Friday, July 18

History of Maharashtra

The name Maharashtra first appeared in a 7th century inscription and in the account of a Chinese traveler, Hiuen-Tsang. Its name may[who?] have originated from rathi, which means, "chariot driver". At that age Maharashtra was full of builders and drivers of chariots who formed a maharathis, a "fighting force."[citation needed] In 90 A.D. Vedishri, son of the Satavahana king Satakarni, the "Lord of Dakshinapatha, wielder of the unchecked wheel of Sovereignty", made Junnar, thirty miles north of Pune, the capital of his kingdom. In the early fourteenth century the Devgiri Yadavs were overthrown by the northern Muslim powers. Then on, the region was administered by various kingdoms called Deccan Sultanates.

Pre Medieval history

Not much is known about Maharashtra's early history, and its recorded history dates back to the 3rd century B.C.E., with the use of Maharashtri Prakrit, one of the Prakrits derived from Sanskrit. Later,{needs date} Maharashtra became a part of the Magadha empire, ruled by emperor Ashoka. The port town of Sopara, north of present day Mumbai, was the centre of ancient India's commerce, with links to Eastern Africa, Mesopotamia, Aden and Cochin.

With the disintegration of the Mauryan Empire, a local dynasty called Satavahanas came into prominence in Maharashtra between 230 B.C.E. and 225 C.E. The period saw the biggest cultural development of Maharashtra. The Satavahana's official language was Maharashtri, which later developed into Marathi. The great ruler Gautamiputra Satkarni (also known as "Shalivahan") ruled around 78 C.E. He started the Shalivahana era, a new calendar, still used by Maharashtrian populace and as the Indian national calendar. The empire gradually disintegrated in the third century.

During (250 C.E. – 525 C.E.), Vidarbha, the eastern region of Maharashtra, came under the rule of Vakatakas. During this period, development of arts, religion and technology flourished. Later, in 753 C.E., the region was governed by the Rashtrakutas, an empire that spread over most of India. In 973 C.E., the Chalukyas of Badami expelled the Rashtrakutas, and ruled parts of Maharashtra until 1189 when the region came under the Yadavas of Deogiri.

Islamic Rule

Maharashtra came under Islamic influence for the first time after the Delhi Sultanate rulers Ala-ud-din Khalji, and later Muhammad bin Tughluq conquered parts of the Deccan in the 13th century. After the collapse of the Tughlaqs in 1347, the Bahmani Sultanate of Gulbarga took over, governing the region for the next 150 years. After the breakup of the Bahamani sultanate, in 1518, Maharashtra was ruled by the breakaway in to 5 Shah's, namely Nizamshah of Ahmednagar, Adilshah of Bijapur, kutubshah of Govalkonda, bidarhshae of Bidar and Imadshah of Berar.

Rise of the Marathas

By the early seventeenth century, the Maratha Empire began to take root. Shahaji Bhosale, an ambitious local general in the employ of the Mughals and Adil Shah of Bijapur, at various times attempted to establish his independent rule. The attempts succeeded through his son Shivaji Bhosale. Marathas were led by Chhatrapati Raje Shivaji Bhosale, who was crowned king in 1674. Shivaji constantly battled with the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and Adil Shah of Vijapur. By the time of his death in 1680, Shivaji had created a kingdom covering most of Maharashtra today (except the Aurangabad district which was part of the Nizam's territory) and Gujarat.

Shivaji's son and successor Chhatrapatti Sambhaji Bhosale became the ruler of the Maratha kingdom in 1680. He was captured by Aurangzeb.

Rajaram's nephew & Sambhaji's son, Shahu Bhosale declared himself to be the legitimate heir to the Bhosale throne. In 1714, Shahu's Peshwa (chief minister) Balaji Vishwanath, helped him seize the Maratha throne in 1708, with some acrimony from Rajaram's widow, Tara Bai.

Peshwas under Chatrapati

The Peshwe (prime ministers) played an important role in the strategic development of many forts in Maharastra. They were also decisive in many battles, like Moropant Pingale in 1670’s Dindori battle against the Mughals, Ramchandra Amatya in 1690’s Satara Battle against the Mughals and, the Pant Pratinidhi Peshwa against fort recapturing battles fought between 1702-1706.

Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath, of the Bhat family, and his son, Baji Rao I, bureaucratised the Maratha state. They systematised the practice of tribute gathering from Mughal territories, under the heads of sardesmukhi and chauth (the two terms corresponding to the proportion of revenue collected). They also consolidated Mughal-derived methods of assessment and collection of land revenue and other taxes. Much of the revenue terminology used in Peshwa documents derives from Persian, suggesting a far greater continuity between Mughal and Maratha revenue practice than may be politically palatable in the present day.

At the same time,the maritime Angre clan controlled a fleet of vessels based in Kolaba and other centres of the west coast. These ships posed a threat not only to the new English settlement of Bombay, but to the Portuguese at Goa, Bassein, and Daman.

On the other hand, there emerged a far larger domain of activity away from the original heartland of the Marathas, which was given over to subordinate chiefs as fiefs. Gwalior was given to Scindia/Shinde, Indore to Holkar, Baroda to Gaekwad and Dhar to Pawar.

After suffering a stinging defeat at the hands of Afghan chieftain Ahmad Shah Abdali, in the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761, the Maratha Confederacy broke into regional kingdoms.

Post-Panipat, the Peshwa's ex-generals looked after the regional kingdoms they had earned and carved out for themselves in the service of Peshwas covering north-central and Deccan regions of India. Pune continued to be ruled by what was left of the Peshwa family.

British Rule and Post-Independence

With the arrival and subsequent involvement of the British East India Company in Indian politics, the Marathas and the British fought the three Anglo-Maratha wars between 1777 and 1818, culminating in the annexation of Peshwa-ruled territory in Maharashtra in 1819, which heralded the end of the Maratha empire.

The British governed the region as part of the Bombay Presidency, which spanned an area from Karachi in Pakistan to most of the northern Deccan. A number of the Maratha states persisted as princely states, retaining local autonomy in return for acknowledging British sovereignty. The largest princely states in the territory of present-day Maharashtra were Nagpur, Satara and Kolhapur; Satara was annexed to Bombay Presidency in 1848, and Nagpur was annexed in 1853 to become Nagpur Province, later part of the Central Provinces. Berar, which had been part of the Nizam of Hyderabad's kingdom, was occupied by the British in 1853 and annexed to the Central Provinces in 1903. A large part of present day Maharashtra called Marathwada remained part of the Nizam's Hyderabad state during British rule. The British rule was marked by social reforms, an improvement in infrastructure as well revolts due to their discriminatory policies. At the beginning of the 20th century, the struggle for independence took shape led by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and the moderates like Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Agarkar, Pherozeshah Mehta and Dadabhai Naoroji. In 1942, the Quit India Movement was called by Mahatma Gandhi which was marked by a non-violent civil disobedience movement and strikes.

After India's independence in 1947, the princely states were integrated into the Indian Union, and the Deccan States including Kolhapur were integrated into Bombay State, which was created from the former Bombay Presidency in 1950. In 1956, the States Reorganisation Act reorganized the Indian states along linguistic lines, and Bombay Presidency State was enlarged by the addition of the predominantly Marathi-speaking regions of Marathwada (Aurangabad Division) from erstwhile Hyderabad state and Vidarbha region (Amravati and Nagpur divisions) from Madhya Pradesh (formerly the Central Provinces and Berar). On May 1, 1960, Maharashtra came into existence when Bombay Presidency State was split into the new linguistic states of Maharashtra and Gujarat.