Maharashtra, as its plain meaning shows, is a great Rashtra or nation. The People populated the area in ancient times were probably known as Ratthas, some of whom came to be styled Maharatthas or great Ratthas.
The people of this land were known in early ages as Ratthas, Maharatthas or Rashtrakutas, who had long since earned great distinction for wealth, valour and political power.
An image of a Maha-rattha warrior is to be seen to this day in the Nane-Ghat caves near Junnar, which were carved by the Andhra rulers about the first century of the Christian era.
The present Marathi tongue is the direct descendant of the literary Prakrit Maharashtri, the language of Maharashtra.
These Ratthas or Maharatthas must have been a hardy race. The best traits of the Aryan settlers from the north blended well with the best characteristics of the indigenous stock of western India.
We obtained the earliest glimpse of this political entity from Chandra gupta Maurya, who had established his sway over Maharashtra.
Chandragupta’s grandson Ashoka took the cue from his grandfather and extended his Empire to the east and the south.
Rule of Satavahana
From 73BC to 218CE Satavahana dynasty ruled Maharastra for 300 years. The Pratisthan capital city of Satavahana situated on the river Godavari, then a renowned seat of learning, culture and commercial activity.
The several clans of the ancient Ratthas, including the Rashtrakutas, the Banas, etc. exercised influence at different places under the Satavahanas. Although they were then too weak to assert any organized political power.
Rule of Chalukyas
At the beginning of the sixth century, however, a new dynasty of the Chalukyas appeared on the scene. They gave this land a succession of wise and strong rulers for more than a century and a half. They ruled from Badami, now a town in the district of Bijapur.
Satyashraya pulakeshi, the most famous ruler of this Chalukya dynasty/ who reigned from 608—642 A . c , successfully repelled an attack of the Emperor Harsha and strongly guarded the northern boundary of Maharashtra at the river Narmada.
Rule of Rashtrakutas
The Rashtrakutas another powerful dynasty succeeded Chalukyas. They ruled Maharashtra for a period of 225 years from about 750 to 975 CE. The longest on record for any southern Hindu dynasty to hold sway.
It is a most important epoch in the history of the Deccan. Rashtrakutas welded both the Karnataka and Maharashtra into one political entity. Most of the rulers were able men; in a line of 14 kings only 3 were found to be inefficient.
Krishna I a great builder of this dynasty excavated out of solid rock the celebrated Kailash temple of Ellora. A magnificent specimen of Hindu art and a veritable wonder of the world.
The local parlance changed name Rashtrakuta into Rathod a clan-name later assumed by the proud tilers of the Jodhpur State. This dynasty had its main capital at Manyakhet (Malkhed) with minor capitals, such as Chandrapur (Chandwad), Lattatur (Latur), etc.
However clever and valiant might have been these Rashtrakuta rulers. They altogether neglected the naval defence of their country, in which the Arabs of the west seemed to excel at this period.
Return of Chalukyas Rulers
It was the later Chalukyas again who gave a death-blow to the Rashtrakuta power. They ruled Maharashtra for some two hundred years from 975 to 1189 A.C. from their capitals of Kalyani near Bidar.
They produced some ten brilliant rulers of outstanding merit. Tribhuvanmalla Vikramaditya VI was the greatest monarch of this dynasty, and he founded an era named after himself.
People still held in high esteem Vikramaditya’s prime minister Vijnaneshwar, the author of the Mitakshara as an eminent jurist of Hindu Law.
Rise and Fall of Yadavas
After the later Chalukyas, another powerful dynasty, the Yadavas, a clan from north India ruled Maharashtra. They wrested the sceptre from the Chalukyas. They ruled for over a hundred years from 1187 to 1294 front their famous capital Deogiri. Muslim ruler later renamed the Daulatabad.
About 1000 A . C . the Muslims began to knock at the gates of India, and by the end of the twelfth century Delhi passed into their hands, ushering in a new political experience for the warring indigenous princes of this vast country. It required a hundred years more for the shock to reach Maharashtra from Delhi.
Towards the end of the 10th century a new race of conquerors from beyond the Himalayas began to knock at the gates of India.
The Turkish general Mahmud of Ghazni begun the task and Muhammad of Ghor completed the task of conquering India.
Within two hundred years, Muslim reduced the whole of northern India. A hundred more years passed and the Muslims undertook the subjugation of the Deccan by crossing the Narmada.
Fall of Hindu Rule in Maharashtra
There were at the time, in the south, four or five important Hindu Kingdoms which the Muslims reduced within less than a quarter of a century. Ala-ud-din Khilji attacked Deogiri in 1294 and forced its ruler Ramdev Rao into submission.
Malik Kafur, Ala-ud-din’s Lieutenant, overran and destroyed the Kakatiya kingdom of Warangal in 1309. They also overran the Hoysala kingdom of Dwarasamudra in 1310.
Immediately after these successes he overran the Chola and Pandya kingdoms of the extreme south and planted the green banner of Islam on the southernmost point of India. Thus Ala-ud-din Khilji before his death could boast of having subjugated the whole of the Indian Continent.
His son Mubarak Khilji and thereafter Tughlak Sultan Muhammad, extinguished the last vestiges of Hindu power in the south. This Tughlak ruler in order to hold the lately conquered territory in perfect submission.
In 1325 transferred his capital to Daulatabad, for some years after he took up his residence here in the south. Thus the Muslim conquest of India appeared to be complete by the year 1326.
Thus Muslim Invasion undone within less than a quarter of a century all the work of the great builders. Ranging from Chandragupta Maurya to Prataprudra of Warangal, covering a period of some sixteen and a half centuries.
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