History Optional Paper- 1 Solution – 1981: Q.5 (d)

History Optional Paper- 1 Solution – 1981: Q.5 (d)

Q.5 (d) Why did the Marathas fail in establishing a lasting empire in India?


After the death of Aurangzeb, the Maratha expanded their state into a vast empire. Since Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath’s period, the Maratha started expanding and gradually the whole Deccan and many parts of Northern India passed under Maratha control. But the Marathas failed in establishing a lasting empire in India due to the following reasons:

(1) Weak successors of Shivaji

Shivaji had led Marathas by his examples and qualities. He created and consolidated Maratha Kingdom. He also created admirable administrative system. But his successors were not that much capable. Though first three Peshwa strengthened the Maratha E pkre again, but later successors Peshwas were also weak.

(2) Mutual distrust in the Maratha confederacy

The different members of the Maratha confederacy i.e. Peshwa, Holkar, Gaekwad, Bhonsle, Sindhia etc indulged in fighting resulting in weakening of Maratha Empire and they could not face Britishers.

(3) Weakening in the political system of the Marathas

Their political system did not help in strengthening and establishing permanent system of administration in the captured area. They got Chauth and Sardeshmukhi from the captured area. A fixed amount of the total had to be sent to the central government in Satara by Maratha chiefs and the rest was kept by Maratha chiefs. Many times plumdered money was not sent to Satara.
Though, the Maratha chiefs were the representatives of the central Maratha Government and Peshwa but practically they had their independent authority. The selfishness and ambitiousness of Maratha chiefs led to the formation of Maratha confederacy. The unity of the confederacy almost ended after the defeat in the third battle of Panipat.

(4) Lack of strong finances

The Marathas did not pay any attention to the strengthening of their financial position and suffered from financial problems.The taxation system was disorganised and their was no sound economic policy. In new captured areas, instead of developing organised economic system, they depended on plundering and imposing Chauth and Sardeshmukhi.

(5) Outdated method of warfare

Shivaji had adopted the policy of gurilla warfare and as his field was a hilly one he succeded, but when the Maratha rule extended to the plains, this type of warfare failed and tha Marathas had to fight face to face in which theg got defeated. Their fighting techniques were old and could not stand against the Britishers who used latest technology and methodology.

(6) Adoption of the narrow ideal of the Maratha rule

Shivaji had thought of establishing Hindu rule and he treated even the Muslims well. The idea of Hindu rule was substituted by that of the Maratha rule in the time of Peshwas and so they started ill-treating non-Muslims. They lost sympathies of the Rajputs and Jats as Marathas plundered them.

(7) Lack of good diplomacy by Marathas

The British were master in diplomacy. Maratha did not realise that their real enemy was British and they cooperated with  ritish against Tipu Sultan which strengthened the British. The British with their diplomacy kept the Marathas divided.

(8) Neglect of the Sea power

They neglected the Sea power like the Mughals and could not face European, particularly British in the Sea battle.

(9) Disaster of Panipat

Prior to 1761, the Maratha fame spread so much that even the Mughal Emperor was under their influence. But the Maratha recieved a fatal blow when they were defeated by Afghan ruler, Ahmad Shah Abdali, in the battle of Panipat. This damaged Maratha’s prestige, exposed their hollowness and they lost many good Maratha leaders in the battle.

(10) Role of Britishers

After 1773, the British started participating in the internal disputes of the Marathas. There were four Anglo-Maratha Wars. This led to decline of Maratha power.


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