Third battle of panipat in 1761.

The history of the Marathas can be divided into two well-marked phases viz., the earlier phase from the later half of the seventeenth century till the death of aurangazeb i.e., the period of shivaji, shambaji, raja ram and tarabai, and the later mughal phase, when the pishwas became the de facto rulers and the maratha empire turned into a loose confederacy of the maratha chiefs under the leadership of the pishwas.

The maratha influence spread like a ‘conflagration’ from the far south to north-west frontier of India they began to dream of themselves as the true successors to the mughals.

The rise of the Marathas in the latter half of the seventeenth century, however, was not a “sudden conflagration”, as described by grant duff.

Factors leading to the maratha rise:

Sir jadunath sarkar says, “the nature developed in the Marathas self-reliance, courage, preservace, a stern simplicity, a rough straight forwardness, a social equality and consequently pride in the dignity of man as man”.

Western MH and konkan, the actual homeland of Marathas, remained almost free from muslim political influence.

The hold of the bahamani sultans of bijapur and golcunda – over this region was superficial.

Many Marathas silahdars and mansabdars were employed in the bahmani kingdom and its successors, viz., adilshahi kingdom of bijapur and nizamshahi kingdom of ahmadnagar.

Malik amber of ahmadnagar made friends with the Marathas and using their best talent and co-operation, both for war and administration, he improved revenues of that kingdom and successfully opposed mughal advance for a quarter of a centrury.

In this grand political struggle, shivaji’s father, shahji, and grandfather, maloji, were closely associated with malik amber in such a manner that they gradually realized their strength and asserted their power in course of time.

Shivaji’s father teacher ramdas samarth (1608-82) (or samartha guru armadas, the author of the book das bodh, taught the philosophy of action or karma and exhorted shivaji’s son shambaji to unite all Marathas and to propagate the ‘MH dharma’.

MH dharma was preached by the saint from the days of jnaneshwar and namdev to tukaram, and samatha ramadas gave expression to this noble vision in his work anandavana bhuvana.

Shivaji (1627-80)

Born in 1627 in fort of shivner, belonged to the bhonsle clan and his grandfather, maloji, rose to prominence in the nizamshahi kingdom of ahmadnagar.

Maloji’s eldest son, shahji, father of shivaji, married jijabai, daughter of nizamshahi noble named lakuji jadav rao, a descendent of the yadavas of devagiri.

Shahji played an important part in the political and military affairs of nizamshahi kingdom and fought for ahmadnagar in its final struggle against the mughals in 1636.

He then entered in the service of bijapur and subsequently had to flee for life to Karnataka after entrusting his paternal jagir of Poona and the care of his wife jijabai and her young son shivaji to his trusted agent dadaji kondadev who was earlier an officer of the adilshahi kingdom.

Probably in 1637 or 1638 dadaji became the guardian of shivaji and the administration of the jagir remained under dadaji’s defacto control till his death in 1647 when shivaji assumed full charge.

The jagir entrusted by shahji to the care of dadaji exteneded over the regions known as the mavals.

Shivaji’s early campigns were directed against the adilshahi kingdom of bijapur.

In 1653 he captured kalyan, an important city and wealthy mart of the adilshahis on the west coast.

From 1657 to 1660, shivaji repeatedly attacked and plundered the adilshahi territories.

Thereupon the widowed queen of Muhammad adil shah dicieded to take vigouous measures to put down shivaji’s power by capturing him dead or alive.

In 1660, afzal khan, a front-rank noble and general of the adilshahi kingdom, was entrusted with the command of an expedition against shivaji.

Afzal khan proposed an interview with shivaji, promising him pardon and grant of territory. But his actual plan was to arrest shivaji.

At the said meeting, when afzal khan while embracing shivaji attacked him with a dagger, the latter promptly killed him with the tiger-claws (bagh-nakh).

Meanwhile aurangazeb deputed his maternal uncle shayistakhan to the deccan to annihilate shivaji.

Early in 1660 a joint attack was lauched against shivaji, the mughals advancing from the north and the bijapuris from the south.

For three years (1660-63), shivaji was so hunted from all directions that he became a homeless wanderer.

At this juncture, he launched a night attack at the well-guarded mansion of shayistakhan who was wounded in the attack and whose son was killed.

This incident gave a rude shock to the mughal prestige in the deccan, leading to the recall of shayistakhan and the appointment of aurangazeb’s son Mauzzam as viceroy in the deccan.

The next blow to the mughal prestige in the deccan was the sack of surat by shivaji in 1664, which was followed by plunder of ahmadnagar.

In 1665 aurangazeb entrusted the task of suppressing shivaji to mirza raja jai singh of amber who opened the campaign with the sieze of purandar.

Driven to desperation after months of resistence, shivaji negotiated for submission and a treaty was concluded at purandar (1665), by which shivaji was allowed to retain 12 of his forts, including raigarh, on condition of obedience and service to the mughals and surrender to 23 of his forts. After the treaty of purander, shivaji’s visit to the mughal court at agra, his confinement there and his great escape are well-known facts of history.

After returning to the deccan in 1666, shivaji took no aggressive measures and devoted a year or two in reorganizing his resources. On the other hand, muazzam, the mughal viceroy in the deccan, also adopted a conciliatory policy and aurangazeb conferred the title of ‘raja’ on shivaji and his son shambaji was granted a mansab and jagir in berar. But the three year long peace (1667-70) was broken when aurangazeb attacked a part of the jagir in berar. Now shivaji, with a second sack and plunder of surat in 1670, renewed his attacks against the mughal and the adil shahi territories.

In 1674, he arranged his grand coronation according to the vedic rites at his capital raigarh.He also introduced a new era of his own, dating from his coronation.

The siddis of janjira and the Portuguese were his constant enemies on the west coast. Even his brother vyankoji in the south had imitated him and announced his sovereignty at tanjavur in a similar coronation ceremony.
It was against this background that shivaji marched for his longest and last campaign in 1677, which took him to karnatak and tamilnadu.

The objective of this campaign was the subjugation of the adil shahi kingdom of bijapur, for which he entered into a secret pact with the sultan of golcunda through the good offices of madanna and akkanna, the two Brahmin ministers of golcunda.

As per the terms of treaty between Marathas and golcunda, it was decided that the conquered adil shahi territories would be divided between the two parites and both would cooperate in resisting the mughal invasions against either of them.

During the couse of this campaign shivaji conquered gingee, mathura, vellore etc. and about 100 forts in karnatak and TN.

He also settled the affairs with his brother Vyankoji, who was ruling at tanjaore.

He seized certain territories to the south of goa and conquered the island of janjira (70 km south of Bombay) from its abyssinian ruler called the siddis.

The karnatak expedition proved to be shivaji’s last great achievement.

The last two years of shivaji’s life were tragic.

In December 1678, his son shmabaji escaped with his wife Yesubai and joined diler khan, the mughal governor
in the deccan.

It was nearly after a year that he returned to the maratha dominion.

During this period the mughals exerted great pressure on the Marathas.

All these events had a shattering effect on shivaji’s health from which he never recovered and died on april 4, 1680.

Shivaji’s administration:

The master of extensive territories in MH, knk and TN.

His empire was divided into two parts: swaraj (own kingdom) or mulk-i-qadim (old territory), and an undefined belt of land legally part of the mughal empire which paid chauth but was not subject to shivaji’s administration.

Shivaji hinudised the admn by appointing hindus to high offices and by replacing urdu and Persian by marathi as the language for official work.

A dictionary official terms, entitled raja vyavahara kosha, was prepared by a panel of experts under the supervision of raghunath pandit hanumate.

Council of ministers (known as astapradhans):
1. the piswa or the mukhya pradan.
2. the muzmudar or the amatya - minister for finance and revenue.
3. the waqia-navis or the mantra – home minister
4. the dabir or the sumantha – incharge of foreign affairs
5. the shru-navis (surnis) or the sachiv – looked after the royal correspondence
6. the pandit rao – minister for religion
7. the sar-i-naubat or the senapati – commander-in-chief
8. the nyayadhish – chief justice

Besides performing the departmental duties, three of the ministers the pishwa, the schiva and the mantra were put incharge of extensive provinces.

All ministers, except the pandit rao and the nyayadish, had to serve in a war whenever necessary.

In his departmental duties, each minister was assisted by a staff of eight clerks:
1. diwan - secretary
2. mujumdar – auditor and accountant
3. fadnis – deputy auditor
4. sabnis or daftardar – office incharge
5. karkhanis – commissary
6. chitins – correspondence clerk
7. jamdar – treasurer
8. potnis – cashier

there were 18 depts in the state which were looked after by the ministers under the guidance of the king.
The swaraj territory, which was directly under the rule of shivaji, was divided into a number of prants (group of districts) which were all aggregated into three provinces, each being placed under a viceroy.

Officers were paid in cash.

Shivaji guarded against this danger by making a rule that none of these offices should be hereditary, but after his death this practice was departed from with the result that all his plans were upset.

Revenue system:

Shivaji’s revenue system was based on the principles followed by malik amber in the ahmadnagar kingdom.

The provinces in the swaraj region were, for revenue purposes, divided into a number of prants, each consisting of two or more districts.

The number of prants in sahu’s time was 37; Some of these might have been created after shivaji’s death.
Shivaji did away with the hereditary revenue officers, such as the patil, the kulkarni, the deshmukh and the deshpande in the districts.

The officer incharge of a prant was designated as subahdar, karkun or mukhya deshadhikari.

Sometimes several prants were placed under a supervising officer called sar-subahdar.

The old division of the country into subahs, sarkars, paraganas and mauzas was replaced with a fresh division into mahals, prants, tarafs, mauzas.

The land was carefully survyed by means of a kathi or measuring rod, and a record was kept of fields, and annual kabuliyats were taken from those who held them.

The state demand was at first fixed at 30%, but later it was raised to 40% by shivaji, when all other taxes and cesses had been abolished.

Chauth and sardeshmukhi:

The two most important taxes in the maratha taxation system chauth and sardeshmukhi.

A2 ranade, chauth was a military contribution in lieu of protection against the invasion of a third power.

But jadunath sarkar doesn’t agree with this view. He says that the payment of chauth merely saved a place from the unwelcome presence of the maratha soldiers and civil underlings; it did not impose on shivaji any corresponding obligation to guard the district from foreign invasion or internal disorder.

S.G.Sardesai says that chauth was a military tribute realsied from hostile or conquered territories.

The sardeshmukhi was an additional levy of 10% which shivaji demanded on the basis of a legal fiction that he was the hereditary sardeshmukh (chief headman) of MH.

A2 ishwari Prasad, desai is the corrupt form of the Sanskrit word deshswami also called deshmukh.

Administration of justice:

it was of a primitive kind.

There were no regular courts and no systematic procedure.

Trial by ordeal was common.

Criminal cases were heard by the patel who was an officer having the qualification of a modern tahshildar.

Appeals in civil and criminal cases were heard by the Brahmin nyayadhish.

The final court of appeal was the hazir majlis who seems to have disappeared after shivaji’s death.

Military organization:

The chronicles mention that there were about 280 forts in shivaji’s possession.

He spent a large sum of money in repairing some of the more important forts like rajgarh, raigarh, torna and pratapgarh.

Each fort was under a maratha havaldar with whom were associated a Brahmin subahdar responsible for civil and revenue administration, and an officer of the prabhu (kayastha) caste.

The havaldar had a garrison under his command.

Shivaji maintained a regular, standing army, and provided quarters for it during the rainy season.

At the time of his death, his army, which was originally a small force, consisted of 30,000 to 40,000 cavalry, and one lakh infantry drawn from the ranks of the peasantry.

He had an elephant corps, which, according to the sabhasad bakhar, numbered 1260 and also a fleet which contained about 200 men-of-war.

Orme writes that “he had previously purchased eight pieces of cannon and lead, sufficient for all his matchlocks from the french director of surat”.

The sabhasad mentions the use of firearms in battles, and says that the enemies were attacked with rockets, musket shots, bombs and stones.

The cavalry was divided into two classes the barges and the shiledars. The former were supplied with horses and arms by the state, while the latter had to find their own equipment.

One unit in the cavalry was formed of 25 troopers; over them was placed a havaldar, and five havaldars formed one jumla under a jumladar. Ten jumladars made a hazari charge, and five hazaris were placed under a panjhazari, who was given a salary of 2000 huns.

The panjhazaris were under the command of a sar-i-naubat.

For every 25 troopers, a farrier and a water-carrier were provided by the state.

The infantry arm was similarly oganised. It was divided into regiments, bridges and divisions.

The smallest unit was formed by the nine soldiers who were under the command of naik.

Over five such naiks was placed a havaldar, two or three of whom formed the charge of a jumladar.

Ten jumladars were under the command of a hazari, and over seven hazaris was placed a sar-i-naubat.

In time of need shivaji could also call the feudal forces of the maratha wattandars.

Sambhaji (1680-89)

There was a dispute about succession between the two sons of shivaji from his two different wives sambhaji and rajaram. Finally, after defeating rajaram from the throne, sambhaji or shambhuji ascended the throne on july 20, 1680.

Distrust of the maratha leaders led him to place his confidence in a Brahmins whom he invested with the supreme control of the administration and the title of kavi-kalash.

In 1680-81, when aurangazeb was engaged in the rajput war, sambhaji renewed war with the mughals, raided burhanpur and even attempted an attack on ahmadnagar. While these raids were going on, aurangazeb’s rebellious son akbar arrived in deccan and his stay there till his death.

The disillusioned akbar left for Persia in February 1687.

The Marathas regarded kavi-kalash as a foreigner.

While shambaji absorbed in incantious marry-making and captured, along with kavi-kalash, by a mughal officer in February 1689. After cruel torture for more than three weeks, they hacked to pieces, limb by limb, on march 21,1689.

Rajaram (1689-1700)

At the time of shambhaji’s death, his son sahu was only seven years old.

Rajaram, the younger son of shivaji and stepbrother of sambhaji, who had been kept in prison by the latter, was proclaimed king by the maratha council of ministers and crowned at raigarh in February 1689.

But soon thereafter, apprehending a mughal attack, rajaram left raigarh and, moving from one place to another, ultimately reached jinji or gingee.

The maratha council of ministers and other officials also joined him at gingee which, till 1698, became the centre of maratha activity against the mughals.

Shortly after rajaram’s fight to gingee, the mughals under zulfiqar khan captured raigarh in October 1689 and all members of shambaji’s family, including his son sahu, fell into mughal hands.

Although sahu was given the title of Raja and granted a mansab, he virtually remained a prisoner in the hands of the mughals till the death of aurangazeb (1707).

The continuing mughal threat produced four able leaders:

Nilakantha moreshwas pingle (the peshwa), ramachandra nilkantha vavdekar (the amatya), shankarji malhar (the sachiva) and prahlad niraji ravji (the son of the late chief justice).

Three other men, who had hitherto served in unimportant posts, came to the front by virtue of their abilities:
Dhanjai jadhav, santaji ghorpare and parashuram triambak.

Ramachandra bavdekar was made dictator (hukumatpanah) with full authority over the maratha commanders and other officials in MH.

Towards the middle of 1690 the Marathas won their first important victory, when the mughal general sharza khan was captured near satara with his family, horses and the entire bag and baggage of his army.

In 1692 there was a conspicuous success: the recovery of panhala.

Throughout 1694 and 1695 the mughals were worn down by desultory fighting and at the end of 1695 santaji defeated and killed two top-ranking mughal generals, Qasim khan and himmat khan.

In 1696-97 the maratha cause was weakened by a civil war which had its origin in the rivalry of santaji and dhanaji for the high office of senapathi (commander-in-chief).

In 1698 gingee fell to the mughals and after fleeing from there rajaram reached vishalgarh near MH.

In 1699 he formed plans for an extensive raid through khandesh and berar and started from satara which had become the maratha capital after the fall of gingee. But soon afterwards rajaram died in march 1700.
Tarabai (1700-07)

After rajaram’s death, his minor son by his wife tarabai, named shivaji II, was placed on the throne.

Tarabai’s energy and ability made her the de facto ruler of the state.

Several thousands of mavles (maratha hill infantry) were in the mughal pay.

Khafi khan says: “under tarabai’s guidance, maratha activities began to increase daily. She took into her own hands the control of all affairs, such as the appointment and change of generals, the cultivation of the country and the planning of raids into the mughal territory.

She made such arrangements for sending troops to ravage the ‘six subahs’ of the deccan and winning the heart of her officers, that all the efforts of aurangazeb against the Marathas down to the end of his reign failed”.

In 1703, the Marathas attacked berar. In 1706, they invaded Gujarat and sacked baroda. In the same year the Marathas threatened the camp of aurangazeb at ahmadnagar.

Aurangazeb died on march 3, 1707, while tarabai still in power.

Sahu’s release from the mughal captivity and the rise of the peshwas:

Nearly three months after aurangazeb’s death, sambhaji’s son sahu (born may 18, 1682) who had been in mughal captivity since November 3, 1689, was liberated on may 8, 1707 by aurangzeb’s second son azam shah who ascended the throne as bahadur shah I.

Sahu’s release was followed by a civil war between the forces of tarabai and sahu, which lasted up to 1714.

When sahu reached satara after his release, tarabai called him an impostor and ordered her generals to destroy him.

But common people and soldiers were on sahu’s side.

The support of the maratha senapati dhanaji jadhav and diwan balaji vishwanath helped sahu triumph over odds.

In the ensuring battle of khed (October 12, 1707), between the forces of sahu and tarabai, the latter’s forces were defeated and in January 1708, sahu occupied satara.

Sahu as the head of one at satara and shivaji II, or really tarabai, as the head of the other at kolhapur.

When shivaji II died, another son of rajaram from rajasbai shambaji II, ascended the gaddi of kolhapur.

The feud between these two rival forces was finally settled by the treaty of warna in 1731 which provided that shambaji II should rule over the southern division of the maratha kingdom with kolhapur as its capital and the northern part with the capital at satara should be considered as the preservence of sahu.

At his coronation in January 1708, sahu conferred upon Balaji vishwanth, the title of sena-karte (maker of the army) and eventually elevated him to the post of peshwa in 1713.

With balaji’s appointment as the peshwa, the office of the peshwa became hereditary and balaji and his successors became the de facto rulers of the maratha kingdom. From now onwards the chhatrapati became just a figure-head.

Balaji vishwanath (1713-20)

One of the first things balaji was called upon to do was to secure the restoration of sahu’s mother to him from the custody of mughals who had detained her at delhi as hostage for the good behaviour of her son sahu.

Bajali opened direct negotiations with the saiyid brothers and in February 1719 all his demands were accepted.

Accordingly sahu’s mother and family were released, he was recognized as the ruler of shivaji’s home dominions and was allowed to collect chath and sardeshmukhi from the six subhas of the deccan, as also in
karnatak and TN.

In return for all this, the Marathas were expected to keep a contingent on 15,000 horses in the service of the mughals and to maintain order in the deccan.

Balaji’s success in delhi greatly increased his power and prestige.

Balaji vishwanath is rightly called the second founder of the maratha state.

Balaji was credit with “a mastery of finance”.

Solid foundations were laid for a well-organised revenue system in the swaraj territory which was under direct royal administration. Here bahalji adopeted the assessements made by the malik amber in ahmadnagar.

Gujarat was earmarked for the senapathi, berar and gondwana for the bhonsle of nagpur, the konkan for kanhoji
angria, karnatak for fateh bhonsle, and khandesh-baglana and central India for the peshwa.

They collected the revenue, administered the territory, maintained the local army, and contributed only a small share of their income to the royal exchequer.

Sometime revenue officers (darrackdars) were sent to their dominions from the central government, but there was no real curb on their power.

Bajalji’s appointment as peshwa in 1713 marks the end of the ‘royal phase’ in maratha history.

The new maratha ‘mandala’ or confederacy under sahu:

During the period of rajaram, the office of pratididhi was created and the office of the peshwa was next to it in hierarchy. Thus in place of ashta pradhan of shivaji, shau had nine ministers including the pratinidhi.
Shau introduced the jagir system.

Some capable and ambitious military leaders and officers were assigned ‘spheres of influence’ which they were expected to bring under their control by their own military strength without any support from the central government. Thus the malwa was assigned to nemaji sindhia, Gujarat and baglana to the deshades (the gaekwads of vadodara were their successors), khandesh and balaghat to the peshwa, berar and gondwana to the bhonsles, the konkan to the angrias, karnatak to fateh singh bhonsla etc.

The new maratha state was neither centralized nor unitary.

Both power and revenues were shared amongst the four pillars of the maratha state:
1. the chhatrapath
2. the ministers in the swaraj territory
3. the sardars in the newly conquered areas and spheres of influence
4. the local units

pishwa baji rao I (1720-40)

after the death of balaji vishwanath, his eldest son baji rao, a young man of hardly 20, was appointed the pishwa by sahu.

He formulated the policy of northward expansion of the Marathas, so that “the maratha flag shall fly from the Krishna to attock”.

The treaty of delhi (feb 1719) which balaji vishwanath had entered into with the mughals.

Baji rao, after setting his own house in order, finally defeated the nizam near Bhopal and, by the convention of durai sarai (January 1738), compelled the nizam to agree to surrender to the peshwa the whole of malwa, together with the complete sovereignty of the territory between the narmada and the chambal rivers and to pay rates 50 lakh as war indemnity.

He conquered malwa, bundelkhand, bassein and Gujarat and reached upto Gujarat in 1737.

The fall of bassein marked the end of Portuguese rule in the north konkhan.

He also severly crippeled the power of the siddis of janjira.

He made Poona the centre of his activities and it soon came to be known as the seat of the peshwas.

Pishwas baji rao I was the greatest maratha leader.

His policy of northward expansion however, landed the Marathas into the ruinous the third battle of panipat.

During this period ranoji sindhia was the founder of the sindhia dynasty of malwa with his headquarters at

Malahar rao holker also given a part of malwa, who became the founder of the holker house of indore.

The gaikwars established themselves in the Gujarat with headquarters at baroda.

Two other regional kingdoms kolhapur was ruled by the junior bracnch of shivaji’s family and bhonsles of
nagpur claimed close kinship with the maratha king sahu.

Baji rao founded the maratha empire through his conquest, but he didn’t consolidate it through administrative organistation.

Peshwa balaji baji rao or nana sahib (1740-61)

Peshwa baji rao died at the young age of 40 and was succeeded by his son balaji baji rao (popularly called nana sabeb) who, through out his peshwaship, remained dependent on the advise and guidance of his cousin sada shiva rao bhau.

One of the earliest achievements of nana sahib was better financial management of the empire by exercising
careful supervision over all financial transactions.

He later discussed the affairs of north India with holkher and sindhia and in april 1742 marched northward to consolidate the maratha authority in bhundelkhand.

In 1743, he undertook the second expedition to the north to help alivardhi khan (in Bengal) whose territories had been ravaged by raghuji bhonsle.

The peshwa reached murshidabad and met alivardi khan who agreed to pay sahu the chauth for Bengal and Rs. 22 lakhs to peshwa for the expenses of his expedition.

By this arrangement the peshwa freed alivardi khan’s territories from the ravages of raghuji’s troops.

On December 15, 1749 sahu died childless. Before his death he had nominated rama raja, a grandson of tarabai, as his successor.

Rama raja was crowned as chhatrapati in January 1750.

Since he was weak and incompetent, tara bai tried to make him a puppet in her own hands, which caused utter confusion and crisis in the maratha kingdom; it depened further when the peshwa learnt that rama raja was not grandson of tara bai but an imposter.

When this fact came to knowledge, the chhatrapathi was virtually confined in the fort at satara and lost all contacts with political developments.

Henceforth Poona became the real capital of maratha confederacy, and the peshwa its virtual ruler.

During the second of balaji regime (1751-61), four campaigns were organized in the north.

The Punjab politics was at the time in a confused state and as a result of the first two invasions of ahmad shah abdali, the subhas of Lahore, multan and Kashmir were annexed by abdali to his dominions.

After the third invasion the mughal wazir safdarjang, persuaded the emperor the enter into an agreement with
the Marathas in may 1752 for undertaking the defence of the empire against its internal and external foes.

In return, the Marathas were to get the chauth of north-western provinces usurped and occupied by the afghans.

However, the chauth could only be secured by actual conquest.

The Marathas were also given the subhas of agra and ajmir.

As a result of this agreement the maratha military force was posted at delhi and they repeatedly interfered in the politics of north India and established their supremacy at delhi.

Safdarjung lost his wazirship and retired to awadh in 1753, and power in the imperial court passed to imad-ul-mulk, a grandson of nizam-ul-mulk.

He terrorised the helpless emperor with maratha help and secured the office of wazir, dethronwned ahmad shah and placed alamgir II, a grandson of bahadur shah on the imperial throne (1754).

There was never a wazir of delhi whose rule of so barren of good result and so full of misery to himself and to the empire, to his friends and foes alike, as imad-ul-mulk’s.

He agreed to ahmad shah abdali’s project of ousting the Marathas from the doab and suja-ud-daula of awadh son and successor of safdarjung, from provincial governership (1757).
“this drew shuja-ud-daula, suraj mal jat and the Marathas together, and left imad-ul-mulk utterly friendless during the absence of abdali from India.

As per the above arrangements early in 1758, raghunatha rao, accompanied by malhar rao holkar, entered the Punjab.

He was joined by adina beg khan and the Sikhs.

Sirhind fell, Lahore was occupied and the afghans were expelled (april 1758).

Timur shah fled, persuaded by the Marathas upto the chenab.

They didn’t cross the river because it was too deep for fording and the districts beyond it were inhabited mostly by the afghans.

Raghunatha rao returned from the Punjab after leaving the province incharge of adina beg khan.

Confusion followed the latters death a few months later (October 1758).

The peshwas sent a large army under dattaji sindhia who reached the eastern bank of the sutlej (april 1759), and sent sabaji sindhia to Lahore to take over the governorship of the province.

Within a few months, a strong army sent by abdali crossed the Indus.

Sabaji fell back precipitately, abandoning the entire province of the Punjab to the afghans.

Abdali established his government at Lahore, resumed his march and entered sirhind (November 1759).

The maratha adventure in the Punjab had been acclaimed by some historians as “carrying the hindu paramountacy (hindu padpadshahi) upto attock”.

North India bhau’s expedition (1760)

on return towards delhi (may 1759) after the reconquest of the Punjab, dattaji sindha was involved in hostilities
with janib-ud-daula in rohilkhand.

He suffered defeats and retrited towards panipat (December 1759), and heard that abdali’s forces, advancing from sirhind, had occupied ambala.

His resistence failed; he was killed in the battle with abdali at barari some 16 km north of delhi (January 1760).
Malahar rao holkher was rooted by the afghans at sikandarabad.

The peshwa dispatched the Maratha troops under his cousin sada shiva rao bhau and his eldest son vishwas rao.

The maratha artillery was to be commanded by ibrahim khan gardi.

In july 1760, the Marathas occupied delhi.

This small success added to the prestige of the Marathas, but they were friendless in the whole of the north India.

Even the jat king surajmal deserted them at the last movement.

On the other hand, ahmad shah abadli who had been able to secure the support of ruhela chief naib-ud-daula, nawab suja-ud-daula of awadh etc.

During this period some futile attempts were made for peace between ahmad shah abdali and the peshwa, but they could not succeeded due to the exorbitant demands of Marathas and self-interest of the muslim rulers.

This culminated in the unfortunate and disastrous battle of panipat.

Third battle of panipat (1761)

At panipat the two rival armies stood entrenched, face to face, for more than two months.

There were skirmishes and minor battles.

The afghan cavalry patrols dominated the environs of the Marathas camp and cut off its communication as also food supply.

The bhau’s army marched out to battle on January 15, 1761.

The battle actually began about four hours after day break.

Vishwas rao was shot dead at quarter past two. Soon after the bhau was also killed.

Among the leading chiefs who met death for jankoji sindhia, tukoji sindhia and ibrahim khan gardi.
Mahadaji sindhia received wounds, which lamed him for life.

About 50,000 men and women were saved by the kindness and hospitality of surajmal.

The crushing defeat of the Marathas is explained.

The numerically the afghans had considerable superiority.

Against 60,000 afghans and their Indian allies actually present in the field, supported by 80,000 behind the fighting line, the bhau had 45,000 troops in the field and 15,000 pindaris in the rear.

The afghan had better training and discipline, and it was better organized.

Abdali had superiority in artillery, he employed “the most efficient mobile artillery known in that age”.

Abdali was a far greater military leader and stategist than the bhau.

The defeat became virtually inevitable after the bhau’s postponement of battle for 2 and a half month.

From the political point view the defeat was due largely to the alienation of the rajputs and the jats and the failure to neutralize shuja-ud-daula and najib-ud-daula.

While half of the abdali’s army was composed of troops furnished by his Indian allies, the valiant rajputs and the jats didn’t fignt on the maratha side.

Consequences of panipat:

Abdali made unsuccessful attempts to conclude peace with the peshwa and suraj mal, and in the following years
he failed to crush the Sikhs in the Punjab.

There were a revival of maratha power in north India under peshwa madhava rao I (1761-72).

After the death of nazib-ud-daula (1770) who administered delhi as abdali’s agent after panipat, the Marathas restored the mughal emperor shah alam II to the capital of his ancestors (1772).

The mahadaji sindhia occupied delhi in 1788, and it was from his successors daulat rao sindhia that the English wrested the imperial capital in 1803.

In south India the Marathas secured victories against haider ali and the nizam.

Peshwa balaji baji rao could not bear this shock of the awful catastrophe at panipat and died six months after the battle (june 1761).

In the words of kashiraj pandit, who was an eyewitness to third battle of panipat, “it was verily doomsday for the maratha people”.

Peshwa madhava rao I (1761-72)

After the death of balaji baji rao, his younger son madhava rao was placed on the peshwa’s gaddi.

Since the new peshwa was only 17 years old, his uncle raghunatha rao, the eldest surviving member of the peshwa’s family, became his regent and the de facto ruler of the state.

During this period, serious differences broke out between the peshwa and his uncle, leading to war between two
in 1762, in which the peshwa’s army was defeated.

In 1765, raghunatha rao demanded the partition of the maratha state between himself and the peshwa.

Hider ali of mysore ravaged the Maratha territories in Karnataka; but the first anglo-mysore war involved hider ali in a greater crisis.

During this period the maraths tried to restore their lost position in north India.

In January 1771, mahadaji sindhia occupied delhi and succeeded in exacting money from the leading rajput princes; but the pre-matured death of madhava rao in November 1772 placed the maratha dominion in a deep crisis.

Madhava rao was the last great peshwa.

After madhava rao’s death the fortunes of maratha kingdom and the prestige of peshwas under narayana rao (1772-74), madhava rao narayan (1774-95), and baji rao II (1796-1818) rapidly declined.

The last peshwa surrendered to the English and the peshwaship was abolished (1818).


The defacto ruler of the maratha empire was the peshwa.

Originally the peshwa was the chief among the eight ministers consisting shivaji’s council (asta pradhan); but
he came to occupy the second rank when raja ram created the office of prathinidhi in 1698.

The peshwa’s office became heridietary.

The principle of hereditary emerged in the reign of sahu; balaji vishwanath and his descendents held the office from 1713 till its extinction in 1818.

the old nobles the angrias, the bhonsles, the gaikwars regarded the peshwa as their equal and obeyed him only as the deputy of chhatrapati.

The new nobles who rose into prominence under the peshwas patronage the sindhias, the holkhers, the rastias regarded themselves as his servants.

Estates or fiefs – saranjams

The diwans of the gaikhwar, the holker and the sindhia were always appointed by the peshwa.

The peshwa’s primacy became nominal after the death of madhav rao I (1772).

During the first anglo-maratha war (1775-82) and the long minority of peshwa madhav rao narayan (1774-96), not only the great maratha chiefs sindhia, holkar, bhonsle, gaikwar but also many lesser nobles, followed their own interests and acted on their own.

Huzur daftar: the focus of the peshwa’s administration was his secretariat at Poona, styled the huzur daftar.

Village communities:

The chief man in the village was the patil.

He was the chief revenue officer, the chief police magistrate as also the chief judicial officer.

He was paid by the villagers, not by the peshwa.

He was assisted by the kulkarni, the village clerk and record-keeper.

The potdar tested the coins to see whether they really had the prescribed weight and proportion of metal.

The industrial requirements of the village were met by twelve artisans (balutas) who received a share of the crops and other perquisites in return for their services to the community.

District and provincial administration:

Different terms (taraf, pargana, sarkar, subah) were used indiscriminately to indicate administrative divisions.

The officers in-charge of the bigger divisions were placed the kamavisdars.

They were directly subordinate to the huzur daftar, but in khandesh, Gujarat and karnatak the kamavisdars were
subordinate to sarsubahdars.

Local militia – sihbandis.

Some restraint was put on the mamlatdar’s opportunities for peculation and maladministration by the deshmukh
and the deshpande.

The deshmukh maintained records relating to estates, alienations and transfer of properties, and these were called for it all disputes connected with lands.

The functions of the deshmukhs and the deshpandes as agents for controlling corruption were supplemented by those entrusted to the provincial hereditary officers called darakhdars.

Extraordinary levy on landholders known as karja patti or jasti patti.

Custom duties (mohatarfa or taxes on trades and professions, and zakat or duties on purchase and sale).
The proceeds of the chauth were divided into four shares:
1. 25% (babti) reserved for the head of the state
2. 66% (mokasa) granted to the feudal chiefs for the maintenance of troops.
3. 3% (sahotra) granted to the sachiv
4. 3% (nadgaunda) granted to various persons at the pleasure of the head of state.

Land revenue:

Agricultural lands in the villages were generally divided between two classes of holders.

The mirasdars represented the descendants of original settlers who cleared the forest and introduced cultivation.

They had permanent proprietary rights.

Their lands were heritable and saleable.

They were immune from eviction as long as they paid rent.

The upris were strangers and tenants-at-will.

Leases were generally granted to the upris under the authority of the mamlatdar or kamavisdar.

Justice and police:

There were no codified laws or rules of procedure.

The judicial officer in the village was the patil.

Above him were the mamlatdar and the sarsubahdar represented the chhatrapati.

A leading merchant - shete mahajan

Capital punishment was seems to have been unknown in the days of the first three peshwas.

In the detection of crimes the village watchmen (jaglas) usually the degraded mahars and mangs were helped by
criminal tribes such as the ramoshis, bhils and kolis.

The village police was under the patil, the district police under the mamlatdar.

In big cities the police was placed under the kotwal whose duties included the regulation of prices and taking of census.

The efficiency of the metropolitan police at Poona in the days of bajirao II extorted elphinstone’s admiration.

Outside the swaraj the maratha system of government was “almost predatory”.

After shambaji’s death (1689), when the monarchy was virtually in abeyance, central control disappeared.

The maratha soldiers fighting against the mughals were irregular groups led by different chiefs.

This system was formalized during the reign of sahu.

The feudalization of the state resulted in the feudalization in the army.
Saranjams – estates.

In the 18th century, mahadaji sindhia had disciplined battalions under European officers and used them effectively against his Indian enemies.

The pindaris, who were plunderers by profession, were allowed to accompany the maratha armies on every expedition in return of a tax (palpatti). They shared their spoils with the government which took 25% of their booty.


The angrias, who were virtually independent of the peshwas, were responsible for the development of the maratha navy after shivaji.

Balaji bajirao caused irreparable damage to the maratha naval power by crushing tulaji angria.


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