Main content

Shivaji: Dreaming Big

The 17th-century warrior-king is today a symbol of Hindu identity. Sunil explores his incarnation as a role model for dealmakers and networkers.

Shivaji was the 17th century warrior-king who challenged the Muslim Moghul Empire and today stands as a symbol of Hindu pride. Prof. Sunil Khilnani explores Shivaji's multiple incarnations, the latest of which is as a role model for corporate networkers and deal-makers.

Shivaji is the presiding spirit of the state of Maharashtra and its capital, Mumbai. The city's airport and main railway station are named after him and there are plans for a statue of Shivaji, twice the size of the Statue of Liberty, to be built out to sea from the city. His martial image, sword in hand, is a symbol of regional and Hindu identity. But Sunil Khilnani argues that Shivaji was a self-made man, the product of relentless self-improvement: "From relatively small beginnings, he plotted, sweated, and traded up to glory."

Prof. Khilnani discovers Shivaji's legacy in a gym in a working class neighbourhood of Mumbai and among career-minded pilgrims on a corporate bonding trip to the mountaintop site of Shivaji's coronation.

Producer: Jeremy Grange
Original music composed by Talvin Singh.

Available now

15 minutes


Remarkable individuals who shaped India, and sometimes the world.

Remarkable individuals who shaped India, and sometimes the world.

Professor Sunil Khilnani introduces the second series of Incarnations.

Incarnations - The Podcast

Incarnations - The Podcast

Download all the episodes from the series and listen at your leisure.

Incarnations: Art and Music

Incarnations: Art and Music

The artists who created the illustrations and music for the series.