THE MARATHA POWER


In Deccan, around A. D. 1650, Shivaji Bhonsle established an independent kingdom, which is popularly called as Maratha kingdom.

It consisted today’s districts like Pune district and parts of Thane, Satara, Kolhapur and Nasik.

Initially, he stared capturing Adilshahi provinces that were nearby the Jahagir of Shahaji Raje and captured Fort Torna.

He captured Fort Rajgad, Fort Kondana and Fort Purandar.

Around A. D. 1656, he conquered a large Adilshahi province called as ‘Javali’ from Chandrarao More and brought it under Maratha kingdom.

Shivaji Maharaj invaded Adilshahi provinces of Deccan territory and conquered Fort Panhala, Fort Rangana, and also Fort Khelna (to which, he named as Fort Vishalgad).

He also captured Rajapur and Dabhol seaports that were in Adilshahi Konkan province.

In A. D. 1657-58, he conquered Cheul, Kalyan, and Bhivandi provinces and brought the upper portion of old Nizamshahi under Maratha kingdom.

 

In A. D. 1665, he built first new sea fort of Maratha kingdom near Malvan and named it as ‘Janjira Sindhudurg’.

In A. D. 1664, Mughal Badshaha Aurangzeb sent two powerful Sardars namely Mirza Raja Jaishngh and Dilerkhan who attacked on the Maratha provinces.

Result of which, Shivaji Maharaj had to make a treaty with Aurangzeb and had to surrender about 23 forts along with a large portion of Maratha kingdom to Mughal Sultanate.

Being a part of the treaty he also had to visit Agra city along with his son Sambhaji.

On 12th May 1666, Shivaji Maharaj attended Mughal Durbar (Court).

He was taken into custody and put under house arrest.

On 15th August 1666, Shivaji Maharaj along with his son managed a escape from this camp and immediately rushed to Deccan.

Around A. D. 1667 Shivaji Maharaj conquered Karhad Pargana and also captured Satara Pargana, fort Panhala and adjoining province.

During A. D. 1670, he again started military activities and within a period of few months re-conquered all the provinces, which he had to surrender in the treaty.

In A. D. 1673 Maratha army conquered Fort Salher and Baglan province.

On 5th June 1674, Shivaji Maharaj declared himself as 1st Chatrapati of Maratha Empire by making a throne ceremony at Fort Raigad.

He also declared Fort Raigad as the capital of Maratha Empire.

During the year A. D. 1675, Shivaji Maharaj conquered a strong fort situated on the border of Goa, called as fort Fonda.

Due to the political diplomacies made by different Sardars, Adilshahi Sultanate was losing the hold on Karnataka territory. He took full advantage of the situation, and initially conquered an important Adilshahi province called as Koppal during A. D. 1676.

Shivaji Maharaj made a royal expedition towards southern Indian Territory, which is known in the history as ‘Dakshin Digvijay‘.

On 3rd April 1680, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj died at fort Raigad.

 

His elder son Sambhaji Maharaj declared himself as the succeeding Chatrapati of Maratha Empire.

On 22nd September 1686 Aurangzeb defeated Adilshaha and ended Adilshahi Sultanate.

Immediately after two years, on 21st September 1687, Shahalam ended Qutbshahi Sultanate.

On 11th March 1689, Aurangzeb killed Chatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj.

Aurangzeb also captured Sambhaji’s wife Yesubai and son Shahu and kept them with him until his death.

After the death of Chatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, Rajaram the younger son of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj became third succeeding Chatrapati of Maratha Empire.

For the self-survival, had to travel secretly to

After death of Chatrapati Rajaram Maharaj, Rani Tarabai wife of Chatrapati Rajaram, ruled Maratha Empire by the name of Shivaji (II), son of Chatrapati Rajaram Maharaj.

Mughal were never succeeded in ending Maratha Empire.

Badshaha Aurangzeb died at Ahemadnagar, on 20th February 1707.

After the death of Aurangzeb, Shahu, son of Chatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, was set free and allowed to return to Deccan province.

Shahu was also allowed to rule that province as a Mughal representative.

Around A. D. 1708, Shahu captured fort Satara and decided to reside there permanently.

On 12th January 1708, he declared himself the fourth Chatrapati of the Maratha Empire.

In A.D. 1713, Chatrapati Shahu Maharaj appointed Balaji Vishwanath Bhat, as a ‘Peshwa’ of Maratha Empire.

Mughal Sultanate refused to declare old Maratha province as the Maratha Empire.

Yesubai, wife of Chatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj and mother of Chatrapati Shahu Maharaj, was in Delhi and was not set free by the Mughal Badshaha.

By the efforts of Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath she was successfully freed and brought back.

Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath also took many efforts to set free the provinces of former Maratha Empire and also to be declared as the territory of the independent Maratha Empire.

Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath and his son Baji Rao made the Peshwa the functional head of the Maratha Empire.

They systematized the practice of tribute gathering from Mughal territories, under the heads of sardeshmukhi and chauth (the two terms corresponding to the proportion of tribute collected).

They seem to have consolidated methods of assessment and collection of land revenue and other taxes, on the lines of the Mughals.

Much of the revenue terminology used in the documents of the peshwa and his subordinates derives from Persian.

 

Central Administration under the Marathas–

The king was at the helm of the affairs.

The administration was divided into eight departments headed by ministers who are sometimes called Ashta pradhan.

The eight ministers were

[1] Peshwa who looked after the finances and general administration.

[2] Sari- Naubat who was the Senapati.

[3] Majumdar looked after the accounts.

[4] Waqai navis looked after the intelligence, post and household affairs.

[5] Surnavis or Chitnis looked after official correspondence.

[6] Dabir looked after foreign affairs.

[7] Nyayadhish looked after justice.

[8] Pandit Rao looked after ecclesiastical affairs.

 

The ashtapradhan was not a creation of Shivaji Maharaj.

All the members of the astha pradhan except Pandit Rao and Nyaydhish were asked to lead military campaigns.

Under Shivaji Maharaj these offices were neither hereditary nor permanent.

They held the office at the pleasure of the king.

Chitnis dealt with all diplomatic correspondences and wrote all royal letters.

The Fadnis used to respond to the letters of commanders of the forts.

The potnis looked after the income and expenditure of the royal treasury.

 

Provincial and Local Administration—

The provincial administration was also organized on the Deccani and Mughal system.

The provinces were known as Prants.

The Prants were under the charge of subedar.

Over a number of Subedar there were Sarsubedar to control and supervise the work of subedar.

Smaller than prant were Tarfs which were headed by a havaldar.

Then there were Mauzas or villages which were the lowest unit of administration.

At the level of village, Kulkarni used to keep accounts and maintained records while Patil had legal and policing power.

At the level of Pargana, Deshpande used to keep account and maintain records while Deshmukh had legal and policing powers.

The Police officer in rural area was called Faujdar and in urban area was called Kotwal.