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Tarabai Shinde

Tarabai Shinde (1850 -1910)[1] was a feminist activist who protested patriarchy and
caste in 19th century India. She is known for her published work, Stri Purush Tulana ("A
Comparison Between Women and Men"), originally published in Marathi in 1882. The
pamphlet is a critique of upper-caste patriarchy, and is often considered the first modern
Indian feminist text.[2] It was very controversial for its time in challenging the Hindu
religious scriptures themselves as a source of women's oppression, a view that
continues to be controversial and debated today.

Early life and family

Born in 1850 to Bapuji Hari Shinde in Buldhana, Berar Province, in present day
Maharashtra. A founding member of the Satyashodhak Samaj, Pune, her father was a
radical and head clerk in the office of Deputy Commissioner of Revenues, he also
published a book title, Hint to the Educated Natives in 1871. Tarabai was the only
daughter and was taught Marathi, Sanskrit and English by her father.

[edit] Social work

Shinde was an associate of social activists Jotirao and Savitribai Phule and was a
member of their Satyashodak Samaj ("Truth Finding Community") organisation. The
Phules had started the first school for Untouchable caste girls in 1848, as well as a
shelter for upper-caste widows in 1854 (who were forbidden from remarrying), and
shared with Shinde an awareness of the separate axes of oppression that constitute
gender and caste, as well as the intermeshed nature of the two.

[edit] Stri Purush Tulana

In her essay, Shinde criticised the social inequality of caste, as well as the patriarchal
views of other activists who saw caste as the main form of social antagonism in Hindu
society. According to Susie Tharu and K. Lalita, "...Stri Purush Tulana is probably the
first full fledged and extant feminist argument after the poetry of the Bhakti Period. But
Tarabai’s work is also significant because at a time when intellectuals and activists alike
were primarily concerned with the hardships of a Hindu widow’s life and other easily
identifiable atrocities perpetrated on women, Tarabai Shinde, apparently working in
isolation, was able to broaden the scope of analysis to include the ideological fabric of
patriarchal society. Women everywhere, she implies, are similarly oppressed."

Stri Purush Tulana was written in response to an article which appeared in 1881, in
Pune Vaibhav, an orthodox newspaper published from Pune, about a criminal case
against a young Brahmin (upper-caste) widow, Vijayalakshmi in Surat, who had been
convicted of murdering her illegitimate son for the fear of public disgrace and ostracism.
Having worked with upper-caste widows who were forbidden to remarry, Shinde was
well aware of incidents of widows being impregnated by relatives. The book analyzed
the tightrope women must walk between the "good woman" and the "prostitute". The
book was printed at Shri Shivjai Press, Pune, in 1882 with with 500 copies at cost nine
annas[7], but hostile reception by contemporary society and press, meant that she did not
publish again. [8]The work finds mention in the second issue of Satsar, the magazine of
Satyashodhak Smaj, started by Jyotiba Phule in 1885, however thereafter the work
remained largely unknown till 1975, when it was rediscovered and republished. [2]


Early life

Sambhaji was born at Purandar fort He was 17 year old when Shivaji was coronated in
1674. His grandmother Jijabai died the same year and Sambhaji lost his mentor and
guide. His father, Shivaji, was too busy with the affairs of the state to mentor him.[2]

In a marriage of political alliance, Sambhaji was married to a minor Jivubai, renamed

Yesubai (as per Maratha custom), daughter of Pillajirao Shirke who was a powerful
deshmukh in the court of Bijapur state in the "Tal-Konkani" area and provided thus, this
marriage in a way provided Shivaji access to Konkan belt.[3]

About Sambhaji

Sambhaji was a follower of Shaktism.

Sambhaji wrote several poems including a Sanskrit poetry book “Budh Bhushan” that
describes the art and science of politics along with detailed description of Raigad fort.

Sambhaji was an excellent general and was a master at guerrilla tactics which he used
effectively against the Mughal but he is never remembered for his Military Genius,
instead he is remembered till today as an icon of Hinduism, he was captured alive by
Aurangzeb who gave him two alternatives, one was to convert to Islam and stay alive in
disgrace or to get tortured to death,Sambhaji preferred the second alternative, he was
tortured to death, and his eyes were destroyed using heated iron rods which were poked
in his eyes, his tongue was cut off and finally his head was cut off with an axe and his
body was buried and burial is against Hindu customs, Aurangzeb thought that by
torturing and destroying Sambhaji,he will destroy Marathas and Hindu resistance to the
Mughal Empire but he wrong as the torturous death of Sambhaji made the Marathas
stronger and the Marathas went on to destroy the Mughal Empire and Muslim rule in

[edit] Coronation

Annaji Datto, Somaji Datto and some others in Shivaji's court wanted to oust Sambhaji to
enhance their own positions and power in the affairs of the state and use it to their
advantage. They poisoned Sambhaji's food but Sambhaji was fortunately saved as the
plot was uncovered. Sambhaji forgave them. Still, they conspired again and wanted to
arrest Sambhaji at the Panhala Fort, where he was staying at the time of Shivaji's death.
They wanted to crown his stepbrother, Rajaram as Maratha king. Rajaram's mother,
Soyarabai, Moropant Trimbak Pingle and his son were involved in this plan. However the
Supreme Commander of Maratha forces, Hambirrao Mohite, who was Soyarbai's
brother, supported Sambhaji as the rightful heir to the throne. It was chiefly because of
Hambirrao Mohite's support that Sambhaji was able to ascend to the throne in 1681.
Sambhaji pardoned Moropant Pingale and reappointed him Peshwa. Sambhaji and
Moropant Pingale together participated in the 1681 Burhanpur war. Others involved in
the plan were executed.

[edit] Attack on Burhanpur

Bahadurkhan Kokaltash, a relative of Aurangzeb was in charge of Burhanpur, a Mughal

stronghold. He left Burhanpur to attend a wedding, giving the charge of Burhanpur to
Kakarkhan. Bahadurkhan also took with him a territorial army to showoff at the wedding.
Sambhaji tricked Mughals into thinking that Marathas were going to attack Surat that had
been twice plundered by Shivaji. However, Hambirrao Mohite, the commander of the
Maratha army surrounded Burhanpur. Sambhaji also reached Burhanpur in a short time.
Thus, within a fortnight of his coronation, Sambhaji along with Hambirrao attacked
Burhanpur. In face of sudden surprise attack the Mughals could not save Burhanpur.
The Marathas plundered all the Mughal treasure in Burhanpur, about twenty million
rupees. Sambhaji purchased horses from an Arab trader although the utterly frightened
trader was ready to give the horses for free. The people of Burhanpur, especially women
and children, were not harmed.[4] The Marathas safely reached Raigad with all the loot.

[edit] War with Mughals

Main article: War of 27 years

In an act of political acumen, Sambhaji gave shelter to Sultan Muhammad Akbar, the
fourth son of Aurangzeb, to cause revolt against Aurangzeb.[4] Within a year or so of
Sambhaji's coronation, Sultan Muhammad Akbar took shelter with him and sought
Sambhaji's aid in winning the Mughal throne from his father Aurangzeb.

Upon the death of Shivaji, Aurangzeb had come to Deccan in 1680 CE with about half a
million troops and 400,000 animals, which at that time was perhaps the largest army in
the world. With the help of such a massive army, he defeated the Adilshah (Bijapur) and
Qutubshah (Golconda) empires. Aurangzeb acquired two generals, Mukarrabkhan and
Sarjakhan, from Qutubshahi and Adilshahi empires respectively. However, he was not
able to bring an end to the Maratha empire. It was a disproportionate battle in all senses.
Aurangzeb's army was about ten times the Maratha army. Sambhaji did not let
Aurangzeb win major victories. Aurangzeb's commanders claimed that they would win
the Ramshej fort near Nashik within hours but the fight for the fort lasted seven years.

[edit] War with Siddis of Janjira

The island of Janjira was under the control of the Siddis. Janjira was strategically a very
important and impregnable fort in the Arabian Sea, with cannons embedded all around.
It also had high economic importance as the traders had to pay large amounts to pass
by this fort. The Marathas had earlier tried conquering Janjira but failed. Sambhaji
wanted to capture Janjira. The Marathas attacked the fort from all sides. Siddis also
retaliated with their cannons and ships and did not give up. Sambhaji ordered a break in
the attack. Other Maratha chiefs did not know that Sambhaji had planted spies in the
Janjira fort and he was waiting for them to blow up the gunpowder store in the fort.
Unfortunately the spies were caught as a female servant came to know about this and
informed the Siddis. One of them managed to escape but the others were killed. When
Sambhaji got this news, he decided to build a bridge of stones from the shore to the
island fort. The construction was very risky, difficult and consumed time. When about
half of the bridge had been built, news came that Aurangzeb had sent about 100,000
troops to ravage the Maratha kingdom. Sambhaji had to leave Janjira to counter the
Mughal army.

[edit] War with Chikka Devraja of Mysore

When he learnt of intrusion into Maratha territory by Chikka Devaraja, Sambhaji had sent
his emissary to Chikka Devaraja. The emissary was insulted in the Mysore court.
Furious at this, Sambhaji decided to attack Chikka Devaraja. The Marathas marched but
Chikka Devaraja prepared to fight and decided to stop the Marathas before they could
reach Mysore’s territory. Both the armies were poised for a battle. The Mysore bowmen
started striking and the Maratha army was greeted with a heavy shower of arrows. The
long-ranged metallic arrows from the Mysore bowmen started inflicting fatal wounds on
the Marathas. Thus, realizing the increasing Maratha casualties, Sambhaji retreated for
the time being and camped nearby. Sambhaji then ordered all the local cobblers to
prepare leather clothing. These garments were ordered to be laden with oil. Marathas
then started making bows and arrows using a locally available wood. These bows and
arrows were ordinary and crude. However a piece of cloth bound to the arrowhead made
it deadly when lit with fire using oil as fuel. Thus, Sambhaji transformed ordinary arrows
into fiery arrows.

The Mysore bowmen had longer, stronger and better quality bows and arrows than the
Marathas. Marathas started attacking the forts in Mysore. The bowmen from atop the
forts commenced striking. But, their arrows proved futile, as the oil-laden leather clothing
neutralized the effects of the arrows. To counter them, Maratha bowmen began
responding with lit arrows. Some of them struck the explosives(gunpowder) store and
caused explosions. This led to high casualties in the Mysore army. The Marathas
pressed on attacking and the forts of Chikka Devraja fell into Maratha hands. Thus,
Chikka Devraja realising the situation he was in, and sued for peace and agreed to abide
by the terms of the Marathas.[4]

[edit] War with the Portuguese of Goa

The Portuguese could provide supplies to Mughals and allow unloading of Mughal ships
at the ports in Goa. Therefore Sambhaji undertook a campaign against the Portuguese
in Goa. He stormed Goa and started conquering Portuguese territory and forts. The
Portuguese were not able to stop the Maratha attack. Common people in Goa rose in
rebellion and started thrashing the priests, whom they accused of carrying out forced
conversions. Sambhaji controlled the irate people of Goa. Seeing the inevitable, the
Portuguese ruler Count De Alwore and his ministers even took out the body of St. Xavier
from the church and started praying for their safety. However, to the astonishment of the
Portuguese, Sambhaji had to depart from Goa as Aurangzeb had again sent about
100,000 troops to defeat the Maratha kingdom.

[edit] Capture and Attempts to rescue

Stone arch at Tulapur confluence where Sambhaji was executed

Sambhaji warned Siddis, Chikkadev Rai and Portuguese from crossing the path of the
Marathas and ordered them to refrain from helping Aurangzeb in any way. In this way,
Sambhaji nullified any threat that the Maratha kingdom had from these three powers.
Sambhaji also beat back the two Mughal armies of 100,000 troops each, which were
sent by Aurangzeb. In fact, the second army was so badly defeated that only a few
troops could return to the Mughal camp. Aurangzeb decided to defeat Sambhaji by

In early 1689 CE, Sambhaji called his commanders for a strategic meeting at
Sangameshwar in Konkan to decide on the final blow to oust Aurangzeb from Deccan. In
order to execute the plans soon, Sambhaji sent ahead most of his comrades and stayed
back with a few of his trustworthy men. Ganoji Shirke, one of Sambhaji's brother-in-laws,
turned a traitor and helped Aurangzeb's commander Mukarrab Khan to locate, reach and
attack Sangameshwar when Sambhaji was in the garden of Sangameshwar, resolving
some issues and was about to leave the town.

Sambhaji and his men were surrounded from all sides. Marathas took out their swords,
roared ‘Har Har Mahadev’ and pounced upon the far too numerous Mughals. A bloody
skirmish took place and Sambhaji was captured on 1 February 1689.

Maratha soldiers and other faithfuls unsuccessfully tried to rescue Sambhaji but were
killed by Mughals on 3 February 1689.

[edit] Execution

Kavi Kalash captured the event of Sambhaji's capture and production before Aurangzeb
as a prisoner in a small poem which was still remembered in Maharashtra. He was
captured due to treachery of his wife's brother. Aurangzeb had him tortured for several
days , hoping to break maratha morale but reluctant and Unselfish Chhatrapati did not
give up.

Sambhaji was tortured for several days and finally was drawn and quartered (ripped
apart) and killed on 11 March 1689 at Tulapur on the banks of Bhima river, near Pune.

Sambhaji's Samadhi (Mausoleum) built at the place where he was cremated, Vadhu

[edit] Immediate after-effects of Sambhaji's execution

Immediately after Sambhaji's death, Maratha confederacy was thrown in a disarray. He

was succeeded by his younger brother Rajaram. The Commander-in-Chief of Maratha
army, Mhaloji Ghorpade, who succeeded Hambirrao Mohite, died in the ambush at
Sangameshwar. A few days after Sambhaji's death, the capital Raigad fell to the
Mughals and Sambhaji's wife and son were captured. However, Rajaram shifted the
Maratha capital to Jinji in deep South. Marathas under Santaji Ghorpade and Dhanaji
Jadhav harassed the Mughal army![5]
After Sambhaji's torture and death, Aurangzeb continued his grim war against the
Marathas for another 18 years but could not win and ended up wasting resources which
hastened the end of the Mughal Empire.

[edit] Shortcomings of Sambhaji

Some historians have doubted Sambhaji's ability as a ruler. Some historians have
portrayed him as ineffective and alcoholic. This was done so that people should not
follow his legacy of not losing a single war to the Mughals who had a 500000 strong
army. Misconceptions were developed about him so that people should stop believing in
greatness of Chhatrapati clan. But all those people failed. Because today Sambhaji is
known for his just character,able ruler, passionate caretaker, military genius and he will
forever be remembered for not submitting before Mughals and preferring to die in honour
than to live in disgrace.

It is quite interesting to look at his own version. After he assumed the charge of
Chhatrapati, he issued a Danapatra which is a eulogy from his great grandfather Maloji
to himself. He writes about him: "He (Aurangzeb) asked me to wrestle before him to
which I refused." (This was during his visit along with his father to Aurangzeb's court in

His biggest shortcoming was that during his capture at Sangameshwar he kept on
fighting instead of leaving. As it was very important at such crucial state of War for him to
live to defend nation.