Bhosles of Nagpur.—The Bhosles of Nagpur belonged to the same illustrious Kshatriya clan to which the Chhatrapati’s house belonged. The ancestors of the Bhosles hailed from Hingani-Beradi in the present Pune district and hence the Bhosles of Nagpur are often called Hinganikar Bhosle. The two brothers Mudhoji and Rupaji of the Bhosle family of Hingani-Beradi were contemporaries of Shahaji, the father of Chhatrapati Shivaji and one of the ancestors of the Bhosles of Nagpur who rehabilitated the village of Beradi was probably the contemporary of Maloji, the grandfather of Chhatrapati Shivaji. There is, however; no independent historical evidence to establish a common ancestry between the two families in the few generations preceding Chhatrapati Shivaji.
It is, however, of interest to note that one Sabaji Bhosle according to Malhar Ramrav Chitnis and one Shahaji Bhosle according to Grant Duff performed the obsequies after the death of Shivaji as his son Sambhaji was then in confinement in the fort of Panhala. Though there is no uniformity regarding the name of the person who performed the obsequies ofChhatrapati Shivaji, the name Sabaji Bhosle, the ancestor of the famous Raghuji Bhosle performing the obsequies, indicates that there was a close blood relationship between the Bhosles of Nagpur and the Bhosle house to which Chhatrapati Shivaji belonged. There is ample material and circumstantial evidence to suggest this bond of close blood relationship between the two families if not a common ancestry for both. For example, at the time of the Shahu Chhatrapati’s home-coming when Tarabai and her partisans purposely cast doubt about Shahu being the grandson of Shivaji and called him an impostor, it was Parasoji Bhosle of the Nagpur house who dined with Shahu and dispelled any doubt about his pure ancestry. Similarly, it was during the last days of Shahu, that he contemplated to adopt a person from the Bhosle house of Nagpur to succeed him as he had no son. These facts do indicate the possibility of a common ancestor of all Bhosles of Satara and Nagpur though as raid earlier there is no positive evidence to establish the existence of such a relationship.
The two Bhosle brothers Rupaji and Mudhoji referred to earlier were noted roving soldiers. Rupaji, it seems, was staying at Bham where he held a jagir and also with him were Parasoji and Sabaji, the sons of Mudhoji. They served in the army of Chhatrapati Shivaji. Parasoji seems to have secured distinction by his inroads into the territories of Berar and Gondawana from where he exacted tribute during the reign of Shivaji. After the death of Sambhaji, during the Moghal-Maratha conflict, Parasoji rendered invaluable help to Rajaram who had succeeded to the throne of Chhatrapati. For this he was rewarded by Rajaram by presenting him robes of honour, jaripatka and the title of Sena-saheb-subha. In addition, the territories of Gondawana, Devagad, Chanda and Berar from which he had exacted tribute were given to his charge under a grant made in 1699 A.D.
In 1707 after the death of Aurangzeb when Shahu was released by Muhammad Azam, Parasoji Bhosle was the first of the Maratha nobles to join him in west Khandesh. In appreciation of the services rendered by Parasoji to Shahu, the latter conferred upon him the title of sena-saheb-subha and issued a sanad granting him and his successors in perpetuitymokasa of the following places: —
(1) Prant Ritapur and sarkar Gavel, Prant Berar, Prant Devagad, Chanda and Gondawana.
(2) Mahalwise details of Anagondi, Berar, etc.: —
1 For the grant of these 147 Mahals from the six Sarkars there is, however, no documentary, evidence.
Parasoji collected tributes from Berar, but in 1709 on his return from Satara he died at Khed.
Parasoji was succeeded by his son Kanhoji, who was granted’ his hereditary title ofSena-saheb-subha by Chhatrapati Shahu. Kanhoji firmly established the Maratha power in Berar and Gondavana and made Bham his headquarters. In the early months of 1715 Kanhoji alongwith Khanderav Dabhade entered Malva and burnt and plundered Ujjain and the regions round about, but both suffered a crushing defeat on 10th May at the hands of Jayasingh. Again in the struggle between the Sayyad brothers and the Nizam, Shahu who supported the former, sent Bajirav and Kanhoji Bhosle against the Nizam. In 1724, in the battle of Sakharkhedla when Kanhoji offered to help Mubariz Khan against the Nizam, the former impudently refused it. The relations between Chhatrapati Shahu and Kanhoji Bhosle, however, were not very cordial [It was against the advice of Shahu rendered in his letter to Kanhoji that, “A war is impending between Nizam-ul-mulk and Mubariz Khan; you must not join either party.” that Kanhoji offered his help to Mubariz Khan.]. There was also some estrangement between Kanhoji and Raghuji, his nephew, when Kanhoji had a son, Rayaji and Raghuji naturally went over to Shahu. A closer bond was established between ChhatrapatiShahu and Raghuji Bhosle when the latter received in marriage, the sister of Sagunabai, the wife of Shahu. It was now that Raghuji Bhosle in concert with Ranoji Bhosle of Amravati [Ranoji was the son of Shahu’s first benefactor Parasoji Bhosle. lie alongwith his brother Santaji had accompanied Balaji Vishwanath to Delhi where in an action Santaji was killed. Shahu gave Ranoji the title of Sawai Santaji with fresh inams and rewards.] demanded from Kanhoji their share of hereditary rights in Bhosle principality. Shahu first instructed Balaji Vishvanath, his Peshva to bring about an understanding between them and later he himself tried to conciliate them. Both Raghuji and Ranoji were asked to serve under Kanhoji which they refused to do though subsequently we find Kanhoji alongwith Fatehsingh Bhosle accompanying Bajirav and Raghuji Bhosle on their Karnatak expedition during 1725— 1727. Kanhoji’s relations with the Peshva were also not very cordial as among others he was one of the principal noblemen of Shahu who opposed Bajirav’s claim to Peshwaship and he naturally became jealous of Bajirav with the growing power of the latter in the Maratha government. Kanhoji had constantly failed to submit accounts of his jahagir to Shahu and when called upon to explain his failure to make his revenue payments he could neither pay the dues nor explain the accounts. As the relations between the Chhatrapati and Kanhoji worsened, Kanhoji left Satara without taking Shahu’s permission on 23rd August 1725 and in spite of being pursued by Yamaji Shivdev, succeeded in joining the Nizam. As Shahu remonstrated with the Nizam, the latter refused to give quarters to Kanhoji. An understanding subsequently brought about between Shahu and Kanhoji by Yesaji Siddheshwar, however, proved to be shortlived. All attempts at rapprochement having thus failed Shahu despatched Raghuji against Kanhoji giving him Devur in jahagir and the title of Sena-saheb-subha.Raghuji was also given the sanads for Berar and Gondavana and the right to extend the levy of chauthai to Chhatisgad, Patna, Allahabad and Makasudabad. Raghuji was explicitly asked not to repeat Kanhoji’s insolence and to pay the tribute regularly. Shahu appointed Anant Bhat Chitale in charge of the audits of Raghuji’s jahagir.
Raghuji setting out to meet Kanhoji entered Berar via Aurangabad. He was obstructed near Jalna by Samsher Bahaddar Santaji Alole but a clash between the two was averted by the timely meditation between Dinkar Vinayak and Shivaji Vinayak from Raghuji’s camp and Yeshvant Pilaji a relation of theirs from Santaji’s camp. Raghuji advanced further and crossing the Lakhanvada ghats encamped at Balapur. At Balapur he divided his army of 30,000 horse dispatching sections in all directions collecting chauth and sardeshmukhi in Berar in the name of Shahu. Raghuji defeated Shujayat Khan of Akola, the deputy of theNawab of Ellichpur in the neighbourhood of Ellichpur and subjugated his territory. Having thus established himself firmly over a greater part of Berar, he proceeded towards Bham, the headquarters of his uncle Kanhoji. Kanhoji had prepared himself for adequate defence by fortifying Bham which Raghuji now besieged. Raghuji was now joined by his uncle Ranoji. In the meanwhile Kanhoji was negotiating with the Nizam. One of his lieutenant Tukoji Gujar was killed in an action. Finding himself in a difficult situation Kanhoji escaped from Bham. He was pursued by Raghuji and Ranoji, overtaken near Mandar where he was defeated and taken prisoner. Raghuji took him to Shahu, who imprisoned him in the fort of Satara where he spent the remaining part of his life as a prisoner.
It may here be noted that when these events were taking place, the relations between the Marathas and the Nizam were strained. The Nizam was overcome at Palkhed by the Marathas and he accepted defeat agreeing to Maratha claims of chauth and sardeshmukhi to the six subhas of the Deccan. After the battle of Palkhed Bajirav and his brother Chimaji Appa planned an invasion of Malva in 1728, Chimaji taking the western route through Baglan and Khandesh and Bajirav taking the eastern route through Ahmadnagar, Berar, Chanda, Bhandara and Devgad. Chimaji won a decisive victory over Giridhar Bahadur, the Governor of Malva, on 29th November 1728 at Amjhera thus extending the Maratha sphere of influence in Central India. The plans for the ultimate acquisition of Malva were thus laid.
At the time Shahu conferred the title of Sena – saheb – subha on Raghuji, he gave a bond to the Chhatrapati which stated:
(1) That he would maintain a body of 5,000 horse for the service of the State;
(2) pay an annual sum of Rs. 9 lakhs;
(3) pay half of the tribute, prizes, property and other contributions excluding the ghasdana ;
(4) raise 10,000 horse when required, and accompany the Peshva or proceed to any place he might be ordered [A History of the Marathas, Grant Duff, Vol. I, p. 424.];
The document is of importance in the context of determining the future relationship between the Chhatrapati and Raghuji and that between the Peshva and Raghuji. Raghuji had now consolidated his position at Bham in Berar and had gained valuable experience of political intrigue and diplomacy in his quarrel with his uncle Kanhoji. He was sufficiently politically mature to realise that if he wanted to fulfil his territorial ambitions, he would have to throw in his lot with Chhatrapati Shahu and carve out an independent sphere for himself in the north rather than in the Deccan where the possibilities of confrontation with thePeshva were many. Raghuji, in his earlier career, before finally coming over to ChhatrapatiShahu had served under both his uncles Ranoji and Kanhoji. As he did not fare well with his uncle Kanhoji, he entered the services of Chand Sultan of Devagad. For some time he was also with the nawab of Ellichpur [It would thus appear that Raghuji was a free soldier in the early part of his career shifting his loyalty from his uncle to the weak Gond Rajas. This was rather a time-honoured expedient resorted to by many an ambitious soldier and Raghuji was no exception to it.]. Under Shahu he was sent to Karnatak with Fatehsing Bhosle and in this expedition he distinguished himself as a capable soldier. It was only when Shahu was convinced of Raghuji’s capabilities that he sent him against the recalcitrant Kanhoji. His success earned him the title of sena – saheb – subha as stated earlier. In his subsequent career Raghuji first engaged himself in subjugating the Gond kingdoms of Devagad, Gadha-Mandla, Chanda and Chhatisgad, which were torn apart by internal dissensions and internecine wars. It was then that for a brief period, he was sent to Karnatak on an independent expedition by Shahu during 1739-40. The last phase of his life was taken up by the Bengal wars leading to the extension of Maratha influence in that sector of India and to the acquisition of Orissa. It was during these expeditions against Bengal that Raghuji came in clash with the Peshva Balaji Bajirav who did not uphold Raghuji’s claim in the eastern sector of the Indian Subcontinent. It is necessary to take a review of these activities of Raghuji in general and assess them in so far as they affect, the history of the Bhandara district in particular.
It has already been stated that Raghuji, after he quarrelled with his uncle Kanhoji, entered the services of Chand Sultan of Devagad. After the death of Chand Sultan in about 1738 his illegitimate son Wali Shah killed Mir Bahadar, the elder son of Chand Sultan, whereupon the widow of Chand Sultan, Rani Ratan Kuvar, asked for Raghuji’s help. Raghuji agreed and leaving Bham, his headquarters proceeded to Patansavangi where he defeated Wali Shah’s generals. He then stayed at Keljhar for some time and marched towards the Bhandara district. He conquered Pauni, south of Bhandara on the banks of Wainganga, after a stiff battle with the thanedar of that place. He appointed his own officer Tulojirampant to command the place. Raghuji then proceeded towards the fort of Bhanore or modern Bhandara and besieged the fort [It is said that before Raghuji laid siege to the fort he took the blessings of Devba, a Hindu Saint and Pir Shah, a Muslim Saint, both of Bhandara.]. On receipt of this news Wali Shah sent his Diwan Raghunathsingh with a large force to relieve the pressure on the besieged garrison of the fort. Raghuji decided to work a stratagem with a view to entrap the advancing forces of Raghunathsingh. Raghuji’s besieging army was camping at Shirasghat near Bhandara on the banks of the river Wainganga. Raghuji split his army into two divisions, stationing one at Sonbardi and the other at Giroli. He briefed his general Raghuji Karande about his plan to trap the enemy forces into those two army groups, by himself pretending to be running away from the field of battle and thus bring Raghunathsingh to his ultimate doom. Raghuji’s ruse succeeded when Raghunathsingh and his Gond forces attacked the retreating troops of Raghuji under the impression that they are on the run. In the meanwhile the Maratha divisions stationed at Sonbardi and Giroli attacked Raghunathsing’s army and routed it. The battle was fought near a doh in the Wainganga between Sonbardi and Mirnagar and many of the fleeing troops of the Gondi army were drowned. Raghunathsingh himself was wounded and captured. Raghuji won him over to his side by granting him certain promises and dispatched him to Devagad with an understanding that he would help Raghuji in capturing Wali Shah by treachery. The siege of the Bhandara fort was now vigorously prosecuted. Hari Patil, the commandant of the fort, resisted bravely for twenty-two days, but Raghuji, making use of treachery, forced the commandant to surrender the fort. Hari Patil who was brought before Raghuji was ordered to be executed by him but he was pardoned by the intercession of Raghuji’s general, Raghuji Karande. Bhandara was a place of strategic importance and its capture was of immense importance in the context of Raghuji’s plan of eastward expansion.
From Bhandara Raghuji marched to Devagad. Wali Shah, who was then in the fort, was advised by Raghunathsingh to move out of the fort as preplanned. An action took place between Raghuji’s forces and Wali Shah in which Wali Shah was defeated and made a prisoner. Raghuji called upon Rani Ratan Kuvar and put her son on the throne. The Rani regarded Raghuji as her third son and bestowed upon him the third part of the kingdom of Devagad as also a sum of rupees ten lakhs as war indemnity. Raghuji was granted a sanadaccordingly by Rani Ratan Kuvar in 1737 at his own instance. The sanad states that the fort of Pavni alongwith Balapur, Paragana Mulatai with Chikhali and 156 villages under the saidparagana, the whole of paragana Marud were granted to Raghuji and his successors in perpetuity. The Rani also agreed that she would not enter into a treaty with any other power without the knowledge of Raghuji. The district of Bhandara thus passed under direct Maratha rule. With its acquisition alongwith the territory below the ghats, Raghuji appointed his officers in the newly acquired territory and established important posts therein.
It was at this time that Raghuji shifted his headquarters from Bham in Yeotmal district to Nagpur which must have considerably added to the importance of Bhandara district, with Bhandara occupying a place of strategic importance in the outlying areas. In 1748 Raghunathsingh, the Diwan of Devagad, tried to overthrow Raghuji’s authority by taking advantage of some disturbances in the remnant Devagad territory. Raghuji, therefore, brought both Akbar Shah and Burhan Shah to Nagpur under his direct protection and managed their territory himself. With this the Gond kingdom of Devagad faded into insignificance. With the passage of time the entire territory of Devagad passed under the direct rule of the Bhosles of Nagpur. The Bhosles, however, gave due respect to the Gond Kings and submitted them their dues regularly. The relationship between the Gond Kings and the Bhosle Rajas of Nagpur was much the same if not more honourable as that existing between the Chhatrapatis of Satara and the Peshvas.
Raghuji now firmly established himself into Gondavana and with the exception of a few minor disturbances his authority was not challenged. One such episode involved the commandant of Brahmapuri, Khemansingh and his brother Abheray. Raghuji Karande was sent by Raghuji against him. Marching through Bhandara district, Raghuji Karande attacked the fort which capitulated to him after a siege of 12 days. Khemansing was enrolled into the service of Raghuji, As stated earlier, the fort of Bhandara was captured by Raghuji after the battle of Sonbardi. Its commandant Hari Patil was reappointed as commandant on the advice of Raghuji Karande. He now became restless and refractory. He was, therefore, removed and Khemansingh was appointed in his place as the commandant of the fort of Bhandara.
It may be noted that after Kanhoji’s death, his son, Rayaji had his headquarters at Bham but was attacked there by Raghuji in 1739. Their dispute was, however, ultimately settled by Balaji Bajirav, the third Peshva on 15th November 1748. Rayaji and Ranoji had further misgivings about their saranjam with Raghuji Bhosle, and certain mokasas even of thePeshva could not escape the ravishing strides of Rayaji’s army. However, Rayaji died, leaving no heir, and Raghuji Bhosle secured a fresh sanad from Shahu Chhatrapati which bestowed upon him the right to collect chauthai and mokasa of Lucknow, Makasudabad, Berar, Bengal, Bitia, Bundelkhand, Allahabad, Hajipur, Patna and of the Gond Kingdoms of Devagad, Gadha, Bhavargad and Chanda. This very information given by Wills runs as follows: ” while returning from Satara Shahu Chhatrapati bestowed Gondawana jhadi upto Katak free of revenue upon the sena – saheb – subha:” Gondawana jhadi is the ancient Zadi Mandla to the east of the Wardha river which included Nagpur, Bhandara, Chanda, etc.
It may be noted that the relations between Peshva Bajirav and Raghuji Bhosle were not very cordial though there had never been an occasion for open confrontation between them. As a matter of fact, Bajirav in all his campaigns sought the help of Raghuji and on many occasions it was granted though grudgingly by Raghuji. In 1736 the relations between the Marathas and the Nizam headed towards a crisis and the latter was trapped at Bhopal by Bajirav. At this critical hour Raghuji avoided sending reinforcement to Bajirav and taking advantage of Bajirav’s pre-occupation with the Nizam, Raghuji proceeded as far as Allahabad subjugating Gadha-Mandla and exacting tributes from the Raja. Bajirav resented this act of Raghuji and sent his officer Awji Kawade accompanied by Antaji Mankeshvar against Raghuji. Awji Kawade was, however, defeated by Bhaskar Hari, Krishnaji Atole and Ali Khan sent by Raghuji. Awji Kawade thereupon started depredations in Raghuji’s territory. Raghuji strongly protested to Shahu for these actions of the Peshva’s Officer. Shahu wrote to Bajirav, instructing him to call off his officers from Berar. In the meanwhile Bajirav himself contemplated action against Raghuji, but dropped the idea consequent upon Nadirshah’s invasion of Delhi and Chimaji’s advice not to press matters against Raghuji. The attitude of Bajirav stemmed from his position as the Peshva of the Chhatrapati and in that capacity he naturally expected obedience from the other officers of the kingdom. Raghuji’s attitude to thePeshva was mainly due to his independence of character, his close relationship withChhatrapati Shahu and the jealousy he felt towards the Peshva for his dominance in Maratha politics. This jealousy was continued subsequently during the Peshvaship of Balaji Bajirav whose claim to Peshvaship Raghuji disputed by supporting Babuji Naik’s claim to that post and ultimately leading to a clash of arms between the two which did considerable damage to the fortunes of Maratha kingdom.
It was in 1740 that Raghuji Bhosle was sent to Karnatak along with Fatehsingh Bhosle with a large force to the succour of Raja Pratapsinh. The prant of Karnatak was in a state of utter chaos after the death of Aurangzeb, with the numerous principalities trying to extend their territory at the cost of each other. Under Aurangzeb Karnatak formed part of thesubhas of Bijapur and Hyderabad and both these subhas were included in the sanad given to Shahu by Emperor Muhammad Shah conferring upon him the right of collecting chauthai in the six subhas of the Deccan. The tributary States of Tanjore, Trichinopoly and Mysore were naturally subject to the levy of chauthai. The Nizam as the subhedar of the Deccan, disputed this claim of the Marathas and claimed the territories as his own. Of the various principalities in Karnatak which were constantly engaged in wars, the strongest were those of Arcot, Shira, Kadappa, Karnool and Savanur. The ruler of Tanjore, Pratapsinh, who was a cousin ofChhatrapati Shahu was constantly harassed by Chanda Saheb, the son-in-law of Dost Ali. thenavab of Arcot. Pratapsinh appealed to Shahu for help. The latter dispatched a large force under Fatehsingh Bhosle and ordered Raghuji to follow. Raghuji after making due arrangements in the provinces of Devagad and Nagpur proceeded towards Karnatak [As Raghuji delayed his departure, Shahu reprimanded him by writing a strongly worded latter to him (Rajwade Khand 6, Lekh 149).]. On his arrival in Karnatak he took command of the campaign. The Marathas now attacked Arcot, killed Dost Ali and then advanced towards Trichinopoly, the stronghold of Chanda Saheb and besieged the fort. As Chanda Saheb failed to receive any help from his brother Bada Saheb, he capitulated to Raghuji on 14th March 1741. Both Chanda Saheb and his son were made prisoners by Raghuji and sent to Nagpur. Raghuji’s leadership and tact in the Karnatak campaign at once enhanced his prestige at the court of Shahu. He received Fatehsingh and Raghuji Bhosle at Satara with high encomiums and in appreciation of the services rendered by Raghuji, conferred upon him the mokasa of Berar and Gondavana right up to the frontiers of Katak. It could well be said that the Karnatak campaign gave Raghuji eminence at the court of Satara and eventually in the Maratha confederacy. It helped in giving him a status on a par with the Peshva.
As stated earlier, it was the eastward expansion of the Maratha power thought of by both Peshva Balaji Bajirav and Raghuji Bhosle, that brought them into direct confrontation with each other. The Marathas had first made their incursions into Orissa under Kanhoji without, however, securing a stronghold there. To Raghuji, after he defeated his uncle Kanhoji, Shahu had granted a sanad of Berar and Gondavana and of the right to collectchauthai of Chhattisgad, Patna, Allahabad and Maksudabad. It will be interesting to note that this sanad was granted by Shahu in a completely foreign territory that belonged to the Moghal emperors. Balaji Bajirav, who was as ambitious as Raghuji had also broached toChhatrapati the necessity of strengthening the Maratha position not only in Malva and Bundelkhand but in the territories lying beyond towards the east. A clash, therefore, between the Peshva and Raghuji Bhosle was inevitable and with the death of Bajirav in 1740, the relationship between the two assumed an added sting.
A brief description of the situation in Bengal would explain why Maratha incursions were made possible in that province. In 1740, Bengal, Bihar and Orissa were under the jurisdiction of the navab who resided at Murshidabad. These three provinces were formerly under the excellent rule of Murshid Kuli Khan, who had died in 1727. He was succeeded by Shuja Khan, who died in 1739. Shuja Khan was succeeded by his son Sarfaraz Khan, who was killed by an ambitious Turk in his service, named Alivardi Khan who now assumed theNavabship. This usurpation by Alivardi Khan was strongly resented by a strong faction in Alivardi’s court headed by Mir Habib who had risen to the deputy navabship of Orissa. He now appealed to Raghuji for help. Raghuji at that time was engaged in his Karnatak campaign and his general at Nagpur, Bhaskar Ram was disinclined to undertake major operations in Bengal in the absence of Raghuji. When Raghuji returned to Nagpur after the conclusion of his Karnatak campaign, he was informed of the political situation in Bengal and the offer made by Mir Habib pertaining to Bengal territory if help was extended to him. This was a very tempting offer to Raghuji, who looked on this eastern province of Bengal as his special sphere and he made thorough preparations by fitting out a strong expedition for proceeding into Orissa and Bengal. At this very time the Peshva himself conceived the plan of taking a hand in the affairs of Bengal. The expedition started on the Dasara day of 1741 headed by Bhaskar Ram. Bhaskar Ram marched through Ramgad and plundered the district of Burdvan. When Alivardi Khan, who was at this time returning from Katak, heard of these Maratha activities he rapidly marched to Burdvan with a slender force. It was here that the Marathas surprised and surrounded him and started plundering and devastating the adjoining districts. Alivardi Khan, finding himself in a desperate situation, begged for peace but as Bhaskar Ram demanded very high terms the negotiations broke down. Alivardi, thereupon, secretly left for Katva, but was hotly pursued by the Marathas when his escape became known. As the monsoon was approaching Bhaskar Ram decided to retire to Nagpur. Mir Habib, however, prevailed upon him to prolong his stay by placing before him the prospect of obtaining immense wealth by suddenly falling upon Murshidabad. Bhaskar Ram agreed and Mir Habib, taking a select Maratha force, fell on Murshidabad on 6th May 1742, rapidly plundering its treasure. He returned to Katva loaded with plunder amounting to between two and three crores of rupees. The Marathas subsequently extended their sway over territory up to Calcutta and recaptured Orissa. Alivardi Khan now contrived a plan to take revenge upon the Marathas and attacked the Maratha camp at Katva on 27th September 1742 when the Marathas were busy celebrating the Durgapuja festival. The Marathas were forced to flee for safety, Bhaskar Ram retreating to Pachet. Burdvan, Hugli, Hijli and Katak were retaken by Alivardi Khan. Bhaskar Ram immediately informed Raghuji of this disaster and requested for additional reinforcement. Raghuji however, could not at once go to the relief of Bhaskar-pant owing to his clash with Balaji Bajirav Peshva.
As stated earlier, the common aspirations of both Balaji Bajirav Peshva and Raghuji Bhosle in the north led to a violent clash between the two. The Peshva, who had left Pune as early as 1741, had claimed the revenues of Bengal and just then captured Gadha and Mandla, plundering the Paraganas of Seoni and Chhapar which Raghuji considered as his sphere. Raghuji strongly protested to Chhatrapati Shahu against the Peshva who had now firmly planted himself in Malva. In the meanwhile Alivardi Khan, who was not aware of the relations between Raghuji and the Peshva feared a joint attack from both of them. He, therefore, applied to the emperor for help. The Peshva, on the other hand, communicated his readiness to help the emperor if the chauth of Malva, Bundel Khand and Allahabad was granted to him. The emperor agreed to the Peshva’s proposals and directed him to go to the succour of Alivardi Khan who undertook to pay the Peshva’s expenses. A meeting that took place between the Peshva and Raghuji at Gaya was devoid of any concrete understanding between the two [Purandare Daftar 1, 152.]. From Gaya the Peshva proceeded to Murshidabad where he was met by Alivardi Khan on 1st February 1743. The latter agreed to pay the Peshva Rs. 22 lakhs towards his expenses and the annual chauth of Bengal to theChhatrapati. The Peshva encountered Raghuji on 10th April in the narrow of Bendu near Pachet when Raghuji started retreating from Katva after forming a plan to fight rear guard actions with the pursuing Peshva’s army. The encounter between the two was not an all out one as Raghuji’s main army had already retreated through the pass and Raghuji’s loss was negligible. From Pachet Raghuji went to Nagpur and the Peshva to Gaya on his return to Pune. The differences between the Peshva and Raghuji and now their actual clash alarmed Shahu. He summoned both of them to Satara where they were reconciled. An agreement was signed by both on 31st August 1743 at Satara by which all the territory from Berar to the east right up to Cut-tack, Bengal and Lucknow was assigned to Raghuji with which thePeshva bound himself not to interfere whereas the territory west of this line including Ajmere, Agra, Prayag and Malva was to be the exclusive sphere of the Peshva [Chitnis Bakharp. 79: Aitihasik Patravyavahar 35-39: Nanasaheb Rojnishi 1-10; Rajwade Volume 2, pp. 98-99.]. Raghuji, after this understanding with Peshva, returned to Nagpur and dispatched Bhaskar Ram early in 1744 to complete his unfinished work in Bengal fully equipped with men and material. Alivardi Khan was harassed by Bhaskar Ram and Mir Habib for payment ofchauth. Finding himself incapable of fighting it out with Bhaskar Ram Alivardi Khan formed a plan of killing Bhaskar Ram by inviting him to a private meeting and have him murdered with all his party. The proposed meeting took place on the plain of Mankara between Amaniganj and Katva on Friday 30th March 1744. Bhaskar Ram had not heeded the warning sounded by Mir Habib and had gone to the meeting with a few select men when all of a sudden at a signal from Alivardi Khan his soldiers rushed in the tent and cut down Bhaskar Ram along with his comrades.
Bhaskar Ram’s murder was an irreparable loss to Raghuji and he never forgot the treacherous act of the Khan. With a view to punishing the Khan, Raghuji started with fourteen thousand cavalry, crossed the mountainous tract and putting Sambalpur to his left reached Orissa in March, 1745. Durlabhram, the new deputy governor of Orissa, who was taken by surprise, entered the fort of Barabati for safety. The fort was besieged by Raghuji, Durlabhram soon surrendered to Raghuji and found himself a prisoner in his camp, but the siege continued as another officer, Abdul Aziz, offered stiff resistance. Alivardi was unable to send supplies to Abdul Aziz at the approach of the rainy season. Abdul, therefore, surrendered the fort to Raghuji on 12th May 1745, after bravely defending it for two months. When the siege was on, the Marathas occupied Orissa as far as Midnapur and Hugli, and plundered Burdvan [Ibid, p. 14.].
After capturing the fort of Barabati the Marathas moved to Burdvan. At the invitation of a number of disgruntled Afghans Raghuji marched towards Bihar. An indecisive battle was fought at Mehib Alipur and Alivardi ran towards Murshidabad on 21st December 1745. At Ramdighi near Katva Raghuji received a terrible set-back and left for Nagpur in January of 1746. He stationed three thousand Marathas under Mir Habib on the understanding that he would pay rupees eleven lacs for the use of his army [OUM., pp. 15, 16.].
In order to checkmate the Marathas Alivardi sent his men from Murshidabad in November, 1746. They inflicted a crushing defeat upon the Marathas at Midnapur. The Marathas fled towards Balasore through Jaleshvar.
By this time Janoji Bhosle appeared on the scene. He reached Katak for the rescue of Mir Habib. A stiff battle ensued between Janoji and Alivardi, but as the rains were on, the latter returned to Murshidabad, leaving the Marathas masters of Orissa up to Midnapur throughout the year 1747. The plundering operations of the Marathas continued unabated. Janoji returned to Nagpur on hearing the news of his mother’s death. Mir Habib was at Midnapur with a Maratha force to help him. Raghuji sent his son Sabaji for the assistance of Habib.
In 1748 Alivardi reached Balasore and despatched his army to drive away the Marathas, who were making preparations to plunder the English factory under the command of Nilo Pandit. He in vain tried to search for the force under Habib, who was hiding in the jungles of Katak. He then made a surprise attack on the fort of Barabati and was finally able to take it in his possession. In June, 1749, Alivardi returned to Bengal
Mir Habib with the Maratha force reappeared at Katak, Alivardi had to postpone his attack on the Marathas as the rains had set in. On his reaching Murshidabad he was taken ill in October 1749[OUM., pp. 16,17.].
From October, 1749 to March, 1751, the Marathas did not allow Alivardi to rest. They harassed him by avoiding an open war when he came out with a large army from Murshidabad. In 1750 when Alivardi was at Midnapur the Marathas quickly marched towards Murshidabad plundering all the way. Durlabhram and Mir Jafar, the officers who were stationed at Midnapur were nervous and unable to check the Maratha inroads. This lingering war was a great drain on Alivardi’s resources and men. The territory under him was a house divided against itself. In 1750 Alivardi was a man of 75, physically ailing. As the situation was intolerable, his shrewd wife advised him to negotiate with the Marathas. Old Alivardi accepted his wife’s counsel and deputed Mir Jafar to meet Janoji and Mir Habib to settle the terms of peace. For more than a couple of years Janoji was in Orissa or Raghuji was busy with the political affairs at Satara and Nagpur. The treaty was signed in May, 1751.
Raghuji Gaikvad who was guarding the Maratha camp, eluded the pursuers and reached Nagpur. He communicated the news of this tragedy to Raghuji who decided to take revenge for this act of treachery. Raghuji consoled Konher Ram, Bhaskar Ram’s brother, and assigned the subha of Berar to Taibai, the wife of Bhaskar Ram. It was, however, in February, 1745 that Raghuji left Nagpur for his Eastern expedition. He captured Cuttack on 6th May and demanded a fine of 3 crores of rupees from Alivardi Khan for the murder of his brave general. For the rainy season he cantoned at Birbhum but had to sustain a defeat later in December near Murshidabad, upon which he hastened back to Nagpur leaving a party of 3,000 troops for the assistance of Mir Habib [P.D 20-26.] who remained in possession of Orissa. In 1746 Raghuji sent his son Janoji against Alivardi Khan. He, joining forces with Mir Habib, defeated Alivardi Khan near Burdvan. Janoji, however, subsequently suffered defeat at the hands of Alivardi Khan and retraced his steps to Nagpur. The plundering operations of the Marathas still continued unabated. Raghuji now dispatched his third son Sabaji to Bengal. Sabaji and Mir Habib did their best to harass the Navab in all possible ways and made the situation so intolerable for him that ultimately he agreed for an accommodation with the Marathas. He sent Mir Jafar to settle the terms of peace and a protracted negotiation resulted in a solemn treaty signed in May, 1751 containing the following terms: —
(1) That Mir Habib be confirmed in the government of Orissa, as the Naib or deputy of the subhedar of Murshidabad ;
(2) That the Navab should annually pay twelve lakhs of rupees to the Bhosle of Nagpur for the chauth of Bengal and Bihar;
(3) When these amounts are regularly paid, the Bhosles should no longer harass the two provinces by their expeditions;
(4) That the district of Cuttack, i.e., territory up to the river Suvarnarekha be consideredBhosles’ possession,
The treaty thus ensured the imposition of the ‘chauth upon Bengal and Bihar and the possession of Cuttack. Raghuji’s tenacity and perseverance are well exemplified in this ten-year struggle for the conquest of Bengal. He, however, gradually lost his health and breathed his last at Nagpur on 14th of February 1755. It may be noted here that it was through the Bhandara district that most of the Bengal expeditions of Raghuji Bhosle and his general Bhaskar Ram as also of his sons Janoji and Sabaji passed. In this context the district of Bhandara assumed importance in that it provided a safe passage for these expeditions bounded as it was on its northern and southern boundaries by the thick forests of Balaghat and Chanda, respectively. Naturally the district of Bhandara had an equal share in the fortunes of the Nagpur territory on account of its geographical and strategic position during the times of Raghuji Bhosle I.
Raghuji’s territory included the area from Berar to Katak. The Gond Kingdoms of Gadha-Mandla, Chanda or Chandrapur and Devagad were in his possession. Berar proper was under the dual authority of the Bhosles and the Nizam. Originally the Bhosles were to get from the revenue of Berar 25 per cent as chauthai, 10 per cent as sardeshmukhi and 5 per cent asghas-dana, the total working at 40 per cent. The remaining 60 per cent of the total revenue of Berar was to go to the Nizam. But later, this original treaty seems to have been reversed by which the Bhosles secured 60 per cent of the revenue and the Nizam the remaining 40 per cent.
The strategic forts of Gavilgad and Narnala with the territory attached to them were exclusively under Raghuji’s possession. Similarly, the fort of Manikdurg in the Mahur area belonged to him. As already observed, the States of Chhattisgad were also under his sway as important outposts between Nagpur and province of Katak. The acquisition of this vast territory speaks for Raghuji’s generalship. He might have lost a few battles but he always won the war. In diplomacy, as understood in his day, he was second to none. By his mounting successes he won the confidence of Chhatrapati Shahu and on critical occasions he was consulted by him. Shahu prior to his death, had called Raghuji to Satara to discuss the matter of succession to the Chhatrapati’s gadi. Raghuji was related to Shahu through his wife.
Like Bajirav I, Raghuji too was loved by his followers. He had capable and trustworthy persons like Bhaskarpant, Raghuji Karande, Tulojipant, Naroji Jachaka, Rakhamaji Ganesh, Krishnaji Atole and others.
Raghuji and the Peshvas were not always on good terms. The rivalry between the two goes back to the days of Peshva Bajirav I. The spheres of influence of Raghuji and Bajirav came into conflict when Bajirav secured one-third part of Bundelkhand for the timely help rendered to Chhatrasal against Bangash. When Bajirav was fighting with the Nizam at Bhopal in 1738, Raghuji did not offer him any help in spite of repeated requests. In the agreement between Raghuji and Shahu, it was clearly stated that the former would accompany thePeshva in his campaigns. But actually neither Bajirav nor his son Balaji was able to command the services of Raghuji in their capacity as the Peshva or Prime Minister. Chhatrapati Shahu too often found it difficult to exercise control when two or more of his high servants were at sixes and sevens. Lack of strong central authority was rather the serious defect from with the Maratha power suffered in the post-Shivaji period.
Raghuji avoided an open clash with Bajirav knowing well his ability as also the influence he wielded over the Chhatrapati, Bajirav too acting on the advice of his brother Chimajiappa settled his differences with Raghuji amicably.
The differences between Raghuji and Balaji Peshva over the eastern sphere are historic. They were settled by the mild-tempered Shahu, who divided the spheres of activity of the two by granting Raghuji the territory from Nagpur to Katak and to the Peshva to the west of this line. Raghuji supported Babuji Naik who was aspiring for Peshvaship as against Balaji Bajirav. But so long as Shahu was alive, such differences were not allowed to take a serious turn. After Shahu’s death Raghuji respected the Peshva’s authority. He did not join thePeshva’s opponents in the Maratha confederacy, being convinced that he was the ablest man among the Marathas to occupy the Peshvaship. Raghuji knew well when to oppose and when to yield. He was not prepared to allow matters to be carried to the breaking point unnecessarily. In one of his letters to Nana Peshva he writes ‘ the late Shrimant Bajirav was kind to me. But differences arose when we had a clash with Avaji Kavade who had entered Berar. All these matters should now he forgotten and I should be treated as your man. [PD.20,p. 30.] Balaji Peshva, on learning the death of Raghuji, wrote, ‘ Raghuji was a respectable nobleman. His death is indeed a matter of great regret. God’s will has to be accepted. Of late Raghuji was of much help to us.’ [PD. 20, p. 68.]
Raghuji was a self-made man. He had risen to the status of a first-rate nobleman at the court of Shahu by the dint of his merit. He, therefore, regarded that his status was on par with that of the Peshva for all practical purposes. He disliked that the Peshva should interfere with his sphere of influence. It may be observed that for this mutual jealousy neither thePeshva nor Raghuji was so much at fault. The defect lay in the weakness of the central authority. In the absence of a strong centre the Marathas were not able to create an effective confederacy which could enforce its authority over all.
Raghuji was mainly responsible for the prosperity of Nagpur territory. He brought along with him a number of Maratha and Brahman families from western Maharashtra who infused new order and life in the administration of Nagpur and Berar. Cultivation of Nagpur improved under Raghuji. A number of Kunbi or cultivators’ families settled in the territory under Raghuji. The credit of settling the weavers or Koshtis also goes to Raghuji Bhosle.
Raghuji was a devotee of Rama. He installed the idol of Rama at Ramtek and revived the importance of this place of epic fame. He made land grants to many other temples and holy places. The Jari pataka and the saffron-coloured flag were the emblems of Raghuji.
Raghuji had four sons—Janoji and Sabaji who were born of the younger wife, and Mudhoji and Bimhaji of the elder one. Janoji was the eldest among these brothers and Raghuji willed that Janoji should become the sena-saheb-subha and others should get their due shares of his territory. Disregarding this Mudhoji claimed the position of sena-saheb-subha on the ground that he was the son of the eldest wife of Raghuji. He also wrote letters to Janoji with an address proper only to a younger brother. Janoji had the support of a number of courtiers like Krishnaji Govindrav, the subhedar of Berar, Narhar Ballal, thesubhedar of Nagpur, Shivabhat Sathe, the subhedar of Cuttack and others such as Raghuji Karande, Bimbaji Vinjal, Naroji Jachak, Shivaji Keshva Talkute, Anandrav Vagh and Krishnaji Atole. On the other hand, Mudhoji was backed by his divan Sadashiv Hari, Dinkar Vinayak, Shivaji Vinayak and Narasingrav Bhavani. The dispute was referred to the Peshva Balaji Bajirav. Both of them were called to Pune. The title of sena-saheb-subha was conferred on Janoji while the new title of Senadhurandhar was created for Mudhoji. Mudhoji received Chandrapur or Chanda and Chhattisgad with the former as his seat of administration. Bimbaji was to reside in Chhattisgad and Sabaji at Darva in Berar. The Bhosle brothers agreed to pay to the Peshva a sum of twenty lacs as a present on this occasion according to the time-honoured custom. Actually the sanad of sena-saheb-subha was issued as late as 1761 by Tarabai when Madhavrav I assumed Peshvaship.
By about 1759, the two brothers tried to settle their differences by resorting to arms. A battle was fought near Rahatgaon in which Mudhoji was forced to retreat. In the treaty that followed, it was decided that Mudhoji should actively participate in the administration and Raghuji Karande, Trimbakji Raje (Wavi-kar), Bhosle and Piraji Nimbalkar should act as mediators with a view to avoid any rupture in future. Piraji Nimbalkar along with his force of six thousand was brought into the service of Janoji by Divakarpant.
In 1760 Janoji and Mudhoji appealed to Sadashivrav to settle their dispute. Sadashivrav offered to settle it but asked them to run to his help at Udgir in his war against the Nizam. Both the brothers hastened to help Sadashivrav but the latter had concluded a treaty with the Nizam before the armies of the Bhosles could be brought into the field. It may here be noted that Mudhoji was mainly against Divakarpant and Balaji Keshav, the two officers of Janoji. Before the two brothers, therefore, proceeded to help Sadashivrav Bhau, Mudhoji secured an understanding from Janoji that both the above officers should be arrested and the former should be imprisoned in the fort of Devagad and the latter in the fort of Ambegad in Bhandara district. When Divakarpant and Balaji Keshav were informed of this development both of them wrote to the Peshva to intercede in their behalf. It appears that the matter was subsequently dropped at the intercession of the Peshva.
Later, Mudhoji was forced to leave the fort of Chanda when two of his trusted officers Abaji Bhosle and Gangadharpant turned against him. Janoji, taking advantage of this difficulty, marched on Chanda, but hurriedly left the place being involved in the Peshva-Nizam war, leaving behind Tulojipant and Majid-khan for the reduction of Chanda fort.
The differences between the two brothers often resulting in an armed clash naturally weakened the power of the Bhosle. Nagpur after the death of Raghuji became a hot bed of political intrigues. Many courtiers exploited the family faction to their selfish ends. The two brothers were finally reconciled to each other because Janoji who was without a son decided to adopt Mudhoji’s son as his successor. The credit for this amity, however, goes to the situation rather than to the wisdom of either of the brothers.
Janoji Bhosle was a man of vacillating nature. In the conflict between the Peshva and the Nizam he sided with the latter. But both the Peshvas Balaji and Madhavrav I, proved too strong for him. Raghuji Bhosle when once reconciled with the Peshva by the efforts of Shahu remained loyal to him. Janoji failed to grasp the situation and had to pay heavily for the same in his relations with the Peshvas. At least as a matter of policy for safeguarding his own territory, he should have maintained friendly relations with the Peshvas.
It was Balaji Bajirav who brought about a compromise between Janoji and Mudhoji. Janoji never cared to pay the Peshva the sum of the present he had agreed to, when he was invested with the title of sena-saheb-subha. Similarly, he was very negligent in the payment of the dues to the central treasury. The Peshva’s efforts to recover the State dues through his agents Vyankat Moreshwar and Trimbakaji Bhosle proved futile [NPI., p. 125.]. In 1757-58 Mudhoji accompanied Raghunathrav in his north Indian expedition. But soon returned back to Berar owing to some differences with him [NPI., p. 123.].
In the battle of Udgir, Janoji and Mudhoji went to help Sadashivrav Bhau when the war was practically over. For a short time, when the Bhosle brothers worked in co-operation they helped the Peshva in his attack on the Nizam at Sindkhed. The Bhosle brothers, mainly Janoji and Mudhoji did not accompany Bhausaheb to the battle-field of Panipat. Nor does the Bhau seem to have commanded their service when the Marathas were to engage themselves in a life and death struggle with Ahmad Shah Abdali. The cordial relations which existed between the Peshvas and the Shindes were conspicuous by their absence between the Peshvas and the Bhosles of Nagpur.
Janoji and Mudhoji were with Nanasaheb Peshva when he was hastening to help Bhau before the final rout of the Marathas on the battle-field of Panipat. Janoji saved the retreating Marathas from the attacks of the anti-Maratha elements on their homeward journey. He brought the recalcitrant Bundela Chiefs under control.
Following their defeat in the Third Battle of Panipat, the Marathas were busy putting their own affairs in order. The robes of Peshvaship were granted to Madhavrav I. His uncle who was aspiring for the same office was not happy with this arrangement. The Nizam, who was smarting under the defeat he had suffered in the battle of Udgir, was eager to fish in the troubled waters at Pune. With a vast army of sixty thousand strong he desecrated the holy places of Toka and Pravara-Sangam and dug up Shinde’s palaces at Shrigonda for hidden treasure. In December, 1761, he camped at Urulikanchan for an attack on Pune. Raghunathrav sent urgent calls to the Maratha generals for help. Janoji Bhosle had joined the Peshva with his army. He was present in the battle of Chambhargonda with a force of seven to eight thousand. The Nizam was surrounded by the Maratha forces and compelled to surrender. The majority of the Maratha nobles felt that this was the long awaited opportunity to exterminate the Nizam. But this could not be brought about because of the easy terms he was given by Raghunathrav, under which, territory worth 40 lakhs of rupees was ceded to the Nizam in return for the jagirs which Ramchandra Jadhav had held from the Nizam and who had now joined the Marathas.
Raghunathrav had given easy terms to the Nizam at Uruli with a view to securing his support in his dispute with Madhavrav which was expected any moment. Raghunathrav was unwilling to work in co-operation with his young nephew who was the Peshva. The situation deteriorated fast heading towards a civil war. Raghunathrav’s partisans had secretly secured the help of the Nizam and Janoji Bhosle. In this great plot headed by Raghunathrav it was decided to deprive Madhavrav of his Peshvaship and power. Raghunathrav, was to appoint men of his own choice in high offices. Janoji Bhosle was lured into the plot by the offer ofChhatrapatiship at Satara after deposing Ramraja. Janoji and the Nizam met near Kalaburgi (Gulburga) and agreed to join the plot. From the territory that would be acquired, the Nizam was to secure sixty per cent of the total tribute and Janoji forty per cent. The Peshva’sagents Vyankat Moreshvar and Ramaji Ballal tried in vain to dissuade Janoji and his adviser Divakarpant from joining the plot.
Young Madhavrav realising the gravity of the situation boldly surrendered himself to his uncle and put an end to the civil war that was threatening to sap the Maratha power. By this dramatic decision Janoji’s dream of securing Chhatrapatiship evaporated. Janoji doubtless aspired to be the Chhatrapati, at the instigation of Raghunathrav. However, for the moment it was dropped and Janoji was given leave to depart.
Shortly after the surrender of Madhavrav to his uncle, the latter-Raghunathrav—started making his own arrangement by distributing offices and titles to his favourites and partisans. For some days in November, 1762, the Maratha leaders and diplomats assembled at Alegaon and discussed all domestic issues. Unfortunately such meetings could not be held frequently to solve the problems of the Maratha confederacy. Moreover, there was not a strong central authority which could force the decisions on all the members taken at such meetings.
The treaty between the Marathas and the Nizam proved to be short-lived. Raghunathrav, who was proceeding against Haidar Ali, received news that the Nizam and Janoji Bhosle along with a number of discontended courtiers were busy forming a coalition against him. Janoji and the Nizam met at Gulburga on 9th February 1763 and discussed the plan of seizing the Peshva’s lands and sharing the spoils. Among the other Marathas who joined the Nizam were the Patvardhans and the Pratinidhis. It may be noted that Raghunathrav, no sooner he assumed power, effected many changes in the administration of the State such as appointing Ramchandrapant Jadhav as senapati and his infant son as Pratinidhi and by his action made enemies of the Patwardhans and the Pratinidhis, the reason perhaps for their joining hands with the Nizam. The Nizam, as the head of this unholy alliance, sent his demands to the Peshva stating that all forts east of the river Bhima should be delivered unto him, those who had been deprived of their jagirs should receive them back and the Peshvashould settle all the State affairs in consultation with the Nizam’s divan.
This challenge nullified the easy terms which Raghunathrav had given to the Nizam at Urulikanchan. Giving up the march on the territory of Haidar Ali, Raghunathrav moved towards Aurangabad. Malharrav Holkar joined Raghunathrav when he was promised an additional jagir of ten lacs. The plan of Raghunathrav and Holkar was to lay waste the territory of the Nizam and his partisans. Knowing well that Raghunathrav was a past master in the guerilla warfare, the Nizam decided to attack Pune on the advice of Janoji Bhosle. The combined armies of the Nizam and the Bhosles fell upon Pune in 1763. Gopikabai sought shelter with her men and jewellery in the fort of Purandar. Heavy tribute was exacted from the people of Pune, and the city was burnt down. The shrine of Parvati and other temples were desecrated and idols destroyed. Raghuji Karande, the general of the Bhosle laid waste the region around Sinhgad and Purandar. He looted the Peshva’s jewellery at Sasvad and set on fire important State records taken there for safety. To retaliate the sack of Pune Raghunathrav and his men carried fire and sword in the Nizam’s territory. His army sacked parts of Berar. Mahadaji Shinde was ordered to raid Janoji’s territory and he proceeded towards Berar from Ujjain. Raghunathrav had written to Janoji reprimanding him of his disloyalty and bringing to his notice how unbecoming it was for him to join the Nizam. At the same time Malharrav Holkar was trying to persuade Janoji through his advisers Divakarpant and Bhavani Munshi to give up the cause of the Nizam. Janoji was offered territory worth 31 lacs and was to be confirmed in the sena-saheb-subhaship. These direct threats and diplomatic approaches finally won Janoji to the Peshva’s side. He agreed to leave the Nizam at the nick of the moment when the Marathas would lead an attack. The other Maratha nobles like Bhavanrav Pratinidhi, Gopalrav Patvardhan, Piraji Nimbalkar and Gamaji were also persuaded to desert the Nizam on the promise of receiving jagirs and restoring lost positions. In the battle of Rakshasabhuvan (10th August, 1763) the Nizam was routed and forced to surrender. He gave to the Peshva territory worth 82 lacs that is all that had already been secured at Udgir but which Raghunathrav had agreed to give back at Uruli and Alegaon. Of the territory acquired the Peshva handed over territory worth over 32 lakhs of rupees to Janoji. Janoji gave a banquet to the Peshva and presented him the guns he had captured in the sack of Pune along with the Nizam. Janoji and the Peshva were reconciled temporarily.
Vithal Sunder, the divan of the Nizam, who was the brain behind all the ambitious schemes of his master was killed in the battle of Rakshasabhuvan.
The young Peshva Madhavrav distinguished himself in this battle. The success of this battle was mainly due to his strategic and tactical movements.
In the Maratha-Nizam struggle which ended in the battle of Rakshasabhuvan, Janoji, because of his changing policy, had displeased both the Nizam and the Peshva. He had given up the wise policy of his father of supporting the Peshva as the strong man. His policy was devoid of any sound principle. It was guided by the idea of extending his own territory at the cost of others, including that of the other Maratha potentates. This was rather the common malady from which the entire Maratha power was suffering. Madhavrav was determined to correct this defect. With great difficulty he had brought Janoji into his camp in the life and death struggle with the Nizam. The sack of Pune in which Janoji carried fire and sword was an act which the Peshva was not prepared to forget. In the family dispute between Madhavrav and Raghunathrav Janoji always espoused the cause of the latter. Raghunathrav in his own way gave easy terms to Janoji, looking upon him as his supporter in his dispute with Madhavrav.
Madhavrav was waiting for an opportunity to punish Janoji. Berar was subject to the dual administration of the Bhosles and the Nizam under the treaty signed, on May, 1758 and known as sathi-chalishi treaty. This treaty stipulated that 45 per cent of the tribute would go to the Bhosles and the remaining 55 per cent would be allotted to the Nizam. This naturally created friction between the two on several occasions. In 1765 Moro Dhondaji an officer of the Nizam in Berar was attacked by Janoji’s men. The Nizam’s fiasco in the battle of Rakshasabhuvan was the result of Janoji’s treachery. He was keen on taking revenge upon Janoji for his breach of trust. He, therefore, appealed to the Peshva for help when his officer was attacked. The Peshva at once decided to help the Nizam. On 17th October 1765,Madhavrav proceeded from Pune and was joined by the Nizam’s divan Rukna-ud-Daula with a force of seven to eight thousand. The combined forces camped at Edalabad in December, 1765. Raghunathrav also came with his force to join his nephew. The Nizam started from Hyderabad and camped at Karanja. His army was well-equipped with artillery. From Edalabad the Peshva’s forces went to Balapur and started looting the territory of the Bhosle after dividing themselves into suitable batches. Sums of Rs. 1,75,000 and Rs. 1,70,000 were exacted from Balapur and Akola, respectively, as tributes. Janoji and Mudhoji took shelter in the fort of Amner along with their families. Later, they shifted to the stronger fort of Chanda. Janoji finding the combined forces too strong for him to overcome sued for peace through the Peshva’s envoy, Vyankat Moreshwar. The Peshva too had no stomach for the fight. He was satisfied with the punishment he had meted out to the disobedient Janoji. The terms of the treaty were finalised at Kholapur, near Daryapur in 1766. It was decided that the Bhosle should retain territory worth Rs. 8 lacs only, out of the total territory of Rs. 32 lacs he had received from the Peshva, in the battle of Rakshasabhuvan. Out of the remaining 24 lacs, thePeshva was to give the Nizam territory worth Rs. 15 lacs and was to retain for himself the rest. Many differences between the Nizam and Janoji were settled on this occasion. Following approachment Janoji sent him men to help Raghunathrav in his north Indian campaign.
When the negotiations between Madhavrav and Janoji were in progress, the former’s agent conveyed him Janoji’s contention. Its gist is indicative of the general state of affairs in the Maratha Confederacy. Janoji was not slow to understand that the dispute between him and the Peshva would only benefit the Nizam. But desire for power rendered any satisfactory solution difficult. The letter written to the Peshva by his agent conveying Janoji’s mind runs as follows: ” The Shrimant being angry with us (Janoji) has invaded Berar. I am not guilty of burning Pune. When the Nizam indulged in this act I did “not support him. I, however, admit that I did not help in the campaign against Haidar Nayak. It is after all human to err. But the punishment meted out to me by depriving me of territory worth Rs. 30 lacs is too heavy. That has now been offered to the Nizam. Should the serpent be fed with milk? If I am ordered to attack the Nizam, I would destroy him in no time I shall proceed by rapid marches to meet your honour. I should not be let down.” Janoji gave expression to his feelings in these words. But it seems that he did not really repent for what had happened. For, within a couple of years after the treaty of Daryapur he once again sided with Raghunathrav in his dispute with Madhavrav and drew the latter’s wrath upon himself.
In the quarrel between Madhavrav and Raghunathrav in 1768, Janoji decided to support the latter. However, Raghunathrav was defeated and arrested before Janoji’s army could join him.Madhavrav was determined to teach Janoji a lesson for violating the treaty of Daryapur in which he had agreed to support his cause. Janoji was apprehensive of a fresh attack by thePeshva. He, therefore, sent his envoy Chimanaji Rakhamangad Chitanis to the Peshva for a talk. The Peshva refused to listen to the envoy and asked Janoji to send Devajipant to Pune, as he considered Devajipant to be the mischief-maker in the Peshva-Bhosle altercation. Madhavrav arrested Devajipant and marched on Berar. The Peshva was accompanied by his generals Gopalrav Patvardhan and Ramchandra Ganesh Kanade. The Nizam sent a force of eight thousand strong under Rukna-ud-daula and Ramchandra Jadhav. The Peshva, with the forces of his ally, occupied Bhosle’s territory to the west of the Wardha river. The relatives of Janoji had taken shelter in the fort of Gavilgad. Jewellery too was removed to this place. Janoji with his forces encamped at Tivasa to the west of Wardha river on 7-12-1768.
The Peshva did not chase Janoji. He took the fort of Amner (20-1-1769) and straightway proceeded to Nagpur. Nagpur was looted and burnt. The burning of Pune by Janoji was thus fully avenged. After the sack of Nagpur Madhavrav dispatched Ramchandra Ganesh Kanade with a force to capture the ground-fort of Bhandara. The fort was besieged and subsequently captured by Ramchandra Ganesh.
The fort of Chandrapur or Chanda, the stronghold of the Bhosles, was the next target of attack. The fort was besieged by the Peshva’s army. Janoji who was outside moved from place to place carrying on a running warfare with the Peshva’s army. In order to relieve the pressure on the fort of Chanda, Janoji spread rumours that he was marching towards Pune to release Raghunath-rav from the custody. At the same time Devajipant who was in the custody of Madhavrav managed to receive secret letters from Janoji stating that when thePeshva was engaged with the siege of Chanda, ‘Janoji would attack Pune and set Raghunathrav free. The letters were intended to be seized by Peshva’s intelligence department. This ruse had its effect. The Peshva’s apprehension of Janoji’s attack on Pune was strengthened. When these rumours gained currency, Pune was in the grip of consternation as the memory of Janoji’s first invasion was yet fresh. The Peshva at once decided to raise the siege of Chanda and sent his men against Janoji. He sent a letter through Rukna-ud-daula to Janoji on 3rd March, 1769, expressing his desire for peace. Janoji, who was eager to end the war, sent his terms and the treaty was finalised on 23-3-1769 near Kanakpur. Devajipant was the principal figure on behalf of the Bhosle in bringing about this treaty.
In the treaty of Kanakpur it was decided that—
(1) Janoji was granted a jagir of 32 lacs in 1763, out of which he was allowed to have only 8 lacs in 1766; Janoji should now relinquish all claim over the jagir.
(2) The lands of the Bhosles of Akkalkot confiscated by Janoji should be released.
(3) The Bhosles used to collect ghasdana from the Aurangabad subha belonging to thePeshva. They should discontinue this practice. The Bhosles likewise should stop collecting ghasdana from the Nizam’s territory. The Bhosles would get theirghasdana collections from the Peshva and the Nizam from their officers. The Bhosles should themselves collect ghasdana only if the Nizam’s Officers fail to do the same for them.
(4) The Bhosles should serve the Peshva with their army when called.
(5) The Bhosles should make no changes in the strength of their army without the permission of the Peshva.
(6) The Bhosles should not shelter rebels and disloyal persons coming from the Peshva’sterritory.
(7) The Bhosles should not enter into political negotiations with the Emperor of Delhi, the Navab of Oudh, the Rohillas, the English and the Nizam without the consent of the Peshva.
(8) The Bhosles should pay an annual tribute of Rs. 5 lacs to the Peshva in five instalments.
(9) The army of the Peshva while passing through the Bhosle’s territory would use the old routes.
(10) The Peshva should not interfere with the domestic affairs of Janoji so long as he was looking after his relations properly.
(11) Reva Mukundpura, Mahoba, Charthane, Jintur, Sakarkheda, Mehekar should be given to the Peshva by Janoji.
(12) The Bhosle should send his army to Orissa only if it is not required by the Peshva.
(13) The Peshva should help the Bhosle with his army in the event of an invasion of the latter’s territory.
Madhavrav and Janoji met at Mehekar ceremonially. Parties and presents were exchanged. The Nizam’s divan Rukna-ud-daula was also present at Mehekar.
A careful analysis of these terms shows that Madhavrav’s aim was to bring central control in the Maratha confederacy, which was so necessary for its growth and survival. From the days of Bajirav I, the Peshvas were struggling hard to assert their authority over the Bhosles of Nagpur in their capacity as prime ministers. There was no clear constitutional ruling on this point except the prevailing practice. The Bhosles in their own way considered themselves as the equals of the Peshvas. All accepted the overlordship of the Chhatrapati.But after the death of Shahu his successors proved to be nonentities. Under the circumstance the Peshvas tried to assert their authority over others with a good degree of success up to the time of Madhavrav.
During Janoji’s sena-saheb-subhaship Purushottam Divakar alias Devajipant Chorghade of Narkhed rose into prominence. He secured for Janoji huge sums of money required for war. In his dealings with Madhavrav Peshva, Divakarpant was his chief adviser. Madhavrav considered Devajipant as the Machiavelli at the Nagpur Court. He was a full wise man out of the three and a half wise men of the day. For some time towards the end of. Janoji’s career Divakarpant lost his master’s confidence and fell on evil days. But he was always looked upon as the inevitable man on critical occasions because of his keen grasp of events. Very few original papers are available about this diplomat of Nagpur. He died in 1781. Among other persons of note of Janoji’s times may be mentioned Bhavanipant Munshi, Bhavani Kaloo and Ganesh Sambhaji. Bhavanipant Munshi became Janoji’s counsellor when Devajipant fell from his favour. Bhavani Kaloo rose to the position of the general. For some time he was thesubhedar of Katak. He constructed the temple of Balaji at Vashim and installed the image found underground. The last, Ganesh Sambhaji too acted as the subhedar of Katak.
Janoji Bhosle had no son. He had decided to adopt Raghuji, the eldest son of his brother, Mudhoji. After the treaty of Kanakpur he was on good terms with MadhavaravPeshva. Janoji travelled to Thevur near Pune where Madhavrav was on his deathbed and secured his consent to Raghuji’s adoption. From Thevur he went to the holy places, Pandharpur and Tuljapur. He died at Yeral (Naldurg) on his homeward journey on 16th May 1772, owing to severe stomach-ache. Mudhoji created a monument in honour of Janoji and secured some land from the Peshva for its maintenance.
After the death of Janoji the house of Bhosles was plunged into family feud worse than the one that was witnessed at the death of Raghuji I. Prior to his death Janoji had secured the consent of the Peshva for regularising the adoption of Raghuji II, as he was himself without a son. But the actual adoption ceremony had not been gone through. Neither was the title of sena-saheb-subha conferred on Raghuji II, officially. Exploiting these lapses Sabaji, the younger brother of Mudhoji, approached Madhavrav Peshva for the grant of Sena-Saheb-Subhaship. As Mudhoji was a partisan of Raghunathrav, Madhavrav sent the robes of Sena-Saheb-Subhaship for Sabaji with his agent Ramaji Ballal Gune. At the same time Daryabai, the widow of Janoji, joined Sabaji and declared that she was pregnant and would give birth to a posthumous child. This created an embarrassing situation for Mudhoji. The success of the parties at Nagpur thus depended upon the powerful personality in the family dissensions of the Peshvas at Pune.
As a safety measure Mudhoji sent his family members into the fort of Chanda and collected a force of 25,000 strong to face Sabaji. The armies of the two brothers met at Kumbhari near Akola in 1773. After a few engagements the two brothers decid ed to close the tight. It was agreed that Sena – Saheb – Subhaship should go to Raghuji II and actual administration should be looked after jointly by Mudhoji and Sabaji. The Prabhu brothers, Vyankat Kashi and Lakshman Kashi were deputed to Pune for securing the robes of Sena-Saheb-Subhaship for Raghuji. At this time Narayanrav was the ruling Peshva. This arrangement proved unsuccessful as Sabaji was dissatisfied with it. In the rivalry between Narayanrav and Raghunathrav, Sabaji took the side of the former while Mudhoji supported the latter. Sabaji sought the aid of the Peshva and the Nizam, and the combined forces laid siege to Ellichpur as its Navab was a partisan of Mudhoji. But in 1773, when NarayanravPeshva was murdered, Sabaji’s party was considerably weakened and he openly supported the Barabhais. Mudhoji’s cause was greatly strengthened when Raghunathrav assumed power after murdering his nephew. A compromise was brought about between Mudhoji and Sabaji, which in its own way was destined to be short-lived. The Nizam, who had taken the side of Sabaji, drew upon himself the wrath of Raghunathrav. The Nizam was attacked and forced to enter into a treaty with Raghunathrav. With the Bhosle, the Nizam formed the treaty of Sixty-Forty.
The family dispute between Mudhoji and Sabaji was finally settled when the latter was killed in the battle of Panchgaon near Nagpur on 26th January 1775. In this battle Mudhoji was joined by the Gardi Muhammad Yusuf, one of the murderers of Narayanrav. The Panchgaon battle gave Mudhoji a free hand in the political affairs of Nagpur. Daryabai and the other partisans of Sabaji quietly surrendered to Mudhoji.
For some time in 1775, the Barabhais instigated Shivaji Bhosle of Amravati to rise against Mudhoji. They promised Sena-Saheb-Subhaship to Shivaji. This move was deemed necessary by them as their rival Raghunathrav had the support of Mudhoji Bhosle. On 6th March 1775, Raghunathrav entered into an alliance with the British at Surat in order to oppose the Barabhais. The rising of Shivaji Bhosle of Amravati could not assume any serious proportion due to the timely mediation of Divakarpant.
The fratricidal wars among the Marathas were fully exploited by the English for the expansion of their power. In 1773, when the Pune court was faced with extraordinary situation following the assassination of Narayanrav, the British forces moved from Bombay and took the fort of Thana. In fact the British had been casting their covetous eyes on the island of Sashti (Salsette), since long, for the safety of Bombay. The fort of Thana surrendered on 28th December 1773. This was the actual beginning of the First Anglo-Maratha war which terminated in the Treaty of Salbye in 1782. Raghunathrav, in his quarrel with the Barabhais, finally embraced the British giving them the long sought opportunity of interfering with the internal affairs of the Marathas. Raghunathrav became a British protege by the Treaty of Surat dated 6th March 1775. With a view to curbing the growing ambition of the British and their aggression Nana Phadnis proposed an anti-British Confederacy consisting of the Peshva’s Government, the Nizam, Haidar Ali and the Bhosles of Nagpur. At this time the prestige of the British had suffered a setback in the eyes of the Indian powers due to the unscrupulous methods of Warren Hastings. This was rather the opportune time for the Marathas to move against the British as they were engaged in a long war with the French. But the well-conceived quadruple alliance could not be worked out because of the machinations of Warren Hastings. Realising the danger of the alliance proposed by Nana Phadnis, Hastings restored Guntur to the Nizam and detached him from the Confederacy. His next move was the seduction of the Bhosles of Nagpur.
According to the plan of Nana Phadnis, the Bhosles were to attack the English in Bengal, Haidar Ali to proceed against Madras and the Pune forces to harass the British in Gujarat and Bombay. To execute a part of this joint plan, a large force under Khandoji Bhosle popularly known as Chimanaji marched towards Orissa. Chimanaji was a man of courage and action. He was instructed to invade Bengal for the collection of chauthai which was in arrears. But at the eleventh hour he was prevented from stepping into Bengal by Raghuji II on the advice of his crafty minister Divakarpant Chorghade. Hastings was able to purchase the loyalty of both Khandhoji and Divakarpant by bribing them heavily. By the end of 1778 Goddard had secured Mudhoji’s permission for the passage of his army through the latter’s territory into Gujarat. Nana was enraged at this and immediately sent for Raghuji and Divakarpant and secured their support to his four party alliance. But the two never kept their word.
Mudhoji Bhosle who was a sworn member of the Confederacy was the first to inform Hastings of Nana’s plan. It was he who prevented Khandoji Bhosle from invading Bengal. Mudhoji, in all these activities had violated the Treaty of Kanakpur between Janoji and Madhavrav. It was presumed that he would observe the treaty to which his elder brother Janoji was a party. But at the critical juncture he cast the previous bindings to the winds and went ahead recklessly allying himself with the British and their protege Raghunathrav for selfish gains. The role played by Mudhoji, Raghunathrav and their supporters is indicative of the state of affairs prevailing among the ruling Maratha noblemen.
In 1785 Mudhoji had been to Pune with his army to help Nana Phadnis in the war against Tipu Sultan. The battle was fought at Badami in 1786 in which the Nizam, the Bhosles and the Peshvas jointly defeated Tipu. Chimanabapu distinguished himself in this war. On his homeward journey Mudhoji paid a visit to the holy places in Maharashtra and returned to Nagpur. Mudhoji died at Nagpur on 19th May 1788, after a very active political career of over.two decades.
Towards the end of Janoji’s career Divakarpant had fallen from his grace and was imprisoned. His property too was confiscated. Mudhoji, who needed his help most, released him. Divakarpant was soon restored to his former position and served Mudhoji as his principal counsellor. Mudhoji was never loyal either to the Barabhais or to Nana Phadnis. Throughout his career he supported Raghunathrav. At one time he was prepared to serve as a vassal of Warren Hastings severing his relations with the Peshva. Divakarpant had to tow the line of his master. But in doing so he could have impressed upon his master as to what was ultimately good for the Maratha nation as a whole. This naturally required a man of high moral character. It could not be expected of Divakarpant, who was enjoying the confidence of Warren Hastings, to rise above self-interest. Divakarpant was bribed by Hastings in order to dissuade the Bhosles from joining the quadruple alliance of Nana Phadnis. Thus, ‘ the full-wise man’ out of the noted three and a half wise men of the Maratha country, proved to be otherwise in the larger national interests.
The title of Sena-Saheb-Subha was finally conferred on Raghuji in 1775, during thePeshvaship of Savai Madhavrav. Actually he was designated for this title much earlier but sanction for the same could not be had from Pune, because of the strained relations between the Peshvas and the Bhosles. Raghuji assumed power after the death of his father Mudhoji.
Raghuji’s relations with Nana Phadnis were amicable. In the battle of Kharda in 1795, Raghuji sent his army under Vitthal Ballal Subhedar to help the Peshva. Vithal Ballal distinguished himself in this war and was highly honoured by Nana. Raghuji’s gains in this war were substantial. He received territory worth three and a half lacs from the Nizam for the ghasdana of the Gangthadi region. The Nizam agreed to pay his arrears to Raghuji amounting to Rs. 29 lacs. It was decided that both should share the revenues of Berar as in the past. New sanads of the territory to the south of the Narmada were granted by thePeshva to Raghuji. Sanads of this territory were granted to the Bhosles by NanasahebPeshva, but the officers of the latter had not given Raghuji the actual possession so far. Raghuji got the possession of Hushangabad, Chauragad and Bachai. Raghuji stuck to the party of Nana Phadnis even after the tragic end of Savai Madhavrav. In appreciation Nana gave Raghuji Rs. 5 lacs in cash and the possession of Gadha-Mandla.
The Raja of Sagar gave Raghuji a part of his territory for the help he had rendered in the event of an attack by one Amirkhan. Similarly, the fort of Dhamoni was secured from a petty Rajput chieftain and Hushangabad from the Navab of Bhopal by Raghuji. Thus, by 1800 Raghuji’s kingdom was at its zenith. It was the largest of the Maratha States towards the close of the eighteenth century.
The following account might give some idea of the territory and its revenue under Raghuji II: —
|(Rs. in lacs)|
|(1) Devagad including Nagpur||30|
|(3) Hushangabad, Shavani-Malva, Chauragad, etc.||7|
|(4) Multai or Multapi||2|
|(5) Half the revenue of Berar and the Gavilgad, Narnala, etc.||30|
|(6) Orissa and the other feudatory States in the area||17|
|(7) Chandrapur or Chanda||5|
|(8) Chhattisgad and the other feudatory States like Bastar, Sambalpur, Sirguja, Kankar, Kala-handi, Jasapur and Gangpur||6|
These figures of revenue from the different parts of the territory under Raghuji appear to be true. Raghuji, however, was destined to see the decline of the Bhosle house when called upon to face the powerful East India Company.
In 1798, Lord Wellesley came to India as the Governor General. His objective was to bring the Indian States under ‘ Subordinate Isolation’ by his most potent weapon of ‘ subsidiary system’. Mysore was the first of the Indian States to be forced to accept the subsidiary alliance. The Nizam was the next to enter it for self-protection. Bajirav II in his wars with the Maratha potentates and in particular with Yashvantrav Holkar, embraced the subsidiary alliance in 1802. Thereafter, the Maratha States one after another sold their freedom for a mess of pottage. Under the circumstances, it was not easy for Raghuji to keep himself out of the iron trap laid by Wellesley. As early as 1799 Mr. Cole-brooke was sent to Nagpur to persuade Raghuji to enter the subsidiary alliance. He stayed in Nagpur for two years but was not successful in bringing Raghuji under the alliance.
The Treaty of Bassein of 1802, by which Bajirav II bartered away his freedom was highly resented by Yashvantrav Holkar. Daulatrav Shinde and Raghuji Bhosle, too, were upset by Bajirav’s decision. After the Treaty of Bassein Lord Wellesley had been pressing upon Daulatrav and Raghuji to enter into a similar alliance with the British without delay. It was clear that Wellesley was trying to hold aloof Daulatrav and Raghuji from each other. Col. Collins was deputed for negotiations with the two chiefs. They evaded a definite reply in order to gain time, whereupon, Col. Collins left the Shinde’s camp. On 7th August 1803, General Wellesley proclaimed a war against the Bhosles and the Shindes, and called upon the general populace to keep itself aloof from the struggle.
The fort of Ahmadnagar which was equipped with munitions and supplies was attacked by Wellesley. Shinde’s European Officers who were bribed and seduced went over to the English. Shinde’s Brahmin keeper of the, fort finding the position untenable surrendered -the fort on 12th August 1803. The Bhosle’s army joined the Shindes near Jalanapur and a stiff action took place culminating in the battle of Assai on 24th September. The Marathas fought well but were finally defeated. The loss on the English side was heavy, 663 Europeans and 1,776 Indians were killed in action. Stevenson next captured Burhanpur and Ashirgad, the two strongholds of the Shindes. These successes of the English depressed both the Shindes and the Bhosles. On the 6th November Shinde’s agent Yashvantrav Ghorpade came to Wellesley’s camp to settle the terms of peace.
The Bhosles were now singled out by Wellesley and Stevenson advanced against the fort of Gavilgad. The Shindes sent their force to help the Bhosle, violating the truce they had made with the English. The two armies met on the vast plane between Adgaon and Shirasoli. The Maratha guns played havoc among the English army forcing them to flee. But the English Generals collected their forces again and attacked the Marathas. In the last action the Marathas were defeated. The battle of Adgaon thus decided the fate of the Marathas on the 29th November 1803. The fort of Gavilgad fell on 25th December when its keeper Benisingh Rajput died fighting.
On 17th December Raghuji Bhosle signed a treaty at Devagaon near Ellichpur with the English.
The terms of the treaty of Adgaon were as follows:
(1) The Bhosle should surrender the territory to the west of the river Wardha as also the provinces of Katak and Bala-sore. The Bhosles were to retain for themselves the forts of Gavilgad and Narnala and the territory under these forts worth Rs. 4 lacs; i.e., theparaganas of Akot, Adgaon, Badnera, Bhatkuli and Khatkali.
(2) Any dispute between the Nizam, the Peshva and the Bhosle should be settled through the mediation of the English.
(3) The Bhosles should have no relations with any European except the English. The English too should have no relations with either the enemies or relatives of the Bhosles.
(4) The Bhosles should have no relation with any member of the Maratha Confederacy.
(5) Both the parties should have the envoy of the other at their Courts.
(6) The Bhosles should respect the treaties which the English have formed with the former’s feudatories lying between Orissa and Chhattisgad.
Berar was given to the Nizam for the help he rendered to the English. By this treaty the Bhosles practically lost their independent status. The territory under them was now confined to Nagpur and neighbouring area.
The English were successful in keeping Yashvantrav Holkar out of the picture in their struggle with the Shindes and the Bhosles. They fully utilised the hostility between Daulatrav and Yashvantrav. The long cherished dream of the English to secure the coastal strip stretching from Calcutta to Madras was fulfilled.
Daulatrav Shinde too signed a treaty with the English at Suraji-Anjangaon on 30th December 1803.
According to the 5th term of the treaty of Devagaon Mount Stuart Elphinstone was sent to Nagpur as the British resident. He forced Raghuji to give up his sovereignty over the States to the east of Nagpur. Smarting under the recent defeat he had suffered at Devagaon, Raghuji was trying to reorganise his army and secure news about Yashvantrav Holkar’s movement so that he might take revenge upon the English if a suitable opportunity permitted such action. But the Resident kept a close watch over Raghuji’s movements and prevented him from keeping any contact with Holkar and his men.
With the fall of the Shindes and the Holkars the marauding bands of the Pendharis became the scourge of the restless times. They fell upon the peasants and the citizens and looted their property. Where resistance was offered, they indulged in killing and raping. With the fall of their supporters, the Shindes and the Holkars, the cruelties of the Pendharis became all the more wanton. They have been rightly described as the scavengers of the Maratha army.
One of the leaders of the Pendharis Amirkhan attacked Jubbulpore in about 1809. The local subhedar of the Bhosles Jijaba Ghatge tried his best to defend the city but was defeated and forced to take shelter in the fort of Mandla. In order to defend the Narmada region from the Pendhari inroads Raghuji appointed Vitthal Ballal Subhedar, Benisingh, Raghunathrav Baji Ghatge and Muhammad Amirkhan of Shivani.
At one time the Pendharis looted Ramtek and Bhandara and appeared in the suburbs of Nagpur which they burnt. The Bhosle’s officers Siddik Ali Khan and Malji Ahirrav were finally able to force them to retreat. It was Lord Hastings who exterminated the Pendharis by conducting an all-out campaign against them. It was at this time that most of the numerous village forts were built, to which on the approach of these marauders the peasant retired and fought for bare life, all he possessed outside the walls being already lost to him.
Mr. Lawrence in his Settlement Report (1867) describes their attack on Pauni as follows [Paragraph 68.]: —’ The town (Pauni) had extended so much, such a trade had again arisen that Chimna Bhonsla [This Chimna Bhonsla was governor of part of Bhandara and also led an expedition to Cuttack on behalf of the Raja Mudhoji, whose brother he was. He was afterwards made governor of Mandla with the title of Sena Bahadur.] thought it advisable to fortify its western face. The eastern walls on this side are still standing as is a small loopholed bastion-defences that were sufficient to restrain an oriental foe. Thrice the Pindaris, attracted by the fame of Pauni, swarmed to its plunder. The first time, the inhabitants tried to put the river between themselves and their assailants; but they were overtaken and plundered in the dry sandy bed of the river. An old Shastri, still living, describes how, making himself naked, he waited the coming of the dreaded and then unknown foe; but the Pindaris, catching sight of a woman with silver anklets, went after what seemed to promise a richer reward. On their second coming the Pindaris had it all their own way. Again they came; but, this third time the men defended the fort. The Pindaris contented themselves with plundering the defenceless suburbs; there was nothing to be gained from sitting down before even mud walls, the tactics of the Pindari cavalry always consisting in rapid raids and in carrying off bloodless booty.’
During the Bhosle-English wars the Navab of Bhopal had taken Hushangabad and Shivani from the Bhosles. In 1807 Raghuji sent his army and captured Chainpurvadi and Chankigad of the Bhopal territory. Later he entered into an agreement with the Shindes for a concerted attack on Bhopal. The two armies besieged Bhopal fort in 1814. But Raghuji withdrew his forces when the Navab of Bhopal asked for British help.
Sambalpur and Patna were granted back to Raghuji in 1806.
After the battle of Adgaon Raghuji was being persuaded to accept the subsidiary alliance. Jenkins, who succeeded Mount Stuart Elphinstone as the resident of Nagpur, once again appealed to Raghuji that he should allow the stationing of the British army at Nagpur. But Raghuji skilfully avoided all such appeals. In 1811 when the Pendharis burnt some wards of Nagpur City Raghuji asked for British help, but it was refused as Raghuji was not willing to enter subsidiary alliance.
In 1801-02, on the occasion of the Simhastha Parvani Raghuji with the members of his family had been to Dharmapuri on the bank of the Godavari for a bath.
Ragnuji’s relations with his brother Vyankoji alias Manyabapu were not happy. Manyabapu enjoyed the title of Senadhurandhar. He was brave and adventurous. He died at Kashi in 1811.
Mr. Colebrooke, the great Sanskrit scholar, who was deputed to Nagpur as an envoy in 1799, has left a lively description of Raghuji. Raghuji lived in a spacious palace surrounded by gardens. The palace had six quadrangles or chauks each of which had a three storeyed structure. The drawing hall in the palace was well decorated with chandeliers and pictures. The hall which was meant for the Raja had beautiful carving. The garden around the palace had good roads enclosed by fencing.
Raghuji was not fond of pomposity either in dress or manners. He was sweet-tongued and behaved in a friendly manner even with his subordinates. He was, however, careful in maintaining the decorum and discipline of the darbar. During leisure hours all were entertained by singing and dancing. Raghuji was fond of hunting, so much so that when a tiger was reported in the neighbourhood he often hastened to the place with his party leaving the office work. He, however, never neglected administrative duty. Shridhar Lakshman Munshi and Krishnarav Chitnis were the most trusted courtiers of Raghuji.
The Dasara festival during Raghuji’s reign was a brilliant spectacle displaying his grandeur and glory.
Raghuji loved his kith and kin and was extremely fond of children. Bakabai was his favourite queen. He was pious and devoted to his, mother. But Raghuji lacked quick decision and courage. In the war with the English he often left his fighting forces. He was willing to wound yet afraid to strike. In diplomacy he was no match for the contemporary Englishmen with whom he was required to deal.
After the treaty of Devagaon, Raghuji, it seems, was in financial difficulties. His anxiety for wealth grew with age, bringing him into disrepute. He was nicknamed the big baniya for the methods he used in collecting money. Raghuji, who had the good fortune of witnessing the glory of the Bhosle house at its zenith, was also destined to see its decline. He died on 22nd March 1816.
Raghuji II was succeeded by his son Parasoji in 1816. Parasoji was paralytic, blind and mentally deranged. His father’s efforts to improve him proved fruitless. Bakabai, Parasoji’s step-mother, brought him to her palace and took charge of the administration with the help of Dharmaji Bhosle, Naroba Chitnis and Gajaba-dada Gujar. Dharmaji was an illegitimate son of Raghuji and was the custodian of the royal jewellery and treasury.
Next to Parasoji the only other claimant to the Nagpur gadi was Appasaheb Bhosle. He was a smart young man having the support of many courtiers, as Parasoji was practically insane. Ramchandra Vagh and Manbhat were prominent among his chief supporters. They were trying to seduce the partisans of Parasoji. Thus after the death of Raghuji, Nagpur Court had two factions, one headed by Appasaheb and the other led by Bakabai, Dharmaji and others with Parasoji on the ancestral gadi.
Appasaheb had no claim to the gadi as Parasoji was the son of Raghuji. The army was under the command of Dharmaji, Siddik Ali Khan and Gajabadada. Appasaheb impressed upon the courtiers that it was not desirable that Dharmaji, a bastard, should manage the affairs of the Bhosle house. The resident Mr. Jenkins was secretly backing Appasaheb as he was counting upon him to accept the subsidiary alliance which Raghuji had been carefully avoiding all through his life. When Siddik Ali Khan smelt this, his loyalty to Parasoji and Bakabai wavered. He sat on the fence ready to jump to the side of the winning party. Appasaheb called Dharmaji for a meeting on 11th April 1816, and got him arrested. He took possession of the Raja and his treasury. Without any further loss of time Appasaheb ceremoniously performed the coronation for Parasoji. He personally held the chauri over Parasoji’s head and walked barefooted in the procession taken out in honour of the Raja. A grand darbar was held in which the Raja was made to proclaim the appointment of Appasaheb as his regent, Mr. Jenkins graced the occasion by his presence, lending stability to Appasaheb.
Dharmaji was murdered on 5th May 1816. Appasaheb’s evil intention of occupying power for himself was thus finally fulfilled. He entered the subsidiary alliance with the English on 28th May 1816, bartering away the independent status of Nagpur which Raghuji II had maintained with great difficulty. The important terms of this alliance were: —
(1) For the protection of Nagpur the English were to maintain six platoons of foot-soldiers and one of cavalry. The king was to pay seven and a half lacks of rupees for the maintenance of this force.
(2) The king was to grant territory worth this amount in case of his failure to pay it.
(3) The king too was to keep a contingent force of 3,000 soldiers and 2,000 horse at his own expense, to be supervised by the Resident in respect of its pay, discipline, provision, etc.
(4) All foreign affairs should be conducted only through the English Resident.
(5) The king should not engage in wars with the friends of the English.
This alliance was brought about through Appasaheb’s envoys Nagojipant and Narayan Panditji. The former received an annual pension of Rs. fifteen thousand from the English for his successful mediation.
Part of the English subsidiary force moved from Ellichpur to Nagpur under General Doveton and the rest was stationed at Kalameshvar near Nagpur to strengthen Appasaheb’s position. Afraid of the machinations of the rival party, Appasaheb left the palace and took residence in the Telankhedi Garden.
On the morning of 1st February 1817 Parasoji was found dead in his bed. Appasaheb was out of station. It was rumoured that Appasaheb managed to throttle Parasoji to death by seducing his body-guards Sadikmanu Bhaldar and Janu Bansod. The Resident absolved Appasaheb of the murder charge which was thickly rumoured at this time, but later, when he tried to break the bonds of subsidiary alliance he was conveniently made the culprit.
After Parasoji’s death, Appasaheb being the only heir to the Nagpur gadi his succession ceremonies were gone through quietly on 21st April 1817. The moment Appasaheb assumed charge of Nagpur he began to feel the weight of British supremacy which he had accepted by the subsidiary alliance. His efforts hereafter were directed to overthrow the British yoke. The Resident suspected that Appasaheb was in contact with Bajirav Peshva and the Shindes. The agents of one of the Pendhari leaders Chittu were openly honoured in the darbar by presenting a dress. As a precautionary measure Col. Adams was asked to move his force to the south of the Narmada to meet any emergency. Similarly, Scott left Ramtek for Nagpur. It was in this atmosphere that Appasaheb decided to receive the robes of Sena-Saheb-Subha,formally, from Bajirav Peshva; 24th November 1817 was decided as the day for receiving the robes in the darbar. Appasaheb invited the Resident for this ceremony. But the latter declined it as war had broken out with the Peshva in Pune, and informed Appasaheb that he should not receive the honours from the enemy of the British. In spite of this opposition Appasaheb received the robes and the title in the darbar. This was considered as a breach of the subsidiary treaty by the Resident and a war with Appasaheb seemed imminent.
Like Bajirav, Appasaheb too wanted to free himself from the shackles of the subsidiary treaty. He was helped in this task by Manbhat, Ramchandra Vagh, Subhedar Nimbalkar and Narayan Nagare. Appasaheb’s Arab soldiers occupied a position between the City and Sitabuldi. He had a total force of 18 thousand men and 26 guns while the English force numbered only 1,800.
Having come to know the movements of the Maratha army, the Resident ordered Lt. Col. Scott to occupy the Sitabuldi hills. Scott had two battalions of Madras Native infantry, two companies of Native infantry and three troops of Bengal Cavalry. He was equipped with four six-pounder guns. Strategically the Marathas committed the first blunder in allowing Scott to occupy the hills.
The Raja’s palace was in the present Mahal area which was protected by the Shukravardarvaja. This was the fort.
The English had taken shelter in the Tulsibag, about the 24th December 1817.
The English residency was situated to the west of the Sitabuldi Fort, i.e., on the site of the present Nagpur Mahavidyalaya. The English had their treasury to the west of the smaller hill of the two Sitabuldi hills. The southern hill spreads from east to west and is the bigger one. The smaller one is to the north. The two hills roughly rise above the ground to a height of hundred feet and are separated by the same distance.
Peace talks were in progress simply to gain time when both the sides were preparing for war. On the evening of 26th November 1817, the Arabs of Appasaheb opened fire on the smaller hill. He sent a message to the Resident saying that this had been done against his orders. Appasaheb throughout this war was wavering, making the position of his loyal supporters like Manbhat most awkward. It is possible that the mercenary Arabs might have acted on their own without waiting for the orders of their master; but this speaks for Appasaheb’s lack of leadership. Appasaheb, after his defeat, pleaded that his Arabs opened fire at the order of Manbhat.
The fire of the Arabs was well replied to by the English guns on the hills. Captain Lloyd was in charge of the bigger hill. Captain Sadler was killed by a shot while he was defending the small hill. On the morning of 27th the Bhosle’s forces approached the hill. The smaller hill was attacked and occupied. The English were in a confused state. The Arabs were preparing to launch an attack on the bigger hill. The English would have lost the battle but for the brave and spirited attack of Captain Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald’s determined onslaught pushed the Marathas back and they broke in all directions. This infused new spirit in the English soldiers who were drooping from fatigue. A combined attack of the cavalry and infantry finally won the day for the English.
It was Manbhat and his Arabs who really fought well bringing victory within easy reach for the Marathas. But lack of concerted action and Appasaheb’s vacillation were mainly responsible for the defeat of the Marathas. Appasaheb, in order to save himself pleaded to the Resident that all was done by Manbhat without his orders. Bakabai too towed his line. Thus, in war, Appasaheb proved to be a coward and in defeat acted most disgracefully. Manbhat, Ramchandra Vagh, Ganpatrav Subhedar and their supporters were against any talk of peace. When Doveton was preparing to attack the city, Appasaheb walked into the protection of the Resident on 16th December 1817, at about 9 o’clock in the morning. The masterless Marathas fought one more battle known as the battle of Shakkardara, only to lose. Manbhat with his Arabs and North Indian soldiers totalling 5,000, defended the city from behind the fort.
But he was helpless when the Arabs in a divided state of mind were seduced by the English. They left Nagpur on the 30th when the arrears of their pay were cleared. The Union Jack was hoisted on the old palace of the Bhosles on the same day. Poor Manbhat was arrested and later died in prison.
Appasaheb signed a treaty on 6th January 1818 with the English in which he was bound by terms stricter than those of the subsidiary alliance. The terms of the treaty were:—
(1) Appasaheb was to surrender the forts of Gavilgad, Narnala and the territory attached to them, along with the States of Sirguja and Jaspur.
(2) The civil and military administration of Nagpur was to be conducted through the Resident.
(3) Appasaheb was to stay in Nagpur under the supervision of the Resident.
(4) Appasaheb was to pay the arrears of pay of the subsidiary army.
(5) He was to surrender any fort which might be asked for by the English.
(6) He should hand over all those who acted against his order in the war.
(7) The Sitabuldi hills were to be surrendered to the English along with the neighbouring area they might ask for.
This sealed the fate of Appasaheb as also of Nagpur once for all.
These terms of the treaty were ratified by the Governor General.
With the surrender of Appasaheb Bhosle the outlying posts of Jubbulpore, the forts of Shivani, Dhirud (south-east of Nagpur), Gavilgad, Chauragad, Narnala and Mandla fell to the English without much resistance. The fort of Mandla which was protected by the river Narmada offered resistance for some time. But when its keeper Raya Hajari ran away the beleaguered force numbering 1,100 surrendered.
After his surrender, Appasaheb was reinstated on his ancestral gadi and allowed to stay in the palace. For three months things appeared to move smoothly. On 19th February 1818 Bapu Gokhale, the last great general of Bajirav, fell fighting in the battle of Ashta. Bajirav lost all hope of regaining his position and took to heals begging for help till his surrender to Malcolm. During his flight he was at Vashim for a while and then camped at Pandharkavada. He was accompanied by Ganpatrav Subhedar, one of the generals of Appasaheb. It was rumoured that Bajirav would be joined by Appasaheb and both would march to Chanda which was yet in the hands of its keeper Gangasingh. Jenkin’s suspicion that Appasaheb was in correspondence with Bajirav was strengthened when a letter from Appasaheb to Bajirav was intercepted by Elphinstone and sent to him. He at once arrested Appasaheb on 15th March 1818. Appasaheb along with Ram-chandra Vagh and Nagopant was sent towards Prayag, as his presence in Nagpur was considered dangerous.
The fort of Chanda fell on 30th May 1818. Its keeper Gangasingh fought desperately till he fell dead along with his trusted: followers.
On his way to Prayag Appasaheb escaped from the English camp at Raichur on 13th May 1818. Hereafter began the long flight of Appasaheb.
Appasaheb took shelter in the Mahadev hills of Madhya Pradesh and was helped by Mohansing Thakur of Panchmadhi and Chain Shah of Harai. A few petty Gond Kings too supported Appasaheb in his last days. The English forces under Adams, MacMorin and Scott combed out the hills and arrested the Gond leaders. Mohansingh and Chain Shah were taken into custody. Appasaheb made good for the fort of Ashirgad, the gateway of the Deccan, on 1st February 1819. He was escorted by the Pen-dhari leader Chittu and his followers. Appasaheb was received into the fort by Yashvantrav Lad, its keeper. The fort was yet in the possession of the Shindes. It was admirably suited for defence. The English moved their men and material from Malva, Pune, Nagpur and Hyderabad. Prior to the surrender of the fort on 9th April of 1819, Appasaheb had escaped towards Khairi Ghat to the north-west of Ashirgad and taken shelter with a Brahmin at Burhanpur. From there Appasaheb travelled through the territory of the Shindes, Holkars, Jaipur and Jodh-pur begging for asylum and took shelter for some time with Ranjit singh. The Raja of Mandi gave Appasaheb protection for a short time. Finally, Appasaheb was found with the Raja of Jodhpur. The Raja refused to hand over Appasaheb to the English in keeping with the chivairous traditions of the Rajputs. In 1829, Appasaheb’s wandering career came to an end and he spent the remaining part of his life as a guest-cum-royal prisoner at the court of Jodhpur. He died in 1840.
During his luckless days Appasaheb desperately moved from court to court begging for help. But he was too late. Had he shown sufficient courage and determination in the battle of Sita-buldi, his chances of success were brighter. He let down his honest suporters like Manbhat and Ramchandra Vagh. In expecting aid from Bajirav, Appasaheb was leaning on a week reed. After his confinement at Jodhpur nobody seems to have been really sorry for the unfortunate Appasaheb. In his flight his wife Umabai supplied him money secretly. His other wife Savitribai who was enjoying a pension at Nagpur did not go to him even after she came to know of his stay at Jodhpur.
In 1818 disturbances took place in the district in consequence of the second revolt of Appasaheb, whose cause was embraced by Chimna Patel, the zamindar of Kamtha. Mr. Lawrence’s description of the rise of the Kamtha house and of the rebellion, quoting from Sir Richard Jenkins, is here reproduced. [Settlement Report (1867), paras 92 to 96.] ‘ The founder of the greatness of this family was originally an agent of Raghuji Karundah, an officer about the Maratha court in Nagpur whose estate of Sondar, lying about 30 miles east of Bhandara, and 70 miles from Nagpur, he managed. This village is situated on the military road to Chhattisgarh It thus happened that Chimnaji Bhonsla took this Kunbi agent, by name Kolu, with him to Cuttack. On the Raja’s return, while he gave to many of the Ponwars lands to cultivate, to Kolu he gave general authority over the whole of Kamtha, which, at that time, was an uninhabited jungle. He was to locate the settlers, to whom lands were given; he was to bring in others, and generally he was to exercise authority over this large tract. He and his vigorous son and grandson, Gondi and Chimna, in the course of a few years, cut the jungle, planted villages, and sowed the seeds of a fine estate. Some villages they held in their own hands, to others they called in any likely man of whatever race or tribe. Here they delegated their authority to others whom they put up as Shikni zamindars (joint proprietors), they themselves retaining the superior title of zamindars. In this way by force, or by persuasion, or by the circumstances of their own tenure, they exercised authority from the Lanji hills in the north, to the Baghnadi where it crosses the Great Eastern Road in the south, over an area containing about one thousand square miles. They thus continued for 30 years, from 1788 to 1818 A. D.’
Kolu’s eldest son had been Ram Patel, but he was put aside in the management of the estate and his brother Gondi preferred as of a more enterprising character. In the same way the succession went to Gondi’s son Chimna to the exclusion of Ram Patel’s descendants. To this exclusion from the family estates the latter were unwilling to submit and Chimna found it necessary, before he could secure Appasaheb’s consent to his predominance, to promise to pay a nazar or succession duty of three lakhs of rupees. To collect this money he had to resort to the usual oriental practice of squeezing his dependants and neighbours. He had for some time been ambitious of bringing under his control the Lodhi zamindars of Warad and he now proceeded to plunder this estate. Nerbhat, the zamindar, fled to Nagpur and after some months Chimna again ravaged Warad and seized Sukul Patel, Nerbhat’s brother. He also attacked and captured the Kamavishdar of Lanji. This was the commencement of the Lanji rebellion described by Sir R. Jenkins[Despatch No. 38 of 10th January 1819.]and by Colonel Valentine Blacker in his Memoir of the Maratha War of 1817—1819. Their accounts are reproduced.
‘The insurrection in the Lanji and neighbouring Districts, to the eastward of Nagpur, was only inferior in consequence to that in the Mahadev hills, from the latter being the position chosen by Appasaheb himself for his rallying point. In respect of resources and influence, Chimna Patel, who was at the head of this insurrection, was of superior consequence to any of Appasaheb’s partisans. He possessed a fertile territory of considerable extent, out of which he only paid a moderate quit rent to the Government; he had consequently amassed considerable treasure, besides having the reputation of possessing more left him by his father Gondi Patel, from whom the former Rajas could never extort it. And the whole of the neighbouring district from the Wainganga to the Lanji hills east, an average of about 50 miles, and from Katangi, the southern pargana of the Seoni Chhapara district to Pratapgarh south, a length of about 80 miles, were possessed by a number of petty zamindars, accustomed to consider him as their chief, and who were united in his cause by that habit, as well as the incitement of Appasaheb’s numerous agents. These districts were besides, the residence of numerous families of the military class, particularly Musalmans and Rajputs, who had retired to their homes on the dissolution of the Raja’sarmy, but were ready to embrace the cause of any adventurer who promised them bread. Chimna was attached to Appasaheb from a sense of gratitude for having been released by him from confinement at his accession to the regency, and from late favours accompanied by marks of confidence, which proved how much Appasaheb relied upon him and naturally disposed him to fidelity.
Still, however, until the moment he broke out, his conduct discovered little to lead to any suspicion against him, and his general character for prudence and quiet demeanour, his continued professions of obedience, the general tranquillity of the districts and the good opinion of him entertained by Narayan Pandit, and the other respectable people in Nagpur, induced me to hope that the intelligence I received from time to time of his inimical intentions might be incorrect. At the same moment, however, that the arrival of the Arabs and other troops to the assistance of Appasaheb, obliged us to look particularly to that quarter, we had a call from Lanji for troops, which we were at that moment very ill-able to supply.
The disturbances commenced by an attack on the Kamavishdar of Lanji and a party ofsebandis (sepoys), with which he was making a tour of the district. His person was seized, and his party either destroyed or dispersed. I immediately sent out the only detachment we had the means of forming, composed of about 800 Auxiliary Horse, principally Marathas, 300 of the Nagpur Brigade, with a Jemadar’s party of the 6th Cavalry under Captain William Gordon. Having the Kanhan and Wainganga rivers to cross, which are both unfordable and particularly the latter, vide and rapid during the rains, when the whole country becomes almost a swamp, his progress was necessarily slow. The enemy attempted to oppose him on the Wainganga, and had seized all the boats on the river, which, however, were replaced from those on the Kanhan which runs into it, and on seeing the boats arrive, covered by the fire of small pieces of artillery, which had been provided from the neighbouring garhis, they retreated, and the river was passed with considerable difficulty and delay from inefficient means, but no opposition.’
‘ The [The remainder of the description is taken from Colonel Blacker’s Memoirs.] enemy were at the time in possession of the fort of Kamtha, from whence they overran all the neighbouring country. Captain Gordon, who was on the march to occupy that place and Lanji, found a body of four hundred men, Musalmans, Gosains, and Marathas, drawn up to oppose him, behind a deep nullah near the village of Nowargaon. He accordingly left his treasure and provisions under the protection of twenty-five regulars, all his matchlocks and his gun. With the remainder, consisting of 600 irregular horse and 200 infantry, he advanced against the enemy, who had good cover in the ravines connected with the bed of the nullah. They fired at each other for about a quarter of an hour, after which the horse, in two portions, plunged into the stream, and gained the enemy’s rear. The infantry, in the meantime, forded in front carrying their cartridge boxes and muskets on their heads, to save them from the water. About one hundred of the enemy were killed, and some prisoners were taken. From them it was ascertained that they were strangers who had been engaged in the service of Appasaheb, by his agents in the city of Nagpur. This success was obtained with the loss of no more than four sepoys. Captain Gordon’s progress towards Kamtha continued to be so much impeded by the weather, that he was unable to arrive there before the middle of September. He was then reinforced by two companies of Native Infantry. As in the meanwhile the enemy had extended a chain of posts from Ambagarh to Chandpur, Rampaili and Singarhi, a second detachment was sent out under Major Wilson on the 17th. His instructions were to attack and dislodge all the enemy’s parties along his route, to the most distant point of their line. But Captain Gordon proceeded to the attack of Kamtha, before the arrival of the detachment, and his dispositions for this purpose were carried into execution at daybreak of the 18th. The town of Kamtha is surrounded by a well and partial ditch, and contains a small garhi, like most other Maratha towns. To attack the town in the first instance the force was divided into three parties, of which the left, under Lieutenant Thuillier, was composed of one hundred and sixty Madras Native Infantry, and two hundred of the Nagpur Brigade. The centre party consisted of a company of the same brigade, and a gun, and the right of matchlockmen, under a native chief named Anand Rav. The left column was provided with fascines, carried by every second man, and as they approached the ditch of the town, which was very contemptible, these were precipitated into it, and the troops passed over without difficulty. After entering the petlah, they separated into two parties. One of these took the right and the other the left, and drove the enemy before them with much gallantry and some loss; while the fugitives, who took to the plain, were intercepted by the regular horse, from whom they suffered considerable injury. The enemy had two batteries in the town, one of which was opposed to the centre party, and the other to that on the right. Both these were stormed, as soon as the left column got into the town. The garhi alone now remained to be reduced and a gun was brought up to the gate to blow it open; but this failing, an elephant took its place, and forced open the centre barrier. There was still, however, another gate; but while the assailants were devising the means of forcing that likewise, the garrison surrendered, on the’ promise of personal safety, This was a very important success, as the killedar had much influence over several of the remaining garrisons of this quarter, whose submission he immediately promised. The number stated to have been in the town is probably over-estimated at two thousand men, of whom the loss was estimated at four hundred. The number of British troops killed and wounded amounted to sixty-one.’
Six days later Major Wilson with a small detachment arrived before the fortress of Ambagarh which was garrisoned by 500 men. On a reconnaissance being made the garrison drew out of the fort to a neighbouring hill and subsequently fled without fighting. Major Wilson then proceeded against Pauni, and took this town by a successful assault described by Colonel Blacker as follows: —
‘ This place consisted of a partially walled town, having the gate on the south-west side; and in the opposite quarter a garhi in a dilapidated state. On the south side ran the Wainganga where was a ferry of difficult access, except through the town. A ridge of earth covered the north side; and behind it the enemy were drawn up with a few small guns in disposition. The infantry were in two parties, of which that on the right was the second Battalion of the 18th regiment of Madras Native Infantry, and the 6th Cavalry were opposite the gate; while the Mughal horse were destined to pass round the town, on the enemy being dislodged. When the detachment advanced their opponents tied into the town and were pursued through the street, at the same time that the cavalry were let in through the gate by the infantry who had passed over the inferior impediments. They made no further resistance elsewhere, but fled towards the ferry, and the garhi was scaled as the Mughal horse were endeavouring to overtake the fugitives, having forced a barrier gate. In this, however, they failed, from the intricacy and difficulty of the avenues; but a small party of them arriving at the edge of the ferry, a few of the enemy were there destroyed; and two boats, which were overloaded by the eager crowd, sunk with about forty of them; and were all drowned. Their entire loss was estimated at about one hundred and fifty, while that of the detachment amounted to twelve killed and wounded.’
The forts of Lanji and Hatta were then surrendered to Captain Gordon and the insurrection was at an end. Chimna Patel was confined in his fort at Kamtha and was subsequently a prisoner on parole in his villages of Novargaon and Jhilmili. After two years Captain Wilson granted him the zamindari of Kirnapur, now in Balaghat, which had been a part of his former possessions. The Lodhi zamindar of Warad was installed as manager of the Kamtha estate, and subsequently in 1843 was granted proprietary right with the dignity of zamindar.
When Appasaheb was arrested, the Resident Mr. Jenkins decided to adopt Bajiba, the son of Banubai, as the successor to the Bhosle gadi. Banubai was the daughter of Raghuji II. The adoption ceremony was performed on 26-6-1818 and Bajiba was renamed Raghuji III. He was then only ten years old. It was the Resident who took the entire administration into his own hands during the minority of Raghuji III. Bakabai was to look after the palace affairs. Her ambition to rule may be said to have been fulfilled at least partly. Prior to his retirement the Resident held a grand darbar and read out the terms of the treaty with Raghuji III on 1-12-1826. It was ratified by the Governor-General on 13-12-1826.
The terms of the treaty were—
(1) The terms of this treaty which were not contradictory to the subsidiary alliance of 1816 were accepted by the Raja.
(2) The Raja was not to have any relationship with the other Maratha States. He was to retain the title of Sena-Saheb-Subha, but was to relinquish the honours connected with it.
(3) The Raja should give to the English territory worth Rs. 7.5 lacs for the maintenance of the subsidiary force. He was, hereafter, not required to keep the contingent force as decided previously by the subsidiary alliance of 1816. The English promised to continue theraj in the house of the Bhosles perpetually.
(4) The raj was given over to the King as he had come of age.
(5) Chanda, Bhandara, Devagad, the territory up the Ghats,Lanji and Chhatisgad were to be under the English along with the feudatories of these regions. The Raja was to receive Rs. 17 lacs from these territories after deducting the expenses. The Raja was to rule over Nagpur and the rest of the territory.
(6) The Raja should act on the advice of the English in respect of the appointment of officials, the Raja’s privy purse and the laws of the territory. The English had the right to inspect the King’s treasury and the accounts of his kingdom.
(7) In the event of maladministration the English were free to appoint their own officers and manage things.
(8) The English were free to take over Sitabuldi or any other fort they, required.
Mr. Jenkins gave charge of his office to Captain Hamilton on 29-12-1826 and proceeded to Bombay for further journey.
Jenkins deserves praise for the peace and good administration he gave to the Bhosle rajduring his ten years’ career. He was able to turn the deficit of the kingdom into a surplus treasury. His treatment of the Bhosles was far more considerate than the one meted out to the Peshvas by Malcolm. He could have easily annexed Nagpur to the British territory had he meant so.
Jenkins took care to educate Raghuji III. Raghuji was introduced to the ‘ Three R’s’ and had working knowledge of Persian and Marathi though he had no inclination for learning. In the early part of his royal career Raghuji took keen interest in administrative matters but later neglected them. He loved music and dancing and later indulged in gambling to the neglect of his duties. He was addicted to drinking and during his last illness he drank desperately. Apart from these personal vices Raghuji was on the whole a just and good administrator. He was a popular King.
Raghuji was not blessed with progeny though he had in all eight wives. He had one son who died in infancy, after whom he probably did not get any issue. He does not seem to have cared for his successor. He probably considered his being without a son as a blemish and left the question of succession to its own fate. This, however, proved to be detrimental to the Bhosle House as is borne by facts. Raghuji was not on good terms with Resident Mansel. This might have adversely affected the succession question.
Raghuji had been to Kashi, Gaya and other holy places on a pilgrimage in 1838. He was accompanied by Captain Fitzgerald with his Madras contingent. Raghuji died at the age of 47 after a long illness of 25 days on 11th December 1853. His obsequies were performed by his nephew Nana Ahirrav and it was decided to adopt his son Yashvantrav as the next successor. From 1818 to 1830 the Nagpur territories were governed by Sir Richard Jenkins as regent. During the greater part of this period Bhandara or Prant Wainganga was administered by Captain, afterwards Sir, P. Wilkinson. The district at first consisted only of the northern tracts lying round Lanji, the remainder belonging to Nagpur. Captain Wilkinson resided at Kamtha till 1821, when the eastern and southern paraganas were placed under his administration and he removed his headquarters to Bhandara. In 1830 the district with the remainder of the Nagpur territories was handed over to Raghuji III on the attainment of his majority and on his death in 1853 it became British territory by lapse.
The question of adoption to the Nagpur gadi was discussed thrice prior to the death of Raghuji III. In 1837 the Resident Mr. Cavendish stated that Raghuji III had no right to adopt as his territory had been conquered by the British and given back to him and his sons. In the absence of an heir-apparent or a posthumous child, therefore, the Raja’s kingdom should escheat or lapse to the British. The views of the former Resident Wilkinson were in favour of Raghuji. In 1840 he had opined that Raghuji or after his death his queen had the right to adopt a son as successor to the gadi. The case of Nagpur was in no way different from that of Gwalior or Hyderabad. Actually, according to the treaty of 1826, when Mr. Jenkins was the Resident, the British had promised to continue the raj of the Bhosles in perpetuity. But this term was very conveniently set aside and the Court of Directors in England concurring with the views of Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General, ordered that “it had been determined on grounds, both of right and policy, to incorporate the State of Nagpur with the British territories.” Mr. Mansel, the then Resident, had suggested that Nagpur should be annexed. The fateful decision of the Court of Directors was proclaimed by Lord Dalhousie, and Mr. Mansel was ordered to take charge of Nagpur as the first Commissioner. He started working in this capacity from 13th March 1854.
Bakabai, the favourite queen of Raghuji II, and the queens of Raghuji III were informed of this proclamation. There was no popular agitation against this unjust decision of the British, though the late king Raghuji III was liked by his subjects. There was, however, sorrow and resentment among the Brahmins and the Marathas of Nagpur as is witnessed by the two posters which were stuck on the wall of Jagruteshvar temple. One of the posters expressed anxiety regarding the very existence of the Hindu State after the death of Raghuji and called upon all the Brahmins to attend the abhisheka and japa (recitation of God’s name) which were being performed in the temple of Jagrutesh-war in the city. Those not attending were considered as bastards.
The other poster condemned Dadoba Shirke, a relation of the Bhosles, who helped the British in the annexation of Nagpur.
These posters have their own value, but they cannot be taken as expressive of popular view. Colonel Low, a member of the Governor-General’s council, who was against the annexation of Nagpur wrote that the people in the raj of the Bhosles were very much tired of their rule and would be happy under the British. Mr. Mansel, the Resident, in his report says that the annexation of Nagpur raj would cause great sorrow to all those who are connected with it, but the general public to whom the Marathas were foreigners would desire to be relieved from their troublesome rule. This state of affairs has got to be taken into account in studying the history of Nagpur after its annexation.
The unjust annexation of Nagpur was followed by the highhanded confiscation of the private treasure of the Bhosle family. Popular estimate placed the value of the treasure between Rs. 50 lacs and Rs. 75 lacs. On July 15th, 1854, the Resident’s Assistant informed the ranis that they would be pensioned and with the exception of a small portion of their jewellery their property would be seized on behalf of the Government. The strong protests of Bakabai and others were of no avail. By the end of October 1854, 136 bags of treasure were removed from the palace to the British treasury. The palace animals were sold by public auction and part of the jewellery was sent to Calcutta where Messrs. Hamilton and Company were appointed as auctioneers.
This loot of the private property of the Bhosles under the garb of law deeply wounded the feelings of Bakabai and the widows of Raghuji III, and caused great excitement among the citizens of Nagpur.
Parvatrav and Jamaluddin who helped the Resident in this arbitrary act became targets of mob fury. The later was beaten. Mr. Hislop, the well-known missionary of Nagpur, was mistaken for an officer and manhandled.
From the sales of the confiscated property of the royal family, the Bhosle Fund was formed. This was to be utilised for the pensions of the relatives of the royal family.
Pensions sanctioned for the members of the royal family were as follows: —
|Annapurnabai (the eldest queen)||50,000|
|Savitribai (wife of Appasaheb)||10,000|
|The Gond Raja of Nagpur||1,25,000|
|(The pension he enjoyed in the past was continued.)|
Bakabai tried to represent her case directly to Calcutta pointing out that she herself and the ranis of the late king had expressed their desire to adopt a son, but the Resident completely changed their case and sent it up while he always promised them that he would look to their interest. Bapu Hanmantrav, the envoy of Bakabai, was asked to send the case through the Commissioner of Nagpur. Later, Bakabai sent her envoys to England to meet the members of the Board of Directors. But she withdrew her case and called back her envoys fearing that this might result in the displeasure of the Commissioner. Bakabai died on 7-9-1853 at Nagpur at the age of seventy-seven.
Prior to her death Bakabai arranged the adoption of Yashvant-rav, the son of Nana Ahirrav, as the next successor in 1855. Yashvantrav was renamed as Janoji. Final sanction to this adoption was received in 1861 during the Viceroyalty of Lord Canning. An annual pension of Rs. 1,20,000 was sanctioned for Janoji and the title ‘ Raja-Bahadur of Devur’ was conferred on him. The pension was subject to revision after Janoji’s death but the title was to continue in the family perpetually. Janoji II died in 1881.
Administration under the Bhosles.—By about 1737 A.D., Raghuji I received one-third of the Devagad kingdom from Rani Ratan Kuvar for the help he rendered her in the fratricidal war. Shortly after this he shifted his capital from Bham in Berar to Nagpur and in 1748 the whole of Devagad kingdom came under his sway. He removed the sons of Rani Ratan Kuvar, Akbar Shah and Burhan Shah to Nagpur under his care. Thus, in 1748 A. D. Raghuji assumed direct charge of the whole of Devagad kingdom, though by a formal sanad thechauthai and mokasa of Devagad and Chanda of Prant Gondavana were granted to him byChhatrapati Shahu much earlier.
Raghuji’s new administrative set-up in Nagpur forming part of Devagad below the ghats was more or less a prototype of the system common in other parts of the Maratha country.
When Raghuji I was offered the robes of Sena-saheb-subha he first proceeded to Berar and then to Nagpur, and was accompanied by a number of experienced officials of theRajamandal recommended by Shahu. The officials going with Raghuji to Nagpur were assigned important posts.—
(1) Kanher Ram Mujumdar was to be the Divan of Raghuji.
(2) Rakhamaji Ganesh Ranadive, was appointed as the Secretary-Chitnavis.
(3) Narasingrav Chimaji Prabhu was to work as assistant to Rakhamaji Ganesh, the Chitnavis.
(4) Bhaskar Ram was placed in charge of the army.
(5) Shankaraji Rakhamaji became the Potnis and was also in charge of the Jamdarkhana and the Stores.
(6) Mahadaji Prabhu was to act as the Phadnavis, i.e., the Secretary for finances.
(7) and (8) Vyankajipant and Raghopant were appointed as Bakshi-Paymaster of the army.
(9) Anantbhat Chitale became the Sikkenavis or keeper of the Seal.
(10) Vedamurti Vishvambhar Vaidya was to help Rakhamaji Ganesh, the Chitnavis.
These posts assigned to different persons shed light on the principal structure of Nagpur administration. Shahu’s intention in sending his own men with Raghuji was to help him to carry on the administration of Nagpur successfully and at the same time to keep an effective check over the distant noblemen was not so successful. It depended upon the personality of the Chhatrapati. After Shahu’s death the central authority of the Chhatrapatiremained only in name and the Maratha Sardars tried to be independent within their own territories. This is borne out by the serious differences which existed between the Peshvasand the Bhosles from the beginning to the end.
The Divan was the chief minister of the Bhosles and represented them in all the matters of the State. He was sometimes addressed as the Karabhari. The word Karabhari in addition to being synonymous with Divan means a manager. Its use in this sense shows how theDivan or the Karabhari was all-in-all.
The Chitnavis was the General Secretary. This office continued to be in the family of Rakhamaji Ganesh throughout the reign of the Bhosles. The duties of the Chitnavis were: —
(i) to carry on the private correspondence of the Raja;
(ii) to issue all kinds of orders-adnyapatra and takid-patra;
(iii) to issue permits and tax-free passes and to prepare the same;
(iv) to date all important letters.
In addition, the Chitnavis tendered advice to the Raja on all diplomatic matters. By his very office, Secretaryship, he was closely associated with the ruling Bhosle.
For the loyal services of Rakhamaji Ganesh, Raghuji I gave him Varambh in the Umred tahsil of Nagpur district as inam in perpetuity.
Bhaskar Ram was Raghuji’s General. He distinguished himself in the Bengal expeditions of Raghuji I. He, however, does not seem to have had the entire army of Raghuji under his command. There were for instance other noblemen like Raghuji Karande, Anandrav Vagh, Babaji Ghatge, Zunjarrav and Sambhaji Shirke having armies under their own command and themselves being directly responsible to Raghuji.
The Potnis was in charge of the treasury, royal jewellery and valuables and stores. He was to credit to the treasury presents-Najarana, tribute-peshkash, etc., and maintain the accounts.
The Phadnavis was the Secretary of the Finances and the Bakshi the Paymaster of the army. The Sikkenavis was the Keeper of the Seal of the Bhosles. He was to put the seal on all important State documents.
The office of the Munshi, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, seems to have been created by the later Bhosles. He was usually well-versed in Persian and transacted all the correspondence in that language.
Sometimes two offices were combined in one person as in the case of Bhavani Kalu who was in charge of the army but also acted as the Divan.
The Subhedar of the subha or the province held military as well as civil command within the subha. These officers held jagirs for their services.
The Varhadpande was responsible for land revenue.
The Maratha noblemen were known as Mankaris and were directly responsible to theRaja. There were no hard and fast rules regarding the duties attached to a particular office. For instance, Divakarpant Chorghade, who was the Divan, also acted as the ambassador of the Bhosles to the East India Company. The Subhedar in a distant province like Cuttack similarly acted in various capacities as the man on the spot.
The Bhosles held their darbar-court in an open varandah. They sat on the throne with the sword and the shield placed in front. Ministers and Military officers attended the darbar.All business which required the Raja’s attention was openly transacted here. The Raja was accessible to the people, he heard their grievances and redressed the wrongs.
The revenue office took cognizance of civil and criminal cases, while the patil or the village headman decided cases requiring minor magisterial powers. In important cases the appeal rested with the Sena-Saheb-Subha who decided them in the open darbar after consulting the proper authorities.
The Bhosle administration was direct and efficient though inelegant. It was free from burdensome mannerism and less paper-ridden than that of the Peshvas.
The Sena-Saheb-Subha was not an absolute ruler. Constitutionally he was accountable to the Chhatrapati and the Peshva. The younger brothers of the Sena-Saheb-Subha were assigned territories wherein they were more or less independent. Mudho-ji, the younger brother of Janoji Bhosle, was given Chanda and the title of Sena-Dhurandar. The two other younger brothers Bimbaji and Sabaji were posted at Chhattisgad and Darva, respectively. Other relations of the Bhosles too were given important assignments.
The army of the Bhosles consisted of the foot-soldiers, the cavalry, artillery and elephants. The army of the Bhosles was cantoned at Pardi and Sonegaon, the troops at each place consisting of infantry and cavalry. From these commands troops in platoon strength were dispatched alternately at Chanda, Chhattisgad and Bhandara. In addition to these two major commands the troops disposition of the Bhosles was as under: Raipur 1,100, Chanda 350, Bhandara 250, Chhindvada 250 and Shrinagar on the south bank of Narmada 250.
The details of the cavalry given by Forster, the first Resident of Nagpur (1788—1791) are as follows: —
|2,000||Bargir (directly paid by the Bhosles for the maintenance of the horse).|
|4,700||Cavalry under the Shiledars.|
|300||Cavalry of the Jagirdar of Shivani.|
|2,000||Cavalry in Katak subha.|
|1,500||Cavalry in Gangthadi.|
|10,500||Total Cavalry of the Bhosles.|
|15||Cannon pieces manufactured in Nagpur, under the command of a Portuguese and a French.|
The cavalry of the Bhosles was known for its speed and efficiency. After the death of Raghuji I the army of the Bhosles became heterogeneous in an increasing manner. In the battle of Sitabuldi, Manbhat was in command of the Arab contingent.
The income of the Bhosles from different provinces during the Residency of Forster was: —
|(Rs. in lacs.)|
|Berar � income||10|
Out of this income, Rs. 16 lacs were spent in the following manner: —
|(Rs. in lacs.)|
|Burhan Shah, the Gond Raja for his maintenance||3|
|Jagirdar of Shivani||3|
|For the expenditure of the army in Berar||3|
|For the expenditure of the army in Katak||7|
In 1800 A. D. the Bhosles received highest revenue as the territory under them was at its maximum: —
|(Rs. in lacs.)|
|(1) Devagad including Bhandara||30|
|(3) Hushangibad, Shivani-Malva and Chauragad||7|
|(5) � revenue of Berar and revenue of Gavilgad, Narnala, etc.||30|
|(6) Orissa and the feudatory states||17|
|(7) Chandrapur or Chanda||5|
|(8) Chhattisgad and the feudatory states||6|
Local Marathi administration.—’ Mr. Lawrence gives the following information as to the administration of the district under the Marathas[ Settlement Report (1867), para 83.]. There were ten Kamavishdars or revenue sub-divisional officers, but their jurisdiction and powers were not always the same. The parganas of Bhandara, of Ambagarh including the north of Chandpur, and of Tirora had each a separate Kamavishdar, who reported to and was under the orders of Dharmaji Bhonsla. This personage resided at Nagpur; his duty appears to have consisted in selecting the fittest objects for oppression, and in knowing who had money and could, therefore, be made to disgorge. His cruelties were so great that the RajaAppasaheb, in search of popularity and to secure an agricultural following, put him to death. He was known as Dharmaji Pindari; and the word Pindari was to a Maratha ear a synonym for a ruthless cruel robber. In the same way the accessible portions of Chandpur and the fertile plains of Rampaili were administered by resident Kamavishdars under the guidance of Salinkah Risaldar (Cavalry leader), who held them in jagir; and afterwards under an Ijaradaror farmer of the revenue known as Kothikar. This personage was subsequently manager of the camel and grain department under Raghuji III. The tracts to the south (Pauni excepted, which was at intervals united with Brahmapuri in Chanda) were under Kamavishdars who reported direct to the palace at Nagpur. It remains to mention the Lanji pargana to the east of the Baghnadi, and Kamtha lying west and north of that river. In this extensive tract there was, up to 1853, but one Government officer, the Kamavishdar at Lanji. Most of the area was in the hands of Zamindars who were originally contractors for the entire revenue of large tracts. The country was generally wild and the local officer being remote from headquarters was comparatively unchecked. His jurisdiction extended over, besides what the present map shows, some of the tracts which now belong to the Raipur district. His domain was known as the Khaloti, that is the lowlands lying beneath the hills.’