Nehru notes that during the declining years of the Mughal Empire; there was a ferment of revivalist sentiments; which was a mixture of religion and nationalism at all in its present sense. An equally important factor was the cracking up of the economic structure and repeated peasant uprising some of them on a big scale. The Marathas, especially had a wider conception, a principal of national attachment which united their chiefs as in one common cause In the growth and consolidation of the new Maratha power Shivaji born in 1627 became the symbol of a resurgent Hindu nationalism.
The scene opens with a dialogue between a fort keeper beholden to his task and and a fellow storyteller who recounts the glory, valour and inspirational leadership evinced by shivaji. The folk poet srivallabhs balladic songs re-create the halcyon days of shivaji. Bereaved son of shahaji and brought up by Dadaji Konde, he has began collecting complaints in his jagir from the oppressed peasants, harassed by the marauding soldiers of both Mughals and Adilshahi kingdom of Bijapur. Shivaji has the highest regard for his widowed-mother Jijabai and takes oath, under jer guidance, at the hill top temple of 'Mata Bhavani'. To revive Hindu kingship at a time of awesome and orthodox Muslim supremacy.
The ballads relate how Shivaji pines to break away from the shackles of the Bijapur thralldom and chalks out a daring strategy to capture forts in the western ghats and along the adjacent Konkan coast. To start with, it is assault not conflict of Purandher Fort, as a test case. He appeals to a rival chieftain shankaraji to use his energy and courage, and become the fort-keeper. The ploy succeeds and an ally is born. There is a round of thanks-giving prayers at the Bhavani temple.
Nehru comments that while the empire was rent by strife and revolt, the new Maratha power thus began growing in western India.as an ideal guerrilla leader of hardened mountaineers whose cavalery could go far and wide Shivaji drew inspiration from the classic and traditions to build up the Marathas as a strong fighting group, gave them a nationalist background, and made them into formidable fighting force.