Shahu Maharaj who belonged to the Bhosle Dynasty was a king of the Indian princely state of Kolhapur. He was born on June 26, 1874, as Yeshwantrao in the Ghatge Maratha family to Jaisingrao and Radhabai.
As we mark the birth anniversary of Shahu Maharaj today, let’s know some important facts about the social reformer
- Shahu’s father was the village chef while his mother belonged to the royal family of Mudhol. He headed the throne of Kohlapur in 1894 and ruled the state till his death in 1922.
- Shahu Maharaj’s early education was carried out by his father until he was 10 years old. He was then adopted by Queen Anandibai widow of King Shivaji IV of Kolhapur. He pursued his education from Rajkumar College, Rajkot. He also took lessons of administrative affairs from Sir Stuart Fraser who was a representative of Indian Civil Service.
- After he became the king, he was renamed as Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj. When Brahmin priests of the royal family refused to perform the rites of non-Brahmins, Shahu appointed a young Maratha as the religious teacher and gave the title of Kshatra Jagadguru.
- At the time of his reign, he started many social works and worked for the upliftment of the lower castes. As the king, he also ensured that students of his state should get employment. He was the first ruler who initiated action programs for the upliftment of weaker sections of the society by providing 50 percent reservation and a manifesto of the same was passed in 1902.
- The ruler also started Shahu Chhatrapati Weaving and Spinning Mill in 1906 and also built Rajaram college. He also passed the anti-domestic violence.
- Shahu Maharaj also worked to abolish untouchability from society. He shared a very friendly bonding with Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar who was also inspired by Shahu.
- Taking inspiration from him, Ambedkar included Article 46 in the Indian constitution. The article stated The State shall promote, with special care, the education and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of social exploitation.”
- Shahu Maharaj married Lakhmibai Khanvilkar. They had four children. Shahu Maharaj died on May 6, 1922, and he was succeeded by his eldest son Rajaram III. As his successors were not strong enough to carry forward his legacy, his reforms faded away.