Hindavi Swarajya

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Hindavi Swarajya (हिन्दवी स्वराज्य; IPA: Hindavī Svarājya) ("self-rule of Indian people", meaning independence from foreign rule[1][2][3]) is a term for socio-political movements seeking to remove foreign military and political influences from the Indian subcontinent.[4] The term was first used in a 1645 CE letter by Shivaji,[3] the founder of the Maratha Empire. The term Swarajya was later adopted by Bal Gangadhar Tilak, one of the early leaders of the Indian independence movement against the British Empire.[5]

Shivaji's use[edit]

Early modern Maratha warrior Shivaji is believed to have used the phrase Hindavi Swarajya in a letter to Dadaji Naras Prabhu Deshpande of Rohidkhore on 17 April 1645. The letter, in Marathi, states:

It is God Rohireshvar that has given us victory; and that God would enable us to fulfil our wish of Hindavi Swarajya. It is God's will that this kingdom should be established.[6]

Scholars do not agree on the authenticitiy of the letter.[7][8] Historian Setumadhavarao Pagadi states that a lot of the historical source material on Shivaji is spurious, contributed by various influential families of Maharashtra to show how close their ancestors were to Shivaji.[9] J. V. Naik states that, irrespective of the authenticity of the letter, Shivaji's career itself amply demonstrates his conception of Swarajya.[10]


Scholar Wilfred Cantwell Smith interprets Shivaji's Hindavi Swarajya to mean "Indian independence from foreign rule".[1] Historian Pagadi also interprets it as "Indian rule".[2] Religious studies scholar William Jackson, while agreeing that it means independence from foreign rule, thinks its literal meaning is "self-rule of Hindu people".[11]

The term Hindavi (or Hindawi, as also Hindui and Hindi) has been in use since the 14th century with the meaning of "Indian". Poet Amir Khusro listed various "Hindavi languages" in use in his time.[12][13] These were distinguished from Persian, the court language in most Muslim states.[14] Historian Irfan Habib states that, as the term "Hindu" had acquired a religious sense by this time, other terms such as Hindi, Hindustani and Hindavi began to be employed to mean "Indian", spanning both Hindus and Muslims.[15] According to Pagadi, Hindavi had the sense of "the sons of the soil" in this context.[16]

Swarajya (IAST: svarājya) is a Sanskrit term, whose meaning is "independent dominion or sovereignty" according to the Monier Williams dictionary.[17] Pagadi notes that Shivaji had referred to his jagir in Pune as a rajya.[18] He takes Swarajya to have meant a "homeland",[19] and Hindavi Swarajya a "state of the sons of the soil".[16]


  1. ^ a b Smith, On Understanding Islam 1981, pp. 194–195.
  2. ^ a b Pagadi, Shivaji 1983, p. 98: "Shivaji's coronation and setting himself up as a sovereign prince symbolises the rise of the Indian people in all parts of the country. It was a bid for Hindawi Swarajya (Indian rule), a term in use in Marathi sources of history."
  3. ^ a b Jackson, William Joseph (2005). Vijayanagara voices: exploring South Indian history and Hindu literature. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 38. ISBN 9780754639503.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-01. Retrieved 2013-01-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ http://www.rediff.com/news/column/the-futile-row-over-renaming-shivaji-park/20121211.htm
  6. ^ Naik, The Foundation of Swarajya 1975, p. 50.
  7. ^ Naik, The Foundation of Swarajya 1975, p. 50-51.
  8. ^ Pagadi, The Life and Times of Shivaji 1975, p. 10: "The authenticity of this letter has, however, been questioned by several eminent scholars, who consider that its language is not the language of the 17th century."
  9. ^ Pagadi, The Life and Times of Shivaji 1975, p. 10.
  10. ^ Naik, The Foundation of Swarajya 1975, p. 51.
  11. ^ Jackson, Vijayanagara Voices 2016, p. 38, note 11.
  12. ^ Romesh Thapar, ed. (1999), Seminar, Issues 473–484, R. Thapur, p. 879: "The last [Hindawi] was the name given to Indian languages; Amir Khusro talks of Sindhi Hindawi, Gujarati Hindawi as also Ma'abari Hindawi by which he meant the languages of the South. Amir Khusro wrote in Northern or Dille Hindawi besides Persian."
  13. ^ Ali, The Evolution of the Perception of India 1996: "He [Khusrau] goes on to associate India with certain languages that had currency in it [India].... there were the regional languages (Hindawi's), of which Khusrau lists 12 (including Tamil, Kannada) and, finally, Sanskrit, the language of the learned Brahmans. He takes special pride in this wealth of languages."
  14. ^ Amin, Shahid (2016), Conquest and Community: The Afterlife of Warrior Saint Ghazi Miyan, University of Chicago Press, p. 183, ISBN 978-0-226-37260-0
  15. ^ Habib, The Formation of India 1997, p. 7.
  16. ^ a b Pagadi, Shivaji 1983, p. i.
  17. ^ Monier Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary (2008 revision), entry for "svarAjya".
  18. ^ Pagadi, The Life and Times of Shivaji 1975, pp. 10–11.
  19. ^ Pagadi, Shivaji 1983, p. 89.