Swarajya to Empire - Trade, Industries, and Social Life




Trade, industries and social life:

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was aware of the importance of a flourishing trade for the economic well being of the state. He encouraged the traders and merchants by creating Peths (market places). ‘Shete’ and ‘Mahajan’ were the officers who supervised the transaction of these Peths. Chaul, Rajapur, Dabhol, Kelshi, Ratnagiri were some of the important ports and trade centres of this period. self-sufficient village was the basic unit of the Swarajya. The economic system of the village was never affected greatly by external political changes. Every village had 12 ‘balutedars’ (service providers in the village). Their occupations were hereditary in nature. Every occupation in this system had a specific status in the social hierarchy. The balutedars, for example goldsmiths (sonar), blacksmiths (lohar), braziers (tambat) etc. practiced their hereditary occupations. Weekly markets were set up in big villages. Such villages were known as ‘Kasba’. People visited weekly markets to buy daily provisions and other goods. Some industries of this period include textile industry, metallurgy, sugar industry etc. The rural Maharashtra of Maratha period was organised into different social classes such as nobility (sardars), landlords (watandars), Balutedars and Ryot (rest of the subjects).

There were traditional schools (pathshalas) established in cities like Wai, Nashik, Paithan, etc. Traditional festivals (utsavas), pious observances (Vrata vaikalye) were celebrated with great enthusiasm in the society. The journey from the founding of Swarajya to the expansion of the Maratha empire, is an important part of Indian history of mediaeval times. The Maratha power came to an end and the British brought most of India under their dominance. The transition took place in various sectors. It marks the onset of modern era.

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