During the ancient period, around 230 BC, Maharashtra came under the rule of the Satavahana dynasty which ruled the region for 400 years. The greatest ruler of the Satavahana Dynasty was Gautami putra Satakarni. The Vakataka dynasty ruled Maharashtra from the 3rd century to the 5th century. The Chalukya dynasty ruled Maharashtra from the 6th century to the 8th century. The two prominent rulers were Pulakeshin II, who defeated the north Indian Emperor Harsh, and Vikramaditya II, who defeated Arab invaders in the 8th century. The Rashtrakuta Dynasty ruled Maharashtra from the 8th to the 10th century. The Arab traveler Sulaiman called the ruler of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty (Amoghavarsha) 'one of the 4 great kings of the world'. From the early 11th century to the 12th century the Deccan Plateau was dominated by the Western Chalukya Empire and the Chola dynasty.
The Seuna dynasty, also known as the Yadava dynasty of Devagiri, ruled Maharashtra from the 13th century to the 14th century. The Yadavas were defeated by the Khaljis in 1321. After the Yadav defeat, the area was ruled for the next 300 years by a succession of Muslim rulers including (in chronological order): the Khaljis, the Tughlaqs, the Bahamani Sultanate and its successor states called the Deccan sultanates such as Adilshahi, Nizamshahi, and the Mughal Empire.
The early period of Islamic rule saw atrocities such as the imposition of a Jaziya tax on non-Muslims, temple destruction and forcible conversions. However, the mainly Hindu population and their Islamic rulers came to an accommodation over time. For most of this period Brahmins were in charge of accounts whereas revenue collection was in the hands of Marathas who had watans (Hereditary rights) of Patilki (revenue collection at village level), and Deshmukhi (revenue collection over a larger area). A number of families such as Bhosale, Shirke, Ghorpade, Jadhav, More, Mahadik, Ghatge, and Nimbalkar loyally served different sultans at different periods in time. All watandar considered their watan a source of economic power and pride and were reluctant to part with it. The watandars were the first to oppose Shivaji because it hurt their economic interests. Since most of the population was Hindu and spoke Marathi, even the sultans such as Ibrahim Adil Shah I adopted Marathi as the court language for administration and record keeping. Islamic rule also led to Persian vocabulary being used in the Marathi language. Per Kulkarni, for the elites of the era using Persian words was a status symbol. Surnames derived from service during that period such as Fadnis, Chitnis, Mirasdar etc. are still in use.
Most of the Marathi Bhakti poet saints, who worshipped Vitthal, belong to the period between late Yadava to late Islamic era.These include Dnyaneshwar, Namdev, Eknath, Bahinabai and Tukaram. Other important religious figures of this era were Narsimha Saraswati, and Mahanubhava sect founder, Chakradhar Swami All of them used Marathi language rather than Sanskrit for their devotional and philosophical compositions.
The decline of Islamic rule in Deccan started when Shivaji (1630-1680) founded the Maratha Empire by annexing a portion of the Bijapur Sultanate. Shivaji later led rebellions against the Mughal rule, thus becoming a symbol of Hindu resistance and self-rule. Maratha Empire went on to end the Mughal rule and ruled over a vast empire stretching from Attock to Cuttack.