The Visionary Who Rebuilt India
Book Four deals with the final military successes of Shivaji coupled with his establishment of the foundations of what would become the basis of modern Indian governance.
Shivaji continued to grow with each military success, but his exploits on the battlefield were equalled by his skill and success as a leader and nation-builder. Responsible for putting into place the basic elements of a parliamentary system, foreign affairs department, intelligence network, he created the blueprint for the modern Indian nation. He also recognized the threat of European incursion and strengthened India’s navy, building a formidable force and winning crucial naval battles along the coastline. His fort-building ensured a chain of strongholds that defended the Maratha empire against internal and external aggression and provided the people and cultivators with security and protection. The Maratha navy won important battles against the British, Portugese and Dutch, who also fought each other and the French at times. Shivaji’s revolutionary statesmanship led to a complete overhaul of military organization, architecture, social structure and politics. He abolished the feudal system and enforced equality of classes a hundred and fifty years before the French Revolution. Known for being a highly moral man, his armies were forbidden to rape or pillage. Respect for women, care and education of children, righteous justice to all, the promotion of literacy, learning, auditing and accounting checks…even as he consolidated his burgeoning empire, he continued to reform and revolutionize his own people and their society. He also laid the foundation for Hindu pride and a return to traditional dharmic values but in a modern context, while respecting all religions and protecting mosques and Muslim tombs. Even the Moghuls acknowledged him as a Moghul ‘Sardar’ and openly respected him. His final battles were as much battles against sexism, injustice, inequity and ignorance as literal land and sea battles against the Moghuls. Foreign travelers and historians acknowledged his achievements and character. Even after his death, the Marathas continued to fight the Moghuls and eventually defeated them and signed the crucial treaty that made the Maratha Empire the dominant force in the Indian sub-continent all the way across present day Pakistan and parts of Afghanistan as well.