Maratha Empire

The Mughal empire reached its zenith in its reach during Aurangazeb's reign. The irony was that the collapse of the empire was also during his reign. This fall was due to his cruel and wrong policies against the Hindus. Persecution of the Hindus became a routine business. The Jussiah, a discriminatory taxation on the Hindus, which Akbar had canceled, was re-introduced. There were several other discriminatory proceedings too against the Hindus. This was the backdrop of the uprising of the Jats, Sikhs, Rajputs, and Marathas against the empire. The severest blow to the Mughal Empire was dealt under the leadership of Shivaji of the Marathas. With the death of Aurangazeb, the Mughals fell to the nadir of their once monolithic clout and now their empire began to collapse. They were not capable enough to stand upto the Maratha-Sikh forces.

The anti-Hindu policies pursued by the Mughal rulers and the administrators of Deccan were the main reason for the dissatisfaction among the Hindus and the new awakening of the spirit of nationalism. They fought against the Mughals under the leadership of Shivaji (1627 –1680) who captured large areas through guerilla operations and established a virtual empire. He was enthroned as emperor in 1674, and he assumed the name of Chatrapati Shivaji. He introduced a very strong administrative set up and in history he is one of the strongest of heroes of the country. On his death, his son Saambaji assumed power, but he was too weak to hold on to the throne and was captured and killed by Aurangazeb. Saahu, Saambaji's son was also imprisoned by the Mughals. Later, Maharashtra was ruled by the Peshwas, a line established by Balaji Viswanath, once a minister under Sahu. The Peshwas were defeated by the Afghan troops in 1761. That marked the end of the Maratha rule in western India.