At the dawn of a new period in Indian history, stands the figure of this simple, stately man, Shivaji. I gazed at his portrait from a distance: and I said to myself: “What a force, SHAKTI, went out of this leader of the Mahratha people, this Hero of Hindustan!"
Three centuries ago was he born in a India, distracted, disunited. God, the Great Builder of India's Destiny, gave him strength to lift high his nation. His memory is one of the richest treasures of the Indian people.
Shivaji understood the masses: he understood, too, the SOUL of the people. And they heard his voice: “From the dangers ahead of us, only strength can save us; and strength must be united."
By the alchemy of his genius, he changed into something new and strange the simple stuff of the peasant and the mountaineer of his native land. Even Aurangzed paid homage to his memory as that of a “Great Captain".
His life was moulded by these two forces: (1) Matrashakti: reverence for his mother, (2) Guru Bhakti: devotion to his Guru or Spiritual Teacher. Mothers make a nation. And Shivaji owed much to his mother, Jijabai.
The noblest thoughts my soul can claim, The holiest words my tongue can frame, Unworthy are to praise the name, So sacred and so sweet, The blessed name: “Mother".
Self - respect, sympathy, national tradition, stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, dharma, “religion", and love for the poor, these were impressed by her upon Shivaji's personality. Sant Ramdas, too, influenced Shivaji. Ramdas taught Shivaji to defend religion, to guard the country and protect the people from harm. Shivaji kept his pledge to the Guru. Shivaji dedicated himself to the service of his people.
Not literate yet wise, he moved from place to place, a servant of his Guru, with the Flame of Freedom in his soul, with the Dream of Independence in his eyes.
A great soldier, a great organizer, a great statesman, Shivaji was still greater as a man. He recognized the supremacy of the Spiritual Ideal. He placed Dharma above might and glory. Shivaji was, at heart, a deeply religious man.
He carved out a kingdom. Then he came to his Guru Ramdas, and said:" Master! the kingdom is yours. Accept it!" Ramdas said: “Shivaji, my son! I give thee back this kingdom as a trust!" Shivaji believed profoundly that he held his “Raj" as a trust from his Guru for the service of the people.
Modest, simple, chivalrous to women, generous to his foes, penetrated with a spirit of religion, Shivaji was essentially a friend of the poor. He had time for small things, too.
Do I err in regarding him as one of the few really great Rulers in all history? His fame will not be dimmed but will, I believe, grow in the coming days. For upon INDIA is come an Awakening that cannot die. And the story of his life is eloquent with the message: Fear none! Fear but one thing, unfaith in your Destiny! For unfaith is Death.
In Shivaji's heart was love immense for the poor. If there is one religion which India and the nations need today, it is the religion of service and sacrifice.
“So many Gods, so many creeds. So many ways that wind and wind, While just the art of being kind, is all this sad world needs!"
In 1680, Shivaji was on his deathbed. His friends and relatives were around him and they wept. He consoled them. “Weep not, “he said,” life is short; liberty's work is incomplete: I go. "
For peasants and the village folk wanted Shivaji: for them he wandered from place to place. How many of India's youths are ready today to dedicate themselves to the service of the peasants and the village-folk? Cities are soul-less: in the hearts of the poor and the humble village-folk is the holy shrine of Freedom.