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Balaji Vishwanath (1713-20)
· One of the first things Balaji was called upon to do was to secure the restoration of Sahu’s mother to him from the custody of Mughals who had detained her at Delhi as hostage for the good behavior of her son Sahu.
· Balaji opened direct negotiations with the Saiyyid brothers and in February 1719 all his demands were accepted. Accordingly Sahu’s mother and family were released, he was recognized as the ruler of Shivaji’s home dominions and was allowed to collect chauth and sardeshmukhi from the six subhas of the Deccan, as also in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
· In return for all this, the Marathas were expected to keep a contingent on 15,000 horses in the service of the Mughals and to maintain order in the Deccan.
· Bajaj’s success in Delhi greatly increased his power and prestige. Balaji Vishwanath is rightly called the second founder of the Maratha state.
· Balaji was credit with “a mastery of finance”. Solid foundations were laid for a well-organized revenue system in the swaraj territory which was under direct royal administration. Here Balaji adopted the assessments made by the Malik Amber in Ahmadnagar. Gujarat was earmarked for the Senapati, Berar and Gondwana for the Bhonsle of Nagpur, the Konkan for Kanhoji Angria, Karnataka for Fateh Bhonsle, and Khandesh, Baglana and central India for the Peshwa.
· They collected the revenue, administered the territory, maintained the local army, and contributed only a small share of their income to the royal exchequer.
· Sometime revenue officers (Darrackdars) were sent to their dominions from the central government, but there was no real curb on their power.
· Balaji’s appointment as Peshwa in 1713 marks the end of the ‘royal phase’ in Maratha history.
The new Maratha ‘mandala’ or confederacy under Sahu:
· During the period of Rajaram, the office of Pratinidhi was created and the office of the Peshwa was next to it in hierarchy. Thus in place of Ashta-Pradhan of Shivaji, Sahu had nine ministers including the Pratinidhi. Sahu introduced the Jagir system.
· Some capable and ambitious military leaders and officers were assigned ‘spheres of influence’ which they were expected to bring under their control by their own military strength without any support from the central government.
· Thus the Malwa was assigned to Nemaji Scindia (capital= Gwalior) , Gujarat and Baglana to the Deshades (the Gaekwads of Baroda were their successors), Khandesh and Balaghat to the Peshwa (cpital= Poona), Berar and Gondwana to the Bhonsles (capital= Nagpur), the Konkan to the Angrias, Karnataka to Fateh Singh Bhonsle, Indore to Holkars, etc.
· The new maratha state was neither centralized nor unitary. Both power and revenues were shared amongst the four pillars of the Maratha state:
o The chhatrapath
o The ministers in the swaraj territory
o The sardars in the newly conquered areas and spheres of influence
o The local units
Peshwa Baji Rao I (1720-40)
· After the death of Balaji Vishwanath, his eldest son Baji Rao, a young man of hardly 20, was appointed the Peshwa by Sahu. He formulated the policy of northward expansion of the Marathas, so that “the Maratha flag shall fly from the Krishna to Attock”.
· The treaty of Delhi (Feb. 1719), which Balaji Vishwanath had entered into with the Mughals, Baji Rao, after setting his own house in order, finally defeated the Nizam near Bhopal and, by the convention of Durai Sarai (January 1738), compelled the Nizam to agree to surrender to the Peshwa the whole of Malwa, together with the complete sovereignty of the territory between the Narmada and the Chambal rivers and to pay rates 50 lakh as war indemnity.
· He conquered Malwa, Bundelkhand, Bassein and Gujarat and reached up to Gujarat in 1737. The fall of Bassein marked the end of Portuguese rule in the north Konkan. He also severely crippled the power of the Siddis of Janjira.
· He made Poona the centre of his activities and it soon came to be known as the seat of the Peshwas.
· Peshwa Baji Rao I was the greatest Maratha leader. His policy of northward expansion however, landed the Marathas into the ruinous the third battle of Panipat.
· During this period, Ranoji Sindhia was the founder of the Sindhia dynasty of Malwa with his headquarters at Ujjain.
· Malahar Rao Holker also had given a part of Malwa, who became the founder of the Holker house of Indore.
· The Gaekwads established themselves in the Gujarat with headquarters at Baroda.
· Two other regional kingdoms: Kolhapur was ruled by the junior branch of Shivaji’s family and Bhonsles of Nagpur claimed close kinship with the Maratha king Sahu.
· Baji Rao founded the Maratha Empire through his conquest, but he didn’t consolidate it through administrative organization.
Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao or Nana Sahib (1740-61)
· Peshwa Baji Rao died at the young age of 40 and was succeeded by his son Balaji Baji Rao (popularly called Nana Sahib) who, throughout his Peshwa-ship, remained dependent on the advice and guidance of his cousin Sada Shiva Rao Bhau.
· One of the earliest achievements of Nana Sahib was better financial management of the empire by exercising careful supervision over all financial transactions. He later discussed the affairs of north India with Holkher and Sindhia and in April 1742 marched northward to consolidate the Maratha authority in Bhundelkhand.
· In 1743, he undertook the second expedition to the north to help Alivardhi Khan (in Bengal) whose territories had been ravaged by Raghuji Bhonsle. The Peshwa reached Murshidabad and met Alivardi Khan who agreed to pay Sahu the chauth for Bengal and Rs. 22 lakhs to Peshwa for the expenses of his expedition.
· On December 15, 1749 Sahu died childless. Before his death he had nominated Rama Raja, a grandson of Tarabai, as his successor. Rama raja was crowned as chhatrapati in January 1750. Since he was weak and incompetent, Tarabai tried to make him a puppet in her own hands, which caused utter confusion and crisis in the Maratha kingdom.
· It deepened further when the Peshwa learnt that Rama Raja was not grandson of Tarabai but an imposter. When this fact came to knowledge, the chhatrapati was virtually confined in the fort at Satara and lost all contacts with political developments.
· Henceforth Poona became the real capital of Maratha confederacy, and the Peshwa its virtual ruler.
· During the second of Balaji regime (1751-61), four campaigns were organized in the north. The Punjab politics was at the time in a confused state and as a result of the first two invasions of Ahmad Shah Abdali, the subhas of Lahore, Multan and Kashmir were annexed by Abdali to his dominions.
· After the third invasion, the Mughal Wazir Safdarjang persuaded the emperor to the enter into an agreement with the Marathas in May 1752 for undertaking the defense of the empire against its internal and external foes.
· In return, the Marathas were to get the chauth of northwestern provinces usurped and occupied by the Afghans. However, the chauth could only be secured by actual conquest. The Marathas were also given the subhas of Agra and Ajmer.
· As a result of this agreement the Maratha military force was posted at Delhi and they repeatedly interfered in the politics of north India and established their supremacy at Delhi.
· Safdarjung lost his wazir-ship and retired to Awadh in 1753, and power in the imperial court passed to Imad-ul-Mulk, a grandson of Nizam-ul-Mulk.
· He terrorized the helpless emperor with Maratha help and secured the office of wazir, de-throne Ahmad Shah and placed Alamgir II, a grandson of Bahadur Shah on the imperial throne (1754).
· He agreed to Ahmad Shah Abdali’s project of ousting the Marathas from the Doab and Suja-ud-Daula of Awadh, son and successor of Safdarjung, from provincial governor-ship (1757).
· This drew Suja-ud-Daula, Suraj Mal Jat and the Marathas together, and left Imad-ul-Mulk utterly friendless during the absence of Abdali from India.
· As per the above arrangements, early in 1758, Raghunath Rao, accompanied by Malhar Rao Holkar, entered the Punjab. He was joined by Adina Beg Khan and the Sikhs.
· Sirhind fell, Lahore was occupied and the Afghans were expelled (April 1758). Timur Shah fled, persuaded by the Marathas up to the Chenab. They didn’t cross the river because it was too deep for fording and the districts beyond it were inhabited mostly by the Afghans.
· Raghunath Rao returned from the Punjab after leaving the province in-charge of Adina Beg Khan.
· The Peshwa sent a large army under Dattaji Sindhia who reached the eastern bank of the Sutlej (April 1759), and sent Sabaji Sindhia to Lahore to take over the governorship of the province.
· Within a few months, a strong army sent by Abdali crossed the Indus. Sabaji fell back precipitately, abandoning the entire province of the Punjab to the Afghans.
· Abdali established his government at Lahore, resumed his march and entered Sirhind (November 1759).
· On return towards Delhi (May 1759) after the re-conquest of the Punjab, Dattaji Sindha was involved in hostilities with Janib-ud-daula in Rohilkhand. He suffered defeats and retreated towards Panipat (December 1759), and heard that Abdali’s forces, advancing from Sirhind, had occupied Ambala.
· His resistance failed; he was killed in the battle with Abdali at Barari, some 16 km north of Delhi (January 1760).
· Malahar Rao Holkher was rooted by the Afghans at Sikandrabad. The Peshwa dispatched the Maratha troops under his cousin Sada Shiva Rao Bhau and his eldest son Vishwas Rao. The Maratha artillery was to be commanded by Ibrahim Khan Gardi.
· In july 1760, the Marathas occupied Delhi. This small success added to the prestige of the Marathas, but they were friendless in the whole of the north India. Even the Jat king Suraj Mal deserted them at the last movement.
· On the other hand, Ahmad Shah Abadli had been able to secure the support of Rohila chief Naib-ud-daula, Nawab Suja-ud-daula of Awadh etc.
· During this period some futile attempts were made for peace between Ahmad Shah Abdali and the Peshwa, but they could not succeeded due to the exorbitant demands of Marathas and self-interest of the Muslim rulers. This culminated in the unfortunate and disastrous battle of Panipat.
Peshwa Madhava Rao I (1761-72)
· After the death of Balaji Baji Rao, his younger son Madhava Rao was placed on the Peshwa’s gaddi. Since the new Peshwa was only 17 years old, his uncle Raghunatha Rao, the eldest surviving member of the Peshwa’s family, became his regent and the de facto ruler of the state.
· During this period, serious differences broke out between the Peshwa and his uncle, leading to war between two in 1762, in which the Peshwa’s army was defeated.
· In 1765, Raghunatha Rao demanded the partition of the Maratha state between himself and the Peshwa.
· Haider Ali of Mysore ravaged the Maratha territories in Karnataka but the first Anglo-Mysore war involved Haider Ali in a greater crisis.
· In January 1771, Mahadaji Sindhia occupied Delhi and succeeded in exacting money from the leading Rajput princes but the pre-matured death of Madhava Rao in November 1772 placed the Maratha dominion in a deep crisis.
· Madhava Rao was the last great Peshwa. After Madhava Rao’s death the fortunes of Maratha kingdom and the prestige of Peshwas under Narayana Rao (1772-74), Madhava Rao Narayan (1774-95), and Baji Rao II (1796-1818) rapidly declined. The last Peshwa surrendered to the English and the Peshwa-ship was abolished (1818).
MARATHA ADMINSTRATION UNDER THE PESHWAS
· The de-facto ruler of the Maratha Empire was the Peshwa. Originally the Peshwa was the chief among the eight ministers consisting Shivaji’s council (Asta Pradhan); but he came to occupy the second rank when Raja Ram created the office of Prathinidhi in 1698.
· The Peshwa’s office became hereditary. The principle of hereditary emerged in the reign of Sahu; Balaji Vishwanath and his descendants held the office from 1713 till its extinction in 1818.
· The old nobles, the Angrias, the Bhonsles, the Gaikwars regarded the Peshwa as their equal and obeyed him only as the deputy of Chhatrapati. The new nobles who rose into prominence under the Peshwas patronage, the Sindhias, the Holkhers, the Rastias regarded themselves as his servants.
· Estates or fiefs – Saranjams, The diwans of the Gaikhwar, the Holker and the Sindhia were always appointed by the Peshwa.
· The Peshwa’s primacy became nominal after the death of Madhav Rao I (1772).
· During the first Anglo-Maratha war (1775-82) and the long minority of Peshwa Madhav Rao Narayan (1774-96), not only the great Maratha chiefs Sindhia, Holkar, Bhonsle, Gaikwar but also many lesser nobles, followed their own interests and acted on their own.
· Huzur daftar: Peshwa’s administrative secretariat at Poona.
· The chief man in the village was the Patil. He was the chief revenue officer, the chief police magistrate as also the chief judicial officer. He was paid by the villagers, not by the Peshwa.
· He was assisted by the Kulkarni, the village clerk and Record-keeper.
· The Potdar tested the coins to see whether they really had the prescribed weight and proportion of metal.
· The industrial requirements of the village were met by twelve artisans (Balutas) who received a share of the crops and other perquisites in return for their services to the community.
District and provincial administration:
· Different terms (Taraf, Pargana, Sarkar, Subah) were used indiscriminately to indicate administrative divisions.
· The officers incharge of the bigger divisions were the Kamavisdars. They were directly subordinate to the Huzur Daftar, but in Khandesh, Gujarat and Karnataka, the Kamavisdars were subordinate to Sarsubahdars.
· Local militia – Sihbandis.
· Some restraint was put on the Mamlatdar’s opportunities for peculation and mal-administration by the Deshmukh and the Deshpande. The Deshmukh maintained records relating to estates, alienations and transfer of properties, and these were called for it all disputes connected with lands. The functions of the Deshmukhs and the Deshpandes as agents for controlling corruption were supplemented by those entrusted to the provincial hereditary officers called Darakhdars.
· Extraordinary levy on landholders known as Karja Patti or Jasti Patti.
· Custom duties - Mohatarfa or taxes on trades and professions, and zakat or duties on purchase and sale.
· The proceeds of the Chauth were divided into four shares:
o 25% (Babti) reserved for the head of the state
o 66% (Mokasa) granted to the feudal chiefs for the maintenance of troops.
o 3% (Sahotra) granted to the Sachiv
o 3% (Nadgaunda) granted to various persons at the pleasure of the head of state.
· Agricultural lands in the villages were generally divided between two classes of holders.
· The Mirasdars represented the descendants of original settlers who cleared the forest and introduced cultivation. They had permanent proprietary rights. Their lands were heritable and saleable. They were immune from eviction as long as they paid rent.
· The Upris were strangers and tenants at will. Leases were generally granted to the Upris under the authority of the Mamlatdar or Kamavisdar.
Justice and Police:
· There were no codified laws or rules of procedure. The judicial officer in the village was the Patil. Above him were the Mamlatdar and the Sarsubahdar represented the Chhatrapati.
· Capital punishment was seems to have been unknown in the days of the first three Peshwas.
· In the detection of crimes, the village watchmen (Jaglas) usually the degraded Mahars and Mangs were helped by criminal tribes such as the Ramoshis, Bhils and Kolis.
· The village police was under the Patil, the district police under the Mamlatdar. In big cities the police was placed under the Kotwal whose duties included the regulation of prices and taking of census.
· Outside the Swaraj, the Maratha system of government was “almost predatory”.
· After Shambaji’s death (1689), when the monarchy was virtually in abeyance, central control disappeared.
· The Maratha soldiers fighting against the Mughals were irregular groups led by different chiefs. This system was formalised during the reign of Sahu.
· The feudalisation of the state resulted in the feudalisation in the army.
· In the 18th century, Mahadaji Sindhia had disciplined battalions under European officers and used them effectively against his Indian enemies.
· The Pindaris, who were plunderers by profession, were allowed to accompany the Maratha armies on every expedition in return of a tax (Palpatti). They shared their spoils with the government which took 25% of their booty.
· 1st Anglo-Maratha War (1775-82): In tussle for Peshwaship, Britishers supported Raghunath Rao but were defeated and Treaty of Wadgaon (1779) and Treaty of Salbai (1782) were signed.
· 2nd Anglo-Maratha War (1803-06): the Subsidiary Alliance Treaty of Bassein (1802) signed by Maratha Peshwa was not acceptable to Maratha confederacy but they were defeated by Britishers.
· 3rd Anglo-Maratha War (1817-18): Lord Hastings move against Pindaris to establish British paramountcy transgressed sovereignty of Maratha chiefs and the war started. Marathas were defeated.