Chhatrapati Shivaji (1630-1680) founded the Maratha Empire in the Deccan against heavy odds, fighting the mighty
who ruled India. He inspired and united the common man to fight against the tyranny of the Mughal emperor
, by inculcating a sense of pride and nationality in them.
Shivaji showed his mettle at the young age of 18, when he overran a number of hill forts near Poona (now Pune). He raised a strong army and navy, built and renovated forts. A regular feature of his campaigns was his use of guerilla warfare. He developed a strong intelligence network. He did not differentiate between people of different religions and castes, in his army or administration. He appointed ministers with specific functions such as internal security, foreign affairs, finance, law and justice, religious matters and defense. Shivaji introduced new systems in revenue collection and cautioned the officials against harassment. In his private life, his moral virtues were exceptionally high. His thoughts and deeds were inspired by the teachings of his mother, Jijabai.
Shivaji’s system of administration was largely borrowed from the administration practices of the Deccani states. Shivaji preferred to give salaries in cash to the regular soldiers. Strict discipline was maintained in the army. The wealth taken by each soldier during campaigns was strictly accounted for. The forts were carefully supervised. Shivaji not only proved to be an able general, a skilful tactician and a shrewd diplomat, he also laid the foundation of a strong state by curbing the power of the local landlords. The army was an effective instrument of his policies, where rapidity of movement was the most important factor.
The tiny kingdom established by Chhatrapati Shivaji known as Hindavi Swaraja (Sovereign Hindu state) grew and stretched from Attock in Northwest India (now in Pakistan) beyond
Cuttack in East India, in course of time, to become the strongest power in India.