Historical Figures

13. Coronation of Shivaji

Shivaji's kingdom was now very big. The Mughal armies in South India were completely ruined by the wounds of Shivaji's sword. The old sultans of Bijapur and Golconda were dead and the new sultans had no power to resist. Therefore Shivaji was now the sovereign master of his kingdom. The general public also considered Shivaji as the king of Marathas but Shivaji was not coronated. Therefore Mata Jijabai asked Shivaji to get the coronation done. According to Hindu scriptures, only a king can tax the subjects and give justice and punishment to his subjects. Only the king has the right to donate land. Shivaji also thought it appropriate to do so politically so that he could get the respect and authority of an independent king before other kings. In AD 1674, Shivaji decided to assume the title of Chhatrapati.

Some Bhonsle families who were once in a position equal to or better than Shivaji, were envious of Shivaji's success and called Shivaji as robbers who had by force snatched the territories of Bijapur and the Mughal kingdom. The Bijapur state did not consider Shivaji as more than a rebellious son of a vassal. The Brahmins believed that Shivaji was the son of a farmer, so he could not be coronated. Therefore Shivaji sent his minister Balaji Ambaji and other advisors to Kashi to solve this problem. These people contacted Pandit Vishweshwar of Kashi and who was also called Gaga Bhatt. He had done the coronation of many kings of Rajputana. Shivaji's ministers showed Gaga the lineage of Shivaji. Gaga refused to see Shivaji's lineage. Shivaji's ministers prayed before him for several days. One day Gaga agreed to see Shivaji's lineage. He found that the clan of Shivaji descended from the Sisodia dynasty of Mewar and was pure Kshatriya. He allowed the coronation of Shivaji. After this, this delegation went to the states of Amber and Jodhpur etc. of Rajputana and went there and inquired about the customs and customs to be done on the occasion of coronation.

As soon as Gaga Bhatt's permission was received, preparations for the coronation started in Poona. A large number of beautiful and spacious guest-houses and rest-houses were started to be built so that honorable guests coming from all over the country could stay in them. New lakes, roads, gardens etc. were also built so that the capital of Shivaji looked beautiful. Gaga was requested that she herself come to Poona and get the coronation done. Gaga accepted the invitation. During his journey from Kashi to Maharashtra, Gaga was treated like a Maharaja. To receive him, Shivaji along with his ministers came several miles ahead of Satara and gave him a grand welcome. Scholars and Brahmins were invited from all over India. 11 thousand Brahmins came to the capital of Shivaji. Their number increased to 50 thousand including women and children. Lakhs of men and women reached the capital to see this event. The chiefs of armies, seths, nobles, representatives of other states, foreign merchants from all over the state also started reaching the capital. For four months, the guests were fed fruits, dishes and sweets on behalf of the king and arrangements were made for their stay in the capital.

The British ambassador Oxindon wrote that Shivaji Raje could not find time to take care of other tasks due to daily religious rituals and consultation with Brahmins. Jijabai had turned 80 by this time. She was most pleased with Shivaji's coronation. His son Shiva was today the protector of religion, the invincible conqueror of wars and the guardian of the subjects. On the day the coronation ceremonies began, Shivaji worshiped his guru Ramdas and mother Jijabai and left for the darshan of Parshuram temple in Chiplun. There Shivaji presented the statue of his family deity Tulja Bhavani with a golden umbrella, which was worth about 56 thousand rupees at that time. After returning, Shivaji worshiped Mahadev, Bhavani and other deities under the direction of his clan priest. On May 28, Shivaji was made to fast and atonement because even after attaining this age, he had not performed the sacred thread ceremony. After this, Shivaji was re-married to Shivaji's two surviving wives so that they could be entitled to attend the coronation. Huge donations were given to Brahmins and the poor. Chief priest Gaga Bhatt was given 7000 hons and other Brahmins 1700-1700 hons.

To atone for the sins and crimes committed by Shivaji knowingly or unknowingly, all metals, grains, fruits, spices etc., like gold, silver, copper, brass, glass etc. Shivaji also mixed one lakh hon in this tuladan so that it could be distributed among the brahmins. Some Brahmins greedy for money were not satisfied even with this, they imposed an additional fine of 8 thousand hon on Shivaji because Shivaji had burnt many cities and looted the people. This amount was very small for Shivaji, so he accepted this request of the Brahmins. Thus taking huge amount of gold donation, the Brahmins declared Shivaji to be sin-free, blame-free and holy. Now Shivaji could be coronated. The day of June 5, Shivaji spent in self-restraint and sense-suppression. He took a bath in the Ganges water, donated 5000 hons to Gaga Bhatta, donated 2 gold pieces to other famous brahmins and fasted for the whole day.

The coronation ceremony of Shivaji was organized on 6 June 1674. Shivaji got up in the dark and bathed in the Ganges water with Vedic chants. Worshiped the clan gods and by touching the feet of his patriarch Balam Bhatt, the chief priest of the coronation Gaga Bhatt and other famous brahmins, donated them and took their blessings. Then wearing white clothes, wore a garland of flowers and applied perfume and sat on a high post. To his left, the queen Soyra Bai took the seat. One end of her sari was tied to the king's dupatta. Yuvraj Sambhaji sat behind these two. The eight chiefs of Shivaji, that is, eight ministers, performed the Jalabhishek of the royal family by taking urns filled with water from the famous rivers of the country. Throughout this time Vedic chants continued and Mangal instruments were played. After this, six virtuous Brahmins, wearing clean clothes, placed five lamps each in golden plates, performed the aarti of the royal family.

After the Jalabhishek, Shivaji dressed in red colored turbans, wore gems and gold ornaments, wore a necklace and garland of flowers around his neck and wore a crown studded with pearls and strings of pearls hanging. Shivaji worshiped his sword, arrowhead and shield and again bowed his head before the brahmins and elders and sought their blessings. Shivaji entered the throne room on the auspicious time suggested by the astrologers. This room was decorated with 32 auspicious symbols and different types of auspicious plants. The decoration of this room with pearls was done in a very grand manner, in which a grand throne was kept in the center.

Henry Oxindon wrote that the throne was very valuable and luxurious. It was covered with gold leaf and on its eight pillars were studded with precious stones and diamonds. Above the pillar was the mandala, in which the work of gold karbochi was done and the pedestals of pearls were hanging. A tiger skin was laid on the throne, on which was velvet. As soon as Shivaji sat on that throne, gem-studded lotus flowers and gold and silver flowers were showered on the people present there. Sixteen pure women performed the aarti of the king. The brahmins chanted mantras with a loud voice and blessed the king. The people hailed Shivaji. Mangal instruments started playing, singers started singing. At the same time, one cannon each was fired from each fort of the state. Chief priest Gaga Bhatt went ahead and invoked Shivaji as 'Shiva Chhatrapati' with gold work and pearl fringed umbrellas.

The Brahmins blessed Shivaji Raje. The king gave donations, honors and gifts to the Brahmins, to the poor and to the beggars. Sixteen types of Mahadan were also given. After this the ministers appeared before the throne and greeted the king. Shivaji also gifted them elephants, horses, gems, clothes, weapons etc. Shivaji ordered that Sanskrit words should be used instead of Persian words for the post of ministers in future. Crown Prince Sambhaji, Chief Priest Gaga Bhatt and Prime Minister Pinghale were also made to sit on high plinths which were slightly below the throne of the king. Other ministers stood in two rows each to the right and left of the king. All the other courtiers and visitors sat on rugs according to their social status.

At 8 o'clock in the morning, Neeraji Pant presented the British envoy Henry Oxindon in front of Shivaji. He greeted the king from a considerable distance and with the help of an interpreter presented a diamond ring on behalf of the British. Many other foreigners were also present in the court, they were also called near by the king and they were given due respect and presented clothes. With this the court proceedings were completed and Chhatrapati Shivaji came down from the throne and rode on a magnificent and well-equipped horse and went to the temple of Jagdishwar to have darshan of the Lord. Coming from there, he changed his clothes and took part in the procession going on the highway with the procession riding on an exquisite elephant. After leaving the highway, he passed through the streets of the capital, through the midst of the subjects. From place to place the householders performed the aarti of Shivaji and offered rice cakes, fruits, kush etc. on him. In this journey, he also went to visit the temples located on the hill of Rajgarh and returned to his palaces after offering gifts there.

The next day i.e. on 7th June, he again appeared in the court and kept donating to the domestic and foreign guests and beggars who came there to congratulate him. 3 to 5 rupees were given to every common man who came to the court and 1 to 2 rupees to women and children. This sequence of charity and charity continued for the whole twelve days. On 8 June, the king performed his fourth marriage without any extra fanfare. Jijabai died suddenly on 18 June. For this reason mourning was kept in the state court. So Shivaji appeared again in his court six days later, on 24 June. A few days later, one of Shivaji's wives passed away. Thus two important members of the royal family died within a few days of the coronation. So the tantriks got an opportunity to scold the pundits. A tantrik named Nischal Puri told Shivaji that Gaga Bhatt had left many flaws in the rituals of Abhishek, that is why Rajmata has died and minor inauspicious incidents happened during this time. He suggested to Shivaji that to compensate for these shortcomings, coronation should be done once again by tantric rituals. Shivaji allowed this. On 24 September 1674, again a small coronation ceremony was organized in which Brahmins as well as Tantriks were pleased by giving donations and dakshina. Exactly a year after the second coronation, lightning struck the temple of Pratapgarh. Due to this many valuable elephants and horses died and other losses also occurred.

It was a magnificent coronation. Till then such grand events had rarely taken place in India. 1 crore 42 lakh rupees were spent on the coronation ceremony of Shivaji. Which is difficult to compare with any amount of money today. In this expenditure those pucca buildings, roads, lakes, gardens etc. are also included, which were done exclusively for the coronation.

Currency and circulation of Samvat

After his coronation, Shivaji got coins minted in his name and also introduced the new era. It was a tradition among the Indian Aryan kings that when a king declared himself an independent emperor or a Chakravarti emperor, he used to use a new currency and era as his symbol. Shaka Samvat, Gupta Samvat and Vikram Samvat are symbols of similar events.

epoch-making event

The coronation of Shivaji was an epoch-making event. This was not possible while Aurangzeb was alive, but Shivaji built his kingdom by fighting three Muslim emperors and sultans including Aurangzeb and declared himself an independent king. At that time only Maharana Raj Singh in North India and Chhatrapati Shivaji in South India were the only kings who had no subordination, friendship or treaty with the Mughals.