King Shivaji II, the last king of Thanjavur
- Prince Pratap Sinha Raje Bhosle
April 12, 2017
The 185th death anniversary of multifaceted scholar King Serfoji II fell on 8th March 2017. His funeral had been attended by lakhs of people. His son, King Shivaji II of Thanjavur, authored Marathi drama ‘Natesa Vilasa,’ an excellent piece of Marathi literature based on ancient Sanskrit type of dramas and natakas.
King Shivaji II was the last ruler of Thanjavur. His coronation ceremony was held on April 18, 1832 after the demise of his father. He was a scholar and a linguist. Music and Bharatanatyam gained further popularity during his rule. He was well versed in Tamil, Telugu, English, Marathi and Sanskrit languages. He continued the noble work of his father and enriched the legacy left behind by his illustrious predecessors. There are many compositions in Saraswati Mahal Library, Thanjavur, comprising varnams, svarajatis, salam daru, and tillanas in praise of King Shivaji II. The Thanjavur Quartet (Chinnaiya, Ponnaiya, Vadivelu and Sivanandam) were his favorite court vidwans and they composed many dance compositions with King Shivaji II as the Kriti Nayaka. Tamil dramas such as Pandikeli Vilasa Natakam by Narayana Kavi, Madana Sundara Prasadana Santana Vilasa by Arunachala Kavi, Bharata Ammanai by Krsnan were produced during his reign. King Shivaji II encouraged Tamil and Telugu. Sivanandam, one of the Thanjavur Quartet, was the author of padams in Tamil, javalis, tana varnams, chouka varnams, sabdams and addressed them to King Shivaji II’s patron. The Padavarna in Todi raga and rupaka tala with the sahitya “Danike tagu…” which is still the masterpiece in Bharatanatyam recitals has an exquisite musical setting.
The manuscript entitled Shivaji Sisamulu describes the talents and accomplishments of King Shivaji II. Shivaji was a lover of lavanis and had extended his patronage to that style of Marathi folk song also. He himself formed the theme of a few lavanis. Lavani Venkata Rao was a prominent lavani singer of his court and was the composer of a lavani in praise of the king. Shivaji was himself a ‘Savayi’ and acted as the final judge in lavani contests held in the court. The Ragamalika lavani in Saveri, Sri Kannada and Punnagavarali ragas is dedicated to King Shivaji II. He was very liberal in his gifts and sarvamanya.
To play on the different instruments in the natya and sangita salas, performers were appointed and the salary or emoluments paid to them are recorded in the state documents. Even frequent concerts of western music and performances of Hindustani music and dance were held in his court. There is evidence to prove the existence of a regular galaxy of musicians, dancers, court poets and actors in the royal establishment and it was during this period, the best elements in western and Hindustani music were slowly absorbed into the texture of Carnatic music. It was in King Shivaji II’s time Tamil was greatly encouraged and several dramas and kavyas were produced by eminent Tamil scholars. It was in his period, the integrations of the Marathi culture and literature, with that of Tamil and to a certain extent of Telugu took place. Dancing girls, dance masters, musicians, vocalists were patronized, encouraged and gifted lavishly by King Shivaji II like his forefathers. He wrote several Padas (devotional songs) in Marathi under the pen name “Dhakte Diwan.” He ruled Thanjavur till 1855 AD.
Prince Pratap Sinha Raje Bhosle, Sadar Mahal Palace, Thanjavur, is the 6th descendent of King Serfoji II. He is the author of ‘Contributions of Thanjavur Maratha Kings with a Brief History of Cholas and Nayakas.’
Dear prince Pratap, I was very fortunate to read about you and your book in the Deccan Chronicle, and so about your karma of bringing before the unknown the known. May you pour out from your magical pot all the knowledge you are gathering and may your dreams fly higher than you.
- Preetha Srini (Dec 28, 2017)
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