Maratha Empire

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The Maratha Empire or the Maratha Confederacy was an Indian power that dominated much of the Indian subcontinent in the 17th and 18th century. The empire formally existed from 1674 with the coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji and ended in 1818 with the defeat of Peshwa Bajirao II. The Marathas are credited to a large extent for ending Mughal rule in India.


  • It is commonly said that it was the Mahomedans whom the British displaced as rulers in India. This is true only in a restricted sense. It would be nearer the truth to say that it was the Mahrattas in the main, whom we displaced.
    • Sir Richard Temple quoted in Vikram Sampath - Savarkar, Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883–1924 (2019)
  • The Marathas are the thorn of Hindostan.... by one effort we get this thorn out of our sides for ever.
    • Ahmed Shah Durrani quoted in Smith, The Oxford History of India, 462. Quoted from Spencer, Robert (2018). The history of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS.
  • The disposition of the people is honest and simple... to their benefactors they are grateful; to their enemies ruthless. If they are asked to help one in distress, they will forget themselves in their haste to render assistance.
    • About the Marathas. Ain-i-Akbari by Abul Fazl. trans. by H. Blochmann, Jarret, vol. III, p. 8 and note by J. Sarkar. Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1999). Theory and practice of Muslim state in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 2
  • The Hindu leadership at present can be easily compared to the Maratha leadeship which came to the fore after the Third Battle of Panipat (1761). Like its predecessor, it has neither knowledge nor appreciation of Hindu spiritual vision, or Hindu culture, or Hindu history, or Hindu social philosophy. Hinduism for it is no more than a political card to be played for getting into power. Hindu culture and Hindu history mean nothing to it except some catch-phrases or patriotic rhetoric for collecting crowds and securing votes.’
    • Goel, Sita Ram, Perversion of India’s Political Parlance. Quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2018). Why I killed the Mahatma: Uncovering Godse's defence. New Delhi : Rupa, 2018.
  • In South India when the Maratha King Sambhaji and his minister Kavikalash were taken prisoner, "that very night his (Sambhaji's) eyes were blinded and the next day the tongue of Kavikalash was cut out. After a fortnight's torture their limbs were hacked one by one and their flesh thrown to the dogs"
    • About Sambhaji's death. (March 1689). Quoted in Lal, K. S. (1999). Theory and practice of Muslim state in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 3
  • The presence of the kings of Islam is a great blessing from Allah… You should know that the country of Hindustan is a large land. In olden days, the kings of Islam had struggled hard and for long in order to conquer this foreign country. They could do it only in several turns…
    Every (Muslim) king got mosques erected in his territory, and created madrasas. Muslims of Arabia and Ajam (non-Arab Muslim lands) migrated from their own lands and arrived in these territories. They became agents for the publicity and spread of Islam here. Uptil now their descendants are firm in the ways of Islam…Among the non-Muslim communities, one is that of the Marhatah (Maratha). They have a chief. For some time past, this community has been raising its head, and has become influential all over Hindustan…
    …It is easy to defeat the Marhatah community, provided the ghãzîs of Islam gird up their loins and show courage…
    In the countryside between Delhi and Agra, the Jat community used to till the land. In the reign of Shahjahan, this community had been ordered not to ride on horses, or keep muskets with them, or build fortresses for themselves. The kings that came later became careless, and this community has used the opportunity for building many forts, and collecting muskets…
    In the reign of Muhammad Shah, the impudence of this community crossed all limits. And Surajmal, the cousin of Churaman, became its leader. He took to rebellion. Therefore, the city of Bayana which was an ancient seat of Islam, and where the Ulama and the Sufis had lived for seven hundred years, has been occupied by force and terror, and Muslims have been turned out of it with humiliation and hurt…
    …Whatever influence and prestige is left with the kingship at present, is wielded by the Hindus. For no one except them is there in the ranks of managers and officials. Their houses are full of wealth of all varieties. Muslims live in a state of utter poverty and deprivation. The story is long and cannot be summarised. What I mean to say is that the country of Hindustan has passed under the power of non-Muslims. In this age, except your majesty, there is no other king who is powerful and great, who can defeat the enemies, and who is farsighted and experienced in war. It is your majesty’s bounden duty (farz-i-ain) to invade Hindustan, to destroy the power of the Marhatahs, and to free the down-and-out Muslims from the clutches of non-Muslims. Allah forbid, if the power of the infidels remains in its present position, Muslims will renounce Islam and not even a brief period will pass before Muslims become such a community as will no more know how to distinguish between Islam and non-Islam. This will be a great tragedy. Due to the grace of Allah, no one except your majesty has the capacity for preventing this tragedy from taking place.
    We who are the servants of Allah and who recognise the Prophet as our saviour, appeal to you in the name of Allah that you should turn your holy attention to this direction and face the enemies, so that a great merit is added to the roll of your deeds in the house of Allah, and your name is included in the list of mujãhidîn fi Sabîlallah (warriors in the service of Allah). May you acquire plunder beyond measure, and may the Muslims be freed from the stranglehold of the infidels. I seek refuge in Allah when I say that you should not act like Nadir Shah who oppressed and suppressed the Muslims, and went away leaving the Marhatahs and the Jats whole and prosperous.
    The enemies have become more powerful after Nadir Shah, the army of Islam has disintegrated, and the empire of Delhi has become childrens’ play. Allah forbid, if the infidels continue as at present, and Muslims get (further) weakened, the very name of Islam will get wiped out.
    …When your fearsome army reaches a place where Muslims and non-Muslims live together, your administrators must take particular care. They must be instructed that those weak Muslims who live in the countryside should be taken to towns and cities. Next, some such administrators should be appointed in towns and cities as would see to it that the properties of Muslims are not plundered, and the honour of no Muslim is compromised.
    • Shah Waliullah Dehlawi Letter to Ahmad Shah Abdali, Ruler of Afghanistan. Translated from the Urdu version of K.A. Nizami, Shãh Walîullah Dehlvî ke Siyãsî Maktûbãt, Second Edition, Delhi, 1969, p.83 ff.
  • Your solemn letter has reached (me)…
    At the ‘hidden level’ (occult word), the downfall of the Marhatahs and the Jats has been decided. Now, therefore, it is only a matter of time. As soon as the servants of Allah gird up their loins and come out with courage, the magic fortress of falsehood will be shattered…
    • Shah Waliullah Dehlawi To Najibuddaulah, the Ruhela Ally of Abdali in India. Translated from the Urdu version of K.A. Nizami, Shãh Walîullah Dehlvî ke Siyãsî Maktûbãt, Second Edition, Delhi, 1969, p. 103.
  • …There are three groups in Hindustan which are known for the qualities of fanaticism and zeal. So long as these three are not exterminated, no king can feel secure, nor any noble. The people (read Muslims) also will not be able to live in peace.
    Religious as well as worldly interests dictate that soon after winning the war with the Marhatahs, you should turn towards the forts of the Jats, and conquer them with the blessings from the hidden (occult) world. Next is the turn of the Sikhs. This group should also be defeated, while waiting for grace from Allah.
    …I appeal to you in the name of Allah and his Prophet that you should not cast your eye on the property of any Muslim. If you take care in this regard, there is hope that the doors of victory will be opened to you one after another. But if this caution is ignored, I fear that the wails of the oppressed may become obstacles in the way towards your goal.
    • Shah Waliullah Dehlawi To Najibuddaulah Translated from the Urdu version of K.A. Nizami, Shãh Walîullah Dehlvî ke Siyãsî Maktûbãt, Second Edition, Delhi, 1969, pp.104-05.
  • Maratha documents show that one of their main objectives was the liberation of the sacred cities of Ayodhya, Varanasi and Prayag. In the year 1751, Maratha armies led by Malhar Rao Holkar defeated the Pathan forces in Doab and immediately after victory, requested Safdarjang to handover Ayodhya, Kashi and Prayag to the Peshwa.
    • A.L Srivastava's (1899 -1973) book "First Two Nawabs of Awadh"(1954)
  • Also the Marathas, who had shown outstanding military ability and valour, ceased to be counted as being martial as they had a marked sense of nationalism and could not be isolated from the rest of the community. The Sikhs, Rajputs and Jats, the Punjab Muslims, Baluchis, Dogras and other favoured communities became in this manner the special reservoir for recruitment. The policy of ‘divide and rule’ was nowhere more clearly practised than in the concessions shown to these classes who were made to believe for a long time that they were the special favourites of the Empire.
    • Asia and Western dominance by Panikkar, K.M. quoted in The Tragic Story of Partition (1982) H.V. Sheshadri chapter 2.
  • They make so much progress every day that one may easily predict that before the end of the present century they will have succeeded in restoring the wisdom of ancient Hindu government wherever Mohammedan invasion has let loose the scourge of despotism and tyranny.
    • About Marathas. de Saint-Lubin from Pune in 1771 in Vincent, Rose, ed., The French in India, Popular Prakashan, 1990. quoted from Jain, M. (editor) (2011). The India they saw: Foreign accounts. New Delhi: Ocean Books. Volume IV Chapter2
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