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Baji Rao I

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Baji Rao I
Baji Rao I
Flag of the Maratha Empire.svg 6th Peshwa of the Maratha Empire
In office
17 April 1720 (1720-04-17) – 28 April 1740 (1740-04-28)
MonarchShahu I
Preceded byBalaji Vishwanath
Succeeded byBalaji Bajirao
Personal details
Born(1700-08-18)18 August 1700
Dubere, Sinnar, Maratha Empire (present-day Nashik district, Maharashtra, India)
Died28 April 1740(1740-04-28) (aged 39)
Raverkhedi, Maratha Empire (present-day Khargone district, Madhya Pradesh, India)
Spouse(s)
Relations
  • Chimaji Appa (brother)
  • Bhiubai Joshi (sister)
  • Anubai Ghorpade (sister)
Children
MotherRadhabai Barve
FatherBalaji Vishwanath

Baji Rao I (18 August 1700 – 28 April 1740)[1] was a general and a statesman of the Maratha Empire in India. He served as the Peshwa to Shahu. Baji Rao was Peshwa in the Ashta Pradhan (8-minister council) of Shahu. He is also known by the name Bajirao Ballal.[2]

Baji Rao I is credited with the expansion the Maratha Empire in India. The Empire reached its zenith later on under reign of Shahu and Bajirao. It is widely regarded that in his military career spanning 20 years, Baji Rao I never lost a battle.[3][4]

Life[edit]

Early life[edit]

Baji Rao was born into the Bhat family in Sinnar. His father, Balaji Vishwanath, was a Peshwa of Shahu and his mother was Radhabai Barve.[5] Baji Rao had a younger brother Chimaji Appa and two younger sisters, Anubai Ghorpade and Bhiubai Joshi. Anubai was married to Venkatrao Ghorpade of Ichalkaranji. Bhiubai was married to Abaji Naik Joshi of Baramati, who belonged to the Deshastha family.[6]

Baji Rao spent his childhood in his father's newly acquired fiefdom of Saswad. Baji Rao and Chimaji were extremely attached to each other and much of their success is due to the enthusiastic co-operation they rendered to each other.[6] Indeed, Baji Rao was inspired by the life stories of Shivaji, Sambhaji, Ramchandra Pant Amatya and Santaji Ghorpade.[7]

Baji Rao was trained as a diplomat and as a warrior under his father. Being born to a Brahmin family, his formal education included reading, writing and learning Sanskrit, but he did not remain long confined to his books. From a very early age, he showed his passion for the military vocation and would often accompany his father on military campaigns.[8][9] He was with his father when the latter was imprisoned by Damaji Thorat, before being released for a ransom.[1] He had also been on the expedition to Delhi in 1719 and was convinced that the Mughal Empire was breaking up and could not resist Maratha expansion to the North.[10] When Vishwanath died in 1720, Shahu appointed the 20-year-old Baji Rao as the Peshwa despite opposition from other chieftains.[11] He is said to have preached the ideal of Hindu Pad Padshahi (Hindu Empire).[12]

Appointment as Peshwa[edit]

Shaniwarwada palace in Pune was built as the seat of the Peshwa rulers during Baji Rao's reign.

Baji Rao was appointed as Peshwa in succession to his father by Shahu on 17 April 1720. By the time of Baji Rao's appointment, Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah had in 1719 upheld Maratha claims to the territories possessed by Shivaji at his death. The treaty also included the Maratha rights to collect taxes (chauth or chauthai and sardeshmukhi) in the six provinces of the Deccan.[13] Baji Rao succeeded in convincing Shahu that if the Maratha Empire was to be defended, it had to go on the offensive against its enemies.[14] Baji Rao believed that the Mughal Empire was in decline and wanted to take advantage of this situation with aggressive expansion in North India. Sensing the declining fortune of the Mughals, he described it as a tree which if attacked at the roots would lead to its complete collapse.[15]

However, as a new Peshwa, he faced several challenges:[1]

  • His appointment as the Peshwa at a young age had evoked jealousy from senior officials like Naro Ram Mantri, Anant Ram Sumant, Shripatrao Pant Pratinidhi, Khanderao Dabhade and Kanhoji Bhosle. This led Baji Rao to promote as commanders young men like himself who were barely out of teens such as Malhar Rao Holkar, Ranoji Shinde, the Pawar brothers, Pilaji Jadhav, and Fateh Singh Bhosle. Also, these men did not belong to families that held hereditary Deshmukhi rights under the Deccan Sultanates.[16][17]
  • The Mughal viceroy of the Deccan, Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jah I, had practically created his own independent kingdom in the region. He challenged Shahu's right to collect taxes in the Deccan[18] on the pretext that he did not know whether Shahu or his cousin Sambhaji II of Kolhapur was the rightful heir to the Maratha throne.[1]
  • The Marathas needed to assert their rights over the nobles of the newly gained territories in Malwa and Gujarat.[1]
  • Several areas that were nominally part of the Maratha territory were not actually under Peshwa's control. For example, the Siddis controlled the Janjira fort.[1]

Campaign against the subjects of the Mughal Empire[edit]

Campaign against the Nizam[edit]

Movements of Baji Rao I and Nizam-ul-Mulk in the Battle of Palkhed

On 4 January 1721, Baji Rao met Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jah I at Chikhalthana to settle their disputes through agreement. However, Nizam refused to recognize the Maratha rights to collect taxes from the Deccan provinces.[1] Nizam was made Vizier of the Mughal Empire in 1721, but alarmed at his growing power, emperor Muhammad Shah transferred him from the Deccan to Awadh in 1723. Nizam rebelled against the order, resigned as the Vizier and marched towards the Deccan. The emperor sent an army against him, which the Nizam defeated at the Battle of Sakhar-kheda. In response, the Mughal emperor was forced to recognise him as the viceroy of the Deccan. The Marathas, led by Baji Rao, helped the Nizam win this battle. For his bravery in the battle, Baji Rao was honored with a robe, a mansabdari of 7,000, an elephant, and a jewel. After the battle, the Nizam tried to appease both the Maratha Chhatrapati Shahu as well as the Mughal emperor. However, in reality, he wanted to carve out a sovereign kingdom and considered the Marathas his rivals in the Deccan.[19]

In 1725, the Nizam sent an army to clear out the Maratha revenue collectors from the Carnatic region. The Marathas dispatched a force under Fateh Singh Bhosle to counter him; Baji Rao accompanied Bhosle, but did not command the army. The Marathas were forced to retreat. They launched a second campaign after the monsoon season, but once again, they were unable to prevent the Nizam from ousting the Maratha collectors.[18]

Meanwhile, in the Deccan, Sambhaji II of Kolhapur State had become a rival claimant to the title of the Maratha Chhatrapati. Nizam took advantage of this dispute among the Marathas. He refused to pay the chauth or sardeshmukhi on the grounds that it was unclear who was the real Chhatrapati: Shahu or Sambhaji II (and therefore, to whom the payment needed to be made). Nizam offered to act as an arbitrator in this dispute. At Shahu's court, Shripatrao Pant Pratinidhi advised Shahu to open negotiations and agree to arbitration by Nizam. At the court of Sambhaji II, his supporter was Chandrasen Jadhav, who had fought Baji Rao's father a decade earlier. Baji Rao convinced Shahu not to accept the Nizam's offer of arbitration and instead launch an assault against him.[18][20]

Nizam invaded Pune, where he installed Sambhaji II as Chhatrapati. He then marched out of the city, leaving behind a contingent headed by Fazal Beg. Nizam plundered Loni, Pargaon, Patas, Supa and Baramati, making effective use of his artillery. Seeing this, on 27 August 1727, Baji Rao started a retaliatory attack through guerrilla warfare against Nizam with his trusted lieutenants Malhar Rao Holkar, Ranoji Shinde and the Pawar brothers. He started to destroy the towns owned by Nizam. Leaving Pune he crossed Godavari river near Puntamba and plundered Jalna and Sindkhed. From there, Baji Rao proceeded to and destroyed Berar, Mahur, Mangrulpir, and Washim. From there, he suddenly changed direction, to the north-west, reached Khandesh, and then crossed Tapi river at Kokarmunda, then with great speed entered the east of Gujarat, reaching Chota Udaipur in January 1728. After hearing that Nizam turned to Pune, Baji Rao feinted that he would devastate Burhanpur. Baji Rao calculated that after hearing the news of the devastation of Burhanpur, Nizam would turn to save Burhanpur as it was strategically important to Nizam. But Baji Rao did not enter Burhanpur, rather he proceeded to Betawad in Khandesh, arriving on 14 February 1728.[21] When Nizam heard that his northern territories had been devastated by Baji Rao, he left Pune and marched towards Godavari with the objective of meeting Baji Rao on an open plain where his artillery could be deployed to great effect. But in order to carry out swift movements he left his unwieldy artillery behind and crossed Godavari to find Baji Rao. On 25 February 1728, the armies of Baji Rao and the Nizam faced each other at the Palkhed, a town about 30 miles west of Aurangabad. Here he was quickly surrounded by Maratha forces and the Nizam suddenly found himself trapped. His lines of supply and communication were entirely cut off and he soon found it impossible to extricate himself and escape to a place of safety. The Nizam was defeated and forced to make peace. On 6 March, he signed the Treaty of Mungi Shevgaon, recognising Shahu as the Chhatrapati as well as the Maratha right to collect taxes in the Deccan.[1][22]

Sir Jadunath Sarkar said the following in his Military History of India about Baji Rao's Palkhed Campaign:

This campaign gives a classic example of what the predatory horse, when led by a genius, could achieve in the age of light artillery.[23]

Malwa campaign[edit]

An equestrian statue of Peshwa Baji Rao I outside the Shaniwar Wada (Shaniwar Palace) in Pune.

In 1723, Baji Rao organised an expedition to the southern parts of Malwa. Maratha chiefs including Ranoji Shinde, Malhar Rao Holkar, Udaji Rao Pawar, Tukoji Rao Pawar, and Jivaji Rao Pawar had successfully collected chauth from several areas in Malwa. (Later, these chiefs carved out their own kingdoms of Gwalior, Indore, Dhar and Dewas States- Junior and Senior respectively). To counter Maratha influence, the Mughal emperor had appointed Girdhar Bahadur as the Governor of Malwa.[1]

After defeating Nizam, Baji Rao turned his attention towards Malwa. In October 1728, he consigned a huge army commanded by his younger brother Chimaji Appa, and aided by his trusted generals, Udaji Pawar and Malhar Rao Holkar. The Maratha forces reached the southern bank of Narmada on 24 November 1728. The next day they crossed the river and encamped near Dharampuri. Then they marched rapidly northwards, crossed the ghat near Mandu, and on 27 November, halted at Nalchha. The Mughal forces, led by Girdhar Bahadur and his cousin Daya Bahadur, hastily prepared to oppose them, hearing that the Maratha armies had begun to climb the ghats. Girdhar Bahadur believed that Marathas, thinking the pass near the fort of Mandu was well guarded, would ascend the ghat near Amjhera, and he marched with his army to Amjhera and took a strong position there. But as the Marathas did not appear that side, he suspected they had climbed near the fort of Mandu and hence set out for Dhar on 29 November 1728. But suddenly he found that Maratha horsemen were coming towards him. The lightly equipped horsemen of Marathas did afford Mughal governor much time to assemble his forces. In a terrific battle on 29 November 1728, Chimaji's army defeated the Mughals at the Battle of Amjhera. Girdhar Bahadur and Daya Bahadur both were killed in the battle. The Mughal forces fled, leaving everything behind, and their camp was plundered. Eighteen elephants, horses, drums and other booty were captured by Marathas. The news of the victory soon spread far and wide and also reached the ears of Peshwa, who was at that time going to succour Chhatrasal.[24] Messages of congratulation were poured on Chimaji Appa and Chatrapati Shahu also expressed his satisfaction. Chimaji also marched towards Ujjain, but had to retreat due to lack of supplies.[1] By February 1729, the Maratha forces had reached the present-day Rajasthan.[18]

Bundelkhand campaign[edit]

In Bundelkhand, Chhatrasal had rebelled against the Mughal empire and established an independent kingdom. In December 1728, a Mughal force led by Muhammad Khan Bangash attacked him and besieged his fort with his family. Chhatrasal had repeatedly sought Baji Rao's assistance, but the latter was busy in Malwa at that time. In March 1729, Peshwa finally responded to Chhatrasal's request and marched towards Bundelkhand with 25,000 horsemen and his trusted lieutenants Pilaji Jadhav, Tukoji Pawar, Naro Shankar, and Davalji Somwanshi. Chhatrasal also escaped his captivity and joined the Maratha force and the joint army went up to 70,000 men.[25] After they marched to Jaitpur, Baji Rao's forces surrounded Bangash and cut his supply and communication lines where he was encamped. Bangash launched a counterattack against the forces of Baji Rao but was unable to pierce his defences. Qaim Khan, son of Muhammad Khan Bangash, learned of his father's predicament and approached with fresh troops. But his force was attacked by Baji Rao's forces and Qaim Khan was defeated. Later Muhammad Khan Bangash was forced to leave and signed an agreement that "he will never attack Bundelkhand again".[25] Chhatrasal's position as the ruler of Bundelkhand was restored. Chhatrasal assigned a large jagir to Baji Rao and also married his daughter Mastani to him. Before his death in December 1731, he ceded one-third of his territories to the Marathas.[1]

Gujarat campaign[edit]

After consolidating Maratha influence in central India, Baji Rao decided to assert Maratha rights to collect taxes from the rich province of Gujarat. In 1730, he sent a Maratha force under Chimaji Appa to Gujarat. Sarbuland Khan, the Mughal Governor of the province, ceded to the Marathas the right to collect chauth and sardeshmukhi from Gujarat. He was soon replaced by Abhay Singh, who also recognized the Maratha rights to collect taxes. However, this irked Shahu's senapati (commander-in-chief) Trimbak Rao Dabhade. His ancestors from Dabhade clan had raided Gujarat several times, asserting their rights to collect taxes from that province. Annoyed at Baji Rao's control over what he considered his family's sphere of influence, he rebelled against the Peshwa.[26] Two other Maratha nobles of Gujarat, Gaekwad and Kadam Bande, also sided with Dabhade.[18]

After the defeat of Girdhar Bahadur in 1728, the Mughal emperor had appointed Jai Singh II to subdue the Marathas. However, Jai Singh recommended a peaceful agreement with the Marathas, the emperor disagreed with him and appointed Muhammad Khan Bangash in his place. Bangash formed an alliance with the Nizam, Trimbak Rao and Sambhaji II. On 1 April 1731, Baji Rao defeated the allied forces of Dabhade, Gaekwad and Kadam Bande; Trimbak Rao was killed in the Battle of Dabhoi. On 13 April, Baji Rao resolved the dispute with Sambhaji II by signing the Treaty of Warna, which demarcated the territories of Shahu and Sambhaji II. Subsequently, the Nizam met Baji Rao at Rohe-Rameshwar on 27 December 1732 and promised not to interfere with the Maratha expeditions.[1]

Even after subduing Trimbak Rao, Shahu and Baji Rao avoided a rivalry with the powerful Dabhade clan: Trimbak's son Yashwant Rao was made the new senapati of Shahu. Dabhade family was allowed to continue collecting chauth from Gujarat on the condition that they would deposit half the collections in the Shahu's treasury.[1]

Campaign against Siddis[edit]

The Siddis of Janjira controlled a small but strategically important territory on the western coast of India. They originally held only the Janjira fort, but after Shivaji's death, they had expanded their rule to a large part of the central and northern Konkan region.[18] After the death of the Siddi chief Yakut Khan in 1733, a war of succession broke out among his sons. One of his sons, Abdul Rehman, asked Baji Rao for help. Baji Rao sent a Maratha force led by Sekhoji Angre (son of Kanhoji Angre). The Marathas regained control of several places in Konkan and besieged Janjira. However, their strength was diverted after Peshwa's rival Pant Pratinidhi occupied the Raigad Fort near Janjira in June 1733. In August, Sekhoji Angre died, further weakening the Maratha position. As a result, Baji Rao decided to sign a peace treaty with the Siddis. He allowed the Siddis to retain control of Janjira on the condition that they would accept Abdul Rehman as the ruler. The Siddis were also allowed to retain control of Anjanvel, Gowalkot and Underi. The Marathas retained the territories of Raigad, Rewas, Thal and Chaul, which they had gained during the offensive.[1]

Soon after the Peshwa marched back to Satara, the Siddis launched an offensive to regain their lost territories. In June 1734, Baji Rao dispatched a force to prevent them from taking over the Raigad fort. Subsequently, on 19 April 1736, Chimnaji launched a surprise attack on a Siddi camp near Rewas, killing around 1,500 of them, including their leader Siddi Sat. On 25 September, the Siddis signed a peace treaty, which confined them to Janjira, Gowalkot and Anjanvel.[1]

March to Delhi[edit]

After the death of Trimbak Rao, Bangash's alliance against the Marathas had fallen apart. Consequently, the Mughal emperor recalled him from Malwa, and re-appointed Jai Singh II as the governor of Malwa. However, Maratha chief Holkar defeated Jai Singh in the Battle of Mandsaur in 1733. After two more battles, the Mughals decided to offer the Marathas the right to collect 22 lakh as chauth from Malwa. On 4 March 1736, Baji Rao and Jai Singh came to an agreement at Kishangad. Jai Singh convinced the emperor to agree to the plan and Baji Rao was appointed as Deputy Governor of the province. Jai Singh is also believed to have secretly informed Baji Rao that it was a good time to subdue the weakening Mughal emperor.[1]

On 12 November 1736, the Peshwa began to march on the Mughal capital Delhi from Pune with a force of 50,000 cavalrymen.[27] On hearing about the advancing Maratha army, the Mughal emperor asked Saadat Ali Khan I to march from Agra and check the Maratha advance. The Maratha chiefs Malhar Rao Holkar and Pilaji Jadhav crossed Yamuna and plundered the Mughal territories in the Ganga-Yamuna Doab. Saadat Khan led a force of 150,000 against them, and defeated them. He then retired to Mathura. But Malhar Rao Holkar rejoined the army of Baji Rao near Gwalior. Samsam-ud-Daulah, along with Mir Bakshi and Muhammad Khan Bangash, invited Saadat Ali Khan to a banquet in his tent at Mathura, thinking that the Marathas had retreated to the Deccan. But in the midst of the feast, they learnt that, avoiding the direct Agra-Delhi route, Baji Rao had moved stealthily through the hilly route of the Jats and Mewatis and appeared before Delhi. After hearing this news, all the Mughal commanders left their feast behind and began a hasty return to capital 'placing the finger of vexation upon the teeth of shame'.[28] The Mughal emperor dispatched a force led by Mir Hasan Khan Koka to check his advance. The Marathas defeated this force in the Battle of Delhi on 28 March 1737. Baji Rao then retreated from Delhi, apprehensive about the approach of a larger Mughal force from Mathura.[1]

Battle of Bhopal[edit]

After Baji Rao's dash on Delhi, the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah sought help from the Nizam, who set out from the Deccan and met Baji Rao's returning force at Sironj. The Nizam told Bajirao that he was going to Delhi to repair his relationship with the Mughal emperor. On reaching Delhi, he was joined by other Mughal chiefs and a massive Mughal army of 30,000, reinforced by a strong contingent of artillery, was sent out against the Peshwa. Peshwa also assembled a force of 80,000 soldiers. To counter any aid to the Nizam from the Deccan, Baji Rao stationed a force of 10,000 under Chimaji Appa on the Tapti River with instructions to prevent Nasir Jung from proceeding beyond Burhanpur. Baji Rao himself crossed the Narmada early in December 1737 with his huge force, keeping his communications under strict control through agents and spies posted in different areas to observe enemy moves. The Nizam decided to find a shelter in a well-fortified place where he could keep his army and artillery secure. Therefore, he took shelter in a fortified town with a lake at his rear, but without assuring himself of plentiful provisions. This was the trap Baji Rao was looking for.[citation needed]

Baji Rao laid siege to the fortified place and cut off provisions from outside. Because of the artillery of the Nizam, the Marathas kept their distance and harassed their lines. The place was completely blockaded and no grain or food could pass in from outside. Men and animals were famished.[29][30] Nizam unable to hold out longer was once again forced to sign a peace agreement, this time at Doraha on 7 January 1738.[31] The province of Malwa was formally ceded to the Marathas and the Mughals agreed to pay 5,000,000 as indemnity. This time, Nizam took an oath on the Quran to abide by the treaty.[1]

Campaign against the Portuguese[edit]

The Portuguese had captured several territories on the west coast of India. They had violated an agreement to give the Marathas a site on Salsette Island for building a factory and had been practising religious intolerance against Hindus in their territory. In March 1737, Peshwa dispatched a Maratha force led by Chimaji against them. Marathas captured the Ghodbunder Fort and almost all of Vasai, after the Battle of Vasai. They also managed to gain control of Salsette on 16 May 1739, after a prolonged siege. However, the Marathas had to turn their attention away from the Portuguese due to Nader Shah's invasion of the Mughal Empire in north India.[1]

1736 visit to Rajputana[edit]

After gaining the consent of Shahu, Baji Rao began a journey north on 9 October 1735. He was accompanied by his wife Kashibai[32][33] and aimed to visit Rajput courts, where he would try to impose chauth by peaceful persuasion. He arrived at the southern frontier of Mewar in January 1736, where Rana Jagat Singh had made arrangements for his visit.[34][35]

Then diplomatic talks got underway. Baji Rao also made a visit to Jagmandir Palace in the middle of Pichola Lake, on Rana Jagat Singh's invitation, and also went to Nath-Dwara. After settling matters in Mewar, Baji Rao advanced towards Jaipur. Jai Singh had hastened southwards with his forces to meet him on the way. Their meet took place in Bhambholao near Kishangarh.[34]

Their visit lasted for several days, with talks regarding granting of chauth and the cession of Malwa from the emperor. Thereafter Baji Rao returned to the Deccan. But the emperor did not agree to Baji Rao's demands, upon which he planned to march on Delhi to enforce agreement.[36][37]

Personal life[edit]

Mastani – Baji Rao's second wife

Baji Rao's first wife was Kashibai. She was the daughter of Mahadji Krishna Joshi and Shiubai of Chas, a wealthy banking family.[38] The relationship between the couple was a happy one.[39][40] They had three sons together: Balaji Baji Rao (also called "Nanasaheb"), Raghunath Rao (also called "Ragoba"), and Janardhan Rao (who died young).[41] Nanasaheb was appointed as Peshwa by Shahu in 1740, succeeding his father.[42]

He took a second wife, Mastani. She was the daughter of the Hindu king Chhatrasal of Bundelkhand from his Muslim wife. The marriage was purely a political one, arranged to please Chhatrasal.[39] In 1734, Mastani bore a son named Krishna Rao. Being born of a Muslim mother, the priests refused to conduct the Hindu upanayana ceremony for him and he became known as Shamsher Bahadur.[1] After the deaths of Baji Rao and Mastani in 1740, Kashibai took the 6-year-old Shamsher Bahadur under her care and raised him as one of her own. Shamsher was bestowed with a portion of his father's dominion of Banda and Kalpi. In 1761, he and his army contingent fought alongside the Peshwa in the Third Battle of Panipat between the Marathas and Afghans. He was wounded in that battle and died a few days later at Deeg.[43][44][45]

Baji Rao moved his base of operations from Saswad to Pune in 1728 and in the process laid the foundation for turning what was a kasba into a large city.[46] Baji Rao also started construction of Shaniwar Wada in 1730. The construction was completed in 1732, ushering in the era of Peshwa control of the city.[47]

Death[edit]

The Baji Rao I memorial at Raverkhedi
Bajirao samadhi raverkhed.jpg
The memorial chhatri
Man of the battlefield.jpg
An information plaque below the statue at the memorial

Baji Rao came down with a sudden fever on 23 April 1740 and died five days later. At that time, he was in a camp in Raverkhedi.[48] He was cremated on the same day at Raverkhedi on Narmada River. Balaji Baji Rao ordered Ranoji Shinde to built a chhatri as a memorial there.[49] The memorial is enclosed by a dharmashala. The compound has two temples, dedicated to Nilkantheshwara Mahadeva (Shiva) and Rameshvara (Rama).[50][dead link]

Battle tactics and character[edit]

Baji Rao was renowned for his rapid tactical movements in battle, using his cavalry, inherited from Maratha generals like Santaji Ghorpade and Dhanaji Jadhav.[51] Two examples are the Battle of Palkhed in 1728, when he outmaneuvered the Mughal Governor of the Deccan, and again in the battle against the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah at Delhi in 1737. His skill lay in moving large bodies of cavalry at great speed.[52] British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery studied Baji Rao's tactics in the Palkhed campaign, in particular the use of rapid movements, his troops living off the land with minimal concern for their own supply and communication lines, conducting "total warfare" against the enemy civilian population. In his book A Concise History of Warfare, he wrote the following about Baji Rao's victory at Palkhed:

They (Marathas) were at their best in the eighteenth century, and the Palkhed campaign of 1727-28 in which Baji Rao I outgeneralled Nizam-ul-Mulk, is a masterpiece of strategic mobility. Baji Rao's army was a purely mounted force, armed only with sabre, lance, a bow in some units and a round shield. There was a spare horse for every two men. The Marathas moved unencumbered by artillery, baggage, or even handguns and defensive armour. They supplied themselves by looting.[53]

Montgomery further writes:

Baji Rao resented the Nizam's rule over the Deccan and it was he who struck the first blow. In October 1727, as soon as rainy season ended, Baji Rao burst into the territories of Nizam. The lightly equipped Marathas moved with great rapidity, avoiding the main towns and fortresses, living off the country, burning and plundering. They met one reverse at the hands of Nizam's able lieutenant, Iwaz Khan, at the beginning of November 1727, but within a month they had fully recovered and were off again, dashing east, north, west, with sudden changes in direction. The Nizam had mobilised his forces, and for a time pursued them, but he was bewildered by the swift unpredictable movements of Marathas, and his men became exhausted.[53]

Jadunath Sarkar called him "a heavenly-born cavalry leader".[52]

Baji Rao concentrated on using local terrain to cut the enemy supply-lines with the help of his rapid troop movement. Always leading from the front, he followed Maratha traditional tactics of encircling the enemy quickly, appearing from the rear of the enemy, attacking from the unexpected direction, distracting the enemy's attention, keeping the enemy off balance, and deciding the battlefield on his own terms. Bajirao kept minute information of the enemy forces to himself and attacked the enemy where least expected, thus implanting fear.[52]

K. M. Panikkar in his introduction to the book, Baji Rao I The Great Peshwa, wrote the following:

Baji Rao, the great Peshwa, was without doubt the most outstanding statesman and general India produced in 18th century. If Shivaji was the founder of Maratha State, Baji Rao could claim that he was the one who saved it from disruption and transformed what was national state in an Empire.[54]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Chhabra, G. S. (2005) [1971]. Advanced Study in the History of Modern India (Volume 1: 1707–1813) (Revised ed.). Lotus Press. pp. 19–28. ISBN 978-81-89093-06-8.
  2. ^ Gokhale, Sandhya (2008). The Chitpavans: social ascendancy of a creative minority in Maharashtra, 1818–1918. Shubhi. p. 82. ISBN 978-81-8290-132-2.
  3. ^ Athale, Anil A. "Why Bajirao is India's greatest cavalry general". rediff.com.
  4. ^ "Celebrating Bajirao, the legendary warrior in Indian history who never lost a battle in his life". Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  5. ^ Barave, Dinakara Dattātraya; Barve (Barave) Kula Snehasãvardhaka Maṇḍaḷa (2007). Barave (Barve) gharāṇyācā kulavr̥ttānta. p. 471. OCLC 824536402.
  6. ^ a b Sardesai, Govind Sakharam (1946). New History of the Marathas: The expansion of the Maratha power, 1707-1772. Phoenix Publications. p. 60.
  7. ^ Sardesai, Govind Sakharam (1946). New History of the Marathas: The expansion of the Maratha power, 1707-1772. Phoenix Publications. p. 67.
  8. ^ Dighe, Vishvanath Govind (1944). Peshwa Bajirao I and Maratha Expansion. Karnatak Publishing House. p. 4.
  9. ^ Sardesai, Govind Sakharam (1946). New History of the Marathas: The expansion of the Maratha power, 1707-1772. Phoenix Publications. p. 66.
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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]


Preceded by
Balaji Vishwanath Bhat
Peshwa
1720–1740
Succeeded by
Balaji Baji Rao