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Sivabharata – Epic Written On Shivaji By Kavindra Paramananda

Sivabharata, also known as Shivabharat, is an epic written on Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj by Kavindra Paramananda in Sanskrit. The text is a fine specimen of a medieval Sanskrit mahakavya (epic), noted as much for its literary qualities as for its historical importance. Paramananda, Shivaji’s court poet, sees the events of that tempestuous era through the lens of Hindu theology, thus producing a beautiful poem recounting the feats of Shivaji and his immediate forbears in a mythic manner conforming to the canons of literary compositions.

Sivabharata has over 2000 verses; however, the work is incomplete. It stops abruptly after the 30 second canto. The colophon, however, promises a work of a hundred thousand verses. The extant poem traces career of Shivaji (cantos 2-4) and his birth as an avatara (incarnation) of Vishnu, born to overcome Mughal impression, and so on. It trails off in the middle into a description of Shivaji’s campaign in 1661 CE. Later, the poet again seems to have taken up his tale, narrating the last years of the hero’s life (1677-79 CE). The latter thirteen cantos, unnumbered, unpolished, and entirely different in tone, are suspected to be the work of some other person, probably employed by Shivaji’’s son, Sambhaji.

The central episode of Sivabharata is a struggle for power, an epic fight between dharma and adharma, good and evil. He was to restore the glory of Hindus by establishing Hindavi Swaraj and ousting the Muslim rule which oppressed Hindus in many ways. This is why he is compared by Paramananda with Krishna, who liberated people from the clutches of Kamsa, an oppressor. As a biography of Shivaji, it can be read alongside his other biographies, especially the early Marathi chronicles known as Lakhas. Some scholars even compare it to Raghuvamsha of the great classical poet, Kalidasa.

G. W. Laine of the USA has translated it into English in collaboration with Professor S.S.Bahulkar (Pune, India).