Raja Ram lacked the qualities of his father. He possessed neither the initiative nor the dash of Shivaji. He was hardly ten when his father died and he was kept a prisoner by his brother Sambhaji. The result was that he failed to get the education which was necessary for his status.
However, he was fortunate in having brilliant advisers and helpers. Ram Chandra Pant and Parhlad Niraji were his advisers and they possessed exceptional ability. Shantaji and Dhanaji were two great warriors who carried out the plans and policy of Raja Ram.
No wonder, the Marathas were able to have the upper hand over the Mughals in the time of Raja Ram. Raja Ram himself was addicted to opium and dissipation. He possessed the virtue of selecting the right type of ministers and putting his trust in them. That was the main cause of his success.
Shantaji Gorpare and Dhanaji Jadav with their plundering hosts ravaged the country. They cut off the Mughal convoys and spread terror and confusion everywhere. In spite of the fact that an able general like Zulfikar Khan was sent to besiege Jinji in 1691, no better results could be achieved. This fort was one of the strongest forts in Southern India and no wonder Raja Ram was able to defy the Mughals.
Zulfikar Khan, in spite of his handicaps, tried to take over the forts and provinces which were newly acquired. The siege was unusually prolonged and Prince Khan Baksh was recalled on account of his suspected behaviour. Likewise, Zulfikar Khan was recalled in 1694 on account of his failure. Many other generals were tried between 1694 and 1697. According to J.N. Sarkar “Jinji became a centre of Maratha enterprise in the East Coast, while their minister (notably Ram Chandra Pant) left at home organised resistance to the Mughals in the West.
The difficulties of Aurangzeb were only multiplied by the disappearance of a common head and a Central Government among the Marathas, as every Maratha Captain with his own retainers fought and raided in a different quarter and on his own account. It now became a people’s war, and Aurangzeb could not end it, because there was no Marathas Government or state army for him to attack and destroy.”
After 1690, the Marathas began to win victories. Two Mughal generals were defeated and captured. By 1695, two other Mughal generals were defeated. These generals were Qasim Khan and Himmat Khan. The struggle between the Marathas and the Mughals was “no longer a simple military problem, but had become a trial of endurance and resources between the Mughal Empire and the indigenous people.”
From 1695 to 1699, the Marathas under Shantaji and Dhanji harassed the Mughals to such an extent that they were completely demoralized. According to J. N. Sarkar, “The Mughal Administration had really dissolved and only the presence of the Emperor with all his troops in country held it together; but it was now a delusive phantom. Shanta and Dhana were the heroes of this period; the initiative lay entirely with them and they upset every plan and calculation formed by the imperialists.”
However, Jinji was captured in January’ 1698, after a siege of 8 years. Before its capture, Raja Ram escaped to Satara when he organised a new state army and brought all the Maratha generals under his banner. He also levied Chauth and Sardeshmukhi from Khandesh, Berar and Bagiana.
By October 1699, Aurangzeb was fed up with the mutual quarrels of Mughal Generals and he decided to conduct the campaign against the Marathas personally. In December 1699, Satara was besieged. Although vigorous efforts were made to capture the fort, no good result followed. Satara was captured after the death of Raja Ram in 1700.