Mirza Raja Jai Singh: The General Who Captured Shivaji

jai singh

During most of Shivaji’s ascent to power, the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb refused to acknowledge him as a threat, seeing him only as a glorified zamindar. However, he was forced to pay attention to the Maratha ruler’s rising influence after he attacked and plundered Surat, one of the most important ports of the Mughals. In retaliation to this insult, Aurangzeb decided to bring out the heavy machinery, and sent his best general to teach Shivaji a lesson. This general was Mirza Raja Jai Singh.

Jai Singh came from a humble background, and owed his successful career in the royal court to Shah Jahan, who took him in and helped him rise in the ranks to become a skilled military strategist and an influential court advisor. However, when the war of succession came around, Jai Singh chose to side with Aurangzeb over Shah Jahan, and became his principal advisor.

Aurangzeb held Jai Singh in high esteem, and made sure he was well equipped to take on Shivaji, giving him a force of 100,000 men. Thus armed, Jai Singh’s first move was to send columns of soldiers to attack the countryside that is now Pune. Shivaji was unsuccessful in holding off this powerful attack. Meanwhile, Jai Singh himself poached some of Shivaji’s most important commanders, recruiting them into Mughal service, thus severely weakening Shivaji’s strategic strength.

When Shivaji finally managed to break out from the onslaught, Jai Singh’s troops did not pursue him; instead, they used their technical expertise at building siege equipment to systematically take down Shivaji’s forts.

The attack finally ended with Shivaji trapped inside a fort. He had no choice but to surrender.

He was then taken to Aurangzeb at the Agra Fort. Jai Singh was in no mood to negotiate with this growing threat to the Mughal Empire, and a treaty was signed, costing Shivaji a lot of money and even more land. Shivaji himself was sentenced to house arrest.

Thus, Jai Singh had successfully captured Shivaji.

Alas, the ending of this story isn’t as neat as Jai Singh would have liked. While under house arrest, Shivaji expressed his desire to do penance, and sent enormous baskets of fruit out to the poor every day. And it was in one of these baskets that he managed to smuggle himself out of captivity and return home, where he was heartily welcomed.

Still, Jai Singh had accomplished what many others could not – he challenged Shivaji, and through a series of highly strategic manoeuvres, he emerged victorious over the self-made Maratha ruler, and successfully captured him (albeit not for very long).

Works Cited

Chandra, Satish. Historiography, Religion, and State in Medieval India. Har-Anand Publications, 1996. Print. <https://books.google.co.in/books?id=XAkVclcWWeUC&pg=PA158&lpg=PA158&dq=mirza+raja+jai+singh+shah+jahan+betrayal+aurangzeb&source=bl&ots=VVGrSBxkCu&sig=ACfU3U2zxek2OpPWghH6NznIivQVrTxUFw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjspfStncfqAhVOwzgGHW6ODkgQ6AEwBXoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=mirza%20raja%20jai%20singh%20shah%20jahan%20betrayal%20aurangzeb&f=false> as seen on July 12th, 2020.

Chatterjee, Anjali. “WHY DID MIRZA RAJA JAI SINGH (KACHHWAHA) ESPOUSE THE CAUSE OF AURANGZEB IN THE WAR OF SUCCESSION ? Summary.” Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, vol. 34, 1973, pp. 206–206., www.jstor.org/stable/44138624. Accessed 12 July 2020. <https://www.jstor.org/stable/44138624?read-now=1&refreqid=excelsior%3Ac8af4e836908181843e705099d810bec&seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents >

Desai, Ranjit Ramchandra. “Shivaji: Indian King”. Encyclopaedia Britannica. March 30th,  2020. Web. <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Shivaji > as seen on July12th, 2020.

Gordon, Stewart. The Marathas 1600-1818. Cambridge University Press, 2007. Print. <https://books.google.co.in/books?id=iHK-BhVXOU4C&pg=PA73&lpg=PA73&dq=jai+singh+shivaji&source=bl&ots=S1VSR-PJmf&sig=ACfU3U0yMJwLzJma_bQH8yn_1BPjf-nNqg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwilkbHemL7qAhWg63MBHQjwACw4ChDoATAFegQICRAB#v=onepage&q=jai%20singh%20shivaji&f=false> as seen on July 12th, 2020.


3 thoughts on “Mirza Raja Jai Singh: The General Who Captured Shivaji”

  1. You forgot to mention a few important points :

    1. Mirza Raja Jai Singh had signed the treaty of Purandar and among one of the clauses, King Shivaji had to surrender his son Prince Sambhaji as a ‘Mansabdar’ under the Mughals as a token of loyalty to the Sultanate. After which Mirza Raja convinced Shivaji Maharaj to meet Aurangzeb in Delhi as a gesture of friendship among the two kingdoms.

    2. Mirza Raja vowed “security of life” to Shivaji Maharaj and Prince Sambhaji in Delhi which made it difficult even for Aurangzeb to execute the father and son duo instantly as Mirza’s son Ram Singh was the personal escort of the Maratha Ruler.

    3. Due to this situation house arrest was the only option left after King Shivaji made a contempt of the Mughal court by tossing over the “Khillat” offered by Aurangzeb and walking away showing his back to the Mughal throne.

    4. After the escape of the Maratha King from the Mughal capital, Aurangzeb even had accused Mirza Raja for granting immunity against the emperor to an enemy, certain historians claim that this incident made a loyal commander like Jai Singh getting killed by poisoning under Aurangzeb’s orders. A classic example of Mughal treachery against their own faithful officers.

  2. Great effort to summarise the historic encounter.!! Cheers.
    One cannot ignore how well Mirza Raja was equipped with a crippling force of 100,000 soldiers!! No wonder Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj could’ve withstood that huge army and an experienced general like Mirza Raja.
    Shivaji Maharaj had to give up 80% material property of the empire and his surrender to save his people from meaningless blood bath.
    Still it couldn’t stop Maratha Empire from thriving and hoisting it’s flag in Attock, along with the friends of the Maratha Empire.

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