Shivaji and Aurangzeb

King Shivaji lived during the reign of the Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb's father was Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal in memory of his wife. Unfortunately, Aurangzeb was very bad. He killed all his brothers, put his father into prison and did many other terrible things. Then, towards the end of his life, he repented.

In 1666 Shivaji received a letter from the Emperor inviting him to come to the court at Agra. Although Shivaji knew that the Emperor was capable of treachery, he accepted because he did not want to appear to be afraid of Aurangzeb. Shivaji arrived in Agra with his eldest son, Shambhuji, and a small contingent of soldiers on the 12th of May, which happened to be the Emperor's 50th birthday.

When Shivaji entered the Audience Hall and placed his offerings before Aurangzeb, the Emperor did not speak a single word of welcome to him. Instead, Shivaji was led to an inferior position at the back of the hall. It now became obvious that the great Maratha hero had been led into a trap. He and his son were captives of the Emperor.

Shivaji was imprisoned in the Moghul capital for several months. However, he did not surrender to despair, but began making plans for his escape. One evening Shivaji and Shambhuji hid inside two huge fruit baskets. Shivaji had arranged for them to be left at a lonely spot outside the city. Shivaji and Shambhuji waited until the porters had gone and then emerged from the fruit baskets. They besmeared their bodies with ashes and made their way back to their kingdom disguised as religious mendicants.

Sri Chinmoy, Shivaji, Agni Press, 1997