Shivaji’s Second Surat Invasion
After the first sack of the city of Surat which was the most imperial commercial emporium of its times for the Mughals, Shivaji continued to raid Mughal territories and ships in the Indian Ocean to safeguard the Maratha Empire and Swarajya. Attack is the best defence was his strategy. Enraged by his defeat, Aurangzeb sent Mirza Raja Jai Singh to attack and defeat Shivaji. Jai Singh's forces made significant gains and captured many Maratha forts, forcing Shivaji to come to terms with Aurangzeb rather than lose more forts and men. Shivaji agreed to give up 23 of his forts and pay compensation of 400,000 rupees to the Mughals and the treaty of Purandar was signed between Mirza and Shivaji Maharaj in 1665. On behalf of Aurangzeb, Jai Singh also proposed and organized Shivaji’s visit to Agra where he was insulted in the court and later imprisoned. After his escape and return to Raigad, he spend the next three years re-organizing his government and its policies, repairing and provisioning for his forts and recuperating his power. He set out on a re-conquest of his lost forts and territories.
Reason Behind Surat’s Second Attack
Mughals in almost all their attacks vandalized, defaced and wrecked villages, killed people, burnt houses & caused damage to crops and fodder. The very reason of Shivaji’s first loot of Surat was to recover losses caused to his land & people during Shaista Khan’s attack earlier. After Jai Singh's attack in 1665 again the people in Shivaji's kingdom were suffering from same situation. With renewed strategies and policies to recover from these losses & to teach a lesson to Mughals who continued their atrocities on normal and poor people, Shivaji planned his second plunder of Surat.
The Actual Attack
Shivaji again struck a deadly blow to Surat with a much stronger cavalry and infantry this time. (Over 10,000 each). He followed the same route as his first attack via Kalyan. On 3rd October 1670, he attacked Surat and took possession of the town except that of the English, the Dutch and the French houses and the two Serais of the city where foreign merchants and travellers kept their goods. The French made a private peace with Shivaji and his army and Marathas could not take over the English houses so settled for a settlement instead. Shivaji however faced least resistance from the Mughal administration as most of the officials fled the city. The objective of this attack was not to invest time behind single setup but to collect maximum wealth in small time, so leaving the English alone, Maratha Army plundered valuables from merchants and the rich from the city. After gathering enough loot, and threatening to capture the fortress of Surat, Shivaji retreated back on 5th October with a letter addressed to the officials. The letter demanded twelve lakh rupees as a yearly tribute failing which, Shivaji threatened of another plunder and loot.
Most foreign merchants and Mughal officers had taken refuge near the sea port of Swally which had large warehouses of the English, Dutch and French too. Many rich people of the city with immoral practices had fled to Swally for refuge too. A spring-tide made it impossible for the Marathas to cross the river, and Swally remained safe. While the booty from the first sack of Surat amounted close to 80 lakh rupees, the second sack amounted to around 66 lakh rupees. By attacking Surat twice Shivaji sent a strong message to Aurangzeb, “if you vandalize my land, I can return the favour more effectively”. That’s where the greatness of Shivaji is noteworthy. The only intention of his deeds being, safeguarding his complete nation from invaders.
Shivaji’s guru Shri Ramdas Swami described him as the pinnacle of determination, protector of people, resolute in intent, and the reason why Mahrashtra and Deccan survived. Swami Vivekananda speaks of Shivaji Maharaj as - “Shivaji is one of the greatest national saviours who emancipated our society and our Hindu dharma when they were faced with the threat of total destruction. He was a peerless hero, a pious and God-fearing king and verily a manifestation of all the virtues of a born leader of men described in our ancient scriptures. He also embodied the deathless spirit of our land and stood as the light of hope for our future.”
He truly breathed the dream of Swarajya and pledged his entire life for the same. History does not produce heroes like him every other time. Shivaji will be remembered as a kind hearted, just and people’s favourite king in the history for centuries to come.