Yesterday was the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (1627-1680). It was celebrated with great joy all over the Maharashtra and by all Marathi-speaking people wherever they are in some form or other. Shivaji was one national hero of who is still revered by millions above cast and creed. Indeed Shivaji is a towering name above all, and if you ask anyone to give just one name that binds all Marathi people together, it would be that of Shivaji without a second thought.
The popularity and greatness of Shivaji’s character have given rise to a typical phenomenon in the modern India. Each and every ideological group want him colored in their own color, and unfortunately the far-right saffron Hindutva folks succeeded in it. They distorted his image so much that he is almost deified as an incarnation of God who took birth “to save the Hindu people from the tyranny of Muslim rulers”; and this is far from truth.
This needs to be checked against historical facts and people should be made aware about this. This has become more important in the post-1992 and post-Godhra India where Shivaji is again and again projected as a destroyer and enemy of Muslims.