(i) Shivaji Bhonsle (1627 -1680), founder of India's Maratha State.
(ii) The son of a Hindu officer in the service of the Muslim sultan of Bijapur, Shivaji became the leader of the Hindu Maratha people in their struggle against Muslim domination.
(iii) Establishing himself as an independent ruler at Pune in present Maharashtra state, he defeated an army sent against him by Bijapur in 1659, and another sent by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1660.
(iv) He was forced to make peace with the Mughals in 1665. The following year Aurangzeb had Shivaji and his son detained in the Mughal capital at Agra, but they managed to escape.
(v) Returning to Maharashtra, Shivaji resumed his war against Aurangzeb in 1670, pushing as far north as Surat, and he proclaimed himself king in 1674. Although the Mughals reconquered Shivaji's kingdom after his death, his descendants later revived the Maratha power.
(vi) Till Shivaji was alive, Aurangzeb did not invade the Deccan but soon after Shivaji's death, he attacked the Maratha kingdom.
(vii) Shivaji's son, Sambhaji successfully defended his kingdom and did not let Aurangzeb win even a single significant victory.
(viii) However, by 1689 Auranzeb's armies had captured Sambhaji alive. Later Sambhaji was tortured and executed. But even after Sambhaji's death, Aurangzeb could never conquer the Maratha Kingdom completely ever in his 27 years of war in Deccan.
(ix) Shivaji Maharaj was an able administrator who established a government that included modern concepts such as cabinet (Ashtapradhan mandal), foreign affairs (Dabir) and internal intelligence.
(x) He also built a powerful navy and erected new forts like Sindhudurg and strengthened old ones like Vijaydurga on the west coast. The Maratha navy held its own against the British, Portuguese and Dutch.
ADMINISTRATION & AVCHIEVEMNETS
(i) Shivaji's system of administration was largely borrowed from the administrative practices of the deccan state.
(ii) The Counicil of Ministers (ashtapradhan) had eight ministers, each minister being directly responsible to the ruler. They are
(iii) Peshwa- he was the chief minister and looked after general administration.
(iv) Amatya or Mazumdar- Minister for finance and revenue.
(v) Waqia Navis- was responsible for intelligence, posts and household affairs.
(vi) Surunavis or chitins- helped the king with his correspondence.
(vii) The samant- the samant used to give advice to the king on matters relating to foreign states. He also advised the king on questions of war and peace.
(viii) The senepati- he was the commander-in-chief of the Maratha forces. His duty was to recruit the soldiers and organise the army.
(ix) The pandit rao or sadar- he was incharge of ecclesiastical forces. He also distributed money among the Brahmins from the charity fund.
(x) Nayayadhisha - The Nayayadhisha was the chief justice in the kingdom. He endorsed judicial decisions on matters relating to lands, village-headship etc.
AURANGZEB & DECCAN I STATES
(i) Aurangzeb spent the last 25 years of his life (1682-1707) in the Deccan. During all this long period, he had practically no rest.
(ii) The object of his Deccan wars was to conquer the states of Bijapur & Golconda & crush the power of Marathas.
(iii) Unfortunately, the rulers of Bijapur & Golconda were shias & Aurangzeb was a Sunni. Therefore, no Diplomatic or friendly ties
(iv) Aurangzeb also felt that the existence of these states enabled Marathas to enrich themselves.
(v) Marathas got not only military & administrative experience but also received a lot of money.
(vi) Aurangzeb believed that if these states were annexed to the Mughal empire, they would not dare to attack them.
(vii) Aurangzeb proceeded in person to put an end to these states. He led a large number of expeditions against the rulers of Bijapur & was ultimately successful in conquering this state in 1686.
(viii) Soon he got success in annexing the shia state of Golconda to the Mughal empire. But this was not the end of daccan affairs.
(ix) He had to still deal with Marathas a force was sent against Shivaji's son Sambaji. He was captured & executed.
(x) But the Marathas did not submit they continued the struggle till the end.
(xi) Thus his 25 years of campaign in Deccan resulted in nothing. The wars in the Deccan drained his resources & loosened his grip in the north.
(xii) This led to his tragic end in 1707 at Ahamadnagar and slowly led to downfall of Mughal Empire.
DECLINE OF MUGHAL EMPIRE = RESPONSIBILITY OF AURANGZEB
(i) By the beginning of the 18th century, symptoms of a crisis appeared in the Mughal system.
(ii) The Marathas had shaken the empire to its foundations by inflicting defeats on Mughal armies in the Deccan and the west.
(iii) In northern India the Jat landlords and peasants had repeatedly challenged the imperial authority, while in the Punjab region in the northwest, rebellious groups embracing Sikhism emerged as a significant hostile force.
(iv) Aurangzeb's policies and the increasing association of his government with a narrow Islamic orthodoxy dealt a serious blow to the empire, as he reversed the time-honoured tradition of Mughal rulership accepting indigenous culture.
(v) Despite Aurangzeb's actions, the setback to the empire was only temporary, as his successors abandoned his policies.
(vi) There were, however, several other factors that contributed to the final collapse of the empire.
(vii) The terms on which the zamindars' relations with the Mughal state were worked out depended on the strength or weakness of the people and the areas under zamindar control. In time, as the regions experienced economic growth, rulers in these regions felt strong enough to stand on their own. They not only refused to cooperate with the Mughals, which in turn affected Mughal military strength and ability to collect taxes but were often up in arms.
(viii) The nobles, on the other hand, had their own problems.
(a) They depended on the emperor for position and power and had no hereditary estates to bequeath to their successors.
(b) The principal means of tax collection, which required local Hindu gentry to collect revenue from peasants while keeping part for themselves and paying the rest to a treasury, was cumbersome for the nobles.
(c) Its enforcement was thus resisted by the nobility even in the 17th century.
(d) Under the conditions of the 18th century, many nobles sought to carve out power bases of their own in league with the local magnates, throwing the interests of the empire overboard. The empire collapsed within 40 years of Aurangzeb's death.
(ix) However, while there was chaos in some regions, a kind of autonomous regional political order emerged broadly within the Mughal institutional framework. The symbols of the empire therefore outlived the demise of its de facto power.