Shahir ha Maharashtracha praan
Gaato me Shivajiche gunagaan…

The poet is the soul of Maharashtra
I sing the praises of Shivaji…

Dressed in my mother’s nauvari kashta sari, a pheta (turban) on my head and armed with my little brother’s plastic sword, I sang this powada in front of my school. I, Dipali Nailkar, was 12 years old then and this was the first time I sang a powada; I had written it only the night before.

Everyone from my government school in Nasrapur village of Bhor taluka watched me. After the performance, my friends gave me the nickname ‘powada girl’! A powada is a traditional Marathi ballad that is very expressive. It celebrates the life of historical figures like Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his soldiers, the mavle. It is sung with a sur [tune] and chaal [beat], making it catchy and easy to remember.

A love of music runs in our family. My mother, Rukmini Nailkar, 42, is from Narayanpur village at the base of Purandar fort where Sambhaji Maharaj, the son of Chhatrapati Shivaji was born. She sings abhangs [devotional songs] and helped me create this powada. Her father used to sing in jatras [fairs], tamasha, and natya rupantar [theatrical adaptation] there. I’ve always wanted to learn more about Marathi culture and literature. In school, reading speeches by Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar inspired me.

I am the sixth generation of my family living on Sinhagad [a hill fortress in Ghera Sinhagad, Pune district]. I have always been curious about the fort’s history and would often ask my aunt to tell me the story I had already heard many times – the conquest of Sinhagad [formerly known as Kondana] by the lionhearted soldier, Tanaji Malusare. Shivaji is believed to have said this on Tanaji’s passing:

‘Majha gad aala, pan sinha gela’
‘I won my fort, but I lost my lion’

Dipali is the sixth generation of her family living on Sinhagad [a hill fortress in Ghera Sinhagad, Pune district]. Photo by Aditi Dindorkar

In Class 8, I changed schools because the one closer to home was only till Class 7. I moved to Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Vidyalaya in Nasrapur. It was four kilometres from home – to get there and back, I would walk eight kilometres every day.

This was the year my father Dattatreya Nailkar had an accident. The doctor gave us an estimate of one to two lakh rupees for the treatment and no guarantee that his leg would recover fully. I had to start earning for the family, while my mother took care of him and my younger brothers – Lokesh and Bunty.

I took up part-time jobs in Nasrapur while simultaneously continuing my studies in Class 10. I would attend school from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and after that work as a salesperson in a clothing shop till 8 p.m. In a few months I moved to a sonography clinic where I learned to fill forms, tie bandages, check blood pressure and even give an injection. I earned five thousand rupees a month here.

After Class 10, I attended junior college [Class 11 and 12] in the same school. I continued singing powadas at cultural programmes. In 2015, when I was in Class 11, my college team of which I was a part, won the first prize in a dance competition. There were teams from all over Bhor performing the same song, but we came first!

I enjoy all these things, but couldn’t pursue a career in them as I had to find a stable job to support my family. I wrote the exam to join the state postal service. We belong to the Koli Mahadev (also known as the Mahadev Koli) community, and although we are counted as Scheduled Tribe in Maharashtra, our family doesn’t have a caste certificate to prove it. The person who came to take the survey said that Koli Mahadev are only found in Junnar, not in Bhor. But we have lived in Bhor all our lives. They are asking for documents from 150 years ago. We don’t have these anymore. Our ancestors had government jobs but we have no way to prove it.

In 2018, I enrolled to train as a nurse in Pune city’s Janaseva Foundation. Since I had studied commerce, I didn’t really want to pursue nursing, but my father was keen on this profession for me. Once I got in, I did my best to develop myself in that area. Today I earn 10,000 rupees every month.

Dipali trained to become a nurse in Pune city’s Janaseva Foundation

During the first wave of Covid-19, I was posted in rural Nasrapur in Bhor taluka and Panshet in Velhe taluka. As healthcare workers, we had no choice but to step out and treat patients, but we took precautions to keep our family safe. I would forbid my mother from meeting me until I’d bathed. There was a lot of work and travel, and my health was affected. My parents were worried about me and so I went back to Sinhagad.

My father never recovered completely from his accident, but he got back to his work – running a juice stall on the Sinhagad hill. He can even carry upto 50 kilograms of fruits and snacks uphill. Read about him here.

I have applied for my nursing registration to begin working again. While waiting for it to clear, I think of my powada often. It is close to my heart. Unfortunately, I do not get time between my nursing duties to write anything new, but I perform the same powada in festivals and functions with the nursing staff. I look forward to singing it at my new hospital too.

It has been my dream to become a television news anchor and speak on Doordarshan. After all, interviewing is also an art. Majhyaat khup kala ahe [I have a lot of art in me].

‘I won my fort but I lost my lion’: Dipali recites the ‘Ballad of Sinhagad

अशा ह्या पद्धतीने शिवाजी महाराजांना कोंढाणा हा किल्ला घ्यायचा होता ताब्यात.

किल्ला ताब्यात घेण्यासाठी त्यांनी एक युक्ती सुचवली होती.

शिवाजी महाराजांचा मित्र, तानाजी मालुसरे, ह्यांच्या मुलाचं रायबाचं लग्न होतं.

ते नियोतन घेऊन शिवाजी महाराजांकडे आले.

तेव्हा शिवाजी महाराजांची आणि माँसाहेबांची चर्चा चालू होती.

‘राजे , मुजरा असावा ह्या गरीब मावळ्याचा. काय झालं राजे? तुम्ही कुठे निघालात ? कोणत्या स्वारीला?’

महाराज म्हणतात, ‘तानाजी, कोंढाणा घ्यायचाय आपल्याला ताब्यात. खूपच गुलामगिरी वाढली आहे. कोंढाणा ताब्यात घेणं खूप गरजेचं आहे आत्ताच्या काळामध्ये.’

तानाजी म्हणतात , ‘आम्ही जिवंत असताना तुम्ही जाणार लढाईला? हे योग्य नाही. आधी लगीन कोंढाण्याचं, मग आमच्या रायबाचं.’

‘हर हर महादेव,’ तिथे गर्जना झाली.

तिथून बायकोला आवाज देऊन सांगितलं कि आम्ही सैनिकांबरोबर चाललोय लढाईला.

तानाजी मालुसऱ्यांची बायको काय म्हणते, ‘धनी, मुलाचं लग्न तोंडावर आलय आन् तुम्ही लढाईला चाललाय?’

‘आधी लगीन कोंढाण्याचं मग रायबाचं आपल्या. तोपर्यंत येतो आम्ही. तयारी करून ठेवा तुम्ही लग्नाची,’ असा म्हणून तानाजी मालुसऱ्यानी सगळ्यांना बरोबर घेतलं आणि निघाले.

तिनी आरतीचे ताट काढले. आरती ओवाळत असताना ताटातला दिवा विझला.

बायको कशी म्हणते त्यांची , ‘अहो दिवा विझला. योग्य वेळ नाहीये. अपशकुन झाला.’

‘अगं काय अपशकुन झाला? आताच पुसतो तुझ्या कपाळाचा कुंकू. बघू कुठे अपशकुन होतोय. काय होतंय मला?’ हे बोलून ते निघाले पुढे.

आल्याच्या नंतर आमच्या नाईकचा वाड्यावर.

गाणं : आम्ही गोंधळी गोंधळी. आम्ही अंबेचे गोंधळी. आमचा घालावा गोंधळ वासुदेव हरी नाम संबळ’

नाईक म्हणले, ‘कोडगिरी नावाचा कडा आहे आपला. त्या बाजूनी तुम्ही चढू शकता’

३०० मावळे घेऊन कोडगिरीचा कडा चढायला लागले.
दोर काचले गेले. मावळे खाली पडले.
शेवटी, घोरपडीच्या शेपटीला दोर बांधून मावळे वरती चढले.

तानाजी मालुसरे मुघलाच्या तंबूत शिरले, जिथे झोपला होता त्या शामियान्यात घुसले.

ते म्हणाले , ‘अरे काय झोपलायस ? इथे तुझा बाप हाजिर आहे, बाप. काय बघतोयस? ऊठ!’

उदे भान गडबडून जागा झाला.

‘ए खाना!’ लढाईला सुरुवात झाली त्यांची.

लढाई करता करता तानाजी मालुसऱ्यांच्या हातातली ढाल तुटली. शेला गुंडाळला. हात कापला गेला. तरी लढत होते.

शेलार मामानी मारला उदेभानाला.

जेव्हा तानाजी मालुसरे खाली पडले, शेलार मामांना रक्ताच्या थारोळ्यात आपला पडलेला दिसला.

मावळे गडाच्या किनाऱ्यानी पाळायला लागले.

‘अरे काय पळताय ? बांगड्या भरा बांगड्या. अरे लढून मरा. बाप थरोळ्यात पडला म्हणून काय झाला? बळ नाही का तुमच्या मनगटात? ‘

शेलार मामानी मारला उदयभानाला.
शेलार मामानी मारला उदयभानाला.
कडाकडा फोडलं नरडीला.

शेलार मामा तेव्हा चहा पीत होते, पण तरी त्यांचे दात दणकट होते हा. चहा पिऊन पण दात दणकट असतात ह्या मावळ्यांचे. हेच खरे मावळे.

शेलार मामानी कडाकडा नरडीला फोडलं . रक्तच काढलं त्याचं.

त्याच्या नंतर युद्ध झालं.

लढाई जिंकली आणि टेंभा पेटवला. पूर्वीच्या काळामध्ये टेंभा पेटवायचे. राजाला इशारा दिला.

राजा म्हणाला, ‘ खरंच, माझा गड घेतला पण माझा सिंहासारखा मावळा गेला. म्हणून ह्या गडाचं नाव कोंढाण्यावरून सिंहगड पडलं. गड आला , पण सिंह गेला.’

So, Shivaji Maharaj wanted to bring the fort of Kondana under his rule

He had come up with a plan

Shivaji Maharaj had a friend, Tanaji Malusare, whose son Raiba, was to be married.

Tanaji came to invite Shivaji Maharaj to the wedding.

Shivaji Maharaj and his mother, Maasaheb were engaged in discussion.

Tanaji: ‘Maharaj, this poor soldier bows to you.But you seem to be going somewhere. Which journey are you off to?’

Maharaj says: ‘Tanaji, we have to take Kondana under our control. There is too much foriegn dominance. It is necessary to take Kondana under our control at this time.’

Tanaji says, You will go to battle while I’m still alive? This can’t happen. First we conquer Kondana, only then my Raiba will get married.’

The battle cry rang, ‘Har Har Mahadev!’

Tanaji told his wife, ‘I’m going for battle with the soldiers’

His wife said, ‘How can you go to battle when your son’s marriage is around the corner?’

‘First we will conquer Kondana, only then Raiba will get married. You start the wedding preparations. I will come till then’.
Saying this, Tanaji gathered all his soldiers to leave.

His wife got the pooja thali. The lamp blew out.

His wife says, ‘The lamp blew out! It’s not a good time. It’s an ill omen.’

‘What ill-omen?’I’ll wipe the vermillion off your forehead right now. Let me see what ill-omen crosses my path. Nothing will happen to me.’

After that, Tanaji’s regiment came to our ancestor’s house, the Naik’s wada

Folk song: We are the gondhalis. Amba goddess’ gondhalis. We perform the gondhal. Vasudev Hari take care of us

So, Naik said to the soldiers,‘There is a cliff called Kodgiri. You can climb Kondana from that side.’

With 300 mavle, Tanaji began ascending the Kodgiri Cliff. The ropes were stretched too tight. The mavle fell down.Finally, they tied a rope to a monitor lizard’s tail and climbed up.

Tanaji Malusare entered the Mughal’s tent.The shamiyana in which he was sleeping.

Tanaji said, ‘Bah! You’re sleeping! Look who’s here to meet you! Wake up if you have the courage!

Uday Bhan woke up, disoriented.

‘Ay Khan’ said Tanaji, and their battle began.

While fighting, the shield in Tanaji’s hand shattered. He wrapped a shawl around his cut hand. He still he kept fighting

Shelar Mama struck Uday Bhan

When Tanaji Malusare fell down, Shelar Mama saw his hero lying in a pool of blood

The mavle began fleeing along the edge of the fort.

Shelar Mama said, ‘Where are you running? Wear bangles if you want to run away! Die like soldiers! So, what if our hero is lying in a pool of blood? Does your wrist have no strength?’

Shelar Mama killed Uday Bhan
Shelar Mama killed Uday Bhan
He ripped apart his throat

Shelar Mama used to drink tea at that time. But still his teeth were strong. Mavle’s teeth are strong even after drinking tea. These are the real mavle.

So, Shelar Mama slit Uday Bhan’s throat and drew his blood.

After that the battle ensued.

When the Marathas won the battle, they lit a torch. In the olden times, the torch used to be a signal to the king.

Shivaji said, ‘We won the fort. But I lost my soldier who was like a lion. That is why the name of this fort was changed from Kondana to Sinhagad (lion-fort). I won my fort but I lost my lion.’

This is Aditi’s second story about the Nailkar family, read her profile of Dattatreya Nailkar here.

Editor's note

Aditi Dindorkar is a third year undergraduate student of English and Creative Writing at Ashoka University. She researched and wrote this story as a part of her internship with PARI Education. Aditi was inspired by Dipali’s love of music and her knowledge of local history. She says, “I wanted to be a part of recording and preserving local music traditions like the powada. Interviewing Dipali for her story offered me a glimpse into this world in rural India.”