Indian History

Maratha Kingdom

  • In the middle of 17th century Marthas rose under the leadership of Shivaji and established an independent Maratha kingdom. Shivaji was born in 1627 A.D in the fort of Shivanir. His father Shaji Bhonsle was a Maratha Jagirdar. Shivaji was brought up by his mother Jijabai. She prompted him to protect the Hinduism. Dadaji Konda Dev was the guardian of Shivaji. He taught Shivaji about war skills and horse riding.Shivaji was a disciple of Samartha Ramdas and Tukaram and greatly influenced by them. He had a strong ambition to built a powerful Maratha State even when he was a child. Shivaji started his career of conquest in 1646 A.D. He conquered Torna from Bijapur Sultan. He also captured Purandhar, Raigarh, Chakan, Kondana and Kalyan. With these conquests Bijapur Sultan feared with Shivaji and wants to control him. So, he imprisoned Shaji Bhonsle, father of Shivaji. But Shivaji secured therelease of his father with negotiations. After the release of his father Shivaji was quite for sometime and continued his activities after five years. Sultan of Bijapur sent Afzal Khan against Shivaji. But Shivaji put him to death on 2nd November, 1659 and plundered the Bijapur forces. With this Shivaji fame greatly increased. Shivaji also occupied Mughal fortresses. He sacked Surat in 1664. Aurangzeb sent Shayista Khan against Shivaji. When Shayista Khan was in his own lodging Shivaji attacted him but he was escaped. In 1665 Aurangjeb sentRaja Jaising against Shivaji. After fighting for two months Shivaji sued for peace. So, the treaty of Purandhar was signed on June 24, 1665. By this treaty Shivaji accepted to return all the recent conquerings from Mughals. Shambaji, son of Shivaji was appointed as a Mansabdar in the Mughal service. When Shivaji visited Mughal court in May 1666 Aurangzeb imprisoned him but he was escaped. Shivaji again attacked Surat in 1670 and Plundered the wealth. He also raided Aurangabad, Kandesh, Bidar and Birar. As a result of this, Mughal power in Deccan was weakened. The coronation of Shivaji took place in 1674 A.D at Raigarh. He assumed the title 'Chatrapati'. After the coronation Shivaji conquered Vellore, Jinji, Kurnoool, Ballary and Tanjore. He died in 1680. At the time of his death Shivaji kingdom comprised not only in Maharastra but also some parts in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
  • Shivaji was a good administrator. He named his kingdom as Swaraj. He divided Swaraj into three provinces. Each province was kept under the control of Viceroy. The provinces were divided into districts. Districts were divided into villages. His administration was centralised. He ruled as per Dharmasastras. There were eight ministers called Astha Pradhans to assist Shivaji in administration. Peshwa was the Prime Minister and incharge of general administration. Amatya was the Finance Minister. Mantri had the duty of recording the day to day proceedings of the court. Senapati was the chief of the army. Pandit Rao look after religious matters. Sumanth was the incharge of foreign affairs. Sachiva was incharge of royal correspondence. The main source of income was land revenue. Land was Surveyed. 2/5 of the income of land was collected as land revenue. The other sources of income was Chauth and Sardeshmukhi. But these were collected ouside from Swaraj. Shivaji was the devotee of Goddess Bhavani. He was tolerant towards other religions.
  • After the death of Shivaji, Shambhaji, son of Shivaji, became the ruler of Maratha kingdom. But he was captured and put to death by Mughals in 1689 A.D. Then Rajaram became the ruler of Maratha kingdom and continued struggle with Mughals. He ruled upto 1700 A.D. After the death of Raja Ram his wife Tara Bai continued struggle with Mughals. After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707 A.D, Sahu, son of Shambaji was released from Mughal prison. With the support of most of the Maratha leaders Sahu became ruler of Maratha kingdom and ruled upto 1749. In 1713 Balaji viswanath was appointed as Peshwa. He united Marathas as a single nation. Consequently Peshwas became real rulers of Maratha kingdom. Baji Rao, son of Balaji Vishwanath, became the Peshwa of Maratha kingdom in 1720. He conquered Gujrat and Malwa. He also got Bassein from the Portuguese. During his period Nadir Shah invaded on India. He planned to face Nadir Shah with the help of other Indian rulers but he was died in 1740. After the death of Baji Rao, Balaji Baji Rao (Nana Sahib) became the Peshwa of Maratha kingdom Maratha kingdom reached highest mark of expansion in his period. Marathas expansion over Punjab resulted the battle of third Panipat in 1761. Ahmad Shah Abdali reached Panipat with his army> Marathas led by Sadasiva Rao Bhao reached the battle field. In the fierce battle that took place in the Panipat Marathas were defeated. Afghans emerged victorious. This was a national disaster to the Marathas. But this battle did not crush Maqrathas completely. It only crippled the Marathas Power. Madhav Rao became Peshwa in 1761 and tried to revive the glory of Marathas. Baji Rao II (1795-1818) was the last Peshwa. Later the post of Peshwa was abolished by the British.