The Marathas

  •  Shivaji was the founder of the Maratha empire.
  •  He belonged to the Bhonsle clan of the Marathas. His father Shahji Bhonsle was a military commander under the Nizamshahi rulers of Ahmadnagar. After the failure of Ahmednagar, he transferred his services to Bijapur. He had two wives.
  •  Shivaji was born to Jijabai in the hill fortress of Shivner in Poona in 1627. Apart from Jijabai, the two persons who influenced the life of Shivaji were Dadaji Konddev and Guru Ramdas.
  •  Dadaji Konddev made Shivaji an expert soldier and efficient administrator.
  •  Probably in 1637 or 1638, Shivaji inherited the paternal Jagir of Poona from his father under the guardianship of Dadaji Konddev.
  •  At the age of 18, he first conquered Torna fort and built a fort at Raigarh.
  •  Shivaji initially targeted its campaign against the Adil Shahi kingdom of Bijapur. Then Adil Shah deputed Afzal Khan to punish Shivaji, but Afzal Khan was murdered by Shivaji in 1659.
  •  Later, Shaista Khan, governor of Deccan and maternal uncle of Aurangzeb, was appointed by Aurangzeb to put down the rising power of Shivaji in 1660. Shivaji lost Poona and suffered several defeats till he made a bold attack on Shaista’s military camp and plundered Surat (1664) and later Ahmednagar.
  •  Then Aurangzeb appointed Mirza Raja Jai Singh of Amber to put down Shijvaji in 1665 and Jai Singh succeeded in besieging Shivaji in the fort of Purandhar. Consequently, the treaty of Purandhar (1665) was signed.
  •  Shivaji recovered most of the fort lost by him through the treaty of Purandhar.
  •  In 1674, Shivaji was coronated at Raigarh and he assumed the title of Chhatrapati.
  •  Shivaji died in 1680 at Raigarh.


  •  Shivaji divided his territory under his rule (swaraj) into three provinces. Each of the provinces was under a viceroy. The provinces were divided into prants, which were subdivided into parganas or tarafs. The lowest unit was village, which was headed by Headman or Patel.
  •  Shivaji was helped by the ashtapradhan (eight ministers), which was like a council of ministers.
    Ashtapradhan (Council of Eight Ministers)
    (i) The Peshwa or the He looked after general chief minister administration.
    (ii) The amatya or majumdar He was minister for finance.
    (iii) The sachiv or shuru nawis He was responsible for all correspondence.
    (iv) The sumant or dabir He worked as foreign minsiter and was responsible for correspondence with other kings.
    (v) The senapati or He was not the san-i-naubat commander-in-chief and looked after recruitment, training and discipline of the army.
    (vi) The mantri or waqia nawis He was responsible for the personal safety of the king.
    (vii) The nyayadhish He was responsible for administration of justice.
    (viii) The dhanadhyaksha He was minister for or the pundit rao charities and religious affair.
    Millitary Organisation
    (i) Foot soldiers (Infantry) Guer i l la war fare (most efficient)
    (ii) Bargi A part of the cavalry, formally recruited with fixed pay and hor ses and equi pment provided by the state
    (iii) Silahdars A part of the cavalry, recruited informally, required to maintain their own horses and equipment, entitled for a share in war booty but not for a regular pay
    Other posts
    (i) Sar-i-nauhat In-charge of the army (senapati)
    (ii) Qiladars Officers of forts
    (iii) Nayak Head of the nine-member unit (smallest of infantry)
    (iv) Havaldar Head of five Nayaks

Revenue System

  •  It was mostly based on the Malik Amber’s (Ahmednagar) revenue system.
  •  Assessment of land revenue was based on measurement. The kathi was adopted as the unit of measurement.
  •  Chauth was one-fourth of the land revenue paid to the marathas so as not be subjected to Maratha raids.
  •  Sardeshmukhi was an additional levy of 10 per cent on those lands of Maharashtra over which the Marathas claimed herditary rights, but which formed part of the Mughal Empire.

Great Saints of Maharashtra

  •  Saint Dnyaneshwar (1271-96): He was a 13th-century Marathi saint, poet, philosopher and yogi of the Nath sect. His works Dynaneshwari, which is a commetary on the Bhagavad Gita, and Amrutanubhav, another compilation of composition, are considered to be milestones in Marathi literature.
  •  Saint Namdev (1270-1350): He is considered a prominent religious poet of Maharashtra. He is the foremost proponent of the Bhagwad-Dharma. He was a devotee of Vithoba (incarnation of Vishnu).
  •  Saint Tukaram (1598-1650): He was an enlightened, dauntless and rebellious poet. His Abhangas gained such popularity that they came to be associated with the name of Saint Tukaram.
  •  Swami Ram Das (1608-81): He was born in Thosar family in Jamb village in Maharashtra. He was a great devotee of the deities Hanuman and Lord Rama.
  •  Shivaji had two sons Sambhaji and Rajaram from his two different wives.
  •  Sambhaji (the elder son) defeated Rajaram, the younger son of Shivaji, in the war of succession.
  •  He provided protection and support to Akbar, the rebellious son of Aurangzeb.
  •  He, along with Kavikalash, was captured at Sangamesvar by a Mughal officer and executed in 1689.
  •  He succeeded the throne with the help of the Maratha council of ministers at Raigarh. But soon he fled from Aigarh to Jinji or Ginjee (South Arcot district, Tamil Nadu) in 1689 due to a Mughal invasion in which Raigarh was captured along with Sambhaji’s wife and son (Sahu) by the Mughals. Sahu was only seven years old at that time.
  •  Rajaram died at Satara in 1700.
  •  Satara later become the capital of Marathas after the fall of Jinji to Mughals in 1698.
  •  Rajaram created the new post of Pratinidhi, thus taking the total number of ministers from eight to nine.
  •  Rajaram was succeeded by his minor son Shivaji II under the guardianship of his mother Tarabai.
  •  Tarabai became the de facto ruler of the state.
  •  Nearly three months after Aurangzeb’s death, Shahu was released by the Mughal emperor Azam Shah, who was known as Bahadur Shah.
  •  Tarabai’s army was defeated by Shahu at the battle of Khed (1700) and Shahu occupied Satara. But the southern part of the Maratha kingdom with its capital at Kolhapur continued to be under the control of the descendants of Rajaram (Shivaji II and later Sambhaji II).
  •  Shahu’s r ei gn saw t he r i se of t he Peshwas and transformation of the Maratha kingdom into an empire based on the principle of confederacy. From now onwards the Peshwas became the de facto rulers of the state.
  •  Balaji Viswanath became Peshwa in 1713 and with his appointment the post became hereditary.
  •  He has been called second founder of Maratha state.
  •  Baji Rao, the eldest son of Balaji Viswanath, was appointed as Peshwa by Sahu.
  •  He was considered the greatest exponent of guerrilla tactics after Shivaji.
  •  Mar at ha power again r eached i ts zeni t h under Baji Rao I.
  •  Baji Rao was the first Peshwa who attacked Delhi. He was a contemporary of Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah.
  •  Baji Rao died at a young age of 40.
  •  He was popularly known as Nana Saheb.
  •  He became Peshwa after his father’s death.
  •  After the death of Shahu in 1749, the management of all state affairs was left in his hands.
  •  The third battle of Panipat in 1761 resulted in the defeat of the Marathas by Ahmad Shah Abdali and the death of Viswas Rao (son of Nana Saheb).
  •  In the third battle of Panipat, the Maratha Army was led by Sadashiv Rao Bhau (cousin of Nana Saheb) and Viswas Rao (son of Nana Saheb).
  •  Nana Saheb died in 1761.
  •  He rehabilitated the Maratha power broken by the battle of Panipat. He died in 1772.
  •  Narayan Rao, the younger brother of Madhav Rao, ascended the throne.
  •  Narayanarao’s uncle Raghunath Rao killed him and tried himself to become a Peshwa.
  •  The court did not accept Raghunathrao as a Peshwa.
  •  A council of ministers called Barahbhai (12 members) consisting of Nana Phadnavis, Mahadaji Sindhia, Haripant Phadake and others ran the government.
  •  Nana Phadnavis looked after the matters in South while Mahadaji Sindhia was to look after the matters in the North. Sindhia died in 1793.
    Nana Phadnavis
    Nana Phadnavis, who was originally known as Balaji Janardan Bhau, existed as an eminent and influential Peshwa of the Maratha Empire during Peshwa administration in Pune. Nana Phadnavis died in 1800.

First War (1775-82)

  •  Favouring the cause of Raghunath Rao for Peshwaship, the British (Hastings) came into conflict with the Marathas. On being defeated, the British had to sign the humiliating Convention of Wadgaon.
  •  The British later signed the Treaty of Salbai, renouncing the cause of Raghoba.

Second War (1803-06)

  •  The Peshwa signed the Subsidiary Alliance in the Treaty of Bassein (1802).
  •  The Maratha confederacy, which did not like the idea, challenged the British power but were defeated by the

Third War (1817-18)

  •  Lord Hastings was determined to proclaim British paramountcy in India. His move against the Pindaris transgressed the sovereignty of the Maratha chief and the war began.
  •  The Marathas were decisively defeated.