were the delight of Sivajee’s youth; and such was his partiality for Kuthas135, that many years after he became famous in the country, he incurred great danger in his anxiety to be present during an entertainment of that description.
The religious and natural feelings of a Hindoo were strongly implanted in Sivajee, and he early imbibed a rooted hatred to the Mahomedans. These feelings in part supplied the want of a more exalted patriotism; but although they may have tended to stimulate his own love of enterprize, he did not employ them to animate others, until success had taught him to plan new schemes, and to apply such powerful and natural auxiliaries in their execution.
His first designs were formed merely with a view to personal advantage. From about his sixteenth year, he began to associate with persons of lawless habits, and to talk of becoming an independent Polygar. These circumstances, on being made known to his guardian, produced remonstrances; and Sivajee was obliged to be more cautious in his conversation; he was, however, frequently absent in the Concan for several days; and Dadajee Konedeo endeavoured to wean him from such excursions, by showing him more attention at home, and confiding much of the affairs of the Jagheer to his superintendence.
There were several carcoons under Dadajee, intimate companions of Sivajee, who afterwards became his agents and advisers. As he was intrusted with a larger share of power, he used to pay and receive visits among the respectable Mahrattas in the neighbourhood of Poona; and he obtained general good-will in that part of the country, by an obliging and conciliatory deportment; but, even at this time, it was whispered that Shahjee’s son was a sharer in the profits of some extensive gang robberies committed in the Concan.
Sivajee was always partial to the Mawulees; he observed, that although clownish and stupid in appearance, they were active and intelligent in anything to which they had been accustomed, and remarkably faithful in situations of trust. He was attentive to those in Dadajee’s service; they accompanied him on his excursions, and in hunting; and he became extremely popular, not only with them, but with the whole of their countrymen in the Mawuls. In his visits to these vallies and to different parts of the Ghaut–Mahta and Concan, he grew familiar with the paths and defiles of that wild tract, where he afterwards established himself: He had marked the condition of the adjoining strong holds, and began to devise schemes for getting one of them into his possession.
The hill forts under all the Mahomedan governments were, generally, much neglected. Some of the best had, as already mentioned, a Killidar appointed by the king, or some of his ministers, and when war was expected, a portion of the garrison was composed of good troops. At other times,
less care seemed necessary, and the generality of the forts were intrusted to the Mokassadars, Aumildars, Jagheerdars, or Deshmookhs of the districts in which they were situated.
The reason given for their being seldom garrisoned by Mahomedans was their insalubrity, particularly during the rains; and as they had always been reduced with extraordinary facility, they were not estimated in proportion to their real importance. At the period at which we have arrived, the Beejapoor government, being at peace with the Moghuls, and engaged in plundering, or reducing the Carnatic, had removed all their best troops to that part of the country. There was no hill fort in Shahjee’s Jagheer, committed to the care of Dadajee Konedeo. The strong fort of Kondaneh136 had a Mahomedan Killidar; and Poorundhur was under charge of a Bramin, appointed by Morar Punt. Shahjee’s family were on terms of intimacy with both Killidars, particularly Neelkunt Rao of Poorundhur, who was originally under the Nizam Shahee government, and had adhered to Shahjee.
In the Mawuls were three persons with whom Sivajee constantly associated; their names were, Yessjee Kunk, Tannajee Maloosray, and Bajee Phasalkur. The last was Deshmookh of Moossay Khora; the other two had also some hereditary rights among their native hills. These three were the first known adherents, and military followers of Sivajee. Assisted by them, he held communication with the Killidar of Torna, a hill fort exceedingly
difficult of access, twenty miles southwest of Poona, at the source of the Neera river; and by means, the particulars of which are not known, induced him to give over the place.
This event happened in the year 1646137. As soon as they had got possession, Sivajee, who pretended that he was acting for the advantage of government, sent Wukeels to Beejapoor to represent what he had done, and the many benefits likely to result to the king from having a faithful servant in that sequestered part of the country, the value of which had never been ascertained, owing to the farming of districts to Deshmookhs whose interest lay in concealing their resources. As a proof of this statement, he offered a much larger rent than had been paid during the ten years which that tract had been in possession of Beejapoor. The answers to these applications were put off from day to day, which suited Sivajee’s purpose, as his object was merely to gain time. His representations were seconded by bribes to the courtiers, as usual on such occasions, and for several years little notice was taken of him138.
Whilst the Wukeels were thus amusing the government at Beejapoor, Sivajee was collecting Mawulees and strengthening and repairing Torna. When digging up some ruins in that fort139, he accidentally discovered a large quantity of gold, which had been buried at some remote period: a piece
of good fortune attributed to a miracle worked in his favour by the goddess Bhowanee, which afforded great support and encouragement in prosecuting his plans. Arms and ammunition were purchased; and he resolved on employing the money thus bestowed, in building another fort.
For this purpose he pitched on the Mountain of Mhorbudh, three miles south east of Torna, and used astonishing exertion in fortifying it. When finished he gave it the name of Rajgurh.
During its progress, reports of what was going forward from time to time reached Beejapoor; the work was forbidden, and letters were despatched to Shahjee in the Carnatic, calling upon him to account for these proceedings: Shahjee replied, that his son had not consulted him; but as he himself and all his family were devoted servants of the king’s government, Sivajee, without doubt, had been acting for the improvement or security of the Jagheer. Shahjee, at the same time, wrote to Dadajee Konedeo and his son, censuring the proceedings of the latter, desiring an explanation, and calling upon him to desist. Dadajee Konedeo, with the deepest interest in his welfare, urged every argument to induce Sivajee to abandon his designs; he represented the probable ruin, and the certain risk he incurred, by such daring and unjustifiable conduct. He likewise set forth the great prospects which his father’s name and respectability presented, in a faithful adherence to the government of Beejapoor. Sivajee answered by fair words; but the old man saw that his purpose was unshaken. Infirm by age, worn
out by disease, and now a prey to anxiety for the fate of his master’s house, Dadajee did not long survive. But just before his death, he sent for Sivajee; when so far from dissuading him in his accustomed manner, he advised him to prosecute his plans of independence; to protect Bramins, kine, and cultivators; to preserve the temples of the Hindoos from violation; and to follow the fortune which lay before him. After this, having recommended his family to his young master’s care, he expired.
The dying injunctions of Dadajee Konedeo, served to confirm Sivajee in his designs, and gave them a sanction in the eyes of the subordinate officers of the Jagheer, which must have tended materially to raise his character, and perhaps, in some degree, to elevate his motives of action.
He took charge of the Jagheer in his father’s name; but very shortly after, on the arrival of messengers from Shahjee to Dadajee Konedeo, requiring the payment of some arrears of revenue, Sivajee sent them back with news of his guardian’s death; and on this, and several subsequent occasions, evaded all payments, till at last he informed his father that the expenses of that poor country had so much increased, that he must depend on his more extensive and fertile possessions in the Carnatic.
There were two officers in the Jagheer whom it was of much consequence to gain or to remove, as neither of them, in the first instance, acceded to the views of Sivajee: the one, Phirungajee Nursalla, in charge of the fort of Chakun; the other,
Bajee Mohitey, the brother of Tooka Bye, Shahjee’s second wife, manager of the district of Sopa.
Sivajee’s emissaries succeeded in corrupting Phirungajee, who tendered his services to their master, and was confirmed in the command of Chakun. He likewise received charge of the revenue management of the adjoining villages, on condition that he should maintain the system of Dadajee Konedeo.
But a more important acquisition than any hitherto made, was obtained by the possession of Kondaneh. It was given up by the Mahomedan Killidar for a large bribe, and Sivajee changed or restored its name to Singurh, or the lion’s den140; by which appellation it is still known.
Bajee Mohitey had three hundred good horses: he occupied Sopa: and though he sent civil answers to all messages, he refused to pay the revenue, or listen to any overtures unauthorised by Shahjee. Sivajee, concealing his approach, surrounded Sopa with a party of Mawulees, in the middle of the night, surprised Bajee Mohitey and his whole party, took them prisoners, and sent Mohitey, together with all who did not choose to enter his service, to join his father in the Carnatic.
The revenue officers of Baramuttee and Indapoor, whilst nothing interrupted the usual routine of affairs, appear to have realized the collections, and paid them over at Poona for some time after
Dadajee Konedeo’s death, without disputing the authority of Shahjee’s son; but these districts, as well as the Pergunna of Sopa, were at a distance from the hills, and too much exposed to be always maintained by Sivajee.
The demise of the Killidar of the fort of Poorundhur happened about the same time as that of Dadajee Konedeo. He left three sons, the eldest of whom, without confirmation from Beejapoor, assumed command of the garrison. The two younger sons claimed an equal right to command, jointly with their brother, and to share in the profits of some fields and pasture lands attached to the fort. They wished Sivajee to assist in arbitrating their differences: and he took a lively interest in their affairs, secretly supporting the younger brothers.
Whilst these disputes were pending, Sivajee, at a fit time, giving out that he was on his route towards Sopa, encamped under Poorundhur, and was, as he had hoped, invited into the fort with a few attendants. When the eldest of the three had retired to rest, Sivajee, in conversation with the other two, represented, that the best expedient for inducing their brother to submit to a fair arbitration, was to make him prisoner; to which the young men eagerly acceded. Sivajee, on pretence of granting them means of completely overawing every attempt at resistance, despatched a messenger to his troops below, and long before morning had a band of Mawulees in possession of the upper and lower forts, the eldest brother a prisoner, and the two younger, with the whole garrison, completely
in his power. Sivajee attempted to excuse this treachery, by avowing his designs of independence; and, although he removed the whole from Poorundhur, he had the address to reconcile them by grants of Enam villages, and to persuade all the brothers to enter his service; in which they afterwards attained some distinction.
All these acquisitions were made without stir or bloodshed; the government districts were not molested. Mohummud Adil Shah was building palaces and mausoleums, or intent on acquisitions in the Carnatic; and the irregularities in the Jagheer of Shahjee, if fully known, were not deemed of magnitude, whilst the Jagheerdar himself was in the power of the king.
Thus did Sivajee obtain, possession of the tract between Chakun and the Neera; and the manner in which he established himself, watching and crouching like the wily tiger of his own mountain vallies, until he had stolen into a situation from whence he could at once spring on his prey, accounts both for the difficulty found in tracing his early rise, and the astonishing rapidity with which he extended his power, when his progress had attracted notice, and longer concealment was impossible.
126. From this period I have recourse principally to Mahratta manuscripts. Those to which I shall have immediate occasion to refer, are as follow:–
1. A Life of Sivajee, procured from the late Raja of Kolapoor, written by Kistnajee Anund Subhasud. There are several copies of this work; one is in possession of Mr. Hale, the judge and magistrate of the Southern Concan, to which I had access. I returned the original copy to the Raja of Kolapoor, and lodged a copy of it with the Literary Society of Bombay.
2. Lives of the Rajas, and History of the Mahratta Empire, from the earliest period, to the present time; compiled by Mulhar Ram Rao Chitnees, from original memoranda, and originals, or copies of many authentic papers, written or transcribed by his ancestors, who were all persona highly distinguished at the Courts of Raigurh, Ginjee, and Satara. Mulhar Ram Rao’s life of Sivajee is very voluminous; but I do not think he has made a good use of the valuable letters and records in his possession. Sivajee’s instructions to officers and departments, are very complete and satisfactory. Some of the original copies of these instructions are in the hand-writing of Ballajee Aujee, and I have had them authenticated from another quarter, as will be mentioned. I lodged a copy of Mulhar Ram Rao’s work, with the Literary Society of Bombay.
3. A Life of Sivajee, procured from the descendant of Chunder Rao Moray, Raja of Jowlee.
4. A Life of Sivajee, partly translated into English, by Thomas Coats, Esq., late superintending surgeon of the Poona auxiliary force.
5. A Life of Sivajee, partly translated, in the hand-writing of the late Sir Barry Close. Received from the Hon. M. Elphinstone.
6. A Life of Sivajee, obtained from the Koolkurnee of Kolhar, near Beejapoor.
7. A History of the Mahrattas, including an account of the Kings of Beejapoor, by the Deshpandya of Kuttao Desh.
When reverting to Moghul history, Khafee Khan continues my principal authority.
127. Kurar is situated thirty miles south of Satara.
128. Bye adjoined to a woman’s name, designates her being a lady.
129. It is situated about fifty miles north of Poona. The town is called Joonere, the fort Sewneree.
130. These Bramins, when occupied by ordinary duties, are termed Carcoons, or clerks; but when sent on public business, on the part of any great man, they are, in common with all envoys, styled Wukeels. This remark applies to Bramin writers in the service of an individual, and to subordinate clerks. Bramins at the head of offices, or employed in particular departments of the state, are designated according to the name of the office, or situation they hold. Every Mahratta owner of land, money, or even of two or three horses, has his Carcoon, who ostensibly attends to all his orders in the most respectful manner; but the Carcoon has generally the whole property at his disposal. He contrives to lend his master money at usurious interest, soon runs him in debt to himself; and the poor Mahratta is thus completely in the Bramin’s power. But each frequently becomes necessary to the other, and many Bramin Carcoons in Mahratta families, on very trying occasions, have shewn the most devoted attachment and fidelity to the person and interests of their masters.
131. Mahratta MSS.
132. Beejapoor MSS. I have enumerated those manuscripts in the preceding chapter.
133. Mr. Grant’s Pol. Analysis.
134. Khafee Khan. I give this definition as the historian has recorded it; I have no reason to doubt its correctness, but I have not found it in any other authority. Village revenue accounts, in the Deccan, are to this day, not unfrequently, stated in Tukhas by the Koolkurnees.
135. See page 21, vol. i., for explanation of this word.
136. Now Singurh.
137. Mahratta MSS.
138. Khafee Khan. Beejapoor MSS. and some evidence in Mahratta MSS.
139. Mahratta MSS. Sivajee called it Pruchundgurh. I have retained the ancient name by which it is still known.
140. The literal signification would be lion’s fort, but the lion’s den was the meaning intended by the name which Sivajee gave to Kondaneh: so say the Mahrattas, and it is proved by Sivajee’s own words, as we shall find recorded.
This collection transcribed by Chris Gage