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(both: mərăt`əz, mərä`təz), Marathi-speaking people of W central India, known for their ability as warriors and their devotion to Hinduism. From their homeland in MaharashtraMaharashtra
, state (2001 provisional pop. 96,752,247), 118,530 sq mi (306,993 sq km), W India, on the Arabian Sea. The city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is the capital. The state was formed in 1960, when the old state of Bombay was split along linguistic lines into two new
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 their chieftains rose to power in the 17th cent. The Marathas helped bring about the fall of the MughalMughal
or Mogul
, Muslim empire in India, 1526–1857. The dynasty was founded by Babur, a Turkic chieftain who had his base in Afghanistan. Babur's invasion of India culminated in the battle of Panipat (1526) and the occupation of Delhi and Agra.
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 empire and were the most determined rivals to British supremacy in India. Under the leadership of ŚivajiŚivaji
or Shivaji
, 1627–80, Indian ruler, leader of the Marathas. The son of a Maratha chieftain, he was imbued from early childhood with hatred of the Mughal empire, which controlled most of India.
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, power was extended throughout the Deccan and much of S India. By the mid-18th cent. the Marathas, with their capital at PunePune
or Poona
, city (1991 pop. 2,493,987), Maharashtra state, W central India. It is a district administrative and commercial center with automotive vehicle works, appliance factories, and other manufacturers.
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, were the leading power in India, but their domain soon split into several territories. In the early 18th cent. power passed to a succession of Brahmans who had been serving as peshwas (prime ministers) to the weaker descendants of Śivaji. Great Britain waged several wars with the Marathas, finally subduing them in 1818. The major states of the Maratha confederation included BarodaBaroda
, former native state, now incorporated in Gujarat state, W central India. It is a prosperous area on a fertile alluvial plain. Its chief city, Vadodara (1991 pop.
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, GwaliorGwalior
, city and former princely state, central India. Part of Madhya Pradesh state since 1956, the territory of Gwalior formerly consisted of one large territory and several exclaves. The state was formed in the mid-18th cent.
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, and IndoreIndore
, city and former native state, W central India. The state is now part of Madhya Pradesh state. The region contains extensive forests and much building stone. Indore was established c.
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. During the nationalist period, Marathas played a leading part.


See J. G. Duff, History of the Mahrattas (rev. ed. 1921, repr. 1971); Rao Bahadur G. S. Sardesai, New History of the Marathas (3 vol., 1957, repr. 1986); M. G. Ranade, Rise of the Maratha Power (1962); R. Kumar, Western India in the Nineteenth Century (1968).



a people in India, the principal population of the state of Maharashtra; small groups of Marathas also live in neighboring states. Population, approximately 47 million (1971, estimate).

The Marathas speak Marathi. Most of the Marathas profess Hinduism; the rest adhere to Jainism, Islam, and Christianity. The chief occupation is farming. A diversified handicrafts industry and old traditions of maritime trade contributed to the development of capitalism and the formation of a working class and national bourgeoisie earlier than among many other peoples of India.

In the 15th century, the Russian merchant Afanasii Nikitin visited the Marathas. His description of the life and customs of the Indians relates mainly to the Marathas. Throughout the course of many centuries, the Marathas waged a stubborn struggle against the Great Mogul Empire (under the leadership of Sivaji in the 17th century), with the Portuguese, and later the English colonialists. The Maratha territory was seized by the English as a result of the Anglo-Maratha wars. After India achieved independence (1947), the national state of Maharashtra was created in 1960.


Narody luzhnoi Azii. Moscow, 1963.
Enthoven, R. The Tribes and Castes of Bombay, vols. 1-3. Bombay, 1920-22.
Sardesai, G. S. New History of the Marathas, vols. 1-3. Bombay, 1946-48.
Kincaid, C. A., and D. B. Parasnis Rao Bahadur. A History of the Maratha People. Delhi [et al.] 1968.


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