When someone thinks about the great Maratha ruler Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his legacy, one remembers the battles he had won against the Mughals, Adilshahi and Nizamshahi, the forts he conquered and some of his chivalrous aides Tanaji Malusare, Baji Prabhu Deshpande, Murarbaji, Netaji Palkar and Jiva Mahala.
However, the warrior king had many other equally valiant fighters who showed their exemplary skills in war and sacrificed their lives. However, they have remained unsung heroes.
Damodar Magdum, a technical officer from C-DAC, Pune, has embarked on a mission to tell their stories through a book titled "Swarajyache Shur Senani" (Brave Soldiers of Self-Government).
Magdum, a keen researcher and historian, visited many places where the battles were fought and where lives were sacrificed. He inspected some memorials to these men, many of which are in shambles. But he has vowed to resurrect their memory.
"I have been researching on Shivaji, his governance style, warfare and forts. I came across names like Kanhoji Jedhe, Yesaji Kank, Bandal Deshmukh, Babaji Dohar Dhumal Deshmukh, Umabai Dabhade, a woman who was a commander, and others whose stories are hardly heard," said Magdum.
"It was a mammoth task to compile the information of more than 80 warriors, so I decided to visit the places where these heroes fought battles. I also traced their descendants to collect information," he said.
He has taken the assistance of Bharat Itihaas Sanshodhak Mandal to authenticate the information.
Magdum intends to use the money earned from the book to restore the memorials that are spread across the state and in some other parts of the country.
"As we talk about the restoration of forts, it is also necessary to do something about these memorials that would be ruined if they are not taken care of. They are the only objects left as witness to the chivalry of these brave soldiers of the Maratha warrior," he said.
What their descendants have to say ?
Raghuji Angre, descendent of Kanhoji Angre, chief of naval section in Maratha kingdom, who was also known as 'Darya Sarang', said that the information regarding the warriors was not available at one place. In the book, the writer has genuinely attempted to incorporate the stories of these soldiers and brought together the entire Maratha kingdom.
"Children of the present generation will benefit from the research and it will also enable them to understand the Maratha kingdom," said Angre, who is into farming and lives in Alibaug.
Nana Dhumal-Deshmukh, who is the 13th generation of Babaji Dohar-Dhumal Deshmukh, who was one of Shivaji's valiant men, showed exemplary valor by defeating Adilshah's army after Afjal Khan's assassination.
"No one till date has taken cognizance of the unsung heroes of Chatrapatti Shivaji. Magdum collected the information by visiting various historical places which is commendable," he said.
"Since, he has taken a forward role to initiate the work of restoration of the memorials and wadas, we are also with him," said Shashikant Kank, one of the descendents of Yesaji Kank, childhood friend of Shivaju Maharaj