Show on Shivaji to bare little-known facts

21 11 2008

Laxmi Birajdar | TNN

Pune: Lesser-known facts about Chhatrapati Shivaji will be highlighted in a painting exhibition early next month. French Indophile Francois Gautier will organise the exhibition, to be held from December 2 to 20 at the Pune Municipal Corporation’s newly-developed Art Centre on Ghole road .
Titled ‘Shivaji: a hero of modern India’, it will be organised by Gautier’s Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism (FACT) and comprises over 60 miniatures in tempera, oil and acrylic on the life and times of the legendary Maratha warrior.
This is Gautier’s most ambitious historical project yet. It took him three years to get the paintings done from artists based in Rajasthan. The exhibition was inaugurated in Delhi last November, and later travelled to Mumbai and Bangalore.
“We hope to see the maximum number of visitors in
Pune because of the strong connection between Chhatrapati Shivaji and the city,” says Gautier. As for the reason behind organising the exhibition, he states, “When I first came to Pune a few years back, I was quite disappointed by the lack of information available in the city on Chhatrapati Shivaji.”
That’s when he decided to put up an exhibition that would highlight not only the Maratha warrior’s extraordinary achievements, but also lesser-known facts related to his style of governance and personality.

From Shivajis historic meeting with Bijapur army general Afzal Khan in 1659 to Baji Prabhu’s sacrifice to save his leader’s life in 1660 and Shivajis nocturnal attack on Shaista Khan, the Mughal governor of the Deccan, in Pune in 1663, the exhibition covers it all.
There are several intriguing facts about Shivaji that many are unaware of. For instance, he was the first Indian king to have a full-fledged naval fleet. He even introduced a modern system of administration through his council of ministers.

The exhibition also includes maps depicting Shivajis kingdom that spread all the way to south India. The paintings will be supported by explanatory charts in Hindi and English.
The exhibition has been backed by a three-year research by VS Bhatnagar, a former professor of history at the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur. Valuable information was collected from historical archives in Delhi, Bikaner and Indore.
It’s Chhatrapati Shivajis relevance in today’s times that Gautier wants to focus on. “He was a secular ruler who respected every religion. His administrative style was very modern and remains evergreen. He was more than a warrior. According to me, he was the son of the soil. We are trying to show his vision of India,” explains Gautier.
Gautier will soon start writing a coffee table book on the Maratha hero. A Delhi-based publishing house has already bought the rights to this book.