Friday, January 09, 2015

The Story of Shivaji

The story of Shivaji ought to be inspirational for any Indian. Or anybody. Anybody who thinks in a situation that the chips are down or if it appears like there is no way out.  I finished reading the book Shivaji by Sethu Madhavarao Pagadi. Translated in English - it is a book badly put together. It is a series of paragraphs strung together and some historical accounts - and there is so much of a story to be told. This book is a mostly a compendium of events of Shivajis life through various historical accounts.

A story of inspiration. A story of bravery. A story of a motivation. A story of a dream. A story of having the odds stacked against an individual. A story of a repressive regime. A story of a mother. A story that is the true David versus Goliath. Where against all odds, one man brought an empire down to its knees (from which the Mughal empire never recovered). A story of how one man (or his mother - Jihabai) inspired an entire generation or more of Marathas to ultimately rule the country. It is also a story of strategy. Not just military, but non-military, of foresight, of negotiation, of justice. There are so many aspects to this story, it is amazing.

But more importantly, it also brings an underpinning of something that is so important when you are up against something so daunting. Shivaji, was a disruptive innovator. And as a disruptive innovator, he broke rules - impudently. He fought battles on his terms. He used his strength. He hit his enemy when and where it was least expected. He built alliances out of thin air. He used everything around him - for example, staying friendly with the English while attacking the Mughals. Or staying friendly with the Mughals while doing something else. He broke rules when he realized that his opponent was an unethical opponent to begin with. And he broke rules impudently - while still remaining true to certain human principles. And he broke what was accepted as conventional wisdom as well. And he always kept his opponent guessing. And of course, he used the 'my enemies enemy is my friend' to great advantage. And in doing so, started the irreversible decline of the Mughal empire and created a Maratha empire (not duly recognized by our historians, IMO) that ruled from present day Tamil Nadu in the South to nearly Attock in present day Pakistan.

Without breaking the rules, he would never have succeeded.

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