Q.7 (b) How did Shivaji organize his administration and finances to consolidate his power?
Shivaji’s daring exploits only present one side of the working of his mastermind but we cannot forget that he had other and stronger claims upon our attention as a civil ruler. “Like the first napoleon” writes Ranade “Shivaji in his time was a great organizer and a builder of civil institutions”. His system like the muslim rulers of India was an autocracy of which he himself was the supreme head. His administration principles included the welfare of his subjects and the seanily of the swarajya.
Shivaji’s swarajya included (except the Portuguese possessions) from Ramnagan in the North to Karwar in the South. In the East it included Baglana in the north, half of Nasik and Poona districts, the whole of Satara and Kolhapur district. In addition to the above he had conquered western Karnataka extending from Belgaum to the bank of Tungabhadra right upto Bellary district.
Central Administration and Ashta Pradhan Mandal
As was the practice in medieval times Shivaji was an absolute ruler with all powers concentrated in his hands but he stood for the warfare of the people and thus he was a benevolent despot.
In the actual discharge of state business Shivaji was helped by a Council of Eight ministers called Ashtapradhan Mandal. The ministers were appointed by Shivaji and they had no power to dictate his policy. Their function was purely advisory. The eight ministers were:
- Peshwa or the Prime Minister whose duty was to look after the welfare of the state in general, to represent the king in his absence and to promote harmony in the administration. All royal letter and charters had to bear his seal below the king’s.
- Amatiya or the Auditor who checked all the accounts of public income and expenditure and reperted them to the king. He countersigned all the statements of account both of the kingdom in general and of the particular districts.
- Mantri or Record keeper whose duty was to compile a daily record of the king’s doings and court incidents. He had to watch the invitation list of the king and to guard against any plot on his life.
- Sachiv or incharge of Royal Secretariat who looked after royal correspondence.
- Sumant or foreign secretary who was king’s adviser on relations with foreign states, was and peace. He had to receive and entertain envoys from other states.
- Senapati or commander-in-chief was in charge of discipline, recruitment and organization of army.
- Pandit Rao or in charge of Religious affairs whose main duty was the fix dates for religious ceremonies, to honor and reward learned Brahmans on behalf of the king.
- Nyayadhish or Chief Justice who tried civil and criminal cases according to Hindu law.
All minister excepting Nyayadhisha and Pandit Rao were required to command armies and lead expeditions.
The organization of army by Shivaji on a new model is a brilliant proof of his military genius. The Maratha fighting force consisted mostly of cavalry who had been in the habit of working half the year upon their fields and engaged themselves during the dry season in active services.
- Shivaji introduced regular standing army. The army was under Senapati who was a member of the Council of ministers. Soldiers had to be always ready for duty and were provided with quarters during the rainy season.
- The army was divided to infantry and cavalry. There was regular gradation of officers in both.
- The cavalry had 2 branches the Bargis or soldiers provided with pay and equipment by the state and the Siledars who equipped themselves at their own cost and supplied the pay and equipment of the soldiers whom they brought to the service of the State but were paid stipulated sum by the State to defray the expenses of service in the field.
- In cavalry 25 troopers formed a unit, over 25 men was placed a Havaldar, over 5 Havaldars one Jamadar, over 10 Jamadars one Hazari. Higher ranks over Hazari were Panch Hazari and Sarnobat or supreme command of cavalry.
- In infantry 9 Paiks formed the lowest unit under a Naik. Over 5 Naiks there was one Havaldar, over 2 or 3 h0Havaldars one Jamadar and and over 10 Jamaldars one Hazari. Still higher rank was Seven Hazari under the command of Sarnobat of the infantry.
- Though regular and generous in making payments and giving rewards to the soldiers Shivaji did not forget to enforce strict discipline on them. He drew up a set of regulations for their conduct. Women of children or any other means of entertainment were not allowed to accompany the army.
- Shivaji was the first medieval Indian ruler of the time who realized the importance of building navy for the purpose of trade and defence against the Europeans.
- He did not build big ships. His fleet consisted of around 500 small vessels. The Siddis, Portuguese and the British faced the wrath of Shivaji’s navy.
- The forts occupied an important position in the Swarajya. Shivaji had Havaldar for its administration, assisted by a Subedar and a Karkhanis. Each of them officers belonged to different castes a Maratha, a Brahmin and a Prabhu respectively.
- The Havaldar had change of looking after the military, the Subedar performed civil and revenue duties and Karkhanis looked after the grain and fodder stock in fort.
- The strategic location of the forts, the lines of defense and Shivaji’s sound administration made the Swarajya almost impregnable.
The judicial system was simple. No regular courts were set up and no regular procedure was laid down. In villages the Panchayats settled the disputes. Besides there were other bodies also for dispensing justice for members of different castes. Punishments were not very harsh. The Peshwa took personal interest in dispensing justice. Murder and treason were punished with fines, confiscation of property and imprisonment. There was no death punishment during Shivaji’s period.
Organisation of finances
For the purpose of revenue collection and administration Shivaji’s kingdom was divided into number of Provinces, further divided into Parganas and villages formed the lowest unit.
The revenue settlement was based on measurement of land. He abandoned the existing practice of farming out the land revenue and substituted for it direct collection from ryots through state officials who had no right to exercise power of a political superior or harass the ryots. The assessment was made after careful survey of land. The state dues were fixed at 30% of the expected produce the cultivators knew definitely how much they had to pay. They could pay in cash or in kind.
Instructions were issued to provide all facilities such as cattle, seed and interest free loans known as “tagai” to be repaid in easy installments to the needy cultivators.
Besides land revenue Shivaji imposed various other taxes, which included taxes on profession, trade, social and religious functions.
As the hilly region of Maharashtra did not yield much in land revenue. Shivaji often levied Chauth and Sardeshmukhi on neighboring tracts. Which were completely at his mercy and also on Mughal provinces as well as some districts of Bijapur kingdom. Before raiding the territory Shivaji asked for the payment of Chauth as tribute. If Chauth was paid The territory had acknowledged the suzerainty of Shivaji. if the payment was denied it was regarded as a challenge to Shivaji’s authority. The region that refused the payment was then raided by the Marathas.
Sardeshmukhi was an additional tax which Shivaji demanded on the basis of his claim as the hereditary Sardeshmukhi of Maharashtra.
Both as a ruler and a man, Shivaji occupies a distinguished place in the history of India. The most brilliant achievement of Shivaji was the welding of together of the Maratha race scattered like atoms in many Deccan kingdoms into a mighty nation. Shivaji’s great practical ability shown by his organisation of administration and finances which helped him in consolidation of power.