South Asia

Organized Panel Session

2 - From Maratha Marauder to Champion of Social Justice: The Dravidianist invocation of Shivaji

Friday, July 6
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Tamarind, New Building

Shivaji, a clan leader and warrior chieftain who rose to form the Maratha empire in 17th century with alleged skill in warfare combined with complex maneuvers involving Deccan sultanate and Moghul empire, invaded Tamil Nadu held by weakening the overlordship of Nayaks of Madurai. His military incursions may as well be characterized as one of a marauder rather than a conquest. However, a later expedition by his son led to the formation of Maratha kingdom in Thanjavur in central Tamil Nadu that lasted till the eventual absorption by British colonial dispensation.


Taking a leaf from Jadunath Sarkar’s history of Maratha empire and Shivaji, C.N.Annadurai penned a play titled “Shivaji Kanda Hindu Samrajyam” (The Hindu Empire Founded by Shivaji) in 1944, which became a huge success. In the play, Shivaji is not portrayed as an alien who invaded Tamil Nadu, but a Non-Brahmin sovereign who was insulted by the machinations of the Brahmins of Varanasi, who had the power to authenticate his ascension to the throne. Shivaji was asked to perform the Hiranya Garba ceremony that would accord him the Kshatriya status that he lacked to become a king as per the Varna theory. Hence in Annudurai’s play, Shivaji inaugurated the incomplete task of overthrowing Brahmin hegemony. 

Ravindran Sriramachandran

Ashoka University, India

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2 - From Maratha Marauder to Champion of Social Justice: The Dravidianist invocation of Shivaji



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