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The Mughal-Maratha Relations: Twenty Five Fateful Years 1682-1707 (An Old and Rare Book)

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Item Code: NAM212
Publisher: Deccan College Postgraduate And Research Institute
Author: G. T. Kulkarni
Language: English
Edition: 1983
Pages: 313
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 9.0 inch X 6.0 inch
Weight 510 gm
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Book Description

It gives me great pleasure to present the academic world this monograph by Dr. G. T. Kulkarni, Head of the History Department. Since the days when the eminent historian Prof. Shejawalkar was at the helm of the Department, it has presented new facts and coupled them with interpretative history. This two-fold approach has been continued by his successors as the present monograph by Dr. Kulkarni would bear out. It deals with a period of twenty five years encompassing the last quarter of the seventeenth century. This period is of crucial importance in the study of the history of the Marathas as much as for the rest of the country. The struggle launched by the Marathas during these eventful years established the right of the Marathas to emerge as an independant state. The noble example set before the Maratha nation by Shivaji undoubtedly served as an inspiration; but, for a people as a whole to rise as one and continue the struggle for twentyfive long years, there must have been a purpose, a cause, an ideal. Dr. Kulkarni has• sought to search for it through contemporary records, mostly in Persian. These, almost as a rule, are documents emanating from the opposite camp, the Mughal officials,and as such, lend greater perspective to the entire presentation. Since Persian was the official language in India for well over four centuries, any attempt to discuss the history of the Medieval and the Maratha periods without recourse to Persian sources would leave large areas outside the reach of a student.

The present monograph fills up that lacuna to some extent at least. It is to be hoped that the Department of History will continue the efforts in this direction and will thus uphold the tradition of meaningful researches so characteristic of the Deccan College.


The present work is a fresh attempt to understand the history of the twenty-five years 1682 to 1707 that proved to be of crucial importance to both the Marathas and Mughals. Although Mughal-Maratha hostilities had started in the1660, during the life time of Shivaji himself, from 1682 onwards the confrontation became more direct and the ensuing struggle continued for quarter of a century. This phase began on or because of the death of one king, viz. Shivaji and ended on the death of the other, i.e. Alamgir. The roots were buried deep in the past but all the events will not find a place here, only those directly affecting the period under discussion will. There is really no need for justification for choosing this particular period for discussion - its importance is almost self-evident. Still a word by way of explanation may not be entirely out of place. The continuous struggle brought to the fore the real objectives and aspirations, the points of weakness and strength, in both the contending parties as no other period has done.


For the Mughals it meant a successful fulfilment of their dream of an empire that embraced the whole of India. For the Marathas it was an opportunity to liberate their homeland that was chafing under foreign domination for well over three centuries. For the Mughals it meant fulfillment of the duty of every true soldier of Islam - Le. establishing dar- ul-Islam where dar-ul-harb existed. For the Marathas it was an opportunity to save their age-old religion from obliteration. The Mughal objective was embodied in the person of the Emperor, the shrewd, cunning, determined Alamgir. The Marathas were inspired not by an individual but by a principle Maharashtra dharma - a twin determination - my country, my religion.


A general statement to this effect had been made by students of Maratha history since M. G. Ranade. The task of substantiating it (or disproving it) through a detailed examination of the happenings of these years was undertaken by this author. It could be achieved only if the large mass of Persian records mainly news-letters or akhbarat of the period were subjected to careful analysis and study. The present work represents the fruits of such a study. Slightly later on would be found a brief note on the records examined and utilized by the author. Almost all of these are unpublished. The facts revealed by them were checked with other published sources - mostly Marathi and English Interpretations offered by earlier scholars have of course been borne in mind.

Historical Perspective

The rule of the Mughals started in 1526. But they were the last of the Islamic dynasties that ruled India. The earliest was the so called 'Slave' dynasty. But even they were not the first, that honour goes to the Arab generals who conquered parts of Sind in 712.

Growth of Islamic Rule

Against the sharp and swift Muslim conquests elsewhere, the Indian career of Muslim arms was an extremely slow business. In 712 A.D., a part of Sind was conquered by the Arabs. It remained under Muslim domination for some time but failed to act as spearhead of India's conversion to Islam. The next Indian clash with Muslim arms occured three centuries thereafter when Jaypal, ruler of Kabul, North Western Frontier and Punjab sought conclusions with his Muslim neighbour, Subukatgin. Jaypal was driven back, but it took Subuktgin's son and successor, years of hard campaigning to establish his powers in the plains of the Punjab and Multan.

It was in 1180 A.D. when Muhammad Ghori occupied Lahore, Prithviraj of Delhi got alarmed at the establishment of a new strong power in his neighbourhood and moved his armies northwards to challenge Muhammad Ghori. In the battle of Taraori (1192) he defeated Muhammad Ghori. But within a period of one year, the latter again marched against Prithviraj and in the battle that ensued Prithviraj fell fighting, and Muhammad Ghori was able to consolidate his power in the Punjab.

The thirteenth century witnessed the expansion of Muslim power in the whole of Northern India except Rajputana. In the fourteenth century the Muslim rulers of Delhi invaded the South. It began with the Khaljis and ended with the Tughluqs. However, it was only in the Deccan that roots of Muslim power took to the soil and eventually enabled the establishment of the Bahmani power in the Deccan.

The Sultanate period which roughly covered the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries is not a period of ever-expanding Muslim rule in India much less a continuous period of conquest. The Muslim conquest begun in 712 A.D. was not completed even by 1526. It was only under Akbar and Shah Jahan that maximum expansion could be achieved.

Centuries of Muslim rule at Delhi had failed to convert a substantial number of the population to Islam. There was no easy swift and complete conquest of the country or conversion of its population. Indians tenaciously resisted the march of the invaders from the North West.

Nature of Islamic State In India:

What was the nature of Islamic state and Islamic law as practised by India's Muslim rulers? A Historical analysis of it would help us in understanding the nature of the sustained struggle of the Indians in general and between Aurangzeb and the Marathas in particular.

In the Muslim countries of West Asia, the Shar'ia or Islamic law had develped into a very rigid form. The political, social and religious conditions in medieval India were quite at variance from those in West Asian countries where Islam had originated. Therefore, the Muslim rulers during this period found themselves involved in situations, with which the Shar'ia was hardly compatible. Infact, difficult political situations demanded a big break away from the rigidity of Islamic law if they were to be surmounted. Therefore they had to deviate from it, as and when occasion demanded. This deviation brought out an essential change in the nature of Islamic state in Medieval India, so much so that in the true sense of the word, state in India could not be called an orthodox Islamic state as understood in West Asia.

The nature of this deviation is varied. It may not be possible for us to undertake a full length discussion of the subject. However, broadly speaking, the sultans adopted a few non-Islamic features such as the show and pomp of royalty, appropriation of bait-ul-mal for their personal gain and a much more eloquent feature was the acceptance of shedding of Muslim blood, which orthodox Shar'ia had totally forbidden. Besides this, they had already started disregarding the authority of the Khalifa.

The kingdom of Delhi was founded in 1205 by Qutbud- Din Aibak. Iltutmish his successor began the practice of seeking recognition from the Khalifa and most of the later sultans followed in his footsteps. But in 'practice, this had little effect on the succession or kingship of a particular ruler and the Khalifa could hardly excercise any effective control over this so called 'governors' or 'viceroys'. In other words during these three centuries, the government became a personal acquisition. One enjoyed it as long as one had the strength of arms to do so. The temporal control and obligation to follow the Muslim law as preached and practised by Khalifa, had long ceased to be effective in respect of Muslim rulers in India. The rulers were only theoretically bound to an outside religious head. This extraordinary change in attitude sprang up because they ruled over a large and preponderantly non-Muslim population. This is not only true about the rulers of Sultanate period, but is equally so about the Mughal rulers of India during the 16th and the 17th century.

Muslims by faith and upbringing, these rulers were familiar only with the Muslim way of doing things. this alone appeared to them the normal way. In respect of their Muslim subjects the Sultans assumed a vague responsibility to ensure that Muslim subjects conform to Islamic practices in their day to day life. But as far as the large number of Hindu subjects were concerned, the sultans never attempted to impose the civil law of Islam. This non-Muslim population had continued to have recource to their own courts, panchayats etc. and thus were outside the pale of the Sultanate's institutions. This was accepted by the Sultans more as political expediency than any thing else, and that also implicitly, never explicitly.

The Ulama or theologians on the other hand expected sultans to wage a constant war against the Hindus. They made consistent efforts to persuade them that their true duty was to convert dar-ul-harb into dar-ul-Islam. The rulers were reminded what Muhammad had said 'He who exerts himself (jahada) exerts only for his soul'!. A Muslim state was duty bound to declare a Jihad on recalcitrant individuals and communities. Thus by waging a constant jihad, the Hindus were to be degraded and humiliated, they were to be prohibited from making an open display of idolatrous practices. Most of the Ulama considered that the payment of jizya was necessary and that it was meant to humiliate the Hindus. Its imposition would accord the Hindus an-inferior and dependent-status. Needless to say it would have created perpetual antagonism, between the followers of the two religions.

But the Sultans were quick to grasp the realities of the situation. They and their nobles were pragmatists and were not willing to follow this potentially destructive policy. It would have in course of time totally alienated the local people and the Hindu rajas who were having effective control over large Hindu population.. In fact they desired an active alliance with them and therefore were prepared to make certain concessions. They were more than convinced that the directives of the Ulama ran counter to considerations of state policy. Thus though the Ulamas had advocated a rigorous and rigid religious policy, the Sultans had never put it into practice. As a result we notice under the Lodi and Sur rulers, association of Hindu zamindars in the service of the state had expanded at various levels.

A typical example of this difference in interests and attitudes is that of Ala-ud-Din Khilji. He was anxious to know what the Muslim jurists thought of his administrative innovations. When he was informed that most of his administrative practices lacked 'legal sanctions', he was enraged. And the Qazi out of fright then declared that I inspite of their being 'unlawful' the Sultan was free to govern the country as he thought fit.

But one has to remember that the policies pursued by the Sultans were a deviation from orthodox Islamic preaching. In as much as they were ruling a population with a different religion, tolerance seemed to be the wisest course. But it always left the way open for recourse to more rigorous and orthodox means for attaining the same political goal and it was always possible for a more fanatical ruler to impose Islamic law and practices with all the rigour, consequences not withstanding. The gulf was too wide at once deterring and inviting.


Part I : Scope
Part II : Mughal-Maratha Relations - Backdrop
1Sambhaji and the Mughals (1680-1689): The Crisis Begins1
2Rajaram Confronted by the Mughal arms (1689-1700)89
3Shivaji II and the Mughal Conquest of the Maratha land (1700-1704)188
4The Catastrophe (1704-1708)240
5In Retrospection - the Fateful Twenty Five Years263
Select bibliography
Sample Pages

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