The young Shivaji II has been described as a 'pale and sickly child' by the missionary Heber. However, his health seemed to have got better as he grew up for he is popular for his mental and physical attainments. He also contributed to the expansion of Saraswathi Mahal Library and gave many useful books.
Shivaji II is popular among the people for the incidents related to the arrests of Kanchi mutt. The earrings (tatankas) of the Goddess Akhilandeswari in the Jambukeshwarar Temple were replaced with new ones in 1843-44. As a result Kanchi mutt, then based in Kumbakonam, shifted to Trichy with all the retinue in order to conduct a Tatanka-Pratishta ceremony for consecration of the earrings. But a legal procedure led to the delay of ceremonies and court case along with rituals that followed gained great debts on the part of Mutt that they were not able to shift the Mutt back to Kumbakonam. At this point, however, the administrator in charge of the ceremonies, a young Brahmin boy, went to the court of Shivaji II and also requested that the retinue should be allowed to stop at Thanjavur to receive donations from the people. But the Raja staunchly refused.
However, as the palanquin of the Shankaracharya and his retinue were making their way to Kumbakonam they were stopped on the banks of the Cauvery at Thiruvaiyaru by the sepoys of the Raja who surrounded them and respectfully escorted into the city of Thanjavur. At Thanjavur, they were accorded a royal reception by Shivaji II and the citizens of Thanjavur. It was later said that the Raja had had a dream a few nights before in which Lord Shiva had appeared and ordered him to render due honours to the Mutt. This incident is often referred to as the 'Arrest' of the Kanchi Mutt.
Raja Shivaji II died in 1855 after a reign of 22 years. After his death, due to absence of legitimate heir to the throne, the kingdom was annexed by British East India Company as per the Doctrine of Lapse.
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