INDIA. Mumbai: The Maharashtra Government has begun renewed attempts to bring back the “Jagdamba” sword of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj so that it reaches India by 2024 to mark the completion of 350 years of the coronation of the Maratha king.
Maharashtra Cultural Affairs Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said that the state government would hold discussions with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to bring back the “Jagdamba” sword of Shivaji Maharaj by 2024 to mark the completion of 350 years of the coronation of the Maratha king. He was crowned emperor of his realm at Raigad fort on June 6, 1674.
Mungantiwar said that the state government has already begun correspondence with the central government on this issue after Sunak became Prime Minister of the UK.
Shivaji Maharaj had three swords – Bhavani, Jagdamba, and Tulja. Of these, Bhavani is in the hands of his descendants, Tulja has been lost, and Jagadamba is in Buckingham Palace, London.
The Jagdamba sword was stated to be given to King Edward VII while he was still the Prince of Wales during his visit to India around 1875. It was presented to the British royal by the young Raja of Kolhapur – Shivaji VI Chhatrapati Narayana Rao – a member of the Bhonsle dynasty who reigned under a regency until attaining his majority.
Shivaji VI had incidentally become the youngest knight ever to be honoured with the title of Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India in 1877.
The transfer of the sword was viewed as a coercive action, with the future King presenting another sword as a counter-gift to the 13-year-old king (now housed at the New Palace Museum in Kolhapur).
Attempts made to bring back the sword so far
Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak made the first attempt to bring back the sword when he visited London to fight a suit of libel he had filed against the journalist Sir Valentine Chirol for derogatory references made in Chirol’s book-“Indian Unrest”.
Subsequently, the Marathi poet and playwright Ram Ganesh Gadkari, who wrote under the pen name of “Govindagraj,” made references to the sword in a poem.
After independence, the first Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Yashwantrao Chavan, pursued the matter. Later, Chief Minister A R Antulay announced efforts to bring the sword back and started collecting documents to build a case for India.
At the time, however, the sword was referred to as the “Bhavani” sword, and the British argued that a sword of that name was already there in Maharashtra’s Satara district. In fact, it is the sword “Jagadamba,” which is to be brought back to India now.