158 THE MAR Aril AS. peror Aurangzeb would have done wisely to have left the independent Musalman Kings of the Deccan alone, until he had crushed the rising Maratha 1 power. Indeed, a great statesman would have buried the old quarrel between the Muhammadans of the north and south, and would have united the whole forces of Isldm against the Hindu Confederacy, which was rapidly growing to be the strongest power in the Deccan. But the fixed resolve of Aurangzeb's life was to annex to Delhi the Muham- madan kingdoms of Southern India. By the time he had carried out this scheme, he had wasted his armies, and left the Mughal Empire ready to break into pieces at the first touch of the Maratha 1 spear. The Line of Sivaji. — Sambbajf succeeded his father, Sivaji, in 1680, and ruled till 1689. His reign was spent in wars against the Portuguese settlements on the south-western coast of India, and against the armies of the Mughal Empire. In 1689, Aurangzeb captured him, blinded his eyes with a red-hot iron, cut out the tongue which had blasphemed the Prophet, and struck off his head. His son, Sahu, then six years of age, was also captured and kept a prisoner till the death of Aurangzeb. In 1707 he was restored, on acknowledging allegiance to Delhi. But his long captivity among the Mughals left him only half a Maritha. He wasted his life in his seraglio, and resigned the government of his territories to his Brahman minister, Balajf Vishwanath, with the title of Peshwa. This office of Peshwa or prime minister became hereditary, and the power of the Peshwa superseded that of the Maratha kings. The royal family of Sivaji only retained the little principalities of Satara and KolM- pur. Satara lapsed to the British, for want of a direct heir, in 1849. Kolhapur has survived through British clemency, and is now ruled, under British control, by the representative of Sivaji's line. The Peshwas. — Meanwhile the Peshwa's were building up at Poona the great Mar&tha' Confederacy. In 1718, Balaji, the first Peshwa, marched an army to Delhi in support of the Sayyid 'king-makers.' In 1720, he extorted an imperial grant of the chauth, or 'one-fourth' of the revenues of the Deccan. The Marathas were also confirmed in the sovereignty of their own Southern countries round Poona and Sitara. The second
Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/162
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