One of the oldest books are the Vedas and the oldest among them is Rig Veda. The name of a deity is continuously mentioned, and that is Varun Dev. He is considered to be the great feeder of moral strength, which means that he is the source of Rit i.e. truth. Varun Dev is not only not the Lokpal [Guardian] of the western direction, but also he is known for being the Master of the Seas. The motto of Indian Navy is ‘Sham no Varuna’ , which means that let the blessings of Bhagwan Varun be on us. It is said he who controls the waters can rule over the entire world. India is encircled by water from three sides, which is why India has fought a lot of wars in order to control their share of waters. There have been many bravehearts who took the task of protecting India’s waters in their own hands and fought for the defence of India’s coastal borders till their last breath. Namaskar, I’m Atul Mishra and in this special episode of Untold History I have brought to you the tale of a warrior, who was an invincible guardian of India’s coastal borders British, Dutch or even Portuguese, none could defeat him ever. He was the living embodiment of the age old Indian phrase ‘Fear makes everything work’ because his fear was such that every European power had declared him as one of the fiercest pirates to have ever been born. This is the tale of the Maratha braveheart Kanhoji Angre, who was nothing less than Yama for the European imperialists. In order to defend the freedom of Akhand Bharat, especially the Maratha Empire, he chose the ocean as his battlefield and soon emerged as the first Sarkhel i.e. Admiral of the Fleet of Maratha Navy. Kanhoji Angre was born in the Vikram Samvat year of 1726, i.e. he took birth in 1669 in Angarwadi village. His surname Angre traces its origin to the Angarwadi village. Before Kanhoji, his family surname was Sankpal. When Chhatrapati Shivaji had won 200 naval posts in the region of Konkan, he deputed Tukoji Sankpal as the Naik [Supervisor] of these 200 posts at Suvarnadurg fort. It was here that Kanhoji spent most of his childhood, along with his father Tukoji Sankpal and mother Ambabai. He even befriended the people from the Koli community of fishermen, and learnt the basics of seamanship from them. From the beginning, Kanhoji used to consider Shivaji as his ideal and was extremely influenced by his warfare techniques. He was also not unaware of the increasing influence of the European imperialism, and therefore he decided to uplift the Maratha Navy. Kanhoji was appointed as the Sarkhel or Darya Sarang of the Maratha Navy by the then chief of Satara in 1698 where he was allotted the right to administer the coasts from Mumbai to Vengurla, i.e. most of the Konkani coasts of the then India. This was the same time when Aurangzeb was trying to extend his dominance in the southern India post the deaths of Chhatrapati Shivaji ‘s son Sambhaji and Rajaram Bhonsle, the younger son of Veer Shivaji, along with his wife Tarabai Mohite was providing stiff resistance to the Mughal forces. At the same time, the European invaders turned their eye towards the huge coastal borders of India. Until now, the Indian rulers looked towards the sea as a trade route only. However, under the rule of Shivaji Maharaj, an effective Navy was established, which not only protected the trading vessels, but also defeated the invaders who attacked from the sea. When Kanhoji was appointed as the Sarkhel, he was handed only ten vessels. However, the way he created a huge navy from those ten vessels, it gave the Maratha Empire a whole new identity. With the increasing invasions from the Portuguese, Kanhoji, well aware of the Ganimi Kava policy of Shivaji, i.e. guerilla warfare, used this policy to his own advantage as the Sarkhel of the Maratha Navy. When his Navy was empowered, he introduced a registration process named Dastak. Kanhoji would confiscate any trading vessel entering the Konkan coast without the relevant documents. Kanhoji would never stay far from the coasts, and when he attacked the European vessels, he would run away after defeating them through routes only he knew better. This was why the European powers could never defeat them. But Kanhoji also faced internal opposition as well. He was loyal to the deceased Rajaram Bhonsle and his wife Tarabai, while Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj was the new ruler of the Maratha Empire. But Shahu Maharaj did not ignore Kanhoji’s abilities, and under a treaty with him he retained Kanhoji as the Sarkhel of the Maratha Navy, and chose his confidant, Balaji Vishwanath Bhat, as his Peshwa [Prime Minister]. Kanhoji continued his attacks on the British and the Portuguese. In 1713 he attacked the armed warship ‘Elgarine’ of the East India Company, owned by the then president of the company, William Aislabie. Kanhoji not only captured the warship, but held several members of the warship hostage until the treaty with Aislabie including the wife of Thomas Chown, then head of the Karwad factory of the East India Company. But this treaty ended with the return of Aislabie to England in 1715. He was replaced by Charles Boone, who, like other imperialists, wanted to assert his dominance over the Marathas. He demanded that all the ships carrying the company goods should be allowed to go unchecked. But he forgot whom he was messing with, and Kanhoji again started his maritime campaign against the British. In 1721, the British and the Portuguese attacked Kanhoji Angre. The invasion was well planned and used many modern weapons. But in front of Kanhoji’s forces, the European skills and maritime knowledge were of no use and they had to face defeat. Boone accepted defeat after many more humiliating losses and went back to England in 1723. It is said that the East India Company suffered a lot due to Kanhoji’s attacks or they had to bear 50000 pounds every year for the safety of their ships”. Kanhoji Angre not only attacked European ships, but also created a state-of-the-art coastal protection system to protect the Maratha Empire. He built the country’s first naval bases. Apart from this, Kanhoji also used the services of Europeans for their campaigns. He primarily employed Dutch navies for running his best warships. Kanhoji also included Manuel de Castro in his naval fleet, which the British declared traitor for failing to obtain the dominance over the island of Khanderi. This is a great example of his vision and practical thought. Kanhoji Angre had acquired the ownership of the Arabian Sea by the time Bajirao Ballal became the Peshwa of the Maratha Empire. His sphere of influence extended from Surat to South Konkan. But with his untimely death on 4 July 1729, the naval sun of the Maratha Empire set soon. His son Sekhoji tried to take over his naval empire, but he could not succeed as much. It is the irony of our nation that Kanhoji Angre, whose name should have been memorized by the children of the country, will be known to very few people except our Indian Navy. n Western history, he is seen as a sea bandit, while he made the sea his battlefield only to protect his motherland. How many such heroes exist, who sacrificed themselves to maintain the pride of Bharat, but even today limited knowledge is available about them. This is the story of the rise of the Indian Navy, this is the story of the valor of the Maratha Empire, and this is the story of the heroics of Kanhoji Angre. I shall keep coming up with other stories like this in the upcoming episodes of Untold History.