Maratha War of Independence




Maratha war of independence:

After the death of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj was coronated as the king of Swarajya. Sambhaji Bhosale (14 May 1657 - 11 March 1689) was the second ruler of the Maratha Kingdom. He was the eldest son of Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha Empire and his first wife Saibai. He was the successor of the realm after his father's death and ruled it for nine years. Sambhaji's rule was largely shaped by the ongoing wars between the Maratha kingdom and Mughal period as well as other neighbouring powers such as the Siddis, Mysore and the Portuguese in Goa. Aurangzeb’s rebellious son Akbar had established friendly relations with Sambhaji Maharaj. Enraged by this Aurangzeb came down to Deccan along with a huge army and able sardars, who were veterans of warfare.

For the next 25 years, he camped in Maharashtra and fought against the Marathas. But he could not succeed in destroying the Swarajya. In 1689, Sambhaji was captured, tortured and executed by the Mughals. He was succeeded by his brother Rajaram I After Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj took over the reins at Raigad. Rajaram Bhosle I (14 February 1670 - 3 March 1700, in Sinhagad) was the younger son of Maratha ruler Shivaji, and half-brother of Sambhaji. He took over the Maratha Empire as its third Chhatrapati after his brother's death at the hands of the Aurangzeb in 1689. His eleven-year reign was marked with a constant struggle against the Mughals. Aurangzeb sent Zulfikar Khan to seize the fort of Raigad. Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj, Maharani Tarabai, Maharani Yesubai (Queen of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj) and her son Prince Shahu were staying on Rajgad It would have been strategic to fight the Mughals from two places at a time. Hence, Maharani Yesubai asked Chhatrapati Rajaram Maharaj to leave for Jinji. Maharani Yesubai herself stayed back at Raigad and continue to fight.

In 1689 C.E., the Mughals succeeded in taking charge of Raigad. Maharani Yesubai and Prince Shahu were arrested and sent to Delhi. Maharani Yesubai remained in captivity of the Mughals for the next thirty years. While leaving for Jinji, Rajaram Maharaj entrusted Ramchandrapant Amatya, Shankaraji Narayan Sachiv, Santaji Ghorpade and Dhanaji Jadhav with the responsibility of defending Raigad. The guerrilla tactics of Santaji and Dhanaji proved the large scale artillery and huge cannons of the Mughals to be of little use. Rajaram Maharaj safeguarded Swarajya in these trying times. This was a great task in itself and a great success of Rajaram Maharaj. After the death of Rajaram Maharaj (March 1700 C.E.), his wife Maharani Tarabai continued to fight against Aurangzeb. Maharani Tarabai led the Swarajya movement under extremely unfavourable conditions. She single-handedly took charge of the administration and fought for Swarajya for twenty-five years with the help of her sardars. The Maratha War of Independence was a tussle between the Mughal ambition of expanding their Empire and the desire of independence cherished by the Marathas. Finally, the death of Aurangzeb put an end to this fighting. In the beginning, the Mughal rulers adopted an aggressive policy while the Maratha policy remained that of defence. But by the second half of the 18th century, this condition changed. With the weakening of Mughal power, the Marathas could extend their rule almost all over India.

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