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Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 2, p. 439.


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CHAPTER XII
THE MARATHAS
THE eighteenth century is the formative period in the history
of modern India. It witnessed the break-up of the Mughal
empire, and the firm establishment of British supremacy. It
also witnessed the one successful attempt on the part of the
Hindus to drive back the tide of Muhammadan invasion.
This result was accomplished, not by the RAjputs or any
other military caste in the North, but by the peasant population
of the Deccan, who had been stimulated into a race of soldiers
by the example of their national hero, Sivhji.
The word ' MarathA' is scarcely an ethnical or even a caste The home
name. In modern usage, it is confined to the superior class of athes.
from whom Sivjfi's generals and warriors were mostly drawn,
and who sometimes claim a Kshattriya origin. In a wider
sense, it may be extended to include all who speak Marathi
as their mother tongue and inhabit MahLrashtra. The central
home of the MarAthas is the neighbourhood of the Western
Ghlts, eastward from Bombay. Here are thickly scattered
the hill-fortresses which determined Sivaji's original strategy.
Here are the mountains that bred his hardy footmen; here are
the river valleys that provided the no less hardy horses for
his distant forays. Here is Poona, the home of his boyhood
and afterwards the capital of the Peshwas. Here also is Satara,
the royal residence and prison of his descendants.
This region has little history of its own. It includes
Deogiri, or Daulatfbad, the capital of the Yadavas, the Hindu
dynasty destroyed by the Muhammadans in I312, from whom
the mother of Sivaiji traced descent. In later times it was
divided between the two Muhammadan kingdoms of Ahmad-
nagar and Bijapur, whose rulers seem to have been very tolerant
towards their Hindu subjects, utilizing their services alike in
warfare and in civil administration. Sivaji's father had dis-
tinguished himself as an army-leader for both these kingdoms.
But the Mughal emperors were now pressing southwards to
abolish their independence, and it was in this circumstance
that SivAji found his opportunity.



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