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Rise of Maratha Power

Rise of Maratha Power

Shivaji's Early Life

Shivaji was born on 20 April 1627. His father's name was Shahji Bhonsle and his mother's name was Jijabai. Shahaji Bhonsle played a very important role in the politics of Ahmednagar and Bijapur. Jijabai was the daughter of Jadhav Rao, the greatest Maratha Jagirdar of his time and a descendant of the Yadav rulers of Dogiri. Shivaji's mother exerted a tremendous influence on her son. She was a very pious woman and did much to mold the character of her son. He taught his son the stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata and the heroic deeds of Hindu warriors in the past.

Dadaji Kondadev also played an important role in the life of Shivaji. He was the administrator of the Estates of Shivaji's father in Poona. The administrator loved Shivaji as his son . He gave him training in the art of riding, fighting, etc. He also taught him the art of administration, Both Ram Das and Tukaram had their influence on the life of Shivaji. Ram Das was virtually regarded by Shivaji as his Guru or spiritual guide or philosopher. The Guru Mantra or the sacred formula which Ram Das whispered into the ears of Shivaji was the love of his country and nation. Shivaji started his career of conquests and progress at the early age of 19.


Shivaji,s Administrative System

In theory, Shivaji was an autocrat, like his contemporaries. He could do what he pleased. However, he was assisted by a Council of 8 ministers known as the Ashta Pradhan. It is absolutely misleading to any that Ashta Pradhan was like a modern cabinet. Its functions were purely advisory. The eight ministers were the following:

( 1 ) The Peshwa or Prime Minister whose duty was to look after the general welfare and interests of the state .

( 2 ) The Amatya or Finance Minister whose duty was to check and countersign all public accounts of the Kingdom in general and the particular districts .

( 3 ) The Mantri or Chronicler whose duty was to keep a diary of the daily doings of the King and also record everything that happened at the court . He was also called Wakia - Nawis .

( 4 ) Summant or Dabir or Foreign Secretary whose duty was to advise the King on matters relating to foreign states and all questions of war and peace . He was also to see foreign Ambassadors and envoys and keep touch with the state of affairs in other states .

(5)Sachiv or Shuru Nav or Home Secretary whose duty was to look after the correspondence of the King . He was to see that all royal letters and dispatches were drafted in the proper style . He had the authority to revise them . He also checked the account of the Parganas .

(6)Pandit Rao or Danadhyaksha or Sadar and Muhtasib or Ecclesiastical Head whose duty was to fix dates for religious ceremonies , punish hearsay and distribute among the Brahmins the charity of the King . He was the judge of canon law and censor of public morals .

( 7 ) Nyayadhish or Chief Justice who was responsible for civil and military justice .

( 8 ) Senapati or Sari Naubat or Commander - in - Chief who was in charge of the recruitment, organization and discipline of the Army . He arranged disposition of the troops in the battlefield.

It is to be noted that with the exception of the Nyayadhish and Pandit Rao , all other ministers were required to command armies and lead expeditions . All royal letters , charters and treaties had to bear the seal of the King and the Peshwa and the endorsement of the next four ministers .

Local Government :-

Shivaji divided his kingdom into four provinces and a Viceroy was appointed for each. The provinces were divided into a number of Prants. The system of granting Jagirs was abolished and Shivaji started the system of paying the officers in cash. Even when the revenues of a particular place were assigned to any official, his only concern was with the money and he had no control over the people. It was laid down that no office was to be hereditary.


Shivaji was a military genius and no wonder he took pains to put the army on an efficient footing . It was the practice of the Marathas to work for half the year upon their field and to spend the dry season in the saddle on active service . Such a system was considered to be defective by Shivaji and he introduced the system of keeping a regular standing army . During the rainy season , it was provided with quarters and the soldiers were given regular salaries for the whole year . Both Hindus and Muslims were recruited in the army without any distinction . Soldiers we paid in cash and had full confidence in their leaders . Those soldiers who showed bravery , were rewarded . Shivaji was able to attract a large number of persons from different parts of the country on account of his appreciation of worth .

Fiscal System

Shivaji abolished the system of taxing of farmers . A direct arrangement was made by the Government with cultivators . The land was carefully surveyed with the help of a measuring rod or Kathi . The share of the state was fixed at 30 % of the produce but later on it was increased to 40 % when other taxes were abolished . The cultivator was allowed to pay in cash or in kind according to his sweet will . The amount money to be paid was fixed and consequently there was not much chance of their oppression . The state encourged agriculture . In time of famine , the Government advanced money and grain to the cultivators which were to be paid back in instalments later on . It is admitted that Shivaji was very strict in the matter of realisation of land revenue so that much discretion may not be left in the hands of the officers for oppression or favouritism . Shivaji started the system of Chauth and Sardeshmukhi .


The administration of justice was of a primitive nature . No regular courts were set up and no regular procedure was laid down . The Panchayats continued to decide disputes in the villages . The system of ordeals was common . Criminal cases were tried by the Patels . Appeals in both civil and criminal cases were heard by the Nyayadhish who was guided by the Smritis . Hazir Majlis was the final Court of appeal .

Maratha Administration Under Peshwas

The contemporary Maratha administration of Peshwa was based on Hindu Shastras , Muslim laws , reforms made by Shivaji himself and his successors and amendments done by Peshwas . Thus the mixture of many features . The system of Peshwas administration of Peshwa was main and permanent . The main features of this were as given below :

Haloor Office Or Central Ministry :

the central ministry of marathas was called office and it was situated Maratha Administration Under Peshwas The Central ministry of Marathas was called office and it was situated at Poona . It had many departments and the circle of his works was big . Its works were to keep account of all states , to discuss the salaries , appointments and rights of officers etc. It had a daily account book in which all types of help , taxes sent by provinces , and state - revenue got from foreign - sources were recorded . All accounts were destroyed due to anarchy at the time of Baji Rao ..

Gram ( Village ) :

The smallest unit of administration was gram . The chief of village was called Patel . This post was honorary and hereditary . He was helped by an officer called Kulkami who was always Brahmin and his duty was only to write accounts . There were twelve gram - sevak ( Barah - Baluth ) to fulfil the social and personal needs of village and these were paid on portion of the production of the village . There was also a system of taking forced labour from carpenters , black smiths and craftsmen .

Subas And Paragnas :

The whole country was divided into ' Subas ' and ' Paraganas ' . The officer of Suba was called ' Mamlatdar ' and the officer of Pargana was called ' Kam Vistar ' . Peshwa ministry had control over all Kam Vistars except those of Khandesh , Gujarat and Karnataka . These officers had all departments of provincial government .

Theoretically , the accounts of Mamlatdars were accepted only when they were checked with account of local gram officers . At the time of appointment , Mamlatdars and other officers had to pay a big amount of security . The budget of the province was made by Hajoor officer . In the reign of Peshwa Baji Rao II , the posts of Mamlatdar etc. were being sold .

Justice :

The Judiciary system during Peshwas reign was not satisfactory . There was lack of laws . Generally , the disputes were ended and both the quarrelling parties were joined . The judgment of the dispute was made by a mediator . When his decision was not considered correct , the case would go in Panchayat . The Panchayat was appointed by Patel of the village . His decision might be appealed to Mamlatdar .

The criminal cases were also listened in this way . But the supreme justice of criminal cases was Peshwa . After him , Subedar in Suba , Mamlatdar in district and Patel in village would listen the cases . The justice was based on justice - wisdom . The accused was treated hard to confess ; the guilt .

After 1761 A.D. , a system started by which there were two methods of giving capital punishment to accused of theft , loot , murder and conspiracy - cut the body into pieces by the sword or crush the skull . Brahmins were punished by drinking poison , or doing fast . The king might leave the accused or might punish him .

Police System :

There were ' Chaukidars ' in every village who were under control of Patel . One Chaukidar was appointed under Patel and he was helped by the person of criminal party . Thus , the policy of catching a thief by a thief was followed . This police system was unsatisfactory . Many Sardars of dacoits got salary from the state for the police work but Inspite of catching the guilty men they themselves looted the people . There was no means of security of innocent people . Kotwal was given the right of justice and police .

Military Organisation :

The army was of two types- ( i ) of Peshwas ( ii ) of Sardars . The national feeling of army was lost gradually . The Paidal army was of persons living in North India . The artillery was in the hands of Portuguese and Indian Christians .

Financial Progress And Public Welfare Works : In the reign of Peshwas no importance was given to the financial progress , prosperity , and welfare works of the people . A few works of public welfare were done during their reign . They also did not do anything for the expansion of education and practical progress .

Means Of Income :

The income of the state was mainly from Chauth and Sardeshmukhi . The agricultural villages were imposed revenue according to the production . Many officers were appointed for the recovery of the revenue . After recovery , the money was sent to an officer called Kamavistar . The revenue was deposited in 3 or 4 installments . Besides these , the income of the state was from house tax , collected land - tax , animal tax , meadow- tax , widow - marriage tax , agriculture tax of water - melon etc. heir - tax , sales - tax etc. When the guns were used in the battle of Karnataka between the French and the English , Marathas founded a department in Puna for the production of guns . Its observer and organiser was Brahmin Sardar Panse . It could not succeed due to lack of scientific knowledge . First time , in the battle of Panipat , Marathas used guns under the leadership of Ibrahim Khan Gardi after leaving the policy of Gorrilla war .

The cause of failure in the Battle of Panipat was not the change in war policy but was other causes . But after this war , the old war system ended . Mahadji Sindhia was much influenced by English soldier and their war - policy . So , Mahadaji decided to organise his army in European manner . Due to weakness of his successor Daulat Rao , Maratha army could not be organised after getting training from French ,

Lack Of Organisation :

The main cause of Marathas fall was lack of organisation . There was completely lack of organisation among Marathas inevery matter of government and attack department against enemy . There was no unity of orders , division of power and work , system or laws among them . Every person liked to work separately . This was national weakness which was kept under control for some time by Shivaji and Baji Rao.

Indian had always weakness of not paying attention to thoughts . Rajputs had to be defeated by Mohammad Ghori and Ghaznavi due to this reason . On account of this Ala - ud - din , Babur and Akbar scattered Hindu army in a moment .


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