Administrative System of Shivaji


  • Shivaji’s system of administration was largely borrowed from the administrative practice of the Deccani states.

  • Shivaji designated eight ministers, sometimes called the ‘Ashtapradhan’ (it was not in the nature of a council of ministers), each minister being directly responsible to the ruler.

  • The most important ministers were the ‘Peshwa’ who looked after the finances and general administration, and the sari-i-naubat (senapati), which was a post of honor and was generally given to one of the leading Maratha chiefs.

  • The majumdar was the accountant, while the waqenavis was responsible for intelligence post and household affairs. Further, the surunavis or chitnis helped the king with his correspondence.

  • The dabir was master of ceremonies and also helped the king in his dealings with foreign powers. The nyayadhish and panditrao were in charge of justice and charitable grants.

  • Shivaji preferred to give salaries in cash to the regular soldiers; however sometimes the chiefs received revenue grants (saranjam).

  • Shivaji strictly regulated the “mirasdars,” (mirasdars were those who had the hereditary rights in land). Later mirasdars grew and strengthened themselves by building strongholds and castles in the villages. Likewise, they had become unruly and seized the country. Shivaji destroyed their bastions and forced them to surrender.

  • Shivaji was not only a deserving general and a skillful strategist, but he was also a shrewd diplomat and laid the foundation of a strong state by curbing the power of the deshmukhs.

Shivaji’s Achievements

  • In 1670, Shivaji renewed the contest with the Mughals, sacking Surat a second time. During the next four years, he recovered a large number of his forts, including Purandar, from the Mughals and made deep inroads into Mughal territories, especially Berar and Khandesh.

  • Mughal preoccupation with the Afghan uprising in the north-west gave an opportunity to Shivaji. Further, Shivaji also renewed his contest with Bijapur, securing Panhala and Satara by means of bribes.

  • In 1674, Shivaji crowned himself formally at Raigad. He was by now, became the most powerful among the Maratha chiefs.

  • The formal coronation had, therefore, a number of purposes, including −

    • It placed him on a much higher pedestal than any of the Maratha chiefs;

    • It strengthened his social position and hence he married into some of the leading old Maratha families;

    • Gaga Bhatt, the priest presiding over the function, supported Shivaji and said that Shivaji was a high class Kshatriya; and

    • As an independent ruler, now it became possible for Shivaji to enter into treaties with the Deccani sultans on a footing of equality and not as a rebel.

  • In 1676, Shivaji undertook an expedition into the Bijapuri Karnataka. Shivaji was given a grand welcome by the Qutb Shah at his capital and a formal agreement was made.

  • Qutub Shah agreed to pay a subsidy of one lakh huns (five lakhs of rupees) annually to Shivaji along with a Maratha ambassador who was appointed at his court.

  • Qutub Shah, further, supplied a contingent of troops and artillery to aid Shivaji and also provided money for the expenses of his army.

  • The treaty with Qutub Shah was beneficial to Shivaji, as it enabled him to capture Jinji and Vellore from Bijapur officials and also to conquer much of the territories held by his half-brother, Ekoji.

  • Shivaji had assumed the title of “Haindava-Dharmoddharak” (Protector of the Hindu faith), but he plundered mercilessly the Hindu population of the respective region.

  • As per the agreement, Shivaji had to share treasure (won in the war) with Qutub Shah, but when Shivaji returned back to home with treasure, he refused to share anything with the Qutub Shah. Hence, Qutub Shah resented with Shivaji.

  • Karnataka expedition was the last expedition of Shivaji, as he died shortly after his return from the Karnataka expedition (1680).