History of Maharashtra

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The history of Maharashtra can be traced to approximately the 4th century BCE. From the 4th century BCE until 875, Maharashtri Prakrit and its Apabhraṃśas were the dominant languages of the region. Marathi, which evolved from Maharashtri Prakrit, has been the lingua franca from the 9th century onwards. The oldest stone inscriptions in Marathi language can be seen at Shravana Belgola in modern-day Karnataka at the foot of the Bahubali Statue. In the course of time, the term Maharashtra was used to describe a region which consisted of Aparanta, Vidarbha, Mulak, Ashmak Assaka and Kuntal. Tribal communities of Naga, Munda and Bhil peoples inhabited this area, also known as Dandakaranya, in ancient times.

Maharashtra during 4th century BC-12th century AD[edit]

Late Harappa figure from Daimabad hoard, Indus Valley Civilization

The region that is present day Maharashtra was part of a number of empires in the first milinium. These include the Satavahana dynasty, the Vakataka dynasty, the Chalukya dynasty and the Rashtrakuta dynasty. And Most of these empires extended over a large swathes of Indian territory. Some of the greatest monuments in Maharashtra such as the Ajantha and Ellora Caves were built during the time of these empires. Maharashtra was ruled by the Maurya Empire in the 4th and 3rd century BCE. Around 230 BCE Maharashtra came under the rule of the Satavahana dynasty which ruled the region for 400 years.[1] The greatest ruler of the Satavahana Dynasty was Gautamiputra Satakarni who defeated the Scythian invaders. The Vakataka dynasty ruled from c. 250–470 CE. The Satavahana dynasty used Maharashtri Prakrit and Telugu languages while the Vakataka dynasty patronized Maharashtri Prakrit and Sanskrit. The Chalukya dynasty ruled Maharashtra from the 6th century to the 8th century and the two prominent rulers were Pulakeshin II, who defeated the north Indian Emperor Harsha and Vikramaditya II, who defeated the Arab invaders in the 8th century. The Rashtrakuta Dynasty ruled Maharashtra from the 8th to the 10th century.[2] The Arab traveler Sulaiman called the ruler of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty (Amoghavarsha) as "one of the 4 great kings of the world".[3] The Chalukya dynasty and Rashtrakuta Dynasty had their capitals in modern day Karnataka and they used Kannada and Sanskrit as court languages. From the early 11th century to the 12th century the Deccan Plateau was dominated by the Western Chalukya Empire and the Chola dynasty.[4] Several battles were fought between the Western Chalukya Empire and the Chola dynasty in the Deccan Plateau during the reigns of Raja Raja Chola I, Rajendra Chola I, Jayasimha II, Someshvara I and Vikramaditya VI.[5]

Seuna dynasty 12th-14th century[edit]

The Yadavas of Devagiri Dynasty was an Indian dynasty, which at its peak ruled a kingdom stretching from the Tungabhadra to the Narmada rivers, including present-day Maharashtra, north Karnataka and parts of Madhya Pradesh, from its capital at Devagiri (present-day Daulatabad in modern Maharashtra). The Yadavas initially ruled as feudatories of the Western Chalukyas.[6] The founder of the Suena dynasty was Dridhaprahara, the son of Subahu. According to Vratakhanda, his capital was Shrinagara. However, an early inscription suggests that Chandradityapura (modern Chandor in the Nasik district) was the capital.[7] The name Seuna comes from Dridhaprahara's son, Seunachandra, who originally ruled a region called Seunadesha (present-day Khandesh). Bhillama II, a later ruler in the dynasty, assisted Tailapa II in his war with the Paramara king Munja. Seunachandra II helped Vikramaditya VI in gaining his throne. Around the middle of the 12th century, as the Chalukya power waned, they declared independence and established rule that reached its peak under Singhana II. The Yadavas of Devagiri patronised Marathi[8] which was their court language.[9][10] Kannada may also have been a court language during Seunachandra's rule, but Marathi was the only court-language of Ramchandra and Mahadeva Yadavas. The Yadava capital Devagiri became a magnet for learned scholars in Marathi to showcase and find patronage for their skills. The origin and growth of Marathi literature is directly linked with rise of Yadava dynasty.[11]

According to scholars such as Prof. George Moraes,[12] V. K. Rajwade, C. V. Vaidya, Dr. A.S. Altekar, Dr. D.R. Bhandarkar, and J. Duncan M. Derrett,[13] the Seuna rulers were of Maratha descent who patronized the Marathi language.[8] Digambar Balkrishna Mokashi noted that the Yadava dynasty was "what seems to be the first true Maratha empire".[14] In his book Medieval India, C.V.Vaidya states that Yadavas are "definitely pure Maratha Kshatriyas".[citation needed]

Islamic Rule[edit]

Islamic rule came to the region with the Khalji dynasty in the 14th century. The Tughlaq dynasty that followed the Khaljis tried to move their capital from Delhi to Daulatabad, Maharashtra with disastrous consequences. Later from 15th century, the Bahamani Sultanate and its offshoots, the Ahmadnagar Sultanate, the Adilshahi dynasty of Bijapur and the Qutub Shahi dynasty of Golconda ruled different parts of the region.[15] These successor kingdoms were either swallowed by the Mughal Empire or by the emerging Maratha forces in the second half of the 17th Century.

Maratha Empire[edit]

Main article: Maratha Empire

The Marathas dominated the political scene in Maharashtra from the middle of the 17th century to the early 19th century as the Maratha Empire. The term Maratha here is used in a comprehensive sense to include all Marathi-speaking people rather than the distinct community with the same name to which Shivaji, the founder of the maratha empire belonged.


Main article: Shivaji

Shivaji was an able warrior and established a government that included such modern concepts as a cabinet (ashtapradhana mandala), foreign affairs (dabir) and internal intelligence. Shivaji established an effective civil and military administration. He also built a powerful navy and erected new forts like Sindhudurg and strengthened old ones like Vijayadurg on the west coast. The Maratha navy held its own against the British, Portuguese and Dutch till Maratha internal conflict brought their downfall in 1756.

Shivaji is well known for his fatherly attitude towards his subjects. He believed that the state belonged to the people. He encouraged all socio-economic groups to participate in the ongoing political changes. To this day he is remembered as a just and welfare-minded king. He brought revolutionary changes in military, fort architecture, society and politics. Because of his struggle against an imperial power, Shivaji became an icon of freedom fighters (along with the Rani of Jhansi) in the Indian independence struggle that followed two centuries later. He is remembered as a just and wise king and his rule is called one of the six golden pages in Indian history.

School texts in Maharashtra glorify Shivaji's period and he is considered the founder of the modern Marathi nation; his policies were instrumental in forging a distinct Maharashtrian identity. Indeed, Marathi Hindus, Dalits, Muslims, Christians and Buddhists, all consider him as a hero. A popular quotation, "Maratha tituka milavava, Maharashtra Dharma vadhavava", translates as "Bring as many people into Maratha domain as possible and grow the Maharashtra Nation".[citation needed]

Expansion of Maratha Influence under the rule of Shahu I[edit]

Maratha Empire, 1758 (in orange) was the paramount power in the Indian subcontinent in the 18th and early 19th century until it was usurped by the East India Company.

The death of Aurangzeb in 1707 after an exhausting 27 years of war against the Marathas led to the swift decline of the Mughal Empire. The Marathas, under the leadership the Bhat family of Peshwas, rapidly filled the power vacuum and occupied much of the subcontinent in the following decades.

The Peshwa era (1749 to 1761)[edit]

Shaniwar Wada palace fort in Pune, the seat of the Peshwa rulers of the Maratha Empire until 1818.

During this era, the Peshwas, belonging to the (Bhat) Deshmukh Marathi Chitpavan Brahmin family, controlled the Maratha army and later became the hereditary heads of the Maratha Empire from 1749 to 1818.[16] During their rein, the Maratha empire reached its zenith in 1760, ruling most of the Indian subcontinent.[17] The expansion of the Maratha Empire saw the rise of Generals and later rulers in their own right of Holkar, Scindia, Bhonsle, and the Gaekwad dynasty. Other generals such as Pantpratinidhi, Panse, Vinchurkar, Pethe, Raste, Phadke, Patwardhan, Pawar, Pandit, Purandare and Mehendale also played important part in the expansion. One of the tools of the empire was collection of Chauth or 25% of the revenue from states that submitted to Maratha power. The Marathas also had an elaborate land revenue system which was retained by the British East India company when they gained control of Maratha territory[18] The areas controlled by the Peshwa were annexed by the East India Company in 1818.

The Maratha Navy[edit]

The Marathas also developed a potent Navy circa 1660s, which at its peak, dominated the territorial waters of the western coast of India from Mumbai to Savantwadi.[19] It would engage in attacking the British, Portuguese, Dutch, and Siddi Naval ships and kept a check on their naval ambitions. The Maratha Navy dominated till around the 1730s, was in a state of decline by 1770s, and ceased to exist by 1818.[20]

Maratha Confederacy (1761-1818)[edit]

Maharashtra under British rule and The Freedom Movement[edit]

The British East India Company slowly expanded areas under its rule during the 18th century. Their conquests of what is Maharashtra was completed in 1818 with the defeat of Peshwa Bajirao II in the Third Anglo-Maratha War.

B. R. Ambedkar, the first Law Minister of India, an erudite scholar with a number of doctorates, and a Barrister, championed the cause of Depressed Classes of India, the lower caste population who were oppressed for centuries. Ambedkar disagreed with mainstream leaders like Gandhi on issues including untouchability, government system and the partition of India. This did not prevent him from struggling for the rights of his brethren among the lower castes of the country. His leadership of dalit or Depressed Classes lead to the Dalit movement that still endures. Ambedkar most importantly played the pivotal role in writing the constitution of India and hence he is considered as the father of the Indian Constitution.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak played a major role in the Indian independence movement. He was widely recognised as a leader of national importance & a man of method. Being a person with an extremist attitude, he was instrumental in encouraging the Indian masses in participating in the freedom struggle.

A popular quotation:

Swarajya ha majha janmasiddha hakka ahe,
ani toh mi milavnarach!
Swaraj (self-rule) is my birthright
And I will achieve it!

The ultimatum in 1942 to the British to "Quit India" was given in Mumbai, and culminated in the transfer of power and the independence of India in 1947. Raosaheb and Achutrao Patwardhan, Nanasaheb Gore, Shreedhar Mahadev Joshi, Yeshwantrao Chavan, Swami Ramanand Bharti, Nana Patil, Dhulappa Navale, V.S. Page, Vasant Patil, Dhondiram Mali, Aruna Asif Ali, Ashfaqulla Khan and several others leaders from Maharashtra played a prominent role in this struggle. BG Kher was the first Chief Minister of the tri-lingual Bombay Presidency in 1937.

The States Reorganisation Act, 1956[edit]

Hyderabad state in 1956 (in yellowish green). After reorganization in 1956, Regions of the state west of Red and Blue lines merged with Bombay and Mysore states respectively and rest of the state (Telangana) was merged with Andhra State to form the state of Andhra Pradesh.

Marathi majority taluks transferred to Adilabad, Medak, Nizamabad and Mahaboobnagar districts of new Telugu State (now Telangana) and Karnataka in 1956. Even today, the old town names of all these regions are Marathi names.

Transferred to Telangana (1) Alampur and Gadwal taluks of Raichur district and Kodangal taluk of Gulbarga district; (2) Tandur taluk of Gulbarga district; (3) Zahirabad taluk (except Nirna circle), Nyalkal circle of Bidar taluk and Narayankhed taluk of Bidar district; (4) Bichkonda and Jukkal circles of Deglur taluk of Nanded district; and (5) Mudhol, Bhiansa and Kuber circles of Mudhol taluk of Nanded district; and (6) Adilabad district except Islapur circle of Boath taluk, Kinwat taluk and Rajura taluk; and thereupon the said territories shall cease to form part of the existing State of Hyderabad.

Transferred to Karnataka (1) Belgaum District (2) Bijapur District (3) Gulbarga District (4) Bidar District [21]


Interstate Border Disputes with Telangana State: 14 villages in Jiwati taluk, 12 villages in Rajura taluk and 5 villages in Antapur of Chandrapur district are disputed with Telangana State. They are revenue villages of Marazoda, Anarpally, Lakampur, Ananthapur, Esagaon, Bolapathar, Gouri (D), Parandoli, Paraswada, Arkepally (D), Karanjiwada, Kota, Mukadamguda, Maharajguda, Lendijala, Lendiguda, Indiranagar, Yesapur, Narayanguda, Shankarloddi, Padmavathi and Janakpur, etc. sharing border with Adilabad District of Telangana, which has laid claim on these areas. [22] [23] [24]

Interstate Border Disputes with Karnataka State: Belgaum border dispute: Since the 1960s when the border row first began, the Maharashtra legislature has passed at least 18 resolutions against the Karnataka government, calling its actions to crack down upon Marathi-speaking institutes and people in Belgaum illegal and unjust. [25]

Water disputes with Telangana State: Pranahita Chevella lift irrigation scheme which is a project not in the interest of Maharashtra. Maharashtra will be losing about 2123.4 hectares of land (which is severely under reported by print media at 1500 Ha or even less) [26]

The Telangana State Irrigation project Icchampally Project which is a project not in the interest of Maharashtra. Maharashtra will be losing 33,614 hectares of land which is more than 100 villages. [22] [23] [24]

Shivaji Maharaj's History distorted On July,17 of 2015, the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HJS) said it would step up its protest against the Telangana government for “distorting” history and teaching chapters covering “fake” incidents on Maratha King Chhatrapati Shivaji in a state textbook. The HJS has taken exception to the chapter named The Lost Casket in Class VI text book Our world through English. [27]



  1. ^ India Today: An Encyclopedia of Life in the Republic: p.440
  2. ^ Indian History - page B-57
  3. ^ A Comprehensive History Of Ancient India (3 Vol. Set): p.203
  4. ^ The Penguin History of Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300 by Romila Thapar: p.365-366
  5. ^ Ancient Indian History and Civilization by Sailendra Nath Sen: p.383-384
  6. ^ Keay, John (2001-05-01). India: A History. Atlantic Monthly Pr. pp. 252–257. ISBN 0-8021-3797-0.  The quoted pages can be read at Google Book Search.
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  8. ^ a b Kulkarni, Chidambara Martanda (1966). Ancient Indian History & Culture. Karnatak Pub. House. p. 233. 
  9. ^ "India 2000 – States and Union Territories of India" (PDF). Indianembassy.org. Retrieved 2016-02-27. 
  10. ^ "Yadav – Pahila Marathi Bana" S.P.Dixit (1962)
  11. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20070121015805/http://www.bhashaindia.com:80/Patrons/LanguageTech/Marathi.aspx. Archived from the original on 21 January 2007. Retrieved 3 January 2007.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ Professor George Moraes. "Pre-Portuguese Culture of Goa". International Goan Convention. Archived from the original on 2006-10-15. Retrieved 2006-10-01. 
  13. ^ Murthy, A. V. Narasimha (1971). The Sevunas of Devagiri. Rao and Raghavan. p. 32. 
  14. ^ Mokashi, Digambar Balkrishna (1987-07-01). Palkhi: An Indian Pilgrimage. SUNY Press. p. 37. ISBN 0-88706-461-2. 
  15. ^ Kulkarni, G.T. (1992). "DECCAN (MAHARASHTRA) UNDER THE MUSLIM RULERS FROM KHALJIS TO SHIVAJI : A STUDY IN INTERACTION,PROFESSOR S.M KATRE Felicitation". Bulletin of the Deccan College Research Institute. 51/52,: 501–510. Retrieved 18 March 2016. 
  16. ^ Shirgaonkar, Varsha S. "Eighteenth Century Deccan: Cultural History of the Peshwas." Aryan Books International, New Delhi (2010). ISBN 978-81-7305-391-7
  17. ^ Shirgaonkar, Varsha S. "Peshwyanche Vilasi Jeevan." (Luxurious Life of Peshwas) Continental Prakashan, Pune (2012). ISBN 8174210636
  18. ^ Wink, A., 1983. Maratha revenue farming. Modern Asian Studies, 17(04), pp.591-628.
  19. ^ Sridharan, K. Sea: Our Saviour. New Age International (P) Ltd. ISBN 81-224-1245-9. 
  20. ^ Sharma, Yogesh. Coastal Histories: Society and Ecology in Pre-modern India. Primus Books. p. 66. ISBN 978-93-80607-00-9. 
  21. ^ "The States Reorganisation Act, 1956". Indiankanoon.org. Retrieved 2016-02-27. 
  22. ^ a b "Inter-State row impacts 12 border villages". The Hindu. 2015-03-29. Retrieved 2016-02-27. 
  23. ^ a b "Andhra Pradesh News : Vote may decide fate of 12 border villages". The Hindu. 2004-04-14. Retrieved 2016-02-27. 
  24. ^ a b "Maharashtra will try to retain 14 villages bordering Telangana". Articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 2016-02-27. 
  25. ^ "Karnataka's anti-Maharashtra stand continues in Belgaum: Shiv Sena". Firstpost.com. Retrieved 2016-02-27. 
  26. ^ "Pranahita-Chevella Project: Gargantuan Project with Gargantuan Violations | SANDRP". Sandrp.wordpress.com. 2015-01-10. Retrieved 2016-02-27. 
  27. ^ Tare, Kiran (2015-07-17). "Telangana Government under Fire for 'Distorting' Shivaji History". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 2016-02-27. 


External links[edit]

  1. ^ Eaton, Richard M. (2005). The new Cambridge history of India. (1. publ. ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 154. ISBN 0-521-25484-1. Retrieved 25 March 2016.