A 'Regional' Intervention in the Debate on India's Strategic Culture: Maratha Statecraft in Agyapatra

Dr Arpita Anant is Associate Fellow at Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile.
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  • July-September 2021

    Existing scholarship on India’s strategic culture pronounces on it either based almost entirely on India’s post-independence strategic behaviour with some references to the pre-independence period or on select historical experiences and texts. For a large part of its history, however, the Indian sub-continent has been under ‘regional’ rulers, ranging from small to very large kingdoms. There are traditions that emanate from them that are as much part of the Indian strategic culture as the pan-Indian phenomena. This ‘regional’ perspective on statecraft not only adds newer elements to the extant scholarship on Indian strategic culture but also problematises some received knowledge about it. More generally, ‘regional’ interventions in the debate on India’s strategic culture make the debate more complex, yet complete.


    Existing scholarship on India’s strategic culture pronounces on it either based almost entirely on India’s post-independence strategic behaviour with some references to the pre-independence period or on select historical knowledge. With regard to India’s post-independence strategic behaviour, it is proclaimed that Indian practices on matters of peace and disarmament point to a propensity to ‘thinking unilaterally, pursuing issues bilaterally, and posturing multilaterally’.1 Based on India’s policy with regard to nuclear weapons, India’s strategic culture has been characterised as being minimalist, having discounted the deterrent role of nuclear weapons until 1998, and maintaining a cautious and credible minimum deterrence in the aftermath of testing in 1998.2 India’s foreign policy, it is said, possesses strong elements of idealism of the Nehru years3 and is peppered with a fair bit of pragmatism.4  There is also the Nehruvian legacy of civilian preponderance over the military, both political and bureaucratic, in Indian strategic culture.5 There is some evidence of the moralism of Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore, which they draw on from the Vedic age6, regarding non-use of force.7 Rare insights are also available on the organisational culture of the Indian military that is affected by social divisions8, the manner of making of security strategy which is an ‘outmoded legacy of Nehru years’9 and the formative impact of an insulated group of British era civil servants prioritising autonomy10, avoidance of military alliances, indigenisation of weapons production and prioritising development over defence.11

    One set of studies that comment on Indian strategic culture based on historical knowledge do so on the basis of experiences of empires that spanned a large landmass of India, namely the ancient Maurya empire under Chandragupta Maurya and later Ashoka, the medieval Mughal empire under Akbar, and finally the years of the British Raj to explain the contemporary propensity towards centralisation and internal security.12 More specifically, the Gupta Empire has been regarded as the golden age of Hinduism that became as part of the lineage of Indian nationalism.13 The Cholas of peninsular India are exemplified as the only rulers who indulged in naval expeditions in contrast to most rulers of the north who relied on the army to repel mainly land-based aggressions. The British rulers too, in this context, are concluded as having merely secured the naval domain to prevent aggressions, resulting in the lack of a naval tradition that India had to build ‘from a scratch in 1960’.14 A deeper interrogation of the strategic thinking of the Mughals during the reign of Akbar has been provided, which highlights newer tenets of strategic culture that may have come down the ladder of history. They include the importance of a composite ruling class, centrality of debate and integration in a militarised society, building state capacity, lack of monopoly over force and the tradition of akhlaq (justice in governance) that Akbar initiated, having learnt of it from the ancient Hindu rulers.15

    A second set of studies that comment on Indian strategic culture based on historical knowledge do so on the basis of some renowned texts. Kautilya’s Arthashastra with its concept of matsyanyaya (big fish eat small fish), mandala (and arrangement of kingdoms in concentric circles in which the position determines the relationship with the main/central ruler) and use of force where necessary rather than non-use of force has been singled out as contributing to realism in modern India’s foreign policy.16 The centrality of ‘metaphors of Indian-ness’ based on philosophical and mythological foundations of Ramayana, Mahabharata and Kautilya’s Arthashastra are supposed to have an instrumental influence on contemporary Indian strategic culture.17 Based again on the same texts, mainly the latter two, the importance of order over dharma (rightful action/moral duty) in thinking about security of the state18 has been highlighted and the choice of the language of dharma by leaders like Nehru in international relations been explained.19 Some ancient texts belonging to the 4th century BC are also regarded as sources of Indian strategic culture.20 These texts, along with the Panchatantra, have been adjudged as contributing to the lineage of political realism to Indian strategic culture.21       

    While it is indeed impossible to engage in anything other than a selective reading of such a vast and varied history with infinite sources of strategic culture, there is no denying the importance of ‘historicising strategic studies, keeping culture and history non-essentialised’ while avoiding the folly of tracing backwards ‘earlier anticipations of later doctrines’.22 There is however a tendency in such literature to focus on pan-Indian empires, specific texts and ideas of particular leaders.23 For a large part of its history, the Indian sub-continent has, however, been under ‘regional’ rulers, ranging from small to very large kingdoms. There are traditions that emanate from them that are as much part of the Indian historical lineage as the pan-Indian phenomena. Therefore, the civilisational evolution of India that needs unearthing from a strategic perspective will require going beyond pan-Indian empires and a few modern leaders of the national movement.

    This article is a study of Maratha strategic thinking that prevailed in the 17th century, concomitantly with the post-Akbar Mughal strategic thinking. It attempts this through a textual analysis of the Agyapatra, a treatise that brings forth the strategic thinking of Chhatrapati Shivaji.24 It thus seeks to diversify the cache of Indian strategic history to include regional history which is as constitutive of Indian history as pan-Indian and other regional histories. Theoretically, it seeks to go beyond the limited reservoir of ‘static’ as well as ‘narrow and contextual historiography’25 focusing on ‘unique’ and ‘national’ attributes like the first generation of strategic culturalists.26  However, rather than attempt a second or third generation type of analysis with a focus on behavioural impact of strategic culture27 or organisational culture28 it seeks to understand the contribution of a ‘regional’ strategic culture to the narrative on the ‘national’ strategic culture.

    In doing so, this article is circumscribed by the contents of the Agyapatra. Thus, it does not dwell in detail on such significant aspects of Shivaji’s rule as are not mentioned in the Agyapatra, like wars and techniques of warfare, the role of his diplomats in maintaining relations with contemporary rulers in the Deccanand Hindustan29 and with foreign trading companies.30 It elaborates on four aspects of statecraft that have been emphasised in the Agyapatra: instrumental use of force; merit, morality and accountability in governance; maintaining strong defences and maritime prowess for enlarging the empire; and engagement with European traders. In separate sections, it dwells on what the text has to say on these aspects and then uses various other sources of Maratha history to provide evidence, substantiate and complement the claims of Agyapatra. The conclusion highlights the features of the Maratha regional strategic culture that can be drawn out from the study of the Agyapatra and how it reinforces or contradicts the existing understanding of Indian strategic culture.

    Contextualisng Maratha History

    The Marathas had been in the civil and military administration of the kingdoms that had preceded them on Maratha territory starting with the Satavahanas (1 BC–250 AD) to the Yadavas (836–1318).31 Once the territory was taken over by Muslim rulers, the renowned 19th century historian V. K. Rajwade claims that the Nizamshah of Ahmadnagar encouraged Maloji Bhonsale, Shivaji’s grandfather, to take active part in the civil and military administration of the kingdom. When the ruler passed away, Maloji’s son Shahaji distributed all jagirs, a particular politico-administrative unit, among the Mughals and Adil Shahis of Bijapur. His personal jagir between the Neera and Bhima rivers, including notably Pune, Supe, Idapur and Chakan, remained independent.32

    Shahaji put Shivaji in-charge of this jagir, which was gradually expanded into a Kingdom.  

    The Maratha kingdom was established by Shivaji in 1674 by proclaiming himself as the Chhatrapati. Among the several sources on Maratha history that have evinced the interest of historians and others, the Agyapatra is valuable as it is among the few texts in the Marathi language written by a contemporary of Shivaji several years after his death.33 Its author, Amatya (minister) Ramchandra Neelkanth, was a learned and trusted minister of Shivaji. He continued to remain in the service of Shivaji’s younger son, Rajaram. As can be gleaned from the text, Rajaram requested the Amatya to pen down in detail all that he had learnt about statecraft from Shivaji so that his young son, Sambhaji II, could receive the best of guidance. It is believed that the Agyapatra was written in the year 1715.34 The study of this text is important as it throws some light on an important ‘regional’35 tradition of statecraft in medieval times. It also provides some understanding of thoughts on the use of force, administration and civil–military relations in medieval times. Finally, it gives an indication of the sense of identity of the sub-continental geographical-self in relation to lands beyond the Indian sub-continent. In the long history of Marathas, which ended with the third Anglo-Maratha war in 1817–1818 AD36, this article explores but an early and minute part.

    A brief mention of Maratha historiography is important here to explain the methodology of the article. James Grant Duff’s History of the Marathas (published 1826) was the first large work on Maratha history. Towards the end of the 19th century, Mahadev Govind Ranade wrote a history of Marathas from a more nationalist perspective. Alongside, scholars like V. K. Rajwade also made efforts to unearth new Marathi sources to counter the narratives of British officials turned historians. Rajwade, however, contested the historical value of the bakhars, compositions that combined history and mythology.37 In the early 20th century, Govind Sakharam Sardesai countered Grant Duff’s account with a new history from a Maratha perspective.38 Others—such as Jadunath Sarkar and Surendranath Sen—buttressed these efforts by exploring Persian and Portuguese archival sources. In the fifth edition of Shivaji and His Times, Jadunath Sarkar uses many more Portuguese sources and more bakhars from the Persian and Dingal dispatches in the Jaipur archives,39  such as the 91 Qalmi Bakhar which, in his opinion, was more authentic as compared to its Persian version, the Tarikh-i-Shivaji. This article is written using several of these works to compliment the contents of Agyapatra, and then draws some conclusions about the statecraft of the Marathas in medieval times. It uses all sources, without prejudice to specific historians or schools of thoughts, or their views of the others. This has been done because, in the course of research, it was found that although some sources were much critiqued for biases and therefore rejected by others, sections of them provide valuable information regarding strategic thinking that are important for this article.

    A Note on the Marathi Language

    The Marathi language and the Modi script, which is derived from the Brahmi script, pre-date Shivaji and have been known to be used since the time of the Satavahanas and the Yadavas of Devgiri. The Agyapatra is a text in Marathi language written in Modi script. This article is based on the translation of the text into Marathi written in the Devanagari script by the renowned historian A. R. Kulkarni. The language is different from contemporary Marathi, though much of it is understandable to a lay Marathi speaker. Though the stand-alone alphabet of Modi is easy to grasp, the actual reading of the script is complex because there are no pauses or full stops, and words are broken into parts where the space to write them ends.  The present author has, therefore, translated the Devanagari script version into English, and has used the English translation by A. R. Kulkarni in a few instances where the meaning was not understood. The author has also standardised the spellings of names, places and officials.

    Scholars have divided the Agyapatra divided into nine sections. The first two sections comment on the troubles of consolidating the kingdom since the times of Chhatrapati Shivaji. The third dwells on the role and conduct of the ruler. The fourth details the administrative organisation of the kingdom. The fifth explains the policy regarding trade and commerce. The sixth speaks about the management of administrative officials. The seventh section cautions against giving land on a hereditary bases or to men of religion. The eighth is devoted to the management of forts and the ninth provides inputs on working the navy.40 Together they highlight the following aspects of the statecraft of Shivaji’s time. 41

    I. Instrumental Use of Force

    Referring to the challenges of consolidation of a kingdom in disarray, the Agyapatra mentions that it is often difficult for the King to deal with chieftains whom he has subjugated. When they sense that the ruler is weak, they often seek to break away to join another kingdom or declare independence. According to Amatya Ramchandra, Shivaji would advise that the ruler should use all tactics—saam (being friendly); daam (giving gifts, rewards, bribes); bheda (causing dissension); and danda (punishment including by the use of force)—to ensure that such chieftains remained within the empire.42

    Historical Evidence

    Shivaji did not always resort to confrontations and battles to extend his control beyond the jagir of Pune and Supe. Undoubtedly, he did fight rebel palegars and deshmukhs while consolidating his empire.43 Where possible, he acquired land and forts that were mainly under the control of Adil Shah of Bijapur using other means of coercion. For instance, to get control over the fort of Kondana, he bribed the killedar (in-chargeofthe fort), took control over it, and renamed it as Sinhgad.44 Subsequently, it was taken by an assault by Mankoji Dahatonde, his sarnobat (commander in chief).45  Similar means were used to get control over the fort of Chakan. The forts of Panhala and Pawangarh were acquired in battle led by Annaji Dutto in October 1659.46 Shivaji took the Supe mahal (an administrative unit) from his step-uncle Sambhaji Mohite and the fort of Purandhar from the sons of Nilkanth Rao, a Brahmin in-charge of the fort under Adil Shah, by deception. Balaji More of Jawli (who went by the title of Chander Rao More) was murdered by Raghunath Ballal, an emissary of Shivaji, who had been sent to Jawli for negotiations in the first place.47 Shivaji then came and took over the mawal area adjacent to Pune, and set up the fort of Pratapgarh there. This incident was followed by similarly staged murders of other prominent mawales such as Babji Rao of the Sivtar valley. Srungarpur was wrested from its chief, the Surve and its karbhari (agent) the Sirke was given some villages and mahals and Sambhaji, the son of Shivaji, was married to his daughter.48

    The resources needed for some of the early battles were acquired by raiding the rich towns of Konkan and acquiring their treasure.49 Later, Shivaji also raided rich towns in the Mughal territories of Khandesh, such as Surat.50 Other means of garnering resources included collecting taxes like the chauth, a tax that was a fourth of the annual earnings of the ruler who had been defeated, and was a guarantee against future attacks. This practice was adopted after the sacking of Surat when, on his way, he captured the territory of Koli Raja of Ramnagar who in turn had been receiving the chauth as a tribute from the forts of Bassein and Daman then under Portuguese captains since before 1615.51 The first chauth was taken from Khandesh, after raiding the town of Kurinja.52 In 1767, Shivaji sent an envoy, Pitamber Shinve, to convey to the new Portuguese Viceroy that they should pay the chauth to Shivaji.53 Six months later, one of the two commissioners appointed for the affairs of India in July 1678 confirmed that there was proof that protection money was being paid by villagers of their own will.54 A later letter states that the villagers chose to give this money voluntarily, and the Portuguese only gave them the permission to do so and were not party to the arrangement themselves.55 Be that as it may, the practice of collecting the chauth from them continued.

    In dealing with the Mughals who were a much greater power, Shivaji avoided confrontation when he sensed that he could not withstand the Mughal onslaught. So, when Mirza Raja Jai Singh was sent along with Dilere Khan by Aurangzeb to subdue Shivaji, he took counsel from his ministers, and decided to voluntarily cede his forts to them rather than fight a powerful enemy and suffer losses. To Shivaji’s emissary Raghunath Rav, Jai Singh conveyed that Shivaji must go to meet the Emperor to make peace with him.56 Just as Shivaji proceeded to meet Jai Singh, he heard that Dilere Khan had attacked the fort of Purandhar and the valourous Murar Baji Prabhu, and 300 others had lost their lives in trying to defend the fort. Therefore, Shivaji decided to give up Purandhar to Jai Singh, rather than to Dilere Khan, much before the final attack on it took place, to prevent further loss of lives.57

    In 1676, Shivaji sought to enlist the support of the Qutb Shah of Golconda to make him an ally in the fight against the Mughals. He went to Bhaganagar with a large army which did not plunder any villages and behaved very humbly with the ruler. Impressed by the discipline of his forces and Shivaji’s personal conduct, Qutb Shah give him a large share of treasure in addition to his support as well as the sardeshmukhi—that is, one-tenth of the total revenue of a kingdom claimed from those territories that were conferred upon the ancestors of Shivaji and later came to be ruled by others, and then defeated by Shivaji again. In his conquest of the Carnatic, only such places were plundered as did not agree to pay the chauth or sardeshmukhi. 58

    Based on the above evidence, it is clear that territorial expansion was critical to empire building and the means comprised of saam, daam, bheda and danda. The manner in which Qutb Shah was convinced to lend some of his riches for the contest against the Mughals is one instance of the use of the strategy of saam.  The forts of Kondana and Chakan were acquired by bribing officials of Adil Shah, thus using daam to cause bheda. Some forts, such as Pawangarh, Pratapgarh and Srungarpur were taken by danda in the form of use of force. Others such as Jawli, Supe and Purandhar were taken by bheda, in the form of deception. Acquiring treasures from rich areas too was usually done by danda, by outright looting, or claiming chauth after military victory, and sardeshmukhi from hereditary watans (an administrative unit).

    II. Merit, Morality and Accountability in Governance

    In a section on the King’s duty in Agyapatra, the Amatya explains Shivaji’s concept of the role of a ruler. The King is needed to maintain order because God has created people as equal but different in nature.59 As per dharma, the King’sduty is that of a sevak (one who serves), and he should not tire of it.60 The King has to do this by keeping people happy. He should stay away from vices and those indulging in them because they will hinder the performance of his duties.61 He should, rather, keep the company of poets, since they create art using noble words. He should keep track of finances on a daily basis, and it is his primary duty to keep his treasury full and provide for the needs of his praja (subjects). He must be respectful to senior officials who help him run the state.

    Following from this, in a section on the appointment of ministers, the Amatya explains that ministers are ‘the pillars of the home called Kingdom’.62  It is, therefore, important to appoint such people as have proven their ability as Ministers. Also, it is important to hold in high value those who are simple and honest and keep devious officials in control. To keep his army motivated and his armoury updated, the generals/senior leadership must be of exemplary character.63 The King must refrain from giving promotions to those who come up by devious ways for they are likely to betray him in times of wars. If someone does something extraordinary, he should reward them. He must never raise the pay of one person if there are others in the same position, for the others will also demand a rise in pay selectively and, eventually, the entire system will collapse. Rather, he must give promotions for good work as this will inspire others and prevent them from seeking discretionary rewards.64

    Given the importance of the army, it was emphasised that every soldier must be made accountable. The King must observe soldiers for their discipline in daily sentry duties, and train them to be so—nicely first, and harshly if required.65 The King must have someone reporting to him about soldiers, but must also interact with them personally, else they will not bond with him.66 He must not be too judgemental, for this will deprive him of having a supportive group of people around him. He should make an effort to have people work together without creating tensions among them. For every worker who is hired, there must be a guarantor.67 The King must keep some distance from everyone, so he can judge them critically and keep them in their limits.68 The ruler must encourage some critics so that they can point to his mistakes, and he can improve his character. 69 He must be forgiving of the mistakes of others and look at the good done by people, for no one is perfect. He must try to address issues of those who have been wronged. This will encourage people not to commit mistakes and to overlook others’ mistakes with a sense of empathy.

    The pradhans (ministers) must be above all other officials.70 They must be tested for their ability before being appointed. It is better to first train, and then appoint someone as a minister rather than appointing someone who is already very accomplished.71 Although the army is the most important element of statecraft, the ministers must be supreme. The commander of the army must be placed under him. The commander of the army must be fully responsible for the forces; but the King must have his sources of information among the people and the army.72 The rest of the commanders of various units of the army (such as the cavalry, armoury, etc.) must be appointed based on their expertise.

    In a section on hereditary landholders and those made in-charge of particular territories, there is great emphasis on ensuring that the King is informed of the day-to-day developments in his kingdom through informants so that the territory remains part of the kingdom, and the common people are not left to the mercy of the officials-in-charge. Such officials—deshmukhs, deshkulkarnis and patils—who are in control of hereditary lands are indeed small kings in themselves. They are not naturally inclined towards providing justice, and can commit fraud.73 So, while they are in-charge of watans, they must not be allowed to rule over people. All the same, they must be kept satisfied.74 If there are some who are not working well, they must be transferred to faraway places of duty or shifted from one difficult duty to another. Vrittis and inams (smaller pieces of land) given as gifts must not be taken back and must pass on by heredity.75 Lands to religious men must be given cautiously as often such men are given to misdeeds; there is adharma (wrongful action)in dharma and dharma in adharma.76 As a result, the revenue from such lands may not accrue to the state. So such grants must be made sparingly and preference must be given to rewards of other kinds.

    Special officials were appointed for the maintenance and security of forts. The hawaldar of the fort was changed every three years; the sarnobat every four years; and the sabnis and the karkhanis every five years.77 None of these positions were hereditary.78 Relatives of fort officials, it was enjoined, must not be employed in forts that were in proximity to the fort of their employment; this was to prevent them from coming together to become a stronger force against the ruler. Also, the deshmukhs, deshpandes, patils, kulkarnis, chowgules, etc., who were in-charge of the hereditary watans surrounding fort, were not to be given any duties on that particular fort since they were likely to surrender to the enemy very quickly.79 Mercenary rajputs were to be appointed only by royal decree.80 Those found guilty of compromising the security of the fort were to be beheaded, and their plight made known to the others so as to deter them.81

    Historical Evidence

    Shivaji was a benevolent administrator, and so was popular among the people as no other ruler at the time. Shivaji’s mentor, Dadoji Kondeo, put in place a revenue system that was considerate towards the cultivators. Assessments were made based on the annual state of the crops, 3/5th to be kept by the farmer and 2/5th given to the government. This was unlike the Mughal system devised by Raja Todarmal that enjoined the cultivator to pay a fixed amount of tax, year after year. Also, deshmukhs, deshpandes, patils, khotes and kulkarnis were strictly superintendents only, and not allowed to collect revenue until the assessment was made by the Ruler.82 No permanent source of revenue was assigned to military and civil servants; this was done to prevent them from fleecing the farmer and challenging the government’s authority eventually, as they had done in the kingdom of Bijapur.83 To stem the power of a feudal aristocracy, all hereditary positions were done away with. All officials, civil and military, were summarily dismissed for misconduct or inefficiency, and were paid from the state treasury.84 Even when the troops plundered the vanquished kingdom, they were more disciplined than those of his contemporaries.85 In Shivaji’s military campaigns, cows, cultivators, and women were not to be harmed; rich Hindus and Muslims who could pay a ransom were not to be hurt.86

    Shivaji, it is said, did not like the Muslim rulers, yet gave great respect to their religion and religious places, and always respected their women and children.87 Similarly, during the sacking of Surat in 1664, a monastery led by Father Ambrose was spared since Shivaji had great respect for him, and felt that his work to help the poor people of Surat was admirable.88 Religious establishments were given donations, but their expenditure were audited. Money given by Muslims for the support of tombs, mosques, places of honour of saints was not hampered by Shivaji.89 Shivaji’s civil judicial system was based on panchayats; but the criminal system was taken from Shastras and the professed tenets of the Holy Koran, having the sanction of long custom. This liberal attitude resulted in some differences between Hindu criminal law and Maratha criminal law.90

    The prominence of the military was visible in the administrative set-up. There were eight principal offices: peshwa (Prime Minister), muzzimdar (general superintendent of finance and auditor of general accounts), soornees (general record-keeper of letters, agreements and grants), waknavees (record-keeper of private matters, supervision household troops and establishment letters journal), sarnobat (commander for the cavalry and one for the infantry), dubeer (minister for foreign affairs, business and messengers), nyayadhish or nyaya shastri (judicial officers). All top men were assisted by the karbarees.91 But for the last two, all others were those who had held military command.

    An example of how Shivaji rewarded those who performed extraordinary feats is that of Moro Pant Pingle, who helped in acquiring several forts, the making of alliances, and facilitated takeovers from Maratha chieftains. He was appointed Peshwa, replacing Shyam Rao Nilkanth, the first Peshwa.92 Moro Pant captured nearly 40 forts, old and new, from Trimbakgad to the fort of Salheri.93 Several of Shivaji’s diplomats who performed well were employed in civil and military administration, and the other way round too.94  His indictment of those who compromised the interests of kingdom was scathing. Shivaji had built the fort of Padmadurg to challenge the Siddis at the fort of Janjira. A Brahmin subedar named Jivaji Vinayak had been provided with funds and food to support the naval fort. He however failed to do so. Immediately Jivaji Vinayak was pulled up for not providing such support and removed from the position.95

    The military too was under strict control. Shivaji’s household troops called pagah were mixed with two types of cavalry units, bargeers and sillidars, for intelligence gathering.96 Civilian officials were employed to watch over the military. There was a muzzimdar (brahmin by caste, auditor of accounts) and an ameen (prabhu by caste, registrar and accountant) with every 6,500 troops. Even at the second rung in the army—that of the jumladaar, who was the head of 125 havildars—there were state-appointed clerks to work along with their personally hired clerks.97

    Forts were the only places having permanent establishments; there were rigid rules and strict control over spending in these establishments.98 All fort officials were to be employed with great care.99 The administration of the captured forts was regularised after several of them were taken from the Adil Shahi rulers.100 The establishment consisted of brahmins, mahrattas, ramooses, mahars and mangs, and were called gurhkarees; they were mainly old and meritorious soldiers. Each fort was to have a hawaldar, a sarnobat (from prominent Maratha families), and a sabnis (a Brahmin known to the king’s personal staff). They were equal in status and every matter related to the fort required the concurrence of these officials.101 A karkhanees (of prabhu caste) was in-charge of the grain and water storage, and also kept account of all income and expenditure. All this ensured a mix of castes in the forts’ administration.

    This evidence proves that merit, morality and accountability in all aspects of governance was a highlight of Shivaji’s rule. Morality was evident in the manner in which the administration was geared to be kind to the common people. The military and civil administrators were given due recognition and rewards but were simultaneously monitored to prevent abuse of power. Notable military exploits resulted in appointment to senior administrative positions, and the military itself had civil officials to whom they had to report on certain matters. Added to this was the practice of dividing duties among various caste-based professionals. The result was a strong system of checks and balances that would ensure a just administration. His humane treatment of women and children, as also non-Hindu religious institutions in conquered territories, was a welcome contrast to the prevalent practices of the time.

    III. Strong Defences and Maritime Prowess for Enlarging the Kingdom

    The largest number of pages in the text of Agyapatra are devoted to the building, maintenance and upkeep of forts. Forts, on land and in seas, were seen as the core of the state, and it was believed that they made the kingdom eternal.102 Shivaji captured old forts, refurbished them, and built new ones to capture territory from Salheri to the banks of the river Kaveri.

    The Agyapatra enjoins that the weakness of the fort must be closely guarded, else the subjects would lose respect for the King. Forts must have tunnels for escape, so there should be no mountains in the vicinity of the fort that would obstruct the making of tunnels.103 The entry to the fort must give an overview of the inside and the outside, so the need for a heightened structure at the point of entry. It was important to have more than one point of entry as well as secret pathways inside the fort. Unnecessary doors and pathways had to be closed down. The road to the fort must not be easy.104 Forts were to be surrounded by wide and deep moats. Trees were to be grown around the fort to make it difficult for the enemy to move forward. The need for equipping the fort with artificial tanks storing potable water was recognised, as water from the natural springs in the fort area would get dirty during battles.

    The second important aspect of protecting the kingdom that received attention from Shivaji was the formation and maintenance of the navy. The Amatya says that if the kingdom is the body, then the armaar (navy) is an important organ of the body.105 Just as the cavalry is critical to ruling the land, the navy is essential to rule the seas. The navy must have medium-sized boats, the gurabs and galabats, the latter being smaller of the two. The navy’s expenses must be borne out of the expenses of the state. The size of the navy must, therefore, depend on what the state can set aside. Income from trade must not be used for the navy as it reduces the incentive for traders. However, when trade increases, the tax on that can be channelled for the upkeep of the navy.

    The task of the navy was to keep abreast of enemy movements at sea.106 Also, it was to track those who operated in the seas without the required permits. There was a strict injunction against hurting the koli or fishermen community as well as merchant ships. Enemy merchant ships, if captured, had to be brought to port without damage to the goods. In a naval fight, enemy ships were to be forced to be on the lee-side, so they would be exhausted by winds, and then easily defeated.107 The safety of the ships and the soldiers on board was of priority and were not to be risked. If required, sea forts were to be used to retreat to safety. Even if an enemy ship indicated a wish to surrender, it was advisable to remain cautious while closing in on it. Enemy ships were to be fired upon for a while to make sure they are safe to board and take over. Shelters for naval ships had to be changed frequently so as to prevent attacks on them by the enemy.108 Sea vessels had to be repaired using teak wood, but trees used for this purpose had to be paid for.109 Woods of trees that took a long time to grow were not to be used for ship-building as they were often a source of livelihood for poor people.

    Historical Evidence

    The importance of forts for Shivaji is revealed by the numerous forts captured and built by him. According to the Sivabharat, there were 241 forts under Shivaji, of which 49 existed from earlier times, 108 were newly constructed, and 79 were taken during the campaign in Carnatic, south of the Maratha kingdom.110 Annaji Datto, with the help of a hazari (consisting of a thousand mawales) Malsavant, captured the fort of Panhala from the Adilshahis, as also those of Satara, Chandan, Vandan, Nandgiri and Parli.111 Early Maratha forts were places of refuge for the royals, and were largely defensive in nature.112 It is, therefore, not surprising that the fort of Raigad was chosen to be the capital.  It was a fort under the Adil Shahis and had vertical slopes ten times higher than the fort of Daulatabad. All the roads leading up to it were small and rugged, making access difficult. Every two weeks, the havaldar in the fort was tasked to check the explosive powder to ensure that it was dry; other weaponry, including grenades, rockets and cannons, were to be kept in a state of readiness.113

    It is also no wonder that some of the most famous battles of Shivaji centred on the capture, escape and defence of forts. The battle of Sinhgad was fought by Tanaji Malsure, who sacrificed his life to win the fort; Shivaji escaped from the siege of Panhalgad while the valourous Baji Prabhu Deshpande with a handful of soldiers, sacrificed their lives while trying to delay the fall of the fort and enable Shivaji’s escape. In another battle, Ikhlas Khan and Bahlol Khan were sent by Aurangzeb with 12,000 horses to completely destroy the fort of Salheri. Dilel Khan was also sent with 10,000 horses. He cornered the fort of Kaneragad. Ramaji Pangera, a hazari, with 700 loyal men, descended from the fort to fight him on the orders of the Peshwa. But the mawales were defeated. Then, Ikhlas Khan laid a siege to Salheri. Shivaji ordered Raghunath Rav, the sarnobat, to reach Salheri from the side of Warghat while the Peshwa was ordered to come there from Konkan with his irregular militia. A hard battle was fought between many powerful generals from both sides and, in the end, Bahlol Khan and Ikhlas Khan were taken prisoners. Dilel Khan who was on his way to Salheri decided to turn back.114

    Not permitting random construction of forts was also an important policy decision. Shivaji had conquered most of the Konkan area by 1661. Only Kudal in Konkan remained in control of Lakham Savant Desai, who was loyal to the Adil Shahs of Bijapur. When Shivaji defeated a large army of Baji Ghorpade who fought for the Savants, the Adil Shahi General Khawas Khan fled. Thus, Kudal came under the control of Shivaji. When Lakham Savant pleaded that he be returned his territory due to family ties with the Bhonsales, Shivaji conferred on him the deshmukhi of Kudal. But he was not allowed to build a fort or mansion, and his hasams (12,000 irregulars) were put under Shivaji’s sardars Ram Dalvi and Tan Savant.115 Similarly, villages were not allowed to be fortified.116 In a letter written by Shivaji to subedar of Bankapur dated 28 April 1679, he orders the subedar to destroy the fort around the village of Mauje Saunshi before it is given to Kanchangowda, the deshmukh of Lakshmeshwar.117 Foreign traders too were not allowed to build forts.

    Several sea forts, like Revdanda and Rajpuri, that belonged to the Nizamshahi rulers of Bhaganagar were in the control of Siddi commanders and were used to attack and harass people in Shivaji’s kingdom.118 To capture them, a force of 2,000 mawales was sent under the leadership of Baji Pasalkar. Marine forts were also built on rocks surrounding Rajpuri. Kay Savant of Rajpuri and Baji Pasalkar fought a fierce duel in which they both died. Then, Sabnis Raghunath Ballal led an expedition against the Rajpuri Siddis and took all territory up to the fort. As a result, peace was concluded with them.119 After Ballal’s death, the Siddis went back to their old ways, and Shivaji sent Vyankoji Datto who also defeated the cavalry force of the Siddis. This time around, Shivaji did not take up the offer of peace. He appointed a sea captain and water leader to fight a naval battle with the Siddis, defeated them, and took control of their ships.120 These ships were then used to plunder cities, forts and coastal towns of the Mughals, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the British and the Kilatav (contested identity) for loot and grains.

    Naval battles proved to be important complements to land battles against the Mughals. In 1664, Shivaji went into Mughal territory by plundering the prosperous trading town of Surat. This was a very significant blow to the Mughal rulers. Surat was not only politically and economically significant, but also religiously so. Shivaji plundered the town first, and later, his navy plundered the ships that the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb had sent from Surat to Mecca as part of the Hajj, with gifts loaded for the Emperor of Persia.121 Later too, when the Mughal forces in the Deccan sent to defeat Shivaji after the sack of Surat halted their assault in the monsoon of 1670, Shivaji used that time to compel the polygars or Koli rajas who controlled the territory in the vicinity of Portuguese forts, to support him in his fight to gain the forts of Daman and Bassein, and forced them to pay tax for their establishment on the coast.122

    Portuguese naval power was often solicited by the Mughals in their quest to defeat Shivaji. The Viceroy of the Portuguese in 1664 could not be convinced by Mirza Raja Jai Singh, the Mughal envoy to the Deccan, to support the Mughals in their endeavour to put down Shivaji. However, the Viceroy in 1666 was convinced, and promised to provide naval cooperation against Shivaji if the Mughals bore the expenses.123 Then, in December 1667, a peace treaty was signed between Shivaji and the Portuguese by which Shivaji returned all the men, women and children held for ransom by his men, and returned all the cattle and bullocks too. In return, the Portuguese helped Shivaji in constraining Lakham Savant on the island of Goa and preventing him from carrying out frequent raids on the latter’s territory. Article 3 of the peace treaty provided for the freedom of commerce.124 The Portuguese sources also tell that this treaty did not hold for long since, in May 1670, the Viceroy offered naval help to the Mughals as Shivaji’s captains often captured Portuguese vessels and people on Maratha ports.

    Despite his enmity with the Portuguese, Shivaji had several Portuguese and Goan Christian officers in his army. He learnt much about the artillery from the Portuguese. Among his eighteen karkhanas or state establishments, the bakhar of Krishanji Anant Sabhasad mentions the darukhana or magazine which, on evidence from published Portuguese sources, is a synonym of Casa de Polhara, which was the arrangement of the artillery.125 It is also said that while fighting the European powers, Shivaji realised the value of an infantry. So, he raised a 12,000 strong infantry, but it remained a sort of militia consisting of husband-men ‘who were called to arms during campaigns. These footmen were not used in set-piece encounters but were used for garrisoning the forts’.126

    Thus, there is plenty to prove the importance that Shivaji accorded to strong defences and maritime prowess. Shivaji’s empire was pitted with forts all over; they were perched in the safety of the hills and camouflaged by the trees in the forests. Areas surrounding the forts were witness to several battles. The defences, though often places of refuge, were strongholds that helped the king and the armies recoup, and launch attacks used to spread the boundaries of the kingdom. While the naval might of Shivaji was limited, it helped him take on adversaries such as the Siddis, the Moghuls and the Portuguese even at sea, though success proved elusive several times. It also helped him corner local enemies from the seaside, sometimes with help from the Portuguese.

    IV. Engagement with European Traders

    Amatya explains that Shivaji encouraged trade, and was favourable to inviting traders from other kingdoms to settle down in his own kingdom.127  He was, however, wary of phirangis—that is, foreign traders like the English, the Dutch, the French and the Danes, who he had realised, came not merely with commercial motives but with the intent of establishing territorial bases for their respective Kings.128 Therefore, Shivaji was not in favour of granting land, especially coastal land, to foreign traders as they tended to fortify it and use it to wage wars with the help of their navies and cannon fire. If land was to be given at all, it had to be such land that was at the intersection of prominent towns so that troops could be sent without delays to quell any untoward action on their part. If any enemy merchant ships were captured during war, they had to be treated well, and sent back respectfully.129

    Historical Evidence

    The wariness of Shivaji vis-à-vis foreign traders setting up factories is much more nuanced than that mentioned in the text. It is said that although Shivaji tried to maintain friendly relations with the English, French and Dutch traders, he did have restrictions on trade with them. He protected the domestic salt growers by imposing heavy duty on imported salt.130 Several foreign traders had set up factories in the coastal regions of Khandesh. Shivaji plundered the English factory at Rajapur in 1661 and caused them a loss of 10,000 pagodas. However, he agreed to compensate them for the loss or even re-build the factory if the British supported him to win the fort of Janjira from the Siddis.131 The English factory in Surat was spared during the first sacking of Surat in 1664 since the English stayed on the defensive.132 During the second sacking of Surat in October 1670, the British defended themselves against the Marathas. The Dutch factory was remote, and it was not attacked since it did not come in the way of Shivaji’s campaign. The French obliged Shivaji by letting him pass through their territory to attack the Tatar territory and plunder its wealth; so they too were spared.133 Shivaji also plundered the English factory in Hubli in March 1673.134

    Shivaji’s relations with the Portuguese were strained because they were trying to dominate the area politically and were known for religious conversions.135 The main source of contention with the Portuguese was that Shivaji wanted free navigation off Portuguese ports. The Portuguese insisted that big ships, such as the galvats and larger vessels, had to carry Portuguese cartas (a document granting permission to traverse), while small boats of food grains, salt and drugs were exempted from this requirement. Shivaji, on his part, was obliged to protect Portuguese ships in distress near his ports. While the Portuguese could not join Shivaji against the powerful Mughals, they did help to mediate between him and his enemies, the Siddis of Janjira.136 An exchange of letters reveals the tension between the two parties at sea, with the Maratha naval forces being accused not only of trading with and helping Portugal’s enemies in Canara but also plundering Portuguese and Arab ships for venturing into Maratha waters, while the Portuguese claimed they were at the port of Shankheshwar river which was controlled by a friendly prince.137

    Thus, while commerce in general was encouraged, trade with foreigners was subject to some restrictions. The factories of foreign traders were attacked by Shivaji, and he was asked to compensate them for the losses. Fortified factories mostly on the sea coasts were a particular source of concern for Shivaji. Eventually though, Shivaji learnt much about artillery and the navy from the armies of the traders, and even approached them to counter his enemies.


    A reading of the Agyapatra points to the following features of strategic culture in the Maratha kingdom. At the core of statecraft was the principle of happiness of people and internal vibrancy of the state which would ensure longevity of the king’s rule. Restraint was observed in the treatment of women, children and men of religion in areas captured from adversaries. To ensure fairness of governance, there was emphasis on merit and character among rulers and senior officials; this would also keep those placed below them motivated. A sophisticated system of checks and balances ensured that at every level, there was a mix of civil administration and military administration. Rewards for military exploits were plentiful, both monetary and in kind, but no land was given as reward to ensure that military commanders did not become too powerful. The commander of the armies was always placed under a minister. Fundamental for the security of the kingdom was having strong land and sea forts complemented by a navy not only for protection of the self, but also for launching further attacks to enlarge the kingdom. So, defence was important not only in itself, but for success in offensive operations. And finally, there was a distinction made by the Maratha king between the traders of the sub-continent and those who came from Europe. Protectionism of a certain kind was practiced to benefit local traders. The entanglement of commerce and military interests of the Europeans was clearly seen, and cautiously handled. Simultaneously, their methods and help were sought to improve the infantry, artillery and navy of the Marathas. Thus, the Agyapatra reveals the importance of morality and pragmatism in Maratha statecraft.

    This ‘regional’ perspective on statecraft not only adds newer elements to the extant scholarship on Indian strategic culture but also problematises some received knowledge about it. 

    First, it challenges the division of Indian strategic culture into neat periods of Hindu and Muslim statecraft. In medieval India, the Maratha empire and its rulers were contemporaries of Mughals. So the strategic culture of this period of Indian history is a combination of Hindu and Muslim elements. It points to the continuation of some traits of ancient Hindu times into the medieval period. The importance of a benevolent ruler and morality in governance in Agyapatra are a clear link to ancient Indian times as reflected in texts like the Arthashastra that lay down the dharma of the king. The strategems of saam, daam, bheda and danda are also options that owe their origins to Arthashastra. However, they are not necessarily ordered hierarchically and were put to use as the circumstances required. Second, it helps to historicise the strain of respect for diversity in India beyond its current attribution to the liberal sensitivities of political leaders of modern India. Shivaji demonstrated considerable respect for men of the Muslim and Christian religions and attempted not to harm the pious during wars with his adversaries. Third, it helps us take further back into history the idea of civilian control over the military. Long before Nehru’s distrust of the military and the influence of colonial times on his thinking about civil–military relations came to shape these institutions of modern India, there is evidence of a system of checks and balances to control the military during the times of Shivaji. Despite the importance of the army in the age of kingdoms, Shivaji ensured that the commander-in-chief was subordinate to the minister. Also, contrary to what was a common practice under Mughal rule and has been used to characterise Indian strategic culture, rewards for valour in wars could also not be in the form of hereditary land. Fourth, it contests the thesis of insularity of Indian strategic culture based on the fact that Indian rulers did not learn newer techniques of warfare such as using the infantry and advanced artillery from Europeans. Clearly, Shivaji learnt a lot about artillery, naval warfare and infantry from the Portuguese. This also contradicts the understanding that India’s naval tradition drew a blank between the Cholas in the 9th century AD and the 1960s. Shivaji and the later Marathas championed the navy and used it effectively to buttress their land forces. They used the navy to enlarge the kingdom. They attempted to modernise both the army and the navy based on European expertise. Finally, it challenges the thesis that the metaphors of Indian-ness are based purely on philosophical and mythological foundations. There is a clear geographical or physical sense of Indian-ness displayed by Shivaji when he made a distinction between traders of the sub-continent and those who came from Europe.

    Thus, this rather limited ‘regional’ study of Maratha statecraft in the times of Shivaji adds several interesting dimensions to the lineage of India’s strategic culture. Shivaji is certainly not the only ‘regional’ ruler whose rule can be said to contribute to Indian strategic thinking and culture.  Also, not every aspect of the Maratha strategic culture in Shivaji’s time was adhered to even by the later Marathas, let alone others. Notwithstanding these caveats, ‘regional’ interventions in the debate on India’s strategic culture make the debate more complex, yet complete.


    The author would like thank the three anonymous referees for their valuable comments which have helped in improving the article. She would also like to acknowledge and thank Lt Gen (Dr) D.B. Shekatkar, PVSM, AVSM, VSM (Retd), Chancellor, Sikkim University, for his helpful comments on an earlier version of this article. The usual caveats apply.

    • 1. Andrew Latham (1998) quoted in A.Z. Hilali, ‘India’s Strategic Thinking and its National Security Policy’, Asian Survey, Vol. 31, No. 5, September/October 2001, pp.737–764, available at, accessed on 14 January 2019.
    • 2. Rajesh Basrur, ‘Nuclear Weapons and Indian Strategic Culture’,  Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 38, No. 2, March 2001, pp. 181–198, p. 184, available at, accessed on 14 January  2019.

      On pragmatism in the nuclear debate in India in the 1960s, see Rohan Mukherjee and Rahul Sagar, ‘Pragmatism in Indian Strategic Thought: Evidence from the Nuclear Weapons Debate of the 1960s’, India Review, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 12–32, DOI:10.1080/14736489.2018.1415272.

    • 3. Sumit Ganguly and Manjit Pardesi, ‘Explaining Sixty Years of India's Foreign Policy’, India Review, Vol. 8, No. 1, 2009, pp. 4–19, DOI: 10.1080/14736480802665162.
    • 4. Srinath Raghavan, War and Peace in Modern India: A Strategic History of the Nehru Years, Palgrave Macmillan / Permanent Black, 2010. For others who have written in this tradition, see Devesh Kapur and Rohan Mukherjee, ‘Indian Security Strategy in Thought and Practice’, India Review, Vol. 17, No. 1, 2018, pp. 1–11, DOI: 10.1080/14736489.2018.1415271.
    • 5. Steven I. Wilkinson, Army and the Nation: The Military and Indian Democracy Since Independence, Permanent Black, Ashoka University, 2015. Harsh Pant, ‘Indian Strategic Culture: The Debate and its Consequences’, in David Scott (ed.), Handbook of India’s International Relations, London: Routledge, 2011, pp. 14–22.
    • 6. Marcus Kim, ‘India’, in John Glenn, Darryl Howlett and Stuart Poore (eds), Neorealism versus Strategic Culture, England: Ashgate, 2004, pp. 75–104.
    • 7. Rahul Sagar, ‘State of Mind: What Kind of Power Will India Become?’, International Affairs, Vol. 85, No. 4, July 2009, pp. 801–816, available at, accessed on 14 January 2019.
    • 8. Stephen Peter Rosen, ‘Military Effectiveness: Why Society Matters’, International Security, Vol. 19, No. 4, Spring, 1995, pp. 5–31.
    • 9. Rory Medcalf, ‘Imagining an Indian National Security Strategy: The Sum of its Parts’, Australian Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 71, No. 5, pp. 516–528, p. 517, DOI:10.1080/10357718.2017.1342762.
    • 10. For its relationship with non-alignment, see Rudra Chaudhuri, ‘Why Culture Matters: Revisiting the

      Sino-Indian Border War of 1962’, Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 32, No. 6, 2009, pp. 841–869, DOI:


    • 11. Vipin Narang and Paul Staniland, ‘Institutions and Worldviews in Indian Foreign Security Policy’, India Review, Vol. 11, No. 2, pp. 76–94, pp. 78–79, DOI: 10.1080/14736489.2012.6748182012.
    • 12. George K. Tanham, Indian Strategic Thought: An Interpretive Essay, Rand Corporation, 1992, available at, accessed on 14 January 2019.
    • 13. Ibid., p. 9.
    • 14. Ibid., p. 21. The British, he contends, mainly looked at the Indian Ocean as a defense against invasions rather than as an avenue for expanding the empire (p. 23).
    • 15. Jayashree Vivekanandan, ‘Strategy, Legitimacy and the Imperium: Framing the Mughal Strategic Discourse’, in Kanti Bajpai et al. (eds), India’s Grand Strategy: History, Theory, Cases, London, New York and Delhi: Routledge, 2014, pp. 65–73.
    • 16. Rashed Uz Zaman, ‘Kautilya: The Indian Strategic Thinker and Indian Strategic Culture’, Comparative Strategy, Vol. 25, No. 3, 2006, pp. 231–247, DOI: 10.1080/01495930600956260. For a reassessment of the balance between dharma and artha, see Pradeep Kumar Gautam, Understanding Dharma and Artha in Statecraft through Kautilya’s Arthashastra, IDSA Monograph No. 53, 2016, available at, accessed on 14 January 2019.
    • 17. Rodney Jones, ‘India’s Strategic Culture’, in Jeffrey A. Larsen (ed.), Comparative Strategic Cultures Curriculum, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, US Department of Defence, 31 October 2006, available at, pp.308–309, accessed on 14 January 2019. He combines their influence with that of modern Indian nationalists namely Swami Vivekanand, Nehru and Gandhi.
    • 18. Swarna Rajagopalan, ‘“Grand Strategic Thought” in the Ramayana and Mahabharata’, in Kanti P. Bajpai, Saira Basit, V.Krishnappa (eds), India’s Grand Strategy: History, Theory, Cases, London, New York and New Delhi: Routledge,: 2014, pp. 31–62, p. 47.
    • 19. Ibid, p. 58.
    • 20. Ian Hall, Interview from the Strategic Asia Programme, 21 November 2016, available at, accessed on 14 January 2019.
    • 21. Adda Bozeman cited in Michael Liebig, India’s Strategic Culture, 28 January 2016, available at, accessed on 28 May 2019. Also see ‘Kautilyan Theory of Arthashastra Relevant in Today’s Statecraft, says Shyam Saran’, available at, accessed on 14 January 2019.
    • 22. Kanti Bajpai, ‘State, Society, Strategy’, in Kanti P. Bajpai and Amitabh Mattoo (eds), Securing India: Strategic Thought and Practice, New Delhi: Manohar, 1996, pp. 83–84.
    • 23. See publications under IDSA’s Indigenous Historical Knowledge, available at, accessed on 1 July 2019.
    • 24. Textual analysis is recognised by the second generation of strategic culture theorists, mainly constructivists, as a suitable methodology for understanding strategic culture. See Edward Lock, ‘Refining Strategic Culture: Return of the Second Generation’, Review of International Studies, Vol. 36, No. 3, July 2010, pp. 685–708, p. 697, available at, accessed on 26 February 2018.
    • 25. Jeffrey Lantis, ‘Strategic Culture and National Security Policy’, International Studies Review, Vol. 4, No. 3, Autumn, 2002, pp. 87–113, p. 95, available at, accessed on 26 February 2018.
    • 26. Ibid., p. 95. This, according to Jeffrey Lantis, was a shortcoming of the first generation of strategic culturalists, prominently Jack Snyder and Colin Gray. The limitation of assuming that a nation consists of only one strategic culture which ignores the heterogeneity of modern societies is pointed out in Stuart Poore, ‘Strategic Culture’, in John Glenn et al, n. 6, pp. 45–71.For an early categorisation of three generations of strategic culturalists, see Alastair Johnston, ‘Thinking about Strategic Culture’, International Security, Vol. 19, No. 4, Spring, 1995, pp. 32–64, available at, accessed on 26 February 2018. For a more recent categorisation, see Edward Lock, n. 25.  Lock criticises Johnston for claiming that strategic culture explains behaviour.
    • 27. This has been the focus of the second generation of strategic culture theorists including Yosef Lapid, Friedrich V. Kratochwil, Alastair Johnston, Valeries Hudson, etc.
    • 28. This has been the focus of the third generation of strategic culture theorists including Elizabeth Kier, Stephen Rosen, Thomas Banchoff, Jeffrey Legro, David Campbell etc.
    • 29. Deccan refers to the Indian sub-continent south of the Vindhya mountain range; Hindustan, to the north of Vindhyas.
    • 30. T. T. Mahajan, Shivaji and His Diplomats, New Delhi: Commonwealth Publishers, 1997.
    • 31. A. R. Kulkarni, ‘Marathas in History’, in A.R.Kulkarni (ed.), Explorations in Deccan History, ICHR, Monograph Series 9, New Delhi, 2006, pp. 20–35. 
    • 32. Ibid., p. 23. This argument is attributed to the poet laureate and biographer of Shivaji, Parmanand, who authored the Sivabharat.
    • 33. Among the other texts written by the contemporaries of Shivaji are the Sabhasad Bakhar of Shivaji by Krishnaji Anant Sabhasad in Modi, and the Parnal Parvat Grahakhyan of Jayaram Pindye in Sanskrit.
    • 34. A. R Kulkarni, a prominent historian, writes in another work that the text was written in 1716, and the principles of state policy stated therein are corroborated by several military records. See, A. R. Kulkarni, ‘The Maratha State in Indian History’, in A.R. Kulkarni, n. 31, pp. 55–67, pp. 62–63. Stewart Gordon says the text was written on 11 November 1715.
    • 35. While the Maratha kingdom can be termed as ‘regional’ today, at that time, it was among the many kingdoms and empires that prevailed in the geographic space that later became a part of the Republic of India.
    • 36. For a brief history of the Marathas excluding the Anglo-Maratha wars, see Wolsely Haig, ‘The Maratha Nation’, Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, Vol. 78, No.4, 27 June 1930, pp. 870–884, available at, accessed on 27 February 2018.
    • 37. Sumit Guha, ‘Speaking Historically: The Changing Voices of Historical Narration in Western India, 1400–1900’, The American Historical Review, Vol. 109, No .4, October 2004, pp.1084–1103, available at, accessed on 27 February  2018.
    • 38. A. R. Kulkarni, n. 31, pp. 20–35.
    • 39. Jadunath Sarkar, Shivaji and His Times, Preface, Calcutta: M. C. Sarkar and Sons, 1952, available at, accessed on 19 February 2018. His work has not been used in this essay since several of his findings were convincingly contested by Surendranath Sen later.
    • 40. The original text however, has no separate chapters.
    • 41. To highlight certain aspects of strategic culture, the themes have been identified independent of the theme-based chapterisation done by A. R Kulkarni, though sometimes there is an overlap.
    • 42. A. R. Kulkarni (ed.), Agyapatra, Pune: Diamond Publications, October 2007, pp. 97–99. The translation of the text will henceforth be cited as Agyapatra. In the book, the text in Modi appears on the left page, and its Devnagri translation is on the corresponding right page, pp. 86–209. Thus, pp. 97–99 means those two pages, with p. 98 carrying the Modi version of p. 99.
    • 43. Surendranath Sen, Siva Chhatrapati: Being a Translation of Sabhasad Bakhar, With Extracts from Chitnis and Sivadigvijaya, With Notes, University of Calcutta, 1920, p. 89, available at, accessed on 23 February 2018.
    • 44. James Grant Duff, A History of Mahrattas, Vol. I, first published in 1826, New Delhi: Cosmo Publications, 1999, p. 109. Duff’s account of Shivaji is discredited because it is flawed in many places due to the availability of limited archival sources and has evident personal biases. It has been used in this article only to the extent that its contents have been corroborated by later research.
    • 45. Surendranath Sen, n. 43, pp. 4–5.
    • 46. James Grant Duff, n. 44, p. 143.
    • 47. Surenranath Sen, n. 43, p. 7.
    • 48. Ibid.
    • 49. James Grant Duff, n. 44, p. 113.
    • 50. Surendranath Sen (ed.), Indian Travels of Jean De Thevenot 16661696 and Gemelli Careri 16951696,The National Archives of India, Queensway, New Delhi, 1949, p. 41. Thevenot writes that Shivaji got so much treasure in the city that he decided not to attack the fort.
    • 51. Surenranath Sen, n. 43, pp. 22–23. Sen asserts that there is no record of this in Maratha sources. There is a distinction between Chauth and Sardeshmukhi: chauth was the tribute collected from foreign territory; sardeshmukhi was the 10 per cent revenue taken from mawal deshmukhs, who had been appointed to take care of hereditary ‘watans’ as well as  jagirs under Bijapur. Important among the Deshmukh families mentioned were the Jedhes, Bandals, Scindias, Pawars, Gaikwads, and Moreys.
    • 52. James Grant Duff, n. 44, p. 205.
    • 53. Surenranath Sen, n. 43, p. 14.
    • 54. Ibid., pp. 17–18.
    • 55. Ibid., p. 21.
    • 56. Ibid., p. 51.
    • 57. Ibid., p. 53. Since Dilere Khan was a Muslim, the Sivabharat states that Shivaji preferred to surrender the fort of Purandhar to the Hindu King Jai Singh.
    • 58. James Grant Duff, n. 44, p. 231.
    • 59. Agyapatra, p. 125.
    • 60. Agyapatra, p. 123.
    • 61. Agyapatra, pp. 129–131.
    • 62. Agyapatra, p. 151.
    • 63. Agyapatra, p. 139.
    • 64. Agyapatra, p. 137.
    • 65. Agyapatra, p. 141.
    • 66. Agyapatra, p. 143.
    • 67. Agyapatra, p. 145.
    • 68. Agyapatra, p. 147.
    • 69. Agyapatra, p. 149.
    • 70. Agyapatra, p. 153.
    • 71. Agyapatra, p. 157.
    • 72. Agyapatra, p. 159.
    • 73. Agyapatra, p. 165.
    • 74. Agyapatra, p. 167.
    • 75. Agyapatra, pp. 171–173.
    • 76. Agyapatra, p. 173.
    • 77. Agyapatra, p. 179.
    • 78. Agyapatra, p. 181.
    • 79. Agyapatra, pp. 181–183.
    • 80. Agyapatra, p. 197.
    • 81. Agyapatra, pp. 183–185.
    • 82. James Grant Duff, n. 44, p. 191.
    • 83. Ibid., p. 192.
    • 84. Wolseley Haig, n. 36, p. 875.
    • 85. Ibid., p. 879.
    • 86. James Grant Duff, n. 44, p. 189. C. A. Kincaid posits that the great influence on Shivaji was that of Narayan Suryajipant, who later took the name of Ramdas. He was spiritual, and guided Shivaji in every way other than in the matter of actual battles. He taught Shivaji to use deception when required and be humane to the common people. Shivaji’s treatment of Afzal Khan, benevolence to those defeated, and respect for women are all attributable in part to his association with Ramdas. See C. A. Kincaid, ‘The Saints of Pandharpur: The Dawn of Maratha Power’, Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, Vol. 64, No. 3302, 3 March 1916, pp. 315–323, available at, accessed on 27 February 2018.
    • 87. Wolsely Haig, n. 36, pp. 877–878.
    • 88. Ibid. For the religious significance of Surat as a place for embarking on the Haj pilgrimage in Mughal times as a factor in Shivaji’s attack on it, see M.N. Pearson, ‘Shivaji and the Decline of Mughal India’, The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 35, No. 2, February 1976, pp. 221–235, p. 228, available at, accessed on 27 February 2018. For more on Shivaji’s views on Muslims, see Govind Sakharam Sardesai, The Main Currents of Maratha History, Phoenix Publications (first published in 1926), 1949 edition. Sardesai argues, based on a study of the Jaipur archives that contains letters in Sanskrit and Persian that Shivaji often exhorted Hindu rulers to join in his fight for the freedom of religion to be restored. S.R. Sharma similarly claims that the ‘Maharashtra Dharma’ that was propagated by Swami Ramdas was much more than religious phrase; it had social and political connotations which found respect among prominent families of Maratha land and became the basis of the formation of the Maratha nation of ‘Hindu Shiva Chattrapati’. See D.V. Potdar, ‘Maratha History (Re-examined) 1295-1707 by S.R. Sharma’, Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Vol. 26, No. 1/2, 1945, pp. 161–168, available at, accessed on 27 February 2018.
    • 89. James Grant Duff, n. 44, p. 192.
    • 90. Ibid., p. 193.
    • 91. Ibid., p. 194.
    • 92. Surendranath Sen, n. 43, p. 7.
    • 93. Ibid., p. 101.
    • 94. T.T. Mahajan, n.­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ 30, pp. 75–83.
    • 95. Mahesh Tendulkar, Shivakaleen Durgpatre (Letters pertaining to forts from Shivaji’s times) (Translation mine), Letter dated 19 January 1674, pp. 74–75, Pune: Snehal Prakashan, April 2017.
    • 96. James Grant Duff, n. 44, p. 185.
    • 97. Ibid., p. 186. They were paid in pagodas, 1 pagoda being equivalent of 3–4 rupees at the time.
    • 98. Ibid., p. 190.
    • 99. Ibid., p. 191.
    • 100. Surendranath Sen, n. 43, p. 29.
    • 101. Shankar Narayan Joshi, Krishnaji Anant Sabhasad Virachit-Aadya Chhatrapati Shivaji Yanchi Bakhar (Krishnaji Anant Sabhasad’s The Bakhar of Chhatrapati Shivaji) (Translation mine), Varada Prakashan Pvt Ltd., August 2016, p. 26.
    • 102. Agyapatra, pp. 175–177.
    • 103. Agyapatra, p. 187.
    • 104. Agyapatra, p. 189.
    • 105. Agyapatra, p. 199.
    • 106. Agyapatra, p. 201.
    • 107. Agyapatra, p. 203.
    • 108. Agyapatra, p. 205.
    • 109. Agyapatra, p. 207.
    • 110. For the full list, see Surendranath Sen, n. 43, pp. 140–148.
    • 111. Ibid., p. 106.
    • 112. This is gleaned from Stewart Gordon’s analysis of the norms for forts as spelt out in the Agyapatra, with the facts related to the fort of Asir in Khandesh that was transferred to the Marathas in 1759 by a treaty signed after the battle of Udgir between the Marathas and the forces of the Nizam-ul-Mulk. Stewart Gordon, ‘Forts and Social Control in Maratha State’, Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 13, No.1, 1979, pp. 1–17, p. 15, available at, accessed on 27 February 2018.
    • 113. Ibid., p. 5.
    • 114. Surendranath Sen, n. 43, pp. 103–104.
    • 115. Ibid., pp. 96–97.
    • 116. James Grant Duff, n. 44, p. 192.
    • 117. Mahesh Tendulkar, n. 95, pp. 118–119.
    • 118. Surendranath Sen, n. 43, p. 89.
    • 119. Ibid., pp. 91–92.
    • 120. Ibid., pp. 93–94. For details, also see Shankar Narayan Joshi, n. 101, pp. 62–64.
    • 121. Ibid., p. 53.
    • 122. James Grant Duff, n. 44, p. 208.
    • 123. Surendra Nath Sen, A Preliminary Report on the Historical Records at Goa (1925), Reprinted from the Calcutta Review May–October 1925, Calcutta University Press, 1925, Fascimile Publisher, New Delhi, 2015, p. 10.
    • 124. Ibid.
    • 125. Ibid., p. 9.
    • 126. Kaushik Roy, ‘Military Synthesis in South Asia: Armies, Warfare and Indian Society, c.1740–1789’, The Journal of Military History, Vol. 69, No. 3, July 2005, pp. 651–690, p. 670, available at, accessed on 27 February 2018.
    • 127. Agyapatra, p. 161.
    • 128. Agyapatra, p. 163.
    • 129. Agyapatra, p. 165.
    • 130. A. R. Kulkarni, n. 31, p. 26.
    • 131. James Grant Duff, n. 44, p. 208.
    • 132. Ibid., p. 162, and notes on p. 163. However, Siva Chhatrapati states that Shivaji strategically avoided attacking the premises since they were guarded by cannons, and would have inflicted heavy costs on Shivaji’s infantry. See Surendranath Sen, n. 43, p. 40.
    • 133. James Grant Duff, n. 44, p. 203.
    • 134. Ibid., p. 212.
    • 135. A. R. Kulkarni, n. 31, p. 24.
    • 136. Ibid., pp. 11–12.
    • 137. Surendra Nath Sen, n. 123, p. 21.
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