Shivaji in confinement at Agra - The six rings of guards

Four days prior to Shivaji's flight from Agra on 18th August 1666, his confinement was made all the more strict. Shivaji came to know that Emperor Aurangzeb had again ordered that he (Shiva) be put to death but later decided to keep him in the haveli of Raja Vitthaldas. When Shivaji paid a visit to Kunwar Ram Singh of Amber, who had stood by Shivaji till now and had agreed to stand as his (Shivaji's) surety also, the Kunwar did not meet him. Shivaji now understood that it was time to put his plan of escape in action before it was too late. To do so, surrounded as he was by six rings of guards to keep vigil on him, was no easy task. The sketch based on a contemporary Rajasthani letter shows the manner of his confinement thus:

1. In the innermost patrol or chauki were four Brahmins – Ram Kishan Brahman, Jevo Joshi, Shri Krishna Upadhyaya and Purohit Balram, all Kunwar Ram Singh's men. They were posted nearest to Shivaji's bed-chamber to attend upon him. From time to time, they used to go inside the room to have a look at him. On the18th August, when one ghari of night had remained, i.e. about 3.30 a.m., Shivaji had asked Purohit Balram to bring dry fruits for him which he ate, told the Purohit when questioned searchingly soon after Shivaji's escape.

2. Outside the entrance gate or deorhi of the haveli was posted a guard of musketeers with their guns loaded.

3. All around the haveli were posted Mina Chowkidars of Amber (later Jaipur), known to be expert watchmen.

4. Behind the Mina Chowkidars (watchmen) were Imperial troops ('Bagsaryas' in Parkaldas' letter of c. 23 August 1666). They formed the fourth ring of guards.

5. Behind them were posted Agra's dreaded Kotwal Faulad Khan's ahdis or gentlemen troopers.

6. And finally, there were Kunwar Ram Singh of Amber's Rajput Thakurs – Rin Singh and others.

"But Shivaji, in spite of all these guards escaped is a matter of real astonishment", writes the Amber official Parkaldas in his letter dated c.23 August 1666 to Kalyandas, the Diwan of Amber.

The adjoining sketch shows the arrangement of the six concentric circles of guards to keep vigil on Shivaji at the time of his flight from his confinement at Agra, as described by Parkaldas, an eye witness to the dramatic development there during 11th May – 18th August 1666. Emperor Aurangzeb acted as host of Shivaji during this period.