Maratha

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Maratha
Maratha Soldier.jpg
Engraving of a Maratha Soldier by James Forbes, 1813.
Religions Hinduism
Languages Marathi language and Konkani
Populated states Major: Maharashtra
Minor: Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh.

The Maratha (IPA: [ˈˈməraʈʰa"]; IAST:Marāṭhā; archaically transliterated as Marhatta or Mahratta) is a group of castes in India found predominantly in the state of Maharashtra. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, "Marathas are people of India, famed in history as yeoman warriors and champions of Hinduism"[1]. [note 1].The Maratha group of castes is a largely rural class of peasant cultivators, landowners, and soldiers.They reside primarily in the Indian state of Maharashtra.[1]

Territory under Maratha control in 1760 (yellow), without its vassals.

Robert Vane Russell, an untrained ethnologist of the British Raj period, basing his research largely on Vedic literature,[2] wrote that the Marathas are subdivided into 96 different clans, known as the 96 Kuli Marathas or 'Shahānnau Kule'[3] Shahānnau means 96 in Marathi. The general body of lists are often at great variance with each other.[4]

History

Maratha helmet
Maratha armour
Maratha armour
Typical Maratha helmet with curved back.
Maratha Armour from Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia.

The term "Maratha" originally referred to the speakers of the Marathi language. In the 17th century, it emerged as a designation for soldiers serving in the armies of Deccan sultanates (and later Shivaji).[5] A number of Maratha warriors, including Shivaji's father, Shahaji, originally served in those armies.[6] By the mid-1660s, Shivaji had established an independent Maratha kingdom.[7] After his death, Marathas fought under his sons and defeated Aurangzeb in the war of 27 years. It was further expanded into a vast empire by Maratha Confederacy including Peshwas, stretching from central India [8] in the south, to Peshawar[9] (in modern-day Pakistan) on the Afghanistan border in the north, and with expeditions to Bengal in the east. By the 19th century, the empire had become a confederacy of individual states controlled by Maratha chiefs such as Gaekwads of Baroda, the Holkars of Indore, the Scindias of Gwalior, the Puars of Dhar and Dewas, and Bhonsles of Nagpur.[citation needed] The Confederacy remained the pre-eminent power in India until their defeat by the British East India Company in the Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817–1818).[10][page needed]

By 19th century, the term Maratha had several interpretations in the British administrative records. In the Thane District Gazetteer of 1882, the term was used to denote elite layers within various castes: for example, "Maratha-Agri" within Agri caste, "Maratha-Koli" within Koli caste and so on.[5] In the Pune District, the words Kunbi and Maratha had become synonymous, giving rise to the Maratha-Kunbi caste complex.[11] The Pune District Gazetteer of 1882 divided the Kunbis into two classes: Marathas and other Kunbis.[5] The 1901 census listed three groups within the Maratha-Kunbi caste complex: "Marathas proper", "Maratha Kunbis" and "Konkani Marathas".[12] The Kunbi class comprised agricultural workers and soldiers. The upper-class "Marathas proper" (comprising 96 clans) claimed Rajput descent with Kshatriya status, and included princes, officers and landowners.[13][14] Some of the Maratha clans claiming Rajput descent include Bhonsales (from Sisodias),[15] Chavans (from Chauhans),[16] and Pawar (from Parmar).[17]

Gradually, the term Maratha came to denote an endogamous caste.[5] From 1900 onwards, the Satyashodhak Samaj movement defined the Marathas as a broader social category of non-Brahmin groups.[18] These non-Brahmins gained prominence in Indian National Congress during the Indian independence movement. In independent India, these Marathas became the dominant political force in the newly-formed state of Maharashtra.[19]

Internal diaspora

Arms of Maratha
Leaving for the Hunt, Gwalior, Edwin Lord Weeks, 1887

The empire also resulted in the voluntary relocation of substantial numbers of Maratha and other Marathi-speaking people outside Maharashtra, and across a big part of India. Today several small but significant communities descended from these emigrants live in the north, south and west of India. These descendant communities tend often to speak the local languages, although many also speak Marathi in addition. Notable Maratha families outside Maharashtra include Bhonsle of Tanjore, Scindia of Gwalior, Gaekwad of Baroda, Holkar of Indore, Puar of Dewas and Dhar, Ghorpade of Mudhol .[20][full citation needed]

Varna status

The varna of the Maratha is a contested issue, with arguments for their being of the Kshatriya (warrior) varna, and others for their being of Shudra origins. This issue was the subject of antagonism between the Brahmins and Marathas, dating back to the time of Pratapsing, but by the late 19th century moderate Brahmins were keen to ally with the influential Marathas of Bombay in the interests of Indian independence from Britain. These Brahmins supported the Maratha claim to Kshatriya status, but their success in this political alliance was sporadic and fell apart entirely following independence in 1947.[21]

Even at the turn of 20th century, the Brahmins priests of Chhatrapathi Shahu,the Maratha ruler of Kolhapur refused to use Vedic mantras and would not take a bath before chanting, on the grounds that even the leading Marathas like Shahu and his families belonged to the Shudra varna. This opinion about the Shudra varna was supported by Brahmin Councils in Maharashtra and they stuck to their opinion even when they(Brahmins) were threatened with the loss of land and property. This led to Shahu supporting Satyashodhak samaj as well as campaigning for the rights of the Maratha community [22] [23]He soon became the leader of the non-Brahmin movement and united the Marathas under his banner.[24][25]

In the 21st century, the Government of Maharasthra cited historical evidence for the shudra status of prominent Maratha families as well as the prominent Maratha family (Bhosle) being declared as Shudras by the (British) Madras High Court to form a case for reservation for the Marathas in Maharashtra.[26]

Political participation

The 1919 Montague-Chelmsford reforms of the British colonial government called for caste based representation in legislative council.In anticipation a Maratha league party was formed. The league and other groups came together to form the non-Brahmins party in the Marathi speaking areas in the early 1920s under the leadership of Maratha leaders Keshavrao Jedhe and Baburao javalkar.Their early goals in that period were capturing the Ganpati and Shivaji festivals from Brahmin domination.[27] They combined nationalism with anti-casteism as the party's aims[28]. Later on in the 1930s, Jedhe merged the non-Brahmin party with the Congress party and changed the Congress party in the Maharashtra region from an upper-caste dominated body to a more broadly based but Maratha-dominated party[29].Apart from Jedhe,most Congress leaders from the Maratha /Kunbi community remained aloof from the Samyukta Maharashtra campaign of the 1950s.However,they have dominated the state politics of Maharashtra since its inception in 1960[30].

The INC was the preferred party of the Maratha/Kunbi community in the early days of Maharashtra and the party was long without a major challenger, and enjoyed overwhelming support from the Maratha dominated sugar co-operatives and thousands of other cooperative organizations involved in the rural agricultural economy of the state such as marketing of dairy and vegetable produce, credit unions etc.[31] [32] The domination by Marathas of the cooperative institutions and with it the rural economic power allowed the community to control politics from the village level up to the Assembly and Lok Sabha seats.[33], [34]Since the 1980s, this group has also been active in setting up private educational institutions.[35][36][37] Major past political figures of Congress party from Maharashtra such as Keshavrao Jedhe, Yashwantrao Chavan[38], Shankarrao Chavan and Vilasrao Deshmukh have been from this group. Sharad Pawar, who had been a towering figure in Maharashtrian and national politics, belongs to this group.

The state has had many Maratha government ministers and officials, as well as in local municipal commissions, and panchayats. Marathas comprise around 32 per cent of the state population.[39][40] 10 out of 16 chief ministers of Maharashtra hailed from the Maratha community as of 2012.[41]

The rise of the Hindu Nationalist Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party in recent years have not dented Maratha representation in Maharashtra Legislative assembly[42].

Military service

Beginning early in the 20th century, the British categorized Maratha as a "martial race".[43] Earlier listings of martial races had often excluded them, with Lord Roberts, commander-in-chief of the Indian Army 1885–1893, stating the need to substitute "more warlike and hardy races for the Hindusthani sepoys of Bengal, the Tamils and Telugus of Madras and the so-called Marathas of Bombay."[44] Historian Sikata Banerjee notes a dissonance in British military opinions of the Maratha, wherein the British portrayed them as both "formidable opponents" and yet not "properly qualified" for fighting, criticising the Maratha guerrilla tactics as an improper way of war. Banerjee cites an 1859 statement as emblematic of this disparity:

There is something noble in the carriage of an ordinary Rajput, and something vulgar in that of the most distinguished Mahratta. The Rajput is the most worthy antagonist, the Mahratta the most formidable enemy.[45]

The Maratha Light Infantry regiment is one of the "oldest and most renowned" regiments of the Indian Army.[46] Its First Battalion, also known as the Jangi Paltan ("Warrior Platoon"),[47] traces its origins to 1768 as part of the Bombay Sepoys.

The battle cry of Maratha Light Infantry is Bol Shri Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj ki Jai! ("Hail Victory to Emperor Shivaji!") in tribute to the Maratha sovereign.

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ The cited source is ambiguous as to what group of people it is referring to when it states "Marathas are people of India, famed in history as yeoman warriors and champions of Hinduism".It is not clear whether Maratha means Marathi people in this context or the people belonging to Maratha caste

References

  1. ^ a b "Maratha (people)". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 12 July 2013. 
  2. ^ Bates, Crispin (1995). "Race, Caste and Tribe in Central India: the early origins of Indian anthropometry". In Robb, Peter. The Concept of Race in South Asia. Delhi: Oxford University Press. pp. 240–242. ISBN 978-0-19-563767-0. Retrieved 2011-12-09. 
  3. ^ Russell, Robert Vane (1916). Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India. 4. Lal, Rai Bahadur Hira. London: Macmillan & Co. pp. 201–203. Retrieved 3 October 2012. 
  4. ^ O'Hanlon, Rosalind (2002). Caste, Conflict and Ideology: Mahatma Jotirao Phule and Low Caste Protest in Nineteenth-Century Western India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-52152-308-0. Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d Hansen 2001, p. 31.
  6. ^ Gordon, Stewart N. (1993). The Marathas 1600–1818. The New Cambridge History of India. Cambridge University Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-52126-883-7. Second, we have that Marathas regularly served in the armies of the Muslim Deccan kingdoms. 
  7. ^ Pearson, M. N. (February 1976). "Shivaji and the Decline of the Mughal Empire". The Journal of Asian Studies. Association for Asian Studies. 35 (2): 221–235. doi:10.2307/2053980. JSTOR 2053980. 
  8. ^ Mehta, J. L. Advanced study in the history of modern India 1707–1813
  9. ^ Alexander Mikaberidze (31 July 2011). Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World: A Historical Encyclopedia: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 43–. ISBN 978-1-59884-337-8. Retrieved 15 September 2013. 
  10. ^ Chhabra, G.S. (2005) [1971]. Advanced Study in the History of Modern India. Lotus Press. ISBN 81-89093-06-1. 
  11. ^ O'Hanlon 2002, p. 45.
  12. ^ O'Hanlon 2002, p. 47.
  13. ^ Pereira 2008, p. 65.
  14. ^ Haynes 1992, p. 65.
  15. ^ Singh 1998, p. 2211.
  16. ^ The Illustrated Weekly of India Volume 92, Part 2. Bennett, Coleman & Company. 1971. p. 7. 
  17. ^ A. Aiyappan; L. K. Bala Ratnam (1956). Society in India. Social Sciences Association. p. 41. 
  18. ^ Hansen 2001, p. 32.
  19. ^ Hansen 2001, p. 34.
  20. ^ "History of Medieval India". google.com. Retrieved 18 August 2015. 
  21. ^ Kurtz, Donald V. (1994). Contradictions and Conflict: A Dialectical Political Anthropology of a University in Western India. Leiden: Brill. p. 63. ISBN 978-9-00409-828-2. 
  22. ^ Kashinath Kavlekar (1979). Non-Brahmin Movement in Southern India, 1873-1949. p. 63. 
  23. ^ Mike Shepperdson, Colin Simmons (1988). The Indian National Congress and the political economy of India, 1885-1985. p. 109. 
  24. ^ "Pune's endless identity wars". Indian Express. Retrieved 1 August 2015. 
  25. ^ Rajarshi Shahu Chhatrapati Papers: 1900-1905 A.D.: Vedokta controversy. Shahu Research Institute, 1985 - Kolhapur (Princely State). 
  26. ^ "'Maharashtra to justify quota with historical evidence'". 2014. 
  27. ^ Hansen, Thomas Blom (2002). Wages of violence : naming and identity in postcolonial Bombay. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. p. 33. ISBN 978-0691088402. Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  28. ^ Jayapalan, N. (2000). Social and cultural history of India since 1556. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers and Distributors. p. 162. ISBN 9788171568260. 
  29. ^ Omvedt, Gail (1974). "Non-Brahmans and Nationalists in Poona". Economic and Political Weekly. 9 (6/8): 201–219. Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  30. ^ Kurtz, Donald V. (1994). Contradictions and Conflict: A Dialectical Political Anthropology of a University in Western India. Leiden: Brill. p. 63. ISBN 978-9-00409-828-2. 
  31. ^ Brass, Paul R. (2006). The politics of India since independence (2nd ed.). [New Delhi]: Cambridge University Press. p. 142. ISBN 978-0521543057. Retrieved 1 February 2017. 
  32. ^ Mishra, Sumita (2000). Grassroot politics in India. New Delhi: Mittal Publications. p. 27. ISBN 9788170997320. 
  33. ^ Vora, Rajendra (2009). "Chapter 7 Maharashtra or Maratha Rashtra". In Kumar, Sanjay; Jaffrelot, Christophe. Rise of the plebeians? : the changing face of Indian legislative assemblies. New Delhi: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415460927. 
  34. ^ Kulkarni, A.R. (Editor); Wagle, N.K.(Editor); Sirsikar, V.M. (Author) (1999). State intervention and popular response : western India in the nineteenth century. Mumbai: Popular Prakashan. p. 9. ISBN 81-7154-835-0. 
  35. ^ Dahiwale, S. M. (1995). "Consolidation of Maratha Dominance in Maharashtra Economic and Political Weekly Vol. 30, No. 6 (Feb. 11, 1995), pp. 336-342 Published by:". Economic and Political Weekly. 30, (6): 336–342. JSTOR 4402382. 
  36. ^ Kurtz, Donald V. (1994). Contradictions and conflict : a dialectical political anthropology of a University in Western India. Leiden [u.a.]: Brill. p. 50. ISBN 978-9004098282. 
  37. ^ Singh, R.; Lele, J.K. (1989). Language and society : steps towards an integrated theory. Leiden: E.J. Brill. pp. 32–42. ISBN 9789004087897. 
  38. ^ Kulkarni, A.R. (Editor); Wagle, N.K.(Editor); Sirsikar, V.M. (Author) (1999). State intervention and popular response : western India in the nineteenth century. Mumbai: Popular Prakashan. p. 9. ISBN 81-7154-835-0. 
  39. ^ Mishra, Sumita (2000). Grassroot Politics in India. New Delhi: Mittal Publications. p. 27. ISBN 9788170997320. 
  40. ^ Dhanagare, D. N. (1995). "The Class Character and Politics of the Farmers' Movement in Maharashtra during the 1980s". In Brass, Tom. New Farmers' Movements in India. Ilford: Routledge/Frank Cass. p. 80. ISBN 9780714646091. 
  41. ^ Economic and Political Weekly: January 2012 First Volume Pg 45
  42. ^ Vora, Rajendra (2009). "Chapter 7 Maharashtra or Maratha Rashtra". In Kumar, Sanjay; Jaffrelot, Christophe. Rise of the plebeians? : the changing face of Indian legislative assemblies. New Delhi: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415460927. 
  43. ^ Deshpande, Prachi (2007) [2006 (Permanent Black]. Creative Pasts: Historical Memory And Identity in Western India, 1700–1960. New York & Chichester: Columbia University Press. p. 189. ISBN 9780231124867. Retrieved 2012-10-03. 
  44. ^ Samanta, Amiya K. (2000). Gorkhaland Movement: A Study in Ethnic Separatism. New Delhi: APH Publishing. p. 26. ISBN 9788176481663. Retrieved 2012-10-03. 
  45. ^ Banerjee, Sikata (2005). Make Me a Man!: Masculinity, Hinduism, and Nationalism in India. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. p. 33. ISBN 9780791463673. Retrieved 2012-10-03. 
  46. ^ Frank Edwards (2003). The Gaysh: A History of the Aden Protectorate Levies 1927–61 and the Federal Regular Army of South Arabia 1961–67. Helion & Company Limited. pp. 86–. ISBN 978-1-874622-96-3. Retrieved 15 September 2013. 
  47. ^ Roger Perkins (1994). Regiments: Regiments and Corps of the British Empire and Commonwealth, 1758–1993 : a Critical Bibliography of Their Published Histories. Roger Perkins. ISBN 978-0-9506429-3-2. Retrieved 15 September 2013. 

Further reading

  • Asher, Catherine B.; Talbot, Cynthia (2006). India Before Europe. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-80904-7. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  • Bayly, Christopher Alan (1990). Indian Society and the Making of the British Empire. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-38650-0. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  • Bayly, Susan (2001). Caste, Society and Politics in India from the Eighteenth Century to the Modern Age. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-79842-6. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  • Hansen, Thomas Blom (2001). Wages of Violence: Naming and Identity in Postcolonial Bombay. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-08840-3. 
  • Haynes, Douglas E. (1992). Contesting Power: Resistance and Everyday Social Relations in South Asia. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-07585-6. 
  • Ludden, David (2013). India and South Asia: A Short History. Oneworld Publications. ISBN 978-1-85168-936-1. 
  • Hendre Patil
  • Ludden, David (1999). An Agrarian History of South Asia. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-36424-9. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  • Metcalf, Barbara D.; Metcalf, Thomas R. (28 September 2006). A Concise History of Modern India. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-139-45887-0. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  • O'Hanlon, Rosalind (2002). Caste, Conflict and Ideology: Mahatma Jotirao Phule and Low Caste Protest in Nineteenth-Century Western India. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-52308-0. 
  • Pereira, A B de Bragnanca (2008). Ethnography of Goa, Daman and Diu. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-93-5118-208-5. 
  • Robb, Peter (2011). A History of India. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-34549-2. 
  • Singh, K. S. (1998). India's Communities. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-563354-2. 
  • Stein, Burton (2010). A History of India. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-4443-2351-1. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  • Wink, André (2007). Land and Sovereignty in India: Agrarian Society and Politics Under the Eighteenth-Century Maratha Svarājya. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-05180-4. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
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