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HomeLearnHistoryPeshwa Bajirao I - A Great Maratha Warrior

Peshwa Bajirao I – A Great Maratha Warrior

Without being a critique of movie Bajirao-Mastani, let’s take a look at what history says about the great warrior Peshwa Bajirao I. His name has earned a great respect in the Maratha History.

About Shrimant Thorale Bajirao Peshwa I

Firstly what is Peshwa?

Peshwa stands for the Prime Minister ( पंतप्रधान ), the post created by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj when he was coronated as Emperor (1674).

The post was created to delegate powers to his officers.The Peshwas were mostly from Brahmin family with nice knowledge of Economics,Hindu culture,Politics & War tactics.They were very cultured & strict about ethics & respected by all types of people.

The first Peshwa was Moropant Pingale.Then there were Ramchandra Amatya etc. In the tenure of Shivaji Maharaj Maratha empire was mainly in the west & central Maharashtra,some part of MP & Karnataka,some part of Tamil Nadu.

The first Peshwa that dominated Maratha empire was Balaji Viswanath Bhat. The Bhat family was then nominated as a legal Peshwa family.

Must Read: Rise of Peshwas

Peshwa Bajirao I (1700 to 1740)

Full name : Bajirao Balaji Bhat.

Also known as Thorale Bajirao or Rau. At the age of 20, he was appointed as Peshwa by Shahu Maharaj. He fought 41 battles & never lost any one. He is considered as one of the greatest Warriors of Indian History.(Not only in Maratha or Peshwa history ).In his Tenure, Maratha Empire spread in Entire Maharashtra, MP, South & East Gujarat,Bihar,East Rajasthan,Odisha, U.P. This is nearly four to five times as the area covered by Maratha kingdom in Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj tenure.

Bajirao was married to a typical Brahmin girl Kashibai. The Peshwa ladies were cultured, educated, very particular about Hindu culture & never used to talk loudly or laugh in public etc.

Mastani was a small part of Peshwa Bajirao lifespan & his tenure.She was a Multi-Talented Beautiful Princess of King Bundela from a Persian Muslim wife. She had Mastery in Sword Fighting,Horse Riding,Religious studies etc. King Chhatrasal Bundela offered Mastani’s hand to Bajirao because Bajirao helped him to save his kingdom from Mughals. And Bajirao-Mastani Love story started.

Mastani had a son from Bajirao. He was initially named Krishnarao and then renamed to Shamsherbahadur because of strong opposition of Brahmin people and family of Peshwa since they could not accept Muslim as a wife or Son of Peshwa. But that never affected the working of Maratha empire or Peshwa Bajiroa’s duties towards his army or people.
Bajirao was famous for his war tactics. He used to move his army very fast and attack the enemy before they could understand. For attacking Mughals in Delhi, His army covered a distance in 48 hrs, which was normally covered in 6 to 8 days,& they won the battle too.

Read Also: The Revolt 1857: the First War of Independence

He converted Kasbah into large Pune city,& the city was divided into 18 parts (called as Peths)

He spent 70% of his life with soldiers in Camps, on Horses for traveling and in battlefield.

The noble Peshwa Bajirao died also in Shamiyana ( April 1740) near the battlefield in Madhya Pradesh. It was a sudden death.(supposedly sun stroke). He was cremated in Raverkhedi on Narmada river. The small memorial still exists in the village (but without any glamour and almost no visitors). People over there still respect him as Peshwa Sarkar. They call this place as “Peshwa Sarkar ka Mandir”.
Later Peshwas (Balaji, Raghunathrao, Madhavrao etc ) went up to Attock ( now in mid-Pakistan ) for spreading Empire.

Slowly British spread their wings (around 1800) in India. With sophisticated weapons and disciplined working, they became supreme power and the last Peshwa Bajirao 2nd signed a treaty with British & lost the power to rule India, in 1818.

None of the Peshwa lived for more than 40 years. They only fought for spreading and strengthening Maratha Empire.
But the Peshwas are always treated as just Brahmin dynasty which enjoyed the Kingdom of Shivaji Maharaj. And ignored in Indian & Maratha History.

In Maharashtra one can still see the Udayan Raje Bhosale, In Rajasthan one see VijayaRaje, in MP there is Madhavarao Scindia’s family ( originally Shinde).

Also, Read:

The rise and fall of Mysore Reign of Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan

Governor Generals and Viceroys of India