Great Escape

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Aurangzeb, who was then the mogul emperor in Delhi, heard about the greatness of Shivaji. He did not want a strong army in the Deccan. So he sent his general to attack Shivaji. As Aurangzeb’s armies were larger, Shivaji was forced to surrender. However, Aurangzeb promised to give due respect to Shivaji and a responsible position in his court.

Shivaji served him faithfully and even helped him to defeat another king. But Aurangzeb was envious of him. He invited him to his court in Agra. Shivaji graciously accepted the invitation and riding on a beautifully ornamented elephant he arrived at the court with his nine –year old son Sambaji. But Aurangzeb did not show him any social honor. He made Shivaji stand among the ordinary people in the court. Shivaji grew angry. He shouted loudly; “the emperor has cheated me.  I offered him help in his time of need, how can I respect an emperor who cannot keeping his promise?’’

Aurangzeb felt humiliated ion hearing Shivaji charges. He ordered his soldiers to seize Shivaji and his son put them in prison. Shivaji understood that this was Aurangzeb’s plot to kill him his son. Neither his soldiers nor his friends were allowed to visit him. Only his servants could go in and out.

“I have been very foolish,’’ he said to his son. “But don’t worry, my child. We shall escape. We will not die here!’’.

The first part of plan of his plan was to see that his soldiers were safe. Aurangzeb was only too glad to get rid of them and readily agreed to send them back home. He had never wanted the Maratha soldiers in Agra. He also thought that Shivaji would be helpless without them.

Next, Shivaji planned his own escape. He told is son. “ Listen to me, Samba. I shall pretend to be very ill and you must sit besides me and cry. Imagine I am going to die, then you can cry easily.’’ This was a difficult task for Sambaji, for Maratha and out. No one stopped them.

It was arranged that horses would be waiting outside the prison. The moment for the escape had come. Neither Shivaji nor Sambaji was tall. They easily crept into the baskets, one in each, and the servants covered the baskets as usual with cloth. Once they were outside the prison they came out and soon rode back home.

News about Shivaji being seen on horseback was brought to the court. The guards rushed to check the prison. It was too late. A message was sent to Aurangzeb: “the bird has flown out of the cage!’’

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