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

Dec 2009
578
I do not think that the Maratha Empire achieved more than the Vijayanagar Empire. In fact the story of both Empires are very similar. Both Empires succeded in defeating a major Turkic Dynasty. The Vijayanagar Empire defeated the Bahmani Sultanate which led to the collapse of the Bahmani Sultanate and the Maratha Empire defeated the Mughal Dynasty.
But during the later period both Empires suffered a defeat to a new enemy. The Vijayanagar Empire was defeated by the Deccan Sultans and the Maratha Empire was defeated by the British.
 
Oct 2015
1,138
India
. . . . . British conquest, unification and creation of a nation called India was lawful, because otherwise ones like you would not even be claiming yourself as an Indian today. ..... British might have been wrong with America, but they did it right in India. Hindus should express gratitude to the British for finally creating and delivering a vast nation that they themselves could not create.

There are only two peoples who did lasting damage to India and the Indians: Muslims invaders with their religious intolerance, and the Aryans invaders with their caste ridden Vedic Hinduism.
Dear Kandal,

Nice to see that you find time to respond.

"White Man's Burden"

Statements like above reflect the underlying attitude of "White Man's Burden" to me.

Fact of the matter is that British colonial rule in India was aimed solely & exclusively for their own financial enrichment achieved thru making India poor which they achieved quite successfully. Just look at some new info:

"As the painstaking statistical work of the Cambridge historian Angus Maddison has shown, India's share of world income collapsed from 22.6% in 1700, almost equal to Europe's share of 23.3% at that time, to as low as 3.8% in 1952. Indeed, at the beginning of the 20th century, "the brightest jewel in the British Crown" was the poorest country in the world in terms of per capita income." — Manmohan Singh [1]

Since enriching themselves was one side of the coin whereas impoverishing Indian was the other, attitudes like 'civilizing India' and counting the blessings of colonial rule can be said to arise from a guilty conscious - guilt of unjust enrichment and guilt of colonizing when one practices democracy within one's own country.


[ii] Unification and Creation of the nation of India:

Taking credit for "unification and creation of a nation" also needs to be examined as to (a) what exactly it means, and (b) weighed against the dis-unification caused by British.

Britain conquered Indian subcontinent due to disunity amongst the local kings - Hindus and Muslims; and also due to having better trained army with better weapon technology. India once again became a single political entity (if we ignore the 400+ Princely States). They put the British India under a uniform administration in order to collect land-revenue for themselves and harness other economic advantages. Even the railways were developed after 1857 revolt to enable quick movement of army in future revolts.

Till 1947 India had been a single political unit at least four times in its history - Maurya, Gupta, Mughal, British - each was shortlived (~200 years) and broke up. So what new did the British achieve?

Look at the dis-unification caused by British: Britain ruled India with the help of several Indians - only a few hundred thousand British nationals lived in India. Their rule was under challenge in India at least since formation of Congress by AO Hume. British were ever in need to divide the Indian people to secure safety & continuance of their own colonial rule and its legitimacy. One of the clear overt actions to divide Indians was Partition of Bengal (1905) based on religious lines: Hindu versus Muslim majority populations. Similarly another action to divide Indian along caste-lines was granting separate electorates to them. Thirdly, the same thing was tried with Sikhs. Fourthly they also played the Princely States against Congress. Their goal was to weaken the legitimacy of Indian Freedom movement saying that it was not representative.

The first two divisions (Hindu-Muslim, Caste-based) were politically institutionalized by British though earlier they were only social differences working without much conflict. Mughal kings were Indianized which you can see when reading poems written by the last of them - Bahadur Shah Zafar. Ranjit Singh ruled over large Muslim population in present-day Pakistan. Maharaja of Kashmir ruled over a large Muslim population and it was a happy tourist place. Hindu-Muslim joint governments existed in elections during British colonial rule.
Many social reformers, including Gandhi, were fighting against caste-system when British brought in the separate electorates.

What would have happened if British were not to unite India (now we are leaving & entering speculation). It is quite likely that India would have been united under the Marathas (sorry, you dislike the idea) who at their peak had more than 50% of Indian subcontinent.

Last, but not the least, what is so big about political unity? Indian subcontinent had been a single cultural unity since about the beginning of Christian Era.

The British Today:

I do not mean to say that British are nasty guys or condemn them for the past. They are actually nice people. Few days back British PM said that a Hindu temple in Britain is a landmark like the Big Ben - of course with an eye on oncoming elections.


History Today:

Past is past. We should not judge it by today's / changing value systems. As new research and information increases (like the 22.6% number), the clocks of opinions based on old info need to be thrown out and new ones put on constantly. I thought such a process could be faster in the USA which itself suffered from British colonial rule.



[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_India#cite_note-Hindu-77
 

greatstreetwarrior

Ad Honorem
Nov 2012
3,852
I think they were at different situations. Vijaynagar came at a time when Muslim rule was at its peak all over India and when Hindus had suffered in many places a series of defeats. Vijaynagar not only formed a great empire where the city was compared to Rome it revived great cultural civlixzation for the medieval ages rooted in the indic culture. Marathas too faced similar issues but there is no doubt that they had a terrain that was more supportive to their guerrilla hit and run tactics. Vijaynagar was a more conventional army and also the first Hindu empire which had a more modernised military for its time with new generations of weaponry and firepower that could compete with bahamanis ottoman inspired ones. Vijaynagar also made bigger contributions to Hindu art, culture and architecture something that was deeply needed for Hindus aftr centuries of iconoclasm. Marathas greatness was in their strategic warfare and probably the only Hindu empire which gave it back to the Muslims in kind. Vijaynagar was their inspiration where jijamata gave umpteen stories to sivaji as a kid about vijaynagar era and made him idolize it.

As jinnit said all Hindu empires after sultanate were defensive ones and it could be mainly due to technology and in that vijaynagar was closer to the sultanate and maybe even better. It survived long mainly coz it played each sultanate against the other and in that it perfected divide and rule policy. Marathas found it harder to do this with the Deccan sultanates despite having dominated adil shah. It was the mughals who wiped and moped up the three sultanates including golconda. But once this happened and mughals had direct borders with Marathas it was easier for Marathas to thwart them. They consistently did this and kept bouncing back like no other. Shivaji won many forts and then taken hostage. Lost all and came back to win all. Then after sambhaji came and got killed and again Marathas were square one and yet again kept coming back right upto the time of rajarams mother. It was during peshwa time when they truly became dominant. To me both are important cogs in Hindu history maybe more important than others simply for the adversity they faced. Without these two India might have been a hell hole today. I don't think it is appropriate to take sode s and compare different eras. However I would say Marathas had more military prowess and vijaynagar was the cultural reignitor. And both were important things for medieval hindus to have
 

greatstreetwarrior

Ad Honorem
Nov 2012
3,852
To kandal brits did not unite India proven by how Patel himself had to negotiate with the princess. However the presence of a common enemy helped unite and galvanize Indian masses. They did not in fact want such a large nation which wud cud have been bad for their interests in Asia. The only good thing about them was that they did not destroy religious shrines and persecute based on religion like the dastardly Portuguese
 
Oct 2015
1,138
India
To kandal brits did not unite India proven by how Patel himself had to negotiate with the princess. However the presence of a common enemy helped unite and galvanize Indian masses. They did not in fact want such a large nation which wud cud have been bad for their interests in Asia. The only good thing about them was that they did not destroy religious shrines and persecute based on religion like the dastardly Portuguese

One more angle of looking at things. I missed this point of view. Thanks.
 
Apr 2018
1,562
Mythical land.
From the book 'The men who ruled India' - by Philip Mason
The word 'predatory' comes up again in describing the Marathas. Modern Shiva Sena is the product of Maharatra state, the home of the Marathas. (p70)
philip mason is not even a historian by any stretch of imagination....
 

kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,781
USA
philip mason is not even a historian by any stretch of imagination....
Marathas are not a historic people to need a historian. They are very recent, their activities well recorded, especially by the British. Philip Mason served 20 years in British India civil service. He wrote a few good books on India, this being one.
 
Last edited:
Apr 2018
1,562
Mythical land.
Marathas are not a historic people to need a historian. They are very recent, their activities well recorded, especially by the British. Philip Mason served 20 years in British India civil service. He wrote a few good books on India, this being one.
You cannot be serious, maratha empire is not historic?? What the hell does even mean? He was not a historian, his opinion in history seems like guessestimate at best.
 
Oct 2015
1,138
India
Maratha's success against the Muslims kings (including Mughals) is rooted in three things.

Individual qualities of Shivaji - self-esteem, spirit of independence, courage, confidence, & most of all leadership. Such qualities enabled Shivaji to get loyal followers and defy the might of Bijapur Sultanate first and later the world's richest emperor - Alamgir Aurangzeb.

Military Strategy & Tactics. He, and later other leaders, used mountainous region of Western Ghats to protect themselves, guerilla war limiting exposure to open-field warfare. Some of fortresses of Marathas are such that it is difficult for a man to even climb till them - let alone taking a horse or hauling a canon up to them.

Strong "Maratha" Identity that was created. Aurangzeb, in his 26 year long campaign had virtually taken almost every fortress Marathas had but could not subdue the spirit of Marathas. Maratha armies then lived under open skies and continued fighting. This army consisted of about 80,000 light cavalry, more than enough to bring any region to knees. After death of Aurangzeb, Marathas re-organized and established several large kingdoms. By c. 1740 they were the predominant political power in India. The Mughals as well the East India Company paid them 'Chauth'.

Predatory?: As regards, use of words like 'predatory'. one can ignore it. All conquerors are predatory - only degree differs slightly. Read poem of a lay-poet on conquest of Madurai by Delhi Sultanate. Or the end of Vijaynagar. Read Guru's Nanak's description of Babar's conquest in Guru Granth Sahib. The British too were the same towards anyone rebelling against their rule. In fact they back-stabbed friendly kings (Nawab of Oudh) out of greed for dough.

Till end of 19th century, British historiography was respectful to Marathas, for example read Elphinstone's history. he had fought in maratha wars. In 20th century, historiography changed for some reason. Perhaps because professors who had never moved-out of college campuses, never seen a war, began writing history. Or perhaps because of need to impress the world by saying that British conquered India from the celebrity Imperial Mughals of the Kohinoor fame! Or need to justify colonial conquests by casting opponents at villains. Choose your reason from these three for change in historiography.
 
Feb 2019
88
Mumbai
Don't think it's fair to say that Vijayanagar failed in their mission. They sucessfully held off turks for more than 2 centuries and provided a massive boost to Hinduism whose effects were seen well beyond its borders. They fell like all empires fall eventually, they had a glorious run.
 
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