UPSC History The Rise of Maratha NCERT Extracts - The Rise of the Marathas

NCERT Extracts - The Rise of the Marathas

Category : UPSC

 The Rise of the Marathas


  • The Marathas had important positions in the administrative and military systems of Ahmadnagar and Bijapur, and that their power and influence in the affairs of government had grown as the Mughals advanced towards the Deccan.
  • Both the Deccani sultans and the Mughals made a bid for their support and Malik Ambar used them in his army in large numbers as loose auxiliaries.
  • Although a number of influential Maratha families - the Mores, the Ghatages, the Nimbalkars, etc., exercised local authority in some areas, the Marathas did not have any large, well-established states as the Rajputs had.
  • The credit for setting up such a large state goes to Shahji Bhonsale and his son Shivaji.


Early Career of Shivaji


  • Shahji had left the Poona jagir to his neglected senior wife, Jija Bai and his minor son, Shivaji.
  • Shivaji showed his mettle when at the young age of 18, he overran a number of hill forts near Poona - Rajgarh, Kondana and Toma in the years 1645-47.
  • With the death of his guardian, Dadaji Kondadeo in 1647, Shivaji became his own master and the full control of his father's jagir passed under him.
  • Shivaji began his real career of conquest in 1656 when he conquered Javli from the Maratha chief, Chandra Rao More.
  • Mavali foot soldiers became a strong part of his army. With their help, he strengthened his position by acquiring a further series of hill forts near Poona.
  • The Mughal invasion of Bijapur in 1657 saved Shivaji from Bijapuri reprisal.
  • Shivaji first entered into negotiations with Aurangzeb. But he distrusted Shivaji and advised the Bijapur to expel him from the Bijapuri area he had seized.
  • Bijapur now decided to take stem action. It sent against Shivaji a premier Bijapuri noble, Afzal Khan, at the head of 10,000 troops with instructions to capture him.
  • Afzal Khan sent an invitation to Shivaji for a personal interview, promising to get him pardoned from the Bijapuri court.
  • Convinced that this was a trap, Shivaji went prepared, and murdered the Khan (1659) in a cunning but daring manner.
  • Flushed with victory, the Maratha troops overran the powerful fort of Panhala and poured into south Konkan and the Kolhapur districts making extensive conquests.
  • Shivaji's exploits made him a legendary figure. His name passed from house to house and he was credited with magical powers. People flocked to him from the Maratha areas to join his army.
  • Meanwhile, Aurangzeb was anxiously watching the rise of a Maratha power so near the Mughal frontiers. Aurangzeb instructed the new Mughal governor of the Deccan Shaista Khan to invade Shivaji's dominions.
  • Shivaji infiltrated into the camp to Shaista Khan at Poona, and at night attacked the Khan in his harem (1663), killing his son and one of his captains and wounding the Khan.
  • This daring attack put the Khan into disgrace and Shivaji's stock rose once again. In anger, Aurangzeb transferred Shaista Khan to Bengal.
  • Shivaji attacked Surat, which was the premier Mughal port, and looted it to his heart's content (1664), returning home laden with treasure.


Treaty of Purandar and Shivaji's Visit to Agra


  • After the failure of Shaista Khan, Aurangzeb deputed Raja Jai Singh of Amber, who was one of the most trusted advisers of Aurangzeb, to deal with Shivaji.
  • Jai Singh closely besieged Purandar (1665), beating of all Maratha attempts to relieve it. With the fall of the fort in sight, and no relief likely from any quarter, Shivaji opened negotiations with Jai Singh.
  • After hard bargaining, the following terms were agreed upon :
  • Out of 35 forts held by Shivaji, 23 forts with surrounding territory which yielded revenue of four lakhs of huns every year were to be surrendered to the Mughals, while the remaining 12 forts with an annual income of one lakh of huns were to be left of Shivaji "on condition of service and loyalty to the throne".
  • Territory worth four lakhs of huns a year in the Bijapur Konkan, which Shivaji had already held, was granted to him. In addition, Bijapur territory worth five lakhs of huns a year in the uplands (Balaghat), which Shivaji was to conquer, was also granted to him. In return for these, he was to pay 40 lakhs huns in instalments to the Mughals.
  • Shivaji asked to be excused from personal service. Hence, a mansab of 5000 was granted in his place to his minor son, Sambhaji.
  • Shivaji promised, however, to join personally in any Mughal campaign in the Deccan.
  • Jai Singh wrote to Aurangzeb, "We shall hem Shiva in like the centre of a circle."
  • The Mughal-Maratha expedition against Bijapur failed. Shivaji who had been deputed to capture fort Panhala was also unsuccessful.
  • Seeing his grandiose scheme collapsing before his eyes, Jai Singh persuaded Shivaji to visit the emperor at Agra.
  • Shivaji felt insulted when he was put in the category of mansabdars of 5000 - a rank which had been granted earlier to his minor son.
  • Nor did the emperor, whose birthday was being celebrated find time to speak to Shivaji. Hence, Shivaji walked off angrily and refused imperial service.
  • Such an episode had never happened, and a strong group at the court argued that exemplary punishment should be meted out to Shivaji in order to maintain and assert imperial dignity.
  • Since Shivaji had come to Agra on Jai Singh's assurances, Aurangzeb wrote to Jai Singh for advice. Jai Singh strongly argued for a lenient treatment for Shivaji. But before any decision could be taken, Shivaji escaped from detention (1666).


Final Breach with Shivaji: Shivaji?s Administration and Achievements


  • Shivaji could not be reconciled to the loss of 23 forts and territory worth four lakhs huns a year to the Mughal without any compensation from Bijapur.
  • He renewed the contest with the Mughals, sacking Surat a second time in 1670.
  • In 1674 Shivaji crowned himself formally at Raigarh.
  • Shivaji had travelled far from being a petty jagirdar at Poona. He was by now the most powerful among the Maratha chiefs, and by virtue of the extent of his dominions and the size of his army could claim a status equal to the effete Deccani sultans.
  • A formal declaration was also made by the priest presiding over the function, Ganga Bhatta, that Shivaji was a high class kshatriya.
  • Finally, as an independent ruler it now became possible for Shivaji to enter into treaties with the Deccani sultans on a footing of equality and not as a rebel.
  • It was also an important step in the further growth of Maratha national sentiment.
  • In 1676 Shivaji undertook a bold new venture. With the active aid and support of the brothers, Madanna and Akhanna at Hyderabad, Shivaji undertook an expedition into the Bijapuri Kamataka.
  • Shivaji had assumed the title of "Haindava-Dharmoddharak" (Protector of Hindu faith).
  • The Kamataka expedition was the last major expedition of Shivaji.
  • Shivaji died in 1680, shortly after his return from the Kamataka expedition. Meanwhile, he had laid the foundations of a sound system of administration.


System of Administration


  • Shivaji's system of administration was largely borrowed from the administrative practices of the Deccani states.
  • Although he designated eight ministers, sometimes called the Ashtapradhan, it was not in the nature of a council of ministers, each minister being directly responsible to the ruler.
  • The most important minister was the Peshwa who looked after the finances and general administration, and the sar-i-naubat (senapati) which was a post of honour and was generally given to one of the leading Maratha chiefs.
  • The majumdar was the accountant, while the wakenavis was responsible for intelligence, posts and household affairs.
  • The surunavis or chitnis helped the king with his correspondence.
  • The dabir was master of ceremonies and also helped the king in his dealing with foreign powers.
  • The nyayadhish and panditrao were in charge of justice and charitable grants.
  • More important than the appointment of these officials was Shivaji's organisation of the army and the revenue system.
  • Shivaji preferred to give cash salaries to the regular soldier, though sometime the chiefs received revenue grants (saranjam).
  • The regular army was called paga, while the loose auxiliaries called silahdars were supervised by havaldars who received fixed salaries.
  • The forts were carefully supervised, Mavali foot soldiers and gunners being appointed there. We are told that three men of equal rank were placed in charge of each fort to guard against treachery.
  • The revenue system seems to have been patterned on the system of Malik Ambar.
  • A new revenue assessment was completed by Annaji Datto in 1679.
  • It is not correct to think that Shivaji abolished the zamindari (deshmukhi) system, or that he did not award jagirs (mokasa) to his officials.
  • Shivaji strictly supervised the mirasdars, that is, those with hereditary rights in land.
  • Shivaji supplemented his income by levying a contribution on the neighbouring Mughal territories. This contribution which came to one-fourth of the land revenue began to be called chauthai (one-fourth) or chauth.
  • Shivaji not only proved to be an able general, a skinful tactician and shrewd diplomat, he also laid the foundation of a strong state by curbing the power of the deshmukhs,
  • The army depended tor its salaries to a considerable extent on the plunder of the neighbouring areas. But the state cannot thereby be called just a "war-state".
  • It was regional in character, no doubt, but it definitely had a popular base.
  • To that extent, Shivaji was a popular king who represented the assertion of popular will in the area against Mughal encroachments.

NCERT Extracts - The Rise of the Marathas

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