Capture and execution of Chatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj by Mughals under Aurangzeb

Posted on 2018-01-28 05:24:38 in Maratha Empire


Sambhaji was killed by tearing him apart from the front and back with metallic tiger claws and beheading with an axe for refusing to accept Islam. Some accounts state that Sambhaji's body was cut into pieces and thrown into the river while some believe Sambhaji's remains were fed to the dogs.

Who was Chatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj?

Sambhaji (May 14, 1657 – March 11, 1689) was the second ruler of the Maratha Kingdom. He was the eldest son of Chhatrapati Shivaji, the founder of Maratha Empire and his first wife Saibai. He was successor of the realm after his father's death, and ruled it for 9 years.


The 1687 Battle of Wai saw the Maratha forces badly weakened by the Mughals. The key Maratha commander Hambirao Mohite was killed and troops began to desert the Maratha armies. Sambhaji's positions were spied upon by his own relations, the Shirke family, who had defected to the Mughals.

In February 1689, the Maratha king was at Sangameshwar unaware of the nearness of his enemies and with a scant force around him. After a sudden raid under Muqarrab Khan a Mughal force reached the place and after a bitter fight succeeded in capturing Shamabaji and Kavi Kalash. 

Some sources also claim that Sambhaji was captured along with 25 of his advisors in a skirmish at Sangameshwar.


Accounts of Sambhaji's confrontation with the Mughal ruler and following torture, execution and disposal of his body, vary widely depending on the source, though generally all agree that he was tortured and executed on the emperor's orders.

The captured Sambhaji and Kavi Kalash were taken to Bahadurgad, where Aurangzeb humiliated them by parading them wearing clown's clothes and they were subjected to insults by Mughal soldiers. Accounts vary as to the reasons for what came next: Mughal accounts state that Sambhaji was asked to surrender his forts, treasures and names of Mughal collaborators with the Marathas and that he sealed his fate by insulting both the emperor and the Islamic prophet Muhammad during interrogation and was executed for having killed Muslims.

Word of Masir I Alambiri, the official history of Aurangzeb’s reign:


Shamba was brought before the court. The Emperor out of his devotion to Islam ordered that from four miles before the camp Shambha should be made an object of ridicule … that the Muslims might be encouraged and the Hindus discouraged by the sight. The night in the morning after which he was brought to the Court …in the joyous expectation of seeing the spectacle, and the day was like the day of Eid because all men, old and young went out to see such a scene of joy and happiness.

The Emperor ordered that man to be removed to the prisons and in that moment Aurangzeb descended from the throne and kneeling down on the carpet of prayer bowed his head to the ground in thanksgiving and raised his hands in prayer to Allah….and drops of marvel(lit tears) fell from his far reaching eyes As the destruction of this wicked infidel in consideration of the harshness and disgrace that he had inflicted by slaying and imprisoning Muslims and plundering Muslims — and by the decision of the Doctors of the Law all were in favour of killing Shamba and thus he was killed with Kavi Kalash.

After two days the Emperor ordered Ruhullah Khan to ask Shamba where he had kept his treasure . In these circumstances that haughty man opened his mouth in defiant and vain words about the Emperor (Aurangzeb) – So the Emperor ordered him to be blinded by driving nails into his two eyes -So it was done. But that proud man from his high spirit gave up taking food from that day onwards and continued to shout defiance to The emperor and the tenets of Islam.

Maratha accounts instead state that he was ordered to bow before Auguranzeb and convert to Islam and it was his refusal to do so, by saying that he would accept Islam on the day the emperor presented him his daughter's hand, that led to his death. By doing so he earned the title of Dharmaveer, the warrior of Dharma. Aurangzeb ordered Sambhaji and Kavi Kalash to be tortured to death; the process took over a fortnight and included plucking out their eyes and tongue, pulling out their nails and removing their skin. Sambhaji was finally killed on March 11, 1689. reportedly by tearing him apart from the front and back with wagh nakhe(metal "tiger claws") and beheading with an axe at Tulapur on the banks of the Bhima river near Pune.

Offical Maratha Source

When they were brought face to face with Aurangzeb, the latter offered to let Sambhaji live if he surrendered all the Maratha forts, turned over all his hidden treasures and disclosed the names of all the Mughal officers who had helped him. Sambhaji refused, and instead sang the praises of Mahadev (Lord Shiva). Aurangzeb ordered him and Kavi Kalash to be tortured to death. Sambhaji and Kavi Kalash were brutally tortured for over a fortnight. The torture involved plucking out their eyes and tongue and pulling out their nails. The later part involved removing their skin. On March 11, 1689, Sambhaji was finally killed, reportedly by tearing him apart from the front and back with ‘Wagh Nakhe’ (‘Tiger claws’, a kind of weapon), and was beheaded with an axe. This grievous death was given to him at Vadhu on the banks of the Bhima river, near Pune.

The Persian history (Fatuhat I Alamgiri) :

At last the case was reported to the Emperor and by his order Shambaji was taken to the place of execution and his limbs were hacked of one after the other- his severed head was publicly exposed across the Empire and taken to Delhi and hung on the gate of that city.

Other accounts state that Sambhaji challenged Aurangzeb in open court and refused to convert to Islam. Dennis Kincaid (a civil servant in British India, a novelist and the author of Shivaji: The Grand Rebel) writes, "He (Sambhaji) was ordered by the Emperor to embrace Islam. He refused and was made to run the gauntlet of the whole Imperial army. Tattered and bleeding he was brought before the Emperor and repeated his refusal. His tongue was torn and again the question was put. He called for writing material and wrote 'Not even if the emperor bribed me with his daughter!' So then he was put to death by torture".

Some accounts state that Sambhaji's body was cut into pieces and thrown into the river or that the body or portions were recaptured and cremated at the confluence of rivers at Tulapur.

Other accounts state that Sambhaji's remains were fed to the dogs.

His heroic death is one of the landmark events in modern Indian history. The event also proves that Aurangzeb was an Islamic fundamentalist and tyrant.

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