Rise of Maratha Empire

Rise of Maratha Empire

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (Shivaji Shahaji Bhosale) was the founder of strong Maratha Empire in the west part of India in 17th Century.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (Shivaji Shahaji Bhosale) was born in the fort of Shivneri, near from city Junner (Pune District), in the year 1630 (19th February’ 1630). His mother Jijabai Bhosale named him Shivaji in the honor of goddess Shivai Devi. Chhatrapati Shivaji was devotAed to his mother Jijabai Bhosale, who was extreme religious. This kind of environment had put deep impact on Shivaji maharaj.

Expansion of Empire and Battles of Shivaji

  • In the 1659 Adilshah sent Afzalkhan with the army of 75000 soldiers to destroy Shivaji with his empire. Chhatrapati Shivaji killed Afzal Khan with full diplomatically. He signaled his troops to start the great assault on the Adilshahi Sultanate.
  • Shivaji defeated Kaltalf Khan, a sardar of Shahista Khan in the Battle of Umberkhind with few soldiers (Mavale).
  • Aurangjeb sent his maternal uncle Shahista Khan with powerful army over 1,50,000 on request of Badibegum Sahiba, Adishahi sultanate. In the April 1663Chhatrapati Shivaji personally made surprise attack on Shahista Khan in the LalMahal Pune.
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji sacked surat ,the wealthy city of mughal empire in 1664. Surat was the financial capital of mughal& trading centre.
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji agreed to give 23 forts and Rs. 4,00,000/- hone, to let his son Sambhaji become Mughal Sardar and ready to meet with Aurangjeb in the treaty of Purander between Chhatrapati Shivaji and Mirza Raje Jaisingh on behalf of Mughal.
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji gained lot of province till jinji in Karnataka after coronation in the period of 1677-1678.
  • Aurangjeb invited Chhatrapati Shivaji to Agra on occasion of his 50th birth anniversary. However, in the court on 1666 Aurangjeb made in stand behind military commanders of his court.Shivaji got angry and he refused gift which offered by Aurangjeb and stormed out of the court. He was house arrested by Aurangjeb .Chhatrapati Shivaji made supreme plan and succeed to escape from Agra.

Ashtpradhans of Shivaji

It was dministrative and advisory council set up by the Indian Shivaji which contributed to his successful military attacks on the Muslim Mughal Empire and to the good government of the territory over which he established his rule.

  • Peshwa- Prime Minister
  • Amatya- Finance Department
  • Sachiv- Home Secretary
  • Sumant- Foreign Secretary
  • Nyayadheesh- Judicial Magistarate
  • Senapati- Commander In chief
  • Panditrao- relifious matters
  • Mantri- Day to day activities

Revenue Administration

T he assessment of revenue was made after a careful survey and classification of the lands according to their quality and yield. The share of the state was fixed at two-fifths of the gross produce. The cultivator was given the option of paying either in cash or kind.

Besides the land revenue, Shivaji had other sources of income, of which the most important were the chauth and sardeshmukhi. The chauth amounted to one-fourth of the standard revenue assessment of the place, while the sardeshmukhi was an additional levy of 10 per cent de­manded from areas outside his kingdom because he claimed to be the hereditary sardeshmukh (chief headman) of the entire Maratha country. These taxes were levied on those living outside Maratha kingdom as a safeguard (a kind of protection money) against Shivaji’s forces plundering or raiding their territory.

Marathas Consolidation and Northward Expansion

Age of Peshwas

Balaji Vishwanath

With Balaji Vishwanath in charge of the Maratha military and Kanhoji in charge of the Marathas Navy. This agreement set the course for Balaji Viswanatha’s rise as a Peshwa during his subsequent visit to Delhi with an army of 12,000 Marathas. During this visit to Delhi, on an invitation from the Syed brothers in their struggle with the Mughal Emperor Farrukhsiyyar, the Maratha forces led by Balaji Viswanath clashed with the forces of Mughal Emperor and defeated them. This was the first Maratha victory over the Mughals in Delhi. This event marks the asendency of the Marathas in Delhi an asendency that was to last for almost a century till they were supplanted by the British in 1803.

The Peshwas – Baji Rao, Balaji Baji Rao, Madha Rao
After Shahu, the de facto executive power passed into the hands of the hereditary Prime Ministers the Peshwas. Balaji Viawanath Bhatt was succeeded by his son Baji Rao the first. Baji Rao was a very able and ambitious soldier and he was the one who consolidated Maratha power in North India.

Baji Rao died at a relativey young age of 40 in the year 1740. His was succeeded by his son Balaji Baji Rao. Balaji Baji Rao played a tragic role in Maratha history and the fissiparous tendencies he let loose ultimately let to the downfall of the Maratha empire.
His first mistake was to go back on the agreement between his grandfather Balaji Viswanath Bhatt and Kanhoji Angre according to which the Peshwa was to have no direct control over the Maratha Navy. He attacked the his own navy and weakened one arm of the Maratha might.
During his rule, North India was invaded by Ahmed Shah Abdali first in 1756. Balaji Baji Rao then sent his brother Raghunath Rao along with Malharrao Holkar to defeat Abdali. Raghunath rao not only defeated Abdali but chased him up to the Khyber pass till Attock in Paktoonistan. .
This success of Raghunath Rao aroused the jealousy of Balaji Baji Rao’s wife Gopikabai, who started conspiring against Raghunath Rao to undermine his influence. This led to corresponding jealousy from Anandibai who was Ragunath Rao’s wife. The unfortunate fallout of this court intrigue ws to end in the disastrous 3rd battle of Panipat in 1761.

The 3rd Battle of Panipat
When Abdali launched his second invasion in 1759 the Marathas who after their successes in 1756 had been hibernating in Maharashtra and Central India again woke up and in alliance with the Jat King Suraj Mal of Bharatpur formed an alliance. This alliance led by Shrimant Sadshiv Rao Bhau and Shrimant Vishwas Rao (the Peshwa Shrimant Balaji Baji Rao’s son) won spectacular victories and captured Delhi and Kunjapura (where the Afghan treasury and armoury was located). Here the alliance developed cracks due to the Maratha insistence on not allowing the Jats to loot Delhi. This ultimately split the alliance and Suraj Mal withdrew from the alliance. The Marathas consequently marched upto Panipat, but instead of continuing their attacks to completely defeat the partly defeated Abdali and Najib Khan, they stayed put at Panipat, blocking the way of the Afghans back to Afghanistan. Seeing their way back to their homeland blocked, the Afghans now became restless. They in turn, decided to block the way of the Marathas back into the Deccan.
This stand-off continued for one whole year from the 14th of January 1760 up to the 14th of January 1761. This led to the fall in the morale of the stranded Marathas and ultimatley led to their defeat at Panipat.

The Afghans with Najib Khan meanwhile also recaptured Delhi and Kunjpura. On the decisive day of 14th January 1761 (Makar Sankranti), the Marathas decided to break-through the Afghan blockade and re-enter Deccan. The disastrous battle saw about one hundred thousand Maratha troops being slaughtered in a matter of eight hours. But the Afghans too suffered heavy losses and decided enough was enough and went back to Afghanistan never to return to India.
The defeat of the Marathas and the withdrawal of the Afghans created a power vacuum in North India in the period 1761-1790. It was this vacuum that was filled up by the rising British power. But more of this later.

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