Saturday, November 20, 2010

Peshwas (Part 3) : Peak of the Peshwas and their debacle at Panipat


Refer previous Peshwa articles to get a sense of continuity viz. Peshwas Part 1: Early Peshwas (Sonopant,Shyampant,Moropant,Nilopant,Bahirojipant,Ramchandrapant and Balaji Vishwanath Bhat), Part 2: Glory of the Peshwas (Bajirao I), Part 3: Peak of the Peshwas and Debacle at Panipat(Balaji Bajirao), Part 4: Strife within (Madhavrao, Narayanrao,Raghunathrao,Sawai Madhavrao), Part 5: Decline of the Peshwas (Bajirao II, Amritrao, Nanasahib).





Balaji Bajirao a.k.a Nanasaheb (b.12th Dec,1721-d.1761) was the son and successor of Bajirao I.
His reign saw the zenith of the Maratha power and also the commencement of its decline.
Nanasaheb was the eldest son of Bajirao and  Kashibai. After the death of Bajirao, Chatrapati Shahu declared his son Nanasaheb, the next Peshwa (25th June 1740).
The crowning of a nineteen year old to the Peshwas post was met with opposition from the likes of Raghuji Bhosale of Nagpur (refer note below on Raghuji Bhosale) and Babuji Naik Joshi (an old rival of BajiraoI, incidently also a kin), an influential Pune banker. They expressed skepticism about the capacity of a teenager to lead the kingdom .
But Shahu, keeping in mind the yeoman services to the Maratha kingdom of both Nanasahebs father, Bajirao I (and ofcourse the persistence shown by Chimaji appa, the uncle and guardian of Nanasaheb Refer note below) and grandfather, Balaji Vishwanath , brushed aside all opposition.

Mhadoba Purandare a senior bureaucrat (and an confidante of the Bhat family) was made the Mutalik (deputy) to the young Peshwa.
Balaji Bajirao despite his young age wasn’t exactly a novice to statecraft. He had earlier accompanied his father and uncle in many expeditions (not to mention Shahus own expedition to Karnataka in 1737-38, and an expedition to northern India with Pilaji Jadhav).
When Balaji Bajirao became a Peshwa, he was bereft of advice from seniors. His ailing uncle Chimaji appa had also died within months of his appointment as a Peshwa (and within a year of his fathers death) and his cousin Sadashivrao and brother Raghunathrao were quite young. But the young Peshwa held on to his own amidst several rivals.



Note: Chimaji appa was said to be a fatherlike figure for young Nanasaheb, especially after Bajirao I was accused of neglecting his family for his beloved concubine Mastani. However Chimajiappa too died within a year of his brothers death and Nanasaheb had to take over the reins of the entire family at a very young age.


Note: Raghuji Bhosale was from the clan of the Nagpur Bhosales . He was a kinsman of Ch. Shahu as both had taken sisters from the Mohite family as their respective wives (Sagunabai was the youngest Queen of Shahu and was from the Mohite clan).Raghuji had shown his resourcefulness in the campaigns in Berar and the south and he wieled considerable influence in the Maratha court.
Raghuji Bhosale hailed from the family of Mudhoji Patil of Deor ,Satara. Mudhoji had three sons Bapuji,Parsoji and Sabaji.Raghuji was the grandson of Bapuji. All these Bhosales had earlier distinguished themselves in the army of Shivaji.For the same, Parsoji the son of Mudhoji was given the right to collect chauth from Berar, which later passed on to Raghuji. 
Soon the Gond rajas of Berar also came under the influence of Raghuji and the latter became the all powerfull in Berar. Raghuji established himself in Nagpur, where he reigned nominally as the representative of the Gond prince from 1743 to 1755. By 1751 Raghuji had effected the conquest of the Deogarh territories of Chanda and Chhattisgarh. Ratanpur, the capital of the Haihaya kingdom, had fallen to the Bhosales in 1741 on the advance of his General, Bhaskar Pant, and four years later,the last Rajput Raja of that dyasty was deposed. The fort of Chanda was delivered up to Raghuji by the treachery of its Diwan in 1749 and two years later was finally ceded to him .
The kingdoms that later came under Raghujis dominion and paid him an annual tribute extended from Bengal to Orissa.  When Raghuji had a friction with Peshwa Balaji Bajirao, Shahu brought about a rapproachment between the two by demarcarting (31st August 1743) their spheres of influence. The Peshwas were not to interfere in the region of influence of Raghuji Bhosale viz. in Nagpur , Berar and in the eastern parts of India viz Bengal and Orissa (and also Lucknow in the north). Whereas Ajmer,Agra,Prayag and Malwa were to remain in the Peshwas jurisdiction.Raghuji died in 1755.Raghuji was succeeded by his son Janoji. 

Note : On one occasion Balajis rivals had got the better of him and instigated Shahu to dismiss Balaji Bajirao from the post of the Peshwa (1746), but Shahu soon realized the innocence of Balaji in all the alleged wrongdoings and reinstated him in a matter of months (in 1747). 

War of succession for Shahus legacy and Peshwa becomes the supreme authority

Shahu did not have any legitimate sons to succeed him. His only son from Sagunabai had died in his infancy. This led to a succession war between his queens Sakwarbai and Sagunabai (d.1748).They both wanted their nominees to succeed Shahu.
Sagunabai wanted her nephew Mudhoji Bhosale, son of Raghoji Bhosale (her sisters husband), to succeed Shahu.
But Sakwarbai opposed her attempts as it meant an increase in the influence of Sagunabai.
There was also a proposal to install Sambhaji II of Kolhapur (especially by the Peshwa Balaji Bajirao, thus uniting the two seats of Kolhapur and Satara) + or his half brother Venkoji as the successors. But eventually it was Shahus old foe Tarabai (wife of Shahus uncle Rajaram) who won the succesion battle, brushing away all the other contestants. She managed to convince Shahu to adopt her grandson Ramraja and declare him his successor.

Note: Sakwarbai had to commit Sati after Shahus death along with Shahus concubines. Sagunabai had died earlier (before Shahu's death).
Note+: Shahu despite conciliating with his cousin Sambhaji was never comfortable with the idea of having him as his successor and he mentioned explicitly in his will that he chose Ramraja over Sambhaji as his successor. Sambhaji was quite old himself and did not have a male issue. That may have been the other reason.


Tarabai initially controlled Ramraja . But after Ramraja came of age he started resenting his 'grandmothers' dominating nature and yearned for freedom of action.
Friction between the Ramraja and Tarabai led to a point whereby Tarabai publicly disowned Ramraja , categorically stating  that he was never her real grandson, but rather someone whom she had adopted and used to fill in the leadership void. This created a lot of illwill amongst the maratha nobles, as they had married off their daughters to Ramraja, only because Tarabai had declared him her grandson.
Ramraja was greatly distressed because of Tarabai's words and the strain between them thereafter became quite apparent. Then onwards Ramraja started working in close unison with the Peshwa much to the dismay of Tarabai.
In 1750 , Ramraja signed the critical 'Sangola' agreement, whereby he invested the Peshwa with more authority and reduced himself to being a titular king . This was in return for continuation of his rights as a Chatrapati and protection from machinations of Tarabai.
But the gritty lady Tarabai, was not the one to give up so easily. She caused a coup d’etat and confined Ramraja to prison.
The Peshwa felt it prudent not to act against Tarabai, as she was a respected and senior member of the royal family and a wife of an ex soveireign .Also added to his decision was the fact that he had to concentrate on the Nizam Nasir Jung who was creating mischief in Karnatak. He therefore simply tried to impress upon Ramraja to be patient and bide time until some alternate solution could be found.But as we saw the solution never came about and Ramraja continued to languish in prison.

However the Peshwa did weaken Tarabais position by subduing her partizans like Pant Sachiv (the Peshwa took over the control of his fort Sinhagad), Pant Pratinidhi (his fort at Sangola was taken over), Yashwantrao Dabhade (confiscated his rights in Gujarat).
Damaji Gaekwad who ( who along with his master Dabhade) had taken cudgels on behalf of Tarabai was also forced to submit.

Note: Thereafter, Damaji duly transferred his allegiance to the Peshwa and the latter transferred half the control of Gujrat, which earlier was in the hands of Dabhades over to Damaji Gaekwad.

Tarabai was eventually isolated. All her intrigues had failed and the grand old lady was forced to accept Peshwa Balaji Bajirao as the supreme authority in the Maratha kingdom (Sept 1751). However to both their credit, the relations thence between Tarabai and Balaji Bajirao remained cordial.

Note: Tarabai categorically told the Peshwa that she stood by her statement that Ramraja was not her real grandson and wished that the Peshwa wouldnt interfere in her decision of keeping Ramraja in confinement. The Peshwa too did not want to disturb the staus quo and Ramraja continued being a prisoner of Tarabai until her death in 1761 (Balaji Bajirao too had died by then). The new Peshwa, Madhavrao (Balajis son and successor) then reinstated Ramraja as the Chatrapati at Satara.

Maratha Confederacy
Balaji Bajirao continued his fathers expansionist policy. He patronized many Maratha commanders who were instrumental in the steady expansion of the Maratha dominions. These Maratha commanders were later to carve out their own spheres of influence, which gained an semi independent status with allegiance to the Chhatrapati and his Peshwa.These commanders had the right to collect Chauth and Sardeshmukhi from various vassal kingdoms of India.This perpetrated a loose Maratha confederacy throughout India but also ensured maratha hegemony in the politics of the country.

Campaigns under Balaji Bajirao
Earlier in 1741, the young Peshwa had come to an understanding with Raja Sawai Jaisingh of Amber, whereby the latter secured from the mughal court , the continuation of the chauth and sardeshmukhi rights for Malwa ( This was after the death of Bajirao I) .
In 1742-43, the Peshwa led an expedition to Bengal. This was done at the behest of the Mughal court in exchange for the chauth rights of Malwa. The Mughal governor of Bengal, Nawab Alivardi Khan was perturbed with Raghuji Bhosale’s (who was acting independent of the Peshwas control) repeated raids in Bengal and had asked the Peshwa to check Raghujis growing influence in the east (in return Peshwa was promised chauth in Bengal). Raghuji being a rival of the Peshwa in the kings court, the Peshwa readily obliged the Mughal governor. In return for his service Alivardi Khan, paid the Peshwa  a sum of twenty two lakhs.

Note: Later Chatrapati Shahu later brought about reconciliation between Raghoji Bhosale and Peshwa Balaji Bajirao by clearly demarcating their spheres of influence. Raghuji was given the territories of Berar,Bengal,Orissa,Lucknow, Bihar while the Peshwa got Konkan,Malwa,Ajmer. Raghuji thereafter remained passive towards the Peshwa.

Other personal expeditions of Balaji Bajirao to the north were Bhilsa (1744-45) and Newai(1747-48).

Maratha imperialism

Then onwards Balaji Bajirao confined himself to the administration of his kingdom from Pune (moreso to consolidate his power base in the Deccan region) .

Note:His critics say that after the first ten years of hardwork, the Peshwa gave in to a life of pleasure and delegated the responsibility of the kingdom to his cousin Sadashivraobhau. But this criticism seems a little harsh, moreso because despite his perceived epicureanism, the Peshwa never neglected his administrative work and virtually transformed Pune into a sprawling city. From wherever he was stationed, he always had the final say in all major matters happening all over the country. Not to mention that he had to contend with some antagonistic politics ( indulged by Tarabai, Dabhade, Gaekwad, Pant Pratinidhi, Pant Sachiv and the Nizam) back home as well. Moreover he started concentrating on pursuing his dream of subjugating Karnataka, leaving the politcs of the north to his generals whom he had stationed there permanently.

All the latter Maratha expeditions were carried forward by his commanders like Sadashivraobhau,Ranoji Scindia, Malharrao Holkar,Pilaji Jadhav,Yashwantrao Pawar, Gopalrao Patwardhan,Visaji Krishna Biniwale etc.

Note:It has to be noted that there are no records of Balaji Bajirao having personally taken part in an armed conflict (even during his expeditions to the north).His role was more of a general who planned and executed campaigns.

In Dec 1746, Peshwa sent his force under his cousin Sadashivrao bhau (son of Chimajiappa) to chastise the Nawab of Savnur in Karnataka. The competant Bhau (as Sadashivrao was fondly called) subdued the Nawab with immediate effect and 'chauth' was levied in the regions between Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers.The Nizam ul Mulks army under his son Nasir Jung was also defeated in May 1747 by Bhau and his men.
Nizam ul Mulk died in May 1748 and was succeeded by Nasir Jung who thereafter adopted a conciliatory approach towards the Marathas, until his assassination in 1750 by his treacherous ally Muhammad Khan, the Nawab of Kadappa. He was succeeded by Muzzafar Jang in 1751 and thereafter by Salabat Jang.
Salabat Jang renewed hostilities against the Marathas at the instigation of the French agent Bussy. The Nizams forces met reverses at the hands of the Marathas on each occasion.
Later Ghaziuddin Sr brother of Salabat Jung sought the help of the Peshwa in toppling his brother. In return Salabat jang supported the forces of Sambhaji II and Tarabai against their common foe the Peshwa.
But again the Peshwa proved the successful one.

Meanwhile, Ghaziuddin Sr became a victim of the palace intrigues (he was poisened by his brother/stepmother) and Salabat Jung remained in power. However, Salabat concluded an armistice+ with the Peshwa. and even agreed to honour Ghaziuddins commitment to the Peshwa, whereby the latter was to be paid 15 lakhs along with territory west of Berar from Tapti to Godavari rivers.

Note+:All this happened when one Sayyad Lashkar became the diwan of Salabat Jung and he weaned out the Nizam from the influence of the French.
This however proved shortlived as the French agent Bussy, soon had Sayyad Lashkar removed and once again gained access in the Nizams court.

But in 1763, Salabat Jung himself was deposed and murdered by his brother Nizam Ali.
In 1753, the Peshwas forces under Sadashivrao bhau (accompanied by a young Shamsher Bahadur, step brother of Peshwa Balaji Bajirao and Vishwasrao, Balajis son) renewed their southern operations. They attacked Srirangapattan near Mysore. The French and the Nizam had already established their influence in the Mysore court. They requested the Peshwa to make the Maratha forces spare Mysore from plunder.The Peshwa heeded their request and turned away.
 In 1754-55, the Maratha forces conquered Bagalkot,Harihar, Mundalgi and Bidnur.
In 1756, Murrarao Ghorpade of Gooty who had switched sides with the Nizam entered into an alliance with the Nawab of Savnur,Karnool and Kaddappa and together they decided to resist the Maratha attempts to collect chauth.However all had to submit one by one, before the sword of the Marathas.
From 1758-60, the Marathas freely collected chauth from all these regions in Karnataka.
In 1756, the seven year war between the English and French had started. Much to the chagrin of Salabat Jung, his protector the French agent Bussy was recalled and Salabat feeling vulnerable switched sides to the English.
But before the English could consolidate their hold over Hyderabad, Peshwa ordered attack on the Hyderabad dominions in Oct,1759.
Burhanpur,Asirgad,Daulatabad,Ahmednagar, and Bijapur fell to the Marathas.the final submission of the Nizam was at Udgir in 1760. The Nizam Salabat Jung soon sued for peace.
Meanwhile in 1758, Hyder Ali had deposed the weak raja of Mysore. Marathas launched an assault on him and after a few skirmishes, subdued Hyder Ali.
By 1753, the last vestiges of Mughals in Gujrat also disappeared after marathas under Damaji Gaekwad and Raghunathrao captured Ahmedabad.

Note1: The Peshwa Balaji Bajirao is also criticised by many historians for taking English help to suppress insubordination by the Tulaji Angre. The Angres were traditionally the Admirals of Maratha Navy and this action weakened the Maratha navy to a great extent . It also provided a foothold for the English (who were till then fringe players) in the Indian politics. But from Peshwas point of view, the English were the rivals of the French, who actively supported the Peshwas enemy, the Nizam and the Peshwa therefore may have considered it prudent to make the enemy of his enemy a friend. Moreover, during that time the English were never considered as a potential enemy with a desire to rule but more as a trading community contented only with the fulfilment of their commercial rights.



Note2: Malharrao Holkar (b.1693-d.1766) was born in a dhangar (shephard caste) family at Jejuri(Pune district) to one Khandoji Holkar from Vir. He rose in the ranks of the Maratha army and served under Balaji Vishwanath ,Bajirao I as well as Balaji Bajirao. He was one of the commanders responsible for Maratha successes in the North. A brave warrior and a accompalished commander, he was one of the officers in charge f collecting revenue from Malwa. He established his headquarters at Indore, which was to be the capital of Holkar dominion in years to come. Malharrao was part of the Maratha succeses in Delhi,Malwa,Rajputana and Bassein. 
Malharrao had earlier lost his son Khanderrao in an campaign against the Jats (though he reconciled with them in the interests of the Marathas). After Malharraos death at Alampur he was succeeded briefly by grandson Malerao, and because of Maleraos premature death within a year, by his legendary daughter in law Ahilyabai Holkar, who proved to be a capable and benevolent administrator and a social reformer and a builder of many social welfare institutions and temples. Ahilyabai is still deified in the areas ruled by the Holkars.
Malharrao also took part in the debacle of Panipat, where he is accused by many historians of retreating at a crucial juncture ( but Holkars defence was that it was done at the behest of his commander in chief Sadashivrao, after the fall of Vishwasrao in the battle. According to Malharrao,  it was Sadashivaraobhau who ordered him to prioritise the safety of Parvatibai and the other civilians who were stuck in the thick of the battle. But the as er sequence of events Parvatibai was saved because of a loyal servant and she joined Holkars party much later ). But understanding the psyche of Malharrao Holkar, he was a man following the traditional gureilla style of warfare and the basic idea behind it was, if necessary retreating from battle if necessary and living to fight for another day.
Ahilyabais son was dead and when the succession question arose, Tukoji Holkar a distant kin and commander in chief became an obvious choice. But Ahilyabai was not so much in favour of Tukoji and would have preffered another successor (possibly an adopted son), if not for the pressure exerted from Pune (especially by Nana Phadanvis). But till Ahilyabai was alive she had a strong backing from Mahadji Scindia of Gwalior whom Malharrao had extracted a promise from at his deathbed, that he would always support Ahilyabai. Hence despite opposition from even Raghunathrao, Mahadji continued to support Ahilyabai. Nana supported Ahilyabais rival Tukoji , as he wanted to weaken Mahadji (Nana's court rival), by propping up a powerfull person like Tukoji Holkar in the northern politics.
Thus, rivalry continued between Tukoji Holkars descendents and Mahadjis descendents for years to come and the advantage of this rivalry was taken by the British.

Marathas in the North

With the weakening of the Mughal power (which remained restricted between Attock and Delhi & parts of Gangetic Doab), the Marathas were now looked upon as the most powerful force in India.+
The services of the Marathas were even sought by the Mughal wazir Safdar Jung , who was facing a threat to his position from the emperor himself (influenced by his mother Udhambai and her aide Javed Khan the eunuch. Not to mention the help they sought from Nizam Nasir Jang of Hyderabad and the threats from the Pathans of the Doab who harboured dreas of reviving the Afghan rule at Delhi)  in return they were promised lands in the north. This led to a conflict of interest with the Rajputs and the Jats who were also vying for those regions. This was to prove detrimental for the Marathas in the third war at Panipat.


Note: Jayappa Scindia was murdered in Nagore,Rajasthan in 1759, when he was involved in solving the succession dispute of the royal throne of Jodhpur.
Note+: The northern powers knew that marathas werent colonialists and would never usurp their thrones. They were only present in the north for the sake of revenue generation and hence were looked upon as mercenaries.

In 1750, the Rohillas and the Bangash pathans of Farukhabad had risen in rebellion against their Mughal masters.

Note: Rohillas were Afghan pathans hailing from regions of northwest frontier and Afghanistan who had settled in northern India.

Hence the wazir(Safdar Jang,Nawab of Awadh) of the Mughal emperor, sought the help of the Marathas in suppressing these revolts. The Marathas (Shinde-Holkars) sprang to Safdarjangs rescue and in the 1751 Farukhabad battle, quashed the Bangash-Rohila (Pathan) combine. However when Safdar Jang was unable to keep his renumeration promises to the marathas (and also dillydallied over the issue of handing over the hindu pilgrimage sites of Kashi and Prayag to the marathas). The emperor also decided to do away with Safdar Jang and seduced the maratha agents Hingne and Antaji Mankeshwar (with promises of the subahs of  Avadh and Allahabad)to help him further his interests.A new wazir Intizam-ud-daulla was also decided upon .Mir Bakshi Imad ul mulk Gaziuddin Jr (grandson of Nizam ul Mulk who established the kingdom of Hyderabad and son of his eldest child Gaziuddin Sr) too threw in his lot with the emperor.As did Najibudaulla Khan Rohilla, an rival of Safdar Jang and Madhosingh of Jaipur. Safdarjangs only supporter was Surajmal Jat whose Gosavi forces were also routed by the imperial forces.
Safdarjang was thereafter forced to retire to Avadh.

Note1:Gaziuddin Sr had earlier sought the help of the marathas in the succession battle with his brother Salabat Jang, but was poisened to death by his step mother.

Note2: Earlier Gaziuddin Jr was elevated to the position of Mir Bakshi by Safdarjung himself, who was then the Wazir. But Ghaziuddin wasnt a person of high moral values and he soon turned against his patron.


Note3: Eventually the promised subahs of Avadh and Allahbad were never delivered to the marathas, as the emperor had already managed to subdue Safdarjang, who later sought pardon and agreed to retire to his province of Avadh forever. Safdarjang died within a years time.

Prelude to the Third War of Panipat



In 1752, the Afghan king Ahmed Shah Abdali invaded Punjab and took over its possession. He then proceeded towards Delhi and demanded fifty lakhs as a tribute from the mughal emperor. The Mughal emperor then pleaded for help to the Marathas and a formal treaty (with the Maratha commanders Malharrao Holkar and Jayappa Scindia) was signed between them (fifty lakhs to be paid to the Marathas along with chauth of Punjab and Sind), seeking their immediate assistance viz.the "Ahadnama pact" (Ahamdiya). Thereafter Safdar Jang hastened to Delhi with a fifty thousand strong Maratha army. By then Abdali had already retracted to Afghanistan after the the panic stricken mughal emperor ceded Lahore and Multan to him.

Note. Punjab was bravely defended against the afghans by its Mughal Governor Mir Mannu , but seeing no help coming from the emperor and his wazir (who was a court rival of Mir Mannu), despite deperate pleas for reinforcements, he switched sides to the Afghans.

 The Mughal emperor wasnt in a position to keep the promises made by his wazir to the marathas. This created bad blood between the emperor and his wazir, when the latter accused his emperor of doublespeak and acting on the advice of his rival at the court, the eunuch Jawed Khan, chief of the royal guards.
The Marathas on the other hand refused to vacate Delhi, unless the emperor and his wazir honoured their agreement and pay them fifty lakhs as promised. When this couldn’t be arranged the Marathas (moreso their mercenary army of Pindaris) freely plundered Delhi much to the dismay of the emperor and his wazir.
By then Ghaziuddin Sr the brother of Salabat Jang, the new Nizam ul Mulk had staked claim to Hyderabad and had sought the help of the Peshwas. The Marathas then forced the Mughal emperor to issue a sanad recognizing Ghaziuddin as the Nizam ul Mulk and Mughal subedar in Deccan. In return Gaziuddin promised to pay 30 lakhs to the Peshwa on behalf of the emperor of Delhi as part payment towards the earlier mentioned treaty. Also had been promised a governorship of Ajmer and Agra (which were earlier promised to the Rajputs and the Jats). Also the earlier promised chauth from Punjab and Sind was also a part of Abdalis possessions. Hence the treaty between Delhi and the Marathas still remained unfulfilled.
Then, ten thousand Maratha troops were left behind in Delhi under the Maratha commander, Antaji Mankeshwar, while the rest returned back to their respective posts. The Peshwa also sent Mahadev Pant Hingane to the Delhi court to act as his representative.

In 1754, the Mughal emperor Ahmad Shah Bahadur was virtually made a prisoner (his advisor Jawed Khan had been murdered earlier by Safdar Jang) by Safdar Jang. But then Safdar Jang himself was removed in a coup.

Note: Marathas had wanted the control of the Hindu pilgrimage sites of Varanasi and Allahbad, which were in  the jurisdiction of Safdar Jung. But the wazir wasnt willing to part with them, something which did not go well with the Marathas. But the mughal emperor cleverly ceded them to the marathas , much to the dismay of his wazir. The wazir Safdar Jung rebelled against the emperor and the Jats assisted his cause. Then Imad ul Mulk Gaziuddin Jr implored the Marathas to come to their rescue in the name of the Ahamdiya treaty. The Marathas who were already feeling slighted over Safdar Jungs refusal to hand over Varanasi/Allahbad decided to take the call in favour of the emperor. But before they reached Delhi, Safdar Jung and the Jats were routed by the imperial forces led by Najib Khan Rohilla. However the emperor forgave Safdar Jang and Surajmal . But Imad ul Mulk wasnt contented and wanted to finish off his rivals. So he again asked the Marathas to carry out that task for him (also promising them the moon). In 1754, Raghunathrao the brother of the Peshwa and his deputy, Malharrao Holkar led an army against the Jat King, Raja Badan singh and his commander (and son) Suraj Mal. While the seige of the Jat fort was on, Malharrao lost his son Khanderao to a stray cannonball fired from the Kumher fort. A vindictive Malharrao came down heavily on the Jats. The Jats sued for peace.
The Jats implored Jayappa Scindia to use his influence with the Peshwas brother, Raghunathrao to pacify Malharraos ire. Eventually Raghunathrao prevailed on Malharrao to come to terms with the Jats and the Marathas settled with thirty lakh rupees as war indemnity to be paid in three installments. In return the Jats were allowed to eat into mughal provinces. The Jats thereafter maintained friendly relations with the Marathas.
But all this definately made the Marathas lose the valuable support of their erstwhile ally the Nawab of Awadh (Safdar Jang and his son Shujauddaullah). Something they might have desperately wanted in the battle of Panipat (in the near future).


Note3:Abdali had returned to India not just for pillage but also in response to the pleas of Najib and Shah Waliullah, a muslim cleric from Delhi who had given the clarion call of Islam in danger after the advent of the marathas in the north (in addition to other hindu forces like Jats and Rajputs) , imploring Abdali for assistance in vanquishing them.


Imad ul Mulk Gaziuddin (Jr) proved even worse for the emperor. Fearing a realignment between Ahmad Shah and his ex wazir Safdar Jang, the new wazir deposed the emperor and installed in his place Alamgir II. Imad ul Mulk then tried to repossess the territories of Punjab which had earlier been taken by Abdali. Abdali then reinvaded Delhi in 1756.

Note:Abdali had also been enticed by Mughlani begum, the widow of Mir Mannu  who provided Abdali with details of the riches of Delhi. ( Mir Mannu was the ex governor of Punjab after whose death Gaziuddin occupied Punjab and deposed Mughlani begum. She had since sworn to depose Gaziuddin and asked Abdali for help). Najib Khan, the Mir Bakshi had also secretly sent his representatives to Abdali asking him to invade Delhi and rid it of the Marathas. Earlier the erstwhile emperor Muhammed Khans queen Mallika Zaman had complained to Najib of her plight after the pindari bands associated with the maratha army had robbed her of her belongings and Gaziuddin himself had deprived her of her basic pensions.Najib then had promised to help out the ex queen.


Meanwhile in 1757, Abdali was advancing towards Delhi. The Maratha commander Antaji Mankeshwar repulsed the first attack by Abdali. But the Maratha party while returning back was ambushed by Najibuddaullah Khan the Chief of Sahranpur, who acted as an double agent for Abdali (while simultaneously professing loyalty to the mughal throne).

Note: Najibuddaullah was a Yusufzai Afghan migrant who took service in the mughal army. He rose to the position of the chief of Sahranpur (he was married to the daughter of another Mughal noble, a Rohilla chief named Dunde Khan). Najibs intelligence and courage impressed both the Mughal emperor and Imad ud Daullah and he was made the Mir Bakshi. He was amongst the main architects of the war of Panipat and had orchestrated not just the arrival of Abdali in India but also the conclusion of the war with the marathas.

This created panic in the mughal ranks and Imad ul Mulk too surrendered Delhi to Abdali. The maratha envoy Mahadev Pandit Hingane aka Raja Bapu the agent of the Peshwa, was imprisoned, but he later escaped from captivity.
Abdali then entered Delhi virtually unchallenged.Abdali then plundered Delhi. The mughal royalty and nobles were virtually divested of all their wealth and their womenfolk were made a part of the Afghan harem.
Meanwhile the Peshwa Balaji Bajirao dispatched a Maratha army (under his brother Raghunathrao and Malharrao Holkar as his deputy) to take on Abdali and his 'gilchas' (a maratha term for the afghans). But Raghunathrao was slow in his movements (he believed he did not have the requisite streangth to take on Abdalis larger army and said  to have spent considerable time capturing forts/ collecting funds in Rajputana) , and Abdali raped and pillaged the countryside.
Abdalis troops even ravaged the Jat territory of Mathura. A genocide of hindus followed and their holy places were descecrated.  It is said Abdali paid his men for every severed Hindu head.
Abdali also asked the Jat raja Surajmal to cough out a heavy sum, which the Jat king refused and the afghans continued with the massacares in the Jat country.
The river Yamuna changed colours to blood red as heaps of mutilated corpses were thrown in the Yamuna. But as fate would have it this also gave rise to the cholera epidemic and it took its toll in the afghan camp. The summer heat also made matters worse for the afghans.
These natural calamities and the news of a rebellion back in his home town, prompted Abdali's decision to return back to Afghanistan, but not before threatening the Jat king Surajmal to come back to finish matters.
This unsettled the Jat king and he started thinking in terms of taking Maratha protection.

Meanwhile before returning to Afghanistan, Abdali allowed Imad ul Mulk to continue as the wazir, but also created another power, in the form of Najib- ud- daullah Khan as the Mir Bakshi to watch over the wazir.

Note:The Afghan army on their way back was looted by the roving Sikh bands. The Afghans in retaliation descerated their temples in Amritsar.


After Abdalis departure,what followed was a struggle for complete power between Gaziuddin Jr and Najib khan. Earlier Qutub Shah the preceptor of Najib had attacked Imads house in Delhi and dishonoured his women folk. Imad thereafter swore vengeance against Najib. 
However Najib had become too powerfull and Gaziuddin Jr had to flee Delhi. He took along with him his puppet emperor Alamgir II as a security (and a prisoner) . 
Eventually Alamgir II was murdered by Gaziuddin after the latter intercepted letters sent by the emperor to Abdali asking him to relieve himself from the clutches of Gaziuddin . It is to be noted that Alamgir II sent similar letter to the Peshwa as well complaining about his overbearing wazir and seeking maratha help in his removal..
Gaziuddin Jr continued his attempts to regain control of Delhi. He also succeeded briefly to install Shah Jehan II .
Also the growing proximity between Imad ul Mulk Ghaziuddin and the Marathas made Shujaudaulla (son of Safdar Jung and Gaziuddins rival) , wary and suspicious of the Marathas.

Meanwhile the Marathas advanced and Abdali retreated. Marathas took over Doab and Meerat. They rode through the Rohila territory and plundered it to their content.
They soon marched unto Delhi and removed Najibud daullah Rohila.

Najib was said to have bribed Holkar to escape from Delhi (Najib apparently sweet talked Malharrao calling him a father like figure and asked for his protection). Raghunathrao was too young to oppose the veteran Malharraos decision and despite his reservations allowed Najib to get away.

Note1: Things between Malharrao Holkar and his commander Raghunathrao had not remained hunkey dory as Raghunathrao suspected Najibuddaullah of having bribed Malharrao Holkar to seek his leniency. Already there was friction between the two as Malharrao resented taking orders from a much younger Raghunathrao. Ealier because of Raghunathraos (cajoled by Jayappa Scindia) insistence Malharrao had to make a treaty with Surajmal Jat, despite the fact that the Jats had killed Malharraos son Khanderao. This also added to the effect.Also relations between Najib and Malharrao Holkar were very cordial and others believed that Malharrao was deliberately being lenient towards Najib.Malharao is also accused (by a section of historians) of deliberately keeping the threat of Najib alive to counter any moves in the future (if at all they were made) by Peshwa and Scindia. Najib also repaid his debt to Malharrao Holkar by letting his armies escape from the battlefield of Panipat.


Note2: Later, the Marathas under Raghunathrao rushed the maratha armies to Delhi. They chased the Afghans (including Abdalis son Taimur) right upto the northwest frontier (at the request of the mughal governor of Jallandhar Adina Beg and the Sikhs). The Marathas (Raghunathrao,Manaji Paygude, Sabaji Shinde) held sway over the north. (Attock,Lahore,Peshwar,Multan,Sirhind etc) for over a year(Nov 1758-Mar 1759). But Raghunatrao true to maratha character started feeling homesick (It is to be noted, that Marathas were never comfortable being colonisers and always yearned for their homeland) and returned to Deccan. Also contributed were other factors like the fact that Marathas didnt want to be seen as a occupying force and create friction with the locals. Moreover they didnt have the resources to sustain a large army in Punjab. 
So Raghunathrao left behind a small garrison under Sabaji Shinde to defend Punjab and returned to Pune. Abdali had left little to loot in the north and there was little the marathas themselves gained from this expedition to Punjab besides a ego boost of planting the Maratha flag atop the Attock fort. So all Raghunathrao had done was drive away the afghans from Punjab at the cost of his own men and n the process incurring a additional debt of eighty eight lakhs. 



Note3: As Abdali was busy in Afghanistan quelling his internal rebellions, the Marathas never expected him to return back so soon.


Meanwhile Najib the wily fox was all the time pretending to be wanting to reconcile with the Marathas, but at the same time maintaining secret correpondence with Ahmed Shah Abdali, apprising him about the maratha movements. 


Note: The task entrusted to Dattaji by the Peshwa was to secure Punjab and head toward east India to collect the revenues.Dattaji trusted Najib to build a bridge (Pontoon bridge-floating bridge of boats) for him across the Ganga to head towards the east. Though Najib overtly promising help to the marathas , covertly sought Abdalis help to remove the marathas from the north. He dillydallied citing heavy monsoons as the reason for his inability to make the bridge, but all the while apprising the Afghans of maratha positions and waiting for their armies to arrive. 


Before the marathas could realise what was happening, the Afghans had re entered India and regained most of the posts they had lost earlier to the Marathas including Delhi. The small maratha garrisons left behind were easily surrmounted.

Abdalis general Jahan Khan even surprised and routed away a contingent of Malharrao Holkar at Sikandarabad.
Holkar then had to seek refuge at Bharatpur , a province of his erstwhile foe Surajmal Jat.


Note:Rohillas hailed from the Roh mountains in Afghanistan, hence the name.


Dattaji realised Najibs duplicity (through Sabaji Shinde who had returned from Punjab), albeit too late. 
Then in order to chastise Najib , Dattaji (along with Govindpant Bundele and Sabaji Shinde) laid seige on Najibs fort at Shukratal. However Najib defended the fort till help came in form of the nearby Rohilla chiefs and also Shuja of Oudh (*). Soon Najib was reinenforced by the Rohilla and Oudh army and Shuratal seige became more untenable. Thats when Dattaji decided to withdraw the Shukratal seige and concentrate on preventing Abdali from crossing the Yamuna. But that was not to be.

Note: Najib wasnt particularly liked by his fellow Rohillas and other Bangash pathans as well and was considered a upstart.But the fear of Marathas gaining ground in the north compelled them to support Najibs cause.


Note*: Shuja feared that the marathas may force him to cede the hindu pilgrimage sites of Prayag and Benares, which were being contended since the time of his father Safdarjang. Hence he joined Najib in warding off the marathas.

Dattaji wrote to Malharrao Holkar (who was busy laying a seige on Jaipur against Madho singh) to join him with immediate effect. But Najib also maintained secret correspondence with the Jaipur raja asking him to delay Holkar at Jaipur.
Meanwhile, Najib and the Rohillas managed to slip away and join Abdalis army (which had avoided Dattajis army and joined Najib at Sahranpur), thus swelling the enemy numbers.


Note: Though Dattaji Shinde the maratha commander (who was supporting Gaziuddin) had instructed the mughal wazir Gaziuddin to streanthen the defences of Delhi  ( Dattaji had also despatched his artillery for the defence of Delhi and even sent his family there for the safety ) and hold on the Afghans till reinforcements arrive. But Gaziuddin fled seeing maratha reverses (sought refuge with the Jats at Bharatpur), leaving the Delhi gates open for the Afghans. 

Though Dattaji sent contingents to check the Afghan army , they met with reverses  near Thaneshwar.
The sword weilding maratha army  faced a rout at the hands of the Afghan musketeers. Dattaji then took a halt at Sonepat before taking on the Afghans directly at Buradi ghat (Sabaji Shindes son Bayaji was also killed in battle). However on Jan 1760,  Dattaji himself was wounded by a Afghan bullet in battle and found himself surrounded by the enemy. Dattaji  was then decapitated by the Najibs aide and preceptor, Qutub Shah and his head was presented to Abdali. Dattajis nephew Jankoji was also wounded in the battle and taken away to safety.

Note1:Jankoji Shinde recovered from his battle wounds and later joined Sadashivraobhaus army at Panipat.


Note2 : Abdalis route= Kabul/Kandahar-Peshawar- crossed Indus at Attock-Rawalpindi-Lahore-Jalandhar-Sirhind-crossed Yamuna at Budhia ghat-Saharanpur-Baghpat (Deeg-chased Holkars troops at Rewari- surprised Holkars troops at Sikanderabad-Aligarh-Anupshahr-Shahadara )-crossed Yamuna Gauripur- Panipat





Arrival of Sadashivraobhau in the north


The Peshwa then dispatched ++ his cousin Sadashivrao Bhau and his nineteen year old son Vishwasrao (as per some bakhars, allegedly at the insistence of the Peshwas wife Gopikabai, who thought Sadashivrao might hog all the credit in course of a victory+), to supervise the operations. Vishwasrao however had a healthy respect for his uncle and Sadashivrao also looked upon him as his protege.

Note++ Some historians maintain that Malharrao Holkar had effected a treaty between Abdali and the Marathas, but the Peshwa hadnt forgotten Dattaji Shindes death or perhaps did not want Holkar to get the credit for the treaty fearing the growth of Holkars influence in the north. Hence he wanted his own man to effect a treaty with Abdali. Also negotiate with Shuja over Hindu pilgrimage centres in the north which were under his control. Historians say that An=bdali after the treaty with Holkar was packing his bags to leave fr Afghanistan. But when Najib heard of Sadashivraos army approaching from the south, he got fearful of his own safety and persuaded Abdali to stay further.

Note+: G S Sardesai however maintains that sending Vishwasrao to the north was entirely the Peshwas own decision, so that Vishwasrao could get the requisite experience in the north, while other versions claim that Bhau asked for Vishwasraos presence as the Peshwas son would provide some weight to Bhau's own authority.


Note: It was decided at Partur (near Jalna) that Sadashivrao should lead the northern campaign (titular/nominal leadership with Vishwasrao)..

Accompanying him were nobles like Balwantrao Mehendale (Sadashivraos brother in law , brother of Bhaus first wife Umabai and a close aide(ref.Kincaid) Note:Some accounts mention Mahadji Bhanu to be the father of Umabai- ref.Oak), Nana Phadanvis, Nana Purandare, Damaji Gaekwad, Shamsher Bahadur (Peshwa Bajirao I s son from his muslim wife Mastani) etc. Other nobles like Visaji Krishna etc stayed behind with the Peshwa at Pune (ostensibly to keep a watch on the Nizam of Hyderabad, their old vacillating foe).



Note1: Sadashivraobhau was the son of the valourous Chimaji appa, the younger brother of Peshwa Bajirao I. His father died when he was young and was raised in the Peshwa household. After gaining adulthood he took charge as the diwan of the Peshwa (after a stint with Raghuji Bhosle and as Peshwas representative in Ch.Shahu's Satara court where he learnt the art of administration under Ramchandrababa Shenvi an ex  Scindias employee , who took up service in the Peshwas court court. Ramchandrababa also wanted his protege to take a job offer at the Kolhapur court, but the Peshwa realising the danger in the same,recalled him to Pune and made him the diwan ). Known to be a very competant and principled administrator, a hard task master, Sadabhau or simply Bhau as he was populularly called was apt with the sword as well as the pen. He won for the Peshwa the battles of Ajra, northern Karnataka and humbled the Nizam of Hyderabad at the battle of Udgir. He also added the legendary fort of Daulatabad to the maratha empire.

Note2: Though Sadashivraobhau was flush with confidence after his successfull campaign in the south, he didnt have much knowledge about the terrain or climate in the north. Moreover he was hampered by the ever present fiscal debt of the marathas and the infighting between his own captains. The fiscal situation also didnt improve on the way, as the local kings  dithered from paying their revenues to the marathas citing previous payments already made to the Afghans. Basically they were waiting for the outcome of the final war between the marathas and the afghans , before deciding on whom to make the payment to. Even the experienced maratha revenue collectors in the north like Govindpant Bundele, were unable to meet the demands of their army and couldnt even provide the requisite boats required for crossing the rivers like Gambhira (Bhau also wanted Bundele to cut off the Afghan supplies from the Rohilla Doab region. But Govindpant found difficulty on that count as well. Many angry as well as frantic pleas from Bhau to Bundele and v.v  are recorded ). All these reasons slowed down Bhaus movements and it took him almost 120 days to reach Panipat, while his rival Abdali already had the advantage of being present earlier at crucial junctures, not to mention the overt and the covert support from the resident Afghans and other northern chiefs in north India coupled with a comparitively better financial position with help coming from many quarters.


Note3: It is said that the Jats and Gaziuddin didnt want Sadashivrao Bhau to enter the north ,as they suspected him to prove  inimical to their scheme of things. But the threat of Abdali being imminent they couldnt do without Maratha presence in the north either. So it is alleged that they bribed the diwans of Shinde and Holkar (Dabholkar and Chandrachud) to dissuade Sadashivrao from entering north (especially controlling Delhi) but to send his army to the north instead. Apparently Sadashivrao bhau got a inkling of things and matters didnt go as per their plans.

In July 1760, the Maratha commander Sadashivrao bhau entered Delhi (resistance was minimal and the pathans under Yakub Khan who were guarding Delhi were soon routed by the heavy artillery of Ibrahim Gardi). 

Note1: Gaziuddin had murdered the emperor Alamgir II on an earlier occassion and installed Shah Jehan II as his puppet emperor. But Marathas deposed Shah Jehan II and declared the previous emperor Alamgir IIs son Ali Gauhar (who had taken refuge with Shuja and later the British) as the emperor and he came to be known as Shah Alam II.
Later Shah Alam II was deposed after a confrontation with the British, only to be reinstalled by the Marathas (Mahadji Shinde brother of Dattaji Shinde) in 1772 .Mahadji Shinde was to act as his regent for the next decade or more.

Note2:  Sadashivraos route= Udgir-Patdur (Partur near Jalna where Vishwasrao was declared nominal head with executionary leadership being placed with Sadashivrao)-Sindkhed-Burhanpur (all aratha sardars assembled here. Burhanpur was gateway to the north)-Handia-Sehore-Berasia-Seronj-Aron-Narwar-Gwalior-crossed Chambal river nr Dholpur- Muchkand teerth - crossed Gambhir (a flooded Gabhira river ear Dholpur delayed maratha march for a month- Govindpant Bundele unable to provide boats).n Banganga rivers-  Agra-Mathura (wasted a lot of time visiting pilgrimage sites)- Delhi - Kunjpura-on way to Kurukshetra (returns amidst news of Abdali crossing Yamuna)-Panipat


As per some historians, Sadashivrao Bhau was over confident of the Maratha might and behaved high handedly with the people from the north (however many historians dispute this and maintain that Sadashivrao did try to convince the Jats, but because the Jats were refused control of Agra, they abstained from the war. The Marathas also no longer trusted Gaziuddin with the wazirship and were said to be entertaining thoughts of making Shujauddaula of Awadh, the next wazir.Therefore, both Surajmal and Gaziuddin decamped from Delhi without informing Sadashivraobhau.
The Rajputs anyways werent very keen on helping the marathas whom they viewed as outsiders, extortionists and threats to their own sovereignity. Earlier the marathas had involved themselves the succession war between brothers Ishwari singh and Madhosingh for the Jaipur throne which had led to the death of Ishwari singh. Ishwari singh and Madho singh each were supported by different rival factions amongst the Marathas viz. Jayappa Scindia supported Ishwari singh while Malharrao Holkar supported Madho singh. To ascend their thrones, the Rajput princes had earlier accepted the heavy demands by the marathas in return for their help. But later found meeting the maratha demands too cumbersome (also the mughal emperor had ceded the governorship of Ajmer to the marathas, which wasnt particularly liked by the Rajputs).This culminated in friction between the Rajputs and the Marathas. Eventually the Peshwa had to intervene and the Scindia had to back out from his support to Ishwari and eventually the Holkar ensured that Madho singh became the king of Jaipur, much to the chagrin of Jayappa Scindia. Later Jayappa demmanded a portion of the Jaipur kingdom from Madho singh as a compensation. Madho singh having achieved his purpose, now was finding the marathas too cumbersome.Also he resented the fact that the Marathas were given the governorship of Ajmer, something for which he was a contender as well. Madho singh thus wanted the Marathas out of the northern regions.
Madho singh then invited both the Shinde as well as the Holkars to dine in his palace. Madho singh had wanted to poisen the meal and do away with the maratha threat once in for all. But Jayappa Scindia declined the invitation and Madho singhs plan fell through.

Note1: Madho singh of Jaipur even instigated the lynching of a Maratha contingent in his region. The Marathas wanted to chastise Madho singh for this act, but due to the Ahadnama agreement with the Mughal, they were diverted to ward of the Afghan threat. As a result Madho singh heaved a sigh of relief.

Note2: Later, Jayappa Scindia involved himself in another rajput succesion imbroglio, this time in the kingdom of Jodhpur. It however resulted in his murder by the disaffected party of Bijay singh.

Also, Madhosingh of Jaipur surreptiously gave a written undertaking to Abdali that he would not help the Marathas and on the contrary help him in his quest against the marathas. Thus Rajput support to the Marathas didnt come about and on the contrary was provided to their enemy.
The Sikhs (Sardar Ala singh in particular) were also threatened by Abdali against sending supplies to the marathas.

Surajmal , the Jat Raja had earlier promised help, but he insisted on the increased control of Delhi and the retainership of the Agra fort (something Sadashivbhau wasnt very forthcoming about and wanted the decision to be postponed till the war with the Afghans was over. Also the Jats and Gaziuddin suspected that Sadashivrao wanted Shujauddaullah as the wazir of Delhi and not Gaziuddin as Sadashivrao viewed Gaziuddin as too unreliable, especially after his flight at the arrival of the Afghans and leaving Dattaji Shinde in the lurch . 




Note, it is said that Shujas men were secretly maintaining contact with Sadashivraobhau. Negotiations were going on between Shuja and Sadashivraobhau to exchange the long pending demand of the marathas for the sacred places of Allahbad and Varanasi to be exchanged for the wazirship of Delhi (as per the instructions of the Peshwa Balaji Bajirao himself).
The duo also suspected that Sadashivrao will agree to Shujas bidding for the replacement of Gaziuddins and Surajmals puppet emperor Shah Jehan III with Shah Alam II, son of Alamgir II a the emperor who was earlier murdered by Gaziuddin Jr). 
With no firm promises from Sadashivraobhau forthcoming, an slighted Surajmal and Gaziuddin decamped from Delhi at the middle of the night and thereafter stayed away from the battle


Note. Surajmal Jat and Imad ul Mulk Gaziuddin who once were foes had reached an secret understanding to keep the marathas away from Delhi and using a puppet mughal emperor as a front, control most of the affairs of Delhi. But the Peshwa and Bhau, no longer trusted Gaziuddin and wanted to use the post of the wazir of Delhi as a bargaining chip to negotiate with Shujauddaula in exchange for the Hindu pilgrimage sites of Benares and Allahbad. Shuja himself was keen on a agreement with the marathas as he was an reluctant ally of the Afghans and wished heart in heart that the Afghans reach an agreement with the Marathas and return back to Afghanistan. This sentiment was also echoed by some Rohila chiefs like Hafeez Rehmat Khan. However it was not be as the persistence shown by Najib Khan made Abdali stay behind. Najib laid down such conditions (Afghans wanted Sirhind as the boundary between the Marathas and the Afghans and Najb back as the Mir Bakshi, whereas Marathas wanted the Indus to be made the demarcation and Najib ousted from the scene altogether) that the marathas couldnt accept at any cost. Hence a compromise between the Marathas and the Afghans could never be reached.


 The marathas thus found themselves isolated and without supplies. Also to pay off the armys wages (especially to quell the disgruntlement amongst the mercenaries within the maratha army), as well as support their own dependents and the mughal royals, the marathas had to sell off the embellishments (the canopy) on the emperors bejewelled throne (earlier half of the embellishments were already removed by Imad ul Mulk GaziuddinJr, Nadir Shah of Iran and Ahedshah Abdali). *


Note*: It was actually the silver of the ceiling of diwan e khas that was removed by Bhau to mint coins to pay his army. 
Note: Maratha army had camped itself in woods in the vicinity of present day Shankar road Delhi) as also present day Peshwa road in Delhi.


This irked many so called mughal loyalists who considered it the high handedness of the Marathas. But it can be concluded that Sadashivrao had little options as there were no other sources of funds forthcoming from anywhere.


Note: because of the war clouds the farmers too werent in a position to pay revenue. Abdalis earler invasions had also left the people impoverished. Also many moneylenders had fled town in the course of the impending war situation.


Nawab Ahmad Shah Bangash of Farukhabad  had already switched  sides to Abdali.


Shuja ud daullah, the Nawab of Awadh also switched sides towards the Afghans (despite his mother Badrunissa begum advising him to take sides with the marathas) and  inspite of his distrust towards the Sunni Afghans (afterall his father Safdar Jung had opposed Abdali during his earlier expedition and the young nawab feared the afghans vindictiveness) and moreso Najib Khan.
Abdalis side was mainly presented to Shuja  Begum Mallika uz Zamani, widow of ex emperor Muhammed Shah Rangila (who was incidently the chilhood friend of Sadrunissa Begum) and later emotively by Najib himself , who promised to save Shujas kingdom from pillage at the hands of Abdali if Shuja joined them.

Note1: Mallika uz Zamani  was (after her husbands death) virtually starved of funds by the then erstwhile wazir Safdar Jung. Also her entourage on one occasion was even robbed (1754)  by a mercenary Pindari contingent of the Holkars army. Hence the old Queen was very much anti Maratha and had even implored Najib Khan Rohilla to devise a plan to alleviate her suffering. That was when Najib Khan had begun secret correspodence with Abadali to invade India. Najib was also joined in his plans by a radical muslim cleric Shah Waliullah Khan who sent similar letters to Abdali about the growing power of the Hindus (Marathas,Rajputs,Jats) and the fall from grace of the Muslims who he complained were living in penury.


Note 2: Pindaris were a group (a medley mix of Hindus and Muslims) of mercenaries from central India who were often patronised by the Holkars and the Scindias. They were more of pillagers who accompanied the maratha army as their irregular arm.

Note3:Another person who invited Abdali was Mughlani begum, the widow of Mir Mannu, who was facing difficulty in holding on to the viceroyalty of her province, as her nobles had replaced her with their man. She enticed Abdali with news of the treasures hidden in Delhi (especially in the palace of her mother in law). Eventually Abdali took away the treasure, but Mughlani begum was not reinstated . On the contrary a small pension was granted to her, which she obviouly refused. For her perceived impetuousness she was apparently flogged by Abdalis general Jahan Khan.


Note4: it is also possible that Najib threatened Shuja with reprisal through Abdali if he helped the marathas. The proximity of Abdalis allies to his kingdom may also have weighed Shujas decision. Also weighing on Shujas mind may have been the lack of support the marathas had earlier shown towards his father during his court rivalry with Imad) and aligned himself with Abdali (probably a little reluctantly, as there was no love lost between Najib a Sunni muslim and Shuja a Shia muslim).
It is also possible Najib played the emotive muslim brotherhood card and created a fear psychosis that the marathas may conquer their pilgrimage places like Prayag , Benares(Kashi) etc, descecrate the mosques and relegate muslims to playing the second fiddle in the north. Najib had also spread the rumour that Sadashivrao wanted to instal his nephew Vishwasrao on the throne of Delhi (Note, marathas were never keen to replace the mughal emperor with Vishwasrao as this would have alienated many mughal loyalists and probably the entire [sizable] muslim population in the north. The marathas couldnt afford so many enemies) .Whatever may have been the actual reason, eventually Shuja did change sides from the Marathas over to the Afghans. Abdali however received Shuja with great respect and even called him like his farzand (son), as did the wazir Shah Wali. Even when some of the traunt Sunni Durrani soldiers who hated the Shias, created trouble in Shujas camp, Abdali stuffed their noses with arrows and paraded them to Shujas camp giving him the choice of either pardoning them or sentencing them to death. Thus Shujas fears of Abdalis wrath were soon dispelled.


All these proved to be ominous signs for the Marathas. By ensuring support from the muslim kings and with the Rajputs, Sikhs and Jats abstaining, supplies to the Marathas were successfully blocked by Abdali.

Note:Ahmed Shah Abdali (1723-1773) was the son of Mohammed Zaman Khan, the chief of the Abdali tribe. He served the Persian king Nader Shah after the latter rescued him from the prison of Hussain Khan the Ghilzai governor of Kandahar. He was named as Durrani or the 'Pear of Pearls' by Nader Shah. After the assasination of Nader Shah in 1747, by his Turkoman guards, Ahmed Shah Abdali left with his men to Afghanistan, where he was elected the chief of his tribe. He unified all Afghan tribes under his banner. He expanded his kingdom by conquering Ghazni(from the Ghilzais),Kabul,Herat,Nishapur,Masshad, (Kashmir,Sindh and Punjab from the Mughals). He made as many as seven invasions in India and was well acquainted with its routes and climate. He plundered Delhi and its adjoining regions and defeated the Marathas at Panipat and sacked the Golden temple at Amritsar in Punjab. Eventually the Sikhs rallied against Abdali and drove his armies out of Punjab. Abdali then retreated to Kabul, where he met his death in 1773.
Ahmed Shah Abdali- Durrani is remembered as the father of modern Afghanistan. He was an astute and tenacious war commander and to his enemies a ruthless and ferocious foe.


Note2: Both Malharrao Holkar and Surajmal Jat had advised Sadashivraobhau to take on Abdalis army using gureilla warfare. But Sadashivrao who had seen the efficacy of his artillery during his wars against the Nizam, concluded that an open pitched battle spearheaded by heavy artillery would be the best approach. Also the fact that Abdali was himself a master of gureilla warfare added to Bhau's decision , as also the nature of the battlefield (which was more of vast expanse of open land without the presence of mountains or ravines that suited gureilla warfare) .


                                                    
Third War of Panipat, 14th January 1761

Marathas had heavily aligned themselves with a well equipped artillery  under the Gardis and their commander Ibrahim Khan Gardi (a converted Telugu muslim previously employed with the Nizam Salabat Jung of Hyderabad and trained by his French army commander Bussy. After leaving the services of the succeeding Nizam Ali over a disagreement, his service were sought by Sadashivraobhau. The word 'Gardi' itself is derived from the French word 'Garde' meaning the guards) and Le Corbosier (a French mercenary who was earlier in the service of Tuloji Angre), not to mention their famed cavalry (huzurat) and infantry under the likes of Jankoji Shinde,Tukoji Shinde and Mahadji Shinde (half brothers of Jankoji), Malharrao Holkar, Vinchurkar,Bhoite, Purandare, Shamsher Bahadur,Damaji Gaekwad,Manaji Paygude,Satvoji Jadhavrao,Khanderao Nimbalkar,Sonaji Bhapkar etc. Hence were confident of victory.

Note:Ibrahim khan Gardis uncle Muzaffar Khan was previously in charge of the maratha artillery, but Sadashivraobhau didnt find him trustworthy and replaced him with Ibrahim Khan. The humiliated Muzzafarkhan then made an unsucessfull assasination attempt on the life of Sadashivraobhau, from which Bhau miraculously survived with wounds. Muzaffar Khan was then arrested and hanged. 
Sadashivraobhau had tremendous faith in the artillery power of Ibrahim Khan Gardi and met the Gardi demands for regular payment of troops even during times when there was a scarcity of funds. Therefore many of the maratha regulars (even the old guard like Holkar,Vinchurkar etc) were resentful of the Gardi influence in their camp.

Note2: The maratha artillery was mainly heavy and not as sophisticated as its european counterpart. The cannons and muskets were mainly a part of the war booty captured in their various battles. Even the gunpowder wasnt so easily available for them. Also, the concept of open pitched battles with a artillery was itself a new concept for the marathas who were traditionally sword weilding army that relied on their cavalry. They werent used to the coordination of the artilerry with the cavalry and the infantry. This is what proved to be their undoing at Panipat.

Also accompanying the marathas were the bunga viz. their families, relatives, friends (who had plans of visiting holy pilgrimage sites on the way), the attendents, carpenters,cobblers,tailors,blacksmiths  etc . This was to prove another costly mistake (though many modern historians maintain that it was a regular practice to take bungas on long campaigns, not the families, but the attendents and the people required for maintaining the needs of the army. However the practise of carrying families was apparently started by Gopikabai mother of Bajirao I esp. after the Mastani episode and the other sardars followed suit). Shivaji always strictly prohibited an entourage during his war campaigns. But these Marathas did not heed this golden rule set forth by their ancestor.This increased the mouths to be feeded and also slowed down troop movement.

Note: The practise of taking along families, harems on war campaigns was a mughal practise, which was later adopted by the marathas after they too started on long stays away from home.


Kashirajs account of military strength on both sides:

Maratha leaders                    Cavalry
Khas paga/household troops    6000
Vishwasrao                              5000
Shamsher                                 3000
Holkar                                     5000
Shinde                                     10,000
Gaekwad                                 3000
Powar                                      2000
Jadhav                                     3000
Vinchurkar                              3000
Mehendale                              7000
Gardi                                      2000+9000 cavalry with firelocks+40cannons
Misc                                      18,000
Total amounted approx 55,000 horse,15,000 foot

Abdalis forces
Abdali & his afghans  had 24 dastas,6 Abdalis slave contingent ‘koleron’,2000 camels with zamburkas,shaturnals.
Shuja    2000horse,2000 foot,20 cannons
Najib    6000 horse, 20,000 foot,rockets
Dundi Khan & Hafiz Khan 15000 foot,4000horse,cannons
Bangash   1000 horse 1000 foot
Irregulars were 4 times the above nuber
Total amounted approx  41,800 horse,38000 foot,78 cannons   
Note: Abdali also had bungas with him.   


The marathas were in need of funds and food supplies and Kunjapura ( It was a arms depot and treasury for the Rohila. It was 45 km north of Panipat, west of Yamuna river. Refer note below) seemed a likely choice.


Pic: Pre Panipat battle scenario

Note. Amidst the growing financial problems the marathas launched a surprise raid on the Rohilla fort of Kunjapura . Kunjapura fort has been called a 'robbers den' by the historian Sir Jadunath Sarkar, as it hoarded all the wealth fleeced from unsuspecting travellers. The Rohillas often disguised themselves as Abdalis soldiers and forced travellers to part with their belongings. It was controlled by Najabat Khan (Najibs cousin) . Also present were the armies of Abdus Samad Khan and Qutub Khan (Najibs preceptor who had earlier decapitated the wounded Dattaji Shinde). Ibrahim Khans guns boomed at the fort and it soon fell to the marathas. Abdus Samad Khan and Najabat Khan were killed (Najabats son Diler Khan escaped) and marathas avenged the death of Dattaji Shinde by decapitating Qutub Khan. Dattaji elephant 'Zavergaj' who had fallen in the hands of the Rohillas was also reclaimed by the Marathas.The Kunjapura raid fetched them a substantial ammount. Unfortunately it wasnt enough to last them for long. 
Abdali himself was held up because of a flooded Yamuna and couldnt asssist his fellow Afghans. Presuming that Abdali wouldnt be able to cross the river at least for a month, the arathas busied themselves plundering Kunjpura while Bhau decided to visit the nearby holy pilgrimage centre of Kurukshetra and then move forward to seek the Sikh help against the Afghans. However Abdali managed to surprise the marathas by crossing the Yamuna within 3 days and killing the small maratha contingents left behind by Bhau to guard the fords. The afghans blocked all the supply routes of the marathas (especially the one from Delhi) once gain reducing the marathas to a precarious position..Abdali soon camped south of Panipat. Hearing the news of Abdali, Bhau also rushed back to Panipat. Both the armies were now at a close distance to each other. Both trying to gauge each others moves, streangths and weaknesses, before the final assault. Bhau had entrenched the maratha camp in the midst of a artillery cover (surrounded by a ten feet deep ditch) and was waiting for Abdali to make the first attack.But Abdali knew the power of the maratha artllery and refused to take the bait. Both depended on light cavalry movements to harass their enemy.
 Some skirmishes took place between the two. Holkars contingent attacked a afghan camp of Shah Wali Khan. The Afghans also won a few posts and even the Kunjapura fort which was wrested by Diler Khan (the son of the slain erstwhile fort keeper Najabat Khan). 
On 7th Dec 1760, Najib and Shujas armies attacked the marathas near Chajpur. Though the Rohilla armies were routed and one Khalil ur Rehman (Najibs uncle) and five thousand Rohillas were killed, the Marathas lost a major war commander in the form of Balwantrao Mehendale (Bhaus closest aide), who was struck down by a bullet.
Meanwhile Govindrao Bundele managed a few successes in his fund collection effort in  Doab and was proceeding to Bhaus camp. On the way while camping with a few thousand of his soldiers, he saw an army approaching with a maratha flag . However when the army got closer, Bundele realised that it was a afghan army (led by Atai Khan, nephew of  Shah Wali Khan, Abdalis wazir). The young Atai Khan surprised the old Govindant Bundele and beheaded him on the spot (20th Dec 1760). Earlier Govindpant Bundeles presence had been betrayed by Jeta singh Gujar a local headman, to Abdali. Govindpant Bundeles head was then sent over to the maratha camp.This was the second major casualty on the maratha side in quick succession. The second maratha revenue collector Gopal Ganesh Barve (brother of Raghunathraos first wife Jankibai) was also routed by Shujas army. Even the little money collected from Doab never reached the maratha camp as it was interceted on the way by the afghans. A pindari contingent was also slaughtered when it was out hunting for wood for the maratha camp.
The afghans thus managed to cut off all the supplies of the marathas, thus forcing the marathas to a point where the final battle seemed imminent.
Earlier the Peshwa had promised to send a larger army and asked Bhau not to negotiate with the enemy. He reminded Bhau that Raghunathrao wouldnt like it if he just gave up the territory captured by him. The Peshwas son Vishwasrao also wrote to his father about the precarious condition the maratha army was in the north and the Peshwa did promise to hasten help. But for some reason the promised help from the Peshwa got delayed.
Apparently, the Peshwa and his brother Raghunathrao had started assembling their forces in order to join Bhau. However the Peshwas march halted at Paithan due to his deteriorating health. Even attempts to engage the help of their old foe the Nizam of Hyderabad had failed.
 It was a matter of time before people and animals started dying of starvation in the maratha camp in Panipat. The food reserves were dwindling and the soldiers were forced to live off wild plants and roots.
Negotiations with the afghans (through mediation by Kashiraj pant, an aide of Shuja) also failed when Najib Khan (and one Qazi Idris who raised the Islamic bogey) vehemently opposed it, disregarding the wishes of Shah Wali and the Rohilla chiefs who would have preffered a compromise to war. Earlier Najib had put forward the terms that Sirhind be made the boundary, the emperor be made the responsibility of the afghans and Najib be placed in command of the mughal army. This demand the marathas refused outright, stating that they preffered the responsibility of the mughal emperor & Abdali ought to retreat beyond the Indus. Najib knew very well that if Abdali makes peace with the marathas and returns back to Afghanistan, he will surely killed by the arathas and therefore he made every attempt to stall a settlement.


By now the situation worsened in the maratha camp and all the maratha nobles too made an appeal to Sadashivrao that they would rather die in battle than die of starvation.


Eventually after a two and half months wait, Sadashivrao bhau took the final call of a direct confrontation with Abdalis army.

Note: Bhau was more interested in protecting the non combatants. So it was decided to form a golaakaar (hollow square) with the non combatants at the core and the artillery at the helm and force the way through the afghan army and move towards the Yamuna and along the river take the way to Delhi. There they planned to hold the afghans till help arrived from Pune.
Note:The afghans were arranged in a chandrakor (crescent formation).

On the day of the battle the troops assembled at a distance from Kala Amb (Ugrakheri near Panipat) sometime in the morning (9.30am).

Note: the afghan and maratha encampment was between Shahanahr (a canal running from Yamuna to Delhi, near the present day Grand Trunk highway. It is no longer in use) and Yamuna river near Panipat in present day Haryana state.

In the maratha lines were Holkar and Shinde on the right (with their Maratha soldiers and other mercenary groups like the Pindaris, Purbis and even some Arabs). Sadashivrao,Vishwasrao and their men in the centre  and Maratha (led by Sardar Panse) and Gardi mercenary artillery under Ibrahim Khan Gardi on the left  cavalry led by Sardar Damaji Gaekwad (with the 3000 horses),Sardar Vithalrao Shivdev Vinchurkar  behind them and the Sardar Bhoite led infantry,archers,musketeers,pikesmen providing a cover for the artillery).Behind the cavalry were the inexperienced soldiers guarding the civilians. On the other side(Afghan) were Shah Pasand Khan on the extreme right. Next to him were Shuja (with his part Persian Qizalbash and part Hindu Naga Gosavi troops and artillery) and Najibs forces  On the centre left were Ahmadshah Bangash of Farrukhabad ,Najibs father in law Dunde Khan, the Rohilla chief of Bareily, Rohilla chief Hafiz Rehmat Khan . In the centre was Abdalis wazir Shah Wali Khan along with their sipasalar (commander in chief)Jahan Khan and on the extreme left were Amir Beg and Barkhurdar Khan with their artillery (heavy long range cannons called 'zamzama'  and camel mounted light guns 'zamburaks'-with two musketeers with large bore guns and 'shaturnals'-camel mounted swivel type guns). There were also irregulars who nubered four ties ore.Abdali stayed behind on a elevation with his slave battallion (Koleran) and his reserve troops (Qizalbaaz) to watch (with his telescope) and direct the proceedings of the battle. The afghan harem and non combatants stayed behind the troops.

The battle cries of the maratha 'Har Har Mahadev' (in praise of lord Mahadeva) and the afghan 'Din Din' (for the faith) soon vociferated in the skies.

Note:The Afghan Maratha force ratio  was thus approx. 1,00,000 afghans to the 70,000 marathas (plus 30,000 pilgrims and non combatants).


In the earlier half of the battle the marathas seemed to be in a winning position, with Ibrahim Khan Gardis musketeers and canons wrecking havoc on the afghan-rohilas (placed somewhere at Chajpur Khurd near Panipat). Also Bhaus forces managed to cut down the Afghan lines into two, almost demolishing the contingent of the wazir Shah Walikhan.
Ataikhan,the nephew and adopted son of the wazir, was said to have been killed during this time when Yashwantrao Pawar climbed atop his elephant and struck dead Ataikhan.
Incidently Ataikhan was the person responsible for the death of the maratha representative in north Govindpant Bundele.
The maratha cavalry led by Bhau, Shamsher and Vishwasrao then charged through the fleeing Afghans.
Vishwasrao was said to have fought valiantly on that day striking the enemy with an an array of arrows from his elephant, as did Shamsher.

Note: Abdali seeing his fleeing army sent his military police the 'Nasaqchis' after the deserters and forced them to turn around and kill the reluctant ones.

As per their original plan, Bhaus cavalry should have followed its artillery, but the force of the battle was such that it took them deep into the enemy lines.It thus became difficult to change direction.
Abdali also used a strategy that came to be known as  'taulqama'. It involved splitting the musket/matchlock bearing cavalry (horses/camels) into several segments. Each segment charged on the enemy with ready fire and disengaged, making way for the next segment to repeat the same and so on and so forth.
In the afternoon both Vishwasrao (the Peshwas eldest son) and Bhau had got down from their elephants and had mounted their horses.
However as they were rallying their troops, a stray enemy fire from a zamburak struck dead Vishwasrao  and he died on the spot.  This proved to be the turning point of the battle. Vishwasraos deeply aggrieved uncle, Sadashivraobhau got down from his horse and placed his dead nephew Vishwasraos corpse on his elephant  and then remounting on his horse (named  Baswant) he charged towards the afghans in a blind rage.This was sometime in the afternoon.

Note: The horses of Sadashivrao bhau are mentioned as Pari, Chandrasen and Baswant while the horse of Vishwasrao was called Dilpak.

But in the thick of the battle, the Maratha soldiers saw the vacant ambaari of their commander and the thought that he had fallen and thus panicked. Many fled the battlefield. After a bullet struck Sadashivrao on his thigh, he fell down from his horse. However he tried to pull himself up with the help of his spear.Just then Sadashivrao bhau found himself surrounded by five Afghans. He fought valiantly, but eventually succumbed to the numbers.
To Sadashivbhaus credit, he like other maratha sardars had every opportunity to escape from battlefield but the brave Sadashivraobhau preferered to die fighting .

Note: Bhaus Kaifiyat states that Tukoji Shinde requested Bhau to turn back and leave the battle for him to finish.But Bhau refused saying that he has already lost a nephew whose care he was entrusted with and he now had no face to show back home. So he'd rather give up his life fighting the enemy.


Pic:  Panipat battle formations

Note 1: Sadashivrao constructed the Sadashiv Peth, a residential colony at Pune. 


Note 2: The corpses of Vishwasrao, Sadashivraobhau and many other marathas were said to have been purchased from the afghans by Nawab Shujaudaula of Oudh and his diwan Kashiraj Pandit (who later wrote his treatise on Panipat) and later cremated as per hindu customs.


This reversed the tide of the battle to the detriment of the marathas.
Jankoji Scindias attack on Najib Khan was also repulsed . Jankoji Shinde , Tukoji Shinde then rushed with their forces to Bhaus aid. As did Santaji Wagh from the Holkar army.

However the tide of the battle was changing in the favour of the afghans.
Jankoji after a fierce fight was captured .

Note.Jankoji was later secretly held for ransom by Barkurdar Khan but later executed by him, fearing the wrath of Abdali.

Natural factors also didnt seem to favour the marathas. One such factor was the 'Dakshinayan' an effect of the sun, where sunrays (from Dakshin-south) pierced the eyes of several hungry maratha soldiers (remember, the Afghans had earlier cut off the food supplies of the marathas leading to famished stomachs just before the battle) and many fainted simply by heatstrokes. They were all butchered by the rejuvenated afghan forces [ref. 'Panipat' by Vishwas Patil].
Another factor that changed the tide for the afghans was , when the maratha artillery under Ibrahim Khan Gardi was wrecking havoc in the afghan lines, the other Maratha commanders like Vithal Vinchurkar and  Damaji Gaekwad (who were in charge of guarding the artillery) overzealously broke ranks (seeing the retreating enemy) and overran the maratha artillery and entered deep into the enemy lines.Since the maratha cavalry was blocking the view of their artillery, Ibrahim Gardi ordered a stoppage of fire.
                                                              
Note1: the old guard like Malharrao Holkar,Vinchurkar etc were against the european battle styles and more in favour of their traditional gureilla warfare. Hence their support was said to be rather half hearted. 


Note2: It can be said about Sardar Vinchurkar , whose main job was to guard the Gardi artillery, did not want the Gardis to take the entire credit for destroying the enemy and to make his mark felt in battle,impatienly broke away from the originally decided 'Golaachi ladhaai' (circular battle formation) .In hindsight we can conclude that this proved detrimental to the maratha cause.

Seeing the guns silenced the fleeing Rohillas turned back and fought the marathas while the reserve Rohillas  gunned down the charging sword weilding maratha cavalry. The maratha artillery was thus left unguarded and the advancing Rohila troops (led by Barkhurdar Khan) soon overpowered it. Ibrahim Khan Gardi himself was captured by the afghans(earlier Gardis son, nephew and son in law were also killed in the battle).

Note: The Afghans later tortured Ibrahimkhan Gardi to death.

The Afghans capitulated on the confusion in the Maratha ranks and cut through the Maratha flanks. The maratha arms werent able to back an impact on thick mountain clothing of the afghans whereas the afghan sword easily pierced the cotton clothing of the marathas. Lakhs were massacared including thousands of civilians. Seeing the massacare of the Maratha army, Malharrao Holkar also fled from the battlefield, as did many leading maratha commanders.By evening (5.30) the marathas had lost the battle.

Note: Damaji Gaekwad was already wounded.  Vithal Vinchurkar and Damaji then made way out of the battle. Several of his soldiers also started fleeing.
 It is reported that earlier, Vithal Shivdev Vinchurkar had admitted some Afghan slaves (who wanted to switch sides after the fall of Kunjapura) in his maratha contingent. They were given saffron turbans to distinguish them from the other afghans. However seeing the change in the tide of the battle. These afghans threw down their headgear and joined the other afghans in attacking and looting the maratha non combatants. This accentuated the panic. 
Seeing his men fleeing, Bhau spoke to his aide Sonaji Bhapkar asking him to remain steadfast. But Sonaji instead said that he will go after their fleeing troops and force them to return. But Sonaji never returned. His corpse was found latter of the day amongst the dead.

Many sought refuge with the Jats and the Sikhs (and Shujaudaullah of Oudh) who generously tended to them. Thus Panipat proved to be a big debacle for the Marathas .Moreso in terms of the men lost. Many commanders were killed (prior to and during the battle) like Govindpant Bundele (killed before the final battle), Balwantrao Mehendale (killed before the final battle), Dattaji Shinde (killed earlier before the final battle) and Jankoji Shinde (captured but later beheaded by the Afghans), Shamsher Bahadur (Peshwa Bajirao I's son from Mastani, who succumbed to his battle wounds. His tomb lies in Bharatpur), Tukoji Shinde (died fighting alongside Sadashivbhau), Yashwantrao Pawar (died fighting alongside Bhau), a son of Pilaji Jadhav, Santaji Wagh (Holkars captain who succumbed to his injuries), Manaji Paygude, Khanderao Nimbalkar etc.
Antaji Mankeshwar (escaped the battle, but fell to an treacherous ambush by some preying Baluchis at Farruknagar), Ibrahim khan Gardi (captured and beheaded), Vishwasrao and last but not the least their general Sadashivraobhau .
Many escaped with their life like Nana Phadanvis (who wrote his memoirs on Panipat. Nana was to play a major role in the Maratha politics in the future. His mother was amongst the unfortunate civilians who died at Panipat. He served as a regent and chief minister to a latter Peshwa Sawai Madhavrao, grandson of Peshwa Balaji Bajirao a.k.a Nanasaheb), Vinchurkar(escaped with severe wounds), Damaji Gaekwad (who was wounded and escaped with his life. He was one of the early patriarchs of the royal house of Baroda),  Mahadji Scindia (who escaped from battle but was severely wounded after an chase and attack by a afghan and rendered a limp all his life.Mahadji too would have succumbed to his wounds if not carried away to safety by a muslim water carrier by the name of Rana Khan. Mahadji later was also to become one of the leading commanders of the maratha army in the coming future and the patriarch of the royal family of Gwalior. Mahadji never forgot his saviour Rana Khan who became one of his closest aides), Naro Shankar Dani (who was kept in charge of the Delhi fort to escaped after hearing about the Maratha debacle), Nana Purandare etc.

It was ironical that the fateful day of the Panipat debacle for the marathas coincided with 'Makar Sankranti' their harvest festival.

Note 1: Surajmal Jat did however provide relief to the escaping maratha refugees and tended to them, unmindful of the consequences, as did Shujauddaullah who is said to have paid  a fortune to the afghans to allow cremation of the slain maratha leaders.
Note 2: As per some versions, Malharrao Holkar claimed that he was asked by Sadashivraobhau to take the civilians and his wife to safety. Thats the reason, why he retreated from the battlefield. But the fact was that Parvatibai was taken to safety by a servant Janu Bhintada (and two aides Virsingrao Baravkar and Piraji Raut) and they joined Holkars party only days later. 
But to the credit of Malharrao, he was no coward but a natural survivor who believed in the gureilla style of warfare and its tradition of living to fight for another day.Moreover he wasnt wholly convinced about Bhaus war strategy and his support was peripheral. Some accounts (Kashiraj, an aide of Shuja) mention Bhau acting haughtily towards Holkar and calling him a goatherd. But it seems highly unlikely considering Holkars seniority and differences in his age and Bhaus.
Bhaus arrogance has also been mentioned in a letter by Nana Phadavis, he complained that Sadashivraobhau had set aside his usual wisdom and was ignoring his natural advisors Balwant Mehendale and Nana Purandare and was relying more on new advisiers like Bhavani Shankar (Peshwas Vakil in Shujas court) and Shahanawaz Khan. Another version is that due to the failing light and Bhau not being in sight, Malharrao thought it prudent to take the survivors to safety.


The afghans amused themselves with decapitating the captured maratha men and distributing their children and women amonst themselves. Many to be taken as slaves to Afghanistan.
The sons of Abdus Samad Khan and Qutub Khan (who were slain at Kunjapura) demanded retribution and Abdali granted them two hours to kill as many marathas as they can. They thereafter swept down on the hapless maratha non combatants and prisoners, severing thousands of maratha heads as they could.
Apparently the Afghans wanted to stuff the good looking Vishwasraos corpse and take it away to Afghanistan as a war trophy. However Shuja ud daullah and Kashiraj, implored Abdali not to let his men do the same as it was against the principles of war. On the contrary he purchased the corpses of  a beheaded Sadashivrao bhau (recognised by his scar inflicted by Muzzaffar Khan , mole and his fair body sculpted by his daily 1000 suryanamskars / prostrations before the sun) and Vishwasrao from the Afghans and accorded them a decent funeral as per hindu traditions (obsequies were performed by Anupgir Gosavi).

Note: a wounded Jankoji Shinde was found by Kashiraj in the camp of Barkhurdar Khan who apparently wanted to ransom him for a price. But somehow the news reached the ears of Najib, who in turn informed Shah Wali who was a rival of Barkhurdar. Shah Wali informed Abdali who questioned Barkhurdar. 
Barkhurdar denied the same and before Abdalis soldiers could discover Jankoji, he had him beheaded and his body buried.

Reasons for the maratha debacle at Paniat can be summed up as under:


1.Faulty diplomacy of the Maratha commanders in the north before the Panipat war leading to no support from the northern kings.
2.Self interests & caste equations of the Maratha commanders and the prevalent corruption in the north.
3.Maratha cavalry and infantry were not acquainted with the tactics of their artillery arm. This led to the lack of coordination between their various arms. The light mobile artillery of the afghans proved more effective than the heavy cumbersome artillery of the marathas. 
Artillery was a new concept for the marathas as also inevitable with changing times, as new wars were being fought using modern weaponary and marathas happened to be in their infancy as far as modern artillery warfare was concerned.
The afghan artillerry in comparison to the marathas was lighter and more mobile in nature.
Panipat taught lessons to the marathas of the changing face of the battle game and the marathas, post Panipat made serious attempts to adapt to these modern tactics of warfare.

Note: Post Panipat first thing that Mahadji Scindia did was start a trained artillery unit with French help.

4.The Marathas carried with them a large entourage of non combatants (including pilgrims) which increased the mouths to be feeded especially amidst scarcity of food supplies and also slowed down their movements.
5. The Marathas weren’t natural colonialists by nature and in themselves lacked the requisite army to take on the Afghan army (supported by the Rohillas, Bangash pathans and Shuja of Oudh) by themselves. Allies , funds and supplies would have made a major difference during the war.
6. Maratha spy network was found lacking.
7.Diplomacy would have been a better option considering the lack of war preparedness, supplies in the maratha camp. Perhaps a wait of a few days more may have prevented a war. This can ofcourse be said in hindsight.
8. Natural factors werent in favour of the marathas. The Dakshinayan effect took its toll on the hungry maratha stomachs.The thin cotton clothing of the marathas wasnt able to resist the cold winter of Panipat. 
9. There was no plan B (no reserve force) for the marathas which Abdali had.
10. No timely succor was provided from the capital Pune, despite pleas for help.There was a overconfidence in Pune that the maratha army in the north will succeed despite their help.
11.The Afghani steed was much swifter and stronger than its maratha counterpart.


The debacle at Panipat left an indelible scar on the Maratha psyche for quite some time to come.

The Afghans had indeed won the battle , but they also lost many commanders and men in large numbers (35,000 afghan casualties were reported in comparison to the 80,000 on the maratha side) . Also the treasury in Delhi was virtually empty and there was nothing much to loot. The Afghan soldiers with time had got battle weary and refused to move further into India (Surajmals territory as suggested by Najib). Also due to non payment of the soldiers (coupled with a home sickness and the natural aversion for the Indian summer) there was growing discontent in the afghan ranks, not to mention news of a brewing rebellion back home.
Thus despite winning the battle of Panipat, the Afghan victory proved a pyrrhic one.
The Afghans ruled north India for a very brief time  but soon returned to Afghanistan leaving Najib ud daullah in charge of northern India except Punjab where Abdali stationed his garrisons.

Note1: Ahmedshah Abdali had already suffered great losses in his conflict with the marathas. He had gained first hand knowledge of the Maratha tenacity and was prudent enough about not wanting to remain in India for long. He proposed peace with the marathas through their lawyer Bapu Hingane who had remained in Delhi. Abdali even wrote a letter to the Peshwa praising the valour of the martyred maratha soldiers at Panipat and asked him to let bygones be bygones and reiterated that he never wished to occupy the Delhi throne and would rather return back to Afghanistan and the Sutlej river can serve as a natural boundary of  spheres of influence of the afghans and the marathas. A similar letter was written by Abdali to Madho singh of Jaipur praising the valour of his defeated enemy. Abdalis cousin Yakub stayed behind to conclude a treaty with the marathas. 
Najib Khan fearing retribution retired to the foothills of Kumaon. Later he did try repeating the Panipat by reassembling the Rohillas and Bangash pathans. But they were all routed. 
All the northern chiefs who had sided with Abdali now vied for a peace with the marathas.

Note2.the Afghans too agreed on Shah Alam II as the  titular mughal emperor in absentee who by now had escaped Gaziuddins clutches and sought refuge in the eastern provinces. Surprisingly Gaziuddin was made the wazir (disregarding Shujas claim to the post), but the main powers of administration rested in the hands of Najibudaullah who was reinstated as the Mirbakshi. 
Abdali had more faith in the cunning and valour of Najib to protect his interests in Delhi and knew very well that Ghaziuddin would never again try any misadventure if kept under the watchful eye of Najib.
But Gaziuddin never trusted Najib enough to return to Delhi and remained with the Jats.  
Shuja too was upset with Abdalis men (Durranis) who resented Shuja on account of his Shia faith and made the life of his soldiers difficult in the camp. Shuja  was also revulsed by the fact that a Gaziuddin was given a preference over him for the Wazirship of Delhi and attributed it to his Shia faith. As a result Shuja too left Abdali for his kingdom in disgust . 
Najib too who had earlier promised Abdali the moon expressed his inability to pay Abdalis army claiming that the Panipat campaign had rendered him bankrupt. Thus Abdalis army remained short of finances and discontent started brewing in their ranks. 
Shah Alam II too hesitated to return to Delhi (till a much latter date) because of the presence of his arch foe Ghaziuddin.


Note 3. The Afghans took away several maratha men and women as slaves to Afghanistan. Their descendents still survive in parts of mdern day Pakistan and Afghanistan amongst the Bugti,Marri and Gorchani tribes. Some marathas took refuge in the villages surrounding Panipat and are today known as Ror marathas. Some marathas were rescued by the Sikhs and many maratha women married their rescuers (Sikh soldiers) and settle in Punjab.


Note 4. Near modern day Panipat (state.Haryana), there exists a village called Bhaupur, named after the martyred Sadashivrao bhau. There also exists a temple and samadhi built in his memory where ballads singing his praises still resonate.

"Jeeve ambaranda taara , chamke Veer Sadashiv pyara".......a Haryanvi ballad eulogising Sadashivrao bhau.
Note the temple at village Saandhi (Rohtak dist,Haryana) belongs to one Bhaunathji  baba whom the locals believe was Sadashivrao bhau who survived the battle and lived the remainder of his life as a ascetic.

Note*: Panipat battle had a tremendous impact on marathi history and literature which can be seen from the following phrases in Marathi....1)'Vishwas Paanipataatach sampala'- Literally it means that Vishwasrao died in Panipat, but 'Vishwas' being the term for 'trust' the statement also means that the world is no longer trustworthy.(2) 'Tyaache Paanipat zhaale'- he was destroyed / finished (in reference to the destruction of the maratha army at Panipat).(3) 'Tyaachyaa satraashe saath bhaangadi'- his 1760 problems, refering to the (approx) date of Panipat.

Note 5: On their way back the battle weary afghan army was ambushed at several places by the Sikh misl armies.The afghans did make a couple of attempts to subdue the Sikhs by force and by emoluments, but failed on all counts. Abdali attacked Punjab four times after Panipat, but was never satisfied with the outcome. Eventually in a few years time all the afghans were driven out of Punjab. 

Gaziduddin the ex wazir of the mughal emperor eventually retired to the Deccan.
Surajmal Jat died in 1763 fighting a battle with Najib. Najib himself died in 1770, but not before concluding a peace understanding with the marathas through the Holkars. But his kingdom Najibabad was attacked and ravaged by the Marathas after his death ( when Najibs son, Zabita Khan had rallied afghan forces against the marathas. The Scindia forces however crushed them down and a lot of Rohilla territory was captured by the marathas. Zabita Khan himself was taken a prisoner by the marathas but again released by Tukoji Holkar the commander of Malharrao,  giving rise to speculation about a secret relationship between the Holkars and Najibs.).

Note1: Both Zabita Khan and Ahmed Khan Bangash competed with each other for the position of Mir Bakshi. 
Note2: Zabita Khan for sometime is said to have converted to Sikhism.
Note3:It was Zabita Khans son Ghulam Qadir  who blinded the mughal emperor Shah Alam II on finding that there was nothing left to loot in Delhi. Later his honorary regent, Mahadji Scindia the maratha avenged the incident by capturing Ghulam Qadir and taking him prisoner to the Delhi court whereby the mughal emperor put Ghulam Qadir to death and finishing the dynasty of Najib Khan.

Raja Madho singh of Jaipur who had helped the Afghans with supplies later tried to muster support to prevent the marathas from reentering the north. But Malharrao Holkar chastened by the defeat at Panipat , atoned for it by later defeating Madho singh in battle at Bundi.
However the veteran of wars, Malharrao was sustained wounds and retired to Alampur where he died on 20th May 1766.
Marathas however rose like the phoenix from the ashes of Panipat and within ten years they reoccupied Delhi. Shujauddaullah the reluctant ally of Abdali later reconciled with the marathas when he sought their help against the English (Note: Earlier the Rohillas led by Hafeez Rehmat Khan were promised help by Shuja against future attacks by the maratha army in return for a compensation of 40 lakhs. But the Rohillas later refused to pay Shuja , as the approaching Maratha army had withdrawn at the last moment due to the untimely death of Peshwa Madhavrao (son and successor to Peshwa Nanasaheb) and the main war against the Rohillas actually never took place). As a result Shuja attacked Rohilkhand with English help. But soon friction developed between the English and Shuja and the latter fought an unsuccessful battle of Buxar against them. Later he again sought the Maratha help to fight the English, albeit unsuccessfully. Shuja faced defeat at the hands of the English in the Battle of Kara Jahanabad in 1765). Shuja died in 1775.

Note: Peshwa received the news of the Panipat battle while camping near Narmada river (M.P) , while on his way to Panipat. It was in a cryptic message, ' 2 pearls dissolved, 27 gold coins have been lost and one cant total the silver and copper coins cast up'. 
                                                           
Peshwa dies


Peshwa Balaji Bajirao was on his way to join the maratha army before he received the news of the death of his son and cousin. His state alternated between grief and anger. He wanted to avenge the deaths of his son and cousin. But his weakened disposition was not permitting him any repreive.
Meanwhile Abdali too tried to pacify the Peshwa  by opening discussions with him. He expressed regret for the death of his brother and son, but stated that his actions were only in self defence. All that he desired was Punjab and the marathas if they wanted could retain their hold at Delhi.
The Peshwa would have attacked Abdali regardless of his overtures, if not for failing heath. His tuberculosis had been accentuated by his state of depression and his health was rapidly deteriorating.
The Peshwa eventually returned to Pune.
The Peshwa breathed his last in 1761 in the temple premises of Parvati in Poona. He left behind his wife Gopikabai and two legitimate sons Madhavrao (successor) and Narayanrao*. His mortal remains were cremated near Pune at what is now known as Yeshwantrao Chavan bridge.

Note1: Curiously there are reports of the estates of many sardars including Shindes,Pawars and Holkars being confiscated by the Peshwa, immediately  post the Panipat war (apparently out of anger for the debacle and loss of his son and cousin or because of inherent distrust of his commanders in the north) . But apparently , later they were restored back to those families. Apparently there are reports of the otherwise polite Peshwa being very irritated and short tempered during his last days.


Note 2 :Interestingly, Peshwa Balaji Bajirao had married the second time, to a nine year old daughter of a rich moneylender (Sawkaar Naroba Naik) from Paithan . He had also married off two of his colleagues (Abaji Purandare & Veereshwar Dikshit ) during the same time.This has perplexed many historians about the reasons behind such an action. Why would a man weakened by tuberculosis marry a girl much less than half his age, especially when his men were out on the important Panipat expedition. Some have attributed this to the 'alleged ' discord between the Peshwa and his first wife Gopikabai, while some have attributed this to monetary reasons (afterall his father in law was a rich moneylender and the Peshwas always had a fiscal drain).
But this marraige delayed the Peshwas movement to Panipat. Something which probably made him feel guilty and remorseful and this hastened his death.


Note 3: Balaji Bajirao had two more sons Yeshwantrao and Moreshwar who probably died early.


Note*:Balaji Bajirao also had some illegitimate sons (natakshala). P.Oak mentions the name of a concubine Yesu, through whom Balaji Bajirao sired Krishnasinh,Haibatsinh,Laxmansinh. However Riyasatkar Sardesai mentions that these may have been the illegitimate children of Raghunathrao.One cannot deny the possibility of more children.


The next Peshwa Madhavrao later despatched his commanders like Visaji Krishna Biniwale,Mahadji Shinde , Ramchandra Ganesh to the north to reestablish maratha authority in the north. They did so commendably and the Maratha influence in the north managed to last for three decades more.

Later a civil war between Peshwa Madhavrao and his ambitious uncle Raghunathrao caused the first cracks to develop in the maratha empire. Its advantage was taken by the English who were only waiting in the wings to establish the next empire in India.

Contributions of Balaji Bajirao to Pune


Balaji Bajirao was a shrewd tactician, a brilliant administrator and a good man manager.
To the credit of Balaji Bajirao, he was a very good administrator. When he became the Peshwa, the state was reeling under financial problems, mainly because of the maratha wars for expanding their boundaries.
But being an astute administrator, Balaji Bajirao improved the fiscal condition of the kingdom.
Balaji Bajirao transformed Pune, his capital, from a village, into a well planned city.
He ensured good infrastructure, built good roads, wells, water reservoirs,rest rooms,bridges, temples etc.
The famous temple of Parvati was also constructed by him. Balaji Bajirao also established a water reservoir system at Katraj that provides water to city of the Pune, till date.
He also built a wooden bridge over river Mutha, known famously as Lakdi Pul .
He established residential areas like Sadashiv Peth, Nana Peth and invited people to come and reside there.
Hence inspite of all his shortcomings (the Panipat debacle, rebellion of the Angre etc) , which may be called mistakes in hindsight, Balaji Bajirao contributed immensely to the Maratha empre.

Note: Shukrawar Peth was build by Jivajipant Khasagiwale in rule of 'Shrimant Balajirao Peshwa', as also Guruvar Peth.
Vyavahare Joshi developed Rawaivar Peth in Pune during the time of Balaji Bajirao
.

Maratha administration under the Peshwas

 The Maratha kingdom was divided into Tarf,Pargana,Sarkar and Subah. The Subah was under a Sar Subhedar. Under them were the Mamledars. Under the Mamledars were the Kamvisdars. The mamledars and kamvisdars were in charge of the local administration . The revenue collection under them were managed by the Patils (in marathwada,Pune,Khandesh) and Khots (in Konkan).All these posts under the Peshwas had become heredatory. The Deshmukhs and the Deshpandes acted as chief district officials.Their assistants were known as Kulkarnis .They maintained the records. Then there were the local magistrates, the chief magistrate etc.Each area had Kotwals in charge of police work. Under them were the Havaldars who acted as the police constables, under whom were the 'Shipais'.
Overall the administration under the Peshwas, though traditional, was fairly efficient and well managed.
The drawbacks perhaps lay in the maratha administration outside Maharashtra (barring perhaps the fiefs of the confederate generals), where regions were mainly seen as revenue yeilding and no attempts were made to implement any permanent systems of administration and control. The army also remained scattered outside Maharashtra in different pockets with only small contingents left to guard the captured areas. As a result, recapture of those areas proved comparatively easy for the enemy.





Appendix:


Sadashivrao's letter to the Jats





Note: The publisher does not vouch for the authenticity of the letter.


The text of Sadashivbhaus letter that translates thus:


To the Jats,Gujars,Ahirs and the Jats of 18 khaps or pads (thambas) or the heads of thoks and panchayats, I send my regards. For the defence of religion it is the duty of every hindu to help me in defending the 'country'.Everyone will have to fight for the defence of the country against the coming invasion. Fro the ninth century the apostates have made this country their stronghold and are ruling over it. There will be no better oppurtunity than this to drive them out. The servant of the hindu religion. - Sadashivrao Bhau.


Acknowledgements: guest reader Abhas Verma who has contributed with this letter (for the blog).






Sources:
1. New History of Marathas by G S Sardesai (Phoenix Publications).
2.Advanced Study in the History of Modern India 1701-1813 .Jaswant Lal Mehta (New Dawn Press - New Delhi )
3. New Cambridge History of India: The Marathas, 1600-1818 By Stewart Gordon, Cambridge University Press.
4. A History of the Maratha People by G.A.Kincaid and Rao Bahadur D.B.Parasnis (Humphrey Milford Oxford University Press).
5. History of the Mahrathas by James Grant Duff (Exchange Press, Bombay)
6. Panipat (marathi novel) by Vishwas Patil.
7. Online sources:wikipedia.org.
8. Solstice at Panipat by Dr Uday Kulkarni (Mula Mutha Publishers).
9. An account of the Last Battle of Panipat (with accounts of Kashiraj pandit & Nana Phadnavis translated by  Lt Col James Brown & edited by H G Rawlinson (Oxford University Press).
10. Marathas by A R Kulkarni (Diamond Publications).
11. Madhavrao Sindhia by H G Keene, Clarendon Press.
12. Peshwe gharanyacha itihas (marathi)-P.Oak (Continental Prakashan)

21 comments:

  1. Nice account, although the story about daughter of Sadashivrao Bhau is considered by serious scholars as a fabrication. The couple had only one issue, who is said to have died in infancy. There is no maratha chronicle that mentions a daughter that went to Panipat. Also, if a daughter were there, it is highly unlikely Parvatibai would leave her behind when she had over 500 soldiers escorting her to safety. So the story of the daughter is regarded as a fabrication. Likewise, the story of sikhs rescuing captured maratha women is regarded as greatly exaggerated. Once more, you do not read any such account in Grant Duff's definitive history, which does mention that the Jats did help maratha refugees. Indeed, the sikhs are not even mentioned in most primary accounts, so it seems that piece has been fabricated later.

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  2. @Indian: Its quite possible that some apocryphal stories have been interpolated in history (by biased historians with vested interests)and with time have come to be accepted as history.

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  3. Authors note: The story of Sadashivrao bhaus daughter lacks credible corraborative evidence and has been deleted from the account.

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  4. hello this is yogesh here , thanks lot for valueable information
    thaks again

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  5. Famous journalist and author Khushwant singh has mentioned that one of his ancestors had married a marathi woman named Tanibai who had escaped the Panipat battlefield. Probably from this story the apocryphal story of Paravatibais (Bhaus wife) daughter marrying the forefather of Sardar Hari singh Nalwa may have come about.

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  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radhikabai

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kashibai

    Here it is mentioned that Bhau had a daughter by the name of Kashibai. Hari Singh erected a gurudwara in Radhikabai's memory in Haridwar in 1822. He is also said to have negotiated the surrender of Vishwasrao's sword and other articles of loot taken from the battlefield from Dost Muhammad Khan Abdali's grandson. This sword is on display at the Lahore Museum.

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  7. Salvage SouthAsia, to the best of my knowledge, Sadashivrao bhau had no daughter. The wiki story is very doubtfull. I have already consulted some experts about this.

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  8. I have read 'Panipat' by Vishwas Patil & have understood that some decisions taken by Sadashiv Rao Bhau are debatable. Bhau, had got Samsher Bhadur (Bajirao & Mastani's son) to install strong watch teams along with the river coast to monitor & halt Abdali's upward stride. But as they faced Abdali's army in single units each, they got washed away so quickly. Bhau was at Kunjipura at that time & even after knowing this, ordered the army to move down towards Abdali to halt him, that proved fatal..! ( Its against the basic battle tactics applied by the great Bajirao Peshwa. Who used the tactic of not engaging the enemy until favorable conditions are achieved & keeping the enemy busy & perplexed) Had Bhau not left Kunjipura, result of the battle would have been a great win for Marathas. Bhau had captured Kunjipura, Abdali's huge grain storage by attacking it. So in Kunjipura, they were ensured of huge food supplies, could have sought help from Alla Singh Jaat who was willing to help them in all possible ways. They could have also started diplomatic attempts to convince Surajmal Jaat (who was initially willing to join the alliance but later withdrawn due to some disagreements) & Shuja to join the alliance as they would have had lot of time in their hand. This move would have also irked Abdali as only option available to him would have been to crush Marathas if at all he wanted to reach Afghanistan-their homeland (Bajirao Peshwa always used this tactic of inviting the enemy into trap which is known to be very successful) & would have made Maratha's intentions of ‘face to face WAR' clear to him. This would have posed a huge life threat in the minds of Durrani soldiers as their way to home would have been blocked. Meanwhile Nanasaheb Peshwa would have also reached with reinforcements as Abdali would'nt have reached Kunjipura in a swift (Nanasaheb was on the way with 20000 plus soldiers to assist Bhau) . Adbali would have been trapped in a situation where he would have had Bhau in the north, Nanasahed Peshwa in the south, possibly Surajmal Jaat from West (If Surajmal had joined alliance) & fully flooded river on the east side. Kunjipura being a strong fort would have proved to be a shield offering full protection for the pilgrims & non-combatants. Unfortunately Bhau didn’t use Kunjipra as permanent Army post & Abdali circled him later as he advanced downwards & got trapped in Abdali’s moves. Even after this Bhau must be credited for the circled battle strategy he decided to follow which was suitable for plains in Panipat, his generals were however against it & had advocated guerilla warfare tactics which were suitable only for hilly terrain. Had all the generals followed the predetermined battle plan, they would have surely won. After assessing the facts its quite clear that tactics developed by Bajirao Peshwa were totally ignored. Who remains the only warrior in the world history to have lead in & fought more than 41 major wars but have lost none. I can’t dare to imagine the barbaric attack on the noncombatants after the war who were defenseless in front of wild Afghans. Very unfortunate & forgettable day for the Maharashtra’s history. However great valor shown Bhau who fight till last drop of blood. We miss you so much Bhau, had it been our day……

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    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. WHAT was Antaji Manakeshwar's SURNAME is it "GANDHE", Where do i find antaji manakeshwar's ROOT / HISTORY

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  9. the accounts of Jadunath Sarkar seem to be utterly biased and imbalanced.. obviously he was a british puppet.. nevertheless, I wanted to ask as to how credible are his writings in the inner circle of historians?? is there any way to counter his vile and venomous claims?

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  10. I believe the letter to the jats was written in Hindi (from what I can read). I wanted to ask, what was the lingua franca of India during that time. Was it Persian (farsi), was it Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu) or was Marathi understood (as Marathas had influence)

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  11. Great work brother
    truly marathas were like gold and diamonds in the treasure house of our history.
    pls post some more about the various chapters of indian history.
    Regards.

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  13. The Rohillas and other Afghan powers of Western UP allied with Abdali while Jats, Rajputs and Sikhs who should have been the natural allies of the Marathas stayed away for their petty selfish reasons. Had they allied with the Marathas, the history of India would not have seen British Era later on. Alas thats the saga of Bharat varsha..

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  14. The Rohillas and other Afghan powers of Western UP allied with Abdali while Jats, Rajputs and Sikhs who should have been the natural allies of the Marathas stayed away for their petty selfish reasons. Had they allied with the Marathas, the history of India would not have seen British Era later on. Alas thats the saga of Bharat varsha..

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  15. Excellent research
    Hats off

    Just one personal feel ;

    In my view Sadashivrao Bhau should have left the battle with Shrimanta Vishwasrao d way Holkar fled
    There was no point in getting Shahid

    History would have been faaaaar different ( British could never have India ) if Bhau and Vishwasrao had run away in that battle

    In real times Peshwai ran short of legal eligible heirs in next thirty years and so collapsed

    Peshwai needed leaders like Sadashivrao Bhau and administrator like Shrimanta Madhawrao Peshwe
    Just imagine what could have been situation if both of Peshwas survived the battle

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  16. For reference you are using wrong map of India,
    At least Indians should not use it.

    ReplyDelete