Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur Province

by Oct 30, 2019

Today, I am going to share the History of the priceless gem of India. He made India not with false promises and speeches, but through his work and he was none other than Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj.

Brief Information about Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj

IdentityRajarshi Shahuji Maharaj was known as the most popular King or Chhatrapati of Kolhapur princely state.
Name before adoptionYashwantrao Jaisingrao Ghatge
BirthJune 26, 1874
EducationAdministrative matters from Sir Stuart Fraser and formal education at Rajkumar College, Rajkot. (1885-1889)
Coronation1894 CE
Reign1894 CE – 1922 CE
ParentsMother: Smt. Radhabai, Father: Jaisingrao Ghatge
WifeMrs. Lakshmibai
DeathMay 6, 1922, at Mumbai


Who is the Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj?

Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj was the Chhatrapati of the princely state of Kolhapur. He also recognized as Shahu IV, Shahuji Maharaj. Rajarshi was the title given by Kurmi Kshatriya Sabha of Kanpur in 1919.

What is the relation between Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj?

There is no direct blood relation between Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj. Shivaji IV who was descendent of Chhatrapati Shivaji was childless. Therefore wife of Shivaji IV, Anandibai had adopted Yashwantrao and renamed at time of coronation as Shahu.

What is the full name of Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj?

Yeshwantrao Jaisingrao Ghatge was the full name of Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj. He born in Ghatge family and later he was adopted by queen Anandibai Bhosale. So after administrative study, he became the Chhatrapati of kolhapur province.

Was Shahu Maharaj adopted son of Shivaji IV?

After the unexpected death of Shivaji IV on December 25, 1883. Widow Queen Anandibai adopted Yeshwantrao who belongs to the Ghatge Maratha family. Yashwantrao was 10 years old at the time of adoption. While the coronation ceremony he was renamed as Shahu Maharaj.

Where did the coronation of Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj take place?

Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur was coronated at the Royal Palace of Kolhapur. After establishment of Kolhapur throne with consent of Shahu Maharaj of Sata

In which year was the title “Rajarshi” conferred on Chhatrapati Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj?
Shahuji Maharaj or Shahu IV was the first revolutionary who came forward and provided reservation for Dalit and Backward class.

His social reforms and contributions were priceless, hence during the annual session of Kshatriya Kurmi Samaj entitled him with “Rajarshi” at Kanpur in 1920.

What is birth date of Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj?

Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj was born on June 26, 1874.

Who adopted Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj?

After the death of Shivaji IV, who was the husband of Queen Anandibai Bhosale. Widow Queen of Kolhapur adopted the Yashwantrao Ghatge.

At that time, age of Yashwantrao was 10 years. After that, he renamed as Shahu at the time of coronation.

What is Rajashree Shahu Maharaj scholarship?

After understanding the problems of students from economically weaker backgrounds. The Department of Higher Education, Government of Maharashtra, taken an initiative to pursive the higher education of such students.

Two popular Shahu Maharaj in Maratha History

Many of us have the confusion between Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj of Satara throne and Chhatrapati Shahu IV, who was also famous as a prominent social reformer of the Kolhapur’s throne.

Especially Marathi people, consider both of them to be the same. So first of all, I am going to tell you about those two kings.

Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj of Satara

We also knew Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj of Satara as Shahu- I. He was the fifth Chhatrapati of the Maratha Empire. He was the son of Chhatrapati Sambhaji and the grandson of Chhatrapati Shivaji Raje. Shahu I was the Chhatrapati of the “Satara throne.”

Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur

We also knew Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur with the name “Shahuji Maharaj”, “Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj” and because he was king of Maratha province also called as “Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj.”

The family of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had no direct blood relation with Shahu IV. But, because of his economical and educational developments, social reforms, he became revolutionary of India.

History Before Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj

When Shivaji fourth was the Chhatrapati of the throne of Kolhapur, his wife Anandibai adopted Yashwantrao and renamed him at the time of coronation as Shahuji.

So, Shahu IV became the king of the throne of Kolhapur. Tarabai founded Kolhapur throne in 1710. After the separation of the Maratha kingdom, Shivaji II was the first king of Kolhapur province.

In this article, I am talking about Shahu IV, which was popularly known as Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj.

Quotes of Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj

H.H. Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj Seated with Palace Servants
Shri Shahu Chhatrapati Maharaj seated with palace servants, Image Credits: Wikimedia

There had been many kings in history but without following the caste discrimination in the poor peoples, the only king who brought people closer together considering humanity was Shahu Maharaj!

Shahu Maharaj believed that,

Inheritance came not from the father, but inheritance has to be achieved by self capability.

He believed as,

The well-being of society means the welfare of myself.

Shahu Maharaj has been known as “Rajarshi” which also meant as “royal saint”.

Read the popular freedom fighters in India who contribute in independence struggle against tyrannic British rule.

Childhood of Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj

In childhood of Shahuji Maharaj, his name was “Yashwantrao”. He was born in the Ghatge family of Kagal village.

His father was the head of the village and his mother was a princess of the Mudhol family.

When Yashwantrao of 3 years, his mother passed away on 20th March 1877.

Education of Shahuji Maharaj

Group at Residency including the Maharaja of Kolhapur

His father took responsibility of his education. Shahuji completed his formal education at Dharwad and also Rajkumar College, Rajkot in Kolhapur. He learned of administrative matters from Sir Stuart Fraser.

However, he was not from the royal family, but he had strong leadership ability.

After the death of Shivaji IV on the throne of Kolhapur, Anandibai had adopted Yashwantrao when he was only 10 years old.

Marriage of Shahu Maharaj

Shahu Maharaj was married to Laxmibai Khanvilkar in the year 1891. Father of Laxmibai, named Gunajirao Khanvilkar was from Baroda.

Children of Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj

Shahu Maharaj had four children. His sons were Shivaji and Rajaram, and the daughters were Radhabai and Aaubai.

You may also like to read the Mahatma Gandhi Biography

The reign of Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj

On the date of 2nd April 1894, Shahu Maharaj was enthroned on the throne of Kolhapur. The Kolhapur province considered being the Karivirbhoomi. Shahuji did many social works during his 28-year reign. His work made him so popular among the public.

Shahu Maharaj could not tolerate that the upper caste people doing injustice to the lower caste people. Therefore, he enacted several laws to eliminate casteism and untouchability. He also inspected every function to enforce the laws.

Shahu Palace of Kolhapur

Work of Shahu Maharaj in the Education field

Law regarding Primary Education

A few years ago, the rulers of Maharashtra closed schools in tribal areas as an unnecessary expenditure.

On the other hand, before getting the independence, Shahu Maharaj made primary education compulsory and free. He also enforced this law. Apart from this, parents of children whose children will not attend school were also fined Rs.1. He had made such a law.

When now the field of education is being looked at like a business. Remembered Shahu Maharaj who always helping boarding schools, high schools.

One Incident in life of Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil

Here, I remembered one incident when Shahu Maharaj allowed Bhaurao Patil was to live and learn in his palace. Bhaurao Patil, surprised with this generous nature of King, also the vision of Shahu Maharaj in the Education field inspired him a lot.

After that, Bhaurao Patil took responsibility for educating poor and vulnerable children in rural areas of society. For this, Bhaurao Patil established “Rayat Shikshan Sanstha” and he also got the title of “Karmaveer.” Shahu Maharaj also helped his organization from time to time.

Shahu Maharaj helped Babasaheb Ambedkar

Recognizing the abilities of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Shahu Maharaj also assisted and helped him with the problems encountered in his education.

It will not be a mistake if I called Kolhapur “Motherland of hostels.” Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj was the first King who started these hostels for every caste the children.

List of Social Reforms by Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj

Educational Developments

H.H. Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Sitting While Wrestling Match
Original photograph of Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj watching wrestling match, Image Credits: Wikimedia

Shahu Maharaj came to know that if you want to eliminate poverty, superstition, and ignorance in society, then there is no alternative to education.

For this, the focus of Shahu Maharaj was on ensuring that children of all levels get an education. During the reign of Shahuji, the Kolhapur organization was doing the largest expenditure on primary education.

Kusti (Wrestling)

Kushti (Wrestling) Competition, Image Credits: Prasannare

He encouraged youngers in sports like wrestling, which is called as “Kushti” in Marathi language. He organized many Kushti competitions during his lifetime. Not only he encouraged wrestlers but also supported them whenever needed.

Shahuji supported wrestler Khasaba Jadhav during his journey. He created a platform for wrestlers with Motibagh Taleem, Khasbagh Maidan which were identified as huge ground.


Keshavrao Bhosle Natyagruh, Image Credits: adesignaward

Keshavrao Bhosale Theater

There were not having any platform for theater artists. By the way, there were not have a Bollywood or any other film industry.

Jokes apart, Shahuji was the first king who established Keshavrao Bhosale Theater for theater enthusiastic people.

Gayan Samaj Deval Club

It was one more vital step of Shahuji to promote music and singing.

Efforts of Shahuji to eradicate casteism

Shahu Maharaj had arranged several Maratha-Dhangar marriages for the destruction of casteism in society.

Shahu Maharaj had supported widow remarriage and inter-caste marriage. He had also made necessary laws for this.

In 1916, he founded the “Deccan Rayat Association” at Nipani for process of political decision making.

An incident in the palace

Shahuji Maharaj hired an untouchable man to make tea for the courtiers. That man was from a lower-class society. Shahu Maharaj himself was drinking the tea made by that man.

Shahu Maharaj also made other court members to drink that tea.

Construction of Radhanagari Dam

Radhanagari Dam, Image Credits: Omkar Chavan

Shahuji built the first “Radhanagari Dam” in India on 18th February 1907. Helping farmers in irrigation is the motive behind building this huge dam.

Dam is constructed on a large tributary of Sina river named “Bhogawati river.” After dam construction, he also provided a loan for agricultural developments, which results in rapid growth in the agricultural field.

Satyashodhak Samaj and Shahu Maharaj

Shahuji Maharaj supported Satyashodhak Samaj, founded by Jyotirao Phule. After the death of the Jyotirao Phule, natural disasters such as the plague and the lack of strong leadership stopped the functioning of the Satyashodhak Samaj.

Additionally, Shahu Maharaj gave new hopes to the Satyashodhak Samaj after the Vedokta case.

A plague epidemic in the reign of Shahu

A plague that had to spread in society rapidly. Shahuji faced that plague in 1897-1898 in his Kingdom.

Shahu Maharaj Appointed the right persons in Administration

Shahu Maharaj selected the responsible persons for the administration and transformed the whole administration.

Seeing the ability of Bhaskarrao Jadhav, Shahuji appointed him to the highest post of “Assistant Sarsubhe.” Also, Shahu Maharaj appointed Annaheb Lathe as the Prime Minister of his state.

Bhaskarrao Jadhav and Annasaheb Latthe also contributed to the opening of schools, for untouchables in the anti-Brahmin movement.

Famous Vedokta Case of Shahu Maharaj

After the Vedokta case happened in 1900, Maharaj learned from his experience that an untouchable society will not get justice unless the untouchable society gets rid of the oppressive injustice of the upper castes.

In this Vedokta affair, Shahuji Maharaj faced the opposition from Brahmanical society while chanting the gayatri mantra.

After this case, Shahu Maharaj received criticism from all the Brahminical communities. Notably, it also included Lokmanya Tilak.

Shahu Maharaj Provided Reservation in Government Jobs for Lower castes

If they oppose him to being chanting the Vedic mantra even though he was a King. Then think about what would be the situation for the common people?

As a result, on July 26, 1902, he issued a decree to reserve 50% reservation for backward classes in government jobs. The Vedokta case is also the reason behind this decision to some extent.

London Tour of Shahuji Maharaj

In the coronation of Edward VII, Shahu Maharaj had visited London in the year 1902. Shahu Maharaj reviewed their education system, industrial progress, modern irrigation system, modern communication equipment, etc.

Ban of Shahu Maharaj on unjust customs

Shahu Maharaj had created the law, according to it, it forbade untouchability in public places. He provided shelter to the wandering tribes.

In the year 1918, the traditionally functional twelve-caste (Bara-Balutedar) system. Shahuji stopped this method in every region.

Shahuji banned the oppressive practice of Devdasi in 1920. He declared in his kingdom nobody would follow these types of practices.

Efforts of Shahuji in Industrial area

He set up big markets for industrial development. Shahu Maharaj established famous Jaggery market of India. It was located at Kolhapur and established in the year 1895.

The Passion of Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj in Art:

Shahu Maharaj had always inspired Artists. He had given patronage to many artists, irrespective of caste or religion. He also arranged a theater for theater artists, plays.

Provided patronage to Scholars, Artists, and Wrestlers

He gave patronage to many talented artists like painter Abalal Rehman.

Shahu Maharaj was passionate about wrestling. So, provided patronage and shelter to skilled wrestlers in India.

He built a large field for wrestling in Kolhapur. As a result, in Maharashtra, when anyone talks about wrestlers, the name Kolhapur comes to mind.

Rajarshi- Title by Kurmi Kshatriya Sabha

In 1919, the Kurmi Kshatriya Sabha of Kanpur honored the social work of Shahuji and conferred on him the title of “Rajarshi.”

Understanding the real thoughts of Shivaji Maharaj, he shut down the injustice happened in the name of traditions in the society.

Vision and Strategy for Women Empowerment

Even after being a king, he went through tyrannic situations of casteism. He thought educating non-brahmins will help in their liberation. He also enforced laws to uproot traditional thought process.

Rajarshi Shahu was first who started the change in thoughts of society and gave respectful position to women. He encouraged ideas of Mahatma Phule after his death.

At the end, he concluded that education is only medium to improve the life of Bahujan Samaj. That was the reason he made primary education free and compulsory.

According to the book, The Review of Education in Bombay State (1855-1965), the status and economic situation of women in society was at low-level in Kolhapur.

Hindu religion people had traditional tyrannic practices in society

  • Except women from royal lineage, most women were not used to consider in property rights.
  • Child marriages became a tradition from long time.
  • Polygamy (Multi-wives) allowed and assumed as essential for wealth and higher class people.
  • Women didn’t allow to work outside the house. Society had disrespected any women who used to do a job. Also, such women assumed from lower-standard.

Condition of women in society

Society used to suppress the voice of women under moral code. Also, society followed unwritten laws like ban on window remarriage, divorce and separation.

According to Britannica, Persian Muslim culture began Purdah practice. Motive behind this practice was to keep women away from eyes of public.

In the 7th century, the Arabic victory in Iraq made Arabians to follow Purdah practice. During the Muslim invasion in North India, it also influenced Hindu upper castes.

In some regions, it became the identity of Purdah practicing people to differentiate from lower-caste.

In overall society was discriminative for women. Society restricted the lives of women to house. People had deeply rooted thought that women made only for hearth and child.

Women did not get chance to make their own identity. They were stuck and restricted to family life and house. Shahu Maharaj implemented policies to empower women. So women can get education for their transformation.

As a result, Shahuji implemented and started the implementation of the education policy. According to Shahuji, till now lack of education caused heavy losses to the state.

Death of Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj

Rajarshi Shahuji Maharaj Statue at Maharashtra Sadan, New Delhi

The last years of life were so did about Shahu Maharaj. Because his son “Shivaji” had died in an accident. They had diabetes and its nature deteriorated. Then, on May 6, 1922, he died of a heart attack in Mumbai at 48 years.

Featured Image Credits: Devare & Co.: Bombay

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our HN list to receive the latest blog updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed to HN list!

Subscribe Now to Grab your FREE E-Book!

Join and recieve all future updates for FREE!

Congrats!! Now you are part of HN family!

Pin It on Pinterest