“Is there a greater hero, a greater saint, a greater bhakta and a greater king than Shivaji? Shivaji was the very embodiment of a born ruler of men as typified in our great Epics. He was the type of the real son of India representing the true consciousness of the nation. It was he who showed what the future of India is going to be sooner or later, a group of independent units under one umbrella as it were, under one supreme imperial suzerainty.” - Swami Vivekananda

This exhibition show-cases the unique place of Chhatrapati Shivaji in the history of India, at a time when Hindus were experiencing great oppression and humiliation : they were being killed, their wives and children taken in slavery, their temples were being broken, and they were being discriminated against in various forms, such as in the matter of charging custom duties, restrictions on their fairs and festivals, their dismissal from government posts, large-scale conversions as a part of openly declared policy of the Mughal State, imposition of the religious tax Jiziya for being a Hindu.. These discriminatory acts were then going almost unchallenged, although the Hindus formed more than 90% of the country at that time.

Shivaji, who was endowed with talents of the highest order and a clear vision, was the only one who stood-up to the injustice. He had also an inspiring and endearing personality which spontaneously commanded respect, loyalty and the highest sacrifices from his devoted soldiery and peasants. To create his Swarajya, a bold mission, inspired by the highest ideals imbibed by him from his mother and the saints of Maharasthra, he had to rouse the sleeping conscience of the Hindus, and show them that it was possible to successfully defy the Mughal power, cast off foreign domination and win freedom from the rule of the Muslim powers.

He had however to contend with Aurangzeb, one of the ablest, but also the most cruel of all Mughal Emperors. In the present exhibition attempt has been made to present, through paintings, sketches, line drawings and contemporary documents, the unique role that Chhatrapati Shivaji has played not only in the history of India, but also in the preservation of Her culture and spirituality, as he stood against the enemy that wanted to erase it forever from this land. It is, thanks to Shivaji, for instance, that West and South India could retain their identities. Indeed, Marathis and Tamils alike, owe to the great Shivaji and the sacrifices of his men, the enduring wholesomeness of their traditions - social, cultural and religious – whereas the same cannot be said about the North of India. Indeed, except for some parts of the non-Kashmir Himalayas, the rest of India had to bear the rules and directions of the Shariat, which had evolved in far off Arabia during 7th and 8th centuries, and was sought to be imposed in the 17th century with all its inherent vehemence, by an Emperor entirely committed to its principles and philosophy.

This exhibition is relevant today because Shivaji embodied all the qualities that politicians should possess in 21st century India, but do not always have: he was just, firm and stood for the weak; he was an honest and able administrator; he confronted the enemy and was not cowed into submission; he was devoted to Mother India who appeared to him as Bhavani; he was ruthless with his enemies, but spared women, children and his own people ; he would go to both Muslim and Hindu saints and endowed mosques as well as temples.

Let the spirit of Shivaji float on India again and deliver her from her present enemies.