WAGHYA

Smith Journal - - Opinion -

Dogs are known for their loy­alty, but Waghya re­ally takes the bis­cuit. When the founder of the Maratha Em­pire, Ch­ha­tra­p­ati Shivaji Ma­haraj, died in 1680, his con­stant com­pan­ion, Waghya, was ap­par­ently so dis­traught he didn’t just go to the fu­neral, but leapt onto the pyre as well. In 1936, a statue of the dog was in­stalled at Shivaji’s fort in Raigad, where the ashes of the two were re­port­edly buried. It stayed there quite peace­fully un­til 2011, when mem­bers of the Samb­haji Bri­gade, a po­lit­i­cal out­fit, started gun­ning for its re­moval. As far as they were con­cerned, link­ing the great Shivaji with a dog was a sneaky plot by the Brah­min caste to as­sert their su­pe­ri­or­ity over the Maratha com­mu­nity. Talk turned to ac­tion when a group of peo­ple un­leashed Waghya in 2012 and chucked him into the val­ley be­low. “We are just try­ing to fix the er­rors in his­tory long ago,” said a Samb­haji Bri­gade spokesper­son. “Any­one who is con­cerned about the dog’s statue is wel­come to take him home.” The statue was re­trieved by po­lice and lo­cals, and put back on his pedestal.

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