The Bhonsle (or Bhonsale, Bhosale, Bhosle)[1] are a prominent group within the Maratha clan system. Traditionally they were a warrior clan[2][3] of Kunbi origin.

Maratha clan
LocationMaharashtra, Tamil Nadu

Akkalkot State,[4] Sawantwadi State[5] and Barshi[6] were amongst the prominent states ruled by the Bhonsles.


The Bhonsles originated among the populations of the Deccani tiller-plainsmen who were known by the names Kunbi and Maratha.[7]

At the time of coronation of Shivaji, Bhonsles claimed their origin from Suryavanshi Sisodia Rajput.[8][9][10] Allison Busch, Professor at the Columbia University states that Shivaji was not a Kshatriya as required and hence had to postpone the coronation until 1674 and hired Gaga Bhatt to trace his ancestry back to the Sisodias. While the preparations for the coronations were in process, Bhushan, a poet, wrote a poem about this genealogy claimed by Bhatt in "Shivrajbhushan". Using this example, Busch shows how even poetry was an "important instrument of statecraft" at the time.[11][12]

Scholars suggest that Pandit Gaga Bhatt was secured in charge of authoritatively declaring him a Kshatriya as Bhonsales being Marathas did not belong to Kshatriya nor any other upper caste but were mere tillers of soil as Shivaji's great-grandfather was remembered to have been. Bhatt was made compliant, and he accepted the Bhonsle pedigree as fabricated by the clever secretary Balaji Avji, and declared that Rajah was a Kshatriya, descended from the Maharanas of Udaipur. Bhatt was rewarded for the bogus genealogy with a huge fee.[13][14] The Brahman acknowledgement of Kshatriyahood is therefore taken as political. The passage from the Dutch records suggest the plausibility of this argument.[15] The report of Shivaji's coronation in the contemporary Dutch East India Company archives indicates that Shivaji's claim was contested twice at the ceremony itself. Firstly the Brahmins did not want to grant him the status of Kshatriya and then they refused him the recitation of the Vedas, indicating Shivaji was admitted to the fold of the higher varnas as far as the sign of the sacred thread was concerned, but restricted in their use of the concomitant ritual rights including the recitation of the Vedas.[16]

Historians such as Surendra Nath Sen and V. K. Rajwade reject the Sisodia origin by citing the temple inscription of Math, dated to 1397 and holds the view that the genealogy was forged by Shivaji's men.[17][citation needed] Some Mudhol firmans in the possession of the Rajah of Mudhol claim the descent of the Ghorpades under the Adil Shahs and the Bhonsles, from the Sisodia Rajputs of Udaipur. However historians consider these firmans spurious as these are the copies (not originals), written by a scholar of Bijapur dated to c.1709, much after the coronation of Shivaji.[18][19] André Wink, a professor of History at University of Wisconsin–Madison, states that the Sisodia genealogical claim is destined to remain disputed forever.[16] Following historical evidence, Shivaji's claim to Rajput, and specifically Sisodia ancestry may be interpreted as being anything from tenuous at best, to inventive in a more extreme reading. Although Shivaji's father Shahaji once used the term Rajput to describe himself in a letter to Adil Shah, in that context he apparently meant it as "honourable warrior-chieftain", similar to the term "Raje" instead of literally a person of Rajput descent from North India. According to Hallissey, the term Rajput in the context of Shivaji denotes a member of a clan with its own "clan-state", a political form prevalent in the Rajvada region, which is present-day Rajasthan.[20]

According to R. C. Dhere, Bhonsles are descendants of Hoysalas and Seuna Yadavas, who were cow-herding pastoralists. As per Dhere's story, first cousin (on mother's side) of Seuna Yadava king Singhana I moved to Satara from north Karnataka in the first half of the 13th century. This cousin was "Baliyeppā Gopati Śirsāṭ", also known as Balip, who was a Hoysala. Dhere claims that Shivaji is a descendent of Balip. His middle name Gopati means "Lord of the Cows" and he moved north with a considerable herd of cattle. He was born in Soratpur in 1190, a place where both Seunas and Hoysalas fought a decisive battle. He belonged to the Gavli community and worshipped deity Shambhu Mahadev, a local form of Shiva who is the Kuladevata of Bhonsle family. He settled down in Shinganapur where he established a shrine for his deity, dated by scholars between 1250 and 1350, which coincides with the reign of Singhana I. However, the earliest known Bhonsle Kheloji, great-grandfather of Maloji, does not have genealogical records that connect him to Balip, a 250 years of missing link. But, there is a branch of Bhonsle clan extant in Maharashtra that goes by the name "Śirsāṭ Bhosale". Dhere argues that the name Bhosale is linguistically descended from Hoysala.[21] Shambhu Mahadev is a god of Dhangars and Gavlis.[22][23] Shivaji's first official expedition after his consecration was to a number of religious sites including Shambhu Mahadev temple at Shinganapur. The resting places of Shahaji, Shivaji and Sambhaji are right next to this temple. Many communities in India went through the process of occupational change from pastoralism to settled agriculture in the transition from medieval time to modernity. This is also seen in the Rajputization process of tribal communities.[21]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Kulkarni, Prashant P. (6 June 1990). "Coinage of the Bhonsla Rajas of Nagpur". Indian Coin Society.
  2. ^ History, Kenneth Pletcher Senior Editor, Geography and (15 August 2010). The History of India. The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. ISBN 9781615301225.
  3. ^ Hoiberg, Dale; Ramchandani, Indu (6 June 2000). "Students' Britannica India: D to H (Dadra and Nagar Haveli to Hyena)". Encyclopaedia Britannica (India).
  4. ^ Kulkarni, Sumitra (1995). The Satara Raj, 1818-1848: A Study in History, Administration, and Culture. Mittal Publications. ISBN 9788170995814.
  5. ^ "Portuguese Studies Review". International Conference Group on Portugal. 6 June 2001.
  6. ^ "The Gazetteers Department".
  7. ^ Bayly, Susan (22 February 2001). Caste, Society and Politics in India from the Eighteenth Century to the Modern Age. Cambridge University Press. p. 57. ISBN 9780521798426.
  8. ^ The Quarterly Journal of the Mythic Society (Bangalore). 1975. p. 18.
  9. ^ Singh K S (1998). India's communities. Oxford University Press. p. 2211. ISBN 978-0-19-563354-2.
  10. ^ Maharashtra (India) (1967). Maharashtra State Gazetteers: Maratha period. Directorate of Government Printing, Stationary and Publications, Maharashtra State. p. 147.
  11. ^ Busch, Allison (2011). Poetry of Kings: The Classical Hindi Literature of Mughal India. Oxford University Press. pp. 190, 191. ISBN 978-0-19-976592-8. (190,191)Another concern was an ancestry problem that threatened to derail his coronation. Shivaji was not a Kshatriya as required by classical political thought. This proved not to be insuperable, however. Shivaji postponed the coronation until 1674 and hired Gaga Bhatt, a celebrated pandit, who was able to trace the Maratha King's ancestry back to the Sisodiayas of Mewar...
  12. ^ "MESAAS | Allison Busch". Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  13. ^ Sarkar, Jadunath (1992). Shivaji and His Times. Orient Longman. ISBN 9788125013471.
  14. ^ John Keay (12 April 2011). India: A History. Open Road + Grove/Atlantic. p. 565. ISBN 978-0-8021-9550-0. marathas not being accounted as of kshatriya status, a bogus genealogy had to be fabricated
  15. ^ Shiri Ram Bakshi (1998). Sharad Pawar, the Maratha legacy. APH Publishing. p. 25. ISBN 978-81-7648-007-9.
  16. ^ a b Kruijtzer, Gijs (2009). Xenophobia in Seventeenth-century India. Leiden University Press. p. 143. ISBN 9789087280680.
  17. ^ Krshnaji Ananta Sabhasada; Sen, Surendra Nath (1920). Siva Chhatrapati : being a translation of Sabhasad Bakhar with extracts from Chitnis and Sivadigvijya, with notes. University of California Libraries. Calcutta : University of Calcutta. pp. 260, 261.
  18. ^ Indica. Heras Institute of Indian History and Culture, St. Xavier's College. 1983. p. 89.
  19. ^ Sardesai, Govind Sakharam (1957). New History of the Marathas: Shivaji and his line (1600-1707). Phoenix Publications. p. 46.
  20. ^ Varma, Supriya; Saberwal, Satish (2005). Traditions in Motion: Religion and Society in History. Oxford University Press. p. 250. ISBN 9780195669152.
  21. ^ a b Varma, Supriya; Saberwal, Satish (2005). Traditions in Motion: Religion and Society in History. Oxford University Press. pp. 260–268. ISBN 9780195669152.
  22. ^ Dhere, Ramchandra (2011). Rise of a Folk God: Vitthal of Pandharpur South Asia Research. Oxford University Press, 2011. pp. 266–267. ISBN 9780199777648.
  23. ^ Thirumaavalavan (2003). Talisman - Extreme Emotions of Dalit Liberation. Bhatkal and Sen. p. xxii. ISBN 9788185604688.