Why did the Marathas succeed in their mission but Vijayanagar didnt?

Jan 2015
981
Here and there
#1
Both Shivaji and the founders of the Vijanagar empire felt their mission was the liberation and protection of Hindus. While Vijayanagar did indeed uproot Muslim power from the south and defended Indic culture for nearly 3 centuries, it was playing defense for the most part and collapse while the Marathas were ended up conquering pretty much what constitutes the entire Bharatavarsha.

My feeling is that the Marathas were successful because they gave the Muslims a taste of their own medicine. Usually it was the Muslim generals or double agents in Hindu courts who subverted and betrayed their masters to their co religionists(as was one of the causes of the fall of Vijayanagara) but now the tables had turned and Shivaji due to his exposure to Mughal and Rajput light cavalry while in their service, as well as the precepts of Gamini Kava was in a position of the Arminius in the Roman army.

But OTOH as per tradition Harihar and Bukka were roughly in the same situation. They were converted to Islam and made to serve the Delhi sultan. So that comparision probably doesnt hold water.

Im interested in your thoughts.
 

SSDD

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
3,900
India
#2
I have read somewhere that Bahmanis and later 5 Muslim breakaway kingdoms had mastered horse archery which Vijayanagar could not. Vijaynagar-Bahmani and Vijaynagar- 5 break away Muslim kingdom, these clashes were more like clashes between sedentary kingdoms. Vijayanagar also failed to create a Hindu alliance, otherwise there would be Vijayanagar-Gajapati alliance. Most importantly Vijayanagar I think was not based upon any ethnic nationalism or pride. Basically Vijayanagar's access to North India was blocked by either Muslim kingdoms or by Gajapati which prevented them from exerting power in North. Vijayanagar could have fought an war of attrition, inciting Hindu peasants to rebel. Since number of Muslims in South India was very low, so it is unclear how long Muslim kingdoms could have survived.

Marathas comparatively were more decentralized and were inspired by Ethnic and religious nationalism. Marathas also had to fight less pitched battles, against Mughals they employed hit and run tactics. Mughals also could could not devote their entire strength against Marathas, for a large period of time they were busy against Bijapur and Golkunda. After fall of Mughals, only power to oppose Marathas in South was Nizam. Marathas also for at least a time propagated Hindu Pada-Padashahi which helped to win support of Rajputs, Jats and Sikhs for a time. Marathas also had support of peasants. The extent of atrocity Hindu peasants suffered by Bijapur's Afjal Khan's invasion or during Mughal expeditions united them more.

However I would not give Marathas full success's credits. For some reason they never toppled Nizam despite defeating them again and again, it would have freed them from Nizam's rivalry. They also did not attack Goa and drive Portuguese out. Marathas should have first brought entire South India to their rule and stuck to Hindu Pada-Padashahi.
 
Nov 2012
3,848
#3
I have read somewhere that Bahmanis and later 5 Muslim breakaway kingdoms had mastered horse archery which Vijayanagar could not. Vijaynagar-Bahmani and Vijaynagar- 5 break away Muslim kingdom, these clashes were more like clashes between sedentary kingdoms. Vijayanagar also failed to create a Hindu alliance, otherwise there would be Vijayanagar-Gajapati alliance. Most importantly Vijayanagar I think was not based upon any ethnic nationalism or pride. Basically Vijayanagar's access to North India was blocked by either Muslim kingdoms or by Gajapati which prevented them from exerting power in North. Vijayanagar could have fought an war of attrition, inciting Hindu peasants to rebel. Since number of Muslims in South India was very low, so it is unclear how long Muslim kingdoms could have survived.

Marathas comparatively were more decentralized and were inspired by Ethnic and religious nationalism. Marathas also had to fight less pitched battles, against Mughals they employed hit and run tactics. Mughals also could could not devote their entire strength against Marathas, for a large period of time they were busy against Bijapur and Golkunda. After fall of Mughals, only power to oppose Marathas in South was Nizam. Marathas also for at least a time propagated Hindu Pada-Padashahi which helped to win support of Rajputs, Jats and Sikhs for a time. Marathas also had support of peasants. The extent of atrocity Hindu peasants suffered by Bijapur's Afjal Khan's invasion or during Mughal expeditions united them more.

However I would not give Marathas full success's credits. For some reason they never toppled Nizam despite defeating them again and again, it would have freed them from Nizam's rivalry. They also did not attack Goa and drive Portuguese out. Marathas should have first brought entire South India to their rule and stuck to Hindu Pada-Padashahi.
Yes surprisingly they didn't conquer tipu as well. They didn't unite marathi lands fully. BTw when exactly did they have Sikh and rajput support? Why didn't they intermarry with rajputs like Mughals
 

Jinit

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
5,274
India
#4
Nayakas....Perennial rebellions of feudatories aided by the frequent court intrigues leading to the devastating civil wars is the reason why Vijayanagara empire ultimately failed. Otherwise even after disastrous defeat of Talikota, Tirumala manged to held togather an empire to a large extant and his youngest son Venkatpati managed to revive the fortunes of empire somewhat recovering some of the lost territory from Golconda (although even he spent much of his time subjugating rebelling Nayakas). Interestingly if I am not mistaken the dominant elites of the empire in last phase all belong to one ethnicity (ie Telugu). And yet for most part there was lack of sense of common goal. Even when last emperor Sri Ranga III made passionate appeal in the name of religion, he didn't receive much help until very late.
 
Nov 2009
8,402
Canada
#5
I don't think this is a valid comparison, since ultimately, all empires fail. The marathas failed too, didn't they ?

IMO the Vijayanagara empire's goals were to prevent the islamic government of southern India and to that extent, they succeeded for a longer duration than the marathas.
 

kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,608
USA
#6
It is not true that Marathas were as successful as claimed here. History books in general do not glorify them. They were like locusts and hornets on a fast collapsing Mughal empire, creating lawlessness and mayhem. As a result they were not trusted by the general population. In the end, just like Vijayanagar lost to Muslims, Marathas too lost it to Muslims at Panipat.

I don't understand the reasons to try to glorify Marathas. I suspect it is driven by Hindu religious nationalist pride, where there is an absence of better heroic people to brag about.
 
Nov 2009
8,402
Canada
#7
It is not true that Marathas were as successful as claimed here. History books in general do not glorify them. They were like locusts and hornets on a fast collapsing Mughal empire, creating lawlessness and mayhem. As a result they were not trusted by the general population. In the end, just like Vijayanagar lost to Muslims, Marathas too lost it to Muslims at Panipat.

I don't understand the reasons to try to glorify Marathas. I suspect it is driven by Hindu religious nationalist pride, where there is an absence of better heroic people to brag about.
Err the Marathas were not destroyed by Panipat. They were destroyed by the Brits. Panipat was a big loss, but it actually affected the Abdali Empire more adversely than it affected the Marathas because while the Marathas had a stronger economy and were able to recover from losing over 100,000 people in that battle, the Abdalis were not able to recover from losing well over 40,000 people.
 

Jinit

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
5,274
India
#8
It is not true that Marathas were as successful as claimed here. History books in general do not glorify them. They were like locusts and hornets on a fast collapsing Mughal empire, creating lawlessness and mayhem. As a result they were not trusted by the general population. In the end, just like Vijayanagar lost to Muslims, Marathas too lost it to Muslims at Panipat.

I don't understand the reasons to try to glorify Marathas. I suspect it is driven by Hindu religious nationalist pride, where there is an absence of better heroic people to brag about.
Contrary to the popular rhetoric as displayed in your post the case is opposite. Marathas are demonized needlessly, probably driven by rabid hatred for Hindus. Otherwise Study of administrative records suggest that by the time various territories directly administered by the Marathas were annexed by the British, those areas were doing rather good. Maharashtra for once was certainly having high time of its history. Central India was doing as good as during the best of the times under Mughal control. Same is the case for other acquired territories like Odissa, Thanjavur etc. Their administrative system was anything but primitive. It wasn't the most innovative but it was certainly not the primitive. Ajnapatra - treatise on statecraft and politics written by a minister in Maratha court is really an impressive work on statecraft and politics. Similarly they had well managed revenue system. It is true that during the initial part of their conquest they raided deep into Mughal territories but it was unavoidable. Once these areas came under their rule they managed them rather very efficiently. For example a document from Maratha time lists every village in a Pargana (unit of 20 - 100 villages), dividing villages between those paying revenue through Village headman and those paying through Zamindar, original villages and those colonized recently, deserted villages or the one not surveyed by the officer. Attached documents recorded name of every farmer in every village, every bigha and fraction of bigha of land that he cultivated and his kharif (summer) and rabi (winter) crops. And there were lots and lots of such detailed documents recording minute administrative details coming from various part of Maratha territory to Peshwa's office at Pune. Infact Maratha archive of Pune is probably one of the largest surviving archive of such kind of administrative documents outside Europe. During the British rule this documents were inaccessible as British rulers considered those documents sensitive enough to ignite rebellious sentiment. They became accessible for scholars only after independence and hence changing perception regarding their history.
 
Likes: prashanth
Sep 2015
213
USA
#9
I have read somewhere that Bahmanis and later 5 Muslim breakaway kingdoms had mastered horse archery which Vijayanagar could not. Vijaynagar-Bahmani and Vijaynagar- 5 break away Muslim kingdom, these clashes were more like clashes between sedentary kingdoms. Vijayanagar also failed to create a Hindu alliance, otherwise there would be Vijayanagar-Gajapati alliance. Most importantly Vijayanagar I think was not based upon any ethnic nationalism or pride. Basically Vijayanagar's access to North India was blocked by either Muslim kingdoms or by Gajapati which prevented them from exerting power in North. Vijayanagar could have fought an war of attrition, inciting Hindu peasants to rebel. Since number of Muslims in South India was very low, so it is unclear how long Muslim kingdoms could have survived.

Marathas comparatively were more decentralized and were inspired by Ethnic and religious nationalism. Marathas also had to fight less pitched battles, against Mughals they employed hit and run tactics. Mughals also could could not devote their entire strength against Marathas, for a large period of time they were busy against Bijapur and Golkunda. After fall of Mughals, only power to oppose Marathas in South was Nizam. Marathas also for at least a time propagated Hindu Pada-Padashahi which helped to win support of Rajputs, Jats and Sikhs for a time. Marathas also had support of peasants. The extent of atrocity Hindu peasants suffered by Bijapur's Afjal Khan's invasion or during Mughal expeditions united them more.

However I would not give Marathas full success's credits. For some reason they never toppled Nizam despite defeating them again and again, it would have freed them from Nizam's rivalry. They also did not attack Goa and drive Portuguese out. Marathas should have first brought entire South India to their rule and stuck to Hindu Pada-Padashahi.
If I read correctly, one could compare the Marathas to the initial stages of Mao Tse-Tung's movement in China: decentralized rebels, supported by peasants, guerrilla warfare, further unified by an atrocity.
 
Aug 2014
1,126
pakistan
#10
Err the Marathas were not destroyed by Panipat. They were destroyed by the Brits. Panipat was a big loss, but it actually affected the Abdali Empire more adversely than it affected the Marathas because while the Marathas had a stronger economy and were able to recover from losing over 100,000 people in that battle, the Abdalis were not able to recover from losing well over 40,000 people.
This is some Wikipedia commentary going on, try relying on authentic books. First of all Abdali didnt even marched with 40,000 troops to India so how he could have suffered 40,000 losses?. Secondly Durranis gained from the success at the battle of Panipat. They gained booty, prestige but most importantly Marathas withdrew from Durrani domains (Durrani border extended up to Sirhind, Marathas had penetrated up to river Indus) and never made another attempt again.

The real blow to Durrani Empire was Sikh insurgency in Punjab.
 
Likes: macon

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