Chhatrapati Shivaji was not anti-Muslim, says Sharad Pawar

Pune: Lamenting “distortion” of historical facts, NCP chief Sharad Pawar today said the Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji was never against Muslims as has been “imposed upon” people.

Pawar said Shivaji killed Adilshahi commander Afzal Khan not because of his religion but because he was the enemy of “swarajya”.

Khan, a medieval commander who served the Adil Shahi dynasty of Bijapur, was killed at a meeting with Shivaji, and his army was defeated in the famous Battle of Pratapgad in 1659.

In Maharashtra, Khans killing is popularly viewed as the victory of Shivajis diplomacy and might over a yavan (foreigner) and is often linked with religion.

“Since childhood, it has been imposed upon us that Shivaji Maharaj killed Afzal Khan as he (Shivaji) was against Muslims. It is a fact that he had killed Khan but not because he was Muslim but because he was the enemy of Swarajya and had come here to destroy the state,” said Pawar.

He was addressing a function here after releasing a book on Shivaji, written by Srimant Kokate.

Shivaji Maharaj also killed Khans aide Krishnaji Kulkarni, who was accompanying the Adil Shahi commander, Pawar said, adding, “If he (Shivaji) was anti-Muslim, he would have spared Kulkarni. The fact is that Shivaji was against those tendencies, irrespective of their faith and affiliations, who are against Swarajya”.

Shivaji had several commanders who belonged to various castes and communities including Muslims, he said.
“Shivaji Maharaj was a visionary and under his rule, there was a place for everybody, irrespective of their religion, and that is why his state was called rayateche rajya (rule of people),” he said, adding that Shivaji always promoted religious equality.

Unlike other rulers such as Chadragupta Maurya, Kutub Shahi or Maharana Pratap, Shivaji never named his state as “Bhosales” (his title), but as “rayateche rajya”.

Pawar alleged some people have imposed a distorted version of history on the common people to further their own interests.

“Over the years, history with distorted facts was imposed by a particular group of people who presented the lessons in the history as per their convenience,” the former Union minister said.

Pawar said Shivaji has been “appropriated” as the Gau-Brahman Pratipalak (protector of cows and Brahmins) over the years in a bid to distort the historical facts.

Quoting eminent historian T S Shejwalkar, Pawar said it would be “un-historical” to call the Maratha king “gau brahman pratipalak”.

“Mahatma Jyotiba Phule (a 19th century social reformer) had described Shivaji mahraj as kulwadibhushan (protectors of farmers) and that description is correct and is based on the facts and supported by historians,” Pawar said, adding that such a distortion of historical facts makes him “anxious”.

Pawar appreciated the book and appealed to teachers to teach students the facts.

Historian and author Jaysingrao Pawar, Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur also attended the event.