Shahaji Raje Bhosale – Prominent Military Leader

by Dec 26, 2023


Most people know the history during the period of Shivaji Maharaj. But very few people know the history before the birth of Shiva.

People believed that,

Transformation is the theory of the world.

But if this transformation is to take place in an unfavorable and extreme situation, it needs a strong background and support. 

In my opinion, it was his father, Shahaji Raje, who gave that strong base to Shivray. Shahaji Raje gave the environment that needed to his son to become an independent king.

Son of Malojiraje of Verul, Shahaji Raje single-handedly increased the dominance of the Bhosale family in Maratha. His father, Malojiraje, was Sir Giroha in the court of Adilshah of Bijapur.

He worked as a general in the court of Adil Shah of Bijapur and Nizam Shah of Ahmednagar. He fought many battles during his time. After his southern conquests, along with the ancestral Jahagiri in the Deccan; he got the Jahagiri of Karnataka.

Ancestor of Shahaji Maharaj

Shahaji Raje Bhosale
Shahaji Raje Bhosale

Descended from the Sisodia princely dynasty, the Sisode came to be known as Bhosale during the reign of Bhosaji. According to the text of the book shared by Yash, after the period of Bhosaji, Khelkarnaji Maharaj and Malkarnaji Maharaj of the Bhosale dynasty first came to the south.

They both brothers came to Padshah Amedsha Daulatabadkar. He was probably the kings of Daulatabad at that time, and he gave them both the chieftainship and mansabdari of fifteen hundred soldiers at that time. Since then, he was called Padshahi Umrao. Three provinces, namely Chakan, Purandar and Supe, were given in their name.

During the reign of Shahaji Raje, he gained great fame for his political tactics and his skills in the guerrilla war. Also, the Sisode dynasty now transformed into the Bhosale Maratha dynasty and became famous.

This Bhosale dynasty settled in Daulatabad was traced from Khelkarnaji Maharaj to Shahaji Raje.

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Brief Information of Shahaji Raje Bhosale

Shahaji Raje Bhosale was an influential Adilshahi chief general who belongs to the Bhosale family
March 18, 1594
Father: General Malojirao Bhosale, Mother: Umabai (Deepa Bai)
Military General
Jijabai Bhosale, Tukabai, Narsabai
Sambhaji Raje, Shivaji Raje, Vyankoji Raje
70 years
1664 CE at Hodigere near Channagiri, Davanagere district

Sequential Significant Events of Shahaji Bhosale

Event No.
Year & Date
Birth of Shahaji Raje Bhosale
1594 CE
General Lukhuji Jadhav was killed in court with the order of Nizam Shah
1629 CE
Shahaji entered Bijapur of Adil Shah & regained Pune & Supe
1632 CE
Ali Adil Shah captured Shahaji Maharaj
1648 CE
Death of Shahaji Bhosale
1664 CE (aged 69–70)

Birth and Early Life

The Maloji Raje and Umabai prayed at for a son at the Sufi Muslim Pir Shah Sharif Dargah in Ahmednagar.

On returning to Devagiri fort of Daulatabad, after some period, they had good news. Umabai gave birth to a child in 1594 in Verul, Maharashtra. Then, two years later, the second son was born.

After the name of Shah Sharif Dargah, Maloji Raje named the elder son “Shahaji” and the younger son “Sharifji”.

He was a representative of the powerful Bhosale family. His family was very involved in the politics and military of the Deccan area.

As his father had an important military post in the court of the Nizam Shah. So obviously, he learned a lot about the government, war, and negotiation from his father and family. He had in born quality of leadership.

Maloji Raje appointed a well-trained master to teach Shahaji Raje. He taught him remaining complementary skills like horse riding, swordcraft, and military strategies to become a good military commander.

When Shahaji Raje was young, politics in the Deccan changed a lot.

In south India, the Vijayanagar Empire fell, and new powers like the Mughals and Adilshah rose. It changed the history of the region.

These events affected his upcoming future and decide his fate. In his early youth, these events taught him a lot about politics.

Making the foundation strong was his simple rule to beat competition. So, to become unbeatable in Deccan, he first understood the Deccan well.

After his Karnataka campaign, he was a famous known military leader in India. He changed the course of his own life and made the history of Maratha Empire as well.

Family Life of Shahaji Maharaj

Shahajiraje had a total of three marriages during his lifetime. The names of his wives were Jijabai, Tukabai, Narsabai. Jijabai was the first wife, then Tukabai was the second and Narsabai was the third wife. reports marriage of Shahajiraje and Jijau held in Sindkhed on November 5, 1605 CE.

According to ND Histories, Shahajiraje was of Suryavanshi and Jijabai Jadhav was of Yuduvanshi or Chandravanshi. According to the tradition of his time, Shahaji Raja was married to Jijabai at an early age. At time of marriage he was 11 and Jijabai was just 7 years old.

Sadly, at the time of their marriage, their father, Malojiraje, was not there. Because, Malojiraje had already been died in the battle of Indapur.

Their marriage set the stage for a future legend. Jijabai guided and influenced Shivaji Maharaj, shaping his character and achievements.

His elder son Sambhaji Shahaji Bhosale is mentioned in history. People are different thoughts about mother of Sambhaji. As according to some sources on Facebook, some have the opinion that he was son of Jijabai. But according to Wikipedia, he was the son of Tukabai.

Bhosale family Centers

The Bhosale family of the Marathas had centers in Pune, Satara, Kolhapur, and Thanjavur.

Like Maloji Raje, Shahaji Raje Bhosale served in the court of the Nizam Shah of Ahmednagar.

In the legacy of Maloji Raje, Shahaji Bhosale got Pune and Supe region. Hence, he sent his son Shivaji and his wife Jijabai to Pune to manage the territory.

After the Karnataka campaign of Bijapur generals Randulla Khan and Shahajiraje, Karnataka region was given as Jahagiri to Shahajiraje. The main purpose behind this was to keep Shahaji Raja away from politics in the Deccan.

Vithoji Raje helped securing Jagir

Raje Shahaji Mahadwar of Tulja Bhavani Temple in Tuljapur, Maharashtra
Raje Shahaji Mahadwar of Tulja Bhavani Temple in Tuljapur, Maharashtra.

It was an Old Memorial named after Shahaji Maharaj.

Shahaji was afraid of losing Pune Jagir, which Maloji Raje had owned. He found it quite challenging to maintain the position.

Vithoji Raje was worried the Sultan and Malik Ambar might try to reclaim the Jagir from the Bhosale family. Especially after the sudden death of Maloji Raje and the young age of his son Shahaji.

Both events occurred after the death of Maloji Raje, the brother of Vithoji Raje.

Malik Ambar, who was clever, knew that Vithoji Bhosale was brave and talented. He knew the Bhosale clan had great foresight and courage. That would be really helpful during conflicts.

Malik Ambar kept the Jagir because Shahaji Raje was still a minor. The Bhosale family will still take care of the Jagir, even though Vithoji was put in charge.

The concerns of Vithoji Raje eased somewhat, despite the lingering risk. Sultan Nizam Shah invited them to a private court hearing. He wanted to address the loss of respect for the Royal Throne after the death of Malojiraje Bhosale.

The Sultan expressed his admiration for exceptional prowess of Maloji Raje in battle. However, he knew mere words could not alter the trajectory of the situation on their own.

After the ceremony, Sultan Nizam Shah gave the Jagir to Shahaji Maharaj and said goodbye to them.

Shahaji Raje, got the title of Jagirdar by the Nizam Shahi dynasty. It happened during when he was only five years old.

This made sure that the Bhosale family would continue to keep the Jagir to the next generations.

Wars and Diplomacies

Shahaji Raje helped shape the Maratha Empire in a big way through his military efforts.

He took part in multiple fights and military actions, displaying his leadership and tactical prowess. Military successes of Shahaji Raje helped the Marathas expand their territory.

As a result, they became the most influential people in the Deccan region. Shahaji Raje Bhosale fought important battles that altered the Maratha Empire’s history. Let’s examine some of these battles.

Battle for Nizam Prince Murtaza

The Mughals captured a prince called Murtaza from Nizam. This put Shahaji Raje Bhosale, a skilled military leader, in a risky situation.

Shahaji Raje understood it was crucial to save the prince. He took prompt action and planned some fights and smart moves.

His primary goal was to get Prince Murtaza of the Nizam out of the hands of the Mughal troops. Shahaji Raje used his knowledge of tactics to outwit and fight the enemy.

He did this by launching surprise strikes and using guerilla warfare techniques.

Shahaji Raje saved Nizam Prince Murtaza from the Mughals using his military skills.

Shahaji Raje was a great army leader who worked hard to protect the Marathas and their allies. This win shows how dedicated he was.

Conflict with the Portuguese

Shahaji Raje asked the Portuguese for help to defeat the Mughals and Nizams by forming alliances. To his disappointment, the Portuguese turned him down. This was a significant setback for his war plans.

The Portuguese didn’t help and made things worse. This made Shahaji Raje reconsider his alliances and change his plans.

Shahaji Raje searched for new allies when he found out the Portuguese wouldn’t help him. He made deals with other powerful groups to navigate the tricky politics of the time.

The fight with the Portuguese was a turning point in Shahaji Raje’s plans for war and politics. It forced him to look for new ways to get help and make allies that would be important for his plans.

Battle of Mahuli

During the Battle of Mahuli, Shahaji Raje Bhosale found himself in a tough fight. Shahaji Raje had a tough job to do – keep the Mughal army and forces of Adilshah away from the Mahuli fort.

The battle occurred during a larger war between the Mughals and the Nizams. At stake was control of key forts and territories.

Shahaji Raje had a firm determination. He rallied his men and made a defensive plan.

He realized the enemy was too strong to defeat altogether. Instead, he used his military knowledge and turn the terrain and Mahuli fortifications, which become an advantage. Shahaji Raje and his men showed a lot of bravery and strength in a fierce battle.

Forces of Shahaji Raje stopped the Mughal army and allies of Adil Shah by planning their moves well.

Despite the odds, they fought hard against the enemy’s attacks.

The Battle of Mahuli showcased military tactics and brilliance of Shahaji Raje. He used his military knowledge and strategic intelligence to beat back the invaders.

He won because he defended the Mahuli against both the Mughal and Adilshahi forces. The Marathas became stronger after their win. It also proved that Shahaji Raje was good at leading battles.

The Battle of Mahuli was a major turning point in his military career. He proved he can handle tough fights and win over powerful rivals.

His Alliance With The Mughals

Hadsar fort which also known as Parvatgad
Documentary evidences show the 1637 treaty between Shahaji Raje and the Mughals involved the exchange of forts, including Hadsar.

In 1818, the British forces conquered the forts and the region of Junnar. Like many other forts, the British in their attack ruined the main features of this fort.

When Shahaji Raje joined the Mughals, his political path took a big turn. The events that led to his agreement with the Mughals were complex and affected by many things.

After his first attempts failed, Shahaji Raje had to decide what to do next. He thought about what to do next and thought about being a military leader for the Mughals.

Even though he felt conflicted on the inside, Shahaji Raje chose this road. He sought a means to regain his strength and determination.

He wrote a letter to Shahjahan using a Mughal Sardar called Azam Khan, asking to join their troops. Shortly after, Shahaji Raje took a high-ranking job called Panch Hazari Mansab. This job made him in charge of 5000 Mughal soldiers.

Emperor Shah Jahan led the Mughal Empire and had a big impact on India long ago. Shahaji Maharaj realized the power of the Mughals and thought it might be useful to cooperate with them.

The changing nature of politics in the area was a key reason he joined the Mughals. Power struggles and wars happened in the Deccan area ruled by Shahaji Raje.

Shahaji Raje believed making a deal with the Mughals was smart. It would help him secure his lands and improve his situation.

The Mughals had a good army that he thought could help him reach his military goals. He hoped to improve his army and increase his power in the area by joining hands with the Mughals.

Diplomacy was important when Shahaji Raje joined the Mughals. .

It was important for him to maintain a positive relationship with the government. This helped protect his interests and get help when needed.

Shahaji Raje allied with the Mughals to achieve political, military, and diplomatic goals. The alliance wanted to protect his lands and achieve his Deccan aims with the help of Mughal.

The victory of Shahaji Raje Bhosale over Adilshahi Generals

Like Maloji Raje, Shahaji Bhosale was also very gallant. He had fought many battles in favour of the Nizam Shah.

Mughal emperor Shah Jahan gained the Deccan to conquer the southern region.

When the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan invaded Deccan to conquer the south.

Shahaji helped the Mughals defeat Adil Shah in 1632. Mughals awarded the region won in this war to Shahaji Raje Bhosale.

He used guerilla warfare like Maharana Pratap of Mewar in his battles. He was good at guerrilla fighting like Shahaji Bhosale’s generation.

After this, Shahaji had reasonable control over Pune and Supe.

Southern Campaigns

After coming to Adilshahi court, Shahjahan and Ranadulla Khan marched from Bijapur. They intended to win the Southern Parganas (regions) in 1638.

They defeated many southern kings to have a peaceful relationship with them. Then, they gave back their kingdoms.

So, when Shahaji Raje Bhosale needed help, the Southern kings provided support.

Karnataka Campaigns of Shahaji Raje Bhosale

Kempegowda I was a great ruler of Karnataka. He founded the famous city of Bangalore.

Kempe Gowda-III was the next ruler after him. He ruled at the same time as Shahaji Bhosale.

Kempe Gowda-III ruled Karnataka too. He did this while being influenced by the Vijayanagar kingdom.

In 1638 AD, Bijapur’s army beat Kempe Gowda-III. Shahaji Raje Bhosale and Ranadulla Khan commanded the army.

Living Place in Bengaluru

Historian Fazlul Hasan writes in his book Bangalore Through The Centuries that Shahaji lived in Gowri Vilasa Hall of the city.

He describes about this building might be present in an old palace. Obviously this place is no more and we can see now the building of dilapidated Mohan and the famous Vijayalakshmi theatre.

Politics of Shahaji Raje Bhosale

Shahaji Raje was in the Adilshahi court. Meanwhile, Shivaji Maharaj captured the forts one by one.

He consequently won Torna, Rajgad, Pratapgad, Kondhana, Purandar, Rohida, and Panhala. Then, Adil Shah inquired about Shivaji Maharaj to Shahaji Raje.

Shahaji took control and said, “Shivaji could capture the fort to rule Pune and Supe area.”

Shivaji Maharaj said to a reporter, “I only took forts to protect Pune and Supe.”

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj cleverly kept up Swarajya by using this motto. It didn’t have any other meaning.

Meeting with Shivray

Painting depicting Shahaji Raje and Shivaji Maharaj meet at Jejuri fort.
Painting depicting Shahaji Raje and Shivaji Maharaj meet at Jejuri fort. This meeting of father-son was after a long time, so it was memorable in the entire Maratha History.

When Shahaji Raje came to Shivneri, it was a joyful event that filled the fort with a warm feeling. The Visit festivities were huge and exciting. Even the people at Jijabai’s place were happy.

His son, Shivba, stood ready, waiting for his father to come. When Shahajiraje finally got there, Jijabai gave Shivba to him. It was the first time Shahajiraje saw his son’s face, and he did so with a soft look.

He had just come from a campaign, which was a chaotic and fiery place. With a happy heart, he gave awards, gifts, and money to everyone around him.

He was extremely kind and generous. He gave away everything, even things as precious as pearls and elephants. People inside the fort felt like they were celebrating the birth of a prince, not not of Sardar.

He spent many happy days in the fort, taking in all the surrounding happiness. But duty called, and on March 1, 1630, Emperor Shahjahan and his royal army arrived in the Deccan.

They went to Burhanpur. Shahaji Maharaj said bye to Shivba and his mom. After that, he quickly left the fort to go to work.

At his wife’s request, Nizam Shah made Fateh Khan, the son of Malik Ambar, Chief Vazir in Daulatabad. After taking office, Fateh Khan put the Shah in jail, where he died sadly. Fateh Khan put Prince Hussain Shah on the throne after that.

Given the Royal Seal to Shivaji Maharaj

Shahaji Raje encouraged his self rule, making his rule legal and authoritative, because he gave him a royal seal which needs for each ruler.

According to “Shivratnakar” and “Sabhasad Bakhar”, Shahaji Raje Bhosale made a new Royal Seal for Swarajya in Sanskrit. He gifted it during his arrival to Pune.

Words and their meanings inscribed on the royal seal were like below.

प्रतिपच्चन्द्रलेखेव वर्धिष्णुर्विश्ववन्दिता |

शाहसूनो: शिवस्यैषा मुद्रा भद्राय राजते ||

It means that,

Shivaji, the son of Shahaji, increases the glory of this Royal Seal like the first day moon and he govern kingdom only for the good of the people.

His Imprisonment

A vigorous leader of the Mughal empire captured and held Shahaji Raje Bhosale for some time. This happened after years of service to the Mughals.

Aurangzeb, the Mughal ruler, caught Shahaji Raje in 1649 and imprisoned him. He detained him because of the prevailing political circumstances.

According to some stories, Shahaji Raje became too powerful and had strong connections with other local leaders. It made tough for the Mughals to control the Deccan region.

They detained him up in the fortress of Daulatabad for many years while in jail. This time of being locked up was hard for him and his family. His imprisonment affected the future of the Bhosale dynasty.

It’s important to remember that Shahaji Raje’s influence lived on, despite his predicaments.

His son, Shivaji Maharaj, became famous and fulfilled his father’s mission and goals. Shivaji Maharaj worked hard and was skilled at strategy. He created the Maratha Empire, which is an important part of a history of India.

The power struggles and politics caused Shahaji Raje Bhosale to be put in jail. Medieval India was always changing, and important people faced a lot of problems. This sentence shows that.

Death of Shahaji Raje Bhosale

Once, while Shahaji Maharaj was in Karnataka, he desired to hunt. He was in Hodigere village. For hunting, he heads into the deep forest.

It was the day of January 3 when Shahaji Raje was hunting in the Jungle. When an accident happened, he fell from the horse. As his head hit straight to the ground, he died on the spot.

This death news of Shahaji Raje spread like a breeze throughout India.

Jijabai received a letter at Raigad Fort. Her family was sad and so was the Sahyadri.

Shahaji Bhosale was the most influential chieftain of India in his time. During the reign of Shahaji Raje Bhosale, the Bhosale family rose in India.

His son, Ekoji I or Vyankoji, founded the Maratha Empire in Thanjavur.

Vyankoji built a tomb for his father at Hodigere village in Karnataka. It’s called the tomb of Shahaji Bhosale and is near Channagiri taluka.

Shahaji Maharaj Tomb in Hondigere, Karnataka
Shahaji Maharaj Tomb in Hondigere, Karnataka

If you are interested in learning about meeting of Shivray and Shahaji Raje in Karnataka. Then you should read this article. They provided detailed research with perspectives from different historians. It will help you understand the topics like a living place of Shahaji Raje in Karnataka, personality of Shivaji Raje when he was just 12, prominent memorials of Shivaji Maharaj, etc.

If you like the article, then please share it because even small efforts help us get more exposure. Also, consider subscribing to a newsletter if you are really interested in whatever we write here.


Why did Shahaji Raje leave Nizam Shahi?

One day, while in Nizam Durbar, significant events happen. During the quarrel, Lakhujirao Jadhav gets killed and beheaded by the duke.

In an angry mood, Shahaji Raje left the durbar. Then, he resigned from the Nizam Court and never went again to the Nizam court.

How did Shahaji Raje Bhosale die?

Shahaji Raje Bhosale died uncertainly. While he was in Karnataka, he hunted near Hodigere village one day.

Accidentally, he falls from his horse and gets injured to death. So Vyankoji built his Tomb in Hodigere village.

Which was the most crucial battle in the life of Shahaji Raje?

Shahaji Raje Bhosale fought with Kempegowda III in Karnataka, and this was a significant event for him.

The Vijayanagar Empire generals became free after the Battle of Talikota in 1565. This led to the creating an independent Bangalore and the surrounding areas.

The Vijayanagar Empire had many resources. When they stopped helping directly, it became difficult to take over Karnataka.

His victorious campaign in Karnataka was a significant achievement. The win showed how good he was as a soldier and significantly affected his plans.

Shah Jahan, the Mughal Emperor, gave Shahaji Raje the land they won in Karnataka as a prize.

This event changed the course of his life in a big way. Shahaji Raje did his business in the Deccan area. Later, he gained control over Karnataka and made it his main area of influence.

Shahaji Raje showed his strategic skills in the fight with Kempegowda III. This fight helped Shahaji Raje gain a new stronghold and more resources. It kept him in control and made him important in India during the Middle Ages, a time of many changes.

The battle at Karnataka played an important role in Shahaji Raje’s rise to power. He gained new opportunities and set himself up for political and military success by taking over Karnataka.

At first, Shahaji Raje was in charge of Pune Jahangiri; then, in which year was it given to Shivaji Raje?

I researched a lot but did not find an answer anywhere. So, I am not sure, but I will still try to answer the question.

On April 27, 1645, Shivaji Raje pledged at Raireshwar temple. Shivaji Raje began capturing forts after pledging to Swarajya, as per Wikipedia. Therefore, in 1648, Adil Shah captured Shahaji Bhosale.

IndiaTheDestiny claims that Adil Shah arrested Shahaji Maharaj for supporting Nayakas. The Nayakas were leaders who were not part of Vijayanagar’s army. They fought against Sri Ranga III, a prince of Vijayanagar.

Images Credits

  1. Painting of Shahaji Maharaj, Credit: Bal Krishna, Source: Shivaji The Great Vol I (1932)
  2. Shahaji Maharaj Mahadwar of Tulja Bhavani Temple, Tuljapur, Credit: Kiran891, Source: Wikimedia
  3. Hadsar Fort also known as Parvatgad, Credit: gouravshah, Source: Flickr
  4. Painting depicting a meeting of Shahaji Raje and Shivaji Maharaj, Credit: Bal Krishna, Source: Shivaji the Great, Vol I (1932)
  5. Shahaji Maharaj Tomb in Hondigere, Karnataka, Credit: Sanjay, Source: Wikimapia

About the Author

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Ashish Salunke

Ashish is a skilled biographer and content writer specialized in crafting captivating historical narratives. Through HistoricNation, he skillfully merged his IT expertise with the art of storytelling.

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