Shao – origin of the name – he is released – Tara Bye declares him an impostor, and disputes his pretensions – Origin of the Rajas of Akulkote – Shao obtains possession of Satara – ascends the throne – Origin of the celebrated Ballajee Wishwanath – Proceedings of the Moghuls – Shao’s progress – War with Tara Bye – Agreement with Daood Khan – Death of Dhunnajee Jadow – Tara Bye recovers Panalla, and establishes her court at Kolapoor – Death of Sivajee – Accession of Sumbhajee, and confinement of Tara Bye – Advantages secured to Shao by the death of the Punt Suchew – Dissolution of the agreement with the Moghuls – Mahrattas under Chunder Seyn Jadow proceed to collect their dues – A trifling dispute, between Chunder Seyn Jadow and Ballajee Wishwanath, leads to important consequences – Ballajee is protected by Shao – Jadow retires to Kolapoor, and afterwards joins the Moghuls – Origin of Nizam Ool Moolk – is appointed viceroy of the Deccan – War with the Moghuls – After a battle, the Mahrattas retreat to the Salpee Ghaut – accommodation – Disturbances – A daring robbery, supposed to be committed by Khundee Rao Dhabaray – who establishes himself near Rajpeeplee – Nizam Ool Moolk favours the Kolapoor party – Seedojee Ghorepuray declares for Sumbhajee, and is made Senaputtee at Kolapoor – obtains possession of Sondoor – Great confusion and anarchy – Ballajee Wishwanath is treacherously made prisoner by Dummajee Thorat and ransomed – Success of Ballajee Wishwanath against Kishen Rao Kuttaokur – Defeat of Byhroo Punt Pingley Peishwa, by Kanhojee Angria – Alarming progress of Angria – Ballajee Wishwanath effects a favourable arrangement with him, and is made Peishwa – obtains possession of Poorundhur for himself – reduces Thorat – establishes order in the Poona district – Improvement in the aspect of Mahratta
affairs – allusion to the extraordinary expansion of their power, from about this period – and to the Bramin scheme for creating union amongst the Mahratta chiefs – Character of Shao – The Emperor Ferokhsere conciliates the Mahrattas – Hoosein Ally Khan appointed viceroy of the Deccan – is opposed by Daood Khan, who is killed – Zoolfikar Beg defeated by Khundee Rao Dhabaray – Battle near Ahmednugur. Dhabaray is made Senaputtee – Ferokhsere encourages the Mahrattas to resist the viceroy – the latter negociates with the Mahrattas – concludes a treaty with Shao – marches, supported by a large body of Mahrattas to Delhi – Ferokhsere deposed, and Mohummud Shah raised to the imperial dignity – The famous grants for the Chouth, Surdeshmookhee, and Swuraje delivered to Ballajee Wishwanath – who, accompanied by Khundee Rao Dhabaray returns to Satara – Scheme of the arbitrary division of Mahratta revenue – explained – distributed – Officers appointed to the general superintendence of particular parts of the country – Kanhojee Angria – Mahratta chiefs have assignments of revenue within the districts of each other – Eager desire of all to possess, and to maintain hereditary rights in their native villages.
It has been already mentioned, that upon the fall of Raigurh, the widow and son of Sumbhajee were carried prisoners to the imperial camp. They were received within the enclosure of the royal tents, and at the request of Begum Sahib, the emperor’s daughter, a place was assigned to them near herself, and she continued to show them unremitting kindness during many years of captivity. The boy was at first constantly with her, and Aurungzebe, during his visits to his daughter, took much notice of him. Shao’s original name was Sivajee, but that by which he afterwards became known was a familiar name given him by Aurungzebe, and his choosing to
retain it in preference to that of his renowned grandfather, is as remarkable443 as that our English appellation of “the Sahoo Raja,” meaning the sovereign of the Mahratta nation, applied from his long reign to Shao’s successors as well as to himself, should have had its origin, in an unbecoming pun of the emperor Aurungzebe. The attendants who followed the family into captivity, were allowed to communicate with the Mahrattas in the Moghul army; an indulgence which did not extend to Shao, his mother, or to Muddun Sing, the illegitimate son of Sumbhajee, also made captive at Raigurh. Every kind of intercourse with the Mahrattas in rebellion, was, to all the family and their followers, most strictly forbidden.
Yessoo Bye was a woman of much prudence, and carefully avoided intrigues. When Aurungzebe began to revolve the scheme of releasing Shao, he proposed to marry him to the daughters of two of the most distinguished Mahrattas in the imperial service, and to secure them in his interests by additional favours; these were, Jadow of Sindkheir, to whom the emperor had given the title of Roostum Rao; and Sindia, Patel of Kunneirkheir444, whose illegitimate offspring, as heads of a
Mahratta principality, are well known in the modern transactions of India. Shao was connected with Jadow by the mother’s side, and the proposal being agreeable to all parties, the nuptials were celebrated in a respectable manner, but without pomp; and the emperor, besides conferring favors on Jadow and Sindia, bestowed on Shao the districts of Akulkote, Indapoor, Sopa, and Neywassa, in Jagheer. On this occasion, Aurungzebe, amongst other presents to Shao, gave him a sword he had himself frequently worn, and restored two swords which Shao’s attendants had always urged him, if possible, to recover; the one, was the famous Bhowanee of Sivajee; and the other, the sword of Afzool Khan, the murdered general of Beejapoor, both taken at Raigurh445.
But Aurungzebe, as we have seen, could not resolve on giving effect to this plan, and after his death, Shao continued in the camp of Azim Shah, and was, by that prince, carried to a considerable distance beyond the Nerbuddah, when on his march, at the head of the army lately employed in the Deccan, to contend for the throne with his brother, Sultan Mauzum, who was advancing from Lahore446.
Tara Bye, and her ministers, improved the opportunity which the absence of the main body of the Moghul army afforded. Dhunnajee Jadow
defeated Lodi Khan, the Foujdar of Poona, retook Chakun, and the Mahrattas were rapidly occupying as well as plundering the country, when Azim Shah, by the advice of Zoolfikar Khan, determined to release Shao, but to retain his mother, brother, and family as hostages for his good conduct; promising, however, that in case he should succeed in establishing his authority, and continue stedfast in attachment and allegiance, he should receive the tract conquered by his grandfather from Beejapoor, with an additional territory between the Beema and Godavery447.
Shao sent forward one of his attendants, personally known to Pursojee Bhonslay and Chimmajee Damoodhur, then at the head of some Mahratta troops in Berar and Candeish, for the purpose of announcing his approach and soliciting their assistance. They immediately joined him, and their example was soon followed by Hybut Rao Nimbalkur, Neemajee Sindia, and other chiefs. Letters, intimating his approach, were dispatched by Shao to Tara Bye, but as she did not choose to relinquish a power she had so long held, or renounce her son’s pretensions to the sovereignty, she affected to believe him an impostor, assembled the whole of her ministers, declared her intention of opposing this pretender, and called upon all the principal officers to attest their fidelity to the cause of her son by the most solemn oaths. On their compliance, she appointed Ramchundur Punt, and Neeloo Punt, to assist her with their counsel;
Dhunnajee Jadow, and Pureshram Trimbuck to command in the field; Shunkrajee Narrain to defend the Ghaut–Mahta; and Kanhojee Angria, Sur Kheil, who had been appointed by Raja Ram to the command of the fleet, upon the death of Seedojee Goojur, was placed in charge of the coast. Poond Sawunt, of Waree, also sent assurances of fidelity to Tara Bye.
Shao, on hearing of these proceedings, halted at the Godavery, in hopes of being able to dispel any opinion there might really exist of his being an impostor; but his army having increased to fifteen thousand men, he determined, by the advice of Pursojee Bhonslay, to move forward without farther delay. Dhunnajee Jadow and the Pritee Needhee advanced to oppose him. The people of the country seemed inclined to the cause of Tara Bye; and one village had the audacity to fire on his troops. Several of his men being killed, the place was assaulted, and a severe example made of the offenders. During the attack, a woman bearing a boy in her arms rushed towards Shao, and threw down the child, calling out that she devoted him to the Raja’s service. Shao took charge of him, and in commemoration of his first success, called him Futih448 Sing, to which he afterwards added his own surname of Bhonslay, and always treated him like his own son. Such was the extraordinary origin of the Rajas of Akulkote.
As the armies drew near to each other, means were successfully employed to detach Dhunnajee
Jadow from the cause of Tara Bye; and the Pritee Needhee, finding he was not supported in an action which took place at the village of Kheyr, twenty-two miles north of Poona, withdrew from Dhunnajee’s troops and fled to Satara. Shao, joined by Dhunnajee, advanced to Chundun Wundun, of which he obtained possession. He seized the families of all persons acting against him; sent a summons to Shunkrajee Narrain, Punt Suchew, to deliver up Poorundhur, which he had taken a short time before, and an order to Pureshram Trimbuck to surrender Satara; neither of them obeyed; but Shaik Meerah, a Mahomedan officer who commanded under the latter, confined him, and gave up the fort.
Shao, on obtaining possession of Satara, formally seated himself on the throne, in the month of March, 1708. Gudadhur Prillhad was appointed Pritee Needhee, and Byhroo Punt Pingley was made Peishwa. The brother of Byhroo Punt, Neeloo Punt Moreishwur, who still adhered to Tara Bye, died shortly after at Rangna. Dhunnajee Jadow was confirmed in his rank of Senaputtee, and the right of making collections in several districts was delegated to him. At this period of confusion the revenue was realized on no fixed principle, but levied as opportunity presented itself in the manner of contribution. The principal carcoons employed by Dhunnajee in revenue affairs, were Abbajee Poorundhuree449, Koolkurnee of Sassoor (Sasswur), near Poona, and
another Bramin, Koolkurnee of Sreewurdun, in the district of Choule, a village then claimed by the Seedee, from which, in consequence of some intrigue connected with the Seedee’s enemy Angria, he had fled to Sassoor, and had been recommended to Dhunnajee Jadow by Abbajee Poorundhuree, and Pureshram Trimbuck. The name of this Koolkurnee, afterwards so celebrated as the founder of the Peishwa’s power, was Ballajee Wishwanath Bhutt450.
Meanwhile the two eldest sons of Aurungzebe, Sultan Mauzum, and Azim Shah, had fought a bloody battle near Agra, in which Sultan Mauzum was victorious. The army from the Deccan, commanded by Azim Shah engaged under great disadvantages, owing to the pertinacity of that headstrong prince, who at least accelerated discomfiture by his want of preparation, and by his neglect of arrangement among his troops. He paid the forfeit of his obstinacy with his life. There fell with him, his two sons, together with Turbeeut Khan, Dulput Rao Boondelay, Ram Sing Harra, the gallant Khan Alum, and a great proportion of the officers experienced or distinguished in Mahratta warfare.
Kaum Bukhsh, who was sent to Beejapoor by Aurungzebe a few days before his death, assumed
the ensigns of royalty, and declared himself emperor upon the demise of his father; his authority was at first acknowledged, but having no stability of character, he was soon deserted by most of his troops; he first endeavoured to conciliate the Mahratta Mankurees, who showed some disposition to listen to his overtures, but they were soon disgusted with his petulance and folly. Sultan Mauzum, who had used his victory with moderation, and was now on his march to the Deccan, generously offered him the kingdoms of Hyderabad and Beejapoor; but Kaum Bukhsh preferred the desperate chance of encountering the whole army of Hindoostan, and was killed near Hyderabad, in an attack made upon him by his old and inveterate enemy Zoolfikar Khan, who was joined on the occasion by a body of Mahrattas, sent by Shao, under the command of Neemajee Sindia451.
The affairs of Kaum Bukhsh were considered so desperate, that after he had refused the offer made by Sultan Mauzum, it was conjectured that he intended to follow the example of his uncle, Sultan Mohummud Akber, and retire to Persia; orders were sent to all the seaports to intercept him, and two lacks of rupees, with an extension of the company’s privileges, were promised by Zoolfikar Khan to Mr. Pitt, governor of Madras, if he would apprehend the fugitive. To this Mr. Pitt agreed, but refused the present452.
Zoolfikar Khan, who was in the army of Azim Shah in the battle of Agra, after supporting his reputation as an officer, escaped from the field, and Sultan Mauzum, by the advice of his excellent minister, Monaim Khan, not only pardoned, but promoted him to high rank; conferring on him the viceroyalty of the Deccan, and the title of Umeer Ool Oomrah. By Zoolfikar Khan’s representations, Sultan Mauzum at first lent his countenance to Shao’s party, which tended to increase the Raja’s consequence amongst his countrymen, and would have been followed by more substantial advantages in a formal grant of the Surdeshmookhee, but Monaim Khan, unused to Bramin artifice, having been visited by the Wukeels of Tara Bye, was persuaded by them that Tara Bye’s son, Sivajee, was the lawful Raja of the Mahrattas. Zoolfikar Khan, impatient at his listening to these pretensions, betrayed an irritation which the minister resented, and Sultan Mauzum, unwilling to disoblige Monaim Khan, and at the same time not displeased to find an excuse for deferring such a concession, seemed to comply with the minister’s proposal in favour of Sivajee, and desired that the deeds for the Surdeshmookhee should be made out in his name; he, however, postponed their delivery until the claim to the Mahratta supremacy should be decided, by the issue of the contest which was then in progress between the candidates453.
Shao’s army was cantoned at Chundun Wundun, in the neighbourhood of Satara, during the monsoon,
and he neglected no preparation to enable him to reduce his rival. Amongst other expedients, he made an unsuccessful application to Sir Nicholas Waite, the governor of Bombay, for a supply of guns, ammunition, European soldiers, and money454. At the opening of the fair season, after celebrating the Dussera, preparations were made to renew the war against Tara Bye. Panalla was invested, the siege pressed with vigour, and the Havildar who commanded, offered to surrender on condition of being confirmed in his station.
This proposal was readily acceded to, and Vishalgurh was surrendered by the agent of Pureshram Trimbuck on the same terms. Shao next marched towards Rangna, where Tara Bye then was, but hearing of the approach of the army, she quitted Rangna and fled to Malwan. The Havildar of Rangna refused to surrender, and opposed the besiegers with resolution; an assault was made and repulsed, and Shao, on the approach of the monsoon, abandoning the siege, retired to Kolapoor where he cantoned the troops455.
At the opening of the fair season, it was intended to prosecute the war, but about that time, an agreement was entered into with the Moghuls, which waved the grand question of hereditary claim, and rendered the reduction of Tara Bye a point of less pressing personal interest to Shao. Zoolfikar Khan, who attended the court of Sultan Mauzum on his return to Hindoostan, left Daood Khan Punnee as his deputy in the six Soobehs of the Deccan,
and obtained for him the government of Burhanpoor in addition to his other appointment. Daood Khan settled with such Mahratta chiefs, as acknowledged Shao’s authority, to allow them, with certain reservations, one fourth of the revenue, but reserved the right of collecting and paying it through his own agents. Daood Khan’s intimacy with most of the Mahratta chiefs, his connection with Zoolfikar Khan, and the terms of friendship between the latter and Shao, not only preserved Shao’s ascendancy, but, except in instances where independent plundering bands occasionally appeared, procured a tolerably correct observance of the terms mentioned456.
In the end of the year Shao returned to Satara, and married two wives, one of the Mohitey, and another of the Sirkay family. His other two wives were still with his mother at Delhi, where one of them, the daughter of Sindia, shortly afterwards died. Dhunnajee Jadow, after a long illness, caused by the breaking out of an old wound in his leg, died on his way from Kolapoor, on the banks of the Warna. His carcoon, Ballajee Wishwanath had accompanied him on that service, and during his sickness had the management of all his affairs, which created an unconquerable jealousy on the part of Chunder Seyn Jadow, Dhunnajee’s son, and several Bramins in his service.
The army had scarcely returned to Satara when Tara Bye, encouraged by the Havildar at Panalla, marched towards that place
reinforced by the troops of Poond Sawunt; and it was immediately restored to her. It was now resolved, in order to give her party credit, and the appearance of a rising cause, to make that fort and the neighbouring town of Kolapoor the future residence of her court. Ramchundur Punt continued stedfast in the interest of her party, and Shunkrajee Narrain, likewise maintained her cause.
As the territory of the latter was reckoned the foundation stone of the empire, from Sivajee’s having first established himself there, Shao determined to reduce the Suchew instead of renewing the attack on Panalla. About this time he entertained the design of removing his capital to Ahmednugur, but as it gave offence to Zoolfikar Khan, Shao, at his desire, relinquished the intention457.
An army proceeded towards Poona, and succeeded in obtaining possession of Rajgurh, but most of the Suchew’s forts being well stored with provisions, and garrisoned by veteran Mawulees, were reckoned impregnable. It was, therefore, with no small satisfaction that Shao heard of his having put a period to his existence458, an act which it is said he committed from remorse, in consequence
of having taken a solemn oath, to maintain the cause of Tara Bye, against his lawful prince.
Just at this time, in the month of January, Sivajee, the son of Tara Bye died of the small-pox. This prince was an idiot, but his death occasioned a considerable change at Kolapoor. Ramchundur Punt seized the opportunity to remove Tara Bye from the administration, and to place Sumbhajee, the son of Rajis Bye, the younger widow of Raja Ram, in her stead; a measure, which had the sanction of Hindoo usage, and was therefore supported by common consent. Tara Bye, and Bhowanee Bye, her son’s widow, said to have been pregnant at the time of her husband’s death, were put into confinement, and Ramchundur Punt, unfettered by Tara Bye, began to exert himself with renovated vigour.
But Shao, whilst Daood Khan’s government continued, was secured in the ascendancy; he was also surrounded by most of the experienced ministers, and was totally exempt from that cruelty and excess, which his enemies gave out that he inherited, with many other vices, from his father Sumbhajee. The loss of Shunkrajee Narrain was a severe blow to the cause of the opposite party, and Shao, in that temper of conciliation, for which he is deservedly applauded, seized the advantage which the sanction of lawful authority always bears, and immediately despatched clothes of investiture to Narroo Shunker, son of the late Suchew, then a child of two years old; at the same time confirming, as a matter of course, his mootaliq, or principal agent, in that situation. This measure immediately secured to
him the services of that party, and the Suchew never afterwards departed from his allegiance. Shao was not equally successful in binding all the members of the Pritee Needhee’s family to his interest.
He released Pureshram Trimbuck, restored his honors by the removal of Gudadhur Prillhad, and confirmed him in his former charge of Vishalgurh and its dependancies. The Pritee Needhee sent his eldest son, Kistnajee Bhaskur, to assume the management of the fort and district; but he had no sooner obtained possession, than he revolted, tendered his services to Sumbhajee, and was made Pritee Needhee, at Kolapoor. On this defection Pureshram Trimbuck was again thrown into confinement, and Shao, under a belief that the revolt had been encouraged by him, intended to have put him to death, but he was dissuaded from this design, which, even if just, would have made him odious in the country.
In consequence of changes at the Imperial court, Daood Khan was removed to the government of Guzerat, which dissolved the agreement between the Moghuls and the Mahrattas.
Chunder Seyn Jadow, who had been appointed Senaputtee on the demise of his father, was sent off from Satara with a considerable army, and directed to levy the Chouth, Surdeshmookhee and Ghas-dana from the Moghul districts. He was attended on this occasion by his father’s carcoon, Ballajee Wishwanath, who was now charged with collecting and appropriating a share of the revenue for the Raja, a situation of control, which under no circumstances was likely
to be favorably viewed by the Senaputtee. The jealousy formerly entertained was increased tenfold, and on a very slight cause, arising from a dispute about a deer run down by one of Ballajee’s horsemen, the suppressed enmity burst out in attempted violence; and Ballajee was obliged to flee for his life, first to Sassoor, where the Suchew’s agent in Poorundhur did not think it prudent to protect him, although he begged hard to be permitted to enter that fort. The horsemen, his pursuers, were in sight; but the commander of the fort was obdurate. With a few followers, amongst whom were his sons Bajeerao and Chimnajee, Ballajee Wishwanath attempted to cross over to Pandoogurh, a fort in the opposite valley, but Jadow’s horsemen were already in his route, and searching for him in every quarter. In this dangerous extremity, he contrived to conceal himself for a few days, until two Mahrattas, the one named Peelajee Jadow, and the other surnamed Dhoomal, then common Sillidars in his service, collected, by their influence with their relations, a small troop of horse, and promised to sacrifice their lives, or carry him and his sons, that night, to the Machee459 of Pandoogurh.
Ballajee Wishwanath, as the manuscripts state, did not particularly excel in the accomplishment of sitting upon a horse460,” but the Sillidars, although
they had a skirmish, performed their promise, and the commander of the fort protected him by Shao’s orders. Chunder Seyn Jadow peremptorily demanded his being delivered up to him, and threatened, in case of refusal, to renounce his allegiance forever. Shao was not prepared to punish this insolent demand, but he refused to give up Ballajee, and sent orders to Hybut Rao Nimbalkur, Sur Lushkur, then near Ahmednugur, to march for Satara immediately. In the meantime Ballajee Wishwanath was cooped up in Pandoogurh, which was surrounded by the Senaputtee’s troops. Hybut Rao Nimbalkur, already jealous at not being made Senaputtee, and greatly incensed at Jadow’s behaviour, obeyed the order with all speed; the latter hearing of his arrival at Phultun, quitted Pandoogurh and marched to Dewoor. The armies fought, and the troops of Jadow being defeated, he retired to Kolapoor, accompanied by Ghatgay, Shirzee Rao. The latter was confirmed by Sumbhajee in his hereditary possessions at Kagul, but both went off to meet Cheyn Koolich Khan, (Nizam Ool Moolk,) who had just been appointed, for the first time, to the viceroyalty of the Deccan, and from whom Jadow received a large tract of territory in the neighbourhood of Balkee, twenty-five miles east of Beder, as a Jagheer for the support of his troops461.
After the death of Sultan Mauzum462 in 1712, the distractions which prevailed by the usual contentions of the Moghul emperor’s sons, the subsequent revolution effected for his grandson Ferokhsere, and the barbarous execution of Zoolfikar Khan, were followed by important changes in the government of the Deccan. Of these changes, the first to be mentioned, was of much importance, both as it removed Daood Khan from the government, and as it brought a person to the temporary charge of the viceroyalty, who subsequently bore a leading part in Deccan affairs. This was the appointment of Cheyn Koolich Khan, the son of Ghazee-ud-deen. His original name was Meer Kummur-ud-deen; the title of Cheyn Koolich Khan, with a munsub of five thousand horse, was conferred on him, when a very young man, by Aurungzebe, under whom, in the latter years of that emperor’s reign, he held the important post of Soobehdar in the province of Beejapoor. Cheyn Koolich Khan had materially contributed to the success of the two Syuds, Abdoollah Khan and Hoossein Ally Khan, to whose bravery, skill, and exertions, Ferokhsere owed his throne463. Amongst
courtiers as well as states, friendship is as often the result of common enmity as of common interest; Cheyn Koolich Khan, who was known to have been the enemy of Zoolfikar Khan, was immediately appointed to succeed to the viceroyalty of the deceased minister, and dignified with the title of Nizam Ool Moolk, whilst Daood Khan was removed to the government of Guzerat464.
It was at this period, that the disaffected Senaputtee went over to Nizam Ool Moolk, by whom he was well received, and rewarded in the manner already mentioned. He was accompanied by Ghatgay, Shirzee Rao of Kagul, and an officer named Rumbhajee Nimbalkur; the latter became distinguished in the Moghul service, and got the title of Rao Rumbha, which descended to his posterity. Nizam Ool Moolk, on arriving at Aurungabad, seemed disposed to favour the cause of Sumbhajee, which, without enquiring into the private motives that may have inclined him to that party, was now the wisest policy the Moghuls could have adopted. Jadow, eager for revenge, and Nizam Ool Moolk desirous of suppressing the ravages of Shao’s officers, sent an army against the Sur Lushkur, who retired from the Godavery to the Beema. Shao, in
order to support him, sent forward a body of troops under Ballajee Wishwanath, whom he now dignified with the title of Sena Kurt, or agent in charge of the army. Ballajee effected a junction with Hybut Rao Nimbalkur, who fell back to the neighbourhood of Poorundhur, where they proposed to stand an engagement. A battle was fought in which the advantage claimed by the Mahrattas, is contradicted by their subsequent retreat to the Salpee Ghaut. A detachment of Mahrattas from the Moghul army under Rumbhajee Nimbalkur, took possession of the Poona district, and Rumbhajee obtained a Jagheer in the neighbourhood. At length an accommodation took place, the terms of which are not ascertained, but hostilities ceased, and the Moghuls returned to Aurungabad465. Nizam Ool Moolk kept his troops in motion during the fair season, but after they went into cantonments for the rains, a plan he invariably adopted, the Mahrattas, acting under different leaders, resumed their depredations.
All the Deshmookhs and Deshpandyas, in the Moghul districts of Mahrashtra, fortified the villages where they resided, on pretence of defending themselves, but they frequently joined or assisted their countrymen, of whatever party, in escape, defence, or concealment. One very rich caravan of treasure, escorted by a large detachment under Mohummud Ibrahim Tebreeze, was attacked on the route from Surat to Aurungabad, the troops were entirely destroyed, and the property carried
off466. This robbery was probably committed by Khundee Dao Dhabary. For many years that officer had subsisted his followers in Guzerat and Kattywar, and exacted a tribute in those provinces. He acknowledged Shao as his chief, and when Daood Khan was appointed to Guzerat, he withdrew from the neighbourhood of Ahmedabad, and established himself in the strong country about Naundode and Rajpeeplee467; whence it is likely, from the nature of the attack, this was his first sally.
As Nizam Ool Moolk favoured the Kolapoor party, Sumbhajee’s influence was increased as that of Shao was diminished. Seedojee Ghorepuray468, the son of Byherjee, nephew of the famous Suntajee, and youngest brother of the first Moorar Rao of Gootee, was induced to declare for Sumbhajee, by whom he was dignified with the title of Senaputtee, and several of the Ghorepurays, both of Kapsee and Moodhole, joined the Kolapoor party: but Seedojee and his ally, the Patan Nabob of Savanoor, were too intent on their own schemes of conquest and plunder, to quit the Carnatic. It was about this period that Seedojee made a great acquisition by obtaining possession of Sondoor, a fort situated in a valley of singular strength, within twenty-five miles of Bellary.
Kishen Rao Kuttaokur, a Bramin, raised by the Moghuls469, took post in the country about the
Mahdeo hills, and without joining either party, plundered the districts on his own account. Dummajee Thorat, an officer long under Ramchundur Punt, strengthened a Gurhee in the village of Hinghee or Hingungaom, near Patus, about forty miles east of Poona, and levied contributions for thirty miles round. He was of the Kolapoor party, and acknowledged no chief except his old patron Ramchundur Punt, under whom he had first established himself, and from whom he received Sopa and Patus as a Jagheer, during the siege of Ginjee. Even in Mahratta estimation he was a lawless ruffian470. Oodajee Chowan, another of Ramchundur’s officers and a native of Hutnee, took the Gurhee of Buttees Serala, and in a short time became so formidable, that Shao was glad to enter into a compromise, by conceding the Chouth of Serala and Kurar, which Chowan long continued to receive as a personal allowance. There were several other petty depredators who declared themselves Sumbhajee’s adherents, but the most formidable of all was Kanhojee Angria, then in possession of the coast from Sawuntwaree to Bombay, who was extending his sway over the province of Kalliannee in the Concan.
Such was the state of anarchy which now prevailed, that without a sudden change of fortune, and a greater efficiency in Shao’s government, his authority over the Mahrattas must soon have become nugatory. Ballajee Wishwanath instilled some vigour into his councils, and began to take a lead in public affairs. He proposed to reduce Dummajee Thorat, and set out for that purpose; but he was seduced to a conference, treacherously seized and thrown into confinement, together with his friend Abbajee Poorundhuree, his two sons, Bajee Rao and Chimnajee, and several of their immediate retainers.
Thorat threatened them with the torture of fastening horses feeding bags, filled with ashes, on their mouths, and with ultimate death, unless he received a large ransom for their release. After enduring many indignities, the amount of their ransom was at last agreed upon and paid by Shao, who now applied to the Suchew to stop the progress of Thorat. The Suchew accordingly prepared to attack him; but his troops were defeated, and both the Suchew and his Mootaliq were taken and thrown into confinement at Hingungaom471.
At the same time that the Punt Suchew undertook this service, two expeditions were prepared at Satara: the one, under the Peishwa, Byhroo Punt Pingley, went to protect the Concan and repel Angria; and the other, commanded by Ballajee
Wishwanath, was ordered to suppress Kishen Rao Kuttaokur. This Bramin had become so bold and confident, that he marched to Ound to meet Shao’s troops, but he was totally defeated, principally by the bravery of Sreeput Rao, the second son of Pureshram Trimbuck, the Pritee Needhee, who had urged his son to perform some action which might wipe away the misconduct of his elder brother, and procure his father’s release. Shao, accordingly, once more restored the Pritee Needhee to his liberty and rank. Kishen Rao, after perfect submission, was pardoned, and received the village of Kuttao, in Enam, a part of which is still enjoyed by his posterity.
This success was of considerable importance, but a like good fortune did not attend the Peishwa’s expedition. Byhroo Punt was defeated and made prisoner by Angria. The fort of Logurh was taken; Rajmachee surrendered; and it was reported that Angria was about to march for Satara. All the force that could be spared was collected to oppose him, under Ballajee Wishwanath, who undertook the command, with hopes of being enabled, from his former connection with Angria, to effect an accommodation more desirable than any that might result from a protracted contest with a powerful neighbour. Ballajee knew Angria to be a leader of considerable ability as well as enterprize, and that his resources were not bounded by the extent of the districts in his possession, but were chiefly obtained by daring and extensive piracies. Ballajee was successful in his endeavours; and
Angria, on condition of receiving ten forts472, and sixteen fortified places of less strength473, with their dependant villages; on being confirmed in command of the fleet, and his title of Surkheil, agreed to renounce Sumbhajee, to release the Peishwa, to restore all his conquests, except Rajmachee, and to maintain the cause of Shao.
By this agreement the Seedee found himself deprived of some places of which he had enjoyed the revenue for twenty years. The consequence was, an immediate rupture between that chief and Angria, in which Ballajee Wishwanath, co-operating against the Seedee, invaded his territory, and soon compelled him to submit.
Ballajee having performed this service in a manner so entirely to Shao’s wishes, was received on his return to Satara with the greatest distinction; and in consequence of the failure of Byhroo Punt Pingley, that minister was removed from the dignity of Mookh Purdhan, and Ballajee Wishwanath was appointed Peishwa in his stead. His friend, Abbajee Poorundhuree, was confirmed as his Mootaliq, and Rammajee Punt Bhanoo474 as his Furnuwees.
Mannajee Moray, after the desertion of Chunder Seyn Jadow, had received clothes of investiture as Senaputtee, but had not performed the services that were expected of him; he was now ordered with Hybut Rao Nimbalkur, to accompany Ballajee into the Poona district, for the purpose of reducing Dummajee Thorat. As Ballajee was apprehensive that the Suchew, who was still a prisoner in Hingungaom, might be killed if the place were attacked, he was prevailed upon by Yessoo Bye, the Punt Suchew’s mother, to endeavour to obtain his release before hostilities commenced. This was accordingly effected, and Yessoo Bye, in gratitude to the Peishwa for saving her son, made over to him the Suchew’s rights in the Poona district, and gave him up the fort of Poorundhur as a place of refuge for his family, then residing in Sassoor. On the same pretence, Ballajee obtained a grant of it from Shao, by which concession, that prince forged the first link in the chain which afterwards fettered his own power, and reduced his successors to empty pageants of Bramin policy.
The force assembled in the Poona district was too powerful for Thorat. He was soon forced into the Gurhee of Hingungaom, which was breached and stormed. Dummajee Thorat was made prisoner, and the Gurhee was destroyed.
The Sur Lushkur returned to the Godavery after quarrelling with the Raja for not appointing him Senaputtee, and they were never reconciled. The Peishwa induced the Moghul agent475, in charge of the Poona district,
to make over the superior authority to him, on promising that Rumbhajee Nimbalkur’s Jagheer should be respected. He immediately suppressed a banditti which infested it; gave his attention to restoring order in the villages; discontinued all farming of revenue; and encouraged cultivation, by the usual means of very low and gradually encreasing assessments476.
The affairs of the Mahrattas began to wear a more favorable aspect in all quarters; but, after the confusion, weakness, and total anarchy which have just been described, the rapid expansion of their power from about this period, under the authority of Shao, is, on any view, very remarkable, and at first, until the cause be investigated, might seem quite incredible. The circumstances, however, which preserved that prince’s ascendancy will be satisfactorily explained; and, as to the domestic confusion among the Mahrattas, it may be considered the re-action of their predatory power; – their present state was like a flood with its channel completely obstructed, which rises on its natural barriers, till surmounting or bursting through them it inundates the plains.
The influence of Ballajee Wishwanath continued to increase, and no affair of importance was undertaken without his advice. A conciliatory policy was agreeable to Shao, and dictated all Ballajee’s measures. The system of Sivajee was the groundwork of their arrangements; but, since the time of Sumbhajee, the necessity of preserving the Raja’s supremacy by profusely issuing deeds, confirming
to the successful Mahratta leader the possession of all the territory in which he could establish himself, was ruinous both to their union and resources as a nation. The nature, however, of the tribute which Sivajee’s genius had instituted, suggested a remedy for the endless divisibility which every additional acquisition of territory was likely to create. The expedient adopted, which must have been long contemplated, will be shown in its proper place; and although it but temporarily insured its end, is the most ingenious, as well as the deepest scheme of Bramin policy which is to be found unconnected with their religious system. The ministry, as far as practicable, was composed of the old retainers, and the situations of those who adhered to the Kolapoor party, were conferred on their near relations.
The following is a list of the ministry at this period:–
Pritee Needhee, Pureshram Trimbuck.
The Eight Purdhans.
1. Peishwa, or Mookh Purdhan. Ballajee Wishwanath.
2. Amat. Amba Rao Bappoo Rao Hunwuntay.
3. Suchew. Naroo Shunker.
4. Muntree. Naroo Ram Shenwee.
5. Senaputtee. Maun Sing Moray.
6. Somunt. Anund Rao.
7. Nyadeish. Honajee Anunt.
8. Pundit Rao. Moodhgul Bhutt Oopadheea.
Pursojee Bhonslay and Hybut Rao Nimbalkur both died about this time. The son of the former, Kanhojee Bhonslay, was confirmed by Shao in all his father’s possessions, and succeeded to his title of Sena Sahib Soobeh, but the rank of Sur Lushkur
was conferred on Dowulshee Somwoushee, together with all the rights and honours of the situation. The son of Hybut Rao, whose succession was set aside, quitted Shao’s standard, joined Chunderseyn Jadow, and afterwards received Barsee and other districts as a Jagheer from Nizam Ool Moolk.
Shao was not destitute of ordinary ability, he was naturally generous, liberal to all religious establishments, observant of forms enjoined by the Hindoo faith, and particularly charitable to Bramins. The Ghaut–Mahta and the rugged Concan were his birthright, but unused to climb Ghauts, or wander and live in the wilds of the mountain-forest, like his hardy grand-father, Shao’s childhood was spent within the enclosure of the imperial seraglio, and it is not surprizing, that seduced by the pomp and luxury of which he partook, his habits should have continued those of a Mahomedan. He occasionally showed all the violence of the Mahratta character477, and for the time, anger overcame his indolence, but in general he was satisfied with the respect and homage paid to his person, and the professions of obedience invariably shown by the ministers to his commands; he was pleased at being freed from the drudgery of business, and in following his favorite amusements of hawking, hunting, and fishing; he did not foresee that he was delegating a power, which might supersede his own. As legitimate head of the Mahrattas, the importance of that nation was increased by the manner in which he was
courted by the Moghuls, and the dignities and rights conferred upon him, in consequence of his situation, gave an influence and respect to the name of Shao, which, under other circumstances, he could never have attained. Both the sons of Sivajee followed the example of their father, from the period when he mounted the throne, and always declared their independence; but Shao acknowledged himself a vassal of the throne of Delhi, and whilst styling himself king of the Hindoos, he affected, in his transactions with the Moghuls, to consider himself merely as a Zumeendar, or head Deshmookh of the empire.
The emperor Ferokhsere, soon after his accession, upon the cessation of hostilities at the Salpee Ghaut, appointed Shao to the rank of ten thousand horse478, and for seventeen months, or ‘during the first government of Nizam Ool Moolk, the policy and vigour of that viceroy, had greatly tended to control the Mahrattas.
Ferokhsere, at a very early period, began to entertain a jealousy of the Syuds, to whom he owed his elevation, and mutual distrust soon followed, He consented to appoint the younger Syud, Hoossein Ally Khan, to the viceroyalty of the Deccan; in hopes, that by separating the brothers, he should weaken their power, and compass their destruction. In applying for this appointment, Hoossein Ally Khan intended to follow the example of Zoolfikar Khan, and govern by deputy, but relying on the emperor’s assurances, he was prevailed upon to
depart for the Deccan, openly declaring, however, that if anything should be meditated against his brother, he would be in the capital in twenty days. Ferokhsere, under whose authority Daood Khan was removed to Guzerat, now despatched secret instructions to that officer, to oppose the new viceroy, promising, that if successful, he should be appointed to the six Soobehs of the Deccan in his stead. Daood Khan, from his known influence with the Mahrattas, and other circumstances, was considered a person peculiarly fit for this commission; which, at the command of the emperor, he readily undertook. The only Mahratta, however, that had come forward, or had time to join him, was Neemajee Sindia, who, content with a Jagheer he received from Zoolfikar Khan, in the neighbourhood of Aurungabad, attached himself, during the dissensions of his countrymen, to the Moghul viceroy for the time being.
On the present occasion, in observance of the same temporizing rule, when Hoossein Ally Khan, and Daood Khan came to a battle, Neemajee Sindia galloped about at a distance, awaiting the result, and seeing victory declare in favour of Hoossein Ally, after the death of Daood Khan, the Mahratta congratulated the victor, and joined his standard479.
Ferokhsere, disappointed in his treacherous scheme, but still intent on the destruction of the brothers, with the greatest professions of cordiality, secretly encouraged resistance to the viceroy’s authority, both amongst the servants of his government
and the Mahrattas: a base and silly policy, which, in the end, could hardly fail to meet with its deserts.
The first expedition, directed by Hoossein Ally Khan, against the Mahrattas, was for the purpose of opening the communication between Surat and Burhanpoor, and suppressing the depredations of Khundee Rao Dhabaray, who had established a line of posts along that route, and exacted one-fourth of the effects of all travellers who did not purchase his passport. Eight thousand men were sent off, under Zoolfikar Beg, to destroy this freebooter, but Dhabaray hearing of their march, threw himself in the way, suffered himself to be pursued in the usual manner, until the Moghuls were broken, when wheeling round, the experienced Mahratta, completely defeated them, killed the commander, and plundered his troops even of their clothes480.
Maokoob Sing, the Dewan of Hoossein Ally Khan, set out accompanied by Chunder Seyn Jadow to avenge this disgraceful defeat. Khundee Rao effected a junction with the troops of the Sur Lushkur, and gave the Moghuls battle near Ahmednugur. A severe conflict took place, in which both parties claim the advantage, but the Moghuls returned to Aurungabad481. Khundee Rao Dhabaray, who had been long absent from court, went to Satara after these successes, paid his respects to Shao, and was raised to the rank of Senaputtee of
the empire, Mannajee Moray having been removed for inability and misconduct482.
The Mahratta officers, encouraged by their success and by the secret overtures of Ferokhsere, now extended their encroachments; and in addition to the Chouth which they had agreed to receive from Daood Khan in lieu of all claims, they everywhere levied the Surdeshmookhee.
It was under these circumstances that Hoossein Ally Khan, distracted by Mahratta depredations on one side, and court intrigues on the other, had recourse to negotiations with Shao483. Shunkrajee Mulhar, originally a carcoon under Sivajee, and appointed Suchew by Raja Ram, at Ginjee, retired as has been mentioned, during the siege of that place, to Benares. Having become tired of a life so little in unison with his former habits, he engaged, although then a very old man, in the service of Hoossein Ally Khan when appointed to the Deccan. He soon gained the confidence of his master, and at an early period, entered into a correspondence with his old friends at Satara. He represented to the viceroy, that if the Mahratta claims were recognised, they would have an interest in the prosperity of the country; that this was the only way to restore tranquillity, and a certain means to obtain powerful allies, by whose aid he might rest secure from present intrigues, and eventually defy the avowed hostility of the emperor.
In these opinions, he was supported by Mohummud Anwar Khan, the governor of Burhanpoor, a
person high in the confidence of Hoossein Ally Khan. Shunkrajee Mulhar was, therefore, despatched to Satara, for the purpose of effecting an arrangement and alliance between the Moghuls and his countrymen.
This mission laid open a grand prospect to the aspiring mind of Ballajee Wishwanath. Besides the Chouth and Surdeshmookhee of the six Soobehs of the Deccan, including the Beejapoor and Hyderabad Carnatic, with the tributary states of Mysore, Trichinopoly, and Tanjore, Shao demanded the whole of the territory in Maharashtra which had belonged to Sivajee, with the exception of his possessions in Candeish; but in lieu of which, territory adjoining the old districts, as far east as Punderpoor was to be substituted. The fort of Sewneree was required to be given up, and the fort of Trimbuck restored. The old districts in the Carnatic were also demanded, and a confirmation of some conquests lately made by Kanhojee Bhonslay, the Sena Sahib Soobeh, in Gondwaneh and Berar; and lastly, the mother and family of Shao were to be sent from Delhi, as soon as practicable.
On these conditions, Shao promised to pay to the imperial treasury, – for the old territory, a Peshkush or tribute of ten lacks of rupees:– for the Surdeshmookhee, or ten per cent. of the whole revenue, he bound himself to protect the country, to suppress every species of depredation, to bring thieves to punishment, or restore the amount stolen, and to pay the usual fee of six hundred and fifty-one per cent. on the annual income, for the hereditary right of Surdeshmookh:– for the grant of the Chouth,
he agreed to maintain a body of fifteen thousand horse in the emperor’s service, to be placed at the disposal of the Soobehdars, Foujdars, and officers in the different districts; but upon the grant of the Chouth, no fee was to be paid. The Carnatic, and the Soobehs of Beejapoor and Hyderabad, which were then overrun by the partizans of Sumbhajee, Raja of Kolapoor, Shao promised to clear of plunderers, and to make good every loss sustained by the inhabitants of those provinces, from the date of the final settlement of the treaty.
Shunkrajee Mulhar had already sufficiently proved his desire to forward the interests of his countrymen, and Shao appointed him to conclude the terms, which, according to the above proposals, were, with some exceptions, conceded by Hoossein Ally Khan484.
The territory and forts not under the viceroy’s control were to be recovered at some season of leisure, or, in any manner which Shao might think fit; in the meantime, a body of ten thousand horse were sent to join the viceroy. Suntajee and Pursojee Bhonslay, relations of the Sena Sahib Soobeh, Oodajee Powar, Wiswas Rao, and several other commanders, were detached in charge of the Mahratta troops for this duty. Agents were at the same time sent to inquire into the state of the districts, and collect the extensive shares of revenue now assigned to them, whilst the Bramin ministers were devising a system for realizing their intricate claims,
which it was by no means their object, or their interest to simplify.
The emperor, however, refused to ratify the treaty which had been exchanged, and an unworthy favourite having given him great encouragement in his intrigues for the destruction of the Syuds, he became less guarded in his measures, and an open rupture seemed inevitable. Hoossein Ally Khan, therefore, prepared to march for the capital, and solicited aid from Shao485. Such an opportunity was not neglected. Ballajee Wishwanath and Khundee Rao Dhabaray proceeded to join the viceroy with a large body of troops, for which he agreed to pay them a certain sum daily, from the date of their crossing the Nerbuddah, until their return; and Hoossein Ally Khan further promised, that the treaty should be ratified, and the family of Shao released and delivered to his officers486. Ballajee Wishwanath was instructed by Shao, on his departure, to endeavour, if possible, to obtain the cession of the forts of Doulutabad and Chandah, and an authority for levying the tribute, which had been for some time imposed by the Mahrattas, in Guzerat and Malwa. The plea on which these extraordinary pretensions to tribute were made, was, that the chiefs who had already levied contributions in those provinces, would break in
and plunder, unless Shao could receive such an authority as must oblige the chiefs in question to look to him only for what they termed their established contributions, and that he would, under these circumstances, be responsible for the protection and improvement of the territories.
The combined army marched to Delhi, where the wretched Ferokhsere, as irresolute in his actions as he was bold in his intrigues, could not be prevailed upon to act any consistent part: he was alike submissive and deceitful; the friends, who would have acted for him, were suffered to be removed; and finally, after some tumult, he was confined by the Syuds, and subsequently put to death. Two princes of the royal household succeeded each other on the throne, and died within seven months.
Roshun Ikhtiar, the son of Jehandar Shah, and grandson of Sultan Mauzum, was then raised to the imperial dignity by the title of Mohummud Shah, but the two Syuds, by whom all these changes were effected, conducted the affairs of the empire with absolute sway, and with the usual watchful jealousy of usurpers. They held the reins with a strong hand, but they were naturally desirous of retaining the services of such nobles of experience and ability as were not supposed hostile to their party. Of this number was Nizam Ool Moolk, but that officer was secretly inimical to their power: he had been removed from his government in the Deccan, to make room for Hoossein Ally Khan, and appointed to Mooradabad, where he had distinguished himself by his
activity in reducing to order some rebellious Zumeendars of the province, who had sheltered themselves in the Sewalick mountains. He was recalled to court by the emperor, and remained at Delhi for some time unemployed, but was at last despatched as governor of the province of Malwa, at the recommendation of the elder Syud. Although daring and ambitious, he inherited the temporizing policy of his father, and he was induced, on the confinement of Ferokhsere, to profess his allegiance to the pageant emperor whom the Syuds had set up. He continued in his government of Malwa; but observing the troubles and disorders likely to arise, he waited in expectation of some favourable opportunity to aggrandize himself, during the revolutionary period of which he foresaw the approach.
Ballajee Wishwanath, and his Mahrattas, remained at Delhi until the accession of Mohummud Shah; and during the tumult which preceded the confinement of Ferokhsere, Suntajee Bhonslay and fifteen hundred of his men were killed by the populace in the streets of Delhi487. The army was paid by the Syuds, according to the agreement, and Shao’s mother and family given over to Ballajee Wishwanath. Both the Peishwa and Senaputtee being anxious to return to the Deccan, they were permitted to depart; and, according
to the treaty with Hoossein Ally Khan; they received three imperial grants488 for the Chouth, Surdeshmookhee, and Swuraje. The Chouth489, or one fourth of the whole revenue of the six Soobehs of the Deccan, including the Hyderabad and Beejapoor Carnatic, and the tributary states of Tanjore, Trichinopoly, and Mysore; the Surdeshmookhee490,
or ten per cent, over and above the Chouth; and the Swuraje491, literally meaning our own sovereignty, or the districts possessed by Sivajee at the time of his death, which were granted to Shao, excepting the detached possessions in Candeish, the fort of Trimbuck, with the adjoining district, and the conquests south of the Wurdah and Toongbuddra rivers, which were not ceded. In lieu of such of these claims as lay to the north of the Beema, districts beyond the line of forts from Tattora to Muchindergurh, as far east as Punderpoor, were wholly ceded to Shao, and also those districts which Aurungzebe had promised to him at the time of his marriage in that emperor’s camp.
The country watered by the Yairla, Maun, and Neera, celebrated for good horses and hardy soldiers, and the residence of some of the most ancient families in Maharashtra, who had not hitherto formally acknowledged the descendant of Sivajee, were by this cession placed under his authority.
The Mahrattas pretend, that the conquests in Berar by Pursojee and Kanhojee Bhonslay, and their right to tribute in Guzerat and Malwa, were confirmed at the same time; but although some very indefinite verbal promise may have been given, and Ballajee Wishwanath left a wukeel, named Deo Rao Hingunee, for the purpose, as is alleged, of receiving the Sunnuds, yet subsequent events prove the falsity of the assertion. No such confirmation appears in the imperial deeds; the usual fees levied on an hereditary assignment are specified on the back of the grant for the Surdeshmookhee, but none of the three were given as perpetual alienations.
When Ballajee Wishwanath departed for Delhi, he left his Dewan, Abbajee Poorundhuree, as his Mootaliq or deputy in charge of his seal of office, and the duties of Peishwa continued to be carried on at the Mahratta court in Ballajee’s name. On his return to Satara with the imperial deeds, the scheme for collecting and distributing the revenues, which all admit to have been projected by Ballajee, was examined, and the system before alluded to, which had already been partially introduced, was now generally promulgated. A brief analysis of their plans for collecting and appropriating the revenues, will afford more insight into the character of the people,
and the nature of Bramin power, than the subject promises. It furnishes not only some explanation of the mode adopted for preserving a common interest among the Mahrattas, and affording pretexts for encroaching on the Moghuls, but it exposes the laboured artifice, by which the illiterate Mahratta chief becomes wholly dependent on his Bramin accountant.
The Surdeshmookhee, or ten per cent on the revenues of the six Soobehs of the Deccan, was first set aside, and termed by the ministers the Raja’s Wutun; a gratifying sound to the ears of a Mahratta, whether prince or peasant.
The imposition of the Surdeshmookhee of course reduced in a proportionate degree the actual collections from a country, the resources of which were already drained to the utmost; but the nominal revenue continued the same. To have collected even one fourth of the standard assessment would probably at this period have been impossible; but the Mahrattas, in all situations, endeavoured to secure, in lieu of their Chouth, at least twenty-five per cent of the real balance. But although they seldom could collect it, they always stated the Chouth as due upon the Tunkha, or standard assessment, because, even should a day of retribution arrive, no claim of Peshkush could be made by the Moghuls on that head, as none was specified on the deed.
In regard to the Surdeshmookhee, it suited both their foreign and domestic policy to keep that claim undefined; but one system in practice, that of exacting
as much as they could, was as simple as it was invariable.
Of the seventy-five per cent which remained to the Moghuls, one third, or twenty-five per cent, was received, according to established usage, by the Foujdar, and the balance was collected, sometimes for the imperial exchequer, but generally on account of some Jagheerdar, to whom, as I have already mentioned in a former chapter, the Moghul conquests in the Deccan were assigned for the support of troops. This general mode of appropriating the revenue, accounts for the seizures, resumptions, and cessions of territory, under the name of Jagheer, which was taken, retaken, and interchanged, during the later wars in the Deccan, between the Nizam and the Peishwa. It likewise explains the practice, which prevailed in many villages, even up to the period of the late conquests in Maharashtra by the British Government, of bringing fifty per cent of the net revenue to account under the head of Jagheer, for which the Koolkurnees, in less than a century, could assign no reason except the custom of their forefathers.
The Swuraje, applied in the first instance to that part of the territory north of the Toongbuddra possessed by Sivajee at his death, was, upon the return of Ballajee Wishwanath, extended in its signification to the whole of the Mahratta claims, exclusive of the Surdeshmookhee. Of these claims one fourth, or twenty-five per cent, was appropriated to the head of the state, in addition to the Surdeshmookhee;
and this fourth was known by the name of the Raja’s Babtee492: the balance was termed Mokassa493. Upon the Mokassa there were two shares left at the disposal of the Raja; the one was Sahotra, or six per cent, and the other Nargounda, or three per cent, both calculated on the whole Swuraje. The balance of the Mokassa was sixty-six per cent of the whole of the Mahratta claims, exclusive of the Surdeshmookhee.
The Sahotra was bestowed by Shao on the Punt Suchew, as an hereditary assignment; but it was only collected by the Suchew’s own agents within the territory wholly possessed by the Mahrattas: separate collectors were sent by the Raja to realize it
in distant districts. The Nargounda was granted to different persons, at the Raja’s pleasure.
The Purdhans, independent of salaries from the treasury, had many Enam villages conferred upon them. Ballajee Wishwanath received several districts adjoining Poona, in personal Jagheer, including the fort of Loghur. The Pritee Needhee, the Peishwa, and the Punt Suchew were charged with the collection of the Babtee on the Raja’s account. Thus there were distinct agents for realizing the Babtee and Surdeshmookhee, for the Sahotra of the Punt Suchew, for the Nargounda of the assignee to whom it belonged, and for Mokassa to different officers for maintaining troops.
The Mokassa was distributed amongst a great number of chiefs, as military Jagheer, burdened, according to circumstances, with dues to the head of the state, both of money and of troops. The districts of old Mahratta Jagheerdars were exempted from the Chouth; but they generally were liable to the payment of Surdeshmookhee, besides furnishing their quota of horse. Such Jagheers, in a grant of Mokassa for a large tract, were always stated as deductions, and long before districts were conquered, formal grants and assignments of their revenue were distributed. Numberless personal Jagheers and Enams, of lands and of whole villages, were alienated by Shao: the former commonly required the performance of some service, but the latter were entirely freehold. The Raja’s authority was considered necessary to collect the revenues thus conceded; but authority, for which they were constantly petitioning, was a mere
mockery. The Bramins soon proved, at least to their own satisfaction, that the Raja’s Sunnud was sufficient for levying tribute in districts not specified in the imperial deeds. A district once overrun, was said to be under tribute from usage, whilst the others were plundered by virtue of letters patent.
There were particular quarters of the country assigned to the principal officers, which, as far as they can now be ascertained, were as follow: The Peishwa and Senaputtee, charged with the command of a great proportion of the Raja’s personal troops, were ordered to direct their attention to the general protection and defence of the territory. The former had authority to levy the government dues in Candeish, and part of the Balaghaut; the latter was vested with similar authority in Buglana, and a right to realize the dues established by usage from Guzerat. Kanhojee Bhonslay, the Sena Sahib Soobeh, had charge of Berar Payeen Ghaut, and was privileged to make conquests and exact tribute from Gondwaneh to the eastward. The Sur Lushkur had Gungthuree, including part of Aurungabad; Futih Sing Bhonslay was appointed to the Carnatic; whilst the general charge of the old territory from the Neera to the Warna, and the collections from Hyderabad and Beder, were left to the Pritee Needhee, and the immediate agents of the Raja. The Chitnees had particular charge of several districts in the Concan. The Punt Suchew enjoyed the revenue of the whole Sahotra, besides his old possessions in Jagheer. The agents for collecting the Raja’s Zumeendaree dues were styled Naib Surdeshmookh.
Kanhojee Angria, retaining his districts in the Concan, levied his Chouth, as he termed it, by continuing to plunder the ships of all nations that appeared on the coast. For a time, Angria refrained from molesting the English; but in consequence of his taking the ship Success, under British colours, war was renewed in 1717, and the settlement of Bombay was endangered by his intrigues with a Bramin, known by the name of Rama Kamatty494, who was employed in a confidential manner, and in command of the Sepoys, by the governor, Mr. Charles Boone. On the accession of Mr. Phipps, as president in council, the war was vigorously prosecuted; but Kanhojee Angria continued to deride the efforts495 both of the English
and Portuguese, who united to suppress his piracies. Angria used to pay a tribute to the Raja in guns, muskets, military stores, and ammunition. He also
presented frequent nuzurs, in articles from Europe and China; and he was sometimes charged with a very extraordinary duty, that of executing state criminals.
All the principal Mahratta officers had, as a further means of preserving intercourse and union, particular claims assigned to them on portions of revenue, or on whole villages in the districts of each other. The greatest Mahratta commanders, or their principal Bramin agents, were eager to possess their native village; but although vested with the control, they were proud to acknowledge themselves of the family of the Patel! or Koolkurnee; and if heirs to a miras field, they would sooner have lost wealth and rank than been dispossessed of such wutun or inheritance. Yet, on obtaining the absolute sovereignty, they never assumed an authority in the interior village concerns, beyond the rights and privileges acquired by birth or purchase, according to the invariable rules of the country.
Such is brief outline of the system and arrangements settled by the Mahratta ministry on the return of Ballajee Wishwanath; and such was the mode by which a common interest was created, and for a time preserved, among the Mahratta
chiefs; whilst the character of Shao, the influence and power of Ballajee Wishwanath, the abilities of his sons Bajee Rao and Chimnajee, and the preponderance of Bramin opinion and authority, paved the way, though by gradual steps, for the supremacy and usurpation of the Peishwas.
443. The more remarkable, because reflectively it was an insult, and at best, a very coarse joke. It is either much for, or against the emperor’s bon-mot, that a corresponding word is not easily found in English. Sahoo means the reverse of thief, and was used in allusion to Shao’s father and grandfather, of whom Aurungzebe seldom spoke, but as the thief, the robber, &c.
444. Mahratta MSS. In this chapter, the English reader will find a more than usual number of harsh names, which he may be inclined to think might have been omitted with advantage, but they will, in most instances, deserve attention, as those of the ancestors of the principal Mahratta chiefs.
445. All the three swords are in possession of the Raja of Satara.
446. Khafee Khan.
447. Mahratta MSS.
448. Futih means victory. The child’s father’s name was Lokhunday.
449. The ancestor of the present great family of Poorundhuree.
450. Mahratta MSS. It is proper to mention, that among Mahratta Bramins, Bhutt and Grehust, in speaking of their own cast, are nearly synonymous with clerical and secular. Custom has introduced this distinction. Bhutt, however, in the text, was merely the surname of Ballajee Wishwanath, not a religious appellation.
451. Khafee Khan. Memoirs of Eradut Khan. Original letter from Zoolfikar Khan to Shao.
452. Original letters from the Madras Records. This Mr. Pitt was the father of Lord Chatham.
453. Khafee Khan.
454. Bruce’s Annals.
455. Mahratta MSS.
456. Khafee Khan.
457. Original letters from Zoolfikar Khan.
458. He performed the Jul Sumadh, or voluntary death by water, which is not uncommon among Hindoo devotees. It is effected by placing a wooden platform upon several earthen pots, with their mouths turned down, to which the planks are fastened, and small holes are bored in the earthen vessels; the whole is placed on deep water, on some river accounted holy, and the devotee seats or ties himself on the platform, which gradually sinks with him.
459. Machee is a village attached to all hill-forts, commonly situated on the face of the hill completely under protection, and is sometimes fortified.
460. His biographer adds, “and at this time required a man, on each side, to hold him on.”
461. Mahratta MSS. Hudeequ-i-Alum. This Persian MS. to which I here refer for the first time, is a voluminous history of Nizam Ool Moolk, and his successors. It is a modern, and respectable work, written by Mohummud Aboo Turab, and dedicated to Meer Alum, the well known minister of Nizam Ally. I had two copies of this work, the one was lent to me by Mr. William Erskine.
462. Or Shah Alum the Ist.
463. Khafee Khan, Khuzaneh Amirah, and Muasir Ool Oomrah. The two last Persian authorities are both valuable. The Khuzaneh Amirah was written in the Deccan by Meer Gholam Ally, a native of Belgram, in the province of Oude. He is celebrated as a poet, as well as a historian; he is the author of the Suroo Azad, and his works are much prized by the Mahomedans of the Deccan. The Muasir Ool Oomrah, (Biography of the Moghul nobles) is much celebrated in the Deccan; it was written by Shah Nuwaz Khan, or Sumsam ud Dowlah, with whose public character the reader of oriental history is already acquainted, from the works of Mr. Orme, Colonel Wilks, and others.
464. Khafee Khan.
465. Mahratta MSS.
466. Khafee Khan.
467. Mahratta MSS.
468. Ranoojee the grandson of Suntajee fell in battle.
469. The same whose letter is given in a note, Chapter xi. of this volume.
470. An anecdote of this freebooter is related by his countrymen with much horror. It is necessary to premise, that one of the most sacred of oaths, amongst Mahrattas, is taken by holding the leaves of the tree called Bel, conjoined with Turmeric, which in the Mahratta language is known by the name of Bandar. Thorat was accused of having forfeited his oath, and treacherously seized Ballajee Wishwanath, after swearing on the Bel-Bandar. “And what of that,” said Thorat, “don’t I eat Bandar daily, and what is Bel, but the leaves of a tree?”
471. Naroo Shunker, the Punt Suchew, was then a child; but amongst Hindoos, the guardian generally considers the presence of his ward necessary on occasions of importance.
472. These were, 1. the island of Kenery (Kundeyree), 2. Kola-bah, 3. Severndroog, 4. Viziadroog, 5. Jyegurh, 6. Deodroog, 7. Kunnikdroog, 8. Futihgurh, 9. Oochitgurh, 10. Yeswuntdroog.
473. 1. Byroogurh, 2. Kotla, S. Vickutgurh, 4. Manikgurh, 5. Mirggurh, 6. Sagurgurh, 7. Russalgurh, 8. Palgurh, and Ramdroog, 9. Gurhee Karaputtun, 10. Ramdroog, 11. Rajapoor, 12. Amber, 13. Sataolee, 14. Kamtey, 15. Sreewurdun, and 16. Munrunjun. (Copy of original papers.)
474. Ancestor of the celebrated Nana Furnuwees.
475. He was a Mahratta, named Bajee Kuddum.
476. Mahratta MSS.
477. In comparison with the Bramins, the Mahrattas are extremely violent, which forms a striking contrast with the inflexible placidness which the former can command.
478. Original letter from Ferokhsere to Shao.
479. Khafee Khan.
480. Khafee Khan, Muasir Ool Oomrah, and Mahratta MSS.
481. Mahratta MSS., and Khafee Khan. I have here rather followed the Mahratta, than the Moghul account, because subsequent events corroborate the former.
482. Mahratta MSS.
483. Khafee Khan, and Mahratta MSS.
484. Mahratta MSS. Copy of an original memorandum, and several original papers. Khafee Khan also partially confirms this account.
485. The Moghul historians mention that the viceroy pretended to receive from Shao, a son of Sultan Mohummud Akber, then residing at the Mahratta court. The Mahrattas do not record this circumstance, but, although very possible, as it was attended by no result, I have rejected it.
486. Khafee Khan, and Mahratta MSS.
487. Seyr Mutuakhereen, and Mahratta MSS. In the latter, the manner of his death is differently related; but here, the former is the preferable authority. He is said to have been the natural son of Pursojee Bhonslay. The Seyr-ul-Mutuakhereen is a well-known Persian work, which was translated into English by a renegado Frenchman, named Mustapha. His manuscript translation is in the library at the India house.
488. The original grants are in possession of the Raja of Satara: they are in the name of Mohummud Shah, dated in the first of his reign, A.H. 1131, 1719. The emperor Mohummud Shah was not, in fact, placed on the throne till 1720; but during the months that intervene between his elevation and the dethronement of Ferokhsere, two princes had filled the throne, whose names were expunged from the records.
489. The deed for the Chouth is dated 22d Rubbee Ool Akhir, A.H. 1131, and grants to Shao, the fourth of the whole revenue of the six Soobehs of the Deccan, simply on condition that he shall maintain fifteen thousand horse, for the purpose of assisting the military governors in preserving order and tranquillity in the country.
490. The Surdeshmookhee grant is dated 4th Jummadee ool Uwul, or twelve days after that of the Chouth. It does not specify in the body of the deed that it is granted as an hereditary right; but the customary fee on such occasions is stated on the back of the instrument, as will be seen in the accompanying extract, which also shows the estimated revenue of the six Soobehs of the Deccan, as registered by the Moghuls. The fee so calculated was commuted to 11,719,390 rupees, in consequence of the depopulated state of the districts.
|The Surdeshmookhee estimated in rupees, at||18,051,730||0||0|
|Peshkush, or established fee on hereditary rights conferred, 651 per cent||117,516,762||0||0|
|The immediate payment on delivering the deed, one-fourth, or||29,379,190||8||0|
|The remainder, payable by instalments||88,137,571||8||0|
491. The following is a list of the sixteen districts included in the grant of the Swuraje. 1. Poona, 2. Sopa, including Baramuttee, 3. Indapoor, 4. Waee, 5. The Mawuls, 6. Satara, 7. Kurar, 8. Kuttao, 9. Maun, 10. Phultun, 11. Mulkapoor, 12. Tarla, 13. Panalla, 14. Azerah, 15. Joonere, and 16. Kolapoor. The Pergunnas north of the Toongbuddra, including Kopaul, Gudduck, Hullyal, and all the forts which were captured by Sivajee. The Concan, consisting of, 1. Ramnugur, including Gundavee, 2. Jowur, 3. Choule, 4. Beemgurh, 5. Beemree, 6. Kalliannee, 7. Rajpooree, 8. Dabul, 9. Jowlee, 10. Raja-poor, 11. Ponda, 12. Akolah, and 13. Koodal. The above contain all that is useful from these deeds: to give a full translation is quite unnecessary, especially as, to the generality of readers, the substance will prove more intelligible.
492. This was to distinguish it from other Babtee, or items of revenue. Thus they say, Surdeshmookhee Babtee, Mokassa Babtee, or items of revenue under these heads respectively.
493. This word was no doubt adopted from the old name of the Beejapoor revenue officer. The Mahrattas are not very choice in their etymology, and appear to have been particularly arbitrary in fixing their revenue nomenclature. Nargounda, for instance, which is a corruption of the common Carnatic name for head Patell (Sur Patell, in Maharashtra), was applied to express 3 per cent upon their whole revenue, exclusive of the Surdeshmookhee. The office of Nargounda, or Nargaora, was common under the Beejapoor government, in the districts south of the Kistna. Nar in the Carnatic is (I believe) applied, like turuf in Maharashtra, as a name for a smaller division of a district, and Gaora is synonymous with Patell. When Shao got possession of Panalla, he bestowed the hereditary right of Nargaora on his Chitnees, which, for some reason unexplained, had been forfeited by a Mahratta named Nagojee Bhaskur to the Beejapoor government. In this case, the Nargaora wutun, having been granted in the Arabic year 1110, 1709–10, before the plan of revenue distribution was thought of, it was simply an hereditary right, as head Patell of the turuf.
494. Probably Komptee. There is a class of Carnatic Bramins so named; but Kamattees are of the labouring class, and much employed in Bombay as palanquin-bearers.
495. The following letter to the Bombay government is a curious specimen of his correspondence. It was received at Bombay, in November 1720, after an attempt on Viziadroog (or Gheriah), by an expedition under Mr. Walter Brown. I have given the letter nearly as it appears on the records, but have taken a few liberties with the translator’s orthography.
Translate of Kanhojee Angria’s Letter to the Honourable the President.
“I received your Excellency’s letter, and have understood all your Excellency writes me. ‘That the differences that continue even until now are through my means; that the desire of possessing what is another’s is a thing very wide of reason; that such-like insults are a sort of piracy; that such proceedings cannot continue long; that had I from my beginning cultivated trade, and favoured the merchant, the port I now govern might, by the divine favour, have in some measure vied with the great port of Surat, and my name have become famous; all which,’ your Excellency says, ‘is not to be brought about but by opening a fair trade; that he that is least expert in war generally comes off a sufferer thereby; and that he who follows it purely through a love that he hath thereto, will one time or another find cause to repent; that if I had considered this something sooner, I might have found some benefit and convenience thereby.’ Your Excellency says, ‘you are very well acquainted with the manner of my government, from its beginning, and for that reason you would not on any account open a treaty with me until I set at liberty the people of your nation that are prisoners here: after that, you would receive any proposition from me that was friendly, or might tend to an accommodation.’
“At all which I very much admire, especially when I find your Excellency persuaded that I have been the cause of the past differences and disputes, the truth of which your Excellency will soon find when you examine both sides; for as touching the desire of possessing what is another’s, I do not find the merchants exempt from this sort of ambition, for this is the way of the world; for God gives nothing immediately from himself, but takes from one to give to another. Whether this is right or no, who is able to determine?
“It little behoves the merchants, I am sure, to say our government is supported by violence, insults, and piracies; forasmuch as Maharaja (which is Sivajee) making war against four kings, founded and established his kingdom. This was our introduction and beginning; and whether or no, by these ways, this government hath proved durable, your Excellency well knows, so likewise did your predecessors; and whether it is durable or no, I would have your Excellency consider, it is certain nothing in this world is durable, which if your Excellency does consider, the way of this world is well known.
“Your Excellency is pleased to say, ‘if I had regard to the weal of the people, and favoured commerce, my power would be much augmented, and my port become like that of Surat;’ but I never have been wanting to favour the merchants, trading according to the laws of this country, nor of chastising those transgressing the same as your Excellency well knows. The increase of power depends on the divine will, in which human diligence little availeth. Until this day, I have kept up the power that was necessary: whether I shall continue it or no for the future, who can tell? but that will be as God is pleased to determine.
“Your Excellency was pleased to write, ‘that war proves most fatal to those where the use of the sword is not understood; but in the government of his Excellency Charles Boone, nobody can say there was not loss on both sides; for victories depend on the hand of God, and for this reason great men take little notice of such losses.
“Your Excellency is pleased to write, ‘that he who follows war, purely through an inclination that he hath thereto, one time or another will find cause to repent; of which I suppose your Excellency hath found proof; for we are not always victorious, nor always unfortunate.
“Your Excellency was pleased to write, ‘that you well understood the manner of my government, and for that reason you could not enter upon any treaty of peace with me, unless I would first set at liberty the people of your nation that are prisoners here. I very well know your Excellency understands the manner of my government from its beginning, therefore this gives me no wonder; but if your Excellency says you will admit any proposition, after having your people released, I must then likewise say, my people are prisoners under your Excellency: how can I then give liberty to yours? But if your Excellency’s intent was cordially to admit any overtures of peace for ending our present disputes, and do really write me for that end concerning the liberty of your people, I am to assure you my intent is cordially the same. It is therefore necessary, that some person of character intervene, and act as guarantee between us, to whom I will presently send your Excellency’s people. Your Excellency will afterwards do the like by mine: the prisoners on both sides, having by this means obtained their liberty, afterwards we shall enter on what relates to our friendship and treaty of peace for the avoidance of prejudice on both sides. For this end, I now write your Excellency, which I hope will meet with regard; and if your Excellency’s intention be to treat of peace and friendship, be pleased to send an answer to this, that, conformable thereto, I may consider on what is most proper to be done. As your Excellency is a man of understanding, I need say no more.”
This collection transcribed by Chris Gage