Mystery of Death of Shivaji Maharaj

This man deserved more than he has received. He left us some three centuries ago, but, even today, his relevance has not diminished. In fact, in this uncertain times, when we are struggling on our western and northern frontiers and even internally, his relevance has increased manifold.  I am talking about the great Maratha ruler of the sixteenth century Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.  His name has been only been used by all political parties for their very narrow political objectives. We failed desperately, as Late Shri Ninadji Bedekar, famous Historian used to say, to take Shivaji Maharaj on International fora. The military ruler was at par or fared even better than Alexander (the great ?), Napoleon or others. After three centuries we have now found a rock patch on an island to construct a ‘huge’ memorial. The irony is that around 380 forts of Swaraj are lying in state of abject neglect and apathy.  (read my related  article here)

Back to the main topic, since childhood, I myself and many like me, have grown up with the fed in thought process that Shivaji Maharaj died a natural death because of knee and joint pain because of excessive horse riding. 

Of late, a new debate is taking place, by neo historians and history enthusiasts, claiming that in fact, Shivaji Maharaj was poisoned to death by his ministers who grew more ambitious.  I have been a keen reader on the topic of Shivaji Maharaj who was my childhood hero, since, standard fourth, when the entire history book used to be dedicated to this great ruler. Unfortunately, the entire history of 50 years of the strife of this great hero does not find even 5 pages today. More stress is given for European, American history and revolutions. What kind of generation are we trying to raise? A generation which appreciates western history and abhors and disrespects our local history?

I have read many books and articles on this noble king, subscribed to various youtube channels to get as much as information. During all this research, I found that the history of Shivaji Maharaj is not properly documented, as one finds exactly opposite viewpoints, with supporting documentary evidence of that period.  For example, Late Shri Ninad ji Bedekar claimed that the battle of Pavinkhind never took place, a skirmish took place at the base of Vishalgad where Baji Prabhu Deshpande was martyred. Shiv Shahir Shri Babasaheb Purandare in his oratory masterpiece Shiv Charitra, on the other hand, presents the tale which is now a folklore, the battle of Pavankhind. 

The death of Shivaji Maharaj too is mired with uncertainty. I happened to watch a video on youtube (link) by Maratha History Channel, which with the help of documentary evidence claims that Shivaji Maharaj died a natural death at the age of 50. On the other hand, Professor Namdev Jadhav (link), who is a historian and a great orator with the help of some old documents (Bakhar) claims that Shivaji Maharaj was poisoned to death. This leaves the history enthusiast like me more confused.

The death of Shivaji Maharaj and reasons behind it is crucial, as a caste-based shade is now given even to his death, for narrow political gains. Let’s leave them aside. The reason of finding the exact reason of Shivaji Maharaj death is of prime importance because of the fact that had the king been poisoned, the act might have done an irreparable damage to the entire history of this subcontinent. Because had Shivaji Maharaj stayed for 15-20 years more, he had the gut, the gumption and the capacity to conquer the Mughal empire, which was on decline anyways.  One must not forget the fact that only after the Britishers defeated the Peshwas and hoisted their Union Jack on Shaniwarwada, they could establish an unblemished empire which looted our nation and bifurcated it when the loot was over.

I strongly believe that a unified effort by historians, supported by Government and its agencies must be made to properly research and reach at a consensus so that actual history must be easily accessible to everyone and especially to the younger generations who nowadays find all that is Indian as outdated and out of fashion. Hence I strongly believe that the Mystery of Death of Shivaji Maharaj must be resolved at the earnest.




The 2.30 Bus..

Some memories get etched up in your memories forever. They become part of our being. For a sensitive person like me, sometimes even an insignificant thing becomes a permanently marked memory. It may sound idiotic in today’s practical world.
Spending vacations were not in fashion in the eighties when we grew up. The term vacation simply meant that one travels to his or her native place. People would look with awe and wonder when one traveled to places like Shirdi or other places of pilgrimage.  Today the scene has changed totally.
Our vacation like many others, those days only meant that we were packed up and sent to our native place in Konkan, the coastal belt of Maharashtra, well endowed with nature and natural beauty. But then, the journey was not easy as it is today. The only accessible mode of travel for a common man was the State Transport red buses which are even today called as ST buses. Traveling by Private Luxury buses were not the luxury that our parents could afford them. 
The entire trip was a sort of adventure if anyone of my generation remembers. The reservation counter would start booking one month earlier and exact dates were to be accordingly planned. A day before the date of reservation, my dad would go to Parel ST Depot and wait in the long queue, so that he gets an opportunity to book the ticket the next morning when the counters opened at 08.00 am. Almost every time my dad would come like a winner waving those prized tickets which he booked after a struggling wait for around 10-12 hours. Computerized reservation was not a known term then.
As the date of journey neared, the excitement used to increase. The packing of clothes, sweets, and dresses for our extended families in the native places would make it sure that we had to carry large baggage. The metal trunk, which I still have kept with me as my prized possession of those good old days used to become very heavy.  
The bus would arrive at the stand in the Parel Depot at around 2.15 pm and there used to be another fight to enter inside. Although the entire bus used to for reserved ticket holders the fight never ceased. Then there was always a nightmarish experience to locate a Coolie to load the bag on top of the bus. Every time at least one fight used to take place with co-passengers over seats, luggage etc.
Exactly at around 2.30 pm, the bus used to chug out. Traveling by window seat was and still continues to be my favorite activity.  The Mumbai in the eighties was not as crowded as it is today. The city used to end somewhere after Vashi. The first stop those days, from where we used to assume that we have really started our journey was Panvel. Panvel used to sound so far away those days. The bus ride was never a joyous one, but, what can a person do when he has no other option?
The bus would halt for dinner break at Indapur. The canteen there was a shabby place and was always crowded. I used to feel nausea and would sometimes vomit during bus travels, due to which I would intake very less food.
The very unique and very innovative thing was that exactly at the same time, a bus would depart from my native place daily and they both met at the same time at Chiplun Bus Depot, which also indicated that we have reached halfway to our destination. Sometimes, when the driver of one bus drove fast, the passengers would have to wait for the other bus. The uniqueness was that the drivers would change and the driver that drove the bus from Mumbai to Chiplun would drive the bus that came from my native place to Mumbai. The other driver would do the same and drive the Bus that came from Mumbai to my native place.
Tired will be a very weak word to describe the entire journey. However, as a child, I used to enjoy every bit of it. 
After the vacation when we left our native place the village folks, my cousins would gather at the Bus stand to see us off. Their teary moist eyes meant a lot then, those tears were true. However, as the world around us changed, everything has changed, selfishness has engulfed all relationships. Gone are those days of true closeness. There is an air of formality in the relations now. My relatives and cousins are no different. Whenever economics rules over emotions, emotions are lame losers.
The Konkan Railway changed the entire scenario. Travel has eased, people have progressed, commercialization is taking place at a very mad pace. I happened to be near the bus stand at around 2 pm expecting the jamboree of people to see off their near and dear ones. But, there was an air of silence, apart from few stray dogs and a couple of people who had lost it shared the empty bus stand. I asked the person accompanying me what happened to the 2.30 bus. Pat came the reply, they have stopped the bus service as people have stopped plying due to easier mode i.e. railways.
I felt bad, the change was good, I tried to convince myself, the journey has now become relatively easier. But, the bus had contributed a handful of memories in my life, that won’t fade away so easily.