ADMINISTRATIVE SYSTEM OF THE MARATHAS
The enormous documentary evidence generated by Maratha rule over a vast area in 17th and 18th Century India suggests that the Maratha empire was a well-organized effective pre-colonial polity. The Marathas were not mere marauders as the colonialist historians described them. By the latter half of the 18th Century these warriors from the Deccan had stabilized their system of revenue collection and laid down the basis of a long-lasting administrative apparatus elements of which were later absorbed into the colonial administrative system established by the British. The institutions, rules and regulations which characterized Maratha rule were drawn largely from the medieval kingdoms upon the remnants of which they erected their administrative edifice. Several questions can be raised by the inquisitive historian and students of history in relation to the administrative system of the Maratha discussed in admirable detail in this classic work on Maratha history. Was the Maratha polity a pre-modern system with the potential to evolve into a modern state? What were the successes and failures of the system established first by Shivaji and later the Peshwas and the Maratha sardars? Sen lists the causes of the rise and fall of the so-called Maratha confederacy in this book which must be read by all contemporary students and teachers of Maratha history across the world. Decades ago, when Indian history was in thrall of colonial historiography, Sen made a compelling case for understanding the Maratha polity as a synthesis of various Indian systems which informed its dynamics. The vocabulary of Sen is nationalist but there is much to read between the lines in this splendid work of modern Indian historiography. – Anirudh Deshpande, Professor of History, University of Delhi
For many years, Surendra Nath Sen taught at the University of Calcutta. From 1939 to 1949 he worked in the Imperial Department of Documents, which later became the National Archives. In 1949 he resigned from that post and became a Professor at the University of Delhi. He is well known for a number of books on Indian history but is particularly famous as one of the most competent and prolific historians of the Marathas. No modern critical history of the Marathas can be written without reference to his prodigious research on the subject.