Who Were Bajirao The Great Military Strategist And Princess Mastani

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History of Peshwa Bajirao’s Victory over Nasir Jung | In connection with Chimaji, Mastani and Brahmendra Swami

Who Were Bajirao The Great Military Strategist And Princess Mastani

It’s been a while since I wrote anything on the blog. And my busy schedule leaves me with no intention of reading and writing anything related to history at the moment. But a recent incident made me write my thoughts here.

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This post is different from all the posts written on the blog till now – it is not intended to simply share information / findings of any historical event / person etc., but to clear the air around some claims made in a book by a famous Indian author / historian.

Let me introduce the book and the specific details in it that compelled me to write this article. The book that reached me recently is called “The Forgotten Mughals” and the historian is Mr GS Cheema. The medieval Maratha hero Peshwa Bajirao mentions that Nizam-ul Mulk Qamrudin was defeated by Nazir Jung in the battle of 1739-40. It was the last battle fought by the “invincible” Peshwa who happened to sign a “humiliating treaty” with Nasser. The book presents “evidence” that the Peshwa, popularly known as Rau, was so offended that he wanted to take his own life. Poison.

* – Pilaji Jadhav Chhatrapati was a Maratha Subadar who served Shahu Jin for 30 years. He was a close friend of Peshwa Bajirao.

Now, Peshwa Bajirao ranks among the best cavalry leaders in military history, and is famous for not losing a single battle in his military career of around 19-20 years. So, the details in the book puzzled me, and I am sure, would have created a shock among Maratha history enthusiasts.

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The entire chapter containing the description of ‘Peshwa’s Defeat’ is posted in Appendix I at the end of the text, for interested readers.

It is said in this statement that Bajirao wrote to his brother Chimnaji that he wanted to commit suicide by drinking poison.

Only a handful of references are given at the end of a chapter spanning more than 10 pages, as opposed to a detailed list of references that would fully support any history book.

We will look at the points mentioned in this article one by one. Before proceeding further, it is important to mention that history is such a discipline that it is inevitable that there will be differences of opinion on some events of the past. There are some topics where conflicting references are found and often it is not possible to agree on a specific conclusion/interpretation. But the present case is different. The facts are clearly recorded in many sources and there is no limit to the debate about who was the winner and who was forced to sign the agreement.

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Let’s begin by checking the references the author makes in his notes to the particular chapter he is examining.

1. In his notes, the author refers to the book Later Mughals, Part Two, Page No. 288, and mentions that a certain letter No. 27 is mentioned there. The Peshwa based his theory on his interpretation of this letter that he wanted to die.

Here is page number 288 from the same book, let’s see what this page and the letter mentioned on the page have to say.

Contrary to the claims made on page number 288 of the book under review, Later Mughals, Volume II, in Irvine’s book, there is no place where Bajirao suffered serious illness or wanted to die after taking poison.

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Instead, the letter on this page (no. 27) says that the burning of Bajirao* was to show Delhi to the Mughal Emperor that the Marathas were a force and could not be destroyed.

* – Bajirao did not ‘burn’ Delhi. At the time of writing this letter, it was merely an expression of the anger he felt against the Mughals. The reason behind the anger will soon become clear.

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It can be clearly seen that the letter (No. 27) has been misinterpreted by Mr. Cheema in his book. The letter in Irvine’s book Later Mughals mentions the Peshwa’s desire to attack Delhi to intimidate the Mughal emperor and demonstrate the power of the Maratha army, while Mr. Cheema quotes Bajirao as wanting to kill himself.

The important point here is that the letter and events (taken from Later Mughals by Irvine) relate to the period when Bajrao attacked Delhi in 1737 and the Mughal capital was at mercy. Mr. Cheema presents these events of 1737 as ‘evidence’ for the (alleged) defeat of Nasir Jung against the Peshwa in 1739-40. In other words, he used the Peshwa’s letter to his brother in 1737 to “show” that he wanted to die after being “defeated” in the war of 1739-40.

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Here, it is important to make it clear that I am not rejecting the clause that Bajirao owed. It must be remembered that Bajirao (or even Chhatrapati Shahu) was almost always in debt. The Marathas were not as rich as the Mughal Empire. They finance their work by taking loans. Bajirao took a loan from Babuji Naik Joshi, the brother of his sister Bhiu Bai’shusband, but I dispute the idea in the book that debt was the cause of Bajirao’s death. Bajra debt and death are two different issues.

Let us now read the full letter (No. 27) written by Peshwa Bajirao to his brother Chimnaji Appa, Mr. Cheema from Irvine’s Later Mughals, Vol. II, page number 288, to remove any doubt about the content.

The letter speaks of his anger at the Mughals for boasting to the emperor that they had defeated Bajirao. In this letter, Bajirao explained to his brother about his plan to control the 3 big Muhammad Bangash Saadat Khan and Khan Daura, which he had assembled to block Bajirao’s move to become the Mughal capital.

Before introducing the letter, let me give you the story i.e. why Bajirao wrote to his brother and why he was so angry with the Mughals at that time.

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One of the Maratha generals, Malhar* Rao Holkar, was killed in a battle against the Mughal general Saadat Khan at Etawah (now in Uttar Pradesh) (in

* – A unique Maratha subdar. He served under Peshwa Bajirao / Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj. Later, he established an independent Holkar dynasty in Indore.

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Holkar and his army left the battle and after great difficulty reached Bajrao which was then near Gwalior. Many Marathas were killed during the retreat, some drowned in the Yamuna. Bajirao was not in this war but kept a close eye on these activities (through his agents/letters).

Bajirao learned from his sources in Delhi that the Mughal generals ‘suk ess’ (above Holkar) reported to the Mughal emperor in a ‘grossly exaggerated’ manner and called it “victorious”. Moreover, they report that Malhar Holkar was killed by the emperor’s f orces! This enraged Bajra and he vowed to teach the Mughals a lesson by going to Delhi and picking/burning them right under their noses!

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It was in this mindset that the Peshwas wrote this letter. Note the minute details that the Peshwa mentions about the movements of his enemies and his wise decision not to attack Agra directly because the nature of that plain was not to his advantage. Furthermore, the Mughal strength in Agra grew manifold after the arrival of Khan Dauran and Muhammad Bangash in Saadat Khan’s camp.

The letter is in Marathi language [1], and interested readers can read it in its entirety along with the English translation in Appendix 2 at the end of this post.

Incidentally, the letters exchanged by Bajirao and Chimanaji Appa were also sent to Shahu Maharaj to understand the situation and inform him about the battles they fought.

Words in (regular () brackets) are not in the first letter. They are my own introductions to make the meaning clear.

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Statements in parentheses are given to give a better understanding of the background of the events/places/people under consideration.

Sri Chiranjiv Rajashri Appa (Letter to Bajirayo’s brother Chimnaji as per old custom; Chiranjiv means roughly – chiranta r ​​jiwit – or wish for long life of the addressee).

(I am) living near Saavi Jainagar. Writing (notifying) that I am well. I handed over my heavy luggage and sent some friends.

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