Shivaji Maharaj combat with Afzal Khan

Shivaji Maharaj, also known as Chhatrapati Shivaji or Shivaji Raje was the founder of the Maratha Empire in western India. He was known for his flawless warrior skills and unlimited courage.

One such famous incident which showcased his flawless warrior skills and unlimited courage was his combat with Afzal Khan.

Shivaji Maharaj combat with Afzal Khan :

Shivaji killing Afzal Khan

Above you can see a painting from the 1920’s depicting Shivaji killing Afzal Khan.

In 1659, Adilshah the ruler of the Sultanate of Bijapur sent his commander Afzal Khan, to destroy Shivaji. When the Maratha warriors led by Shivaji Maharaj challenged the Adilshahi supremacy, Afzal Khan was volunteered to the task of defeating the Marathas with the original plan of invading Pune, Shivaji Maharaj’s original residence.

Then, Shivaji Maharaj moved to Pratapgad Fort as he knew that he would not be able to defeat Afzal Khan in the plains. This Fort was surrounded by the dense forest valley area of Jawali. This shifting helped Shivaji Maharaj’s in two ways at first, his army excelled in this type of terrain and second Adilshahi army’s cannons, muskets, elephants, horses and camels would become ineffective.

Afzal Khan felt that this battle would cause massive casualties and dead to both sides, therefore, sent out emissaries to Shivaji Maharaj, to lure him down the fort and negotiate peace. Even Shivaji Maharaj agreed to avoid unnecessary losses. Thus the two leaders agreed to meet for negotiations.

Shivaji Maharaj know the evil mind of Afzal Khan behind the negotiations as he knew that in 1639, Afzal Khan had murdered Raja Kasturi Ranga after inviting him for a meeting where he could safely make a submission. When Afzal Khan sent his envoy Krishnaji Bhaskar to Shivaji Maharaj, Shivaji Maharaj solemnly appealed to him as a Hindu priest to tell him if Afzal Khan was making any treacherous plans on which Krishnaji hinted that Afzal Khan harbored mischief. Shivaji Maharaj then sent his own envoy Pantaji Gopinath to Afzal, agreeing to a meeting with real mission of finding out the strength of Afzal’s forces. Pantaji bribed some officials of Afzal Khan to learn that he was planning an attack on Shivaji Maharaj.

Afzal Khan had originally asked Shivaji Maharaj to meet him at Wai. Shivaji Maharaj insisted that the meeting should take place closer to Pratapgad. Afzal Khan agreed, on the condition. It was agreed that the leaders would be unarmed, and each man would bring an envoy and two armed bodyguards: one would be a swordsman and another an archer. Afzal Khan’s companions included Sayyid Banda, a distinguished military man.

Shivaji, forewarned, wore armour under his clothes and a steel helmet under his turban. He carried a weapon called wagh nakh (“tiger claws”), consisting of an iron finger-grip with four razor claws, which he concealed within his clenched fist. He also carried a stiletto-like thin dagger called the bichu or Bichawa (scorpion). He was accompanied by his bodyguards Jiva Mahala and Sambhaji Kavji.

At the start of the meeting Afzal Khan graciously embraced Shivaji as per custom. According to the Maratha chronicles, he then suddenly tightened his clasp, gripped Shivaji’s neck in his left arm and struck him with a kitar. Shivaji, saved by his armor, recovered and counter-attacked Afzal Khan with wagh nakh, disemboweling him. He then stabbed Khan with his bichawa, and ran out of the tent towards his men.