Political History of Maharashtra on the Eve of 1848

The early political history of Maharashtra is traced from the 4th century B. C. There is Mora port on the Karanja Island near Mumbai. It is named after the Mauryan suzerainty over the area. After the decline of Mauryan Empire, the Satavahanas came to power in Deccan, that ruled Maharashtra from Pratisthana, the present Paithan a Tahsil Headquarter in Aurangabad district, which came to an end in the year 218. The Traikutakas came to power in Maharashtra and ruled some of the parts like vidarbha from 250 onwards. After the decline of Traikutkas, the Vakatakas controlled whole Maharashtra. Subsequently, the Kalacuris and the Chalukyas came to power respectively and ruled Maharashtra up to 1180 A. D. from Badami as their capital, which is in the present state of Karnataka. Dantidurga the first King of Chalakya dynasty conquered the whole Deccan. Krishna, the successor of Dantidurga extended the borders of Maharashtra to the Vindya Mountains in the north to Canjeevaram in the sourth. As the Vakatakas carved the beautiful cave no. 16, 17 and 19 at the Ajanta caves during their period, the Chalukya King Krishna built the beautiful Kaitas temple at the Ellora caves.

In the 12th century A. D. the Chalukyan Empire was divided into the three dynasties as the Yadavas, the Hoysalas and the Kakatiyas. The Yadavas ruled from Devgiri i.e. Daulatabad a Taluka Headquarter in present Aurangabad District. The Hoysalas from the area of present Karnataka and the Kakatiyas ruled Talangana, which is one of the important divisions of todays Andra Pradesh. In the last decade of the Thirteenth Century, Ala-uddin Khilji reached Devgiri and recovered huge indemnity from the Devgiri ruler, which made Devgiri a vassal state. The other Maratha warriors, who did not submit to the Muslim, were driven towards Maval, the eastern ranges of Sahyadri. In the second half of the fifteenth century, the Muslim rulers of Deccan became tolerant towards the Hindus. As the result the Maratha chieftains began to accept services under such Muslim rulers and received attractive rewards for their bravery.

In the Seventeenth Century, the Maratha in Maval, Konkan, Karad, Pune and Ahmednager regions got independence under the leadership of Chhatrapati Shivaji, a great military and political genius, who crowned himself as the Maratha King in 1674. V. S. Bendrey says that Chhatrapati Shivaji infused national spirit in the Maratha people, which led them to protect themselves from the foreign aggression and save their culture and religion from such onslaughts. Chhatrapati Shivaji was a great visionary for which his whole regime was the most important evidence. After the death of Chhatrapati Shivaji, the brutal policies of Aurangjeb forced the Marathas to declare the Maratha war of independence, which led to concentrate the Maratha power in the hands of Peshwas who resided at Pune and increased the Maratha power day after day throughout the country. In the middle of the eighteenth century, the several Maratha nobles established themselves firmly at Baroda, Indore, Gwalior, Nagpur and many other places. They also tried to establish the Maratha confedency at Delhi as the sovereign power of India in place of the Mughal but the Battle of 1761 brought out a complete disaster for them. The Marathas tried to recover themselves under the leadership of Madhavrao but could not receive their former prestige. It was festered with the internal disunity and finally it submitted to the British in 1818.

The Britishy East India Company had already come to India for trade, regarding which the charter was sanctioned by the British Queen Elizabeth on 31st December, 1600. It established their first trading centre at Surat in 1613. The British got Bombay in 1661 as a part of the dowry of Catherine of Bragnza, who married Charles II, the British King. He rented Bombay to the East India Company for 10. The company shifted it’s headquarter in Western India from Surat to Bombay in 1687. They converted Bombay, Calcutta and Madras from trading centers to the centers of political and military operations.

Lord Wellesley, who came to India as Governor General got the benefit of the internal feud and disunity of the Marathas. Bajirao II, who became Peshwa, was a good friend of Daulatrao Shinde. He advised Daulatrao to kill Vithoji Holkar near Pandharpur, the brother of Yashwantrao Holkar. This led Yashwantrao to attack on the conbined forces of Daulat Rao Shinde & Bajirao II and defeat them at Hadapsar near Pune in October, 1802. Bajirao II fled in terror from Pune and sought aid of the British. He signed the Treaty of Bassein on December 31, 1802 with the British Company and entered into the defamous subsidiary Alliance system. The company assured him protection and restored him to the Peshwa ship. The Daulatrao Shinde and the Bhosales of Nagpur did not approve the Treaty of Bassein and incurred the wrath of the Company. The Company started the II Anglo-Maratha war and defeated them one by one. In December, 1803 Bhosales signed the Treaty of Deogaon, parted with Cuttack and accepted the subsidiary Alliance system of the Company. In the same way, Shinde surrendered Brooach, Ahmednagar and other areas to the British and accepted the Subsidiary Alliance system by the Treaty of Surji Anjangaon. Bajirao II became uneasy due to the crushing policies of the British tried to be free from them and urged secretly to other Maratha chiefs to help him in his endeavours. But he could not succeed in it. The British crushed the Peshwa in the Third Anglo – Maratha war in 1817-1818. Bajirao II was deposed and his territories were annexed. The Bhosales of Nagpur also met the same fate. Although, the Holkars had accepted the subsidiary Alliance system of the British in January, 1818, the dynasties of Holkar, Shinde and Gaikawad continued to rule their respective sates till the reorganization of states in independent India on the linguistic basis. Despite these nobles and the Maratha sardars there were same other centers of power in Maharashtra as the descendents of Chhatrapati Shivaji, who were at Satara and Kolhapur. Although, the Maratha power was exercised by the Peshwas, these royal descendents commanded the respect and esteem of the people. In addition to these Sawantwadi was one more political power centre under the Regent ship of Rani Durgabai. The last but not the least was the state of Janjira, which was under the Siddis, who were in league of the Company and often acted against the Marathas. Another place of political importance was Raigad, the then popularly known as Kolaba, which was under the traditional Maratha admirals, Angrias. Pune was the capital city of the Peshwas which experienced the administrations from the Peshwas to the Kotwals like Ghashiram and Anandrao.

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