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King Shivaji and His Muslim Warriors

-Mahaveer Sanglikar

This is a short introduction to the contribution of Muslims in the mission of the great king Shivaji (1630-1680)

Shivaji, a Secular King

Shivaji was a great warrior and king of Deccan, India. Many anti-Muslim historians of India have portrayed him as an anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic, and this concept was used by some politicians of India, especially from Maharashtra for their anti-Muslim propaganda.

But was Shivaji an anti-Muslim king? Surely not, because when we study the life of this great king, we find that many of his military officers and associates were staunch Muslims.The fact is that the king had appointed Muslims on the highest posts in many departments, including his Navy and Artillery. Moreover, many of his bodyguards were from Muslim community. These things clearly tell us that Shivaji was not an anti-Muslim king.

Shivaji’s war was against Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and Vijapur Sultan Adilshah. Although both these enemies of the king were Muslims, that does not mean that Shivaji was anti-Muslim. It is notable that the army of Aurangzeb which fought against Shivaji was mainly consisted of Rajput Hindus. On the other hand, the army of Adilshah which fought against king Shivaji consisted of mainly Deccan Hindus. Besides that, Aurangzeb and Adilshah, both were not friends, but the enemies of each other. Also, Shivaji was a close friend of Nizam, a Muslim Sultan of Hyderabad.

The great warrior Shivaji always respected Muslim saints. Yakut Baba, a Sufi Muslim saint was one of the king’s spiritual guides.

The king had ordered his Hindu soldiers, that Muslim women and children should not be maltreated, Mosques should be given a protection and if they find a copy of Kuran while the mission, they should handover it to their Muslim colleagues respectfully.

The king had many Hindu enemies and Muslim friends and vice versa. So the fact is that the war which the king fought was just a political war. It had nothing to do with religion. Shivaji was a secular king, but the biased historians wrote false history which lead India to communal wars and disputes between Hindus and Muslims in 20th Century.

Shivaji with his Muslim soldiers. Painting by Mir Mohammad.

Shivaji with his Muslim soldiers. Painting by Mir Mohammad.

King Shivaji’s Muslim Warriors & Associates

Now, it would be interesting to know about the king’s Muslim warriors and associates.

A major part of the soldiers in Shivaji’s army was of Muslims. The well known instance of recruiting Muslims in the king’s army was the batch of 700 Pathans, who left the army of Adilshah of Vijapur and joined the king.

Shivaji’s kingdom was spread on the west coast of India. He needed to safeguard his kingdom from any invasion from the sea, so he built his own navy. He appointed Daryadarang as the Chief of the Navy. Most of the sailors of the king’s navy were Muslims and fishermen.

The king was not a dependent on traditional method of warfare. He always modernized is army. He launched an artillery department in his army. He appointed Ibrahim Khan as the Chief of the Artillery. Here too we see that most of the soldiers in his artillery were from Muslim community.

Cavalry was another important part of King Shivaji’s army. The strength of the cavalry was 1,50000, out of which about 66,000 troopers were Muslims.

Siddhi Hilal was another brave Muslim chieftain in Shivaji’s army. When the king was on fort of Panhala, the army of Adilshah sieged the fort (1660 C.E.). To rescue the king, Netaji Palkar, one of the famous chieftains in Shivaji's army, attacked the enemy. Netaji Palkar was accompanied by Siddhi Hilal. In this battle, Siddhi Hilal’s son Siddhi Wahwah was seriously injured.

Siddhi hilal was killed in the battle of Nesari. When King Shivaji ordered his Commander in Chief Prataprao Gujar to capture Bahlol Khan, a General of Adilshah who had strength of 15000 force, Prataprao Gujar realized that it was not possible with his 1200 cavalrymen. As the king had ordered Prataprao to not to show face unless Bahlol Khan was captured, Prataprao decided not to let his cavalrymen killed. So he with his six chieftains made a suicide attack on Bahlol Khan’s mighty forces. These 7 men are known as 7 Brave Marathas, one of them was Siddhi Hilal.

Kazi Hyder was an emissary of King Shivaji, who later became a Secretary.

Siddi Ibrahim was a Bodyguard of King Shivaji. When the King met Afazal Khan at Pratap Gadh, Shivaji was accompanied by 3 Body Guards, Siddi Ibrahim was one of them. Afazal Khan tried to kill the King, but he himself got killed.

List of Shivaji’s Muslim Generals, Chieftains,Associates and Officers

The list of the Muslim Generals, associates, chieftains and officers is a very big, and there were at least 50 very important Muslim Generals in Shivaji’s army. Under each of them, there was a big group of Muslim soldiers.

Here is a small list, I will add more names later.

Scroll to Continue

Siddhi Hilal

Darya Sarang

Daulat Khan

Ibrahim Khan

Kazi Hyder

Siddi Ibrahim

Siddi Wahwah

Noorkhan Baig

Shyama Khan

Hussankhan Miyani

Siddi Mistri

Sultan Khan

Dawood Khan

Madari Mehetar

Hindu Muslims Unity | Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj | Grand Master Shifuji Shaurya Bhardwaj


Shailesh Parab on August 12, 2017:

Sir who was this Ibrahim khan ? Full name ?

Jay C OBrien from Houston, TX USA on April 02, 2017:

Isn't it time we just stopped fighting and killing on the command of generals and politicians? As individuals we have Free Will and do not have to fight at all.

Satyen Velankar on December 03, 2016:

Kindly refer page Volume 2 page no 119 of Manucci's diary "Storia do mogor" where he says "Shivaji had ordered to cut the throats of pigs and throw them into mosques in retaliation to the act of cutting cows in temples done by the muslims." Niccolao Mannuci was a contemporary of Shivaji, He had met Shivaji in person.

So as per your theory if Shivaji had large number of muslims serving in his army, he would not have risked to give such an order.

Satyen Velankar on December 03, 2016:

Today I came across a WhatsApp message stating that Shivaji Maharaj was not in oppose to Musalman. Though I appreciate the efforts of the writer to bring in harmony between two religions, I do not accept the methodology of falsifying the history to achieve so. I had requested very renowned historian on Shivaji Mr. Gajanan Bhaskar Mehendale to enlighten us on the misconceptions being spread by using the public media. Please find below his explanation (in English) under each statements (in Marathi) which is being spread.


शिवाजी महाराज जर मुसलमानांचे विरोधक असते तर …

1. शिवाजी महाराजांच्या तोफखान्याचा प्रमुख कोण होता ?.... इब्राहीम खान

There is not the slightest evidence to say that Ibrahim Khan, or any other Musalman, was chief of Shivaji's artillery.

2. शिवाजी महाराजांच्या आरमाराचा प्रमुख कोण होता ?.... दौलत खान

It is true that Daulat Khan was chief of Shivaji's fleet. Marathas had no naval tradition, so it was natural that Shivaji had to employ Musalman officers in his nascent navy. For first 5-10 years after independence (1947), Indian Air Force and Indian Navy were commanded by British officers. (You can check this on internet.) Why ? Because we did not have Indian officers with enough seniority and experience then. Shivaji faced the same problem.

3. शिवाजी महाराजांच्या घोडदलाचा प्रमुख कोण होता ? .... सिद्दी हिलाल

Siddi Hilal was not chief of Shivaji's cavalry The chief of Shivaji's cavalry were 1. Tukoji Chor, then 2. Mankoji Dahatonde, 3. Netoji Palkar, 4. Prataprao Gujar, 5. Hambirrao Mohite. Siddi Hilal was an officer in Shivaji's cavalry. He had defected to Shivaji from the Adilshahi army in 1659. He was brought up by Kheoji Bhosale (son of Shahaji's paternal uncle). Kheloji had purchased him as a slave boy and treated him as his son (kreetputra). So Siddi Hilal was brought up in Hindu way of life. In the 17th Century it was not possible to convert any one to Hinduism who was not born as a Hindu. So Siddi Hillal's conversion was not possible. Netoji could be brought back into the Hindu fold because he was born as a Hindu.

4. शिवाजी महाराजांचा पहिला सरसेनापती कोण होता ? .... नूर खान

Nur Khan was an officer in charge of the infantry contingent which Shahaji had sent with Shivaji. No Nur Khan was sar-senapati in any army, leave alone Shivaji's army, in the 17th Century.He does not appear in Shivaji's army after 1657. That was the year when Shivaji became in independant ruler. See my Marathi biography of Shivaji, volume 1, pages 869 to 871 (section 39). There was another Nur Khan who was a petty officer in Shivaji's cavalry for some time.

5. शिवाजी महाराजांबरोबर आग्र्याला गेलेला मदारी मेहतर…. मुसलमान …

Story of Madari Mehtar is false. See my English biography of Shivaji, page 333, footnote. (It is in chapter 9.)

6. शिवाजी महाराजांचा एकमेव वकील …. काझी हैदर

Qazi Haidar was a Persian munshi (scribe) in Shivaji's service. Shivaji had once sent him as envoy to Bahadur Khan in 1675. This Qazi Haidar defected to Aurangzeb in 1683.

7. शिवाजी महाराजांचे एकमेव चित्रकार .... मीर मोहम्मद

There are several contemporary or near contemporary portraits of Shivaji. One of these was COPIED by Mir Muhammad for Manucci in or about 1686. (See Appendix 10: "Shivaji's Portraits" in my English biography of Shivaji.) Several more portraits, drawn mostly by Dutch artists, have been brought to light to light by Mr Ajeet Patwardhan since that book was published. There is no evidence to say that Mir Muhammad was an admirer of Shivaji. He was in Mughal service and Manucci had commissioned him to copy some portraits in Mughal collection.

8. शिवाजी महाराजांना अफझल खानाचा वध करण्यासाठी वाघ नख्या पाठवून देणारा … रुस्तुमे जमाल

There is no evidence to say that Rustum Zaman sent tiger claws to Shivaji. It is foolish to suppose that Shivaji had to obtain tiger claws from an Adilshahi officer.

9. शिवाजी महाराजांचे 31 बॉडी गार्ड होते त्या पैकी 10 मुसलमान होते

There is no evidence to say that Shivaji had 31 bodyguards and that of these 10 were Musalmans. Shivaji was accompanied by 10 bodyguards when he went to see Afzal Khan. Of these 9 were Hindus, and one, Ibrahim, was a Musalman. The latter could have been brought up, like Siddi Hilal, in the Hindu way of life; but there is no evidence.

10. शिवाजी महाराजांनी एक हि मस्जिद पाडली नाही

There is evidence that Shivaji did demolish some masjids, See My Marathi biography of Shivaji, volume 2, Appendix 64 (pages 1268 to 1278).

11. रायगडावर मुसलमान सैनिकासाठी मस्जिद बांधली

There is no evidence to say that Shivaji built a masjid. It is unlikely that he could have done any such thing. (See point 13 below.)

12. शिवाजी महाराजांनी अफझलखान कबर बांधली

There was a very ordinary kabar of Afzal Khan. It is a monument to the punishment meted out to him by Shivaji. The present day structure, which is incorrectly called Afzal Khan's tomb, is a post 1930 construction.

13. Please note: Shivaji's own words and deeds, the records left by his contemporaries (admirers, enemies, and neutral observers) and the views of his political successors conclusively show that that the primary aim of the kingdom he founded was protection and promotion of Hinduism. See my English biography of Shivaji, chapter 11, section entitled Nature of Shivaji's Kingdom (pages 404 to 413). As for his policy of religious tolerance see chapter 19, pages 619 to 623.

I shall write about the nature of Shivaji's Kingdom and his aims and objects in the 3rd volume of my Marathi biography of Shivaji which will be published by the end of this year.

You may share this with anyone. Consider this as a note in public domain.

(Gajanan Bhaskar Mehendale)

MOHAMMED ZAHEER on August 11, 2016:

sir you are doing a great job for national integration against the false historical propaganda against muslims by false deshbhakt

ITSIMRANKHAN on January 18, 2016:

[Excerpted from Prof B. N. Pande's speech in the Indian Upper House of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha, made on 29 July 1977. At the time of the publication of this article in Impact International (1987), Dr Pande was Governor of the Indian state of Orrisa. Dr. Pande died in New Delhi on June 1, 1998.]

Thus under a definite policy the Indian history text-books were so falsified and distorted as to give an impression that the medieval period of Indian history was full of atrocities committed by Muslim rulers on their Hindu subjects and the Hindus had to suffer terrible indignities under Islamic rule. There were no common factors in social, political or economic life.


I have the honour to move the following resolution for the consideration of this House:

'This House is of the opinion that the main factor retarding cultural and emotional integration of the Indian people is the communal interpretation of the medieval Indian history and its distortion by the British historians, while India was under British rule, portraying the Hindus and the Muslims as being divided into two warring camps with little in common between them, and that this distortion paved the way for the emergence of the two-nation theory, and therefore recommends that the government should take immediate steps for the re-orientation of the study of Medieval Indian History ...'

The task is not easy, because unfortunately the histories of India which have been taught in our schools and colleges for generations past were originally compiled by European writers. And Indians have not yet succeeded in shaking off the biases inclucated by their European teachers. These so called histories have presented Muslims as destroyers of Hindu culture and traditions; despoilers of Hindu temples and palaces; and brutal idol-breakers who have offered to their Hindu victims the terrible alternative of conversion or the sword.

It is hardly surprising that educated men in India drugged with such poisonous stuff from the most impressionable period of their lives grow up to suspect and distrust each other. The Hindu has been brought up to believe that the Muslim period of Indian history which extends over eight hundred years and more is a nightmare.

How British historians have used these sentiments would be clear from the following quotation from the well-known compilation, Sir H. M. Elliot's 'History of India as told by its own historians'. The passage occurs in the general preface to Volume 1. I quote -

'We behold kings ... sunk in sloth or debauchery and emulating the vices of a Caligula or a Commodus.

'Under such rulers we cannot wonder that fountains of justice are corrupted: that the state revenues are never collected without violence and outrage; that villages are burnt and their inhabitants mutilated or sold into slavery; that the officials far from affording protection, are themselves the chief robbers and usurpers, that parasites and eunuchs revel in the spoils of plundered provinces, and that the poor find no redress against the oppressor's wrong and proud man's contumely. The few glimpses we have even among the short extracts of this single volume of Hindus slain for disputing with Muhammadans, of a general prohibition against processions, worship or ablutions and other intolerant measures, of idols mutilated, or temples razed, of forcible conversions and marriages, of proscriptions and confiscations, of murders and massacres and of the sensuality and drunkness of the tyrants who enjoined them, show us that this picture is not over-charged'.

A glimpse into official British records will show how this policy of Divide-et-Impera was taking shape. The Secretary of State Wood in a letter to Lord Elgin [Governor General Canada (1847-54) and India (1862-63)] said: 'We have maintained our power in India by playing off one part against the other and we must continue to do so. Do all you can, therefore to prevent all having a common feeling.’

George Francis Hamilton, Secretary of State of India wrote to Curzon, ‘I think the real danger to our rule in India not now, but say 50 years hence is the gradual adoption and extension of Western ideas of agitation organisation and if we could break educated Indians into two sections holding widely different views, we should, by such a division, strengthen our position against the subtle and continuous attack which the spread of education must make upon our system of government. We should so plan educational text-books that the differences between community and community are further strengthened(Hamilton to Curzon, 26th March 1886).

Cross informed the Governor-General, Dufferin, that 'This division of religious feeling is greatly to our advantage and I look for some good as a result of your Committee of Inquiry on Indian Education and on teaching material' (Cross to Dufferin, 14 January, 1887).

Thus under a definite policy the Indian history text-books were so falsified and distorted as to give an impression that the medieval period of Indian history was full of atrocities committed by Muslim rulers on their Hindu subject and the Hindus had to suffer terrible indignities under Islamic rule. There were no common factors in social, political or economic life.

While I was doing some research on Tippu Sultan in 1928 at Allahabad, some office bearers of a college Students Union approached me with a request to inaugurate their History Association. They had directly come from the college with their text-books. I opened the chapter on Tippu Sultan. One of the sentences that struck me deeply was: 'Three thousand Brahmins committed suicide as Tippu wanted to convert them forcibly into the fold of Islam'. The author of the text-book was, Mahamahopadhyaya Dr. Har Prashad Shastri, Head of the Department of Sanskrit, Calcutta University. I immediately wrote to Dr. Shastri for the source of his information. After many reminders came the reply that he had taken that from the Mysore Gazetteer....

... Prof Srikantia informed me that the episode of the suicide of 3,000 Brahmins is nowhere in the Mysore Gazetteer and he, as student of history of Mysore, was quite certain that no such incident had taken place. He further informed me that the Prime Minister of Tippu Sultan was a Brahmin named Punaiya and his commander-in-chief was also a Brahmin, named Krishna Rao. He supplied me with the list of 156 temples to which Tippu Sultan used to pay annual grants. He sent me 30 photostat copies of Tippu Sultan's letters addressed to the Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Srinageri Math with whom Tippu Sultan had very cordial relations....

Dr Shastri's book was approved as a course book of history for high schools in Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Orissa, U.P., M.P. and Rajasthan. I approached Sri Ashutosh Mukherjee, the then Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University, and sent him all the correspondence that I had exchanged with Dr Shastri, with Mysore University Vice-Chancellor, Sri Brijendra Nath Seal, and Prof. Srikantia, with the request to take proper action against the offending passages in the text-book. Prompt came the reply from Sri Ashutosh Mukherjee, that the history book by Dr Shastri has been put out of course.

However, I was amazed to find the same suicide story was still existing in the history text-books which had been prescribed in 1972 for Junior High Schools in U.P.

When I was the Chairman of the Allahabad Municipality I came across the dispute regarding the property of the Someshwar Nath Mahadev mandir. There were two rival claims, one of which prepared a file of Farmans issued, by Emperor Aurangzeb which confirmed the issue of a Jagir for the temple. I was shocked to find this reference regarding a man who is supposed to have been a destroyer of temples. At first I was inclined to believe that these (Farmans) were forgeries.

However, before I reached a definite conclusion, I thought it to be in order to consult Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, a renowned scholar of Persian language. Sir Sapru studied the Jagdambri Shiv Mandir documents and again found Farmans of Aurangzeb which bestowed a Jagir on this temple. A new Aurangzeb was unveiled before me and through further research and

Sanjeev Dasan from Mumbai, Maharashtra, India on December 15, 2013:

I am trying to get more details about General Ratanjiba who led the army of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, who was awarded 100 villages of which Tarapore was main village. The name Tarapore comes for the same reason. but I am not finding any....on the internet...please guid me on this.

Zeepatel on August 24, 2013:

great article..thanks for shedding light on shivaji and his multi faith army

Mahaveer Sanglikar (author) from Pune, India on September 15, 2012:

Thank you Shashank....

Shashank on September 14, 2012:

Great post!!!!

Mahaveer Sanglikar (author) from Pune, India on August 20, 2012:

Thank Ojas for the comment.

ojas on August 20, 2012:

You have done a gr8 job...!

Mahaveer Sanglikar (author) from Pune, India on August 19, 2012:

Thank you Yogesh for reading this hub and expressing your views. You have given an interesting theory, a research form this perspective is awaited.

Yogesh Jog from Sangli on August 19, 2012:

May be, MAY BE it all started getting religious in bajirao's time(shahu's Reign). Bajirao with Mastani as partner cannot be anti-muslim. But his politics might have got coloured safron. People at that times complained about being all holy Hindu places under Muslim rulers, and having to be under their obligation to enter their lands. It could be this sentiment which gives opening for Hindu rashtra free from muslim dominence.(Delhi war bhagava).

Was Shivaji Hindutva-wadi? possibility is very highly unlikely. But certainly he was a Hindu King in Islam dominated/ruled India, that's undeniable fact.(Rajputs were there, but they had given up against current rulers which happened to be all MUSLIMS).

So did Shivaji induced Hindu Nationalism(that Hindus can actually rule India coming over long lasted muslim dominence since 12th century)? That seems very LIKELY.

So it might have been the case that Bajirao(n his successors), Chhatrasal, other Rajput kings, Newly empowering Sikhs(Panipat war helped Sikh lands to be in peace which was never possible before), USED NEW SENTIMENT OF HINDU NATIONALISM FOR THEIR POLITICAL ADVANTAGE, and in a way USED SHIVAJI as the hindu messiah !!

its just a theory. But I think its still going on, using Shivaji's name for political benefit. Is it good or bad?? Ha ha i think its out of question !! Its just which side you are gonna choose, if n IF you wanna get any benefits out of it.

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