It would be an understatement to say that Shivaji Maharaj is revered in Maharashtra. The warrior king, laid the foundations of the Maratha kingdom practically from nothing. This kingdom, at one point, reached as far as Attock, now in Pakistani Punjab, and went on to control the Mughal sultanate of Delhi. That is just one of his many achievements.
His life has been chronicled many times. Be it Sir Jadunath Sarkar or Babasaheb Purandare, various people from various fields have chronicled his life. One such book is by eminent Marathi author Ranjit Desai titled Shriman Yogi. It should be noted that this is not a pure biography, but rather a dramatised presentation of the warrior king. And remains among the author’s best works. Desai’s earlier work, Swami, based on Madhavrao Peshwa was also a hit and won the Sahitya Akademi award.
Now, Vikrant Pande, who also brought N S Inamdar’s Shahenshah and Rau, for non-Marathi readers has also worked to get this title across the country.
Shivaji’s life is full of dramatic events and military prowess. From winning his first battle at all of 16 years, challenging various invading forces amidst fierce opposition by his own kith and kin to establishment of swarajya and his anointment as Chhatrapati, all this in a lifespan of 50 years, is an incredible feat.
The original work by Desai takes its time in the beginning, but picks up pace soon. The book looks at Shivaji not like a superhuman, but a person who fought extraordinary odds to achieve his goals. Clocking in at 1000 plus pages, it looks like quite heavy reading, but it is not.
Coming to the translation, this is a much better translation than the one by V D Katamble. The narrative flows smoothly. A quality of any great novel is its pacing. Neither Desai nor Pande disappoint you in this regard. You are drawn into the annals of history to ride alongside the great Shivaji. One of the book’s plus points is the extra information added at the beginning to help readers get a better perspective of the narrative. Highly recommended.
SHIVAJI - THE GREAT MARATHA
Author: Ranjit Desai
Translated by: Vikrant Pande
Price: Rs 799