On the whole the members of the Maloji Bhonsle family appear enterprising, resourceful and self-reliant, men of strong will and pride, never submitting to an insult.
Maloji Bhonsle purchased the headship or patilki of Verul near Daulatabad. He also purchased some other villages in the region of the rivers Godavari and Bhima. They maintained themselves by managing their landed property and by military service under the Nizam-shahi rulers.
Their family was large and always mutually helpful. Maloji and Vithoji possessed huge and strong bodies, too heavy, it is said, for the Deccani pony to carry.
They were the patils of Verul (Ellora) a village near Daulatabad. He enlisted as guards in the service of Lukhji Jadhavrao the baron of Sindkhed, in the vicinity of Daulatabad.
Lukhji, a descendant of the dethroned royal family of Deogiri, was at this time a noble of the first rank in the service of the Nizam Shah, wielding influence in the politics of the Deccan.
The Bhonsle brothers found employment as troopers under Lukhji Jadhav and at the same time managed their old landed property at Verul and other villages.
Employment under Lukhji Jadhav
Maloji Bhonsle took service under Lukhji Jadhav and used to stand guard at the gate of his palace. Lukhji Jadhavrao, a descendant of the Yadav kings of Deogiri. He was a powerful noble, holding lands and high military commands under the Nizamshahi rulers.
The Bhonsles were also a large family, comparatively poorer, possessing only a few villages in Patilship between Daulatabad and Poona.
Once during the spring festival holi, Jadhavrao invited Maloji Bhonsle and other subordinates for the usual ceremony of playing with red powder and dye.
Maloji Bhonsle took with him his little son Shahji to the assemblage. Lukhji Jadhav had a daughter named Jija Bai. She was nearly the same age as Shahji and seated her by his side.
When during the ceremony the guests began to work, the two children also amused themselves in the pastime. The comic sight impelled Jadhavrao to utter a casual remark, “How now, would not these two form a handsome pair ? ”
Maloji Bhonsle heard the words, and at once in a loud voice called upon the assembly to bear witness that Jadhavrao had publicly betrothed his daughter to Shahji.
Jadhavrao vehemently repudiated the construction put upon the words uttered in jest. He considered Maloji’s position too far below his own to warrant a family connection between master and servant.
Thus a quarrel began between these two families, and Maloji quitted Jadhavrao’s service to seek his fortune elsewhere. So as to rise to a position in which he could demand Jadhavrao’s daughter in marriage for his son.
Maloji Rise to Power
He soon managed to amass some wealth and enhance his reputation, so as to figure prominently in higher circles. He repaired the old dilapidated temple of Ghrishneshwar at Verul.
Maloji Bhonsle built a large tank at the shrine of Shambhu Mahadev near Satara. He removed the scarcity of water at the place from which the large crowds of pilgrims had so severely suffered.
Maloji was doubtless a man of resourceful and independent spirit. He succeeded in winning over the Nizam Shah probably through Malik Ambar.
The Sultan of Ahmadnagar recognized the worth of Maloji’s services in the struggle against the Mughal Emperor. He bestowed on him a small jagir consisting of the districts of Poona and Supa, so that he became more of a peer to Jadhavrao.
He then openly demanded the latter’s daughter in marriage for his son and the ceremony took place at Sindkhed on 5th November Of this marriage was born Shivaji many years later.
The time of Shahji’s marriage with Jija Bai coincided with the death of Akbar and the accession of Jahangir to the Mughal throne. When Lukhji Jadhavrao deserted his master Nizam Shah and
joined the Emperor’s side, the loss was more than made up by Maloji’s loyalty and attachment to Malik Ambar.
Maloji died during a battle against the Bijapur Sultanate, at Indapur. The year of his death as 1620 or 1622. After his death, his jagir was transferred to his son Shahaji.