|Chhatrapati of the Maratha Empire|
|3rd Chhatrapati of the Maratha Empire|
|Reign||11 March 1689– 3 March 1700|
|Coronation||12 February 1689|
|Born||14 February 1670|
Rajgad Fort, Maratha Empire (present-day Pune district, Maharashtra, India)
|Died||3 March 1700 (aged 30)|
Sinhagad fort, Maharashtra
Rajaram Bhosle I (14 February 1670 – 3 March 1700) was the third Chhatrapati of Maratha Empire, who ruled from 1689 to his death in 1700. He was the second son of the Shivaji, the founder of the empire and younger half-brother of Sambhaji, who he succeeded. His eleven-year reign was marked with a constant struggle against the Mughals. He was succeeded by his infant son Shivaji II under the regentship of his widow Tarabai.
Early life and family
Rajaram was born in a family of Bhonsle clan, to Shivaji and his younger wife, Soyarabai on 14 February 1670. He was thirteen years younger than his brother, Sambhaji. Given the ambitious nature of Soyarabai, Rajaram was installed on the Maratha throne upon the death of his father in 1680. However, the Maratha generals wanted Sambhaji as the king and thus, he claimed the throne. Upon Sambhaji's death, Rajaram was crowned as Chhatrapati of the Maratha state.
Rajaram married three times. His first marriage was at the age of ten to Jankibai, the five-year-old daughter of Shivaji's army chief, Prataprao Gujar. His other wives were Tarabai, the daughter of Hambirrao Mohite, the army chief who succeeded Prataprao, and Rajasbai from the influential Ghatge family of Kagal. Rajaram had three sons,
Coronation and attack by the Mughals
After the death of Sambhaji, Rajaram was crowned at Raigad on 12 March 1689. As the Mughals started laying siege to the region around Raigad on 25 March 1689, the widow of Sambhaji (Maharani Yesubai) and her minister Ramchandra Pant Amatya sent young Rajaram to the stronghold of Pratapgad through Kavlya ghat. The Maratha army fought with the Mughals and led the new Maratha king, Rajaram to escape through Kavlya ghat to the fort of Jinji in present-day state of Tamil Nadu via Pratapgad and Vishalgad forts, Rajaram reached Keladi (Near present-day Sagar in Karnataka) in disguise and sought refuge from Keladi Chennamma - The brave Kannada queen fought the Mughals and ensured safe passage and escape of Rajaram to Jinji where he reached after a month and a half on 1 November 1689, Keladi Chennamma fought the jungle warfare which frustrated the Mughals and the Mughals proposed peace accord for the first time with an Indian ruler, Keladi Chennamma. Details of this escape are known from the incomplete poetical biography of Rajaram, the Rajaramacharita written by his Rajpurohit, Keshav Pandit, in Sanskrit.
Siege of Jinji
Aurangzeb deputed Ghazi-ud-din Firoze Jung against the Marathas in the Deccan, and specially sent Zulfiqar Khan Nusrat Jung to capture the Jingi Fort. He laid siege to it in September, 1690. After three failed attempts, it was finally captured after seven years on 8 January 1698. Rajaram, however, escaped and fled first to Vellore and later to Vishalgad.
Santaji and Dhanaji
Rajaram occupied the fort at Jinji from 11 November 1689, but left before it fell in 1698, setting up his court at fort Satara. During that period when Jinji remained unconquered, "the intrepid Maratha commanders, Santaji Ghorpade and Dhanaji Jadhav, wrought havoc in the Karnataka and Maharashtra by defeating the Mughal generals and cutting off their lines of communication."
Rajaram died of lung disease in 1700 at Sinhagad near Pune in Maharashtra leaving behind widows and infants. Janakibai, one of his widows, committed Sati upon Rajaram's death. Another of Rajaram's widows, Tarabai proclaimed her young son, Shivaji II as the Chhatrapati and ruled as his regent. However, the release of Shahu, by the successors of Aurangzeb led to an internecine conflict between Tarabai and Shahu with the latter becoming the winner and occupant of the throne. Tarabai established a separate seat at Kolhapur and installed her son as the rival Chhatrapati. She was shortly deposed by Rajasbai, the other surviving widow of Rajaram. Rajasbai installed the other son of Rajaram called Sambhaji II on the Kolhapur throne. The Kolhapur line has continued to this day through natural succession and adoptions per Hindu custom.
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