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How Did Shivaji Maharaj Die?

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj passed away on April 3, 1680, at the age of 52, coinciding with the celebration of Hanuman Jayanti. The exact cause of his death remains a topic of debate among historians, with several theories proposed.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

The most widely accepted explanation is that Shivaji succumbed to fever and dysentery. This view is corroborated by contemporary British and Portuguese records, which suggest that his health had been deteriorating due to these ailments. Dysentery was a common and often fatal disease in the 17th century, exacerbated by poor sanitary conditions and limited medical knowledge.

Another theory posits that Shivaji might have died from anthrax. A Portuguese document from the same era mentions this possibility, although it is not as widely accepted or substantiated as the fever and dysentery theory. Anthrax, a serious infectious disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, could have been contracted through various means, including handling infected animals or consuming contaminated food.

A more controversial and less substantiated theory is that Shivaji was poisoned. Some historians speculate that his second wife, Soyarabai, might have orchestrated his poisoning to ensure her 10-year-old son, Rajaram, ascended to the throne. This theory stems from the political intrigue and succession struggles common in royal courts. However, there is a lack of concrete evidence to support this claim, and it remains largely speculative.

It is also crucial to consider Shivaji Maharaj's overall health leading up to his death. He had been in poor health for an extended period, suffering from chronic dysentery and other illnesses. Additionally, his body bore the scars and injuries from numerous battles, which likely contributed to his weakened state. These factors combined could have made him more susceptible to fatal illnesses.

In conclusion, while the exact cause of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's death is still debated, the most credible explanation points to fever and dysentery, with anthrax and poisoning as less substantiated possibilities. Regardless of the cause, his death marked the end of an era for the Maratha Empire, as Shivaji was a pivotal figure in its establishment and expansion.