Baji Rao: The Warrior Peshwa
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Peshwa Baji Rao, the great Maratha general and statesman, changed the map of India in the mid eighteenth century.His military campaigns were classic examples of his genius. In the mayhem of the religious intolerance continued by the tottering Mughals after Aurangzeb, Baji Rao stood out as the champion of Hinduism. He conquered Gujarat and most of central India and even shook the foundations of the Mughal Empire by attacking imperial Delhi. Though he had sworn to plant his flag on the Indus, death robbed him of this honour. His sons, however, fulfilled their father’s pledge. After driving the Afghans out of the Punjab, they raised the swallow-tailed flag not just on the walls of Attock, but even beyond.



Publié par
Date de parution 19 avril 2017
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9789351941200
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 4 Mo

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To The Memory of My Mother and Father
The Mughals - Decadence and Decline
Nizam ul Mulk - Tiger of the Deccan
Rebuilding Maratha Might
Baji Rao Emerges
The Spectacular Palkhed Campaign
Conquest of Malwa
Generals to the Fore
Victory in Gujarat
Chattarsal s Tryst with Baji Rao
Mesmerised by Mastani
Kanhoji Angre - Naval Strong Arm of the Marathas
Subjugation of the Portuguese
Brothers at Arms
A Strategist without Equal
Closing Years
T his is the story of Peshwa Baji Rao, the great Maratha general and statesman, who in the mid-eighteenth century changed the map of India. He transformed the Maratha nation state into an empire. His military genius and policy of extending the Maratha power towards north India had far-reaching and spectacular results and enabled the Marathas, within the next 25 years, to plant their bhagwa or swallow-tailed, deep orange coloured flag on the Indus.
Brave as a tiger and handsome as a god, Baji Rao was also a fascinating character. A man like him is difficult to explain in terms of heritage, training or upbringing. He was perhaps endowed with unusual yearnings of the life-force or with an unquenchable ambition and fervour that spurred him to struggle with destiny. In medieval times, conquests and victories in battles were the most charismatic of accomplishments. Born with a sword in his hand, Baji Rao became a legend while still a young man and tragically died while still in his prime.
Baji Rao had a galaxy of contemporaries, both friends and adversaries, who have left their mark on history. This is, therefore, necessarily also the story of the other great personages like Nizam ul Mulk, the distinguished founder of Hyderabad state; Sawai Jai Singh of Jaipur, general, statesman, astronomer and town planner; Kanhoji Angre, the daredevil naval commander who made life a misery for the English and the Portuguese; Raja Chattarsal, the heroic king who carved out an independent kingdom in Bundelkhand; and this is also the story of Mastani, Chattarsal s daughter and Baji Rao s great love. The paths of all these remarkable and dramatic people crossed, but each one of them was overshadowed by Baji Rao s achievements and they owe their place in history mainly in relation to him. Other players in the drama are Ranoji Scindia, Malharrao Holkar, Udaiji Pawar and Pilaji Gaikwad, distinguished generals and founders of the great states of Gwalior, Indore, Dhar and Baroda.
In this account the markers of history are not ignored; sometimes, however, the stories of these great men, whose lives intertwined, come to the fore and dominate. But then history walks into these stories and steals the scene without the thunder of a cannon or beat of a kettledrum. Occasionally, the chronological order of events has been ignored to make the storytelling better.
After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, the fortunes of the Marathas, particularly Baji Rao, became closely linked with those of Delhi. The later Mughals, who were nearing the end of their journey, therefore, provide the historical backdrop for this pageant. Here was one of the greatest empires on earth declining slowly into hopelessness and tragedy. The reigns of the six Mughal Emperors after Aurangzeb extended to a mere 41 years. Some were imbeciles, others degenerates, and they only hastened the demise of the dynasty. The country was at the crossroads of history and at that critical juncture, Peshwa Baji Rao marched on to the stage. Over the next two decades he dominated the scene conquering Gujarat, Malwa and Bundelkhand and even leading his army to imperial Delhi, while the Mughal Empire sank into decay and decline. Though Baji Rao had sworn to plant his flag on the Indus, death robbed him of this honour. His sons, however, after driving the Afghans out of the Punjab, fulfilled their father s pledge.
This book is about war; of battles on land and battles at sea; of the thundering peal of cannons and the hailstorms of musket shots; of brilliant-bladed talwars and razor-sharp lances; of heroism and glory and cowardice and intrigue; of palaces and fortresses; and even of love. But then that was Baji Rao - the Warrior Peshwa.

Mastani - the love of Baji Rao s life
Courtesy: Nisha and Karan Grover
The Mughals - Decadence and Decline
B aji Rao was a general without equal and his life was war; he spent it on the battlefield or in camp or on horseback. He had promised to raise the Maratha flag on the banks of the Indus in the north and the Krishna in the south. This inevitably meant continuous warfare with the Mughals in the north and Nizam ul Mulk in the Deccan. How could the Peshwa of a petty Maratha state take on the might of the Empire? The answer lies in the total decadence and decay of the later Mughals. Their sad story, therefore, sets the stage and must be told first. I have dwelled here upon the foibles of the later Mughals to illustrate the degeneration that had taken place in this once proud and powerful dynasty.
With the death of Emperor Aurangzeb ended the saga of one of the most magnificent and powerful empires in the world. The grand edifice which Akbar had built up and Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb had extended, tumbled down like a house of cards at the first whiff of adversity which an incompetent and spineless progeny could not face. The treasury was soon empty and the army became defeatist and past hope. The government could not control its subjects and the administration broke down. Aurangzeb was actually responsible himself for starting this dreadful decline by, what is today called, his fundamentalist religious policy and his never-ending military misadventures. His successors were all men of straw, who could do little to remedy the situation. Forty years after Aurangzeb, the Mughal Empire broke up into independent or semi-independent parts. This story of Aurangzeb s successors is intricate because there are numerous actors who rose to prominence or even to sovereignty every few years and the game of intrigue and counter-intrigue went on all the time at the imperial court.
Aurangzeb had rightly feared that a civil war would break out among his sons. He is said to have left a will, which was found under his pillow, directing his three sons, Muzzam, Azam and Kam Baksh, to partition the empire peacefully. That was a vain hope. Muzzam tried to avoid war and he offered to meet his brother, Azam, in single combat and leave it for the sword to decide the issue. Azam declined saying, Two swords cannot be kept in one scabbard.
In the ensuing war of succession, Azam and Kam Baksh were killed in separate battles and Muzzam became Emperor of Hindustan with the title of Bahadur Shah. He was 65 when he came to the throne and his was a short reign. Khafi Khan, the chronicler of the times, called Bahadur Shah the Shah-a- be-Khabr or the Heedless King. During his reign the

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