What was the role of Rajaram in Maratha History?

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The manner of Sambhaji’s death had endeared him to the Marathas who considered his son Shivaji to be the rightfull heir in preference to his brother Rajaram. The Maratha state was in a critical condition. The Mughals were advancing on all sides under their generals

Itiqad Khan and Zulfiqar Khan. The mighty fort of Raigad also fell. Though Rajaram managed to escape in the guise of a yogi, Shivaji and her mother Yesubai were captured. Rajaram now made Jinji his centre of activities.

Undaunted by these reverses the whole Maratha race was now aroused to save their hard-won independence. Every Maratha soldier became his own captain and bands of Marathas carried on raids in different parts of the Mughal territory and the Mughal generals were unable to make a concentrated attack on them.

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To quote Sir Jadunath Sarkar, “It now became a people’s war, and Aurangzeb could not end it, because there was no Maratha Government or State-army for him to attack and destroy”.

On his part, Rajaram also carried on the war against the Mughals relentlessly. The Mfatha leaders, Santaji Ghorapare and Dhanaji Jadav ravaged the country and plundered the Mughal envoys. Jadunath Sarkar regards “Santa and Dhanna” as heroes of the period.

The initiative for military move lay not with the Mughals but with these Maratha generals who completely demoralized the imperial Mughal forces by their sudden raids.

Rajaram departed from the policy of Shivaji not to grant lands in perpetuity for military services to the officers. But the exigencies of the time required it. It encouraged many Maratha clans such as the Manes of Mhaswad, the Ghorpares and the Desais.

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Jinji too was invested and captured by the Mughals. Rajaram now made Satara his capital. The Imperial forces laid siege to Satara also but met with little success. The Mughal soldiers were tired of continuous warfare and felt completely demoralized. The Mughal generals quarreled amongst themselves.

Aurangzeb now realized the magnitude of the problem and though an old man of eighty he himself took over the command and ordered the siege of Satara. Unfortunately, it was at this time that Rajaram died in 1700 and the tide turned against the Maratha for some-time mainly due to the treachery of some of the Maratha generals who were open to bribes. Beginning with Satara, almost all the forts such as Panhala, Parli, Khilna, Kondana, and Torna were also occupied by the Imperialists. But the Maratha cause was not lost.

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