Transcriber note: There appears to be a composition error in the original document. There is no Chapter XIII, but there are two instances of Chapter XV. This chapter was designated as Chapter XIV, but will be published here as Chapter XIII. This seems to be a safe edit, as the dates appear to be contiguous and the chronology appears to be correct.
Nizam Ool Moolk, throwing of his dependence on the Syuds, determines on possessing himself of the resources of the Deccan – defeats Dilawur Khan, who falls in the contest – Battle of Balapoor – the deputy viceroy Alum Ally Khan slain – conduct of the Mahrattas on the occasion – Hoossein Ally Khan, accompanied by the emperor, sets out from Delhi to quell the rebellion of Nizam Ool Moolk, but is assassinated – Battle of Shahpoor – Syud Abdoollah Khan defeated and made prisoner – Rejoicings at Delhi – promotions – congratulations – Conduct of the new administration – Important changes at the Mahratta court – Deaths of Pureshram Trimbuck, Ballajee Wishwanath and Khundee Rao Dhabaray – elevation of Sreeput Rao and of Bajee Rao. Death of Dummajee Gaekwar, ancestor of the reigning family at Baroda – Negotiations with Nizam Ool Moolk – his views and policy – is appointed vizier of the empire, and proceeds to Delhi – Courtiers conspire against him – Hyder Koolee Khan, governor of Guzerat, incited to rebellion – quelled by Nizam Ool Moolk, who appoints his uncle Homed Khan, governor at Ahmedabad, and returns to Delhi – is appointed Wukeel-i-Mootluq – withdraws from court, and returns towards the Deccan – Proceedings of Bajee Rao – Origin of Holkar and Sindia – Proceedings of Oodajee Powar – Character of Bajee Rao – views directed towards Malwa – opposed by Sreeput Rao – discussions – Commanding eloquence of Bajee Rao – Nizam Ool Moolk, on his return to the Deccan, is opposed by Mubariz Khan – Battle of Shukurkhera – Appointment of Raja Geerdhur Buhadur as governor of Malwa, and of Sur Boolund Khan as governor of Guzerat – the deputy of the latter is defeated by the uncle of Nizam Ool Moolk, assisted by Kantajee Kudum Bhanday – Roostum Ally, governor of Surat, betrayed by Peelajee Gaekwar – is also defeated – Homed Khan grants the Chouth to Kantajee and Peelajee – they quarrel in collecting
it – on which the Chouth of Guzerat, west of the Myhie, is assigned to Kantajee, and that of the country east of it to Peelajee – Sur Boolund Khan marches for Ahmedabad – Battle at the Shah-i-bagh – distracted state of Guzerat – Bajee Rao’s incursions into Malwa – Notice of an expedition to the Carnatic.
The measures which the Syuds adopted were the reverse of conciliatory; they were respected by the people, but they neither gained the good-will of the nobility, nor of the pageant emperor whom they had raised. Nizam Ool Moolk, governor of Malwa, who always meditated the means of aggrandizing himself, encouraged by these appearances of discontent, and secretly incited by persons in the confidence of Mohummud Shah, formed the resolution of throwing off his dependence on the Syuds, and of resisting their authority by possessing himself of the resources of the Deccan. He was aided in his projected scheme by Murhummut Khan, a disaffected officer of considerable talent, whom he had gained, and the awakened suspicions of the Syuds determined his purpose.
Assuming the title of Asif-ja, Nizam Ool Moolk crossed the Nerbuddah, at the head of twelve thousand men. The fort of Asseergurh was given up to him by Talib Khan, for a sum of money; Burhanpoor was surrendered by Mohummud Anwar Khan, and the whole of Candeish, in a very short time, submitted. Chunderseyn Jadow, Nimbalkur the son of Hybut Rao the late Sur Lushkur, Rao Rumbha Nimbalkur, several other Mahrattas discontented with Shao, and some
troops belonging to Sumbhajee from Kolapoor, attached themselves to his standard496.
At this juncture there were two armies in the interests of the Syuds, at no great distance from each other; the one under Dilawur Ally Khan, was on the frontiers of Malwa, and the other, was the army of the Deccan, stationed at Aurungabad, with the deputy viceroy, Alum Ally Khan, a nephew of the Syuds, left in charge of the government, when his uncle Hoossein Ally Khan departed for Delhi, to depose Ferokhsere. As the rains were at hand, Nizam Ool Moolk probably contemplated that the advance of the former might be obstructed by the swelling of the Nerbuddah and Taptee, and that he should be able to decide the fate of the Deccan, and become master of its resources, before the deputy viceroy could be reinforced from Hindoostan. Dilawur Ally Khan, however, marched with such rapidity, that he crossed the rivers whilst still fordable, but either incapable of perceiving, or disdaining the advantage which would have been insured, by forming a junction with the troops at Aurungabad, and intent only on attacking his enemy, he marched straight for Burhanpoor. Nizam Ool Moolk prepared to receive him, and being aware of the impetuous character of his adversary, adopted an order of battle suggested by his experience of Deccan warfare: he sent forward and displayed a part of his army, to stimulate the ardour of Dilawur Ally Khan, who rushed upon them, pushed forward in
imagined victory, was drawn into an ambuscade, defeated, and slain497.
Alum Ally Khan, the deputy viceroy, had not assembled the whole of his army, when news of this disaster reached Aurungabad; the troops of Shao, under Kanhojee Bhonslay, the Sena Sahib Soobeh, and Hybut Rao Nimbalkur speedily joined Shunkrajee Mulhar, who, since the departure of Hoossein Ally Khan, had resided with the deputy viceroy, as the envoy of Shao. Khundee Rao Dhabaray, who had just returned from Delhi, was likewise despatched from Satara, with a body of horse. Alum Ally Khan advanced towards Burhanpoor, and sent forward the Mahrattas to harass his opponent. Nizam Ool Moolk, who had been busily employed in preparing his own troops, and sowing sedition among those of his adversary, likewise advanced; but the Poorna river being greatly swollen, his march was for a time interrupted, until a ford was discovered. The Mahratta horse on each side had frequent skirmishes as the Moghul armies approached each other; but Nizam Ool Moolk, previous to engaging, stationed his Mahrattas at a village some distance in the rear. Choosing an arangement nearly similar to that by which his late success had been achieved, Nizam Ool Moolk attacked his adversary at Balapoor in Berar Payeen Ghaut,
drew him into an ambuscade, where, after great efforts of personal valour, and after many of his troops had fled or deserted to his enemy, Alum Ally Khan at length fell, surrounded by Mahrattas slain in his defence. On this occasion the Mahrattas behaved as faithful auxiliaries, and fought with bravery; they lost no person of note, except Shunkrajee Mulhar, who was mortally wounded, and made prisoner498.
The news of this second victory, which was gained by Nizam Ool Moolk, about the end of July, was received at Delhi with consternation by the Syuds, but with secret satisfaction by the emperor. Various were the plans proposed by the two brothers, but it was at last determined, instead of yielding the government of the Deccan to Nizam Ool Moolk, a measure strongly advised by their Hindoo agent, Ruttun Chund, that the younger Syud, Hoossein Ally Khan, should march for the Deccan, taking with him the emperor, and a well appointed army sufficient to crush this formidable rebel.
Accordingly, Hoossein Ally Khan, accompanied by the emperor, having made every preparation, took leave of his brother, and commenced his march southward. The Tooranee Moghuls, friends and countrymen of Nizam Ool Moolk, dreaded the event of a war in the Deccan; but stimulated by the success of Nizam Ool Moolk, whom they considered a chief of their tribe, and encouraged by the connivance of the emperor, a conspiracy was
formed against the life of Hoossein Ally Khan, by three daring individuals, on one of whom fell the lot of striking the blow. The assassin effected his deadly purpose at the expence of his life. The surviving conspirators, Mohummud Amin Khan, and Sadut Khan, joined by Hyder Koolee Khan, immediately placed the emperor at the head of such troops as they could command, proclaimed their resolution of freeing him from the tyranny of the Syuds, and after considerable bloodshed, obtained the ascendancy in camp. An Indian army readily changes masters, and even under circumstances of national hostility, where the commander of the vanquished has been slain, and his followers accept of service from the victor, the new chief, to use their own expression, “whose salt they eat,” frequently advances at their head with as much confidence as if they had never been his enemies; on the present occasion, although the army had previously looked on Hoossein Ally Khan as their master, they were employed under the name and authority of Mohummud Shah. The chiefs of the conspiracy, therefore, after they had prevailed over the immediate dependants of the Syuds, found no difficulty in securing the fidelity of the army, and the imperial standards were advanced towards the capital. Syud Abdoollah Khan, on hearing of this revolution, by means of the treasure at his command, assembled a large army in a few days, and placing on the throne a rival to Mohummud Shah, marched forth to punish the murderers of his brothers. The armies met at Shahpoor, where a bloody contest, long dubious, at length ended in
the defeat of Abdoollah Khan, who was wounded and made prisoner.
Mohummud Shah, on thus becoming entire master of the empire, in gratitude for the services he had experienced, appointed Mohummud Amin Khan his vizier, Khan Dowran received the title of Umeer Ool Oomrah, Kummur-ud-deen Khan, the son of Mohummud Amin, was raised to high dignity, Hyder Koolee Khan, and Sadut Khan, were also promoted, and all those who had distinguished themselves in the battle of Shahpoor, were rewarded and honoured499.
The emperor entered his capital in splendid procession, and for many days nothing was heard but rejoicing and festivity. Letters of submission and professions of loyalty poured in from every quarter; Nizam Ool Moolk offered his congratulations; Shao’s envoy was equally prompt in paying homage, and the chiefs of the European factories, through the different Soobehdars and Foujdars, sent humble offers of congratulation, and best wishes for his majesty’s long and happy reign.
The reign of Mohummud Shah was indeed long, but ages of ordinary decay were crowded into that period. The rapid ruin of the empire, and the terrible fate over-hanging the venerable Delhi, form a melancholy contrast with the gaiety and splendour which now gladdened its inhabitants, and for which the Moghul capital was still celebrated. Suitable answers and returns were made to all the messages, letters, and presents, which,
crowded in upon the young emperor. Nizam Ool Moolk, whose successful revolt had been the primary cause of the present happy revolution, was particularly honoured, and shortly afterwards, in consequence of the sudden death of Mohummud Amin Khan, he was not only permitted to retain his viceroyalty, in addition to his government of Malwa, but raised to the office of vizier of the empire; arrangements, however, in the Deccan and Carnatic, to which we shall presently revert, prevented his appearing at court, until the month of January 1722.
Amongst the appointments of this period, it is proper to mention those of Hyder Koolee Khan, to Guzerat, which he at first governed by deputy; and of Sadut Khan, first to Agra and afterwards to Oude; during the short time the latter held both governments, he also entrusted Agra to a deputy. Sadut Khan has been already mentioned as an active conspirator against his former patrons the Syuds, and he afterwards bore a large share in the events of his time, but he is best known in British India, as the ancestor of the present King of Oude.
The first event which attracted the attention of the new administration at Delhi, and on the issue of which that of all India was probably fixed, arose from the rebellion of the Rajpoot prince of Joudpoor, Ajeet Sing, who, originally in the interest of the Syuds, had possessed himself of Ajimere. Hyder Koolee Khan and Sadut Khan, proposed marching to reduce him to obedience, but Khan Dowran, the principal minister, in the
absence of Nizam Ool Moolk, unwilling to relinquish the command of the expedition, was at the same time afraid of losing his influence when at a distance from the young emperor; he was also averse to quit the pleasures of the capital, and at last assented to the appointment of Kummur-ud-deen Khan for this service. The latter, however, required some preliminary concessions in regard to his powers of command, which could not be complied with; in short, the expedition was abandoned, and the imperial authority compromised, by admitting excuses and professions of submission from Ajeet Sing, which were tendered to the emperor through Khan Dowran. Nor did a mere pardon suffice; by the influence of Khan Dowran, Ajeet Sing was appointed to the government of Agra, in consequence of the assassination of the deputy of Sadut Khan, and thus, as the Khan was not consulted, the emperor’s enemy was conciliated at the expence of his friend.
In the meantime, several important changes had also taken place at the Mahratta court, chiefly owing to the death of three of the principal ministers; Pureshram Trimbuck, Ballajee Wishwanath and Khundee Rao Dhabaray. Sreeput Rao, second son of the Pritee Needhee, had succeeded his father Pureshram Trimbuck previously to the return of Ballajee Wishwanath from Delhi. The Peishwa’s health had suffered considerably from the fatigue of the journey, and the labour he had bestowed on different arrangements after his return: he therefore, obtained permission from the Raja to retire
for a short time to Sassoor, where his family resided, but his constitution being completely exhausted, he only survived a few days500.
He left two sons Bajee Rao and Chimnajee, and two daughters, Bhew Bye married to Abbajee Naik, the brother of Bappoojee Naik, a rich banker of Baramuttee; and Annoo Bye, the wife of Narrain Rao Ghorepuray, of Eettul Kurinjee, connections which have reference to future circumstances. Ballajee’s eldest son; Bajee Rao, was not formally invested with the dignity of Peishwa for nearly seven months after his father’s death; the reason for this delay is no where explained, but it may be attributed to the absence of the principal officers; or Bajee Rao may have joined the army, which did not return beyond the Godavery for some time after the battle of Balapoor.
The troops of Khundee Rao Dhabaray behaved with great bravery on that occasion; and one of his officers, Dummajee Gaekwar, who with several of his sons had long stood high in Khunde Rao’s estimation, had so particularly distinguished himself, that on his return he recommended him to Shao in the warmest manner. The Raja, in consequence, appointed him second in command under Khundee Rao, with the title of Shumsher Buhadur. Such was the origin of the ancestor of the reigning family at Baroda. Neither Dummajee nor Khundee
Rao Dhabaray, survived their return above a few months: the son of Khundee Rao, Trimbuck Rao Dhabaray, was honoured with the dress of Senaputtee in May; the same month in which Bajee Rao received his clothes of investiture, as Peishwa. Peelajee Gaekwar, an active partizan, the son of Junkojee Gaekwar, succeeded to the situation of his uncle Dummajee; and Chimnajee, the second son of the late Peishwa, was appointed to a similar command under his brother. Chimnajee likewise received the district of Sopa, in Jagheer. Abbajee Punt Poorundhuree, their father’s Mootaliq, according to the rule of appointment by the Raja, was re-invested by Shao with scrupulous ceremony. During the interval between the death of Ballajee Wishwanath, and the appointment of Bajee Rao, Abbajee Punt Poorundhuree transacted ordinary affairs with the seal of the late Peishwa; but a great part of the business fell into the hands of Khundoo Bullal Chitnees, and Sreeput Rao, Pritee Needhee. The former gave his attention principally to Angria, the Seedee, and affairs in the Concan; whilst the Pritee Needhee, aided by Anund Rao, Somunt Purdhan, conducted the important negotiations which were pending with Nizam Ool Moolk.
The son of Anund Rao, named Mahtajee, was employed as Shao’s wukeel, and the temporizing policy and character of Nizam Ool Moolk, are strongly marked in his conduct during the year which followed the victory at Balapoor. At first, whilst he apprehended an attack from Hoossein Ally Khan, he cemented his friendship with Sumbhajee,
of Kolapoor, and conciliated Shao by promising to give up all that the royal grants conceded. No sooner was he apprised of the ascendancy acquired by his party at Delhi, and of the loss the Mahrattas had sustained in the death of Ballajee Wishwanath, than he began to start objections to the establishment of Shao’s collectors, founded on some pretensions set up by Sumbhajee and Chunderseyn Jadow. But the wise precautions of Ballajee Wishwanath, and the communion of interest which the distribution of the ceded revenues had produced, placed the Raja of the Mahrattas in a far more commanding situation than that in which he had stood during the first period of the government of Nizam Ool Moolk, in the Deccan. The wukeel remained at Aurungabad, where his arguments would probably have been of little avail, but a vast army of Mahrattas was assembling in Gungthuree, under the Sur Lushkur, and their appearance, no doubt, had considerable effect in expediting the delivery of orders to permit the Raja Shao to establish his collectors. A fresh firman, obtained by the Mahratta wukeel at Delhi, from Mohummud Shah, opportunely arrived to remove from Nizam Ool Moolk the appearance of having yielded to menace, and afforded an opportunity of evincing the promptitude with which he obeyed the imperial commands.
Nizam Ool Moolk, in raising objections, had not contemplated the train which had been laid under the administration of Ballajee Wishwanath; he wished to procrastinate, and to involve the Mahrattas in war with each other, but he was, for
various reasons, desirous not to precipitate hostilities between the Mahrattas and himself: He dreaded the increase of their power, only as far as it affected his own views; the prospect of aggrandizement at the imperial court, which opened to him, upon the death of the Vizier, Mohummud Amin Khan, seemed incompatible with his plan of independent sovereignty, but he was unwilling to relinquish the one or the other.
His prompt obedience to the royal commands may have been favourably viewed by a young monarch, just emancipated, although it confirmed the alienation of half the revenues of the Deccan; but Nizam Ool Moolk, in whatever light his conduct might have been regarded at court, on this occasion had the address to gain the good opinion of Shao, to flatter and conciliate the Pritee Needhee, and to gain the Somunt by bribery.
On a general view, his plans were calculated to preserve his rank at court, and his power in the Deccan; to keep alive the old, and to create new dissensions among the Mahrattas; to preserve a connection with that nation, in case it should ultimately be useful to direct their attacks from his own to the imperial territories; and, however inconsistent some of those designs may seem, in this system of political artifice, through the remainder of a long life, Nizam Ool Moolk, not only persevered, but generally prospered.
His first object was to ascertain by personal observation, the character of the new Moghul government, and what he might expect or apprehend
from the emperor’s present friendship or future enmity. He was on his way to court when he was recalled for a short time in consequence of disturbances in the Beejapoor Carnatic; to which, after concluding some arrangements, he appointed a new Soobehdar, and resumed his march for the capital, where, as already related, he arrived in January, 1722.
Nizam Ool Moolk, on assuming the post of Vizier, endeavoured to effect some reform at court, but the emperor was not only fond of that mirth and festivity, natural to his years, but weak in mind, and, as is generally the case with persons of that disposition, dissolute in his behaviour. The manners of Nizam Ool Moolk were austere, and disagreeable both to the emperor and his courtiers. Prompt at every base intrigue, they soon devised a scheme of freeing themselves from the society of Nizam Ool Moolk. Hyder Koolee Khan had departed for his government at Ahmedabad before the return of Nizam Ool Moolk from the Deccan, and having committed some irregularities, the courtiers by threatening him with punishment from the Vizier, Nizam Ool Moolk, and working on the passions of both parties, soon inflamed them to the utmost, and drove Hyder Koolee Khan to further acts of disrespect and disobedience. Nizam Ool Moolk had censured the manner in which the rebellion of Ajeet Sing had been passed over; and being now offered the post of Soobehdar of Guzerat, with the commission of reducing Hyder Koolee Khan, he readily accepted
it. On this service it was hoped the Nizam might be long employed, or fall a victim to the chances of war.
Hyder Koolee Khan had a well appointed army, and his qualities as a soldier were unquestionable. Nizam Ool Moolk, however, having sent emissaries amongst his troops, the greater part of those on whom Hyder Koolee Khan had reliance deserted, which made such an impression upon him, that he feigned insanity, and fled in dismay to court, leaving his adversary in the undisturbed occupation of the province. Nizam Ool Moolk, on obtaining this intelligence, halted at Oojein, whither most of the principal officers in Guzerat repaired to pay their respects to him. All his appointments and arrangements were made without proceeding to Ahmedabad; and as he took every opportunity of increasing his own resources, and of informing himself of what was passing in the country, he set aside five of the most productive districts in different parts of the province, as his personal Jagheer; these were, Dholka, Baroach, Jumbooseer, Mukboolabad, and Bulsar. The usual establishment of civil and military officers were confirmed or appointed to the imperial districts. The Jagheerdars in that province were on a different footing from those appointed by Aurungzebe in his late conquest of the Deccan, and agents, generally of their own nomination, superintended the revenue and police within their respective boundaries.
Nizam Ool Moolk sent his uncle, Hamed Khan, as his deputy to Ahmedabad, and leaving his cousin, Azim Oollah Khan,
deputy governor of Malwa, he returned to Delhi. But his presence was so disagreeable to the emperor, and mutual disgust was with so much difficulty suppressed, that Nizam Ool Moolk gladly entered into a compromise, accepted the honour of Wukeel-i-Mootluq, or supreme deputy in the empire, and resigned his post of vizier. Soon after, in the month of October, 1723, he took an opportunity, on pretence of going on a hunting excursion, to depart for his viceroyalty in the Deccan; and from that time, although he always professed obedience to the emperor, even when waging war against him, Nizam Ool Moolk became wholly independent, and the countries south of the Nerbuddah, the conquest of which had engaged the Moghul princes in much more than a century of war, were torn for ever from the throne of Delhi501.
Whilst these events were passing in Hindoostan, Bajee Rao, soon after his appointment as Peishwa, set out with an army for Candeish, where he levied
his Mokassa, although not without opposition. From the period of his accession he gave a considerable portion of his attention to extending Mahratta conquests to the northward, and his views were early directed to Malwa.
Circumstances generally obliged him to return annually to Satara and Poona; and during three expeditions, before the rains of 1724, although he had sent detachments into Malwa, it is not ascertained that he crossed the Nerbuddah in person until the end of that year; nor did he remain in Malwa for any length of time, until upwards of eleven years after his accession as Peishwa; various affairs in the Deccan required his presence, which, with the intrigues of Nizam Ool Moolk, and domestic opposition, restrained both his ambition and his enterprize.
Before the year 1724, Bajee Rao had, at different times, defeated the Soobehdar of Burhanpoor; and an officer, named Daood Khan, sent against him by Azim Oollah Khan, from Malwa. In one of these battles, two of Bajee Rao’s officers, who afterwards attained high rank, were first brought into notice: the one, Mulharjee Holkar, was a Sillidar who commanded a party of horse of his own; he was a Mahratta Dhungur, a class of Shooders already mentioned, and a native of the village of Hohl, on the Neera, of which his father was Chougula502; he had served under Kantajee Kuddum Bhanday, one of the Raja’s officers, and had collected a small body of horse. The
other officer was Ranoojee Sindia, descended from a younger branch of the family of Kunneirkheir, a village fifteen miles east of Satara. The Sindias, according to the legends of the country, have been distinguished Sillidars since the time of the Bahminee dynasty; there are two Mahratta families, or rather tribes of this name: the one is distinguished by their hereditary Patell village of Kunneirkheir; and the other, by the appellation of Ruwee503 Rao. Both families claim a Rajpoot descent; those of Kunneirkheir had a munsub under Aurungzebe; and Sindia’s daughter, who was given by that emperor in marriage to Shao, died in captivity at Delhi. Sindia remained faithful to the Moghuls; and as his fate was never known, it is conjectured that he was killed in some distant country504, possibly with Azim Shah in the battle of Agra, in 1707. The family, however, had fallen into decay, and Ranoojee, who revived its fame with additional celebrity, was reduced to a state of abject poverty, serving as a Bargeer, first in the Pagah of Ballajee Wishwanath, and afterwards in that of his son. To contrast his original with his subsequent condition, he is said to have carried the Peishwa’s slippers, and to have been marked by Bajee Rao as fitted for a place of trust, by the care he took of the humble charge committed to him505.
Another officer, who attained additional distinction about this period, was Oodajee Powar Wiswas Rao. His father was first raised by Ramchundur Punt Amat, when he governed the country during the siege of Ginjee, and the young man, having joined Shao, obtained the command of a considerable body of the Pagah horse. He was employed on various services506, and appears to have been an active partizan: like most contemporary Mahratta leaders of experience, such as Kantajee Kudum, Peelajee Gaekwar, and Kanhojee Bhonslay, he calculated on the surest advantage in the more distant ventures, where his appearance was least expected. He made incursions into Guzerat and Malwa; plundered the former as far as Lunawarra, and found the latter province so much drained of troops, that he was enabled to remain some time in the country, intimating to the Raja, that if supported, he might collect the Chouth and Surdeshmookhee in every direction. How long he maintained his station in the country, on his first inroads, is uncertain; but it is probable that he was obliged to retire from Dhar507, where he first established himself upon the appointment of Geerdhur Buhadur, whose exertion in the defence of Malwa, was one principal cause of preventing the Mahrattas, from getting a firm footing in that province, for more than ten years after the accession of Bajee Rao.
The progress of Oodajee Powar, the news of successes
by Kantajee Kudum Bhanday and Peelajee Gaekwar, in Guzerat, and the dissensions between Nizam Ool Moolk and the imperial court, opportunely occurred to favour the Peishwa in his views of extending the Mahratta conquests in Hindoostan, which were, at first, disapproved by Shao, and from prudential motives, as well as party feelings, strongly opposed by Sreeput Rao, the Pritee Needhee; but here, some explanatory digression is required.
The reader has already obtained considerable insight into the character of Nizam Ool Moolk. That of his great rival, though occasional ally, Bajee Rao, might have been allowed to develop itself; but the history of the period is intricate, owing to the varying plans, or the domestic affairs of the different powers, the vast space to which attention must be directed, and the numerous actors that will start up every year to consequence or to sovereignty; but the leading personages are, the Nizam508 and the Peishwa.
Bajee Rao was early trained to habits of business by his father; he had accompanied him to Delhi, and was present at one or more interviews which took place between Ballajee and the Raja Jey Sing of Jeypoor, a circumstance which promoted a future connection with that celebrated chief. Bred a soldier as well as a statesman, Bajee Rao united the enterprise, vigour, and hardihood of a
Mahratta chief, with the polished manners, the sagacity, and address which frequently distinguish the Bramins of the Concan. Fully acquainted with the financial schemes of his father, he selected that part of the plan calculated to direct the predatory hordes of Maharashtra in a common effort. In this respect the genius of Bajee Rao enlarged the schemes which his father devised; and unlike most Bramins, of him it may be truly said, he had both the head to phi.% and the hand to execute. To the assiduous industry and minute observation that seem inherent in his cast, he superadded a power of discrimination that taught him to direct his mind to those leading points of political importance, which tended so materially to extend Mahratta sway, during the period of his administration.
Besides his foreign enemies, Bajee Rao had a domestic rival of some abilities in the Pritee Needhee. Jealousy, in public situations, is a passion which the most subtle Bramins can rarely command or conceal; it prevails in a remarkable degree amongst all of them, but it is most conspicuous between Bramins of different tribes509. The rivalry of Sreeput Rao tended to preserve the Raja’s ascendancy, as head of the state, for a longer period than it might otherwise have existed; but whilst it usefully controlled the conduct of Bajee Rao and Chimnajee Appa, both of whom are said to have been naturally domineering, it also, for some years, cramped the efforts of the Peishwa, obliged him to return to Satara more frequently
than was conducive to the success of distant expeditions, and aided Nizam Ool Moolk in his endeavours to excite internal dissensions amongst the Mahrattas.
The Peishwa’s first proposal for exacting, what he called the established tribute from Malwa, and extending Mahratta conquests into Hindoostan, was violently, and as already noticed, for a time successfully opposed by the Pritee Needhee. The latter represented it as “rash and imprudent; – that the head of the state might not be called upon to account for casual inroads, but that to grant such an authority to the Mookh Purdhan, must draw upon them the whole power of the empire, and precipitate hostilities with Nizam Ool Moolk, whose victorious army was still at their gates. That so far from being prepared for resistance, there was a total want of regularity even in the arrangements laid down, that they could scarcely quell a common insurrection, and that entering on a war, when they had not yet secured what had been ceded, was the extreme of folly and of rashness.” The Pritee Needhee added, that “he was a soldier as well as the Peishwa, and as ready as Bajee Rao could be to head any expedition, when it might become expedient; that after they had established their collectors, and arranged other parts of the country, it would be advisable, before pursuing their conquests in the north, to reduce the Carnatic, and recover the territories conquered by Sivajee; – that although Futih Sing Bhonslay held Sunnuds for collecting the Mokassa of the Carnatic, his troops, from the power of Sumbhajee,
at Kolapoor, and his abettors, Chowan, Ghorepuray, and the nabob of Savanoor, could scarcely venture to cross the Kistna, and that the first effort should, therefore, be made in that quarter.”
Such were probably the real opinions of Sreeput Rao, but the wisdom of Bajee Rao was of a much higher order. He comprehended the nature of predatory power; he perceived its growth in the turbulence and anarchy, for which the system of distributing the revenue was the first remedy; he foresaw, that confusion abroad would tend to order at home; and that as commander of distant expeditions, he should acquire the direction of a larger force than any other chief of the empire: that the resources of the Deccan would not only improve by withdrawing the hordes of horse which unprofitably consumed them, but must fall under the control of that person who could most readily procure employment and subsistence for the troops; and who, at the same time, could conciliate, as well as overawe, the insubordinate and predatory bands, of all casts and descriptions, composing the Deccan soldiery.
Whilst he suppressed his latent designs, and partly admitted the justice of Sreeput Rao’s observations, he endeavoured, by his commanding eloquence, to arouse enthusiasm or ambition in the Raja, by recapitulating the conquests of his illustrious grandfather, and reminding him of the powerful kings, the mighty emperor, with whom he had successfully contended: he painted the present condition of India, – the weakness, indolence, and imbecility of the Moghuls, – the activity, energy
and enterprize of the Mahrattas; he observed, that “if the great Sivajee had been of the same opinion as the Pritee Needhee, he would have thought it necessary, before venturing into the Carnatic, to reduce Beejapoor and Golcondah. As to their domestic quarrels beyond the Kistna, it would be time to think of them hereafter; and that by the influence of the Raja’s good fortune, every desire would be accomplished.” After a speech on one occasion of considerable length, which seemed to have a great effect on Shao and all present: “Now is our time,” said this gallant Peishwa, “to drive strangers from the land of Hindoos, and to acquire immortal renown. By directing our efforts to Hindoostan, the Mahratta flag in your reign shall fly from the Kistna to the Attock.” – “You shall plant it on the Himmalya,” exclaimed the Raja510, “you are indeed a noble son of a worthy father.”
Bajee Rao improved the opportunity by urging Shao not to think of minor objects, and alluding to the Moghul empire, “let us strike,” said he, “at the trunk of the withering tree, the branches must fall of themselves511.”
At what time this consent was obtained, or in what year the original commission was issued, is not ascertained. The form of obtaining the Raja’s authority, on all such occasions, was rigidly observed by the Peishwas, at a stage when their supremacy was very far advanced; because, by virtue
of that authority, and their station as Mookh (or chief) Purdhan, even when their usurpation became complete, it suited the Bramin character, of acting as nominal servants and real masters, to rule the Mahratta chiefs as the delegate of their Prince.
But as both the remote and immediate causes of the Mahratta power are only to be explained by fixing our attention, as much on the general state of the country, as on their domestic policy, the affairs of the Moghuls are now, more than ever, interwoven with this history.
The departure of Nizam Ool Moolk for his government in the Deccan, in a manner which bespoke distrust, aggravated by contempt, excited anger and revenge in the mind of the emperor. Secret orders were sent to Mubariz Khan, Soobehdar of Hyderabad, to raise an army, and oppose Nizam Ool Moolk. The viceroyalty of the Deccan, for which he received a firman, was to be the reward of his success.
Nizam Ool Moolk endeavoured, by his usual artifice of creating sedition, to break the power of his rival, and remained some months negotiating before he advanced against him. He at last arrived at Aurungabad, in July 1724, and after protracted discussion, when his plans had partly succeeded, he took the field, and a decisive battle was fought at Shukurkhera, about the 1st October, in which Mubariz Khan, after great efforts of personal valour, was surrounded and slain. He was gallantly supported by four of his sons, two of whom fell with him, and two were desperately wounded. Nizam Ool Moolk sent the Khan’s
head to court, with a congratulatory letter on the victory attained by the emperor’s arms.
When Mubariz Khan began to make head in the Deccan, he threw a strong garrison into Golcondah, under Khwajeh Ahud, another of his sons, supported by Sundool Khan, who had long been governor of that place: many other forts were commanded by officers in his interest, and as his cause was popular, Nizam Ool Moolk saw the necessity of gaining or reducing Khwajeh Ahud, and of obtaining possession of the forts as soon as possible. He, therefore, marched towards Hyderabad, where, after some time, he effected his design by conciliation. The emperor, in order to reduce the power of Nizam Ool Moolk as much as possible, had issued a firman, depriving him of his governments in Guzerat and Malwa; Sur Boolund Khan was appointed to the former, and Raja Geerdhur512 Buhadur to the latter; as the troops in the interest of the Nizam had been withdrawn from Malwa to support his pretensions in the Deccan, the Raja Geerdhur occupied the province without opposition513.
Shujaet Khan was appointed deputy governor of Guzerat by Sur Boolund Khan; but although Hamed Khan, who had been left in charge of the province, on the part of his nephew Nizam Ool
Moolk, could not prevent his occupying the capital, he determined not to relinquish his government without a struggle. Having repaired to Dohud, he invited Kantajee Kudum Bhanday, one of Shao’s officers, to join him; an invitation, which Kantajee, on promise of getting the Chouth, readily embraced. They first came to Kuppurwunj, where Hamed Khan, having established a correspondence with his friends at Ahmedabad, procured correct intelligence of Shujaet Khan’s movements, watched his opportunity, and attacked, defeated, and slew him, within a few miles of Ahmedabad, where Hamed Khan’s authority was again acknowledged. On this event, Roostum Ally Khan, the brother of Shujaet Khan, Foujdar of Surat, who had just gained some advantages over Peelajee Gaekwar in the neighbourhood of that city, made a truce with Peelajee, and invited him to join in an attack on Hamed Khan. Peelajee had been previously engaged by the emissaries of Nizam Ool Moolk, to assist his uncle Hamed Khan, but accepted the overtures of Roostum Ally, until he could ascertain precisely which side was the most advantageous. He accompanied Roostum Ally towards Ahmedabad, crossed the Myhie at Fazilpoor, and had a skirmish with Hamed Khan at Arass, where Roostum Ally drove back his opponents by the fire of his artillery. By this time, Peelajee had made his bargain with Hamed Khan, and recommended Roostum Ally to charge the fugitives, leaving his guns to the care of a party in the rear; a fatal advice, which Roostum Ally had no sooner followed than Peelajee overturned the gun
carriages, and joined in attacking his late ally. Roostum Ally defended himself with bravery, until his reduced numbers showed him the impossibility of escape, when he stabbed himself to the heart, in order to avoid the ignominious treatment he expected in case of being made prisoner.
Peelajee’s treachery was rewarded by an equal share of the Chouth with Kantajee, and both, in conjunction, proceeded to levy their assignments. But the division of the money led to perpetual disputes; Peelajee, as the agent of Dhabaray Senaputtee, considered himself the superior authority in Guzerat, and Kantajee, as an officer of the Rajas, despised his pretensions. For some time these differences only produced heavier impositions on the towns and villages; until, on their approach to Cambay, where they began as usual to burn the suburbs for the purpose of intimidation, the inhabitants, aware of their dissensions, affecting to consider Kantajee the superior, sent a messenger to Peelajee hinting this circumstance, and offering him ‘20,000 rupees to leave the place. Peelajee, exasperated by the insult, confined the messenger, Kantajee insisted on his being released, and both flew to arms to assert their prerogative. After a severe conflict, within sight of the walls, Peelajee was discomfited, and retired to Mahtur, a village near Kaira. The contribution from Cambay was levied by the victor, and five thousand rupees demanded from the English factory, where the agents pleaded exemption, in consequence of privilege of trade from the “Shao Raja,” but at which “the armed villains,” as Mr. Innes, the chief of the
factory, in bitterness of heart, terms them, “only laughed.”
Hamed Khan, foreseeing the desertion of one or other of his allies, made them sign an agreement, by which the Chouth east of the Myhie was assigned to Peelajee, and that to the west to Kantajee. The Mahrattas still preserved their original custom of retiring to quarters during the monsoon; and soon after the battle at Cambay, Peelajee retired to Sonegurh, near Surat, and Kantajee to a Jagheer district he held in Candeish.
Sur Boolund Khan, who had been unjustly removed from Cabul, was, at this season of difficulty, courted by the emperor, and earnestly solicited to repair to his government in Guzerat, for the purpose of suppressing the formidable insurrection of Hamed Khan. The emperor was the more urgent, as he had been disappointed in a scheme he had meditated of controlling the Tooranee Moghuls, by the release of Abdoollah Khan, the elder of the Syuds who dethroned Ferokhsere; but the unprincipled courtiers sacrificed him to their envy and fear, and removed him by poison. Sur Boolund Khan consented to assume the government, and every facility being afforded, as he was an excellent and popular officer, a large army was soon assembled under his command, and though delayed for a time by the emperor’s professing his intention of accompanying him, at last proceeded on his route to Ahmedabad. Nizam Ool Moolk, aware of the abilities of his uncle’s opponent, wrote to him to resign the province with a good grace, but Hamed
Khan, not choosing to follow this suggestion, prepared to defend himself. He had almost despaired of being joined by the Mahrattas, and was obliged to leave Ahmedabad defended by a weak garrison, and retire before the advanced division of Sur Boolund Khan’s army. He had only reached Mahmoodabad when he heard that the Mahrattas had crossed the Myhie, and as soon as they joined him, he returned to Ahmedabad. But a party in the city, in order to pay court to the new governor, had overpowered his troops and forced them out. Hamed Khan encamped at the Shah-i-Bagh, a royal garden still in existence, on the day that Sur Boolund Khan’s advanced troops arrived at Udaledje; but as some of the gun carriages belonging to the main body had broken down, this advanced force discovered that they were farther from support than they had contemplated, and hearing of the proximity of Hamed Khan, immediately took the alarm and began to entrench themselves. This precaution encouraged the Mahrattas; and Hamed Khan, watching their humour, led them on to attack the intrenched camp, where he gained a complete victory. But the advantage was purchased with great loss, and the Mahrattas would not risk another battle. Hamed Khan, therefore, became, like them, a mere plunderer, and commenced a warfare on the Mahratta plan. Foujdars were appointed, and the usual arrangements made with more than ordinary vigour by the new governor; but Kantajee, and Peelajee, continued to plunder during the remainder of the season, until
the approach of the rains, when they took their annual flight514. A deceitful calm succeeded; – the fall of the rain brought back the cheering green, and the beautiful province of Guzerat, which, for hundreds of miles, may vie with the finest parks of the nobles of England, was clothed in all its natural beauties, by rapid verdure and luxuriant vegetation. Tranquillity seemed to reign, where a short time before nothing was to be seen, but perpetual skirmishing; murder, and robbery in open day; caravans pillaged even when strongly escorted, and villages burning or deserted515.
Bajee Rao, in the meantime, took advantage of the confusion caused by Moghul dissensions, to carry his arms into Malwa, where, although opposed by Raja Geerdhur, he was successful for two seasons in obtaining plunder and contribution. It is probable that Nizam Ool Moolk may, at least, have connived at his incursions, but there is no proof of any direct communication with the Peishwa. Bajee Rao, by virtue of the authority vested in him by Shao, granted deeds to Powar, Holkar, and Sindia,
to levy Chouth and Surdeshmookhee, and to retain half the Mokassa in payment of their troops.
In 1726, the Peishwa was with a very large army under Futih Sing Bhonslay, which proceeded into the Carnatic, plundered the districts, and levied a contribution from Seringapatam516. No particulars of this campaign have been discovered; but it appears by a letter written twelve or thirteen years afterwards, by Bajee Rao to his brother, that they lost a number of men without gaining advantages which had been anticipated. From his former sentiments, and these symptoms of disapprobation, expressed in the letter alluded to, it may be inferred that Bajee Rao had objected to the expedition; but upon his return to Satara, he found more serious reasons of dissatisfaction in the measures pursued by the Pritee Needhee. The cause of his displeasure originated in the artful schemes of Nizam Ool Moolk, which, but for the penetration and vigour of Bajee Rao, would probably have unlinked the connecting chain, by which Ballajee Wishwanath had joined the interests, as well as the inclinations, of most of the Hindoo chieftains of the Deccan.
496. Mahratta MSS., and Khafee Khan.
497. The Surat records, containing the report of the day (Monday, 20th June, 1720) give a different account, and say, “Nizam Ool Moolk prevented the junction.” That he should do so was probable, but I have followed the concurring testimony of the Moghul historians, supported by Mahratta manuscripts.
498. Khafee Khan, and Mahratta MSS.
499. Seyr Mutuakhereen.
500. One authority, the Calendar of the Poona Duftur, states his death in April 1721; but the origin of the mistake is accounted for by the delay which occurred in the appointment of his successor.
501. Khuzaneh Amirah, Hudeequ-i-Alum, Seyr Mutuakhereen, and Mirat Ahmudee. The Mirat Ahmudee is a voluminous Persian history of Guzerat, written in Ahmedabad: it was commenced 1747, by Alee Mohummud, the son of the Moghul Dewan of the province, assisted by Meetya Lal, a Hindoo, who died before the work was completed. It was finished 1756, by Alee Mohummud. Though not always to be depended upon, it is the best native account of that province, and, conjoined with contemporary English Records, is very valuable. I am indebted to Mr. Romer, the chief of Surat, for the Mirat Ahmudee, and for extracting the whole of the old records of the Surat factory, which he found connected with the history of the Mahrattas. I take this opportunity of expressing my sense of his liberality and kindness.
502. The Patell’s assistant. There are none of the Chougula’s descendants now in Hohl.
503. Ruwee means the sun; but I could not ascertain the origin of the title.
504. Mahratta MSS., and tradition.
505. Mahratta MSS., and Sir J. Malcolm’s Report on Malwa. The same tradition is current in different parts of the country.
506. Original memorandum of instructions, at different times issued by Shao, where Oodajee Powar is mentioned.
507. Dhar is a fortress in the west of Malwa, of great antiquity.
508. Universal custom amongst the English scarcely authorizes this misnomer; but I have sometimes used the Nizam, instead of Nizam Ool Moolk, Nizam Ally, &c., or the Soobehdar of the Deccan.
509. Bajee Rao was a Concanist. Sreeput Rao a Deshist, of the class Yajurwedee.
510. “In the Kunur Khund,” (beyond the Himmalya mountains,) is the literal translation of Shao’s exclamation.
511. Mahratta MSS.
512. He was a Nagur Bramin, a tribe common in Guzerat, who, since the times of the Mahomedan kings of that country, had been distinguished in the Mahomedan service, both as men of business, and as soldiers.
513. Seyr Mutuakhereen, Khuzaneh Amirah, Mahratta MSS., &c.
514. These flights, the Mahrattas term “going to the white crow,” which they say alludes to a bird of passage, like a crow, that comes in some parts of the country once a-year; hence also, they have a phrase for a defeated enemy, “they are off to the white crow.”
515. I have extracted this account from the Mirat Ahmudee, Surat Records, and Khuzaneh Amirah. The last authority mentions a battle near Cambay, in which the Mahrattas sustained a total defeat by Nujeem-ud-deen, and this account is followed by the Seyr Mutuakhereen; but although the skirmishes appear to have been constant, I have not found satisfactory confirmation of any such decisive event, nor of the death of Shaikh Allah Yar, said to have been killed in that action.
516. Mahratta MSS. Colonel Wilks merely notices this incursion. Besides the MSS. already enumerated, I have perused upwards of twenty MS. histories of the Peishwas. Of the best, two were procured by Ballajee Punt Nathoo at Poona, one was given by Mandoo Rao Rastia, one sent by Mandoo Rao Putwurdhun of Merich, and another by Gopaul Rao of Tasgaom. The best Mahratta Buker of the Bhonslays of Nagpoor, is one written for Mr. Jenkins, and sent to me by Captain A. Gordon.
This collection transcribed by Chris Gage