Shivaji's Kingdom

At the time of Shivaji's death (4th April 1680), his kingdom included all the country (except the Portuguese possessions) stretching from Ramnagar in the north to Karwar in the south. The eastern boundary embraced Baglana in the north, then ran southwards along an irregular shifting line through the middle of Nasik and Pune districts, encompassed the whole of Satara district and much of the Kolhapur district. This area formed his Swarajya (as referred to in Marathi documents) or 'his' own kingdom. Besides, the Karnatak campaign (1677-78) added in the form of permanent acquisition. Western Karnatak ….. extending from Belgaum to the bank of the Tungabhadra opposite the Bellary district of the former Madras Presidency.

This consolidated portion of his kingdom formed three provinces, each under a viceroy. The northern division included the Dang and Baglana, Koli country south of Surat, part of Konkan north of Mumbai, Deccan pleateu (Desh) southwards up to Pune. It was under Moro Trimbak Pingle. The southern division comprised part of Konkan to the south of Bombay, Savantvadi and the North Kanara coast. This formed the viceroyalty of Annaji Datto. The southeastern division (under Dattaji Pant) comprised Satara district and Kolhapur district of Desh and in the Karnataka, Belgaum and Dharwar districts of Kopal (west of the Tungabhadra).

As a result of the Karnatak expedition (1677-78) the whole area "extending from the Tungabhadra opposite Kopal to Vellroe and Jinji i.e. the northern, central and eastern parts of the (former) Mysore state and portions of the Madras (Tamil Nadu) districts of Bellary, Chittur and Arcot" were added, but his early and unexpected death in April 1680 did not gave him time to consolidate these fresh conquests. His attempt to conquer Kanara highlands "including South Dharwar district and principalities of Sunda and Bednur" remained undecided in his life time.

Outside these settled or half-settled parts of his kingdom, there was a wide but very fluctuating portion of land subject to his power but not owning his sovereignty. This was the adjoining parts of the Mughal Empire (Mughlai in Marathi) on which Khandani or Chauth (one-fourth part of the assessed land revenue of the area) was regularly levied.

At the time of his death, his army consisted of 45,000 paga or household cavalry, 60,000 silahdars or mercenary horsemen who provided their own arms and mounts, and one lakh of Mavle infantry. The core of his army was formed by 30,000-40,000 regular and permanently enlisted cavalry in his own service.

The territory under Shivaji contained 240 well stocked and well administered forts for its defence, out of which 111 were built by him and 79 were situated in eastern Karnatak and modern Tamilnadu. Besides, his fleet had 400-500 ships which operated from various naval ports and marine forts. He regarded the Navy as valuable for protecting and expanding his kingdom, the expansion of the trade, and for securing for his subjects the same rights and freedom on the seas as the Europeans.

The apex body for administration of the kingdom was Ashtha Pradhan or the Council of Eight Ministers. The principles of Shivaji's administration and political ideals were such that these may be accepted even today without much change. To quote Sir Jadunath Sarkar, "He aimed at giving his subjects peace, universal toleration, equal opportunities for all castes and creeds, a beneficent, active and pure system of administration, a navy for promoting trade and a trained militia for guarding the homeland".