The great escape of Shivaji from the clutches of Aurangzeb


Aurangzeb, the Mughal emperor had invited Shivaji to his court. But he made a plan along with his nine-year-old son and succeeded in escaping from the clutches of the Mughal emperor, making their gateway historic.

Who was Shivaji?

Shivaji Bhonsle, whom we better know as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was an Indian warrior king. He was also a member of the Maratha clan. His military was disciplined and his administrative organizations were well-structured. He established a proficient and trained civil rule with the help of these two. He was the one who introduced new military tactics in the army. He came up with the guerrilla warfare methods which used speed, surprise, geography, and focused pinpoint attacks to defeat their enemies.

When did Shivaji arrive in Agra?

Shivaji arrived in Agra along with his eldest son, Shambhuji, and a small army who were mainly battle soldiers on the 12th of May. That day was the 50th birthday of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.

Why did the great warrior come to Agra?

Shivaji was on a spree of annexing empires and had taken control of almost the entire India. This threatened Aurangzeb who wanted entire India all to himself. However, another reason for feeling threatened was that Shivaji was proving himself to be invincible. So the Mughals were constantly plotting against him and were devising plans to capture and execute him.

In the year 1666, Aurangzeb himself sent a letter to the great warrior king asking him to join him in his birthday celebrations. Shivaji was suspicious of the intentions of the Mughal emperor but still accepted the invitation. He did so because he did not want Aurangzeb to think that he was afraid of him.

What actually happened at the court of Aurangzeb

When Shivaji entered the court, he went straight to Aurangzeb and placed his offering before him. The emperor did not respond in any way. He said nothing, not even a word of welcome. The Mughal soldiers led him to the back of the hall. By then, he understood very well that it was a trap and he, his son, and his army of soldiers were captives.

Aurangzeb imprisoned the entire company for many months. But Shivaji did not break down. Aurangzeb had planned to send him to Kandahar (Afghanistan) so that he could integrate the Empire’s north-western frontier. He was given spacious quarters in one of the big houses. His personal servants stayed at the back of the haveli. There was tight security and at least 1000 soldiers were always on duty to guard him.

How did Shivaji plan his escape?

Shivaji used his time to gather information about the kingdom. He even befriended the postmaster along with a few officers of the emperor who were second in command. This helped him get information about what was happening in and around the kingdom.

After this, he faked his illness and requested the emperor to release his men so that they could go back home to their families. Aurangzeb did not suspect anything and granted his wish. His men went to several towns near the kingdom and settled down. It was at this very time that Shivaji was ready to execute his plan.

Aurangzeb was very busy at that time. He was making plans to suppress the risings in the northwest. This helped Shivaji a lot. Matters came to a climax when Shivaji received news that Aurangzeb was leaving Agra for Shikar on the 22nd of July,1666.

Shivaji finally escapes according to his plan

There are two versions of how this fierce warrior escaped. One said that Shivaji put together a ceremony to honor Pandit Kavindra Paramananda who had come to meet him at that time. He then gave away his elephants and horses announcing to the world that he would become a fakir. He dressed up as one. His close partner Niraji Raoji dressed up as Shivaji. He then got out of the house, mingled with the other pandits, and escaped from Agra.

The other version is that in August, Shivaji complained of stomach ache. Doctors were called for his treatment and after three days, he was certified as fit and fine. Shivaji wanted to distribute sweets and money to the doctors, Brahmins, and poor people. So, a huge amount of sweets were made and transported in big bamboo baskets. At first, there was strict inspection but later on, the security persons passed the baskets without inspecting them.

Shivaji realized that this was his chance to escape. On August 19, he and his son hid in the sweet baskets. Then instead of moving towards Maharashtra, they moved towards Mathura. Before going, he dressed two of his courtiers as his son and himself in order to confuse Aurangzeb.

Thus, the great warrior made a great escape and it is written in the history of India with great pride and honor.

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