The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was the undisputed head of the administration and he stood for the welfare of his subjects. The administrative system of Shivaji had eight ministers to assist him in the work.The ministers, however, did not form a cabinet in the modern sense of the term, for they were responsible to Shivaji alone, who appointed and dismissed them at will. But he left much work in their hands and except in matters of formulation of policy, he seldom interfered with their work. Nevertheless, the function of the ministers was purely advisory. Among the ministers the Peshwa enjoyed a higher status and royal confidence, but not supremacy over his colleagues.
The ministers, called the Asht Pradhans, were:
- The Prime Minister or Peshwa officially known as Mukhya Pradhan. He was responsible for the general administration and welfare of the kingdom, and, therefore, his main duties were to control other officers and promote harmony in the administration. He represented the king in his absence and put his seal below the king’s to all royal letters and dispatches.
- The Auditor or Majumdar. His duty was to check all the accounts of income and expenditure and to countersign all statements of accounts, whether of the kingdom as a whole or of the particular districts.
- The Foreign Secretary or Dabir or Sumant. His duty was to advise the king on matters relating to foreign states and on questions of war and peace. He had also to receive foreign ambassadors and envoys and to keep in touch with the activities of other powers.
- The Commander-in-Chief or Senapati. He was in charge of the recruitment, organization and discipline of the army. He had also to arrange for the disposition of the troops on the fields of battle.
- The Spritual Head or Pandit Rao. His main duties were to fix dates for religious ceremonies, to punish heresy and to disburse among the Brahmans large sums of money set apart by the king for charity. He was the judge of canon law, royal Almanac and Censor of Public Morals.
- The Chief Justice or Nyayadhish. He was the highest judge in the kingdom and responsible for civil and military justice and for endorsing judicial decisions regarding rights of lands, village headship, etc.
- The Chronicler or Mantri. He was in charge of compiling a daily record of the king’s activities and to watch over his invitation lists, meals, etc., so as to guard against plots.
- The Superintendent or Shuru-Nawis or Sachiv. His duty was to see that all royal letters and dispatches were drafted in the proper style. He had to revise the letters and dispatches. One of his duties was to check the accounts of the parganas.
All the ministers except the Spritual Head and the Chief Justice were required to command armies and lead expeditions.
Military Administration: Shivaji Maharaj was a great military genius who instinctively adopted the guerilla system of warfare. The Maratha army was so well organized, trained and disciplined that it had become irresistible in the 17th century. Chhatrapati Shivaji was the first Indian ruler in the medieval age to perceive the necessity of building up a navy. He built dockyards and ships for trade as well as for protection.
Conclusion: Shivaji not only placed before himself a high political ideal but also success fully endeavored to realize it for common good. The Maratha Government of Shivaji was so well organized that it could continue functioning efficiently in his absence.