How Shivaji demolished Manusmriti

Shivaji violated many laws of Manusmriti. Here is a brief account of his anti-Manusmriti activities.

Shivaji was a great king of medieval Maharashtra. He was a contemporary of Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb and Ali Adilshah, Sultan of Bijapur. In very odd situations, Shivaji was successful in establishing his own kingdom. Although people know him as a Hindu King, he was not a Vedic. Actually, he was a follower of Shaivism in his personal life. But as a King, he was not in favor of or against other religions. He was truly secular. However, he never supported the holy law book of Vedics known as Manusmriti, which was imposed on Indians for more than two millennia. There are at least eight instances where he breached the laws imposed by Manusmriti.

Giving Arms to Shudra People: According to the Manusmriti, only warrior communities, i.e., Kshatriyas, had the right to bear arms. Other people like Shudras and Atishudras were banned from this right and had no right to join the army. Shivaji breached this rule and invited people from all sections of the community to join his army. Shivaji’s army was made up of cultivators, craftsmen, tribals, fishermen, and people living on the outskirts of villages. All these people were Shudras and Atishudras according to the Manusmriti.

Collaboration with Mlenchh People: Although fanatic Vedic historians have projected him as an anti-Muslim King, Shivaji was not against Islam or Muslims. You can see a high number of Muslim officers and soldiers in his Navy, Artillery, and army. The number of Shivaji’s Muslim officers and soldiers was far bigger than that of Vedic Brahmins. We should remember that both the Chiefs of Shivaji’s navy and artillery were Muslims. Even many of Shivaji’s bodyguards were Muslims. A division of Shivaji’s army was particularly for Muslims, having 700 soldiers. This number is definitely a big one, as Shivaji’s army was not very big, and all the battles he fought were with the help of a tiny number of soldiers. Collaborating with Muslims was also a breach of the rules of Manusmriti, as according to it, Muslims can be classified as Mlenchh people. Manusmriti never allowed accepting Mlenchh people to collaborate with.

Opposing Tradition of Sati: Shivaji breached the laws of Manusmriti again and again. According to Manusmriti, if a man dies, his wife also has to die by jumping into the funeral pyre. This tradition was known as Sati. When Shivaji’s father Shahaji died, Jijau, Shivaji’s mother, decided to become a Sati, but Shivaji opposed it. This was again a breach of the laws of Manusmriti.

Traveling through Sea: In another instance of breaching the laws imposed by Manusmriti, Shivaji founded his own navy, and he himself traveled through the sea and even took part in attacks on enemy territories through sea routes. Manusmriti does not allow traveling by sea, and the offender has to perform penance for it. This tradition was observed even until the first half of the last century. But Shivaji breached the rule and never performed penance for it. Remember that it was the 17th century and the rules were very strict at that time.

His Son Learned Sanskrit Language: Manusmriti does not allow people other than Brahmins to learn, speak, write, or even listen to the Sanskrit language. But overthrowing this rule, Shivaji arranged tutoring of this language for his son Sambhaji. Sambhaji became a scholar of this language and wrote a book in Sanskrit. Thus we see that both Shivaji and Sambhaji were offenders according to the Manusmriti.

Reconversion: Netaji Palekar was an officer in the army of Shivaji. Eventually, he converted to Islam. Shivaji reconverted him. Another officer, Bajaji Nimbalkar, had also adopted Islam. Shivaji not only reconverted Bajaji but made him his son-in-law by arranging his marriage with his own daughter. This was surely against Manusmriti laws, as Manusmriti does not permit such things.

Marrying with a Dalit Woman: After the establishment of his own kingdom, Shivaji wanted to coronate himself, but the Brahmins opposed it. They declared that Shivaji was not a Kshatriya but a Shudra, and according to Manusmriti, Shudras cannot become a king. So Shivaji coronated himself by inviting a Brahmin from Kashi, who took a huge amount of gold coins for the coronation ceremony. But later, Shivaji arranged another coronation according to the Shakt tradition. For performing the rituals, according to the Shakt rules, he married an Atishudra (Dalit) girl. This was also an offense breaching the laws of Manusmriti.

Killing Brahmins: According to Manusmriti, killing a Brahmin (Brahmhatya) is one of the biggest offenses. He killed Krishnaji Bhaskar Kulkarni, a Brahmin who was the ambassador of Afzal Khan. When Shivaji and Afzal Khan met at Pratap Garh, Afzal Khan tried to kill Shivaji. But clever Shivaji killed Afzal Khan by tactic. At that time, Krishnaji Bhaskar Kulkarni struck his sword on Shivaji, which made a wound on Shivaji’s head. Shivaji killed that Brahmin on the spot. It was not just the killing of a Brahmin but the demolition of Manusmriti.

It is a subject of research how many Brahmins were killed by Shivaji. But his son Sambhaji killed many of his Brahmin ministers who had tried to poison him. I think that the demolition of Manusmriti was Shivaji’s greatest gift to his subjects…

-Mahavir Sanglikar

2 responses to “How Shivaji demolished Manusmriti”

  1. There are few grammatical errors in the post thet needs correction. Foe example sister-in-law should be changed to son-in-law.

    1. Thank you. The article has been revised.

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