Śivaji or Shivaji (shĭväˈjē) [key], 1627–80, Indian ruler, leader of the Marathas. The son of a Maratha chieftain, he was imbued from early childhood with hatred of the Mughal empire, which controlled most of India. From his capital at Pune he made guerrilla attacks on the Muslim kingdom of Bijapur and gradually carved out a considerable domain. In 1657 his troops were soundly beaten by the Mughal army, but the Mughals then withdrew, and Śivaji returned to raiding and several times defeated the Bijapur army. In 1664 he sacked the rich Mughal port of Surat and thus provoked an organized Mughal campaign against him. Defeated in 1665, Śivaji went (1666) to Agra to negotiate with Aurangzeb, the Mughal emperor, but was imprisoned. After a daring escape he returned to W India and undertook a series of raids that were not countered by the Mughals. By 1674 he was secure enough to crown himself king of the Maratha empire, although fighting continued until his death. He is the modern Maratha hero.
See biographies by V. B. Kulkarni (1963) and K. L. Mahaley (1969); J. Sarkar, Shivaji and his Times (5th ed. 1952).