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 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 or against other religions. He was a true secular. However, he never supported the holy law book of Vedics known as Manusmriti, which was imposed on Indians for more that two millenniums. 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 been given the right of bearing arms. Other people like Shudras and atishudras were banned from this right and they had no right of joining army. Shivaji breached this rule and invited people from all sections of the community to join his army. Shivaji’s army was made of cultivators, craftsmen, tribals, fishermen and people living at 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 a not very big and all the battles he fought were with 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 in 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 to do so. 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 sea and even took part in attack on enemy territories through sea routs. Manusmriti does not allow traveling by see and the offender has to perform penance for it. This tradition was observed even until the first half of last century. But Shivaji breached the rule and never performed a penance for it. Remember that it was 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, and write or even to listen Sanskrit language. But overthrowing this rule, Shivaji arranged tutoring of this language for his son Sambhaji. Sambhaji became scholar of this language and wrote a book in Sanskrit. Thus we see that both Shivaji and Sambhaji were offenders according to the Manusmriti.

Netaji Palekar was an officer in army of Shivaji. Eventually, he got converted to Islam. Shivaji reconverted him. His another officer Bajaji Nimbalkar had also adopted Islam. Shivaji not only reconverted Bajaji, but made him his sister in law by arranging his marriage with own daughter. This was surely against Manusmriti lawas as Manusmriti does not permit such things.

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

Killing Brahmins:
According to Manusmriti, Killing a Brahmin (Brahmhatya) is one of the biggest offences. 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 stroked his sword on Shivaji, which made a wound on Shivaji’s head. Shivaji killed that Brahmin on the spot. It was not just killing of a Brahmin, but demolition of Manusmriti.

It is a subject of research that 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 demolition of Manusmriti was Shivaji’s greatest gift to his subjects…

-Mahavir Sanglikar


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