Although Risley’s theory of the Scytho-
all grades. Several Maratha clans are totemic: Khandoba (sword father) and
Bhavani (mother goddess), the two chief deities of the Marathas, are
aboriginal in character. References to the Marathas and their country are
found in accounts by the Arab geographer, Al-biruni (1030 AD) and Ibn
Batuta (1340 AD), the African traveller. The Marathas came into political
prominence only in the 17th century, under Shivaji. Historians like Grant
Duff attribute their rise to fortuitous circumstances—like a conflagration in
the forests of Sahyadri mountains—while Justice Ranade ascribes it to
genuine efforts made by Maratha chiefs serving under the Deccani sultans.
Outline of Political History Several Maratha chiefs—such as the
Bhonsales, Jadhavs, Nimbalkars, Mores, Manes, Ghatges, Dafleys, Sawants,
Shirkes, Mahadiks and the Mohites—serving under the Nizam Shahis of
Ahmednagar and Adil Shahis of Bijapur, received excellent training in arms
and administration.
Maloji Bhonsale (1552–1606) joined Nizam Shah with a small band of
cavalry. His son, Shahaji (1599–1664) served under Nizam Shah and Adil
Shah, and came to prominence as a leading Maratha.
Shahaji’s son, Shivaji, born at the Shivner fort on February 19, 1630, was the
creator of the Maratha nation. Shahaji bequeathed his jagir of Pune and Supa,
which was practically independent, to his son.
      ADMIXTURE OF SEVERAL RACIAL, ETHNIC AND
                            TRIBAL GROUPS
  Marathi, which evolved from Maharastri-Prakrit, has been the lingua
  franca of the people of this area from the 10th century onwards. And, in
  the course of time, the term ‘Maharashtra’ was used to describe a region
  which consisted of Aparanta, Vidarbha, Mulaka, Asmaka and Kuntala.
  The tribal communities of Nagas, Mundas and Bhils inhabited this area,
  also known as Dandakaranya, in ancient times. They were joined by the
  Aryans, the Sakas and the Hunas, who came from the North, as well as by
  foreigners, who arrived by sea. The Dravidians from the South colonised
  the land, joining a group which collectively became known as ‘Marathas’.
  The Marathas dominated the political scene in Maharashtra from the
  middle of the 17th century