Guerrilla Wafare Of Shivaji

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30/05/17 History Reference this

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106. This paper has put forward an argument that little has changed since the times of Kaultiya and Sun Tzu . Shivaji borrowed heavily from Kautilya , while Mao and Che have quoted Sun Tzu in detail. The only aspect that has been added to the modern day guerrilla war is religious fanaticism.


107. Guerrilla warfare as conducted by Shivaji , Mao tse Tung and Che Guevara will be compared on basis of the following aspects:-

(a) Ideology.

(b) Violent Means.

(c) Non violent Means.


(d) Impact and Result.


108. Shivaji. Shivaji led the freedom struggle of the Marathas against Muslim rule in Deccan. His ideology was to establish Hindavi Swarajya and subsequent expansion of the Maratha Empire. This was partly responsible for re-establishment of Hindu rule and its re-emergent assertiveness throughout the mainland of present day India after being ruled and dominated by various Muslim dynasties for several centuries. The ideology of Hindavi Swarajya was in part the inspiration that propelled the succeeding generation of Marathas to establish independent kingdom in India prior to their eventual defeat by the British. He succeeded in establishing control of a well-defended segment of the present state of Maharastra in western India, during his lifetime. The prevalent practices of treating women as war booty, destruction of religious monuments, slavery and forceful religious conversions were firmly opposed under his administration. Shivaji was a religious Hindu, but showed respect toward other religions. Shivaji innovated rules of military engagement of that era. He pioneered Ganimi Kava (in Marathi), or guerrilla tactics, which leveraged strategic factors like demographics, speed, surprise and focused attack to defeat his bigger and more powerful enemies.

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109. Mao tse Tung. Mao’s ideology was greatly influenced by Leninism, Marxism and Trotskyism. But soon he developed his own blend of communism , widely known as Maoism. Some components of Maoism are as follows:-


(a) Peoples War. The armed branch of the party must not be distinct from the masses. To conduct a successful revolution the needs and demands of the masses must be the most important issues.

(b) New Democracy. In backward countries, socialism cannot be introduced before the country has gone through a period in which the material conditions are improved. This cannot be done by the bourgeoisie, as its progressive character is long since replaced by a regressive character.

(c) Contradictions as the most important feature of society. Society is dominated of a wide range of contradictions. As these are different of nature, they must also be handled in different ways. The most important divide is the divide between contradictions among the masses and contradictions between the masses and their enemies. Also the socialist institutions are plagued with contradictions, and these contradictions must not be suppressed as they were during Stalin’s era.

(d) Cultural revolution. Bourgeois ideology is not wiped out by the revolution; the class-struggle continues, and even intensifies, during socialism. Therefore an instant struggle against these ideologies and their social roots must be conducted.

110. Che Guevara. Che widely quoted Mao and Sun Tzu. He was highly impressed by Mao’s insurrection and his rise to power. Che propounded his ideology


known as ” Guevarism” . His ideology promotes exporting revolution to any country whose leader is supported by the United States and has fallen out of favour with its citizens. Guevara talked about how constant guerrilla warfare taking place in non-urban areas can overcome leaders. He introduced three points that are representative of his ideology as a whole, that the people can win with proper organization against a nation’s army; that the conditions that make a revolution possible can be put in place by the popular forces and that the popular forces always have an advantage in a non urban setting.

111. He had a dedication to foco techniques, also known as “focalism” (or “foquismo” in Spanish): vanguardism by small armed units, frequently in place of established communist parties, initially launching attacks from rural areas to mobilize unrest into a popular front against a sitting regime. Despite differences in approach–emphasizing guerrilla leadership and audacious raids that engender general uprising, rather than consolidating political power in military strongholds before expanding to new ones–Che Guevara took great inspiration from the Maoist notion of “protracted peopleHYPERLINK “’s_war”‘HYPERLINK “’s_war”s war”

Violent Means

112. Shivaji. The times in which Shivaji lived were extremely harsh and trying ones. It was a period when Mughals , Adilshah of Bijapur, Qutubshah of Golconda and Nizamshah of Ahmednagar were at the peak of their power. Internecine conflicts between these powers were always bloody and violent. Shivaji established his


kingdom in this period. He had to fight very many bloody battles i.e. Battle of Purandar , Battle of Sinhagarh, Killing of Afzal Khan, Rout of Shahistakhan etc. He always tried to resolve issues as less bloodshed as possible.

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113. Mao tse Tung. Mao tse Tung led the insurrection of his people of his people by propounding Communism and established an everlasting communist rule in China. He started as an urban revolutionary first, but soon understood that real power lied with the peasants and gave a rural shade to his revolution. He was ruthless in dealing with the Koumingtang and also the Japanese. His use of violence was at times to the extent of being a sadist. Mao advanced further strategy and tactics of direct action by combining political and military strategy and war and revolutionary means. His long-range strategy, outlined in his essay ” On Contradictions”, is based on a general proposition that change is determined by contradictions and conflicts. Of particular interest in this regard is Mao’s utilization of the Chinese peasantry and the People’s Liberation Army in accomplishing the Communist revolutionary victory in China and in structuring post-revolutionary society.

114. Che Guevara. Che Guevara was a ruthless revolutionary who executed hundreds. He argued in his writings and speeches that hatred is good because it, “transforms us into effective, violent, selective, and cold killing machines.” He said , ” I am not Christ or a philanthropist, old lady, I am all the contrary of a Christ…. I fight for the things I believe in, with all the weapons at my disposal and try to leave the other man dead so that I don’t get nailed to a cross or any other


place.” The consequences of building violent, selective, and cold killing machines is that these means lead to tragic ends that continue the cycle of violence and bloodshed. One example took place in the early morning hours of July 13, 1994 just six miles from HavanaHYPERLINK “”‘HYPERLINK “”s sea wall, the Malecon, out in the ocean a tug-boat with more than 71 Cubans trying to head for sanctuary were attacked. These victims were met by other tugboats captained by Che, who used high pressure hoses to knock these refugees overboard into the sea and later rammed and sank the boat drowning 41 passengers. 21 of the dead were women and children. Che said in the UN General Assembly in 1964, “HYPERLINK “”We must say here what is a known truth, which we have always expressed before the world: firing squad executions, yes, we have executed; we are executing and we will continue to execute as long as is necessary. Our struggle is a struggle to the death.HYPERLINK “””

Non violent Means.

115. Shivaji was the biggest proponent of non violent means amongst the three. He tried to avoid combat as long as the ends were being met by negotiations and guile. But one must not consider him weak due this practice of his. Whereas Mao tse Tung and Che Guevara are little known to have employed non violent means.

Impact and Result

116. Shivaji had a far reaching impact on the psyche of India as a nation , he promoted the sense of independence from the Muslim rulers amongst several rulers of South India , Rajputs and Punjab. He was able to establish a free Maratha


kingdom in the Muslim dominated politics of his times. This kingdom was further expanded till Delhi by the Peshwas.

117. Mao established the Communist rule in China, which still exists , by ousting Chiang Kai Shek’s Koumintang. Che Guevara was the romantic guerrilla, who helped Fidel Castro in taking over Cuba from Batista, but he is more remembered after his death.

Relevance in Modern Times

118. The precepts propounded by Shivaji and theorised by Mao tse Tung and Che Guevara are relevant in the modern times. The new guerrilla, terrorists, are making full use of the theories laid by these three. Therefore to counter these threats, government have forces also have to resort to guerrilla warfare.




Insurrection – by means of guerrilla bands – is the true method of warfare for all nations desirous of emancipating themselves from a foreign yoke … It is invincible, indestructible.

Giuseppe Mazzini

119. The leaders discussed in the paper are all of them charismatic characters. The aim was to illustrate as to how they adapted their guerrilla theories to their particular terrain and situation and developed new ideas as the struggle continued. An objective analysis of Shivaji, Mao tse Tung and Che Guevara proves that there was very little difference in the way they fought their war. Following conclusions are evident:-

(a) They were all strong proponents of guerrilla warfare, due to the inherent asymmetry between them and their adversaries.

(b) They were able to channelize the masses, so important for the revolution.

(c) The principles of war employed by them are important today as armed conflict between belligerents is becoming asymmetric in nature day by day.


120. History shows that nineteenth-century guerrilla wars invariably failed to achieve their objectives except with the support of the regular army, domestic or foreign. A powerful impetus was given to guerrilla war after 1945 with the disintegration of colonial empires. The colonial powers no longer had the will to fight and even if the guerrillas were militarily ineffective, to combat them became so costly, that the imperial power had to withdraw. Guerrilla wars against domestic leaders have succeeded.

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