Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Commemoration Day…  — Born – 26 June 1874 (Kagal, Kolhapur)  — Smriti – 6 May 1922 (Mumbai)

     Shahu Bhosale popularly known as Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj, Shahu of Kolhapur and the fourth Shahu, was the Chhatrapati of Kolhapur State between 1894-1922 and a Marathi social reformer. During the period of British rule, Shahu Raj made tireless efforts to bring justice to the common people and for the overall social upliftment of the Bahujan society, and accelerated the social transformation. He played an important role in the development of Dalit (untouchable) and backward class society despite the opposition of orthodox class. Shahu Maharaj was born on 26 June 1874 in the Ghatge family of Kagal. His original name was Yashwant, his father’s name was Jaisingrao and his mother’s name was Radhabai.

         After the death of Shivaji Maharaj, the fourth king of the Kolhapur State, his wife Anandibai adopted Yashwantrao on 17 March 1884, and named him ‘Shahu’.

         During the four years period from 1889 to 1893, Shahu Maharaj’s educational and physical development took place in Dharwad. Shahu got married to Lakshmi Bai, daughter of Gunajirao Khanwilkar of Baroda, on 1 April 1891 while still studying. At this time he was 17 years old and Lakshmibai was less than 12 years old. His coronation took place on April 1894.

           After his coronation, he was the king of Kolhapur state for 28 years till 1922. He died on 6 May 1922 in Mumbai. Shahu Maharaj laid special emphasis on spreading education in Bahujan society. He did compulsory and free primary education in Kolhapur institute. He issued an edict for the spread of women’s education.

In 1919, in order to eradicate untouchability, he stopped the system of holding separate schools for upper castes and untouchables. To eliminate caste discrimination, he passed a law in his state recognizing inter-caste marriage.

         In 1917, he passed the Remarriage Act and legalized widow marriage. In 1916, he established the ‘Deccan Ryat Association’ at Nipani to include the Bahujan community in the political decision-making process.

        The Vedokta case over the right to chant the Vedokta mantra took place during the reign of Shahu Maharaj. His education was under the hands of the British officer Fraser.

          His further education was at Rajkot’s Rajkumar College and at Dharwad. Shahuraje’s personality was developed due to the practical knowledge gained through study and educational trips. The famine of 1896 and the subsequent epidemic of plague put him to the test and he failed completely.

          Seeing the work of drought works, distribution of food, cheap grain shops, establishment of poor ashrams, the people feel that ‘this kind of king cannot be’. was the major share.

           He also paid attention to agricultural development through activities like construction of Radhanagari dam, providing loans to farmers.

          He supported Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar for his education, as well as for the Muknayak newspaper.

          Shahu Maharaj was given the title ‘Rajarshi’ by the Kurmi Kshatriya community of Kanpur.

          Several years before independence Shahu Maharaj implemented the principles of equality, fraternity, secularism, equal opportunity for development for all the elements in the Karveer Sansthan.

That is why he is glorified as ‘Maharaj of Maharajas’ throughout the country. Shahu did the work of getting the rights and justice to the ryot subjects and the marginalized community. Throughout his life work, he fully used his authority to get the justice and rights of the Bahujan community in the society that is why he became a public welfare ruler. .

       Maharaja ruled for about 28 years. Shahu Raja was passionate about the education of Bahujans. So he passed the law of compulsory free education in the state of Kolhapur.

           Also, schools were opened in villages with population of 500 to 1000. Parents who will not send their children to school will be given Rs 1 per month. Legal provision for levy of penalty is made. He made primary education compulsory and free.

        Shahu Maharaj decided to make the untouchables self-reliant with the aim of improving the economic condition of the untouchables. For this, untouchables were encouraged to do independent business, shops were encouraged to open hotels, and financial assistance was also offered.

         Untouchables were encouraged to do independent business by giving them sewing machines. He started sewing the clothes in the palace from them. Gangadhar Kamble was removed from a tea shop in Kolhapur.

         In order for the untouchables to gain respect in the society, he gave titles such as Mahar Pailwan, Pailwan Chambhar, Sardar Abhang, Pandit, appointed untouchable educated youth as talathi. In order to destroy untouchability, he stopped the system of holding separate schools for upper castes and untouchables in 1919.

           He also implemented activities such as Patil schools that provide education, schools that provide direct professional education, and schools that teach techniques and skills so that the village patla can run its affairs well.

Created his identity as a king who effectively carried out the legacy of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s thoughts and work. Social brotherhood, equality, rescue of Dalit and marginalized brothers, education, agriculture, industries, art, sports and health etc. did unique work in important areas.

        If the backward people are to be brought into the stream of progress, reserved seats should be provided for them. Keeping this broad point of view in mind, on 6th July 1902, it was announced that 50 percent of the seats would be reserved for the backward castes in the Kolhapur State and it was immediately implemented and a report was sought from the concerned officer.

        Shahu’s decision was opposed by many upper caste leaders at that time. At that time, the people of caste considered as untouchables were given reserved jobs and got government jobs. He ordered that untouchables should be treated equally in schools, dispensaries, water bodies, public wells, public buildings etc. in Kolhapur state.

          In 1917, he passed the Remarriage Act and legalized widow marriage. He also created a law to stop the practice of devadasi.

        In order to include the Bahujan community in the political decision-making process, he established the organization ‘Deccan Ryat Association’ at Nipani in 1916. At that time, in the name of religion, the strange practice of giving children to gods was going on in India.

         But the king stopped this practice by making a law prohibiting Jogatya-murli in his state. In order to destroy the caste discrimination, he gave legal recognition to inter-caste and inter-religious marriage in his state. He passed such a law and while actually implementing it, he married his sister-in-law to Yashwantrao Holkar of Dhangar community. given

Not only this, he arranged almost 100 Maratha marriages in the Sansthan.

       Many tribes who were victims of the caste system in that time were following wrong ways like theft and robbery. The orthodox caste system kept them marginalized and denied them the right to education, power and wealth, so their lives became depressed. As a result, they resorted to theft and robbery.

        So the British government stamped this tribe as criminal. They had to report to the village laborer every day. Shahu Raja was very fond of these people. Because they were the kings of the underprivileged. So Shahu stopped the attendance system. He gathered the people of these castes and tribes and discouraged them from crime. .They were given jobs in the institute.

         From them guards, guards, charioteers were created. Houses were built for them. The people who were wandering in the wildfires were provided accommodation. Food was provided.

          So people who were branded as criminals started to behave with dignity in the society as human beings. Rulers ruling over criminals will be seen everywhere.

         But the king who makes them his own with love and affection and gives them social status in the society and creates self-respect in them is rare.

      The Vedokta conflict over the right to recite the Vedokta mantra took place during the reign of Rajarshi Shahu. This was a storm in the social life of Maharashtra. The truth-seeking movement was further inspired by this case.

In a sense, he carried forward the tradition of Mahatma Phule while working to achieve the overall development of the Bahujan, untouchable society. Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj carried out this important responsibility of propagating and propagating the truth seeker movement in the states of Kolhapur. It was under his leadership that the truth-seeking movement arose in the entire Kolhapur state and the achievement of carrying it forward with neta was also accomplished.

          Later Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil carried out the important responsibility of spreading and promoting this movement, so he adopted the formula of all-round development of Bahujan society through education. It belonged to Babasaheb Ambedkar.

        Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was declared as “Leader of Dalits” and “Indian pioneer leader” in Mangaon Parishad. Maharaj also appealed to Babasaheb Ambedkar to lead the marginalized Dalit society.

           Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj tried to provide jobs to all marginalized communities and untouchables through reservation in his institution, for this reason he is hailed as the father of reservation throughout India. Taking the role of social justice, Shahuraj tried for social equality.

          Shahu did the honor of encouraging the artists in the fields of music, cinema, painting, folk art and wrestling in Kolhapur.

Shahu Maharaj and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar had a good relationship.Dr. Babasaheb first published the weekly ‘Mooknayak’ on 31 January 1920. But due to financial problems, it was later closed. But when Rajarishi Shahu Maharaj noticed this, he immediately provided financial help.


 Fight against caste discrimination…

        He made primary education compulsory and free in his state. He issued a royal decree for the spread of women’s education. In order to eradicate untouchability, he stopped the evil practice of holding separate schools for upper castes and untouchables in 1919.

         He also implemented activities such as Patil schools that provide education for the good governance of the village patla, schools that provide direct vocational education and teach techniques and skills, Vedic Pathshalas for Bahujan students, and Sanskrit schools for the development of Sanskrit language.

        Shahu Maharaja created a state based on equality. Due to this, casteist socialists tried to kill Maharaja. Once by sending assassins and once by throwing bombs, they tried to betray Maharaja.

         But thanks to the love and bond of the people, the Maharaja remained happy. There were many attempts to defame the Maharaja. But all the efforts of the enemies failed.


 Academic work…

 * Victoria Maratha Boarding House (1901)

 * Digambar Jain Boarding (1901)

 * Veerashaiva Lingayat Student Hostel (1906)

 * Muslim Boarding (1906)

 * Miss Clark’s Hostel (1908)

 * Boarding of Divinity Education Society (1908)

 * Shri Namdev Boarding (1908)

 * Panchal Brahmin Hostel (1912)

 * Smt Saraswatibai Goud Saraswat Brahmin Student Hostel (1915)

 * Indian Christian Hostel (1915)

 * Kayastha Prabhu Student Hostel (1915)

 * Arya Samaj Gurukul (1918)


 Other functions…

      Establishment of Shahu Chhatrapati Spinning and Weaving Mill, establishment of Shahupuri market, establishment of jaggery market, establishment of farmer’s co-operative societies, providing loans to the farmers in his institution. He supported research. He established the ‘King Edward Agricultural Institute’ to increase the use of cash crops and technology. Considering the importance of water at that time, the kings built a dam called Radhanagari so that the ryots would not have to face drought in the future.


 Asylum of art..

     Rajarshi Shahu played an important role in encouraging artists in the fields of music, cinema, painting, folk art and wrestling in the Kolhapur state by providing patronage to them.



      Shahu Maharaj’s 26th birthday is observed as ‘Social Justice Day’ in Maharashtra. Public programs are held on that day. The ‘Rajrishi Award’ is given in the form of cash of one lakh rupees and a medal by the Rajarshi Shahu Chhatrapati Memorial Trust, Kolhapur.