The Info List - Marathas

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The MARATHA (IPA: ; archaically transliterated as MARHATTA or MAHRATTA) is a group of castes in India found predominantly in the state of Maharashtra . According to the Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
, "Marathas are people of India, famed in history as yeoman warriors and champions of Hinduism." They reside primarily in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Territory under Maratha
control in 1760 (yellow), without its vassals.

Robert Vane Russell , an untrained ethnologist of the British Raj period, basing his research largely on Vedic literature, wrote that the Marathas are subdivided into 96 different clans, known as the 96 Kuli Marathas or 'Shahānnau Kule' Shahānnau means 96 in Marathi. The general body of lists are often at great variance with each other.


* 1 History * 2 Internal diaspora * 3 Varna status * 4 Political participation * 5 Military service * 6 See also * 7 References * 8 Further reading


armour Typical Maratha
helmet with curved back. Maratha
Armour from Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia. See also: Maratha Empire

The term "Maratha" originally referred to the speakers of the Marathi language . In the 17th century, it emerged as a designation for soldiers serving in the armies of Deccan sultanates (and later Shivaji ). A number of Maratha
warriors, including Shivaji's father, Shahaji , originally served in those armies. By the mid-1660s, Shivaji had established an independent Maratha kingdom . After his death, Marathas fought under his sons and defeated Aurangzeb in the war of 27 years. It was further expanded into a vast empire by Maratha Confederacy including Peshwas , stretching from central India in the south, to Peshawar (in modern-day Pakistan) on the Afghanistan border in the north, and with expeditions to Bengal in the east. By the 19th century, the empire had become a confederacy of individual states controlled by Maratha
chiefs such as Gaekwads of Baroda
, the Holkars of Indore , the Scindias of Gwalior
, the Puars of Dhar and Dewas , and Bhonsles of Nagpur
. The Confederacy remained the pre-eminent power in India until their defeat by the British East India Company in the Third Anglo-Maratha War
Third Anglo-Maratha War

By 19th century, the term Maratha
had several interpretations in the British administrative records. In the Thane District
Thane District
Gazetteer of 1882, the term was used to denote elite layers within various castes: for example, "Maratha-Agri" within Agri caste , "Maratha-Koli" within Koli caste and so on. In the Pune District
Pune District
, the words Kunbi and Maratha
had become synonymous, giving rise to the Maratha- Kunbi caste complex. The Pune District Gazetteer of 1882 divided the Kunbis into two classes: Marathas and other Kunbis. The 1901 census listed three groups within the Maratha- Kunbi caste complex: "Marathas proper", " Maratha
Kunbis" and "Konkani Marathas ". The Kunbi class comprised agricultural workers and soldiers. The upper-class "Marathas proper" (comprising 96 clans ) claimed Rajput descent with Kshatriya status, and included princes, officers and landowners. Some of the Maratha clans claiming Rajput descent include Bhonsales (from Sisodias ), Chavans (from Chauhans ), and Pawar (from Parmar ).

Gradually, the term Maratha
came to denote an endogamous caste. From 1900 onwards, the Satyashodhak Samaj movement defined the Marathas as a broader social category of non- Brahmin
groups. These non-Brahmins gained prominence in Indian National Congress during the Indian independence movement . In independent India, these Marathas became the dominant political force in the newly-formed state of Maharashtra.


The empire also resulted in the voluntary relocation of substantial numbers of Maratha
and other Marathi-speaking people outside Maharashtra, and across a big part of India. Today several small but significant communities descended from these emigrants live in the north, south and west of India. These descendant communities tend often to speak the local languages, although many also speak Marathi in addition. Notable Maratha
families outside Maharashtra include Scindia of Gwalior
, Gaekwad
of Baroda
, Holkar
of Indore , Puar of Dewas and Dhar , Ghorpade of Mudhol , and Bhonsle of Nagpur


The varna of the Maratha
is a contested issue, with arguments for their being of the Kshatriya (warrior) varna, and others for their being of Shudra origins. This issue was the subject of antagonism between the Brahmins and Marathas, dating back to the time of Pratapsing , but by the late 19th century moderate Brahmins were keen to ally with the influential Marathas of Bombay in the interests of Indian independence from Britain. These Brahmins supported the Maratha claim to Kshatriya status, but their success in this political alliance was sporadic and fell apart entirely following independence in 1947.

Even at the turn of 20th century, the Brahmins priests of Chhatrapathi Shahu ,the Maratha
ruler of Kolhapur refused to use Vedic mantras and would not take a bath before chanting, on the grounds that even the leading Marathas like Shahu and his families belonged to the Shudra varna. This opinion about the Shudra varna was supported by Brahmin
Councils in Maharashtra and they stuck to their opinion even when they(Brahmins) were threatened with the loss of land and property. This led to Shahu supporting Satyashodhak samaj as well as campaigning for the rights of the Maratha
community He soon became the leader of the non- Brahmin
movement and united the Marathas under his banner.

In the 21st century, the Government of Maharasthra cited historical evidence for the shudra status of prominent Maratha
families as well as the prominent Maratha
family (Bhosle) being declared as Shudras by the (British) Madras High Court to form a case for reservation for the Marathas in Maharashtra.


Arms of Maratha
Leaving for the Hunt, Gwalior, Edwin Lord Weeks, 1887

The 1919 Montague-Chelmsford reforms of the British colonial government called for caste based representation in legislative council.In anticipation a Maratha
league party was formed. The league and other groups came together to form the non-Brahmins party in the Marathi speaking areas in the early 1920s under the leadership of Maratha
leaders Keshavrao Jedhe and Baburao javalkar.Their early goals in that period were capturing the Ganpati and Shivaji festivals from Brahmin
domination. They combined nationalism with anti-casteism as the party's aims . Later on in the 1930s, Jedhe merged the non-Brahmin party with the Congress party and changed the Congress party in the Maharashtra region from an upper-caste dominated body to a more broadly based but Maratha-dominated party .Apart from Jedhe,most Congress leaders from the Maratha
/ Kunbi community remained aloof from the Samyukta Maharashtra campaign of the 1950s.However,they have dominated the state politics of Maharashtra since its inception in 1960 .

The INC was the preferred party of the Maratha/ Kunbi community in the early days of Maharashtra and the party was long without a major challenger, and enjoyed overwhelming support from the Maratha dominated sugar co-operatives and thousands of other cooperative organizations involved in the rural agricultural economy of the state such as marketing of dairy and vegetable produce, credit unions etc. The domination by Marathas of the cooperative institutions and with it the rural economic power allowed the community to control politics from the village level up to the Assembly and Lok Sabha seats. , Since the 1980s, this group has also been active in setting up private educational institutions. Major past political figures of Congress party from Maharashtra such as Keshavrao Jedhe , Yashwantrao Chavan ,Shankarrao Chavan and Vilasrao Deshmukh have been from this group. Sharad Pawar , who had been a towering figure in Maharashtrian and national politics, belongs to this group.

The state has had many Maratha
government ministers and officials, as well as in local municipal commissions, and panchayats. Marathas comprise around 32 per cent of the state population. 10 out of 16 chief ministers of Maharashtra hailed from the Maratha
community as of 2012.

The rise of the Hindu Nationalist Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party in recent years have not dented Maratha
representation in Maharashtra Legislative assembly .


Beginning early in the 20th century, the British recognised Maratha as a "martial race ". Earlier listings of martial races had often excluded them, with Lord Roberts , commander-in-chief of the Indian Army 1885–1893, stating the need to substitute "more warlike and hardy races for the Hindusthani sepoys of Bengal, the Tamils and Telugus of Madras and the so-called Marathas of Bombay." Historian Sikata Banerjee notes a dissonance in British military opinions of the Maratha, wherein the British portrayed them as both "formidable opponents" and yet not "properly qualified" for fighting, criticising the Maratha
guerrilla tactics as an improper way of war. Banerjee cites an 1859 statement as emblematic of this disparity:

There is something noble in the carriage of an ordinary Rajput, and something vulgar in that of the most distinguished Mahratta. The Rajput is the most worthy antagonist, the Mahratta the most formidable enemy.

The Maratha Light Infantry regiment is one of the "oldest and most renowned" regiments of the Indian Army. Its First Battalion, also known as the Jangi Paltan ("Warrior Platoon"), traces its origins to 1768 as part of the Bombay Sepoys. The battle cry of Maratha
Light Infantry is Bol Shri Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj ki Jai! ("Hail Victory to Emperor Shivaji!") in tribute to the Maratha


* List of Maratha dynasties and states
List of Maratha dynasties and states
* List of notable Maratha
People * Thanjavur Marathi people * Maratha
People in Uttar Pradesh


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* v * t * e

Ethnic groups , social groups and tribes of Goa
and the Konkan region


* Goud Saraswat Brahmins * Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmins * Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins * Kudaldeshkar Gaud Brahman


* Daivajna


* Karhade * Padye * Bhatt Prabhu


* Chitpavan Brahmins * Kramavant Joshi


* Gomantak Maratha Samaj * Naik Maratha Samaj * Nutan Maratha Samaj


* Konkan Maratha * Konkanastha Maratha


* Bhandaris


* Gauda and Kunbi * Kunbi


* Kharvi


* Madval * Dhangar * Gavli * Chamar
* Mahar (Mhar) * Siddis of Karnataka


* Goan Catholics * Karwari Catholics * Mangalorean Catholics
Mangalorean Catholics
* East Indians


* Goan Muslims * Konkani Muslims * Nawayath


* Caste system in Goa
* Goans * Konka