Shri Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj (also known as Rajarshi Shahu) (26 June 1874-6 May 1922) was the first Maharaja of the Indian princely state of Kolhapur between 1884 and 1922.
First king in India - implemented Reservation Policy ( Provided 50% Reservation in his state, on 26 July 1902) Revolutionary Legal Reforms. Appealed for caste-free India and abolition of untouchability. Pioneer of Student Hostel Movement for Bahujan Samaj. De-recognized Brahmanical supremacy and Religious bureaucracy of Brahmins. Greatest supporter and sympathizer ofDr. Ambedkar movement. The Pillar of Social Democracy - (Dr. Ambedkar)
Shahu was born on 26 June 1874 as Yeshwantrao Ghatge, eldest son of Appasaheb Ghatge, chief of Kagal (senior) by his wife Radhabai, a daughter of the Raja of Mudhol in present-day Karnataka. He was adopted by Anandibai, widow of Raja Shivaji IV, in March 1884. Several generations of inter-marriage had ensured that Shahu's family was connected intimately with the ruling dynasty of Kolhapur, which is apparently what rendered him a suitable candidate for adoption, despite his not being a male-line member of the Bhonsle dynasty. A council of regency was appointed by the British government of India to oversee affairs of state during Shahu's minority. Shahu was invested with ruling powers upon coming of age in 1894. There is one college named Rajaram college built by Shahu Maharaja
Shahu maharaj is credited with doing much to further the lot of the lower castes, and indeed this assessment is warranted. He did much to make education and employment available to all: he not only subsidized education in his state, eventually providing free education to all, but also opened several hostels in Kolhapur for students hailing from many different non-brahmin communities, thereby facilitating the education of the rural and low-caste indigent. He also ensured suitable employment for students thus educated, thereby creating one of the earliest Affirmative action programs in history. Many of these measures were effected in the year 1902.
Shahu's other initiatives included restricting Child marriage in his state and the encouragement of intercaste marriage and widow remarriage. He long patronized the Satya Shodhak Samaj but later moved towards the Arya Samaj. Under the influence of these social-reform movements, Shahu arranged for several non-brahmin youths to be trained to function as priests, in defiance of timeless convention which reserved the priesthood for those of the brahmin caste. However, he faced opposition from many including Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak , the very famous patriot of that time. After Shahu Maharaj's death, this reform died its natural death.
Chhatrapati Shahu was very fond of wrestling and encouraged it in his kingdom.Many wrestlers from all over India came to Kolhapur as wrestling enjoyed royal patronage in Kolhapur.
The Indian postal department has issued a stamp dedicated to Shahu. On the first-issue citation, the government of India hails Shahu as "A social revolutionary, a true democrat, a visionary, a patron of the theatre, music and sports and a prince of the masses. Chhatrapati Shahu was a many-splendoured personality who thought and acted far ahead of his times."
"Foundation Ceremony" in presence of Shahu Maharaj (1901)