Ranjit Desai was born in 1928 in Kolhapur, India. He is a well-known Marathi author and was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award and Padma Shri.

Desai has authored several short stories, plays, and novels. He was particularly renowned for his mastery of the historical-fiction genre. Two of his best-known historical novels are Swami and Shriman Yogi.

Desai breathed his last in 1992.

Vikrant Pande translated Desai’s Marathi novel, Shriman Yogi, into English. It was titled Shivaji: The Great Maratha. An IIM-B alumnus, Pande is credited with the translation of several historical novels. After pursuing a successful corporate career, he is now working in the education sector.


Shivaji: The Great Maratha is a fictionalized biography of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj based on historical events.

The novel chronicles the life of Shivaji from his birth to death. The story begins from Shivaji’s tumultuous childhood and depicts how he became the greatest Maratha ruler of all time. Other important characters in this book include Jijabai, Sai, Shivaji’s sons, and his loyal courtiers and warriors.

The author has brilliantly driven home the fact that Shivaji was a master strategist who kept the wicked Mughals on their toes. His encounters with the Mughal armies, including his illustrious escape from Agra, are well documented in the novel.


Shriman Yogi (Shivaji: The Great Marathais a Marathi classic. This book is a literary masterpiece that has done justice to the life and struggles of Shivaji. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is a historical figure who has a larger-than-life feel to his persona. He was a great warrior, an outstanding strategist, and a compassionate king who is still revered not only by the people of Maharashtra, but all over India.

The author has beautifully portrayed the relationship Shivaji had with his family, especially with his mother and his first wife. The book also lets readers in on the vulnerable, humane side of this great king as he tried to balance the expectations of everyone around him.

An excerpt from Shivaji: The Great Maratha by Ranjit Desai

Shivaji: The Great Maratha is a tribute to this extraordinary, awe-inspiring man who is still an inspiration to the Hindus across the country.

At the same time, Vikrant Pande also deserves a shout-out for his terrific English translation of the original Marathi novel.


An excellent novel with an equally excellent translation means that Shivaji: The Great Maratha does not leave much room for literary criticism.


‘Raje, do you realize it is a poor man’s house? And if a raja stays there, the whole household wealth will be spent in a single evening. And what about your horsemen?’

‘They will stay in the village, too.’

‘Then you are going to punish the whole village!’

‘The victory is still far away.’

‘Not at all. In fact, it is within reach. Otherwise people like you, who love your Raje so much, would not have dared to attempt something so foolish.’


Ameya Score:

We would recommend Shivaji: The Great Maratha to all our readers. It is an amazing historical novel about one of the greatest kings to have walked the earth.

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