Ashta Pradhan

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The Ashta Pradhan (Marathi: ) (also spelled Ashtapradhan and Asta Pradhad) was a council of eight men that helped with the administration of the Maratha empire. The council was formed in 1674 by founding Emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji.

The name means "Important eight", from the Sanskrit Ashta ("eight") and pradhan (important). The body discharged the functions of a council of ministers; this is regarded as one of the instances of ministerial delegation in India. The council is credited with having implemented good governance practices in the Maratha heartland, as well as for the success of Shivaji's military exploits against the Mughal empire.

Constitution

The coronation of Shivaji as an independent sovereign was held in 1674, at the fort of Raigad in present-day Indian state of Maharashtra. On that occasion, Shivaji formalized the institution of a council of eight ministers to guide the administration of his nascent state. This council came to be known as the Ashta Pradhan or "eight ministers." Each of the ministers had charge of an administrative department; thus, the council heralded the birth of a bureaucracy.

The formalization of an administrative mechanism was of a piece with other measures, indicative of the formalization of a sovereign state, which were implemented on the occasion of Shivaji's coronation: coinage bearing Shivaji's insignia (the copper Shivrai and the gold hon) were issued, and a new era, the Rajyabhishek era, was...
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