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A History of the Mahrattas

Chapter I – From 1740 to 1749

Operations of the Mahrattas in the Carnatic – Rughoojee Bhonslay endeavours without success to prevent the accession of Ballajee Bajee Rao as Peishwa – A new Governor appointed to Malwa – Peishwa’s petitions to the Emperor – Death of Chimnajee Appa – His son Sewdasheo Chimnajee Bhow – The Peishwa obtains a grant from the Raja – importance attached to it at this period – Bhaskur Punt invades the Bengal provinces – The Peishwa reduces Gurrah and Mundelah – Dummajee Gaekwar invades Malwa – retires – Peishwa confirms Anund Rao Powar in the possession of Dhar – Chouth of the whole of the Imperial territory promised to the Peishwa – Progress of Bhaskur Punt – is at last compelled by Aliverdy Khan to retreat – Rughoojee Bhonslay, in person, invades Bengal – The Peishwa, on promise of the government of Malwa, and other advantages, supports Aliverdy Khan, and defeats the army of Rughoojee Bhonslay – obtains the government of Malwa – returns to Satara – Is obliged to resign Bengal to Rughoojee Bhonslay, to prevent his combining with other Chiefs against him – Affairs of Nizam Ool Moolk – Suppresses the rebellion of his son Nasir Jung – Proceeds to the Carnatic – arrangements – Rughoojee Bhonslay’s troops renew their incursions into Bengal –

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Bhaskur Punt with most of his principal Officers treacherously murdered by Aliverdy Khan – Deogurh and Chan-dab annexed to the territory of Rughoojee Bhonslay – Peishwa’s proceedings – Expedition into the Carnatic under Sewdasheo Chimnajee – Specific agreement with the Rajas of Bundelcund – Rise of Ahmed Shah Abdallee – his first invasion of Hindoostan – is repulsed by the Imperial army, and retreats to Cabul – Death of the Emperor Mohummud Shah – Accession of his son Ahmed Shah – Death of Nizam Ool Moolk – Revolutions in the Carnatic – Nasir Jung with a vast army proceeds to that quarter – Important domestic arrangements of the Mahrattas – Discovery of Ram Raja – Plots and intrigues at Satara during the last illness of Shao – Important deed consigned to the Peishwa – Ballajee’s proceedings on the death of the Raja – Base manner in which he compasses the destruction of Suckwar Bye Sirkay


The army which entered the Carnatic, under the command of Rughoojee Bhonslay, was composed of troops belonging to the Raja, the Peishwa, the Pritee Needhee, Futih Sing Bhonslay, and various chiefs of less note. The Ghorepurays of Sondoor and Gooty, were invited to join, by letters from Shao and the Peishwa; and Moorar Rao1, the grand nephew of the famous Suntajee Ghorepuray, and adopted son and heir of Moorar Rao of Gooty, appeared under the national standard for the first time, since the death of his distinguished and ill-requited relation. He demanded his rank as Senaputtee, or commander in chief, of the Mahratta army, but consented to wave it on obtaining a promise of three districts near the Toongbuddra2. According

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to Mahratta manuscripts, the whole force which entered the Carnatic amounted to fifty thousand men3. They descended by an unfrequented road; appeared in the rear of Dost Ally, in the neighbourhood of the Damulcherry pass, attacked and slew him; defeated his troops, and took his dewan, Meer Assud, prisoner. They commenced levying contributions all over the province, until bought off by Sufdur Ali, the son and heir of the late Nabob, with whom, before retiring, they entered into a secret compact, to return and crush Chunda Sahib, then in possession of Trichinopoly, whose popularity and power had for some time excited the jealousy and apprehension of Sufdur Ali and Meer Assud. No bait could be more alluring to the Mahrattas than Trichinopoly, and the troops only retired two hundred and fifty miles towards Maharashtra, to prepare for the promised conquest, and lull suspicion of an attack4.

Whilst the main body of his army remained encamped on the Sew Gunga, Rughoojee Bhonslay returned to Satara, and endeavoured to prevent Ballajee Bajee Rao’s succession as Peishwa, by proposing Bappoojee Naik5 of Barramuttee, a connection, but an enemy of the late Peishwa, for the vacant office. Bappoojee Naik was possessed of great wealth, and his enmity to Bajee Rao, arose from a very common cause, that of having lent

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money, which his debtor could not repay. Rughoojee’s party used the irritated creditor as their tool, and very large sums were offered to Shao, on condition of Bappoojee’s being raised to the vacant Peishwaship.

The Pritee Needhee, although adverse to the supremacy of the Peishwa, was yet more inimical to the pretensions of Rughoojee, and as he did not engage in the intrigue, Ballajee Bajee Rao, assisted by his uncle Chimnajee, was at last invested in August, 1740. A more serious cause of uneasiness to Ballajee Bajee Rao, arose from his being answerable for his father’s debts, and Bappoojee Naik enforced his demand with all the importunity, and harassing pertinacity, which is often exercised by the Mahratta creditor6. From this persecution,

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Ballajee was relieved by the influence and credit of his dewan, Mahadajee Punt Poorundhuree, a service of which the Peishwa, ever after, retained a grateful recollection.

Rughoojee, on finding his schemes abortive, carried Bappoojee Naik with him towards the Carnatic, and returned to reap the expected harvest at Trichinopoly, accompanied by Sreeput Rao, the Pritee Needhee, and Futih Sing Bhonslay. In regard to the subsequent operations of the Mahrattas in the Carnatic, very little illustrative of what has already been so ably recorded7, has fallen within my observation in the Mahratta country. It appears, however, that the Tanjore state, though then agitated by factions, entered into a friendly correspondence with their countrymen, but whether to avert attack, or to afford assistance, is not mentioned. Trichinopoly surrendered 26th March, 1741, and Chunda Sahib8 was brought a prisoner to Satara, where he remained in custody of an agent of Rughoojee Bhonslay, for about seven years; his complete enlargement having been effected in the year 1748. Moorar Rao Ghorepuray was left in

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command of the fort of Trichinopoly, and a part of his garrison was composed of infantry belonging to the Peishwa. Their expences were defrayed by Shao; besides which, it was settled that 20,000 rupees of the share of tribute from the province of Arcot, should be annually paid to Ballajee Bajee Rao9.

On the death of Bajee Rao, the government of Malwa, being considered disposable, was conferred on Azim Oolah Khan; but this appointment proved merely nominal. One of the first acts of the new Peishwa was to forward petitions to Delhi, respecting various promises made to his predecessor. These applications were transmitted through Jey Sing and Nizam Ool Moolk. A supply of ready money was what Ballajee most earnestly craved, and fifteen lacks of rupees, as a free gift, were granted by the Emperor. Proposals for an agreement10 were then drawn up, in the joint names of the Peishwa and Chimnajee Appa, wherein they request that they may receive the government of Malwa; after which, they promise to pay their respects personally to the Emperor; to prevent every other Mahratta officer from crossing the Nerbuddah; to send a body of five hundred horse under an officer of rank, to remain in attendance on the Emperor’s person; and to ask no more than the gift of money already bestowed. They agree to send four thousand horse for service,

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who will punish refractory zumeendars, as far as their numbers may enable them; and they faithfully promise, not to sequestrate the rent-free lands or jagheers, assigned for charitable or religious purposes.


It does not appear that any notice was taken of the application, but Ballajee, whose disposition was naturally conciliatory, was anxious to have the government of Malwa conferred as a right, according to treaty with his father; and with this view, when Nizam Ool Moolk was marching to the Deccan, in order to suppress Nasir Jung’s disobedience, (a subject to which we shall presently advert,) Ballajee paid him a respectful visit near the Nerbuddah, and sent a body of his troops to join him11. At this period he sustained a great loss in the death of his uncle, Chimnajee Appa, which happened in the end of January 1741. Eleven days previously to the event, Kundojee Mankur, under Chimnajee’s direction, had reduced Rewadunda12, the last place remaining to the Portuguese, between Goa and Damaun. Chimnajee Appa, from his successes against a European nation, has a greater reputation amongst the Mahrattas, as an officer, than he perhaps deserved. Impressed, from obvious circumstances, with an idea, which however true in most instances, it was dangerous for his countrymen to entertain, he believed that the strength of an army lay in its infantry and guns. To this opinion of the father, may probably be traced a prepossession on the part of

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the son, Sewdasheo Chimnajee Bhow13, then a boy of ten years old, which, strengthened by other circumstances, may have led to the injudicious conduct of that campaign, which twenty years afterwards terminated so fatally on the plains of Panniput.

On the demise of his uncle, the Peishwa returned from the northern districts, and spent nearly a year in civil arrangements at Poona and Satara. Continuing to manifest the greatest apparent respect for the Raja, he obtained from Shao a grant, by which the whole of the territory conquered from the Portuguese was conferred on him, and also with the exception of Guzerat, the exclusive right of collecting the revenues, and of levying contributions north of the Nerbuddah.


At the present conjuncture, the authority thus obtained, was of considerable importance. We have briefly noticed in the preceding chapter, the rise and progress of Aliverdy Khan in Bengal; the defeat of Moorshed Koolee Khan, and the conduct of his dewan, Meer Hubeeb. It appears, that immediately after his master’s defeat, Meer Hubeeb had invited Bhaskur Punt, the de-wan of Rughoojee Bhonslay, who was left in charge of the government of Berar during his master’s absence in the Carnatic, to advance into the province of Kuttack; but Bhaskur Punt, having found it necessary to apply for his master’s permission,

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before an answer could be received, and the troops prepared, Aliverdy Khan had conquered the province, and Meer Hubeeb had submitted to his authority14. Another opportunity, however, soon presented itself to Bhaskur Punt of carrying his arms to the eastward; and no sooner had he set out on his expedition, than the Peishwa, eager to establish his power over those territories, for which the authority obtained from the Raja was, as usual, assumed as a right, marched, though late in the season, towards Hindoostan, and made himself master of Gurrah and Mundelah, before the monsoon. He was obliged to encamp on the banks of the Nerbuddah, during the rainy season, and probably meditated an expedition into Allahabad, when he was called upon to defend his rights in Malwa, invaded by Dummajee Gaekwar, and Baboo Rao Sewdasheo.

This inroad seems to have been instigated by Rughoojee, merely to obstruct the Peishwa’s progress to the eastward: and on Ballajee’s arrival in Malwa, the army of Guzerat retired. On this occasion, Anund Rao Powar, to whom Bajee Rao never became reconciled, after his uniting with Trimbuck Rao Dhabaray, was permitted to pay his respects to Ballajee, and was by him confirmed in possession of Dhar and the surrounding districts15; a politic measure which not only secured Powar in his interests, but opposed a barrier on the western side of Malwa, to incursions from Guzerat. Since the Peishwa’s arrival at Mundelah, a negotiation had been going on between him and the Emperor,

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through the mediation of Raja Jey Sing, supported by Nizam Ool Moolk. The chouth of the imperial territory was promised, and a khillut, more splendid than had ever been conferred on his father16, was transmitted to Ballajee. It does not, as may be here remarked, appear that any deed for collecting this general chouth, was ever granted by Mohummud Shah; sums of money, and convenient assignments, were the mode of payment. The object in the pending treaty was, on the part of the Peishwa, to obtain sunnuds for the promised government of Malwa; on that of the court of Delhi, to procrastinate, and to widen the breach between the Peishwa and Rughoojee Bhonslay.

In the mean time, Bhaskur Punt had invaded Bahar: he was induced to make that province the theatre of his first operations, in the expectation of finding the country drained of troops, owing to an insurrection in Kuttack, which had burst forth in consequence of the tyranny and misconduct of the grand-nephew17 of Aliverdy Khan, whom he had left as governor of the province. Aliverdy Khan, as Bhaskur Punt had anticipated, returned to Kuttack for the purpose of quelling the disturbance, which, however, he speedily effected; and in the month of April was already on his march returning to Moorshedabad, when news was suddenly brought to him, that the Mahrattas had entered

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Bahar, emerged from the hills and woods near Ramgurh, turned to the right, and had fallen upon the district of Pachaet, in their usual manner of plundering and extorting.

The Mahratta army consisted of ten or twelve thousand18 horse, and report had swelled their numbers to nearly four times that amount19. Aliverdy Khan, although only at the head of three or four thousand cavalry, and four thousand infantry, resolved to oppose them; but the Mahrattas attacked him with great success, surrounded his army, carried off most of his baggage, and reduced him to great distress. Many of his men deserted or were killed, the whole of what remained amounted only to three thousand, but with these he determined rather to die, than submit to the severe demands which the Mahrattas would have exacted. Although sorely harassed for several days, he fought his way, and made good his retreat to Cutwa. In one of the first attacks, Meer Hubeeb, who was in the army of Aliverdy Khan, having been made prisoner, joined the Mahrattas, and exerted himself so much as to gain the confidence of Bhaskur Punt. That officer proposed retiring for the rains, which Meer Hubeeb opposed, but as Bhaskur Punt could not at first be persuaded to remain, Meer Hubeeb requested command of a detachment, with which he marched to Moorshedabad, rescued his brother,

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who resided in the city, plundered the banking-house of Juggut Sett Alumchund, of the enormous sum of two millions and a half sterling, overtook Bhaskur Punt, and at length succeeded in convincing him that it was better to remain in Bengal, and that it would be preposterous to quit so rich a harvest as he might expect to reap. Accordingly, he wheeled about, and through the aid of Meer Hubeeb, obtained possession of the town of Hooghly by stratagem. Most of the places from Cutwa to the neighbourhood of Midnapoor fell into his hands, and the swelling of the Hooghly alone prevented the Mahrattas from entering the district of Moorshedabad. Whilst affairs were in this state, an officer from the imperial court arrived on the frontiers of the province of Bengal, to demand the arrears of tribute due by the Nabob. Aliverdy Khan represented his situation, and the impossibility of satisfying these just demands, until he could expel the Mahrattas; he at the same time earnestly solicited a reinforcement. Aliverdy Khan likewise applied to the Peishwa, and with a view of inducing him to invade Rughoojee Bhonslay’s districts in Berar, dispatched a considerable sum as a subsidy for that purpose: the convoy, however, was cut off by the order or connivance of Sufdur Jung, the Governor of Oude.

But, whilst thus negotiating for every succour he could devise, Aliverdy Khan wisely placed his chief dependence on his own exertions; he assembled every man he could command, and made vigorous preparations for attacking Bhaskur Punt’s camp at Cutwa, as soon as the season should permit.

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Before the rivers had fallen, he prepared a bridge of boats, which, in the night, he threw first across the Hooghly, and then over the Adjee, which enabled him to gain the opposite bank; although, in consequence of a break in the fastening which had laced the boats together, fifteen hundred men were plunged into the Adjee, and totally lost, before the accident was discovered. The Mahrattas, by whom this attempt was quite unexpected, did not oppose the Nabob, but fled eastward, until they had misled their pursuers in the hills and jungles of Bahar, when they again re-entered the district of Midnapoor. But Aliverdy Khan soon recovered their track, and with the most active of his troops continued to pursue them. They seldom turned except to skirmish, and having lost all confidence, in consequence of an indecisive action which took place at Ballasore, they fled from Bengal, and returned through the province of Orissa to Berar. Rughoojee Bhonslay had arrived with his army from the Carnatic, some time before his fugitive dewan appeared, and having resolved to support his pretensions in Bengal, advanced towards the province by the same route as that by which Bhaskur Punt had entered.

In the mean time, the Emperor, on being apprized of the irruption into Bengal, ordered Sufdur Jung, Nabob of Oude, to drive out Bhaskur Punt; and at the same time applied to Ballajee Bajee Rao, to afford his aid. As inducements to the Peishwa, an assignment on Aliverdy Khan, for the arrears of chouth due from Azimabad, was sent to

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him by the Emperor, and an assurance of confirming him in the government of Malwa. The reward was prized too highly, and the service was too desirable to be refused. Having quitted Malwa, the Peishwa proceeded through the province of Allahabad, and marched straight on Boglipoor. In order to prevent injury to the country, he avoided high roads in the neighbourhood of cultivation, but to the great alarm of the timid inhabitants, who were in terror of an army even of Mahratta friends, he arrived at Moorshedabad.


Rughoojee Bhonslay, with a powerful army, was advancing as an enemy from the eastward, and as Ballajee well knew, that princes are most liberal at such seasons, he pressed the settlement of accounts with Aliverdy Khan before he would take the field. Payment being promised, Rughoojee, who had by that time arrived between Cutwa and Burdwan, decamped, as soon as he heard that a settlement had taken place, and retreated towards the hills. Aliverdy Khan instantly marched in pursuit; but Ballajee, who intended to act according to his agreement, seemed to have a poor opinion of the Nabob’s ability to pursue Mahrattas. He therefore took another road, soon passed the Bengal troops, and in a few days overtook, attacked, and defeated Rughoojee’s army20. Bhaskur Punt, who was at

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the head of a party in reserve, immediately retreated through Orissa; but Ballajee Rao, after his victory, returned to Malwa, in order to secure the long promised government.

The conduct of the Peishwa in the late campaign left no reasonable excuse on the part of Mohummud Shah for refusing to perform the engagement; but to save the credit of the imperial name, the feeble palliative of conferring the appointment on the Peishwa, as the deputy of Prince Ahmud, the Emperor’s son, was adopted at the suggestion of Jey Sing and Nizam Ool Moolk, through whom the transaction was concluded21.

The rest of the treaty differs little from the former proposition, made in the joint names of Ballajee and his uncle, Chimnajee, as already detailed; but instead of four thousand, Ballajee promised to furnish twelve thousand horse, the expence of the additional eight thousand being payable by the Emperor22.

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From the period of Ballajee Rao’s accession, the most friendly intercourse subsisted between him and Jey Sing; several written agreements are preserved, containing mutual assurances of alliance and support. Jey Sing was guarantee for the observance of the treaty with Mohummud Shah, and there is another remarkable reservation for the imperial dignity affixed to the treaty in question, by bringing forward Mulhar Rao Holkar, Ranoojee Sindia, and Peelajee Jadow, as the securities; who, in due form declare, that should the Peishwa recede from his duties they will quit his service. An absurd pledge, for the fulfilment of an agreement, from those whose interest lay in dissolving it; and which does not so much prove the consequence to which those commanders had attained, as the state of humiliation to which the Emperor was reduced. There might be political design mixed with this plan of security, for feeble governments are full of far-fetched artifice; but the imperial court, if it thus projected its own salvation by dissensions among its enemies, did not reflect on their relative situations, nor perceive that Mahratta combination was likely to be ensured, until the Moghul empire was totally subverted.

The Peishwa returned to Satara, to pay his respects and go through the form of producing his accounts of the revenue. These accounts were made out by the Peishwa, as a general in command of a body of the Raja’s troops; the receipts, disbursements, and balance, were set forth; and it is a remarkable fact, that after the Rajas of Satara had become perfect ciphers in the Mahratta government,

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the Peishwa’s accounts continued to the last to be made out in the manner described.


But other reasons of great importance, required Ballajee’s presence at this juncture. Rughoojee Bhonslay, after his defeat, had sent Wukeels to the Peishwa, assuring him of his sincere desire of reconciliation, and of his being now fully convinced that the plans of Bajee Rao, were those best suited to his own, and the real interests of the Mahratta nation. He continued the same professions with apparent sincerity, but as he was on full march towards Satara, the Peishwa thought it necessary to be on his guard, particularly as Dummajee Gaekwar was also approaching. The Pritee Needhee had become infirm by sickness, but his Mootaliq, Yemmajee Sewdeo, was an active, able man, adverse to the Peishwa’s supremacy, and although not leagued with Rughoojee, was intimately connected with the faction of Dhabaray. Under these circumstances, Ballajee Bajee Rao had to make his election between a war with the Mahratta chiefs, or the resignation of Bengal to Rughoojee Bhonslay. The question did not admit of hesitation, he chose the latter; but it being understood that the country north of the Mahanuddee, as well as the Nerbuddah, was comprehended in his agreement with the Emperor, he made a merit of conceding his right of levying tribute to Rughoojee, and a secret compact, in which the Raja was used as mediator, was finally concluded.

The object of the contracting parties, seems avowedly to have been, not so much an alliance,

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as an agreement to avoid interference with each other. The Raja’s authority was in this instance convenient to both. A sunnud was given to the Peishwa, conferring on him his original Mokassa; all the jagheers bestowed on himself, or acquired by his father and grandfather; the Governments of the Concan, and Malwa; and the shares of revenue or tribute, from Allahabad, Agra, and Ajimere; three talooks in the district of Patna, twenty thousand rupees from the province of Arcot, and a few detached villages in Rughoojee’s districts. On the other hand, it was settled that the revenues and contributions from Lucknow, Patna, and Lower Bengal, including Bahar, should be collected by Rughoojee Bhonslay. The latter was also vested with the sole authority of levying tribute from the whole territory from Berar to Kuttack.

It was agreed that Dummajee Gaekwar should be obliged to account to the Peishwa, for the amount of the contributions he had levied in Malwa, but nothing was urged at this time, respecting the large arrears due by Dhabary to the head of the government. It does not appear that any settlement was concluded, but Dummajee seems to have remained some time in the Deccan, although his presence was much required in Guzerat. The Peishwa’s southern and eastern boundaries in Hindoostan, were well defined, by the Nerbuddah, the Soane, and the Ganges; but the sunnud delivered on this occasion, authorized him to push his conquests to the northward as far as practicable23.

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With these domestic arrangements of the Mahrattas, Nizam Ool Moolk had no interference. We have already mentioned, that he quitted Delhi in consequence of the meditated rebellion of his son Nasir Jung. On returning to the Deccan in the beginning of 1741, Nizam Ool Moolk used every endeavour to induce his son to submit without coming to hostilities. At last Nasir Jung sent messengers to treat, which so alarmed his partizans, that most of them endeavoured to make the best terms they could. Nizam Ool Moolk gradually drew them over, continued to use fair words towards his son, until, in an emotion of generosity, Nasir Jung hastily sent back the whole of the park of artillery. This concession might have obtained an unreserved pardon, but as soon as Nizam Ool Moolk had him in his power, he wished to humble him completely. Nasir Jung, assuming the garb of a fuqeer, retired in penitence to Rozu, near Doulutabad, but his father continued to manifest the same stern behaviour; till at last, the young man was so much piqued, that he listened to the suggestions of Futih Yab Khan, one of his companions, by whom he was persuaded that he might still compel his father to submit to any terms.

Nizam Ool Moolk, according to his custom, had cantoned his troops for the rains; a part at Aurungabad, and the rest at different towns in the neighbourhood. Futih Yab Khan suggested to Nasir Jung, that they must first seize some strong fort; and undertook to surprise Molheir, of which, Mutuwussil Khan, Nasir Jung’s brother-in-law, was governor. Futih Yab Khan succeeded in the

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enterprize, and Nasir Jung immediately joined him. Nizam Ool Moolk did not expect this attempt, but made no preparation in consequence. Apprized of his supineness, Futih Yab Khan proposed to surprise him in Aurungabad. Nasir Jung advanced from Molheir with seven thousand horse, reached Doulutabad before intelligence of his march had been received, and had he pushed on, would probably have succeeded in taking his father prisoner. He seems, however, to have been seized with some compunction for the part he was acting, and passed the day ill prayer at the shrine of a celebrated Saint; whilst Nizam Ool Moolk, apparently serene, but much alarmed, was calling in his detachments; his gun bullocks were all at a distance grazing, and very few men were in readiness; but he immediately pitched his tents, and moved out from the city. Before next morning, which was the 23d July, he had a respectable force drawn up, with which he coolly awaited the approach of his son, who advanced at the head of his followers, and was repulsed. Finding his troops giving way, Nasir Jung impetuously charged his father’s standard, pushed on towards his elephant, and slew three of his bravest attendants, one after the other. The driver of his own elephant being killed, Nasir Jung sprang into his place; when his brother-in-law, Mutuwussil Khan, approaching him, drew an arrow to the head, which must have transfixed him, had not his son Heedayet Moideen Khan, who sat on the same elephant, stayed his hand, and saved his uncle’s life: at that moment, Syud Lushkur Khan, an officer of experience,

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who knew Nasir Jung, and the pride as well as the generosity of his disposition, pushed his elephant close by the side of his, saluted him, and respectfully made room on the seat of his elephant; when, overcome by this act of courtesy, Nasir Jung took the place, and was thus carried prisoner to Aurungabad. Shah Nuwaz Khan, who, as well as Sur Lushkur Khan, was destined to act a conspicuous part in Deccan affairs, had embarked with his friend Nasir Jung in this desperate enter-prize, stood by him to the last, and must have been cut down, but one of his friends in the army of Nizam Ool Moolk, after Nasir Jung was taken, opening a way by which he might escape, called to him to desist and save himself. He followed this advice, and to the concealment and obscurity in which he was for seven years obliged to live, Indian history is indebted, for his valuable biography, the Muasir Ool Oomrah.

Nizam Ool Moolk was exceedingly gratified by his son’s preservation, but he threw many of his adherents into confinement, and to mark his sense of Nasir Jung’s rebellion, imprisoned him for a short time in the fort of Kandhar, near Nandere, but relieved him before proceeding on an expedition to the southward: his motives for that undertaking we shall now explain.

Whilst the affairs of Bengal occupied the Mahrattas, the attention of Nizam Ool Moolk was directed to the Carnatic, and in his protracted absence from the Deccan, may be perceived the reason of his conciliatory conduct to Ballajee Rao, in aiding his pretensions to the government of

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Malwa. The murder of Sufdur Ali, Nabob of Arcot, by his brother-in-law, Mortiza Khan, in 1742; and the general confusion existing in the Moghul territories south of the Kistna, presented a favourable opportunity for Nizam Ool Moolk’s interference, to establish his power and to restore tranquillity to the country. He accordingly marched from Hyderabad, at the head of an immense army in January, 1743, and upwards of a year was spent in concluding the arrangements he had contemplated. To obtain possession of Trichina poly, was an object of importance, but as matters stood with the Mahrattas, as the acquisition was much prized by them, it must have been an affair of some political management. The family of Ghorepuray, however, was never firmly united with their countrymen, after the murder of Suntajee; it is true, they would rather have joined the Mahrattas, but superior advantages, and the chance of plunder, would induce them to fight on the side of Moghuls or Europeans. Moorar Rao was recognized as Chief of Gooty, by Nizam Ool Moolk24, and evacuated the Carnatic with all his troops, in August, 174325.

The Mahratta armies which assembled at Satara, in the beginning of 1744, were probably contemplated with some anxiety by Nizam Ool Moolk, whose march was soon directed towards Hyderabad, having left Anwar-ud-deen-Khan, at his own request, in charge of the Government of the Carnatic Payeen Ghaut, and appointed his own

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grandson, Heedayet Moideen Khan, better known by his title of Muzuffir Jung, to the Carnatic Bala Ghaut (or Carnatic Proper), conferring on him the district of Adonee, in Jagheer, and fixing his head station at Beejapoor, whilst that of Anwar-ud-deen, continued, as in the time of Daood Khan, and the Newayeteh Nabobs26, at the long established capital of Arcot. Nizam Ool Moolk, finding he had nothing to apprehend from the Mahrattas, directed his attention to affairs of internal government, and reduced several forts, the Killidars of which were in rebellion.

The Mahrattas were too much occupied in their own schemes to think of taking advantage of the Nizam’s absence. Rughoojee Bhonslay, was intent on recovering his lost footing in Bengal, and the Peishwa, in order to excuse himself to the Emperor, for not acting against Rughoojee, remained in the Deccan. Rughoojee had returned to Berar in the rains, but as soon as the season opened, Bhaskur Punt, Alee Kurawul, and several officers of note27, supported by twenty thousand horse, were sent into Bengal by the route of Orissa. Aliverdy Khan prepared his troops, but on pretence of coming to an agreement, opened a negotiation with Bhaskur Punt, invited him to a ziafut, or entertainment, with twenty of his principal officers,

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and most treacherously murdered them. One Surdar, named Rughoojee Gaekwar, who remained in charge of the camp, was the only one out of twenty-two principal officers, who escaped this perfidious massacre: he conducted the retreat of the army to Berar by the same route they had come, but many of the Mahratta stragglers were cut off by the exasperated peasantry.

An opportunity, however, soon occurred of renewing the incursions. An insurrection against Aliverdy Khan’s government, by the Afghans in his service, obliged him to leave Orissa in some degree exposed, and in charge of a Hindoo governor. Rughoojee Bhonslay, apprized of the state of the province, by certain Gosaeens whom he entertained as spies, invaded Orissa, obtained possession of several districts, and demanded thirty millions of rupees, as the price at which he would spare the remainder, and quit the country. Aliverdy Khan contrived to amuse him until he had suppressed the rebellion, when he sent a vaunting message to Rughoojee, which put an end to all negotiation. After the rains, hostilities commenced, but ceased for a time, after a partial defeat of the Mahrattas, at Cutwa28; Rughoojee being obliged to return to his own territories, in consequence of a disputed succession to the principality of Deogurh, in Gondwaneh, where the sons of a Raja, named Bukht Boolund, converted by Aurungzebe to Mahomedanism, had quarrelled, and one of them, named Wullee Shah, not only confined his two brothers, Akbar Shah, and Boorhan Shah, but,

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on being assisted by Neelkunt Shah, another Hindoo renegado, Raja of Chandah, Wullee Shah refused to pay either chouth or surdeshmookhee, to the Mahrattas; Akbar Shah was desirous of obtaining assistance from the Nizam, but Boorhan Shah courted the Mahrattas.

The insurrection of Wullee Shah and Neelkunt Shah, ended in the subjugation of their territory. Deogurh and Chandah were both annexed to the possessions of Rughoojee, but Ruttunpoor was assigned to Boorhan Shah, the brother of Wullee Shah, with an income for his support, and his posterity still reside at the Court of Nagpoor, in the enjoyment of a part of it. Akbar Shah died a pensioner of the Nizam’s government29.


Shortly after Rughoojee had entered Bengal, during the Afghan insurrection, Ballajee Bajee Rao arrived at Belsah, in Malwa, from which place he addressed letters to the Emperor, full of assurances of perpetual fidelity, but excusing himself from paying his respects in the royal presence. He expressed surprise at Aliverdy Khan’s inactivity, in not repulsing Rughoojee, which the Emperor in his reply accounts for, by charging Ballajee, with not having stopped the ghauts in Rughoojee’s rear as pre-concerted. But the agreement which had taken place with Rughoojee, precluded all interference; the Peishwa evaded the discussion, and on pretence of business in the Deccan, after making his annual collections, speedily returned to Poona30.

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In the following year he sent his cousin, Sewdasheo Chimnajee Bhow, accompanied by Sukaram Bappoo31, the Carcoon of Mahadajee Punt Poorundhuree, on an expedition into the Carnatic, to punish some of the Deshmookhs, who had driven out the Thannas of the Peishwa’s old creditor, Bappoojee Naik Barramutteekur. That person, by the interest of Rughoojee Bhonslay, had obtained the chouth and surdeshmookhee, between the Kistna and Toongbuddra, in farm, from the Raja, for the annual sum of seven lacks of rupees; but the opposition he experienced, and the heavy charges for maintaining the troops, totally ruined him in a few years. The expence of the present expedition, which he was compelled to defray, added to his embarrassments, but he would not consent to relinquish the contract, in favour of the Bhow, as was proposed to him. Sewdasheo Chimnajee levied contributions as far as the Toongbuddra, and reduced the fort of Bhadur Benda, to which the Mahrattas had a claim of long standing32. On Sewdasheo Chimnajee’s return from this expedition, he was invested by the Raja, with the same rank as had been enjoyed by his father33, and being ambitious and bolder than his cousin the Peishwa, he began to assume considerable

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power. He chose as his carcoons, Wasdeo Joshee, and Rughoonath Huree, two able men, who had been brought up under Kanhoojee Angria.


The Peishwa himself, concluded a new and more specific agreement with the Rajas of Bundlecund, by which, after deducting the district of Ryhlee, which had been wholly ceded to the late Peishwa, one-third of the territory, estimated at sixteen and a half lacks of rupees34, was made over to Ballajee Bajee Rao, besides a like share from the profits of the diamond mines of Pannah.

The Peishwa during this period of comparative tranquillity in the Deccan, gave encouragement to agriculture, protected the villagers and grain merchants, and improvement was every where visible. But events occurred about this time in Hindoostan, the Deccan, and Carnatic, which were the forerunners of fresh troubles, and great revolutions in every part of India.

The season of 1747-48, is memorable in Hindoostan, by its being the period of the first invasion of Ahmed Shah Abdallee, king of the Afghans, who are distinguished in India by the various appellations of Dooranee, Abdallee, and Giljya35. Ahmed Abdallee, the person who was now their acknowledged sovereign, was son of a chief of a tribe of Afghans, named Abdallee, settled in the province

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of Herat, when it was conquered by Nadir Shah. Ahmed from being the prisoner, became a military follower of Nadir, and was gradually promoted to considerable rank. On the assassination of Nadir Shah, Ahmed left the Persian army with the whole of his tribe, who were in camp, and retiring to Herat, which he occupied, was soon acknowledged as king by the whole Afghan nation, and now possessed the eastern half of the dominions of Nadir Shah.

One of the nephews of Kummur-ud-deen Khan, the Vizier, who had taken charge of the governments of Mooltan and Lahore, in prejudice to his elder brother, was advised by a treacherous Moghul, named Adina Beg Khan, to unite his fortunes with the rising Ahmed Shah Abdallee, an advice which he had no sooner begun to put in practice, than Adina Beg informed his uncle of the circumstance, and the nephew ashamed of his conduct, returned to his allegiance; but the traitor, Adina Beg, had already gone so far in the negotiation with Ahmed Shah, that the latter was not to be interrupted in his progress; his troops advanced, and he obtained possession of Mooltan and Lahore, almost without resistance, and proceeded towards Delhi.


He was, however, at this time successfully opposed by the Mogul army, sent forward by the Emperor, under his son, prince Ahmed, and the Afghan army retreated towards Cabul. On this service, Kummur-ud-deen Khan, the Vizier, having been killed, his son, Meer Munnoo, received the governments of Mooltan and Lahore, and set out to take charge of those provinces.

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Prince Ahmed returned towards Delhi, but before he reached the capital, the Emperor had breathed his last. On the Prince’s accession to the throne, by the title of Ahmed Shah, in the end of April, he bestowed the office of Vizier on Sufdur Jung, Nabob of Oude36. He had offered the Viziership to Nizam Ool Moolk, but he excused himself, on account of his great age, and only survived Mohummud Shah a very short time, having died at Burhanpoor, in his 104th year, on the 19th June, 1748.

Nizam Ool Moolk left six sons, namely, Ghazee-ud-deen, Nasir Jung, Sulabut Jung, Nizam Ally, Mohummud Shureef; and Meer Moghul. The two first were of the same mother, all the others were of different mothers. Ghazee-ud-deen being at Delhi, where he held the rank of Umeer Ool Oomrah, at the time of his father’s death, Nasir Jung assumed the government37.

A few months after the death of Nizam Ool Moolk, the Emperor wrote a letter with his own hand, inviting Nasir Jung in a very pressing manner, to come to court, and the latter had arrived at the Nerbuddah, when the invitation, for some reason not satisfactorily explained, was withdrawn.


This circumstance appeared at the time fortunate to Nasir Jung, as news of an alarming nature had just reached him of a rebellion, headed by his nephew Muzuffir Jung, and aided by Chunda Sahib, with a body of French troops. Very shortly afterwards, intelligence was

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received of the defeat and death of Anwar-ud-deen, Governor of the Carnatic Payeen Ghaut, at the battle of Ambour, on which Nasir Jung applied to Rughoojee Bhonslay, for a body of his troops, promising to grant some cessions of territory, as the reward of their service38. He also summoned the whole of the Moghul dependents and tributaries, in the Carnatic, to be prepared to join his army, as he advanced to the southward. Moorar Rao Ghorepuray, as Jagheerdar of Gooty, the Raja of Mysore, the Nabobs of Kurpa, Kurnoul, and Savanoor, and Mohummud Ally, second son of the late Anwar-ud-deen, with his supporters, the President and Council of the English settlement at Madras, were the principal authorities who joined, or sent their troops to accompany Nasir Jung.

The Deccan, thus completely drained of troops, presented an inviting field to the Peishwa, but domestic arrangements of the utmost importance, demanded, his presence at Satara. The Raja Shao had, for some years, been in a state of mental imbecility39, brought on, it is said, in consequence of the death of his youngest wife, Sagoona Bye Mohitey; but as his health declined, he recovered the

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use of his intellect40, and the dependents of the Peishwa, about his person, urged him to adopt a son. The Raja, on the loss of his only child, some time before his derangement, had declared, contrary to all his former invectives against him, that he would adopt Sumbhajee, Raja of Kolapoor, provided he had issue; but as this was not the case, it was now proposed, that he should institute an inquiry for some of the lineal descendants of Wittoojee, the brother of Mallojee, and uncle of Shahjee. Search was accordingly made, but none were discovered; and it was then suggested to receive the son of some respectable Sillidar, of that Patell family, of which there were a great number. This proposal, however, Shao said, he had a strong reason for declining, and at last, told Mahadajee Punt Poorundhuree, and Govind Rao Chitnees, that Tara Bye, who was still alive, and residing in Satara, had somewhere concealed her grandson Rama, the son of the second Sivajee, who was born in 1712, after the death of his father. It is not known by what means Shao became possessed of

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this secret; and the subject, intricate in itself, has been so studiously involved in mystery, as to excite a suspicion that the Peishwa was convinced of the legitimacy of Rain Raja, and found it necessary, for the purpose of rendering him insignificant, to invent, or at least to connive at the insinuation, that the whole was a trick of state. Tara Bye, on hearing of the intended adoption of Sumbhajee of Kola-poor, was heard to say, “I will prevent that;” and on being now closely questioned and encouraged declared the existence of her grandson. The eldest surviving wife of Shao, Suckwar Bye Sirkay, true to the inherent violence and ambition of her flintily, on becoming acquainted with this declaration on the part of Tara Bye, which deprived her of all chance of the power she expected, by seeing a minor placed on the throne under her own care, immediately opened a communication with Sumbhajee, inciting him to oppose the pretensions of the alleged grandson of Tara Bye, whom she declared an impostor. She promised to aid Sumbhajee with her utmost means; she engaged Yemmajee Sewdeo in her cause, and Jug Jeewun, the younger brother of Sreeput Rao, who had been appointed Pritee Needhee, on the death of the latter in 1717, also promised her all the support in his power. Dummajee Gaekwar gave his assent to the proposal, and emissaries were dispatched into the Ghaut Mahta, and Concan, a tract ever prone to insurrection, to raise men and be prepared for her purpose. Ballajee Bajee Rao repaired to Satara, with an army of thirty-five thousand men; but so cautious was he of committing any act which might outrage

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the Mahratta feeling, already jealous of Bramin power, that he did not attempt to separate Suckwar Bye from her husband, or to impose any restraint likely to arouse the active enmity of her relations. But although he knew the extent of her plots, and was also aware that Suckwar Bye had a plan to assassinate him, he was at the same time suspicious of Tara Bye; and the known enmity of the latter to Ballajee Bajee Rao, is indeed the principal evidence of the truth of her extraordinary story. The pregnancy of Bhowanee Bye, the wife of the second Sivajee, was strongly suspected by Rajis Bye, the younger wife of Raja Ram, at the time of Sivajee’s death, and it required all the care and circumspection of Tara Bye, to preserve the infant from destruction. She, however, found means to convey the child from the fort of Panalla, and having given him in charge to the sister of Bhowanee Bye, he was carried to Tooljapoor, and thence to Barsee, where he was reared in obscurity.

The Peishwa was at a loss what to do, and during three months spent at Satara before the Raja’s death, he was alternately swayed by ambition and apprehension: he sometimes thought of at once asserting his supremacy, by setting aside the Raja entirely41, but on the whole, he considered

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it most expedient so support the assertion of Tara Bye; yet, although he was scrupulous in every outward form of respect towards the Prince whom -he acknowledged, he was not afterwards desirous of suppressing a current report at Poona, already alluded to, of the whole being fictitious. When the power of the Peishwa was complete, and the end answered, such a pageant as the Raja, was in some respects inconvenient to the usurper, and to countenance a belief of the imposture, was the first step to his being wholly set aside, but the voice of the country was too strong, and an heir of the -house of Sivajee, would have been joined by thousands, in the tract where that chieftain first established himself.

Suckwar Bye, in order to conceal her plot, always gave out, that in the event of Shao’s death, she would burn with the corpse; this declaration proved her ruin, for the wily Bramin affected to believe it; and took care to circulate the report, until it became so general, that its non-fulfilment, would, in the eyes of the whole country, have become a reflection on the honour of her family.

Although Suckwar Bye seldom quitted the Raja, and kept him constantly surrounded by persons in her interest, Ballajee found means to obtain a private interview, at which he induced the

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Raja to give him a deed, empowering the Peishwa to manage the whole government of the Mahratta empire, on condition of his perpetuating the Raja’s name, and keeping up the dignity of the house of Sivajee, through the grandson of Tara. Bye, and his descendants. This paper also directed, that the Kolapoor state should always be considered an independent sovereignty; that the Jagheers, as now existing, were to be confirmed to the holders, leaving power with the Peishwa to conclude such arrangements with the jagheerdars, as might be beneficial for extending Hindoo power42; for protecting the temples of the gods; the cultivators of the fields, and whatsoever was sacred or useful.

The Raja had scarcely ceased to breathe, when a body of horse galloped into the town of Satara, surrounded and seized the Pritee Needhee, and his Mootaliq Yemmajee Sewdeo; placed them in irons, on the instant, and sent them off, strongly escorted, to distant hill forts.. Every avenue about the town was occupied by troops, and a garrison of the Peishwa’s was placed in the fort; whilst a party was detached to reinforce the escort of Ram Raja, who had not arrived when Shao died.

Suckwar Bye had not recovered from the first emotions of consternation and rage, at finding her whole plans unmasked and defeated, when the Peishwa sent her an insidious message, “begging that she would not think of burning with the

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corpse of her husband, for that he and all her servants were ready to obey her commands;” and not content with working on the mind of an angry woman, to incite her to self-destruction, he sent for her brother Koarjee Sirkay; represented the dishonour that threatened to attach to his house, and promised him a Jagheer in the Concan, on condition of persuading his sister to immolate herself, “not only for the honour of the family of Sirkay, but for that of all India, under the sway of the late Raja.” By such arts, Ballajee Bajee Rao secured his victim. But let not the reader suppose, that those of his own countrymen, who know the secret history of this base transaction, and whose minds have not been perverted by the calm villainy of a Bramin court, attempt to palliate it, as a sacrifice in conformity with their faith; on the contrary, they mention it with much detestation, and say, that even the ordinary mode of execution would have been far more manly, and far less objectionable.


1. This is the Moorari Row, so often mentioned by Mr. Orme, in his admirable war of Coromandel.

2. Mahratta MSS.

3. They are stated at 100,000 by Orme; but any large army is reported to be a lack.

4. Orme. Wilks.

5. Bramin soucars and money changers assume the appellation of Naik.

6. The mode of recovering a debt, is by a species of dunning called tuqazu; the most common practised, is to hire a few of those men, who make it a trade. They sit at the debtor’s door, follow him wherever he goes, and crave with humility, or demand with insolence, according to time and circumstance. By the invariable rule of the country, the debtor is obliged to subsist the duns thus placed upon him, and as they are adepts in the art of tormenting, protected also by the great power of opinion, they soon contrive to render the debtor sufficiently miserable. But if the debtor be obstinate, and the creditor think himself equal to the task, he may undertake the tuqazu by placing his debtor in dhurna; the creditor seats himself by his debtor, or at his door, during which, whilst the former abstains from food, it would be accounted infamous and dishonorable for the latter to eat or drink. Bappoojee Naik practised first the tuqazu, and afterwards the dhurna. I refer my English readers to an account of dhurna (dherna) given by Lord Teignmouth in the 4th volume of the Asiatic Researches, and quoted in Mr. Mills’s History of India. I have known the dhurna practised, but never very rigorously; and I do not think that fear of the creditor’s starving himself to death, would have much effect on a Mahratta debtor; his stomach would be much sooner affected than his conscience.

7. Orme and Wilks.

8. Better known in the Deccan by his less familiar name of Hussein Dost Khan. He does not appear to have been confined in the fort, nor to have endured a close imprisonment, but merely to have had an attendant guard wherever he went; a supposition which is confirmed by the facility with which Dupleix appears to have intrigued with him when a prisoner.

9. Mahratta MSS. and original paper.

10. There were several copies of papers similar to the purport of that which is quoted, found in the Poona records; I have selected the one most explicit, which appears to have been the ultimatum.

11. Khuzaneh Amirah, &c.; and original letter from Ballajee Bajee Rao.

12. Mahratta MSS.

13. Bhow, brother, is applied also by Mahrattas to a cousin-german. Hence, as the Peishwa’s cousin, he was commonly styled Bhow Sahib, and the Bhow, as well as Sewdasheo Rao Bhow.

14. Mahratta MSS.

15. Ibid.

16. Articles enumerated in an original letter from the Emperor.

17. The notorious Shujah ud Doulah, who afterwards confined the English in the black hole, on the capture of Calcutta, 20th June, 1756.

18. Mahratta MSS.

19. In the Seyr Mutuakhereen their numbers are more moderately estimated at 25,000; but still that exceeds their actual numbers two-fold.

20. The best account of Ballajee Bajee Rao’s campaign in Bengal, to which I have had the benefit of access, is the Seyr Mutuakhereen, which is my authority for the greater part of the Bengal transactions at this period, assisted, however, in several parts, by Mahratta MSS. and letters.

21. The following is the substance of the firman received by Bajee Rao upon his appointment. From the Emperor Mohummud Shah, 22d Jummadee Ool Uwul, in the 24th year of the reign. “The dignity of the Shahzadu’s Deputy in Malwa, together with the income attached to that situation, having been conferred on you, proper arrangements must be made in that province, so as to afford the subjects, paying revenue to government, due favor and protection, and to punish all such as are evil disposed and disaffected. You must prevent the use of intoxicating drugs and spirituous liquors; and you must administer justice equally, so that the strong shall not oppress the weak, and that no species of violence be tolerated.” (Original from the Poona Records.)

22. Original papers.

23. Original papers and Mahratta MSS.

24. Orme and Wilks.

25. Orme.

26. The Newayeteh Nabobs, is the appellation by which Sadut Oollah Khan, Dost Ally, and Sufdur All are known in the Deccan. The Newayetehs are a distinct race of Mahomedans, and said to have been driven from Arabia, to seek refuge on the western shores of India, in the eighth century. See Wilks, vol. i. page 242.

27. Mahratta MSS.

28. Seyr Ool Mutuakhereen and Stewart’s History of Bengal.

29. Mahratta MSS.

30. Original Letters, and Mahratta MSS.

31. Sukaram Bhugwunt Bhokeel, Koolkurnee of Hewra, and the descendant of Puntojee Gopinat, who betrayed Afzool Khan into the hands of Sivajee, was the principal minister, at the period when the British Government first took an active part in the politics of the Poona Durbar, and is best known by his familiar name of Sukaram Bappoo.

32. Mahratta MSS.

33. Second in command under the Peishwa.

34. Rupees 16,51,636. (Original papers.)

35. I mention these names as necessary in common conversation with the natives of India. A native of Maharashtra, for instance, only knows them by the name of Giljya, whilst Afghans, generally, are merely distinguished as Patans.

36. Seyr Mutuakhereen.

37. Khuzaneh Amirah, &c.

38. Mahratta MSS.

39. He was for some time afflicted with that harmless silly madness, which is sometimes ludicrous, even whilst it excites commiseration. It first appeared, on an occasion when he had to receive a visit from two Mahratta surdars in full durbar, by his dressing out his favourite dog in gold brocade, covered with jewels, and putting his own turban on the dog. He never resumed any covering for his head after he recovered his senses. This dog had once saved his life when hunting a tiger, and amongst other freaks, he issued sunnuds conferring a Jagheer upon him, and entitling him to use a palanquin, in all which the Raja was humoured, and the palanquin establishment literally kept up.

40. Shao had some wit, and his reply to a letter received about this time from Raja Jey Sing, of Jeypoor, shews, that he retained it to the last. The Raja asks what he had performed for the Hindoo faith, and what charities he had bestowed; “I have,” replies Shao, “conquered from the Mussulmans the whole country from Rameshwur to Delhi, and I have given it to the Bramins.”

41. The following letter, from Sewdasheo Chimnajee to the Peishwa, recommends his usurping the power at once. After compliments, – “It seems impossible to judge of what will be, the result of all this. The Bye’s doings are not to be depended upon; keep continually on your guard. The Bye is not a person to blunder in that which she sets about. Let nothing induce you to act contrary to what has hitherto been professed, or let any thing appear respecting your intentions; but in the event of the Raja’s decease, you must take the upper hand of all. Whilst the Raja is in existence, do not allow so much as a grain of oil seed to appear different in your conduct. As matters proceed continue to write to me constantly. Despatched 16th Shuwal.”

42. This of course, if once admitted, gave the Peishwa as the Raja’s delegate, entire power over many of the Jagheerdars, and, in every instance of succession, the right of investing the new Jagheerdar.

This collection transcribed by Chris Gage
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