Maratha - History and Cultural Relations

The early history of the Marathas is a tale of the rise and fall in the importance of the dynasties ruling the various regions. Over time the center of political influence shifted south from the Godavari Basin to the Krishna Valley. From the 1300s on, the Maratha rajas held territories under Muslim kings and paid tribute to them. Feuds among the local Muslim Kingdoms and later their confrontation with the Mogul dynasty, which was eager to extend its power to the Deccan, allowed Maratha chieftains to become independent. One such successful revolt was that of Shivaji, a Maratha prince who fought against his Muslim Bijapur overlords in the name of establishing a Hindu kingdom. The local Muslim rulers, weakened by their fights with the Moguls, succumbed to the guerrilla attacks of Shivaji's light infantry and cavalry. Shivaji's military success also depended to a great extent on the chain of fortifications he built to guard every mountain pass in his territory and the system he devised for garrisoning and provisioning them. With the death of Shivaji (1680) the Maratha ranks were split between the claimants to his throne; his son Shahu set up his capital at Satara and appointed a chief minister with the title "Peshwa." The title and office became hereditary, and within a short time the Peshwas became the leading Maratha dynasty themselves. In the 1700s the Peshwas rose to be a powerful military force supported by the Maratha Confederacy, a group of loyal chieftains including the houses of Bhonsla, Sindhia, Holkar, and Gaekwar. With their support the Peshwas extended their territories all the way north to the Punjab. Their power came to an end with their defeat at the battle of Panipat in 1761. Infighting among the confederacy members at the death of the Peshwa led to the entry of the East India Company into the succession disputes among the Marathas. The British fought the three Maratha wars, supporting one faction against the other, and in each case the British gained territory and power over individual chiefs. At the end of the Third Maratha War in 1818 the British routed the Peshwas so completely that they abolished their position and directly incorporated vast areas of Maratha territory into the British Empire as a part of Bombay Presidency. In 1960 by an act of Parliament the modern state of Bombay was divided into the linguistic states of Maharashtra, with Bombay as its capital, and Gujarat. The legacy of the Maratha State lingers on in the memory of the people, who revere Shivaji as a modern hero. A more negative aspect of Maratha consciousness has led to intolerance of other communities who have settled in Bombay, the premier commercial, industrial, and cultural center of India. Political parties like the Shiv Sena, a labor union-based organization, have sought to politicize Maratha consciousness by demanding the ouster of "foreigners" like Tamils and Malayalis from Bombay.

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Arohi chakrabarty
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Aug 27, 2013 @ 11:11 am
what's the relation between the Marathas and the British?

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