Shrimant Bajirao Peshwa
An undefeated warrior & visionary statesman of the Maratha Empire.
“Bajirao was a heaven born cavalry leader. In the long and distinguished galaxy of Peshwas, Bajirao Ballal was unequalled for the daring and originality of his genius and the volume and value of his achievements. He was truly a Cavalry Hero as king- or rather as a Man of action.’ If Sir Robert Walpole created the unchallengeable position of the Prime Minister in the unwritten constitution of England, Bajirao created the same institution in the Maratha Raj at exactly the same time.” (Jadunath Sarkar – ‘Peshwa Bajirao I and Maratha Expansion’)
“Bred a soldier as well as a statesman, Bajirao united the enterprise, vigour and hardihood of a Maratha chief with the polished manners, the sagacity and address which frequently distinguish the Brahmins of the Konkan. 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 Bajirao enlarged the schemes which his father devised; and unlike most Brahmins, of him it may be truly said- he had both- the head to plan and the hand to execute.” (J. Grant Duff – ‘History of the Marathas’)
Bajirao I was born on the 18th of August 1700 in a Koknastha Chitpavan Brahmin (caste) family. He was the eldest son of Balaji Vishwanath Rao Peshwa. The Peshwas were Prime Ministers of the Maratha empire. This position was created by Chhatrapati Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha Empire.
Bajirao was trained by Maratha generals to be proficient in warfare, politics and military campaigns. At an early age Bajirao travelled all over the Mughal empire upto Delhi with his father. At the age of 19 after the death of Balaji Vishwanath, Bajirao was chosen to became the next Peshwa.
At that time, Shahu Maharaj was the King of the Maratha empire and occupied the seat in Satara. In his court, the young Peshwa Bajirao is said to have thundered, “Let us transcend the barren Deccan and conquer central India. The Mughals have become weak, insolent, womanizers and opium-addicts. The accumulated wealth of centuries in the vaults of the north, can be ours. It is time to drive from the holy land of Bharatvarsha the outcastes and the barbarians. Let us throw them back over the Himalayas, back to where they came from. The saffron flag must fly from the Krishna to the Indus. Hindustan is ours”.
For twenty long years, Bajirao’s army moved throughout the Mughal empire taking town after town, village after village and advancing on Delhi.
In his lifetime, Bajirao undertook 41 military conquests. He was undefeated throughout his lifetime. Some of his battles included -
- Battle of Malwa against the Mughals.
- Conquest of Gujarat
- Conquest of Central India
- Attack on the capital of the Mughal empire at Delhi
- Hoisting the Maratha flag upto Attock in Afghanistan
- Defeating General Bungash Khan, bravest commander of the Mughals.
- Defeating the armies of the Pathans, Portuguese around the western courts.
On April 28, 1740 Bajirao Peshwa passed away from an illness on the banks of river Narmada. He had been resting with his troops before their next battle when he was taken sick and died.
Bajirao Peshwa was instrumental in breaking apart the Mughal empire and creating a strong military base for the Maratha empire.