Baji Rao I, the second Peshwa of the Maratha King Chhatrapati Shahu, was well known for his extensive knowledge in wars, strategies and also his administrative skills.
Baji Rao I Early Life & Family Background
Baji Rao I was no ordinary ruler. It was invincible and it was said that he had fought numerous battles and did not lose any of them. He was a skilled warrior and an efficient administrator. Baji Rao I was the second Peshwa or in other words the Prime Minister of the emperor Chhatrapati Shahu who the Maratha king.
Baji Rao I father was the first Peshwa of the previously mentioned king. After the death of Baji Rao’s father, he was appointed as the ruler. Baji Rao was born on August 18 in the year 1700 to a Brahmin family. His father was Balaji Vishwanath who was the first Prime Minister of the Maratha Emperor Chhatrapati Sahu.
And his mother Radhabai, was a strict practitioner of the Brahmin system codes. Baji Rao belonged to a Bhat family. He even had three siblings. A younger brother Chimanji Appa who used to accompany Baji Rao in battles. Two sisters, Bihubai Joshi and Anubai Ghorpade. Growing up Baji used to attend his father and learnt a lot about the administration system. He was also very skilled warrior and was proficient in almost all kinds of battle strategies. Bajirao Ballal, this was another title given to him.
Baji Rao was abiding by the codes and conduct of a monogamous marriage till he was married to Mastani. Baji Rao’s first marriage was well settled and there were no disputes from any one from any side. It was a happy marriage and Baji Rao too was known to respect and take care of his first wife, Kashibai who belonged to a Hindu family.
And a wealthy and prosperous family too. Kashibai was the daughter of a banker named Krishna Joshi and her mother was Shiubai. She belonged to Chas. Baji Rao I with his first marriage was the father of three sons. Balaji Baji Rao, Raghunath Rao, and Janardhan Rao. Baji Rao’s first son Balaji took the command after the death of his father.
Baji Rao’s second marriage was a political based marriage. It was done to calm the dispute and maintain the relationships with the Rajput province Bundelkhand. However this marriage was not favored by many people and especially Baji Rao’s mother who was against this marriage.
Baji Rao’s second marriage was with Mastani who was the daughter of a Hindu ruler but her mother was Muslim. The sole purpose of this marriage was to maintain a healthy relationship with the Rajput kings. And so Baji Rao went ahead and offered his hand for this union.
Gradually, the relationship between the second wife Mastani and Baji Rao began to change soon the two were involved into a relationship and Baji Rao I had a son with Mastani named Krishna Rao. As mentioned earlier that Mastani also had a Muslim origin, she was never truly accepted as the wife of Baji.
She was constantly despised, especially by Baji Rao’s mother and his brother. The priests refused to perform any kind of ceremony due to Mastani’s Muslim lineage. She was even subjected to death attempts but was rescued by Baji Rao’s father.
Because of Baji’s second marriage there were several disputes in the family. However, despite all the opposition and disputes Baji Rao built a palace for the honor of Mastani in Pune named Mastani Mahal. Baji Rao’s son Krishna Rao was denied any Brahmin rituals by his Brahmin family. The priest refused to perform any rituals and was even supported by Radhabai.
After the death of Baji, Krishna Rao was taken by Kashibai, she raised him like one of her own sons. He was six years old when Baji’s first wife took him. Krishna took the name Shamsher Bahadur and he was provided with the war art skills.
He was also provided with a portion of his father’s land upon his death. Later Shamsher served the Maratha in the war against the Afghans in the third battle of Panipat. Mastani also left her life soon after her husband died.
Baji Rao was said to be very efficient in wars and hence he did not lose any battle. It is said that he fought 41 battles in total. He was a skilled warrior. Since childhood he was very good with war tactics. He at a very early age that would be 20 was given the responsibility of Peshwa.
Still his age was not an indicator of his skills that proved to be that of a veteran warrior. Baji Rao made a decision to capture Gujrat but he ended up signing a treaty with the then governor Maharaja Abhai Singh. He even crossed the Narmada River to seize Malwa. Baji Rao was best remembered for his fight that he put up against the Mughals.
He was known for his war strategies and was able to sense the declining power of the Mughals at that moment and so, with his very keen observation skills he was able to defeat the Mughals in the Battle of Delhi.
He headed his Maratha Army and crashed the Mughals in the battle field. Because of this massive defeat of the Mughals they were forced to surrender the Malwa to the Maratha Rule.
Death of Baji Rao
At the age of 39, on April 28 in the year, 1740 Baji Rao died due to heat stroke which caused him sickness. He was on his way to Delhi, and while he was near the city Indore, he suffered will sickness which resulted him death.
Baji was cremated in Narmada river and the followers built a memorial which houses two temples, one of Lord Shiva and another one of Lord Rama. The compound has been developed as a Dharamshala.
Baji Rao I died young and soon after his death his son took over the reign, but one cannot deny Baji Rao’s ballistic talents and his efficient, and righteous administration skills.