Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was the founder of the Maratha Empire in western India. He is considered to be one of the greatest warriors of his time and even today, stories of his exploits are narrated as a part of the folklore. With his valor and great administrative skills, Shivaji carved out an enclave from the declining Adilshahi sultanate of Bijapur.
It eventually became the genesis of the Maratha Empire. After establishing his rule, Shivaji implemented a competent and progressive administration with the help of a disciplined military and well-established administrative set-up. Shivaji is well-known for his innovative military tactics that centred around non-conventional methods leveraging strategic factors like geography, speed, and surprise to defeat his more powerful enemies.
Under his reign, the Maratha administration was established where Chhatrapati was the supreme sovereign and a team of eight ministers were appointed to oversee the proper enforcement of various policies. These eight ministers reported directly to Shivaji and were given a lot of power in terms of execution of policies formulated by the King. These eight ministers were –
(1) The Peshwa or Prime Minister, who was head of general administration and represented the king in his absence.
(2) The Majumder or the Auditor was responsible for maintaining the financial health of the kingdom
(3) The PanditRao or Chief Spiritual Head was responsible for overseeing the spiritual well-being of the kingdom, fix dates for religious ceremonies and oversee charitable programs undertaken by the king.
(4) The Dabir or Foreign Secretary was entrusted with the responsibility of advising the king on matters of foreign policies.
(5) The Senapati or Military General was in charge of overseeing every aspect of the military including organization, recruitment and training of soldiers. He also was the strategic advisor of the king in the time of a war.
(6) The Nyayadhish or Chief Justice saw formulations of law and their subsequent enforcement, civil, judicial as well as military.
(7) The Mantri or Chronicler was responsible for keeping elaborate records of everything the king did in his daily life.
(8) The Sachiv or Superintendent was in charge of royal correspondence.
Shivaji vigorously promoted the use of Marathi and Sanskrit in his court instead of Persian, the existing Royal language. He even changed the names of the forts under his control to Sanskrit names to accent his Hindu rule. Although Shivaji himself was a devout Hindu, he promoted tolerance for all religion under his rule. His administrative policies were subject-friendly and humane, and he encouraged liberty of women in his rule.
He was strictly against caste discrimination and employed people from all caste in his court. He introduced the Ryotwari system eliminating the need for middlemen between farmers and the state and collecting revenues directly from the manufacturers and producers. Shivaji introduced the collection of two taxes called the Chauth and Sardeshmukhi.
He divided his kingdom into four provinces, each headed by a Mamlatdar. The village was the smallest unit of administration and the head was titled as Deshpande, who headed the Village Panchayat. Shivaji maintained a strong military force, built several strategic forts to secure his borders and developed a strong naval presence along the Konkan and Goan coasts.