Modern India is too depressing. This is my week.

If I find wisdom or answers in the words of old westerners writing about India, I'll let you know.
Eaton is a good writer, and his book is excellent. As long as one just mentally edits out the randomly scattered sentences that state (without any substantiation or sourcing, mostly) that something or other on the Deccan was adopted from the "Iranian plateau".
If one were to delete all sentences that mention the words {Iran, Iranian, Persia, Persian} (especially ones with no explanatory footnote or reference to literature) from this book, it would be an infinitely better book.

And I say this with love, as a fan of all things Persian.
1296 - Seige of Devgiri, Yadavas fall to the Khiljis
1320 - Tughlaqs replace Khiljis in Delhi
1327 - Capital moved to Devgiri/Daulatabad, 10% of Delhi's Muslims move south
1336 - Sangama brothers found Vijaynagar
1347 - Zafar Khan +armies in Daulatabad found Bahamani Sultanate
1344 - Qutlugh Khan, popular gov. of Daulatabad dismissed
1345 - Last Tughlaq coins minted on the Deccan
1347 Feb - Marappa declares himself king at Vijaynagara
1347 Aug - Zafar Khan declares himself Bahman sultan at the great Mosque in Daulatabad
Wonder what great mosque that is. I strongly suspect it is what's known as the "bharat mata temple" in the fort now.

Wonder when and how that particular transformation happened.
Eaton does not mention the seige of Devgiri at all. But, he does talk about the sacking of Pratap Rudra's Warangal by Ulugh Khan (Mohamad bin Tughlaq) and the destruction of the temple there and the great Mosque that replaced it, which was itself later demolished.
Who demolished the Mosque, why, when, Eaton does not tell us. Wonder if the fort of Warangal also has a Bharat Mata Temple.
Someone should write a history of Devgiri/Daulatabad/Aurangabad 0 AD to 1960AD. From the POV of Devgiri/Daulatabad/Aurangabad.
The Delhi Sultanate lasted only about 50 years on the Deccan. Enough to smash the Deccan kingdoms north of the Krishna River (Marathi Yadavas and Telgu Kakatiyas), leading to the Bahamanis and weaken the Kannada Hoysalas south of the Krishna, leading to Vijaynagara.
1398 - Timur sacks Tughlak Delhi and Mohammad Gisu-Daraz escapes the city and leaves for Daulatabad

Who is this Gisu Daraz you ask ? Well. I will answer with these blasphemous lines from Firishta that Eaton reproduces two times in his book.
More to the point perhaps, he was the most senior of Delhi's Chistis and played a role in helping Firuz, the best of the Bahamanis, build a grand cultural and religious centre to succeed Delhi now that it had been sacked.
Firuz was also the dude who started importing Iranians by the shipload as administrators, basically, he decided that being refined meant literally importing the 1400s version of a dislocated westernized (meaning Persian) elite.

This is going to cause a ton of trouble later.
As an aside, the world city Firuz was building ? Firuzabad just south of his capital at Gulbarga.

This sort of thing happened again, when someone tried to make Bidar a world city. And Bijapur.
It's surreal how irrelevant poor and neglected these once great Deccan centers are in modern India. Warangal, Daulatabad/Aurangabad, Bidar, Bijapur. Bywords for a peculiar dusty, uncool, petty, poverty.

Looked down upon by people from every region surrounding them.
Eaton considers anyone who ever used the word "sultan" as belonging to the "Persian civilization". Timur, the Sangama brothers, everyone.

"Sometime in 1453, the same year that the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople carried Persian civilization to the frontiers of Europe..."
I mean. That's one angle on the fall of Constantinople, I suppose.
Do the Persians make good baklava is what I want to know.
Also, it's not like the Persians hadn't carried Persian civilization to "the frontiers of Europe" themselves, 2000 years before the fall of Constantinople. Thermopylae anyone ?
Really, Eaton.
1424 - Bidar becomes the Bahamani capital and India's most important city (Delhi/Tughluqabad has been destroyed by Timur) and attracts immigrants from all over the Persophone world
Deccani : political faction associated with deccanized descendants of north Indians who came to Daulatabad in 1327, and who then overthrew Delhi's imperial yoke

Ghariban : political faction associated with Persian speaking immigrants holding high office and their descendants
1509 - Krishna Deva Raya ascends to Vijaynagara throne
1510 - Portuguese take Goa
1510 - weakened by the deccani/ghariban rivalry, Bahamani splits into the 5 Deccan sultanates
1512 - Babur gives up on Samarkand and returns to Kabul
Vijaynagara seems to have been hampered by its inability to tax it's rich provinces (the Kaveri delta and the Corona del coast) to support the kingdom and it's more barren Deccan heartland.
1523 - Krishna Deva Raya, in a line of victories, takes Gulbarga (the erstwhile Bahamani capital) and installs a token new Bahamani sultan (even though the state no longer exists)
1529 - Krishna Deva Raya dies
1542 - His son-in-law Rama Raya is the center of power in Vijayanagara
Rama Raya heads the most powerful entity on the Deccan and is very influential in the internal politics of the 5 sultanates to his north.
He (says Eaton) is obsessed with the old power on the Deccan - the Chalukyas. Their erstwhile capital Kalyana lies north of the Krishna river.
Vijaynagara plays a big role in the internal politics of the 5 sultanates to the north of the Krishna, but Rama Raya seems always to ensure that he is allied with whichever sultan controls Kalyana, such is his obsession for a dynasty and state that has been gone for 400 years.
Eventually, all this allying with one against the other and terribly misjudged displays of arrogance even with the Adil Shah of Bijapur with whome Rama Raya has a good relationship, lead to an alliance of 4 of the Deccan sultanates against Vijaynagara.
In particular, Rama Raya really pursues the Nizam Shah of Ahemednagar from one city to another, this makes him a bitter enemy obsessed with the fort at Kalyana and defeating Rama Raya.
1565 - battle of Talikota in which the combined armies of the sultanates destroy the city of Vijaynagara (visit it, near modern day Hampi if you get the chance) and the place is forever abandoned. Rama Raya is dead, but the state of Vijaynagara relocates and limps on for a while.
Eaton takes great pains to claim that Vijaynagara is somehow part of the wider Persian civilization.

I posit that if the author were obsessed with China instead of Persia, he could find enough material to claim that Vijayanagara was part of the wider Chinese civilization.
Eaton is right of course, that the positioning of Vijaynagara as a Hindu bastion defeated by an Islamic alliance is superimposing on history the preoccupations of modern day politics.

I wish he'd apply the same careful thinking to his own obsession with "the Persian plateau".
And later today, finally, the chapter I've been waiting for.

Malik Ambar "Chapu" (1548-1626).
1548 - Chapu born in southern Ethiopia.
As a young man, he ended up in the Arab slave markets and was bought by a Baghdadi merchant, who rechristened (English needs a new word) Malik Ambar.
He was sold on from there and joined the thousands of slaves sold by the Arabs to the Deccan sultanates. The Arabian Sea slave trade was a major thing, it would seem.

Malik Ambar was bought by the Ethiopian chief minister (Peshwa) Chingiz Khan of the Nizam Shahi in Ahemadnagar.
Eaton says "some historians even construe Ambar as a proto-nationalist figure" and the linked footnote refers to Jadunath Sarkar's House of Shivaji (1955).

Why have I never read that ? Got to put it on the list.
Cards on the table, I'd love it if Malik Ambar had a more prominent position in the pantheon of Deccan heroes. Maharashtra heroes. Aurangabadi heroes. Indian heroes.

But let's see what Eaton has to say about his story.
It seems most of these slaves were Pagans living on the periphery of the Christian kingdom of Ethiopia, and Chapu (Malik Ambar) was most likely from the Kambata area. Eaton claims (without references) that "Cumbala Hill" in Mumbai is "probably derived" from Kambata.
Ethiopian military slaves in the Deccan lost all contact with their home country and assimilated into Deccan (where today the community is still called by its Arab name "Habshi") society and its vernacular languages.

Thus, in the Deccani - Gharibian rivalry, they were Deccani.
Epic story.

By 1596, the Mughals are very powerful up north and Akbar is emperor. Ahemadnagar is in disarray after a succession dispute, and Murad, Akbar's son has besieged Ahmadnagar fort. His armies have been kept at bay only because Chand Bibi has organized a gallant defence.
The Ahmadnagar diplomat Afzal Khan goes to parley with the Mughals and disputes their right to claim Deccan land.
One Mughal general by Prince Murad's side is enraged and makes the folowing points :
- Afzal Khan is a eunuch for following a woman (Chand Bibi)
- The people of the Deccan are insects in front of the descendants of Timur
- The invaders and he (Afzal Khan) are of the same race so why throw his life away for insects (Habshis, Deccanis, Marathas) defending the fort?
To which Afzal Khan literally says "Maine is desh ka namak khaya hai !"

Ok, Eaton's quote is "For 40 years I have eaten th salt of the Sultans of the Deccan.... the people of this country are hostile to westerners.. and it is in the Emperor's interest to withdraw his armies"
I like this Afzal Khan, and I'm pretty sure he is not the same Afzal Khan Shivaji killed.

I hope.

We shall see.
Now I have a fun new framework for my irritation with aspects of Dalrymple's (very well written) books.

He books are about the gharibian and for the gharibian. He centers their voices and stories.

So naturally, my Deccani sensibilities (newly articulated) find him irritating.
This story is also pretty much the first mention of Marathas as soldiers in Eaton's book. Marathi the language has already recieved some state patronage from the Deccan sultanates by now.
But, back to our Ambar/Chapu

1570 - sold as a slave to Chengis Khan, the Peshwa of the Nizam Shahi in Ahmednagar
1575 - Chengis Khan dies and Ambar becomes a freelancer, enters service of the Bijapur Sultanate and is given a force of 150 the title Malik, becoming Malik Ambar
1595 - as the troubles are starting for Ahmadnagar, Malik Ambar quits Bijapur and returns with his men
21.12.1595 - Malik Ambar and troops break through Mughal lines and escape to the countryside, now teeming with armed men from the scattered forces of Nizam Shahi nobles
August 1600 - Mughals take the fort and carry off the Sultan in captivity. But, their writ extends barely beyond the fort and its surroundings. The countryside is full of armed men loyal to the Ahmadnagar state
Malik Ambar's men now number 7000. He gets his daughter married to a scion of the royal family of Ahmadnagar and anoints his new son in law as the Sultan of Ahmadnagar with himself (Malik Ambar) as the Peshwa.
1610 - Ambar's power grows to the point where he actually expels the Mughals from Ahmadnagar, which prompts him to move his capital to the once imperial Daulatabad, where the Yadav's ruled, which was capital of India for 7 years, where Zafar Khan crowned himself Bahaman Sultan.
Where this thread began, with the seige and sacking of Devgiri by Alauddin Khilji and the fall of the Yadavas.

Which is now a small walled village attached to a large and imposing fort. Well worth a visit. But hardly imperial. Barely provincial. Not even a suburb.
1605 - Akbar dies and Jahangir ascends to the throne, more obsessed than ever to subdue the Deccani and its malcontents.
1610 - in Daulatabad, Malik Ambar poisons his son in law and continues as Peshwa with his baby grandson as Sultan
At this point, Malik Ambar controls the new Nizam Shahi state and commands a force of 10000 Ethiopians and 40000 Deccanis. For scale, this is comparable to the size of contemporary Safavid forces fighting the Ottoman-Safavid wars.
While Ambar is uniformly praised for his administration by all manner of traders and travellers who passed through, he is hated by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir who hates him all the more for his dark skin, continually writing vile racist things about a foe he cannot vanquish.
1616 - Jahangir commissions this amazing painting, showing himself shooting an arrow at the impaled head of Malik Ambar.
Eaton seems to interpretthe racism of the Mughals toward Habshis and Dakhnis as a continuation of the Deccani - Gharibian conflict.
Malik Ambar, unable to match the Mughals toe to toe, fights asymmetrical battles and always stays one step ahead of slow moving armies, making extensive use - more than anyone before him - of tough Maratha light cavalry. By 1624, he has 50000(!!) Maratha cavalry under him.
1626 - Malik Ambar dies of natural causes. Jahangir is too old to write his own biography now, so we are soared his racist rants. Instead, his biographer writes of Malik Ambar as an able man, whose sound judgement and administrative skill was unrivalled.
".. he kept down the turbulent spirits (of the Deccan) and maintained his exalted position to the end of his life and closed his career in honour. History records no other instance of an Abyssinian slave arriving at such eminence."

While Malik Ambar is the most prominent Habshi in the area, the most prominent Maratha is Maloji Bhosle, Malik Ambar's right hand man.

1627 - Jahangir dies.
1633 - Mughals take the Nizam Shahi capital Daulatabad and carry off Malik Ambar's son (the Peshwa after Malik Ambar).
1633 - Maloji's son Sahaji installs a token Sultan and withdraws to hill-forts like Shivneri to try and gather support from Habshi and Maratha chiefs.

1636 - The Mughals and Bijapur eat up what remains of the Nizam Shahi and Shahaji takes up service with the Bijapur Sultan.
As an example of Maratha influence under Malik Ambar, Eaton says that areas in the town of Khirki (now Aurangabad) near his capital were named after prominent Maratha chiefs. "Maloura, Khelpura, Parasoura, Vithapura" says Eaton.
I grew up there, I've never heard of any of these.
With the collapse of the Nizam Shahi in 1636, the entry of Ethiopians into India ceased. Mughals did not recruit Ethiopian slaves and were too racist to put dark skinned Ethiopians in positions of responsibility.

Those already here, married locally and became Indian.
Since Malik Ambar's dynasty did not last long, and the Habshis themselves attenuated in power over time, the mantle of Deccani influence seems to have passed from Malik Ambar to the family of his right hand man, the Bhosles.

That's one way to read the story.
The Habshis have lost out on the Deccan but they have not yet exited Indian history, oh no.
The coastal fort of Murud Janjira manned and ruled by Habshis/Siddis since the 1570s, will hold out against the Portuguese, the Marathas and the British, and only join India in 1947.
I'm not going to tweet about Eaton's excellent chapter on Tukaram, Marathi literature (Jnanadev, Namdev, Eknath, Tukaram), caste relations in Maharashtra and what can only be described (see Diane Eck) as Maharashtra's sacred geography as defined by the Varkaris.
Some day, I will properly read the bhakti poets who wrote in my mothertongue, and perhaps share my impressions.

To tweet out Eaton's take on Marathi abhangs translated into English is a bridge too far, even for a soulless westernised Indian like me.
It seems the Qutub Shahi of Golkonda pretty much occupied the territory of the Telugu Kakatiya kingdom of Pratap Rudra, so unlike the other sultanates, was culturally cohesive.
They patronised Telugu and it's literature to a vastly greater extent than other sultanates and their vernaculars, and employed more locals in high positions as well.
1589 - The Qutub Shahs felt secure enough to establish an unwalled city a few miles from their capital. Hyderabad.
1592 - Charminar is built in the center of Hyderabad, now the most iconic monument in all the Deccan Sultanates.
1636 - the same year as the Nizam Shahi is eaten up by the Mughals and Bijapur, Golconda submits to the Mughals and starts paying heavy tribute.
1636 - Aurangzeb comes to the Deccan as viceroy, increasing pressure on Golkonda and Bijapur.
Aurangzeb, like Jahangir, will become obsessed with subduing the Deccan. And like Jahangir, he will fail. After spending 40 years of his life (first as viceroy, then as emperor) fighting on the Deccan, he will die there in 1707.
But much will happen before that. Shivaji.
Now switching to Stewart Gordon's history of the Marathas. Will return to Eaton's last chapter on Tarabai and the lead up to Panipat when those events come up in chronological order.
Gordon, like every academic, starts out with a passive aggressive note about how previous works on the topic are wonderful and by excellent people but are none the less derivative and biased by politics of their age and reach invalid conclusions.
He says most historiography on the Marathas is "gloss on Duff" (the original work written by a British officer after the British victories against the Marathas. (spoiler alert, I suppose), but later positions his own book as carefully complementary to Duff's.

Someone should check if the archives in London have released their Maratha documents, or have they been simply been destroyed as part of the British project to make uncomfortable parts of colonial history disappear.
Deccan - in vedic times, Dakshinapada (the southern regions beyond the river Tapti).
A relational term consistently used by northern kingdoms to refer to the region beyond their southern border.. south of the Narmada, or south of the Godavari... depending on where the border was.
Maharashtra - the vaguely trapezoidal region where Marathi is spoken.

The river Tapti to the north, Nagpur to the east and a line going from Goa in the south heading north east, just north of Bijapur, Gulbarga, Bidar (places we know well !) toward the forests of Chandrapur.
There are pretty much no defensible geographical border features, and the area itself has three distinct regions. The konkan - a narrow coastal strip divided by an abrupt range of mountains (the Ghats) from the inland plateau (Desh).
Konkan - plenty of rain, important ports
Ghats - difficult terrain, hill forts ideal for rebel strongholds
Desh - low rainfall, imperative for a Desh based kingdom to push west to control the Ghats and access the ports on the coast.
1296 - Fall of Devgiri and the Yadavas.
1300-1320 - much bloodletting by the Khiljis, lots of Sufi prose extolling "slaughter of the infidels" and many landed warrior chieftains massacred and many escaped south to avoid the Khilji conquest.
1347 - Bahamani kingdom established breaking away from Delhi, and the bloodletting abates. A more settled period begins on the Deccan.
Maratha - an old term with unknown etymology. Originally, probably a resident of the region of Maharashtra. Term first occurs in inscriptions in Maharashtra (100AD) and Sri Lanka (500AD) to refer to people from this region.
During the period of the Deccan Sultanates, (1350 - 1650 or so?) "Maratha" came to refer to a new elite - the local chiefs who could bring their soldiers to assist the Sultanates or to rebel against them.
Quick aside going back the the "slaughter of infidels" bit - Gordon makes it a point to draw a line between the religious violence and massacres of the Delhi Sultanate and the more settled, live and let live ways of the Deccan Sultanates.
Eaton says in his book that the Delhi Sultanate forces considered the Deccan to be Dar ul harb (thus to be looted, massacred and converted) where as the Deccan Sultanates considered it (to whatever extent) dar ul Islam (thus to be governed and protected).
Eaton also says that it was in this context that the Deccan Sultanates tried to establish a local Islamic sacred geography, setting up shrines and inviting important holy men from North India and beyond.

That's why Gisu Daraz was important when alive and remains important now.
Back to "Maratha". While now this word refers to a caste, back then, the elite chieftains it came to refer to belonged to families from various different caste groups.

An interesting example of relatively recent "construction of caste".
In the armies of the Deccan sultanates :
Deccani - troops of local Muslims
'Afgais - troops recently immigrated from central Asia
Marathas - troops from Maharashtra who spoke Marathi
Gordon draws parallels between the emergence of Maratha and Rajput identity. Initially heterogeneous groups that came to be identified with influential military families from certain regions. In this age, one could "become Maratha" or Rajput by gaining military influence, land.
As for the Brahmins of Desh, they served the Sultanates as administrators and tax collectors. After the Bahamanis, the Ahmadnagar sultanate governed most of Maharashtra and Brahmins of Desh ran the whole administration.
I'm going to call them Deshastha Brahmins from here on.
From Gordon's account, Maharashtra in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries comes across as a thinly populated - almost empty - place where "even prime riverine land was available" for "settling" and "colonization" (his words).

Colour me sceptical.
Warfare in India in this period:

- Mainline armies are moving cities, with 1.5 horses, 2 attendants per fighter, bazaars and traders, thousands of oxen to pull artillery, elephants for commanders, treasure for payment
- Large well stocked forts cannot be taken without treachery.
- Campaign season ends with the monsoon, when the rains make logistics impossible, and peasant soldiers want to go home to plant their fields

- Campaigns take months to prepare and armies move 15km a day, not more than 5 days a week. there are no surprise campaigns
All of this means everything is slow, and there is a LOT of time for diplomacy and the offering of bribes and grants to lure opposing commanders away and so on.
Because large forts cannot be taken, and sieges through the monsoon are very hard, weaker kingdoms get by for decades.
In this context, the style of warfare introduced by Malik Ambar called "bargir-giri" (a word mentioned in his glowing obituary by Jahangir's biographer) and used and perfected by Shivaji, was innovative and effective for certain ends.

but more on that later.
The House of Shivaji enters history with his grandfather Maloji Bhosle (d 1620) the right hand man of Malik Ambar. Maloji is from a humble(ish) family with just one land grant - the village of Verul near the Ellora caves, a few km from Daulatabad (Malik Ambar's capital).
Maloji started out a petty horseman for the Jadavs of Sinkhed who served Ahmadnagar, while his cousins, the Ghorpades of Mudhol served Bijapur.
1594 - Burhan Nizam Shah of Ahmadnagar dies and this sets off an arcane factional war
Mughals see this as a good time to invade.
1600 - Mughals have taken Ahmadnagar and its fort but Emperor Akbar is dying and the war of succession means the invasion is half hearted.
By 1594 in Gordon's account (which differs a little from Eaton's, it seems to me) Malik Ambar already controls parts of northern Konkan (wait, did HE build Murud Janjira ?) and areas around Daulatabad.
1600-1608 - with Mughal armies fighting each other, Ambar regularly raids Mughal provinces north of Maharashtra - Berar, Gujarat, Khandesh.
1610-1612 - Ambar starts heavily recruiting Marathas
1613-1615 - Ambar fights campaigns against the Portugese and Mughals
1616 - Ambar loses a major battle to the Mughals and surrenders Ahmadnagar (Eaton told us that he threw the Mughals out of Ahmadnagar in 1610)
1619 - Mughal armies are up in Kashmir and fighting in Punjab, Ambar takes back Ahmadnagar and goes deep into Mughal territory
1620 - Jahangir sends Shah Jahan to the Deccan with a large army. Again, Ambar withdraws to Daulatabad (what a fort, surrendered like, once in 1200 years ?) and keeps his Kingdom by surrendering Ahmadnagar again.
1621-24 : Malik Ambar plunders Bidar and beseiges Bijapur
1624 - Battle of Bhatvadi where Malik Ambar badly defeats a combined Mughal-Bijapuri army.

I begin to see why Jahangir hated him so much :)
1622 - (different date from Eaton's) Maloji Bhosle dies in battle (actually, Gordon does not call him Ambar's right hand man, I probably got that phrase from Rebel Sultans by Manu Pillai) and his son, Shahaji Bhosle is 26, a minor commander with Ambar.
Most of Malik Ambar's army at this point is Maratha. And the key to Ambar's military success is guerilla warfare (bargir-giri in Dakhni, ganimi kava in Marathi).

1626 - Malik Ambar dies, Ahmadnagar returns to chaos and Shahaji Bhosle takes up service with Bijapur.
Bargir-giri - not meeting larger armies at the battle site, cutting off supplies, maneuvering for better position and using fast mobile troops to strike vulnerable lines far from the battle site.

This is where Maratha light cavalry shone.
1627-27 - Jahangir dies, Shah Jahan ascends to the throne and immediately decides to subdue the Deccan.

There is really a pattern to this.

1628 - Shahaji returns to Ahmadnagar a rather more important general with over 6000 cavalry under him.
1630-35 - Shah jahan moves south and takes Ahmadnagar, killing Shahaji's in-laws and patrons, and after a devastating famine and long seige, Daulatabad falls as well.
Various Maratha generals retire to their forts and keep harassing the Mughals.
Shahaji uses the chaos to seize the triangle of land between Pune, Nasik, Ahmadnagar, and caputures southern konkan as well.
But then Shahaji starts raiding Daulatabad and the Mughals mount a major campaign to chase him out of northern Maharashtra, and largely, succeed.

1636 - Mughal-Bijapur peace pact has a condition that Bijapur stop any aid to Shahaji
Now, Mughals held all of northern Maharashtra and Daulatabad, and Bijapur held Pune, central and southern Maharashtra and Konkan.
Bijapur in the early 1600s is a large and healthy state, Vijaynagar to the south and Ahmadnagar to the north are gone and Bijapur has doubled in size. The court is dominated by Dakhnis and Portugese control of the seas has meant Gharibians are harder to recruit.
The sultan speaks better Dakhni and Marathi than Persian, and deshastha brahmins from maharashtra and prabhus from the coast dominate the administration, while maratha's are increasingly important in the Bijapuri army.
In this milieu, after his comprehensive defeat by the Mughals, Shahaji Bhosle gives up his cities in western Maharashtra and goes into service with Bijapur after 1636.
With Bijapur, Shahaji managed to get rights to the Pune region (HOW ?) but, was himself barred from staying in Maharashtra due to the Mughal-Bijapur peace accord (ok, what ?) and so administration of his estates in Maharashtra was handed to his 10 year old son, Shivaji.
The estate was actually administered by a chap called Dadoji Kondev. who is well known for updating the important tax settlement of Malik Ambar in rural Maharashtra, it seems.
Freed from the Mughal threat by the 1936 peace accord, Bijapuri armies crossed the Krishna river and ventured south into former Vijaynagara lands, defeating the remaining chieftians.
Shahaji is one of the commanders in these campaigns.
1639 - Bijapur takes Banglore, and Shahaji is left to hold and govern it.. (really ? why would you do that !)

True to form, Shahaji immediately starts establishing a feifdom around Banglore, and starts quibbling/fighting with the Sultan of Bijapur.
But, Shahaji also supports Bijapuri armies in their ventures south. in 1641, armies (including Shahaji) under Afzal Khan (I'm pretty sure this particular Afzal Khan is going to re-appear in this thread) take Vellore and put down a revolt by Hindu Rajahs in the south.
1644 - Shahji's estranged (that's new to me) wife Jijabai and her son Shivaji (now 14) visit Shahaji in Banglore. Shahaji presents his whole family (second wife and her two sons included) at the court in Bijapur.
Jijabai and Shivaji return to Pune a few months later.
What utterly strange lives these are... and what a terrible terrible time for the northern and southern Deccan... constant wars and famines and shifting boundaries.

and there is a lot more of that to come.
it gets stranger.

1644 - Bijapur orders the arrest and annihilation of Shahaji's agent in Pune, Dadoji Kondev because "Shahaji has become a rebel against the court."
1648 - Bijapuri forces are besieging the powerful fortress of Jinji in Tamil Nadu held by the remnants of the Vijaynagara kingdom, and negotiating with the nobles there. Shahaji takes an "independent course" in these negotiations (he would, wouldn't he) and is arrested.
By now, after the death of Sultan Ibrahim in 1627, Bijapur has swung back toward orthodoxy and there is a lot of infighting and chaos. Shahaji is one of only two major Maratha generals in Bijapuri service now, and his career post 1648 is all over the place.
One of Shahaji's sons Ekoji remains in Banglore, one Sambhaji is killed in a revolt by a Rajah in Kanrnataka. Meanwhile Jinji falls in 1648 and wars with other Rajahs in the south as well as with the Sultanate of Golkonda roll on.
1630, Feb - Shivaji is born, second son of Jijabai (from the jadav family of Sinkhed ?) and Shahaji.

Maharashtra is in constant warfare, and his father is constantly rebelling and allying. His mother's family serves with the Mughals, and Shivaji does see much of his father.
Once things settled down - a bit - and Dadoji Kondev started managing the Pune estates for Shahaji, he started repopulating a devastated region, sometimes with deadly force.
1640 - Shivaji (10) is married - in Banglore - to Saibai from a prominent Maratha family, the Nimbalkars.
1644 - Bijapur identifies Shahaji as a rebel and orders the arrest and murder of Dadaji Kondev.
1647 - Dadaji Kondev dies, and Shivaji takes over administration of the Pune estate and takes the hill fort of Kondhana (later Sinhagad) overlooking Pune.
Shivaji generally rebels against the Bijapuris almost immediately, at this point.
He takes Torna (and finds a ton of treasure there) and Chakan, and uses the treasure to build another fort (Raigad) near Torna.
Shivaji has just turned 18, and is beginning to control a fertile area and some imposing hill-forts. All of this is possible because the Bijapur kingdom is in turmoil with the sultan very ill.
Shivaji uses the turmoil not just to consolidate his estates, but also strikes against other Maratha families - which, not long ago - were more powerful than his own.
1648 - Shahaji is arrested - unrelated to Shivaji's activities, it seems - due to a real/imaginary conspiracy with Golconda. Shivaji is largely powerless to help, but contacts the Mughals in Ahmadnagar and offers his services if they will invade Bijapur, to no avail.
Around this time, Shivaji also takes the important hill fort of Purandar, and Bijapur finally sends an expedition to deal with him. But, the siege of Purandar fails and the Bijapuri force retreats leaving Shivaji to consolidate while Bijapur focuses on a war with Golconda.
Shivaji's big break came in the late 1650s when he defeated the large and powerful More family and their estates in the mountains, killed a large number of them in battle, took control of their forts and found enough treasure to build a new fort, Pratapgad.
It's interesting how Shivaji finds treasure, and immediately builds forts. Large, imposing ones in the mountains, ideally. It's his thing, it seems.
It is the mid 1650s and Aurangzeb (son of Shah Jahan) is on the Deccan, attacking Bijapur as the Bijapuri Sultan lay dying. Shivaji opens up communication with Aurangzeb offering to keep passes open for supplies, while simultaneously raiding Mughal holdings in Ahmadnagar..
My timelines are jumping around, apologies.
1656 - Shah Jahan dies and Aurangzeb leaves for Delhi to fight the battle of succession
Shivaji uses the next couple of years to use the recently captured More territories and forts to conquer parts of northern Konkan, where the Portugese, Dutch and British are vying for power.
The Portugese have Goa and some forts near Bombay and Diu, but are declining. For 150 years, all they have done is terrorise shipping into paying an entry tax to Indian ports.

The real coastal power is the Abyssinian Siddi family in Murud Janjira.
Shivaji joins this coastal Milieu with conquests around Bombay - Thane, Kolaba.

At this point, Shivaji's force is quite small, 7000 cavalry, 13000 infantry.
With the departure of Aurangzeb and the settlement of a succession dispute within Bijapur, Shivaji is high on the list of problems for the new Sultan in Bijapur, Ali Adil Shah II.
1659 - Bijapur sends Afzal Khan with a large army to take care of Shivaji. I'm guessing, the same senior general Afzal Khan Shahaji served under on the Vellore campaign.
Gordon says, even before Afzal Khan met Shivaji, he committed a blunder. He took detours to desecrate Hindu places of worship on the way, including Pandharpur.
Pandharpur is the most important pilgrimage center in Maharashtra - and though I skipped over that chapter a bit - Eaton associates with the construction of the idea of Maharashtra itself, via the varkari pilgrimage paths that lead there from every corner of Maharashtra.
My grandma went on several pilgrimages to Pandharpur. It is the center of what Eck would call the sacred geography (yes, I like the term) of Maharashtra.
Anyway, Afzal's detours are very unusual (Gordon says) for a Bijapuri force and reflect the sectarianism growing within the Bijapuri state.
A lot of powerful Maratha chiefs are alienated by this, and withhold support for Afzal Khan's expedition.
It seems doubtful that Shivaji thought of himself as a particularly Hindu king. He - almost as much as his father - allied with everyone, rebelled against everyone, killed anyone who stood in his way. He certainly does not seem to have been - at all - an anti Islam crusader.
All of which is not to say he did not benefit from the alienation of the population when a force with sectarian motives did ride through, desecrating temples and irritating potential allies.
Shivaji retreats to the mountainous fort of Pratapgad (near Mahabaleshwar) and stations a force in the forests nearby. Afzal Khan's forces are more suited to the plains, the heavy cavalry struggles in the mountain passes.
Afzal Khan surrounded the fort, but supplies were low. Shivaji was safely tucked in the fort, but supplies were low there too. Negotiations resulted in a solution, Shivaji and Afzal Khan would meet in person, right under the walls of Pratapgad.
The place - clearing in the forest - was such that Afzal Khan could only bring along his personal guard of about 1500 men.

The two men would meet in an enclosure, alone.

(What sorts of terms are these ? WHO would agree to them ? Afzal Khan and Shivaji, it seems)
A decade earlier, Afzal Khan had used such an arrangement to imprison a hindu general, says Gordon. So Shivaji, ever cautious, had chain-mail under his tunic, steel skull protector under his turban, a short sword in one hand, and iron claws in the other.

Negotiation, it seems.
Afzal Khan for his part also came armed, and it is impossible to know what happened in that tent, but we know that the two men fought, and Shivaji killed Afzal Khan (possibly by disemboweling him with the iron claws, or so say the stories).
Once he had done so, at a signal from him Shivaji's forces came out of the forest and fell upon Afzal Khan's larger forces and decimated them.
This enraged Bijapur, of course and another force under Afzal Khan's son Fazl Khan was sent out. Fazl Khan turned out to be ineffective and command passed to a Siddi general Siddi Jauhar who encircled Shivaji inside the fort of Panhala with few supplies.
This is the background to another one of those stories that have passed into song and folklore. Shivaji needed to escape the siege. He steals out from the fort in the dead of the night, picking his way through the sentries and sleeping soldiers of the besieging army.
But, just as Shivaji and his small guard are all the way through, someone stumbles, the alarm is raised, and the chase is on.
Mounting their horses throwing caution to the wind, Shivaji and his band make a mad dash toward the fort of Vishalgad, with Bijapuri cavalry in hot pursuit.
With the Bijapuris gaining, Shivaji stations a few men at the narrow Ghod Khind (horse pass) and rides on toward Vishalgad.
That small band on men under one Baji Prabhu Deshpande hold off the Bijapuri forces at Ghod Khind until the signal from Vishalgad lights up the sky, announcing Shivaji's safe arrival there. They are killed to the last man.

As you can imagine, there are many songs about this :-)
This is way more detail than Gordon provides, only mentioning that Shivaji's escape from Panhala to Vishalgad and the rearguard action at Ghod Khind has passed into Maharashtrian culture.

I could not resist telling the story, though.
Upon hearing what has happened, Shivaji rechristens the pass from Ghod Khind (horse pass) to Pavan Khind (consecrated pass).

And where is this place ? No one knows for sure. a major road passes through the area now, and there is a holiday resort near there called Pavan Khind.
All this leaves Shivaji secure in another fort, and the Bijapuri army eager to go home.
Shivaji still only controls a relatively tiny area of land. Bits of northern Konkan, areas in western Maharashtra and the mountains between the two.
After buying himself some time without Bijapuri pressure, he starts consolidating Konkan. He builds a small navy of fast ships that cannot challenge a large European warship, but can control merchant shipping if needed.
He builds coastal forts (Sindhudurg 1664, and restructures the old Vijaydurg) to contain the Siddis, but he never comes very close to taking their base in Murud Janjira.
The Maratha Navy is - from an Indian PoV - too little too late. The Europeans have spent centuries on naval technologies, but the Indian kingdoms have - for centuries - been content to focus on land and let other powers control trade.
Shivaji, unlike his father Shahaji was not integrated into the Bijapuri system of nobles with disparate landholdings in far flung places, and interconnected rights which could be taken away. Shivaji never served the Sultanate, and his holdings were geographically compact.
Given the leverage Bijapur had over Shahaji, Shahaji disowned Shivaji's activities and told the crown to do with him what they wanted.
Just for context, we are still around the year 1660. Samuel Pepys has begun his diary, and James II has formed the Royal African Company to participate in the West African slave trade. The Cretan war between the Ottomans and the Venetians is ongoing.
Under pressure from Auranzeb's forces before the war of succession in the north, Bijapur has ceded a lot of Maharashtra to the Mughals. Once Aurangzeb wins (honorable mention to Dara Shikoh here), he sends his maternal uncle Shaista Khan to subdue the Deccan.
During the war of succession, Shivaji has been in cautious touch with Aurangzeb, with offers and counter offers being made. However, no one is in a particularly talkative mood by the time Shaista Khan's forces arrive in the Deccan.
With Shivaji in Konkan and the Ghats, Shaista Khan's Mughal forces devastate the countriside in Shivaji's hinterland on the Desh, around Pune. This is the status quo until 1663, when Shivaji pulls another one of his dabangg moves.
1663. A powerful Mughal force under Shaista Khan controls the countryside of Maharashtra.
One night in April, Shivaji with 400 men slips into Shaista Khan's camp, kills many of his soldiers including his son, even injures Shaista Khan himself, before disappearing into the night.
Just a few months later, Shivaji loots the rich Mughal port of Surat (as a sack, Gordon says, it was less bloody than most) and makes off with a lot of money.
One Q.

Shivaji looted Surat several times in his career. Should the citizens of modern Surat (and others who speak their language or associate with them) hold grudges against present day citizens of the areas and communities associated with Shivaji ?

Moving on.
Defeating Shaista Khan and looting Surat makes Shivaji a high priority on the Mughal radar.

Aurangzeb sends one of his best Generals - Jai Singh with a large force to the Deccan.
Quick aside. I enjoyed history more when Daulatabad was at the center of events. I don't like how the action has moved to western and coastal Maharashtra.
1665 - Jai Singh comes not just with a large army, but better tactics and crucially, the latest and greatest in siege equipment. He does not fall for Shivaji's tactics, never pursues him.
Systematically, Jai Singh devastates the countryside of Shivaji's heartland with Mughal columns too large for Shivaji's force to face directly. While not facing Shivaji, Jai Singh reduces his forts, taking them one by one. Even inaccessible Purandar, despite a gallant defence.
At the fall of Purandar, with Shivaji inside, Shivaji signed the treaty of Purandar, basically agreeing to give up a loot of his strongest forts, sending his son Sambhaji into Mughal service, and agreeing to come to Agra for talks with Aurangzeb.
Based on dispatches between Aurangzeb and Jai Singh, Gordon says the Mughals were really concerned with taking the Sultanates of Bijapur and Golconda, and were apprehensive of the tripartite alliance between Shivaji and the two Sultanates.
Jai Singh successfully alienated Shivaji from the courts of the two Sultanates, who had hitherto given Shivaji some assistance.

Shivaji was left with 12 forts, and a futures contract on Konkan valid once the Mughals had defeated Bijapur, as everyone assumed they would.
Unlike Mughal armies, Shivaji's army was entirely light cavalry which used forts as bases. No provisioning, no siege equipment, no sapping and mining.
When invading, they lived off the land and alienated local farmers, while defending, they relied on fast raids and refuge in forts, and thus could not defend and protect their own farmers and their cultivated plains.
The economic decline of Maharashtra triggered by the fall of the Ahmadnagar sultanate and the ensuing chaos, though briefly arrested by Malik Ambar, continued with columns and armies moving through destroying things.
If this were Europe, someone would call 1595-1707 (in Maharashtra) the 112 year war.
Jai Singh, intelligent man, realized that the Deccan was full of troubled souls who would revolt the moment he turned his back. This is why he suggested Shivaji visit Agra to meet Aurangzeb... and personally guaranteed his safety.
So off Shivaji went, son and 215 men in tow to the Imperial city of Agra.
What qualifies as an "imperial city" ? Eaton uses the word for Delhi, Bidar, Gulbarga but not Vijaynagara (if memory serves me right). I used it for Daulatabad, so I guess I can certainly use it for Agra too.
Agra does not go well.

Shivaji is presented in court and gives some gifts to Aurangzeb who does not acknowledge his presence. He is given a place among some low ranked nobles.

Shivaji makes a scene and storms out.
Confidence. He must have been a bit crazy.
Shivaji and his son remain alive only because some nobles speak up for them, says Gordon. Nonetheless, he is put under house arrest in Agra.

Shivaji thinks of himself as a King, the Mughals think of him as just another troublesome Deccani "zamindar" (Jai Singh's word).
In the previous century, it was clear what Persianate fair skinned notherners thought of darker Deccani rebels (insects). I wonder if inter-racial (if you will excuse the term) relations had improved by Aurangzeb's time. Gordon does not touch upon the subject.
Bijapur was still making extensive use of talented Abyssinians from the Siddi kingdom at this time (as we saw with Siddi Jauhar), but not the Mughals, as far as I can make out.
It is the middle of 1666. Shivaji is under house arrest in Agra after a debacle at the Mughal court, running out of money to bribe nobles to speak up for him and keep him alive.

Jai Singh has repeatedly intervened to cancel orders to kill Shivaji.
Shivaji offered to retire to Benaras as a Sanyasi if his men were allowed to leave, even this request was denied.

Distinctly Ned Stark at Kings Landing with Sanyasi for Night's Watch type situation developing here.
In July, Shivaji's entourage is allowed to leave, and later, Shivaji himself escapes. Gordon says that "close enquires" by Aurangzeb in the subsequent months reveal "no particular plot or escape route through the three sets of guards around Shivaji's residence."

Kaiser Soze.
Apparently, Aurangzeb "strongly suspected" the hand of one Kumar Ram Singh in this, but "nothing was ever proven".

The folk tale is, Shivaji started arranging for sweets to be delivered to various temples around Agra, and one day climbed into one of these sweet boxes himself.
One would say that's an unlikely tale, but is it more unlikely than the rest of Shivaji's story ? Is it really ?
A month later, Shivaji, travelling off the main roads and through tribal areas, was back in Maharashtra, exhausted and sick from his journey.
Aurangzeb could - in Gordon's estimation - treated Shivaji like he did the Rajputs. Supported his claim, bought loyalty. But, Gordon thinks, the cultural gulf between Shivaji and the Mughals made this impossible, as did the increasing religious bigotry of Aurangzeb.
I'm going to interpret that in the following way : Aurangzeb was too racist (against Deccanis) and bigoted to make the right strategic decisions vis a vis Shivaji when he had him on the mat.

The consequences would be far reaching.
Now safe, Shivaji offerred his submission to Aurangzeb sent his son to enroll as a minor commander with the Mughals, sent a contingent to serve at Aurangabad (now so peripheral to the story) and focused (for 3 years) on consolidating Konkan and taking Janjira.
In this, he failed.
1669 : The Mughals demand compensation for Shivaji's trip to Agra. This provoked Shivaji (totally understand, who does not HATE dealing with travel expense bureaucracies) and he launched a series of attacks to take back the forts he had ceded in the Treaty of Purandar.
The most storied of these... the Battle of Kondhana/Sinhagad (now a terrible but successful movie) where a daring attack by Tanhaji Malusare succeeded in taking the fort from a garrison left there by Jai Singh.
As the folk tale goes, a rope was tied to a ghorpad (monitor lizard native to the Deccan) and it was sent up the cliffs on the most inaccessible part of Kondhana. One man climbed up, and attached more ropes to the cliff to let the raiding party up.
After hand to hand combat inside the fort, Tanhaji's forces take the fort but Tanhaji dies.
Upon hearing the news, Shivaji exclaims "Gad ala pan Sivha gela !" (The fort was taken but the lion was lost !) and the fort is called Sinhagad (Lion's fort) to this day.
it is the year 1670.
Man, Shivaji's life is like a highlights reel.
Late 1670, Shivaji sacks Surat again, and retakes a series of mountain forts he had ceded to the Mughals.
Just think about what is going on here. This is not some minor string of defeats for some obscure oriental potentate.

Aurangzeb's polity, the Mughal Empire, at this point is 25% of world GDP. Aurangzeb collects more tax than all of Western Europe !
1670-74 - in the north, Shivaji harried the Mughals in Khandesh (where they had been comfortable for 60 years) and took Nasik.
To the south, with Bijapur in (yet another) succession scandal, Shivaji took Panhala (their strongest fort in the area) and took an expedition all the way to Jinji in Tamil Nadu, passing through much of the Golconda sultanate on the way.
In Jinji was his half brother Ekoji (remember him ?) who had to be defeated and settled with before taking Vellore.

Shivaji's plan was to give thje heartland to one son, Rajaram, and the southern conquests to Sambhaji.

but this was not a settled deal.
Incidentally, what happened to the overwhelming power of the Mughals, you must be wondering, I'm sure.

They were off fighting the Pathans to the north west, Afghanistan.
In a throwaway sentence, without references, Gordon says Shivaji "even called on Aurangzeb to act like Akbar in according respect to Hindu beliefs and practices".

Big if true.

Not to belabor the point (as Gordon does), but Shivaji was not a bigot.
Gordon also says Shivaji did not meet Sant Ramdas until very late in his life. Maybe so, the literature Ramdas produced stands on its own merits (I hope ! I know nothing beyond the "janata raja" quote, I should look it up).
I'm going to leave this here.
Shivaji's strategy : the bargir-giri of Malik Ambar, raised to a high art.

Shivaji's forts : The only symbol of supra local kingly authority in Maharashtra, his signature. He never controlled the "kingly cities of Ahmadnagar, Burhanpur, Aurangabad".
lol @ those as kingly cities. but, moving on.
Shivaji's military tactics disrupted the countryside, by design. He knew this, and knew that Maharashtra needed peace to prosper. between 1670-1680, he focused on administration and stabilization.
He undercut the other landed families by extending "crown lands" and built up a force directly under him. By the end, he personally controlled 30 thousand horses, meaning 20 thousand cavalrymen. Thats a large force and does not even include the forces of all his noblemen.
By building new forts near older forts controlled by local nobility and staffing the new forts with his own men, he also directly controlled the most important forts in his kingdom.
At this point, with Bijapur weak and the Mughals distracted by the Afghans, Shivaji decides to crown himself king. Like, a proper king, not just a chieftian who has won.

Not, as Aurangzeb calls him, a "mountain rat".
He has no royal lineage, and everyone knows that his grandfather was a cultivator/headman/soldier under Malik Ambar, and his father was a commander under Bijapur.

Shivaji needs a "creative Brahmin" with cred in Maharashtra.
As is well known, for the right price, this is always possible.
One Gagabhat, a marathi Brahmin from Benares is found, who works out a ceremony with a committee of Brahmins that "properly" crowns Shivaji as king in an elaborate ceremony, despite his "non kshatriya" lineage.
In a rare fit of hyperbole, Gordon calls this "probably the most audacious act of an admittedly audacious career".
Gagabhat works out a lineage for Shivaji that links him to the royal Rajputs. but these are Mughal feudatories.

Gordon - "They did not perform ceremonies which seated an independent Hindu king on a throne. Such a ceremony had not been performed in centuries."
1674 : Shivaji celebrates a 9 day coronation and immediately goes on a campaign, raiding a Mughal fort and sallying into the Konkan and the south.
In his last years, he focuses on building a navy, but the major development on the coast is the emergence of Bombay under the British (who got that piece of land from the Portugese as Catherine de Braganza's dowry) into a major port and city despite grumbling from the Marathas.
1680 - Shivaji dies, leaving a kingdom with an overflowing treasury, strong forts and a large military.
After a short succession dispute, Sambaji continues ruling like Shivaji in his last years. He fails to take Janjira and makes a treaty with the British in 1684 to leave Bombay alone and to obtain better artillery, guns and ammunition.
But then, some random noble from the Mughal court flees Delhi after (allegedly) conspiring with the Rajputs and finds refuge in Sambhaji's court in the early 1680s.

This angers Emperor Aurangzeb and he launches a major campaign on the Deccan, coming down himself (again).
This whole Prince Akbar gamble never really works out for Sambhaji, his mediation to get Mughal generals or Rajputs to come over to the Maratha side completely fail, and Aurangzeb chases the Marathas from fort to fort, a grueling campaign that devastates the countryside (again).
Will continue the story tomorrow.... So much of the story remains. To me, the story of the Marathas ends, as much as anything ends, with the failure of the revolt of 1857. That's still a century and a half in the future.
Anyway, this Prince Akbar person, having hastened the inevitable Mughal Maratha conflict left India for Iran in 1687 and was not heard from again.
Aurangzeb's main goals on this trip to the Deccan : finish the Bijapur Sultanate and finish the Marathas.

The Marathas delay their inevitable defeat with their old tactics of holding out in forts, seeking allies on the Deccan bold raids into Mughal territory.
But, gradually, Aurangzeb's force managed to restrict the Marathas to their major forts, and the Mughals controlled more and more of the agricultural land.

They also successfully lured many of the other important families away from Sambhaji.
The chess board of the Deccan changed suddenly 1686-87 when the Golconda and Bijapur Sultanates capitulated to the Mughals.

As Gordon puts it, "there were only two players left on the field, the Mughals and the Marathas".
You know.. I know plenty of Maratha history tragics. Plenty. But there must be, out there, fellow denizens of the Deccan who are Bijapur history tragics, or Golconda or Bidar.

If you are reading this, do reach out and tell me what books I should read.
1688 - Sambhaji is going from Panhala to Raigad with a small band when he is captured by Mughal soldiers and brought to Aurangzeb's camp. He is tortured and executed.
Gordon makes the point that Sambhaji has been unfairly maligned since his unpleasant death as an incompetent ruler, given to drink in excess.

Most likely, these are stories that a society wounded by the deep losses that are to come reached for to make things make sense.
How about a lament to Sambhaji on the lines of the lament to Boromir.

Someone must have waited for him on Raigad.
"'Neath Amon Hen I heard his cry. There many foes he fought
His cloven shield, his broken sword, they to the water brought
O Boromir! The Tower of Guard shall ever northward gaze
To Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, until the end of days"
After his death, Sambhaji's kingdom disintegrated. The navy was burnt and dispersed. All the southern conquests were lost except Jinji and Thanjavur. Most forts and all the agricultural were in Mughal possession.
Shivaji's second son Rajaram (19) and his wife Tarabai are under siege in Raigad.

But things are not easy for the Mughals. Two young Maratha leaders Santaji and Dhanaji are making a name for themselves with daring raids, one nightime raid on Aurangzeb's camp nearly kills him.
1689 - Raigad is breached (bribery) but Rajaram, Tarabai and their party just escape with Mughal forces in pursuit. They flee 1000km south and east to Jinji where Shivaji's half brother Ekoji (remember him ? Shahaji has left him well placed) controls the giant fortress.
Shahaji is an underappreciated and fascinating character. Insufficiently imagined in popular culture.
And how did they make this perilous 1000 km journey across perilous and hostile country ? Santaji and Dhanaji. They and their troops accompany Tarabai and Rajaram all the way to Tamiz country, and keep helping other prominent Marathas to make the same journey.
The Mughals followed Rajaram and Tarabai all the way to Jinji and thus began, in late 1689, the 9 year Siege of Jinji.
I'm going to switch to Eaton's last chapter - Tarabai (1675-1761) - at this point in the narrative.
And immediately, Eaton tells us that this "Prince Akbar" (who I called "a random noble") who rebelled against Aurangzeb and fled to Sambhaji's court, is Aurangzeb's son.

I feel like Gordon could have mentioned this, a little bit.
This makes both Sambhaji's gamble on supporting him as well as Aurangzeb's swift retribution understandable.

Sambhaji thought having a Mughal emperor who owed him would be a breakthrough. And Aurangzeb knew all too well the dangers of an ambitious son.

Aurangzeb had been one.
A comment on the years in the title of this chapter :
"Tarabai (1675-1761)"

1675 - a few months after Shivaji's coronation in 1674. She was born in the Maratha Swaraj
1761 - the third battle of panipat. She died in the year that accelerated it's fall

This, will be interesting.
To recap where we are. It's the 1690s, over a decade since Shivaji's death from natural causes. The state he founded looks like it has been wiped off the map.
His first son and successor Sambhaji is dead - captured, tortured and executed in Aurangzeb's camp. His second son Rajaram and his wife Tarabai are with their half uncle Ekoji, besieged in the large fortress of Jinji (down south in Tamil Nadu) by a large Mughal force.
Santaji and Dhanaji have moved south too, harrying the Mughal forces around Jinji, and recruiting more soldiers as they do so.

1693 - the besieging Mughal force, never very effective, finds itself surrounded by the Marathas, cut off and miserable.
Leaving these people to their - storied - deeds, we will follow Eaton's lead and focus on the story of Tarabai, who he calls "one of the most remarkable women in Indian history".
Her father was Hambir Rao Mohite, Shivaji's commander in chief. The marriage of Rajaram and Tarabai was a major alliance between Shivaji and a powerful Maratha family.
After the fall of the Golconda and Bijapur Sultanates in 1686-87, the Marathas were left to bear the full brunt of Mughal force, and that year, 1687, Tarabai's father Hambir Rao died in battle.
The Maratha capital for most of Shivaji's and after has been the fort of Raigad. After Sambhaji's death in 1689, Maratha leaders there make a decision to send the new king Rajaram and his wife Tarabai away to the south for safety.
1690 - Rajaram is in Jinji ( Raigad falls to Aurangzeb, and fatefully, Sambhaji's son Shahu and his mother are captured. However, they are kept hostage for the future, instead of being killed like Sambhaji.
Eaton says Aurangzeb named Sambhaji's son "Shahu", but what his original name was, he does not say. History knows him as Shahu.

1694 - Tarabai and 2 other wives of Rajaram hiding out in the fortress of Panhala make their way to Jinji
By the late 1690s, Emperor Aurangzeb's second stint on the Deccan has exceeded a decade and he is an old man. All over India (including the Deccan) generals and nobles are waiting for him to die and jockeying for position in the battle of succession that will certainly follow.
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