Senapati Prataprao Gujar Samadhi

Senapati Prataprao Gujar Samadhi : Prataprao Gujar born as Kudtoji Gujar, was the third royal Senapati (Commander-in-chief of the Maratha forces) of Chh. Shivaji Maharaja’s army, which was probably the most successful guerilla force in 17th century India. He was giving the pseudonym of Prataprao – the brave, by Chh. Shivaji in acknowledgement of his bravery in the war against Mirza Jaisingh. He was highly gifted aristocratic general, who enjoyed the truth of his King and the loyalty of his troops. He defeated a large Mughal army at the famous battle of Salher. Salher was a major battle between Mughals and Marathas, and the first large scale pitched battle the two in open field. The victory of the Marathas at Salher is seen as a definitive turning point in their military powers. A few months before Chh. Shivaji Maharajas coronation in 1674, Prataprao Gujar was sent to deal with the invading force led by the Adilshahi general, Bahalol Khan.

The Maratha army surrounded the camp of Bahalol Khan at the place of Nesari. Prataprao’s force defeated and captured the opposing general in the battle. In spite of specific warning against doing by Chh. Shivaji Maharaja, Prataprao release Bahalol Khan along troops and the seized war material, when Bahalol Khan promised not to invade Chh. Shivaji’s territories again. Days after his release Bahalol Khan started preparing for fresh invasion.

When Chh. Shivaji Maharajas heard of about Prataprao decision, he was incensed and wrote an angry letter to Prataprao refusing him permission to see him such time, Bahalol Khan re-captured. Prataprao realized his mistake and was so upset about what he had done that he now wanted to capture Bahalol Khan at any cost. One day, he learnt of Bahalol Khan camping nearby. Prataprao decided to make a stand against Bahalol Khan at Nesari near Kolhapur. Prataprao Gujar’s with 1200 troops versus Khan with 15000. So, Prataprao reasoned that there was no point in taking 1200 men to suicide with him. So, in a fit of anger and overreacting to the letter, he left alone, without asking his cavalry to charge. It was his personal honor at stake, not his army. On seeing their leader head to certain death, 6 other Maratha sardars joined him in the charge. They attacked the enemy camp and were slaughtered. Anandrao and Hansaji Mohite, though, stayed back. The six Marathas are Visoji Ballal, Vithoji Shinde, Vitthal Pildev Atre, Dipaji Rautrao, Siddi Hilal and Krishnaji Bhaskar. It was an impulsive decision and the loss of Prataprao Gujar was a big loss to the Marathas. Anandrao Mohite managed to take the army to safer areas. Chh. Shivaji’s army avenged the death of their general, by defeating Bahlol Khan and looting his Jahagir (fiefdom) under the leadership of Anandrao and Hambirao Mohite. Hambirrao Mohite became the new Sarnaubat (Commander-in-chief of the Maratha forces). Chh. Shivaji was deeply grieved on hearing of Pratprao’s death. He married his second son, Rajaram, to the daughter of Prataprao Gujar; who was later to be the Empress of the Maratha, Maharani Janakibai,and this event has been retold in the form of a Marathi poem “Vedaat Marathe Veer Daudale Saat”. The poem is written by famous poet Kusumagraj. This poem has also been sung by Lata MangeshkarM.