Chauth and sardeshmukhi were the two most important taxes in the taxation system of the powerful Maratha state founded by brilliant Maratha leader Shivaji (1627-1680). According to Mahadev Govind Ranade, a famous Indian scholar and freedom fighter, chauth was a military tribute that was levied as a as a quid pro quo for protection against the invasion of a third power. But emient historian Jadunath Sarkar does not ascribe to this view. According to him chauth, 25% tax on revenue or produce, was realized from the alien territories to save themselves from the unwelcome presence of the Maratha soldiers and civil underlings. Shivaji was not under obligation to guard the territory from foreign invasion or internal disorder. According to another authority S. G Sardesai, chauth was a military tribute paid by the conquered or hostile territories.
Since Shivaji was the hereditary sardeshmukh (Chief Headmand ) of Maharashtra, he demanded an additional levy of 10 percent known as sardeshmukhi. Ishwari Prasad is of the opion that desai is the corrupt form of the Sanskrit word deshswami also called deshmukh. The sardeshmukh stood above many desais and deshmukhs were under the control of the sardeshmukh. sardeshmukh was paid for his services and this payment was called sardeshmukhi. Shivaji claimed to be the hereditary sardeshmukh of his country.