Shivaji was born on 19th February 1630, to Sahaji and his wife, Jijabai, in the Shivneri Fort, situated almost 60 km to the north of Pune. He was named as Shiva, after the local Goddess Shivai, to whom his mother Jijabai had prayed for a son. After being defeated by the combined forces of the Mughals and Adil Shah, Sahaji was offered a jagir near the present-day Bangalore. However, he was allowed to keep his holdings in Pune. So, Sahaji left his son Shivaji to manage the Pune holdings, under the care of his mother Jijabai.
With a small council of ministers, Shivaji began managing his estate. His ministers included Shamrao Nilkanth as Peshwa, Balkrishna Pant as Muzumdar, Raghunath Ballal as Sabnis and Sonopant as Dabir. At the same time, Kanhoji Jedhe and Baji Pasalkar were appointed to look after Shivaji's training. In the year 1644, Shivaji undertook full administrative responsibilities of his estate. Thus was started his career as an independent young prince of a small kingdom. His mother, Jijabai, was instrumental in instilling in Shivaji's mind a love for independence and distaste for external political domination.
The first aggression in the life of Shivaji came at the age of sixteen, when he seized the Torna fort of Bijapur kingdom. By 1647, he had gained control over Kondana and Rajgad forts, with complete power of the Pune region. With time, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj secured the forts in the Western Ghats as well as those along the Konkan coast. Shivaji also fought against the army of Adilshah at Purandhar. In November 1659, he fought the battle of Pratapgarh and defeated Afzal Khan. Immediately after this success, King Shivaji occupied the area stretching upto the Panhala fort.
The battle of Kolhapur took place in December 1659. In the battle, Shivaji crushed the army of Bijapuri general, Rustemjaman. In 1660, Siddi Johar's huge and daunting army attacked him at Panhala fort. Shivaji managed to escape from the fort. However, he soon launched an attack on Siddi Johar. The result was the surrender of Panhala and a truce between Shivaji and Adilshah. After the death of Adilshah, Aurangzeb attacked Golconda and Bijapur. Shivaji used guerilla-style tactics and captured more and more of the Bijapuri and Mughal territories. However, by 1663, he had lost most of his conquests to the Mughal army.
In the next few years, Shivaji again started seizing forts belonging to both Mughals as well as those of Bijapur. Aurangzeb sent Jai Singh, his Hindu general, to capture Shivaji. Shivaji surrendered to Jai Singh at Purander in 1665 and agreed becoming a Mughal vassal. In 1666, he managed to escape form his house arrest in Agra and lay low for the next few years. However, in January 1670, Shivaji launched an attack on Mughal garrisons in Maharashtra. Within a period of six months, he won back most of his lost empire. The period of 1670 to 1674 was spent by Shivaji Maharaj in expanding his empire at the cost of the Mughals.
In 1670, Shivaji launched an assault, under his General - Tanaji Malusare, to capture Kondana fort on the outskirts of Pune. The battle was won but he lost Tanaji. In the honor of Tanaji, the Kondana fort was renamed as Sinhagad. Shivaji was formally crowned as Chatrapati (meaning the Chief, Head or King of Kshatriyas) in June 1674 at the Raigad fort. He was given the title of Kshatriya Kulavantas Simhasanadheeshwar Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The end of 1676 saw Shivaji commencing attacks in the southern parts of India.
Death and Succession
Shivaji breathed his last on 3rd April 1680 in the Raigad fort, the capital for Maratha Empire. He was succeeded by his elder son, Sambhaji.
(~ From www.culturalindia.net)
Read more about Shivaji at hero-for-modern-india.blogspot.com, Wikipedia, www.chhatrapati-shivaji.com, members.tripod.com, Encyclopedia Britannica
There are a number of tales about Shivaji and his contemporaries. Some, like Rani Mallamma of Belavadi are historical stories while others like the story of Hira the Milkmaid are legends. The Shivaji of all these stories is a man who is held in high esteem; a man who recognises nobility even in his adversaries; a man of virtue who treats even his prisoners-of-war with respect. Three such legends are given in this ACK.