The Boy Who Challenged A Sultanate
Book One describes the thrilling childhood and youth of Shivaji bringing alive the heroic exploits that earned him his reputation as one of the greatest warriors and military leaders in Indian history.
From his earliest years Shivaji was devoted to his mother Jijabai. It was from her devout Hinduism that he acquired his fascination with the great puranas Ramayana and Mahabharata. Constantly on horseback wandering the Sahyadri ranges, he was witness to the oppression of his Maratha people under the Moghul rule as well as the Nizamshahi Sultanate of Ahmednagar and the Adil Shahi Sultanate of Bijapur. It was in these years that he formed his early friendships with the young Mavals who later formed the apex of his famous fighting force. Through daring exploits and bold encounters against the Moghuls and Sultanate soldiers as well as clashes with Portuguese, French and British, his resolve grew to reclaim the sub-continent from foreign rule. At the age of 12, he was sent to Bangalore with his elder brother Sambhaji and stepbrother Ekoji to train formally in warcraft. He studied the South Indian history of kingcraft, governance and empire-building and envisioned a Maratha empire. He also married Saibai and came of age. At 14, he returned to Shivneri fort and began the campaign of skirmish and attrition that built his legendary reputation. Thrilling encounters, chases and fights culminated at the age of 16 when he took possession of the forts at Torna, Chakan and Kondana. This period of his life climaxed with the battle of Purandhar where Shivaji, still only 19, led his grossly outnumbered band against the Sultanate army led by Fattehkhan even as his brother Sambhaji battled another army led by Farradkhan in Bangalore. Meanwhile, their father was imprisoned on orders from Adilshah who was determined to quelch this Maratha ‘rat’ from the hills. In order to free his father, Shivaji was forced to surrender the forts of Kondana, Bangalore and Kandarpi despite his victory on the battlefield. The book concludes with the famous meeting between Afzal Khan and Shivaji, ending with a struggle to the death in which Shivaji narrowly escaped being killed, stabbed Afzal Khan with the claw of the tiger and declared all-out war against the forces of the Sultanate in the name of a free Maratha kingdom and united Indian sub-continent.