Chhatrapati Shivaji Raje Bhosale is a much revered name in India, especially in the western state of Maharashtra which is home to her Marathi-speaking population. Born in 1630 to a nobleman in the service of one of three Islamic Sultanates ruling the sub-continent, Shivaji was raised primarily by his pious and righteous mother Jijabai, who greatly influenced his young mind. She taught him from ancient Indian scriptures and moulded him into a highly religious, sensitive, self-respecting and ambitious  youngster. At the tender age of sixteen Shivaji denounced imperial rule, declaring the rulers as foreign invaders and embarked upon the difficult and arduous task of establishing a free state. For three and a half decades till his own death, he worked relentlessly toward this goal, fighting as many enemies within his own people as from the imperialists he was attempting to overthrow. In 1674 Shivaji crowned himself as an independent sovereign King of his people, assuming the title of “Chhatrapati.” This event has a tremendous significance in India’s history as it was the first instance in centuries that an indigenous ruler had shaken off the control of the foreign rulers and declared himself as King. It was an event that marked not just the beginning of the Maratha Empire, which was

chiefly responsible for the decline of the powerful Mughals in the 18th century, but also marked the dawn of a new era in India’s history. An era in which India’s indigenous populace said with conviction, No more foreign rule”.

That the Maratha Empire didn’t just survive, but prospered after Shivaji’s death is testimony to the fact that Shivaji had succeeded in his primary task, which was to awaken his people, instil a confidence in their hearts and give them an identity. In the words of the great Saint Samarth Ramdas himself, It was because of Shivaji that Maharashtra’s culture survived.” It is no wonder then, that India’s Marathi population hails Shivaji as their eternal hero and holds him on a pedestal equal to that of God.

‘300 Brave Men’ is the first of a trilogy of books, which bring the epic story of this remarkable man to life …… a man hailed by everyone as India’s greatest warrior King.

This first book of the trilogy, dramatizes twenty years of Shivaji’s life, from the year 1641 to 1661. Beginning in 1641, when Shivaji, a mere boy of eleven, travelled south to visit his father in Bengalur, the book covers the years that saw him blossom into a teenager, take an oath to free his motherland from foreign rule, and then confront the might of the Bijapur Empire to carve out a tiny independent state.

During these twenty years, Shivaji fought battle after battle with the Bijapuri forces, wriggled his way out of a challenging political situation when his father was arrested and himself faced imminent capture and death not once but twice, only to emerge victorious in the end. The book ends in the first half of 1661, in the aftermath of Shivaji’s desperate flight from the besieged fort of Panhala, and subsequent ceasefire between him and the Bijapuri Sultan, Ali Adilshah, that unofficially confirmed his status as an independent Maratha ruler.

The book is in the genre of ‘historical fiction’, that is, it is based on true historical events alright, but the description of events, the dramatization and the dialogues are all fictional. It is a fast paced novel, written in a ‘scene-by-scene’ format, to make it seem to as if one is watching a movie. The main events described in the book really happened, only their description has been somewhat inventive and may at times differ from that of other authors.

The main characters in the book are all real, like Shivaji’s family members, his ministers, lieutenants and close comrades. Even the characters from the House of Bijapur and from the Mughal Empire are real. Some characters, like for example Adilshah’s and Aurangzeb’s spies and aides, even the aides of Shivaji’s wives have been invented.

The reader will find numerous words from Marathi, Hindi, Sanskrit, Persian and Urdu languages in the text, which have been printed in italics to make them stand out. A glossary of all these words appears at the end of the book with their meaning and interpretation in English.

The book is replete with several maps to acquaint the reader with the region, places and forts where the story unfolded. The author has also added sketches of the main characters in the book, in order to help the reader visualize them.

A list of the main reference books appears at the end of the book.