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Shivaji's portrait (1680s) housed in the British Museum

In the history that I know of, two very beautiful incidents I’ll tell you which come to My mind today is one of Shivaji. When Shivaji – it’s twice it has happened in his lifetime which is very remarkable – he was once presented with a lady who was very beautiful, and people had plundered her things and all her ornaments, because she was a daughter of a Muslim courtesan, as you call the courtier. And they tried to plunder him and they brought this beautiful woman before Shivaji. So Shivaji looked at her and said, “Please remove your veil,” because Muslims have a veil. And when she removed her veil, he said that “If my mother was as beautiful as you are, I would have been equally beautiful.” What a thing to say – what a poetic thing to say: that is that “If you were my mother, I would have been as beautiful as you are,” means you are my sister. And then he got very angry with all these people and asked them that “You better take her away and never do such a thing to any woman!” And not only, but he gave lots of ornaments and lots of things to her to say that she’s a sister going to the husband with all respect and regard. And this gentleman, her husband, was a very deadly enemy of Shivaji. How he solved the problem with such purity and then this gentleman became sort of a milder person with this gesture of his.

Second in his lifetime we hear about a fort which is now very close to My house in Poona was, there was a Rajput lady called Kamal Kumari, who was entrapped by the man who was the officer of that fort, who was a Muslim, and he was telling this Kamal Kumari that “You must marry me.” And she would not accept. They had brought her from somewhere, sort of, by force. And she would not accept; she was Rajput. And he said, “By tomorrow, you’ll have to marry me.”

This lady didn’t know what to do, so with someone very secretly she sent a letter to Shivaji with a rakhi. But it reached the mother of Shivaji. Mother sent a letter, sent a message, to Shivaji on a horse that “Come here as fast as possible – if you are eating your food, then come here to wash your hands,” to that extent. And Shivaji was so obedient to his mother, very obedient. One has to learn from his character. He rushed there because obedience was his power.

He rushed there and asked, “Mother, what is it?”

So she said, “No, I want to play chess with you.” He said, “Why now?”

“I must play chess.” He couldn’t understand. And she played chess and she won something. She could have told him, but she just wanted to sort of put a Vishnumaya on him. He lost.

“Mother, what do you want?”

She said, “Today I want you by night to capture this fort.”



Then she showed him the letter and the rakhi. Rakhi was so powerful that a mother had to ask her son, who was responsible for the deliverance of Maharashtra from the clutches of the Muslims, that he should go to this fort and capture it. Such a powerful message out of that string. So. All right. Came out. He was quite upset how to do it. Suddenly there was one gentleman called Tanaji, had come to invite him to his son’s wedding with his uncle. And he saw him so upset; he said,

“Why are you so upset, sir?”

He said, “My mother has asked me such and such thing.”

He said, “All right, I’m going. You don’t have to go because we’ll have many Tanaji’s like me but we have only one Shivaji. I’m going to do it.”

He said, “But your son is going to marry.”

He said, “First let my sword marry this fort, then I will marry my son.”

Such people, we had also. Such sacrifice. Only on that rakhi. Think of that, only one rakhi. All right. They didn’t know this girl, they didn’t know her father, they didn’t know anything about her, they had never seen her. Can you think of somebody who will do like this in modern times? We are supposed to be very evolved, powerful, great people. Even in the pictures we need not show it. Nobody will come to see such a film because they’ll feel so low.

And he went there and he used a kind of a big lizard which went and fixed the nails. With a rope, he climbed up and they conquered and won that fort.

It was decided that if they are successful they should lit a fire which Shivaji can see and come down. He saw the fire early in the morning so went there, and under a tree, the dead body of this Tanaji was lying. He looked at it and he said, “We have got the fort but we have lost a lion.”

That’s why it’s called as the Fort of the Lion, Sinhagad, which you can see from My house very clearly. But these are the monuments of a small thing called a rakhi. A small symbol of expression that can capture forts after forts. (Shri Vishnumaya Puja, New York City (United States), August 9th, 1987 , start at min 20'40)

There’s story of Shivaji which I must have told you before also, that his Guruji wanted to take his test. Because Mahamaya is a testing… testing power. And he said… to his disciples he said: “I’ve got a terrible boil on my foot which is about to burst out,” a huge thing he had here, tied up. “And it’s leaking now with the pus is coming out. And I cannot get it cured unless and until one of you can suck it.” – Imagine! How many of you would agree? Won’t even think of it, isn’t it? What a test! And especially Indians who are so worried about their personal cleanliness. They wash their hands fifty times.

So everybody looked at it, quite worried. (Laughter.) Shivaji had come that time. And Shivaji said: “All right, I will do it.” And it was a mango he had put in there.

And he sucked it and he said: “It’s very nice and sweet…!” (Laughter.)

One day again he asked that: “I want the milk of a tigress.” Everybody was quite frightened. Who is going to milk the tigress?

Shivaji said: “All right, I’ll go!” He went in the forest, and he was looking out for a tigress who has given her cubs a – they, they are even worse. And he saw some cubs there.

So he went near them and he started saying: “See, my guru wants your mother’s milk. Can I have it? I want to have your mother’s milk!”

The tigress was looking at him. And he bowed to her. He said: “You see, my guru wants your milk. What am I to do?” And she could see that. She came and stood before him. He had taken a pot with him. He milked her. And he took that for his guru. Because even a tiger, even a serpent respects the dedication to reality. [Mahamaya Shakti. Seminar in Birmingham (UK), 20 April 1985]

Other talks about Shivaji:

Conversation. Ram Das Temple, Satara (India), 30 December 1982.

Puja in Satara: Shivaji the Anchavatara. Satara (India), 7th February 1984