The Zari Patka in Delhi : A Talk by Uday S. Kulkarni

It’s indeed a privilege to be here today,
and to be called all way from Pune, to speak to the select audience that has been invited
here and the purpose of the talk is of course as the title says is Zari Patka in Delhi. Now let u see what is the, what is Zari Patka,
to start with. A Zari Patka is one of the flags that the
Marathas had, which was mostly used for ceremonial purposes, it had a saffron swallow-tailed
flag, which had a Zari border at its edges and there was another flag which was the plain
Bhagava flag so sometimes both the flags were flown, in addition to these each of the Maratha
Chiefs had their own flags like the Sindhyas had the sun in the centre with two snakes
on the side, on a saffron background and so on and so forth. Zari Patka in Delhi basically signifies that
in the 18th century the Marathas came to Delhi again and again and again and they occupied
it, they protected it, they defended it, they fought for it, they shed the blood for it. So it’s a long story of the 18th century
which is often represented as an anarchy of swords which took place around Delhi. Part of it may be true but part of it is not
and while 18th century generally regarded anarchy all over India, that is not really
the case because if you go south of the Chambal, right up to the Kaveri or east of the Ganga
into the Awadh, Bengal and Bihar regions, there is no chaos, the chaos was limited to
few 100 miles around Delhi, which was because of the frequent changes in the person ruling
the city. So to start with the beginning, let us see
what is so important about the 18th century. So among historians in general, there is a
18th century debate going on right now, what is signify, what does it stand for, whether
it was anarchy, whether it was just the fall of the Mughal empire followed by the rise
of the British empire and nothing happened in between. Today my purpose is to show to you that there
was an empire which was in existence in India, in large parts of India in the 18th century
and Delhi was the centre of ancient capital of India which was the focus of all the efforts
and for large parts of 18th century Delhi was under Maratha occupation or under Maratha
control. At the same time I have to start the disclaimer
that history is a very sensitive subject today, you can see in the debates and discussions
in the media, the social media, on TV you will find that there are two very diametrically
opposite view points about everybody who ever ruled in this country, some will be on the
side of the Mughals or the slave dynasty, some will be favour the Marathas. You will find very heated arguments about
this. So it is necessary to treat history with certain
gentleness and deserves the respect it should be treated with respect as far as the facts
are concerned and it is one of the most passionate of subjects but even then it has to be treated
in dispassionate manner. If you really want to understand what facts
say and understand what happened in the past, let us not judge the 18th century and 17th
century by the mores and the kind of dealings we have in the 21st century. At the same time, let us not replicate the
lessons of the 18th century and bring them forward in the 21st century and try to impose
them on the society of today. We are totally different, it’s a totally
different country today and what happened in the 18th century cannot be kind of a reason
for the same kind of circumstances to prevail in the 21st century. They are totally different, but the 18th century
did play a role in defining where India stood and in defining India of today. The British took over, they started the British
Raj by taking over from the Marathas, not from the English and that should be borne
in mind when you say Mughal Empire ended and British Empire started in 1757, which it did
not. So, telling history as factually as present
and we should have the maturity to take history of the 18th or 17th century with all its poke
marks, all its moles, without, as a nation and not try to mould History in a manner,
which suits the nation building which was very important in the early part of the post
independent decades. So, I think by now the nation should be confident
enough and mature enough to face the facts that happened in the past and not expect that
History is going to deepen the fault lines that prevail in the Indian society even today. So a historian, before he starts talking needs
to understand when he is talking about history, objectivity is difficult, but sensitivity
or caution is necessary and all times a balance is essential. So with keeping these three caveats in mind
I will try to discuss this 18th century and how it unfolded in this country and its specific
reference to Delhi in today’s talk. Recently we had a very funny instance of a
person claiming to be a descendent of Bahadur shah Zafar, for which he had a certificate
from Berlin saying that he has genetic proof that he had and he had also quoted some genes
which had actually belonged to central Asia. Actually the Mughals came here in the early
16th century and in the 4th or 5th generation they were practically naturalised Indians,
they married, inter married here, they stayed here. They broke off all connections with homeland
and even the Marathas considered them as part of this country and the Marathas repeatedly
came to north and fought several battles in order to defend the Mughal Empire. When Sadhashiva Rao Bhau, comes with a large
army to Panipat, he writes letter to the potentates in the north and tells them that we are here
to defend the ???? Dynasty and at no cost must the roots of an invader like Abdali be
allowed to take roots in this country. So at that time itself there is a clear cut
idea that there is something that is Indian and there is something that is not Indian
and that idea was expressed in those letters around 1760 and we still have those, so we
know that the enunciation of the Indian nation state was probably around that time. Of course you can define India by saying two
parts, one is the political state with rigid boundaries and one is the cultural state of
India which prevailed for 1000s of year. That is why as long as back in the 8th century
you will find Adi Shankara establishing four Mutts in the four corners of India. You can find one in Kedarnath, one in Dwaraka,
one in Puri and one in Sringeri in the south. So on what basis did he define this was the
four areas to establish his four Mutts? That was a cultural extend of India, in fact
it was much further in the centuries before that. So we have to define what is India? (what are the )
Today we are leading a life were you have to accept the reality of a nation state. However universal your faith may be, belief
may be, today we are living in the confines of a nation state and what is good for the
nation state is good for you and good for all residents of this country. So any supranational loyalties have no place
in nation state like India and that has to be very clearly understood by people who claim
to be Indian citizens. Then where does the problem of Swarajya arise? Why was Swarajya, in the British rule Lokamanya
Tilak said that, I am fighting for Swarajya, it’s my birth right and I shall have it
and nearly 200 years before that Chhatrapati Shivaji used the same words – ‘I am fighting
for my Swarajya’. So there was a period during the Mughal rule
and even the Deccan sultanates where there was a feeling that Swarajya was lost. My own rule is lost and somebody else is ruling
over me. There is an oft repeated quote by a Irish
patriot, when he was actually fighting with the English, where he says that, actually
he says the men have their honour, will not lose their honour, women their chastity and
the nation will not lose their freedom, if these three things are looked after you are
living in your own Swarajya. But if you are gonna lose your honour, you
are gonna lose your chastity and your gonna lose your freedom, you are not living in a
free state. So when these three things happen, that is
when there is a demand of Swarajya which comes up and that happened in the British rule and
that happened in beginning of the Maratha Rajya, in the middle 17th century when Shivaji
raised the banner of Swarajya. The similar thing happened from Jahangir’s
time, right up to Aurangzeb’s time. When the Sikhs were being troubled by the
Mughal emperors, they started fighting for their own freedom. So these movements began because certain kinds
of oppressive policies which the government of that time or kings of that time were following. And even later if you find the Mughal rule
they still did claim that their lineage was either Torani or Irani followed the Persian
culture. Today we understand these are not Indian cultures
and even at that time they were not Indian cultures and therefore there was a certain
animosity built up between the rest of the people and people who were rulers and the
people who did not have the privileges and did not have the ancestry or the lineage from
these particular but treated differently from what the ruling class was treated at that
time. You cannot compare the raw ethos of the 17th
and 18th century with the sophisticated debates we have today and we should not do that. Having said this and with this disclaimer,
I will come to the 18th century and try to talk about India. Now very often you read Indian history you
find, it’s got a Delhi centric view, what happens in Delhi or what happened in Delhi,
who was ruling Delhi, that’s how the narrative of Indian history is given in our text books. It starts with Qutb ud-Din Aibak came here,
then the slave dynasty was there, the whole list of names, then the Mughals came, their
whole list of names but nobody talks about the Kingdoms down south, the Cholas, their
colonisation of Southeast Asia. They are not part of mainstream Indian History,
which they are. So what I am trying to say is that Indian
history is multi focal, you cannot stand at one vantage point in India and say this is
Indian history. Indian history has to be told from different
vantage points and a cohesive history has to be built up, cohesive narrative has to
be built up today almost 70 years after independence. So now let’s come to the topic of the day,
the beginning as I said was always the concept among the Marathas always was that Delhi,
is the ancient capital of India and one who possess Delhi actually is in control of the
country. So there are mentions during Shivaji’s time
that we want to finally go and capture Delhi. There are letters from Rajaram’s time, son’s
time when he was in the Deep South in Gingee surrounded by Mughal forces. But he kept saying that we have kept aside
funds for so many thousand hones and this much money is kept aside for the capture of
Delhi. So in 1690s, the blackest days of the Maratha
Kingdom, even at that time they dreamt, one day they will be able to go and capture Delhi. So this dream was always there. This I am saying with specific reference to
Delhi because, this is the feeling that why did the Marathas ignore Bengal. The English probably got through from thereor they got from Madras, from where they started their rule. Delhi was always the centre and Delhi was
always the focus throughout the periods that the Marathas capture tried to have their movement
here. The first visit of a Maratha King was when
Shivaji was asked to come to Agra, to meet Aurangazeb, this was in the year 1666 and
this was because the large army lead by Mirzaraja Jai Singh, who was the king of Jaipur, took
a large army to the Maharashtra region and during that almost one year, money of his
forts were taken by Mirzaraja and eventually in the siege of Purandar, Shivaji realised
there was no way out but come to terms with this person, who is so determined to bring
him down and appealing to his Hindu identity, he appealed to him, allowed him to keep a
few forts for himself. But he was told you must go and meet emperor
in Agra and the purpose behind the meeting was, to recruit Shivaji for the and use him
for the spread of the Mughal empire, that was the reason why he was called to Agra. Of course, he did go to Agra. Later on, he met him in the Agra fort in the
Diwan-i-Khas because he had retired for the day there, it was a birthday celebration of
Aurangazeb that day. His father has just died. So he had moved from Delhi to Agra and at
that time there was no real interaction between the two of them. But Shivaji was not, was offended by the way
he was treated in the court of the emperor and he walked away from the emperor turning
his back towards him and went and sat at the back of the court near one pillar, where he
send some nobles to check why is he got upset and the reason told to the emperor was that
oh! It’s just that he is a Deccani person, he
is not accustomed to the court manners and so on and so forth and some excuses were made
but not a word was exchanged between Shivaji and Aurangazeb at that point in time. Next Mirzaraja Jai Singh had given a promise
to Shivaji that no harm will come to you. So Aurangazeb was in a slight of confusion,
how should I deal with the person? So he put him in house arrest and from that
house arrest within a few months Shivaji escaped and reached Maharashtra and began his struggle
against the Mughals once again and this escape was lamented by Aurangazeb till his very last
day because after Shivaji coronated himself as Chhatrapati in 1674 and died in 1680, by
the time he had taken his kingdom right up to the Kaveri in the South. Aurangazeb came down to Maharashtra in 1681
and for the last 26 years of his life, he stayed in Maharashtra, he never came back
to Delhi or Agra and those 26 years, the state of Maharashtra and Deccan in general, the
Bijapur and the Golconda kingdoms extinguished. The entire state of Maharashtra was captured
by the Mughal forces. There were just a few enclaves left in the
dep south, few islands off the coast of the Western coast of Maharashtra, a few forts
somewhere in the deep hills of Sahyadris near Kolhapur, other than that the entire Maratha
Kingdom was practically extinguished. But yet from the ashes, there was no peace,
the emperor could not go back, his generals got tired, they kept telling him, let’s
go back, the battle is over and he kept telling them, no it is not. So till he died in 1707 this battle continued
and that battle actually arising from the ashes of that 26 year war, when everything
was ravaged in that entire region, arose the fresh sprout for the Maratha independence
and Shahu the son of Sambhaji or grandson of Shivaji was in Mughal custody for many
years after his father was killed. He was released by the Mughals. The idea of releasing him was that they will
start a civil war between the existing rule by Tarabai, who was Rajaram’s wife and Shahu. The first 6 or 7 years were very very disturbed
and they needed recognition, they needed money, they needed the army. They kept, in fact they kept asking for recognition
from the Mughal emperor at that time was Bahadur Shah and it was only after Bahadur Shah diedin Lahore and the Mughals began fighting among themselves. The Wazir became the supreme after the death
of Bahadur Shah and from then onwards, practically speaking from the rule of the emperor became
less important than who was the Wazir and Wazir was the man who was controlling the
reigns of the empire. In 1715 or so another civil war began in the
Mughal kingdom, Farrukhsiyar was the emperor and the people who actually held the keys
to the kingdom were the Sayyed brothers, Hussain Ali and Abdullah Khan and Farrukhsiyar. Though he owed his throne to these two brothers,he did not want them, he found them very over bearing. So he decided to send Hussain Ali to the Deccan
and keep Abdullah Khan with him as the Wazir and Hussain Ali was posted to the Deccan as
the Viceroy. After he went there he realised the whole
purpose of this move, is for Farrukhsiyar to get rid of both of them, both the brothers
and thanks to a Maratha minister called Shankaraji Mallar, who was with him at that time. He found a way of contacting the Marathas
and soon we find, an unlikely alliance was building up between Hussain Ali and the Maratha
king Shahu. That time Peshwa was Balaji Vishwanath, the
first of the so called 5 or 6 Peshwas who ruled after that for the next 100 years and
Balaji Vishwanath, he was probably at his last 50s at that stage along with the Senapathi
who was Khanderao Dhabade. At that time, these two people, thirty thousand
Maratha troops joined Hussain Ali and they were promised that every day they spend the
North of the Narmada river, they will be paid a certain amount. Now there was a reason required, why was such
a big large Maratha army coming to the north, after all it was just Hussain Ali who needed
to come. So story was circulated and told to the emperor
that a son, a grandson of Aurangazeb is in the custody of Marathas because the son of
Aurangazeb called Akbar had rebelled against his father and he was with the Marathas for
fairly long time, so it says that a son of his was still with them and obviously son
is with them, he was a challenge to the existing emperor who was Farrukhsiyar, so he wanted
to get hold of this prince and they said that the Marathas don’t want to part with him,
they will bring him to Delhi and in exchange they will take back Shahu’s mother and other
members of the family, who are still in Mughals prison for a such a long time. So this prince, this mythical prince was put
in a special tent, put in a special elephant, nobody could go and meet him and along with
him, escorting him this 30,000 Maratha troops along with Hussain Ali came and Balaji Vishwanath
Peshwa, they started moving about to Delhi in about 2 or 3 months, they were in gates
of Delhi and the situation here, the emperor was in a state of panic. The only supporter he had at that time was
Sawai Jai Singh of Jaipur. But the Wazir Abdullah Khan forced to send
him away and at that point in time, the other Maratha Noble like Saadath Khan was there
or Nisam ul Mulk was there in Delhi. At that time, they would not come and take
side. So Hussain Ali, Abdulla Khan with Maratha
troops surrounding the entire Red Fort, they had an altercation with the emperor. The emperor went and hid in the harem, in
the women’s quarters and he was dragged out from there, he was blinded. You will find blinding is a recurring theme
in Mughal history, the emperors are usually blinded before they are deposed and then later
on killed, that is because a blind person cannot be the emperor, it’s a kind of a,
in Mughal custom, a blind person cannot be the ruler. So before anything is done the person is blinded
first. So similarly Farrukhsiyar was first blinded,
then put in prison and two days later he was strangled to death in the, in his prison cell. This was done using the support of these 30000Maratha troops who were there in Delhi at that time. The first visit of a largely kind of people
not used to the sophistication of a large city like Delhi with its fine buildings. You can imagine Shajahanabad that time, before
the invasions began and it was one of the most beautiful cities in the world and when
these Marathas came here, the rustics were walking through the streets here, they were
stunned by the beauty of the city and that increased the attraction of Delhi along with
Balaji Vishwanath, was his son, the young Bajirao, he was just 19 years of age and you
can image the impact Delhi must have had on this boy. At that time, the achievements, what they
wanted was, they wanted three things from the Mughal emperor. First thing they wanted a Sanadh of Swarajya,
saying that you have got the original kingdom of Shivaji Maharaj will be given to you. Secondly they wanted the right to collect
Chauth from the six Subahs of the Deccan and which they insisted on till the very end. The six Mughal Subahs of the Deccan were to
be governed by the Marathas and 1/4TH of the revenue was to be collected by them, that
right they wanted. The third thing was a concept called Sardeshmukhi,
which was 10% of the revenue which went to the King. So these three Sanadhs was what they wanted
and these three sanadhs after Farrukhsiyar was deposed, the next man who was brought
and put in his place by Hussain Ali and Abdullah Khan was a young, youth called, Rafiud-Darajat
and this boy was made to sign all the sanadhs and these sanadhs were taken along with Shahu,
who was the Maratha Chhatrapati at that time. His mother, his half-brother and any other
members of the family who were imprisoned from 1689 onwards, they were all taken back
with them to Maharashtra. That is like the magna carta of the Maratha
rule and many people criticised the Marathas that by taking this sanadhs from the Mughalemperor, in a way they stopped asserting their independence. However it was a more nuanced and complex
thing than just that because it was like a reign by the Mughals, but rule by the Marathas,
and the same principle was followed by the British when they came over. They allowed the various rulers here like
the Sindhyas, the Holkars, the Mughals in Delhi to continue ruling but they actually
carried out all the transactions of the Kingdom. So it was something of, some arrangement of
that sort and when they went to the South, things started settling down, within a year
Balaji Vishwanath die and Bajirao became the Peshwa. Actually Bajirao today, just an aside has
become such a common name in India, thanks to the movie and the serial which was coming
some days back but you will not believe that in the year 2000, when the Indian Postal Department
was said, on his 300th birth anniversary a postage stamp should be brought out for and
I think Colonel Jayanta Dutta, one of the ex-army medical core officer was in the lead
because he was the Philatelic society president and he tried to convince the postal department,
we should have a stamp of Bajirao, the postal department’s response was, who was Bajirao? So from there we have come a long way in the
last 15, 16 years. Of course the stamp eventually did come out
4 or 5 years later and there is a 5 rupee first day cover which I have with me, which
still have that one famous picture of him on a horse. So when Bajirao became Peshwa in 1720, a young
dynamic man who was always outdoors, he did not have the patience for deliberations and
discussions and politics and he was always in camps, from a very young age, from the
age of 10 he had tried fighting wars with his father, he had seen Delhi and the first
thing he told as king is that, you, instead of making these small wars, you strike at
the root, strike at the root which is Delhi and all these other branches whether its Nizam
of Bengal or Gujarat, they will come down by themselves, just give me this order and
watch how I take the frontiers of your kingdom right up to the Himalayas. Infact the word he used, I will take you to
the Kinnarkhand, Kinnarkhand was supposed to be the area beyond Himalayas, which in
our mythology is considered the lands of the Kinnaras. So enthused by this thing, the Chhatrapati
kind of supported his enterprise and from then on it was look North policy because in
his entire career Bajirao went South only once and that was in 1726, when he went all
the way up to Sreerangapattnam. So that was the only campaign he made south,
for two years 1725-26. After that he started looking North. In the meanwhile in 1724, the Nizam-ul-Mulk,
who belonged to the old school of Aurangazeb, he had come down and he started forming his
own kingdom in Hyderabad. He won a famous battle in Shakarkhelda in
1724 and 1724 was the time when Nizam’s dynasty was established in Hyderabad and 1724
in the first few years the Nizam felt that he will be able to recruit the Marathas again
to his cause and his way of thinking and use their armies to form his own autonomous kind
of kingdom, out of the influence of the Mughal emperor and he found that the only obstacle
in his path was Bajirao, who would not accept this kind of principle of being a junior partner
of the Nizam-ul-Mulkand. Therefore in time they realised that the clash
between the two of them was bound to happen. The first clash of this sort took place in
1728 in Palkhed, which is near Aurangabad and Field-Marshal Montgomery has described
at famous, as a masterpiece in strategic mobility because for almost 6 month Bajirao was taking
the Nizam in a wild goose chase, till finally fought them in a place where he was trapped
and he was separated from his artillery because artillery was one thing which the Marathas
didn’t have it was a completely cavalry borne force. For every two riders there was one spare horse
and they travelled like the Cossacks,30-40 50 miles per day, and they could change directions
at will. So no army which was carrying a heavy baggage
and lot of artillery could really keep pace with this kind of movements. So that’s what he did and situation just
north of the Godavari River is where he trapped the Nizam, got him to accept all the terms
that he, were already considered by the emperor in 1790 and write under his hand, I am giving
you the right to collect Chauth from the 6 Subahs of the Deccan. After that the Nizam never for the next few
years at least, he did not go out of his way to antagonise Bajirao. The very next year two more campaigns went,
his younger brother Chimaji Appa, he headed for Malwa, where the battle took place in
Amjhera near Dar and the Mughal governor was killed at that time, the Mughal Subeidar Giridhar
Bahadur and his brother Daya Bahadur, both were killed simultaneously. Bajirao by another route went to Bundelkhand,
where he went to rescue Chhatrasal, from the individual named Muhammad Khan Bangash, who
was the governor of Allahabad and these two territories were within that year become part
of Maratha zone of influence and it is a letter written at that time by one of Bajirao’s
aides called Pillaji sadarao saying our ream has touched Yamuna because Yamuna near Bundelkhand
and Chambal near Malwa, is the where the Maratha territory had reached .
By 1730 they had even taken Gujarat into their fold, they had a slight internal challenge
when the Senapati challenged Bajirao. They had a battle at Daboy, where the Senapati
was killed accidently and Gujarat also came to the Peshwa’s ambit. At this point in time you find that suddenly
the Maratha kingdom looks like, from 20 years in 1720 well do just restricted to a few districts
around Pune to 1735, 1730-31 it suddenly reaches the Chambal and Yamuna and the Maratha raiders
were going right up to Sreerangapattnam, the Konkan coast, which was partly under the Portuguese
and partly under the Sidhi of Janjira. The Sidhi of Janjira had been already defeated
by that time, large parts of his territory except island of Janjira had been taken into
the Maratha kingdom and now he was trying to ensure that Malwa is not just defacto but
de jure by a sanadhs from a Mughal emperor handed over to the Marathas. So what was happening was Jai Singh was being
appointed the Subaidar and deputy was being appointed as a Peshwa, so that kind of thing
was going on for some time and between 1733-1734. Two years, large Mughal armies came across,
came down to try to push the Marathas back, right from Gwalior to Mewar, it’s a big
about 300 km wide belt, where these battles were taking place and they found they could
not push them back at any stage and they had to sign off large amounts of territory and
give huge amounts of money to send the Marathas back from the (indistinctive). So Jai Singh, Kamarudheen Khan, Khan Dhauran,
they all tried but they could not succeed. So Sawai Jai Singh came up with the proposal
that, like once upon a time they had tried to recruit Chhatrapti Shivaji into the cause
of the Mughal Empire? Why not try to recruit Bajirao and get him
to fight for the empire? So discussions began with Mohammed Shah who
was famously known as Rangeela at that time, that we should try to accommodate Bajirao
and make him a part of the empire and try to make him fight for us rather than fight
against us, so we can control him. For that purpose it was decided Bajirao will
go to Jaipur and Udaipur and meet these people the envoys will go to Delhi and speak to Mohammed
Shah, try to have meeting with the emperor and see what best can be.. What best solution can be found to satisfy
Bajirao’s vaulting ambition, because he was not short of ambition he wanted the revenue
of Bengal also. So he demanded, I wanted 50 lakh rupees from
Bengal also. So just before that just an example to show
what was the influence Bajirao had on the Indian landscape at that time. His mother Radhabhai, who has been showed
quite villainish in the movie, quite wrongly portrayed actually, she was on a pilgrimage
and she wanted to go to Udaipur, Jaipur the she wanted to go to Mathura, she wanted to
go to Kashi, she wanted to go to Gaya and come back and there was a big war in those
years waging all over the North between the Mughals and the Marathas but every stage after
crossing the Narmada, she was escorted by the Rajputs to Udaipur , she would stay there
for a month from there she went to Jaipur, where again she stayed for till the monsoons
were over. From there escorted her to the Yamuna where
at Mathura, Muhammad Khan Bangash, who had been defeated by Bajirao in Bundelkhand. He sent his escort and he said Bajirao sabsmother is like my mother, from there he escorted her to Kashi. She finished here pilgrimage in Kashi, Gaya. You find Bajirao writing to her, you come
back mother please quickly I want to start another campaign in the north. So finally she reached back in 1735 and that
is when Bajirao could start of again to go up to Rajasthan. 1736-35 you find Bajirao in Rajasthan. Now it was a very peculiar way he treated
the two kings, the Rana of Udaipur and King of Jaipur. The Rana of Udaipur was a Sisodiya and the
family of Chhatrapati Shivaji claimed its ancestries from the Sisodiyas of Udaipur and
Udaipur is the one house in Rajputs which never bowed before the Mughal emperor or in
those 18th century terms, they never gave their daughters in marriage to the Mughal
emperor. So Udaipur was always treated with a different
kind of respect which the Marathas had, one because the family was, The Chhatrapati’sfamily and secondly, they had never served the Mughals. So he went to the Udaipur Rana, though Udaipur
Rana was much weaker than the Jaipur King at that time and the Udaipur Rana offered
him an equal seat to sit on. He said ‘no I will sit at your feet because
in your place, you are the place of my sovereign and I will not sit on equal basis with you’. After finishing his visit in Udaipur when
he went to Jaipur. Naturally, the king of Jaipur expected a similar
treatment but Bajirao said no. Then they had this discussion of how they
will meet and how they will be received and so on. It was not face to face that he told Jai Singh
this, he said I am not going to accept this unequal behaviour at Jaipur because you people
have served and your covetousness with the Mughal emperor has made you serve him and
you cannot get the same respect which the Rana of Udaipur get and we will set but today
I allow you to be my equal that’s what he says and I will let you sit on my, along with
me and he sat with him like the Hindi text says “ ghutnekoghutna, janukojanulagake
bait gayi” and at one stage he even says that he was a rough soldier and at one stage
there is also a reference that he blew the Hookah smoke on Jai Singh’s face. Of course, I think that is a bit of exaggeration
because next two or three months they met several times, several gifts were exchanged
and given to Bajirao. Meanwhile the envoys were in touch with Mohammed
Shah and there was lot of talk going on, what is good to be considered to the Marathas,
what is not good and Mohammed Shah finding Bajirao so close with all his sardars. He considered whatever Bajirao asked him,
you want Malwa given, you want the revenue of Bengal given, you want 50 lakh jagir in
the Deccan given, you want fort of Mandu given, whatever was demanded was being agreed to. So Bajirao said Ok, if everything has been
agreed to I have no I will just wait 2 months for this to happen. He told his vakeels in Delhi, please execute
this agreements of Mohammed Shah, I will go and sit in Malwa. Before that summer was over, rainy season
was going to start and nothing was happening. So he left an army of 15-20 thousand peoplewith Scindhyas and Holkars and that was the first time, 1735. Marathas did not go back to their homeland
at the end of the summer. They stayed in camp and that’s how Sindhyas
and Holkars began their base in Malwa region for the first time. When he went back to Pune, by October the
reply came from the emperor, he just gave him some kind of a title that you got 7000
swar and 7000 Jat and these are ranks actually, like we have in the army these days and his
younger brother was also given some ranks, but there was no mention of Malwa. So Bajirao said this is the time when I have
to show him what I can do and in the beginning of, end of 1736, it was usually after Dussehra,
when they did this “semolangan” or cross the borders of the land and it was also good
time because the monsoons were over, the cavalry could go because lot of slush would prevent
the horses from going place to place and it began from here collecting his dues all the
way from the Nawab of Bhopal and so on, right up to the town of Badhavar, Badhavar is just
a place between Chambal and Yamuna . The place called Ater over there, where there was a
king, this king was actually protected by the Nawab of Awadh at that time was Sadhath
Khan, so he refused to allow Bajirao’s soldiers to pass and refused to give any kind of help
to Bajirao. So there he had to fight with this Nawab and
he had to defeat him and he took 20 lakh of rupees as tribute for defeating him, he took
some. Defeated the entire army and he made sure
that Sadath Khan does not cross over by capturing all the boats so that crossing over the river
from this side of Yamuna was not possible. After this the Mughal court woke up, when
they found he is going to cross the Yamuna and next stop is going to be Agra, that is
when they started sending out armies under Khan Dhauran, under Kamraudheen Khan who was
the Wazir at that time. They started coming down, Saadath Khan was
told that you must start from Awadh and stop this and three Mughal armies tried converging
on Agra at that time. At that time Malhar Rao Holkar was with Bajirao,
he made a small incaution across the Yamuna and began looting that place in his (indistinctive),
between the Ganga and the Yamuna and that is when Saadath Khan came from Awadh and defeated
Malhar Rao Holkar and surprised him and chased him back. When about 1000-1500 Marathas were killed
in that raid also by Saadath Khan, immediately informed the emperor that I have defeated
the Maratha army of Bajirao and pushed them back south of Chambal. The emperor promptly send them lots of gifts
Khillats, robes of honour and so on and the three Mughal armies when they came near Agra,
they all celebrated we have managed to push Bajirao south. At this stage, there is a very nice letter,
a four page letter in Marathi which Bajirao has written on the 8th of April, to his brother
after he finished his entire attack. He said at that time I had two options, either
I defeat Saadath Khan and bury him or I go to Delhi and show the emperors that the Maratha
armies are still at the gates of Delhi. So he had three options, either he goes back
to Pune because there three big armies of 50-60 thousand people baring his path to Delhi
or he could have fought them face to face or he was saying, I will go and attack Delhi. Now what he did is between the two armies,
there was a narrow path of few miles, between which he found, clinging to the hills in that
region, away from Agra and Mathura to the west of it, that in the matter of 3 days,
he made that, with all his army of 30000 men, he managed to reach, passing, bypassing this
Mughal armies he reached in the outskirts of Delhi and the Kalka mandir which you have
over here. In Marathi you use the word Jombajombi, means
he did some kind of disturbance over there. All the pilgrims of Delhi had come out to
go to Kalkar because it was a Ram Navmi day and lot of people were coming to pray and
so on. There was a Mela also there, for that day. So he came and send some people, soldiers
there, broke some shops, looted some people, got some horses and camels. So somebody realised that the Marathas are
in Delhi. One man went into the, Delhi was a walled
city those days, went into the city and told the Mughal courts that the Marathas are here. He said you are being silly, there are three
large Mughal armies south of Delhi, how can Bajirao come here and beside Saadath Khan
has already told he has been send back to the south, so what they did is they send a
beggar, a man disguised as a beggar, go and have a look, see who has actually reached
here and the whole court was waiting with bated breath ki what news comes back. Around midnight that beggar came back and
he showed what he got from the Maratha camp when he begged from them, he got dry gram,
Channa and dry bread, which is Bakhri, which is call it is kind of dry Paratha which they
make. So he said this what I got in alms. So when they saw this, so this was the staple
diet of a Maratha trooper. He carried dry gram with him Channa and he
had this dry baked Jowar or Bajraka roti, which is all he had on his way, when he marching,
so when they saw this, they knew the Marathas are here and most of the armies being in the
south, they had nobody much to really oppose them. Some row levies led by some guys, went and
tried to oppose him and about 5-6 thousand people try to oppose, out of which they lost
about a 1000 people in that battle and at that time you can see that Bajirao was not
just a warrior but he was also a statesman of kind because he is writes to his brother,
that I was thinking initially of burning down a few suburbs of Delhi to show I am here but
then I considered, Delhi is a mahasthal, it has the respect being the capital from the
time of the Pandavas, so burning a city down or burning it suburbs, breaks the code of
diplomacy because his purpose was served, he had shown the emperor, Marathas are here
and he could come back here a second time and a third time, if it comes to, if his demands
are not met but diplomacy was still going on, after all it is said that war is just
a diplomacy by other means, so he knew where to stop, he knew how much to go and he decided
I am not going to burn down anything but I just want to show I am here, they know I am
there and from there he says in his letter that he was staying in a place called Kushubandhi. If anybody in Delhi can enlighten me where
is Kushbandhi,I will be happy but the nearest point I have found which resembles Kushubandhi
is Kushakmahal which is in the Theen Murti Bhavan and that was the hunting lodge of Firoz
shah, Tuglak form 13th century onwards. So it is said that he stayed in Kushubandhi
presumably stayed in the hunting lodge, which was in middle of the forest in those days
and then from there, he went towards Palam and by that time Kamrudheen Khan had heard
that Bajirao had attacked Delhi and start coming North and had a small skirmish before
he had retired to Kotputli and Rajasthan, Jaipur state and went back to Malwa and this
was the famous raid of 1737 and this raid was heard all over I mean even Nadir shah
in Persia came to know that the bare backed Marathas came from the Deccan and attacked
Delhi, so he wrote a famous letter to Mohammed Shah, what are you doing? How can you allow these guys to come and attack
you, you are not doing your administration properly, I am coming there to teach you with
my Kizilbash, how you are supposed to administer your kingdom. Before that happened in 1739, but before that
the Mughal emperor tried one more last gambit and he called Nizam-ul-Mulk from the south and he said, now you must go and teach Bajirao a lesson. So Nizam-ul-Mulk, Bajirao was going south
and Nizam-ul-Mulk was going North, they passed within a few miles of each other, they send
courteous messages to each other and when the Nizam went to Delhi, he was treated like
a great warrior has come and the only saviour of the Mughal empire and he was told, now
you must go south and fight with Bajirao. So Nizam-ul-Mulk with a big army, at the end
of monsoons, by the time in Delhi, he had given lots of titles also, AzafJha and all
these titles, were all bestowed on them, he was made the biggest superior to Wazir also
and with big army at the end of monsoons he began to go south and he told his son Nasir
Jung, who was in Hyderabad that you come up and well catch Bajirao, in between our two
armies. Bajirao had already started going North at
the end of Dussehra and he knew Nizam-ul-Mulk was coming down to fight with him and he also
knew that Nasir Jung was leaving from Hyderabad, he was also getting letters from there , that
today so many people have been called, so much army has been collected and so on . So
he posted his brother somewhere around the river Tapi and said don’t let Nasir Jung
cross this river and he crossed the Tapi, he crossed the Narmada and when the Nizam
found that he was marching towards Malwa, what he did is last time in Palkhed, he had
been caught because he didn’t get provisions, he had no water, he had no food as the army
was thirsty, they had to kill the bullocks and eat them and so on, so this time he thought
he will take shelter in the fort of Bhopal, where there is a big lake at the back of the
fort, so he entered Bhopal and Bajirao writes letter, I don’t know ,I thought Nizams are
great soldiers but he has committed a blunder by going into the fort of Bhopal because next
thing he knew is that, another siege around the fort of Bhopal and they started starving. There was some Rajput troops from Kota, Durjan
Sal of Kota was also with him. Now the Rajputs being predominantly vegetarians
would not eat the bullocks when they are starving, so they became very unhappy with the situation,
they were in and soon negotiations began within the two sides and Bajirao said ok I will let
you go but you have to concede all my demands and you have to get this sanction done from
Delhi. So when the treaty was signed at Doraha near
Bhopal, Bajirao writes that Nizam was so unhappy that under his hand, he had to write that
with his own mouth he had to utter the words that I am giving you the six Subahs of Deccan,
I will make sure that you will get Chauthai of these places, make sure you get the Sanadh
of Malwa and so on, this happened in 1738. In 1739 Nadir Shah attacked Delhi and at that
time the Marathas were extremely busy on the Western coast because on 1737 onwards, there
is a battle to evict the Portuguese from the western coast. The Portuguese was the most well entrenched
par with very strong forts all along the border from Danu or Daman, right up to Goa leaving
the except the island of Bombay, which was originally Portuguese but given to the English,
the entire Konkan belt belonged to the Portuguese and the complaints the Peshwas used to get
about the people living there was the inquisitions which you must have read, what kind of operation
was going on local populous. So this was a very strong complaint which
was coming to the Peshwa and Chhatrapati repeatedly but all these years they didn’t have the
opportunity to really go and sort out the Portuguese and in 1737 Chimaji Appa, who was
Bajirao’s brother, first took it upon himself and he liberated the island of Sashti, which
is where todays Thane stands and Bandra, from Bandra to Thane, in the suburbs of Bombay
is the island of Sashti, Sashti stands for 66 in Marathi it is called Sahashahst. So that’s why the island is called Sashti
or Salset as they call in English. So that Island was liberated in 1737, then
because Nadir shah came, Chimaji Appa had to leave that campaign half way and go and
1737 he said I am gonna finish this Vasai problem because the Fort of Vasai was one
of the strongest port of the Portuguese that time. Vasai was those days called as Bassein and
that battle took place just at the time Nadir Shah was here. In fact it’s a coincidence Shahu had told
Bajirao, you must go and help Mohammed Shah because I have promised Aurangazeb on his
deathbed that I will make sure that Mughal dynasty is not extinguished, this is a very
strange thing I am trying to tell you that Shahu’s father was killed by Aurangazeb,
Shahu was a captive in Aurangzeb’s camp from 1689 to 1707 for a good amount of 18
years, he grew up there but when Aurangazeb died, he promised the emperor that I will
make sure your dynasty is not extinguished. Probably Aurangazeb had a foreboding that
the kind of problem he has landed up with the Marathas like they say the Spanish ulcer
relationship with Napoleon, it was a Deccan Ulcer which ruined Aurangazeb. So he had a foreboding that after my death
something is gonna happen here, which is not gonna be good for the empire, so he said,
he got the promise from Shahu and Shahu told Bajirao to make sure that Mohammed Shah is
not disturbed and go and help him. So they were waiting for this Vasai battle
to get over and the Rajputs were writing to Bajirao that you are the only person we are
waiting for and if Mohammed Shah has been deposed and Nadir Shah goes back then we will
put the Rana of Udaipur as the king in Delhi but it can only be done with your arms and
Bajirao was sitting in Burhanpur waiting for Chimaji to finish the Vasai campaign because
Holkar was also involved in that campaign and all the army to join him at Burhanpur
and then march North to confront Nadir Shah and Nadir Shah was writing letters to Bajirao
that will make sure that you will obey the orders and you will not come North of Narmada
and so on and so forth, otherwise I will come there and punish you, so while this was building
up 4th of May 1739 was the day when Vasai surrendered , the Portuguese surrendered to
the Marathas. Vasai’s fort was taken and coincidentally
on the 5th of May, Nadir Shah left Delhi and went back to Iran and he restored Mohammed
Shah back to the throne of Delhi but it was a completely denuded city, there was nothing
left everything had been looted, a big massacre which took place at time here and unfortunately
at that time the Marathas could not come to help against the invader because they were
involved in the very big battle. 12000 Maratha soldiers were killed just liberating
the fort of Vasai and island of Thane and today we got liberated, we liberated Goa in
1961, had the Portuguese not been removed from the entire Western Coast at that time,
they would have remained there till 1961 because the English were not go fight them and remove
them from there . So liberation of that entire coastal area was due to this 1739 battle which
was carried out by Chimaji Appa. In 1740 Bajirao died. He did not commit suicide; he died because
of a heat stroke. For one week he had high fever in the month
of April by the banks of Narmada and he died. His sudden death suddenly left a vacuum, his
son was just 19 years of age. But Shahu has so much respect for this house
of the Peshwas family, that immediately made his 19 year old boy next Peshwa. The month that Bajirao died Raghuji Bhonsle
of Nagpur went on a raid to Trichanapalli and that is famous. From Trichanapalli he came north, he went
to Orissa and Bengal, so that was all one continuum from 1740 to 1742 when Orissa and
Bengal was also bought under the Maratha ambit. At the same time you find Mohammed Shah helplessly
watching that Bengal was being raided by one of the Maratha Sardars of Nagpur and he asked
Shahu that please help me to get rid of Raghuji Bhonsle. Shahu told Nana Saheb Peshwa that please do
something about this Raghuji is not listening to me, he is gonna attack Bengal and you find
Nana Saheb taking another army going North, passing through Gaya and fighting with Raghuji
Bhonsle to evict him from Bengal and reports of that were coming to the Mughal empire every
day, today Raghuji has reached here, Nana Saheb has reached there and so on and so forth. Alivardi Khan gave Nana Saheb 20 lakh rupees
to evict Raghuji Bhonsle from Bengal and Nana Saheb always knew that Bengal was always the
richest province of the Mughal Empire. He always was interested in capturing Bengal
and right up to his entire 21 years of his career. You find all his letters saying that please
go to Bengal and get the revenue from there. So when this happened Shahu was very disturbed,
two of his own officers was fighting with each other and when they came back in 1743
he divided the two areas of operation and he said Bihar, Bengal Orissa is the Nagpur
Bhonsle’s territory, the Peshwa is not supposed to go there and this situation remained for
the next 13 years as long as Raghuji Bhonsle was alive . Raghuji Bhonsle finally died in
1756. Now let’s go into
the politics of Delhi at that time, Ahmed shah Abdali became the king of Afghanistan
in 1747, after Nadir Shah was assassinated over there, immediately he was short of funds
and he decided he will attack Delhi, he had already come to Delhi once with Nadir Shah
in 17739. So 1748 was the first invasion where he attacked
Delhi and at that time Mohammed Shah send an appeal to Nan Saheb, please come to Delhi
and help me and Nana Saheb went, the letter saying that Nana saheb met Mohammed Shah but
by the time the battle was already over Abdali was defeated in that first battle and he was
sent back and the prince Ahmed Shah, who was son of Mohammed Shah, at that time he led
the battle. Safdarjung, who was the Nawab of Awadh, he
fought at that time, so they actually managed to push Abdali back but by the time they came
Mohammed Shah was dead and Ahmed Shah became the next emperor. The very next year Abdali came back 1749. But in 1749 Chhatrapati Shahu passed away
and the next two years there was a civil war in Maharashtra for the succession, the Maratha
succession, who will be the next king because Shahu had no sons. So that occupied the Peshwa till 1752 .
If you find these two vital years of Indian history when the Peshwa was stuck in this
succession battle in around Satara, that was the time when the English and the French managed
to make their mark in the Caranatic. 1751-1752 these were the times when and you
will be surprised when Clive won at Arcot, there were 2000 Maratha soldiers with him. So the Marathas and English were cooperating
with each other at that time because the French, who were rivals to the English were helping
the Nizam, who was the enemy of the Marathas. So in one hand you find the Maratha-English
collaboration and French-Nizam collaboration, on the other side that was the situation developing
at the Deccan at that stage of time. In 1756 you find Watson, Admiral Watson and
Colonel Clive, coming with the King’s navy to India because they wanted to defeat the
French but a secret proposal was put to them because Angre, who was the head of the Navy,
in Vijayadurg, in south Maharashtra was not listening to the Peshwa, so the Peshwa sent
his army, the English sent their Navy and that fort of Viajydurg was captured and the
Angre, who was the Tulaji Angre was imprisoned and handed over to the Peshwa, so that where
the English Maratha Collaboration was going on; that was in 1755-56. 1756 within a few months after that, Siraj
Ud Daula, who was in Bengal, he removed the English from Calcutta and Calcutta was taken
by him. They came, Drake was the ruler, who was the
agent in Calcutta. He came back to Madras and at that very time
in 1757, Ahmed Shah Abdali made his fourth invasion of India, before that in 1752 the
emperor of Delhi had signed an agreement, it’s called the Ahednama with Marathas that
they will protect him against all the internal and external enemies of the emperor. Internal because in his own durbar there were
plenty of conspiracies and he was not safe from his own courtiers. So he needed protection from them as well
as the invaders. So in 1757 when Abdali attacked, it was necessary
to do something to protect Delhi, but that time there was only 5000 men, 5000 Maratha
soldiers in Delhi and there is this small Jat ruler called Surajmal Jat in Pallavghad. So these were the only two people who opposed
Abdali at time. Delhi was the for the first time occupied
by Abdali and the loot in Delhi at that time has been described by several authors, even
in one of my books described that finally when Abdali took all the treasure back to
Afghanistan besides all the Massacres and so on which he did, there was not even a washer
men’s donkey left in Delhi, he took whatever available animals were to carry all his treasure
back, that was the amount of loot that Delhi was subjected to. At that time Najib Khan Rohila, who had actually
was an immigrant first generation immigrant from Afghanistan, he told him that the Marathas
are getting too strong and all the powerful offices in the empire are going in the hands
of the Hindus, the Muslims have become second laid citizens in this empire. Shah Walihulla was an ideologue at that time
of the empire, even he wrote to Abdali, that you must come here and rescue us. So against all that background, Abdali march
down to Mathura, it’s a big slaughter in Mathura, another big slaughter took place
in Vrindavan. People were given money according to the number
of heads that were cut and brought there. The only people opposed in Vrindavan wad sanyasis
and sadhus over there at Vrindavan. They tried to oppose the Afghan invasion at
that stage. At this time the Marathas were partly in Rajputana;
Holkar was there, Raghunath Rao was the younger brother of Nana Saheb, he was somewhere in
Indore and they just started collected about 10000 soldiers at that time, they had still
took time to collect army to go and confront major, it was a major undertaking to confront
Abdali at that stage, when the onset of monsoon took place in 1757, Abdali began his way back
because he never stayed here during the monsoons, or during the summers in Delhi, that is the
stage when the Marathas moved North. Najib Khan was put in charge of Delhi, they
attacked Delhi defeated Najib Khan and at that stage in fact Raghunath Rao who was just
a 20 year old boy, son of Bajirao, he wanted to imprison Najib Khan but it was said that
he gave a bribe to Holkar and escaped form there and went and stood, went back to his
own territories, so from these tragedies future tragedies come up, from such small mistakes. From there after capturing Delhi, they moved
further North, took the city of Sarhind, which was little north of Delhi, somewhere near
Chandigarh today and at that point in time they were invited by the governor of Punjab,
why don’t you come and liberate us from Abdali who was ruling over Punjab at that
time. Timur Shah Abdali, who was son of Ahmed Shah
along with one of his big, major called Jahan Khan were both sitting at Lahore. So next thing they knew, they took an undertaking
to enter Punjab and that is when they stepped on Abdali’s toes, Abdali was not interested
in Delhi. He was not interested in coming any further. He just wanted Punjab because that was a rich
province from where he could get his supplies. Afghanistan was after all a desert but when
they entered Punjab that’s is when they stepped on Abdali’s toes but the Mughals
wanted Punjab back because from old days Lahore and all these were parts of Mughal empire,
in fact emperor Jahangir died at Lahore, Bahadur Shah died in Lahore. Their mausoleums are there. So they wanted this Punjab to come back here
and they recruited the Marathas and said you must take the Maratha armies and enter Punjab. So the Marathas along with the Sikhs a small
Mughal contingent, they entered Punjab, they attacked Lahore. Jahan Khan and Timur Shah had to run away
from there and Lahore, Multan, Attock and Peshawar, all these four cities were captured
by the Marathas. They stayed there for about good part of an
year occupying these territories, that time Ahmad shah Abdali was in a bad state in his
own country of Afghanistan, he was under rebellions in all sides and there is a famous letter
which the Shah of Iran sent to Raghunath Rao Peshwa. Raghunath Rao was that time in Lahore and
in fact he was treated with rose waters in the Shalimar Gardens of Lahore at that time
and a letter came from Shah of Iran that between you and me, we will squash this Afghan ruler
and we will divide the country among ourselves, you take whatever is on the other side of
the Khyber pass, I will take Kabul and Kandahar on my side. So Raghunath Rao from there, from Lahore,
writes a letter to his brother, who was the Peshwa. There is a proposal which come to me from
the Shah of Iran, that we should divide up Afghanistan between us and you stay that side
of Indus and well take parts this side, but I said, why should I agree to this proposal,
after all till the time of Alamgir, that is Aurangazeb, till the time of Aurangazeb, Kabul
was part of India and Kandahar was also part of India. So why should I concede Kabul and Kandahar
to the Shah of Iran, we must go and capture, those parts also. So this was, I mean, you are already one and
half thousand kilometres from your power base which is Pune but over there they are still
thinking that these are the parts of India, I mean this concept of India again comes into
this letter. The letters of 1750s, 1758 that he still wants
to go and get Kabul and Kandahar back into the Indian Territory because it was once upon
a time part of, in fact it was lost by Shah Jahan, Kandahar was lost by Shah Jahan 100
years earlier because he wanted to go and get them back. From there Raghunath Rao came back and Dattaji
Shinde, took his pace and Abdali came back in 1759 within 2 years after that was the
famous battle of Panipat which I will not go into the details of that because that will
take another hour to discuss and the big debacle in Panipat, for reasons I will not right now
go into and over there hundred thousand Marathas laid down their lives. But on his way to Panipat, Sadashiv rao Bhau
was the Maratha leader, the Maratha general who was taking the army north, wrote some
letters to the northern rulers and told them that there are two objectives before me, one
objective is that the Chughtai Dynasty must remain and I am fighting for the Chughtai
Dynasty,i.e. he is fighting for the Mughals and Abdali’s roots must not grow in this,
must not be allowed to take root here, they must be uprooted from here. So again the concept that Mughals are belonging
to India but the invader must be evicted, that kind of feeling you always get in this
letters. So the Marathas are all time, were trying
to protect the Mughals, they were allowing the Mughals to rule because they had become
very weak by that time it was a Phantom, actually the Mughal empire that time has become phantom,the
ruler was a phantom. Shah Alam, the rule extended from Delhi to
Palam, that’s what is the famous saying, even at that stage and 1759 was when Shah
Alam declared himself emperor sitting in Allahabad. After Panipat there was a debacle, there was
an eclipse of Maratha power.The Peshwa died within 6 months after that, his son was just
17 years ofage. His uncle Raghunath Rao ambitions was such
that he wanted to become Peshwa. Within the Peshwa family a small civil war
erupted and the neighbours were quick to take advantage that. Nizam attacked, in fact he attacked Pune. Hyder Ali, who was the on the souths was the
new rising star, he began taking advantage because just before that he had been defeated
by Maratha army and when the Maratha army heard that there is a debacle at Panipat they
quickly took 3 lakhs from Hyder Ali and went back to Pune because Hyder Ali was surprised
why they have settled for 3 lakhs because subsequently whenever they attacked Hyder
Ali, they took 30 lakhs tribute each time, but that time because Panipat had happened
Hyder Ali had not heard about it. They satisfied themselves for 3 lakh rupees
and rushed back to Pune. So all these people started taking advantages
and taking away chunks of the kingdom. Malhar Rao Holkar was the only Subaidar who
was still surviving old days, he was 70 years of age by that time and but he was the only
person who retained some amount of Maratha prestige north of the Narmada, remained in
Malwa. Madho Singh of Jaipur, who actually the Marathas
had put in his throne, attacked their territories and there was a battle at Mangrole, where
Madho Singh was defeated by Holkar. So next 2 years were very difficult, there
is a running battle with the Nizam for the next 2 years, till he was defeated in 1763
at Rakshas Bhuwan and that is when Madhav Rao Peshwa actually came into his own.The
reason that Raghunath Rao, kept on intriguing against his nephew and his nephew wouldnot
take stern action against him like, just cut off his head that didnot happen in Maratha
scheme of things, that you put somebody in prison and like here you find in Delhi, this
emperor becomes the king , knocks of all other contestants, all the other brother knocked
off before one guy becomes emperor that never happened there. So four years of Madhav Rao’s time was spent
concealing, controlling his uncle. Finally in 1760, he had to put him in prison
and by that time he already had 3 attacks of Hyder Ali, right up to Sreerangapattnam. 1769 finally he found the time to send a large
army, under 4 different chiefs, there was Ramchandra Ganesh Kanade, there was Visaji
Krushna Biniwale, who were supposed to be seniors and they were supposed to be joined
by Mahadaji Shinde, then a very junior man in the hierarchy, but the chief of Sindhia
house and Tukoji Holkar, who had taken off from Malhara at that stage and these 4 people
started moving north, they took tribute from the Rajputs, took tribute from the Jats. Najib khan was an old man that time, he came
forward and said I will have a treaty with you, take care of my son, his son’s name
was Zabita Khan. They went from the Dwaab, they defeated the
Bangash at Farrukhabad and then the king who was sitting in Allahabad wanted to come back
to Delhi. He was sitting in Allahabad protected by the
English because he had lost a few battles with the Englishand he was sitting there ever
since. So he was told by the Marathas we will put
you back in your throne in Delhi. So from 1759 to 1772 there was no emperor
in Delhi, it was practically being ruled by the Mir Bakshi who was the Najib ad-Dawlah,for8 yrs Najib ad-Dawlah was the dictator of Delhi at that time. 1769 the Marathas came, 1770Najib ad-Dawlah
died shortly after that, the Marathas took Delhi from Zabita Khan. One more year took for them to get the emperor
from Allahabad,January 1772 Shah Alam was placed in the throne through the good officers
of the Maratha chief, Mahaji Shinde actually. after he was placed in on his throne, the
Marathas along with the Mughalsoldiers crossed the Ganga, first objective was to punish Najib
ad-Dawlah, for his role in Panipatbecause he was the man who had invited Abdali and
was the man who kind of plotted the fall of the Marathas in the massacre which took place
afterwards. so they crossed the Ganga, they went and raided
Patharghand,which is a big fortnorth, just south of Haridwar, near Najibabad and it is
the root from Najibabad, fromPatharghand’s, there is a big list of that, they got about
10 lakh rupees worth of gold and silver and jewellery. Many of the people inside the fort, threw
it in the mote outside and the mote was drained and got the jewellery was obtained. 2000 fine horses, so all these thing were
taken by charge of the Marathas and they felt now that they have kind ofavenged the role
that Najib Khan played atPanipat.They evenwent and defaced his grave at Najibabad, they did
not bury… dig it out, just defaced it.So this kind of, then they said that we will
now kind of go towards Allahabad and take charge because getting Kashi and Allahabad
into their car, Kashi and Prayag as they called it, under their charge was the long-time aim
of the Marathas, right from Bajirao’s time, when he used to send his terms to the emperor,
he used to say, give us Kashi and Allahabad and for Shuja-ud-Daula, it was a matter of
prestige that he will not concede not these two places to a Hindu Power. So this tussle was going on, after taking
Patharghad Delhi, the next item on agenda was to go to Allahabad. So he took Najaf Khan, who was here along
with them, along with another Zabita Khan and he started moving towards Allahabad but
in between they started having difference among themselves and that peeted out. By the time the Allahabad was already under
the English custody, so the battle never really took place at that stage but Madhav Rao Peshwa
died in 1772 and brother who became the next Peshwa was assassinated following year, assassinated
and the culprit for that was the same uncle, who had bothered them all these years. So a second civil war began at the Maratha
capital itself and the English were quick to take advantage of it, they grabbed the
island of Salset or Sashti, right next to Bombay and that’s how the first Anglo-Maratha
War started. In 1775, it went on till 1772 and it was an
alliance of the Nizam, Hyder Ali and the Marathas against the English, till finally in 1782
Mahaji Shinde lost Gwalior and he founded he could not face the English, who were coming
on, he signed a treaty on behalf of the Peshwa at Salbey and since then there was peace between
the English and the Marathas and that gave Mahaji Shinde, the chance to go to Delhi and
take charge of the capital. 1784-85 one finds Mahaji is in Delhi, the
emperor makes him the Vakil-ul-Mutlaq, Vakil-ul-Mutlaq is one of the highest regent plenipotentiary
in, who looks after the office of the emperor and the emperor doesn’t have to do anything. So and in the History of the Mughal Empire
there have been only three Vakil-ul-Mutlaq, of which Mahaji was the third, I think Farrukhsiyar
has made somebody before that and I forget one more Vakil-ul-Mutlaq before that. So this kind of situation was, I 1785 thing
were looking very rosy, one of his chiefs Ambaji Ingle was sent north of Delhi to stop
the Gujjars from attacking Delhi and they had a treaty with the Sikhs, like the Marathas
Chauthai, the Sikhs at that time took what is called Raaki, for protecting you, they
used to take a Raaki from you which is 8% of your total revenue. So this agreement was made with the Sikhs
that you will not come to Delhi again and they posted a force north of Delhi. So things seem to be going alright but there
was no money the emperor had no money, the emperor’s family required one and half rupees
a month to look after them and Mahaji Shinde for all his efforts and his large army, he
had got nothing in return . Now the dues from Jaipur from 1748 was still unpaid, which was
running into crores of rupees. The dues to the Mughal Emperor and the dues
to the Marathas, so the next item on the agenda was to extract these dues from the king of
Jaipur, so expedition was planned against Jaipur. Jaipur and Jodhpur got together, in addition
they got help of some other Mughal adventurers called Hamadani and between the three of them,
Mahaji Shinde that time was a little wrong in his calculations and in 1787 he was defeated
in the Battle of Lalsot and from there they had to retreat to Dheeg, then he lose Agra
city, he did not lose Agra fort which was in his custody, his flag was still flying
there but Agra city he lost and the Dwaab he lost and he was forced to retreat to the
south of Chambal and without money and without sufficient power he could not come back North. When Lalsot happened the grandson of Najib
khan was Ghulam Khadir, he got his opportunity to come and strike Delhi and he came from
the North, force which have been kept North of Delhi have been called to help him at Lalsot,
he was South of Chambal, sitting in Gwalior at that stage and that is when Ghulam Khadir
came and took over Delhi and declared him the Mir Bakshi here, Mir Bakshi, is the commander
of the army actually and Ghulam Khadir in the next one and a half years, the atrocities
he committed on the emperor here, like started from blinding him, from trying to extract
whatever, he dug up the entire Red fort , nothing was left . He stripped all ladies, the princess,
he exposed them on the towers of the Fort and for Hours together without their Burqas
and these kind of ignominy which he did was probably worse than the Mughal family had
ever been subjected to and the respect the Mughal family even at that stage had in society. When the English author has written that he
was going with a very thin guard from one place to another in the palanquin, when some
people attacking him, when Gujjar’s began to attack him, so he told his Palanquin bearer
that tell the Gujjars that, “IdharBaadshahkibibi sab jarahihai”, palanquin mein , though
it was this guy sitting inside and when he said Badshahkibibi sab rahihai, those Gujjars
moved back because they would not touch a lady from the royal zenana and that’s the
respect the common people, the robbers and thieves were giving the Mughal family but
here was Ghulam Khadir, who was stripping them for searching them for hidden jewels
and valuables and that was when the lowest point of the Chugthai dynasty was left . From
there once when Mahaji recovered he came the north of the Chambal, he again captured Agra
city that time one of his chief officers was a man called, Rana Khan Bai, Rana Khan Bai
was a Muslim but he was the most trusted man of Mahaji Shinde because when Mahaji Shinde
was running away from Panipat and injured by Afghan chasing him, Rana Khan Bai was the
man who carried him on his shoulders and brought him back to safety. From there Rana Khan Bai remained with Mahaji
became one of his four generals, so he was the man who took back Agra, took back Aligarh
and Mathura and before he knew he was at the gates of Delhi and the chase began to catch
Ghulam Khadir, he went back to Ghousgadand Shamliand all these places and Ali Bahadur
was the grandson of Bajirao and Mastani , he came with a large army from the Deccan, he
chased Ghulam Khadir, caught him 1788 and he was brought to Mahaji’s camp in Mathura
and there Shah Alam demanded Mahaji that this man has blinded me, he sat on his chest and
with a knife he removed his eyes of the emperor. So he said I want to feel his eyeballs, so
send them to me that was the kind of vehemence the emperor felt for him. So Mahaji called two doctors from his army
and got his eyes removed and send the eyes to the emperor and the description of when
the box was presented to the emperor, with what glee and happiness the emperor touched
those eyes and felt that the person who had done this has been punished, so all these
gory details, I mean this is the blackest period any people living in Delhi could experience
that stage and in 1788, finally when the Ghulam Khadir episode was over, Mahaji’s flag fluttered
on the Red fort along with the Badshah’s flag and for an uninterrupted period of the
next 15 years, till 1803 when Mahaji is already dead but the British captured Delhi in 1803
in the battle of, fought near the PuranQuila and then of course the British rule began
in Delhi, Lord Lake captured the city at that stage. So this is a very dramatic period in the history
of Delhi in the 18th century and the reason I am bringing it out today is to show two
things, one is that for most of the 18th century, the Marathas were the predominant paramount
power in the 18th century in most parts of India, I have only restricted my talk to what
happened in the north but same time things were going on down below. At Srirangappatanm in 1771, they were firing
on the fort when one of the cannon ball hit the temple there, it was considered a bad
omen and they said ok, let’s not go any further, the temple has been hurt by a cannon
ball so Hyder Ali was spared, so this kind of, was going on all over the place and to
call the Battle of Plassey the beginning of the British empire will be an aberration and
a misrepresentation of History, at the same time the Marathas whenever they came here,
they fought for the empire, they fought to defend the Chughtai dynasty to reinstate the
empire back in his throne, they had their own interest, Nobody is going to fight for
if they don’t have any interest in mind but they shed their blood thousands of them
gave their lives for thing but for the last two days when I walked around in Delhi, except
for one Peshwa Marg and one Rani of Jhansi Marg I don’t see any representation of Peshwa
in this city and Delhi has forgotten the Marathas and I hope that to the limited number of people
who I have here I have been some way managed to convey what a role they played in that,
very eventful 18th century in the History of India. Thank you very much.

39 thoughts on “The Zari Patka in Delhi : A Talk by Uday S. Kulkarni

  1. Looks like the Marathas though excelled in land based warriors their negligence of their navy and management of finances seems to have led to their eventual downfall

  2. With all due respect to you Kulkarniji, it is now time that we ditch Grant Duff. He pretended to be neutral but in those days that is 1826 when the History by Grant Duff came out, it had to be vetted and screened by cunning disciples of Richard Wellesley, namely John Malcolm, Mountstuart Elphinstone, Arthur Wellesley and some new disciples.

  3. If you will investigate more deeply, you will find that Nadir Shah ran away fearing getting trapped in Delhi and then the prospect of facing our Rau. I would also like to correct you that Baji Rao was a great statesman having learnt the art from his father. Testimony is the series of mature letters that he had written to his great brother, Chimaji.

  4. I would like to further emphasize here that it is now time to discard political correctness and call a spade a spade. It is a fact that the biggest trophy for which all the Mohammedan invaders endeavoured in India was to destroy idolatory from India for ever. Shah Alam was blinded by Ghulam Kadir, the Rohilla, and for which act he even escaped being punished until Mahadji Scindhia came, was on the grounds that he had handed over the reigns of the Empire to the "infidels" i.e., the Marathas. Even the bigot Tipu Sultan had written a book where he kept dreaming that the flag of Islam was flying all over India. It is now time that we discard this soft approach and hammer in the fact that the Mohammedan idea was to turn India Islamic. And it is a fact that they could not, thanks to the Chhatrapati and the brave Marathas, each one of who will get a proper place in history of India and this will be done by atleast the coming generation, for they endeavoured against all odds, surviving on Jowar and Bajra. Another fact overlooked by the narrators is that the Mohammedan rulers always enjoyed the advantage of being buttressed frequently by fresh blood from the Central Asian states while the Marathas did not have sufficient recruiting grounds. Despite this we survived and threw off the encroachment that was seated even down the South.

  5. This is extremely beautiful. It's like poetry to my ears. Very lucid narration of history.
    No biases, and a healthy disclaimer in the beginning.
    Thank you sir, and a lot of respect for all the time you must have spent in reaching this place where you can narrate the story like the back of your hand.
    …ghutne se ghutna, jhangon se jhang…

  6. Colonization happens violently . I would not chracterize , The Southern Kings, Pallavas, Chola, Chera, Pandyas, etc., as Colonizers of South East Asia. Dharma Traditions, Art, Architecture, Culture and Civilizational Acceptance and Embrace happened Peacefully and with Mutual Give and Take.

  7. In Karnataka i recently heard that Martha's looted the temples in Karnataka . Shringeri Math also not Spared .Girish karnada was also present in debate on the subject of controversial TIPU SULTAN jayanthi. Please explain is it happened Hindu king looted Hindu temple.? Some panellists supported Hyder and Tipu with their narrative.

  8. Thank you Sir.
    I understand that the caste system of the Brahmins has destroyed the SUBCONTINENT and the true " Vedic Sanatan Dharma " ways of living. Srimadbhagavat Gita clearly states in Chapter 4 Slok 13 Chatur varna gyan karma vibhagsch, that all the 4 Varna has to QUALIFY for the four careers, and no one is higher or lower, those who do not initiate are 'NASTIK ' . Still the Brahmins /Brahmans, Kshatrayes and Vaishyas do not want to follow the truth stated in the VEDAS, Mahabharata, Scriptures, Upanishads and what SRI Krishna said to SRI Arjuna and us all . Sichchak ho gaye bhachchak, Kaon banega Rachchak. My humble request to all Brahmins /Brahmans , Kshatrayes, Vaishyas to initiate the Sudras and all become "KSHATRIYE " and then train as Soldiers to protect BHARATVARSHA. Unless this is done, we might have to forget about our BHARATIYETA . At the moment in time of Indian history all the people must UNITE together and vote for Modiji Rishirajya Government and also join with Rishi Suresh Chauhankeji for the " Hum ddo humare ddo, tto sab ke ddo ", in both these we MUST stand TOGETHER. I Do not thìnk this is to much to ask ! " YE ARE GOD'S " LOVE MY BHARAT. AUM SHIVOHUM. RUDRA SPEAKING.

  9. Never knew this
    Actually, I never learnt that Maratha were so strong. Text books should have chapters on this. But they have a few paragraphs

  10. So true the story of Marathas has been erased from Delhi. Maybe its because Hindus and Muslims dynasties were working together, and being loyal to each other to extend. Maybe that kind of image is not something the politicians of India want the two communities to have.

  11. it would be better if the speaker used a map with older names of the places to show what he is referring to rather than simply talk and talk. using a map would engage the audience better and also would be helpful for the wider audience like me to learn more and not get bored and fall asleep. I hope you really consider this suggestion.

  12. More than all the history, I'm overwhelmed by his ability to remember so much information, dates, names etc., That was really awesome

  13. Wow, I dont remember ever I was so engrossed for this long, I watched through this at one stretch. Thank you sir for this brief but concise account of history for a particular period of time.

  14. जाट कहां हैं उन के योगदान को क्यों नहीं बताया जाता शिवाजी के जन्म से 6साल पहले गोकुला जाट के इतिहास को भी पढाओ
    जाटों के डर से ही औरंगजेब 17 साल तक दिल्ली आगरा में रहने से डर गया था औरंगजेब का इतिहास पढें एक डरपोक और धूर्त आदमी था गोकुला जाट ने और मुगलों की पूरी फौज का खाप सेना के 20000हजार जवानों के साथ 4 दिन तक लडाई चली थी मुगलों की तरह सेनाओं की धज्जियां उडा के रख दी थी औरगजेबं ने कुरान की कसमें खा के संधि का प्रस्ताव रखा 50000 के लगभग मुगल सैनिक मारे गए थे जाटों की सेना में भी 7000 जवान बचे थें तो गोकुला ने औरंगजेब का संधि का प्रस्ताव मान लिया औरंगजेब ने कुरान की कसम खा के भी धूर्त कर दी गोकुला को गिरफ्तार कर के मुसलिम बनने का प्रयास किया गोकुला ने हंसते हुये कहा था के अगर मुसलमान तेरे जैसे है तो मै तेरे जैसा झूठ बोलने वाले का धर्म गोकुला नहीं बनेगा क्योकि झूठ और धूर्त बनना हमारे खून में ही नहीं है गोकुला को यातनाएं दे के मारा गया था पहले एक हाथ काटा फिर एक घंटे बाद दूसरा 12 घंटे तक उसे तडपाया गया लेकिन उसे मुसलमान नहीं बना पाया पर इस घटना ने बाद जाटों और अन्य जातियों में एक गजब जोश भर दिया था सिकंदरा के अकबर के मकबरे को तोड कर उसकी हड्डियां निकाल के जला दी थी औरंगजेब दक्षिण की तरफ भाग गया था उसने फिर कभी आगरा और दिल्ली की तरफ आने की हिम्मत नहीं जुटा सका था

  15. When a man not loose his honour. When a woman not loose her chastity. When a nation not loose their freedom. When they are looked after, swaraj in mentained.

  16. Mr kulkarni adi shankaracharya was born in 507 BC not 8th century Ad and did established mutts in his 32 years of lifetime

  17. Misplaced compassion n misplaced sense of dharma destroyed us….never read Chanakya showing any mercy….I like his sense of greatness where one got to do everything to kill enemies n save our own kins rather than forgiving enemies without atonement!!!! # Chanakya applied manusmriti to 100% optimisation!!!

  18. Congress and the first education minister Abul Kalam Azad were instrumental in corrupting our history and only highlight muslim glory as if there were no other kingdoms in India. This was a well thought and planned strategy to keep Hindus subdued and show as inferior.

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