Baji

On a dark night with skies gloomy
With none but silence for company
The name of Ghodkhind1 then I held
When this legend long ago had swelled.

The siege of Panhala2 was pierced
Breaking the fatal grip fierce
With the mavalas3 who have no fears
Arrives Shiva who alone wind tears.

To trample the freedom of the land
Summoned by the Shah’s4 wishes grand
Chases him with malice to strand
An army that Masud Siddi manned.

To see the light of the day
Strong swords behind need to stay
To slow the enemy along the way
Shiva chose his men for a foray.

To steal victory from those with vice
To crush vultures in the precipice
Stood a general against the nemesis
to shield a young nation’s genesis.

Shiva rides away with a heart heavy
To conquer a fort towards safety
Outnumbered with only a few handy
Positions Baji his men deftly.

The savages slide in waves of three
Each time they had to take a knee
With every shadow and every body
Battles brawny blood-stained Baji.

The Mavalas swing swords with one goal
For Shiva’s sake not to lose any control
They arose such that no shadow nor soul
Could breakthrough them to make a hole.

The chase by now has come to a stall
As Siddi prays for the leader’s fall
But with every cut Baji fights tall
Paying no heed to the reaper’s call.

The worn and weary warrior somehow
Clings to his life to fulfill his vow
Until in the air the cannon shots5 plow
Then lets go all that he held until now.

The lore of this night with all the din
I sing it to every wanderer and wind
When one man alone had scores pinned
And transformed me into a Pavankhind6.

(Read the Marathi version here)

 

1 Ghodkhind (Horse’s Pass) is an extremely narrow pass where only a few soldiers can pass at a time.

2 In early March 1660, Panhala came under seige of Bijapuri forces led by Siddi Jauhar. Shivaji expected that the onset of the rains would slacken the siege. But when that did not happen, Shivaji, along with the Baji Prabhu Deshpande and few hundred soldiers, escaped from Panhala towards Vishalgad.

3 The western belt of the Puna district, running along the Western Ghats for a length of 90 miles and a breadth of 12 to 24 miles, is known as Maval or the Sunset Land. From this region Shivaji drew his best soldiers, his earliest comrades, and his most devoted followers.

4 The Adilshahis were the dynasty which ruled Bijapur for many centuries. The ruler at the time was Ali Adil Shah II. Shivaji had inflicted embarrassing defeats upon the Adilshahis, and they were determined to crush him.

5 The gun-fire from Vishalgad, Shivaji’s destination fort, gave the anxiously expected signal that he had reached safety within its walls.

6 Ghodkhind was subsequently named Pavankhind (“Holy Pass”) in honor of the sacrifice of Baji Prabhu and his troops.

References:

Shivaji and His Times, Jadunath Sarkar (1920) (Available for download here)

The Siege of Panhala, 1660

Shivaji, Baji Prabhu & the Battle of Pavan Khind

 

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