The book is a study of the founder of the Maratha State and grand rebel-Shivaji whose memory inspired the rise of modern Hindu nationalism, a man for whom a majority of Hindus entertain much the same sentiment as the Germans for Frederick the Second and Italians for Garibaldi, and whom the Marathas adore as more than human.
He was a great soldier and the only one who has had the magnanimity to raise a new Kingdom. The Mughal armies had been employed against him for 19 years, and nevertheless, his state had always been increasing. That is how Aurangzeb expressed his feelings when he heard that Shivaji was no more alive.
Until the life time of Shivaji there was no specifically Maratha State nor any sense of Maratha nationality. The Marathas reacting from their domination by Mughal, Arab and Turk, emerged suddenly as a military people; but they drew their strength from the continuity of deep-founded traditions and from a certain solidity of character which has remained curiously unchanged.From a beleaguered garrison the Maratha force became the only military power of consequence in India. After Aurangzeb's death, Mughal Emperor was but a name, Maratha horsemen rode into the streets of Delhi. Maratha sentries paced down the corridors of the Imperial Places.