Maharashtra State BoardHSC Arts 12th Board Exam
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Afghans and Maratha Empire

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Afghans and Maratha Empire:

In the first half of the 18th century, the mighty Mughal empire had already lost its glory. The Mughal rule was now limited only to Delhi, Agra and Punjab. The year 1748 witnessed the first invasion of India by Ahmadshah Abdali, the king of Afghans. He was defeated at Sirhind by Shahjada Ahmadshah, the elder son of the emperor. In 1751, Abdali again invaded India. This time the Mughal emperor ceded the provinces of Lahore and Multan to Abdali in order to avoid war. In 1752, the Marathas and the Mughals arrived at an agreement. According to that agreement the Marathas accepted the responsibility to defend north India, especially the Mughal dominions. In return Mughal emperor granted the right of collecting Chauthai from Rohilkhand to the Marathas and also ceded parts of some of the Mughal provinces. In 1757, Abdali again attacked for the third time. He returned to Afghanistan after ransacking the region around Delhi and Mathura. This time the Maratha army marched from Pune under the leadership of Raghunathrao Peshwa but before they could reach Delhi, Abdali had already gone back. Marathas took charge of Delhi and normalised the situation there. Marathas and Sikhs together planned a campaign to get back Punjab which was held by Abdali. They conquered Sirhind province and then Lahore. From there the Maratha army reached Attock.

In 1759, Abdali marched back for the fourth time. Dattaji and Janakoji Shinde, the Maratha nobles resisted his advance. However, Abdali marched with great speed and strength and conquered Punjab in no time. Dattaji Shinde fell on the battlefield. Abdali took complete hold of Delhi. With an intention to oust the Afghans permanently, the Maratha army marched out from Pune under the leadership of Sadashivraobhau Peshwa and Vishwasrao Peshwa. On 14th January 1761, the Maratha army and Abdali confronted each other at Panipat on the banks of river Yamuna. The war between them is known as the ‘Third Battle of Panipat’. Both Peshwas were killed in this war. A message in code language was sent to Pune announcing the loss. It was as follows : “Two precious pearls fell, twenty seven gold coins were lost and there is no count to the loss of silver and copper coins”. Indeed, the Marathas on the battleground of Panipat fought with an unwavering conviction, which can be

described as ‘India for the Indians’. It was not an easy task for Abdali to rule Delhi and he soon returned home. The Maratha opposition was so fierce that neither Abdali, nor his successors ever returned to India.

The British could establish absolute supremacy in India, once the Maratha rule declined in the 19th century. However, the Indians fought against the British supremacy. Besides, they also had to fight against many internal evil practices and customs that were prevalent in the Indian society.

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