The Marathas Part 13 Peshwa Baji Rao Section II: The Maratha Expansion

Canberra, 5 December 2021

The 18th century witnessed a change of the first magnitude in the geo-political circumstances in the Indian sub-continent—the rise of Maratha power to eminence in the sub-continental political developments. The Mughal acceptance of the Maratha collection of Chauth and Sardeshmukhi, although made to look like concessions given to Raja Shahu on his release from captivity, in reality signified a critical change in the Mughal–Maratha relationship. It proclaimed to the world that the Marathas had broken Mughal power and were being paid tribute by the Mughals. It just so happened that the Marathas preferred to collect the tribute in terms of Chauth and Sardeshmukhi.

Shahu felt great remorse at the internecine quarrels of his senior nobles. Although he did not condone Trimbak Rao’s actions, especially his approaching the Nizam for assistance, Shahu appointed Dabhade’s younger son Yashwant Rao as the new Senapati. He also personally intervened to effect a reconciliation between the Peshwa and the Dabhade family, while also defining the border between Gujarat and Malwa to avoid any future conflict.

Containing Sambhaji

Sambhaji, although confined to Panhala, continued to harbour royal ambitions egged on by his haughty wife Jijabai who belonged to the house of Scindia and abetted by a noble Udai Chavan. In 1729, when Trimbak Rao was seeking help to oust Baji Rao, Udai Chavan had led Sambhaji’s forces to River Warna. From a camp at Shirol, he began to plunder the countryside. He also made an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Shahu while the Raja was on a hunting trip nearby. The murder attempt exhausted Shahu’s great patience and he now decided to end Sambhaji’s claim to the throne and the pinpricks that he had been inflicting, once and for all. Accordingly, he raised an army under the Pratinidhi, Shripatrao, who had so far been out of favour with the king.

Shripatrao was assisted by Shambhusingh Yadav, the younger brother of Chandrasen who had joined the Nizam’s forces, both sons of Dhanaji Yadav. Sambhaji was afraid of the consequences of open rebellion and not confident of achieving victory. However, he was influenced by Uday Chavan and after joining him near River Warna, declared war on Shahu. In January 1730, The Maratha army surprised the Warna camp. Despite all his bravado, Uday Chavan was the first to flee the camp without offering a fight, taking Sambhaji with him. The Kolhapur army, left leaderless, was decimated; all Sambhaji’s war chests were captured, along with Tarabai, Rajasbai, Sambhaji’s wife Jijabai and some senior generals loyal to the rebel prince.

Shahu send the ladies back to Panhala, Tarabai staying behind of her own accord and being housed in a separate palace in Satara till her death. Thereafter the Maratha army stormed Vishalgarh in October 1730, at which stage the nobles supporting Sambhaji deserted him and surrendered to Shahu. The Raja now invited Sambhaji to visit Satara, which was tantamount to a command and was duly obeyed. Shahu ensured that Sambhaji was treated as royalty and he was made to stay in a palace belonging to the Peshawa, specially made ready for him. A treaty, the Treaty of Warna, was concluded and Sambhaji was send back to Panhala, once again in royal splendour.

To an external observer, it appeared that Shahu was meticulous in treating Sambhaji as an equal and would be inclined to give credit to Shahu for his generosity. However, the treaty itself was not in the least lenient. The wording of the treaty, if one were to go through it (it is available in its full form even today) very clearly shows that it was dictated by a superior to a supplicant; it converted Sambhaji immediately from a rebel claiming independent status as the raja, to a minor vassal prince. The treaty essentially cut him off from the north of the Maratha kingdom and permitted him to undertake minor expansionist missions only to the south in Karnataka. Even these conquests were not his to hold on to since half of all conquests were to be handed over to Raja Shahu.

Sambhaji attempted in 1734, and then again in 1741, to get the terms of the treaty modified to make it more amenable to himself, banking on Shahu’s well-known good nature and leniency. However, the efforts were in vain and Shahu refused to change any of the terms. Een so, the setbacks did not stop Sambhaji from continuing his attempts to increase his power and wealth. Nothing in Sambhaji’s character elicits sympathy or support of any kind from a neutral observer. He was inherently lazy and self-indulgent. He viewed war purely as a means to plunder and enhance his own wealth, never as an instrument to boost the viability of his kingdom or better the prospects of his subjects. He married seven times and spend all the revenue of his small kingdom on himself. Known as Sambhaji of Kolhapur in history, to distinguish him from the second Chhatrapati Sambhaji murdered by Aurangzeb, he died on 20th December 1760.

Baji Rao, who had also come to Satara to meet Trimbak Rao’s mother, returned to Gujarat after Yashwant Rao Dabhade was appointed Senapati. He made Sarbulund Khan ratify the former treaty and then returned to Satara, preparing to consolidate the kingdom.

Sidis of Janjira

The Konkan, the coastal strip of Maharashtra between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats stretching from Jawhar in the north to Karwar in the south had been part of Shivaji’s Swaraj. Even then, the Sidis of Janjira and the Portuguese in Goa had managed to hold on to minor holdings, defying Maratha power. From Shivaji’s death in 1680 to the end of the Aurangzeb offensive about 1705 (Aurangzeb died 1707) the Marathas were fighting for their very survival and continued existence as a cohesive entity. During this period of hiatus, both the Sidis and the Portuguese seized Maratha territories and refused to return them even after the Mughal withdrawal from the Deccan.

Aurangzeb granted the Sidis the important forts of Raigarh, Mohad, Dabhol and Ratnagiri, while they captured on their own the coastal points of Revas, Thal and Anjanwel. From these places and forts the Sidis periodically raided inland and regularly harassed Maratha shipping. Kanhoji Angre was given the Konkan as his ‘fiefdom’ but lacked the resources to deal with either the Sidis or the Portuguese. However, he also resisted any attempt by the Marathas to send their forces to his domain. Therefore, nothing was done to remedy the situation till his death in 1729.

One of the Sidi chiefs attacked and despoiled a temple at Chiplun on Mahashivaratri day, 8th February 1727. The head priest of the temple, highly regarded by the Peshwa family, left the Konkan and travelled the breadth of the Maratha nation preaching retribution against the ransackers of the temple. The Marathas were now waiting for a chance to take the fight to the Sidis. Their opportunity came at the death of the Sidi chief Rasul Khan in February 1733, which resulted in political turmoil among the Sidis. The deceased chief’s eldest son, Abdullah, was murdered by a rival gang of power seekers claiming the position. The son of Abdullah fled to the Marathas seeking their assistance to retain the chief’s position. At the same time, a powerful Sidi noble Yakub Shaikhji, also agreed to defect to the Marathas, lured by the offer of a sizeable amount of money.

On 2nd May 1733, the Peshwa arrived at Janjira, taking the Sidis by surprise. On his way he had captured the inland towns of Tala, Ghosal and Birwadi, subsequently taking the coastal towns of Rajpuri and Khokri. The part of the Sidi fleet under Shaikhji and one of his associates, Abdur Rehman who was also a contender for the position of the chief or nawab, came over to Baji Rao. The remaining Sidi forces retreated to the Janjira fort.

The Janjira Campaign

Janjira was a fortified island at the entrance to the Rajpuri Creek, separated from the mainland by about a mile. The surrounding walls of the island, with battlements and loopholes, stood out by 50 feet even at high tide. The route between Rajpuri and the fort was fully covered by artillery from the island and any attacking force needed a naval fleet and sufficient artillery to have a fighting chance of defeating the island defences. The Peshwa called Sekhoji Angre, Kanhoji’s son, to come and devise plans of attack to capture the island fortress. However, Sekhoji was not happy with the Maratha forces camping in what he considered his personal fiefdom and dragged his feet in advancing the attack plans and preparations. Similarly, Yakub Shaikhji was also of no assistance even to blockade the island, while reinforcements continued to pour into Janjira.

Shahu was personally directing the campaign and it was obvious that all conquered territories would be solely his. Therefore, the feudatory chiefs were reluctant to expend resources, both men and materiel, in a campaign from which they could expect to get no returns. This internal division took its toll on the Maratha initiative. The Peshwa sat helplessly at Rajpuri without an effective navy at his disposal, while Angre went on to capture Revas and Thal to add to his own holdings. The Maratha aim of conquering Janjira was kept aside, with Angre promising the Peshwa that he would mount an attack on the island after the monsoon rains had abated. At this stage the Sidis, although reinforced considerably, called on the English for help. Almost immediately, Captain McNeil arrived with a powerful fleet; the English had been looking for an opportunity to meddle in local politics and oppose the growing power of the Marathas.

Taking stock of the situation and considering the non-progress against Janjira, Baji Rao abandoned the Janjira campaign and instead started to negotiate the surrender of Raigarh. At the same time, the Pratinidhi, bribed the fort commander at Raigarh and took over the fort. This undercutting of his initiative raised the Peshwa’s ire against the Pratinidhi. The two senior-most nobles of the Maratha kingdom were working at cross purposes, never a good situation to achieve cohesive success.

On 28th August 1733, Sekhoji Angre died, removing the roadblock that had kept the Peshwa’s plans in limbo. Baji Rao now advised Raja Shahu to accept a negotiated settlement for the island of Janjira, through the good offices of the English. On 1st December 1733, a truce was declared and Abdur Rehman, the Peshwa’s nominee was placed on the Masnad (throne) of the island. Retaining only the territories that he had physically captured during the campaign, Baji Rao marched away from Janjira.

Even though the island itself was not captured, the Janjira campaign must be considered partially successful. First, the Sidis were literally driven into the sea with their territorial holdings on the Konkan coast drastically reduced. They now held only a few islands south of Janjira and nothing on the mainland. The Marathas recaptured all their earlier territorial holdings from the Sidis and, perhaps most importantly, recovered Raigarh, which had been Shivaji Maharaj’s capital. The ousted Sidi chief Sa’at continued a rebellion, but was finally overcome in 1736, when he tried to capture Colaba and was defeated conclusively by the Peshawa forces under Chimnaji Appa near Revas. According to a treaty signed on 25th September 1736, half the territory of the Sidis were annexed to Maratha lands and the Sidi were reduced to being a tributary of the Marathas.

Conquest of Malwa and Gujarat

Baji Rao wanted to punish the Nizam for having conspired with Trimbak Rao Dabhade against Shahu and the greater Maratha kingdom. However, the Nizam an old and wily warrior, knew that he would not be able to withstand the resurgent Maratha power led by the Peshwa. He had come to know of Baji Rao’s intention to march north. He now send word offering to give Maratha forces free passage through his domains into Malwa, in return for peace and non-aggression. In 1731, Baji Rao and the Nizam arrived at an informal agreement of non-interference in each other’s affairs, permitting freedom of action to each other—the Nizam would look south and the Peshwa to the north.

The Peshwa prepared to invade Central India. The Marathas had already entered Central India in the early 18th century as a countermeasure against the Mughal attacks on their Deccan bases. As the century wore on, the Maratha movement to the north gathered momentum. The first Maratha invasion of Malwa had been in 1699, when Krishna Sawant crossed the River Narmada with 15,000 cavalry, laid waste the region around Dhamuni, and retired. This initial raid laid the precedent for further, increasingly regular invasions, till by mid-18th century, Malwa was completely under Maratha dominion.

In 1703, Nemaji Scindia entered Malwa near Handia and marched to Sironj; by February 1704 he was at Kalbagh. This raid was followed up in the next decade by even more daring raids by several Maratha chiefs. Even before coming to power, Baji Rao had understood the weakness of the Mughal Empire; the incompetence of the imperial officials and their indifference towards protecting the state; their lack of integrity and the rampant corruption rife across the administration. He knew that the Mughal Empire had become a tottering and fragile structure, waiting for the final push that would bring it crashing to the ground, splintering the whole. Baji Rao decided to provide the impetus for their downfall and then make the Marathas the dominant force in the sub-continent.

Baji Rao also calculated that an expedition beyond the River Narmada into Hindustan would focus the Maratha energy against an external foe, which was being dissipated in internal dissentions and fratricidal wars. He knew that he could create an invincible Maratha power. He crafted a northward drive policy that deftly combined military power and diplomatic finesse and followed it steadfastly throughout his lifetime, bringing under Maratha control Malwa, Bundelkhand and Gujarat. The Peshwa’s ‘move north’ policy and his achievements were radical shifts from the traditional trend that the Marathas had so far followed. They guided Maratha activities till the end of the 18th century, gave ascendancy to the Marathas in North Indian politics for the duration, and made them the pervasive all-India power dominant throughout the 18th century and slightly beyond.

The Treaty of 1719 with Sayyid Husain Ali had given the Chauth of Malwa and Gujarat to the Marathas. However, it had not been honoured even for a year, and after the fall of the Sayyid brothers had become null and void. Baji Rao now would wrest with the force of arms what could not be achieved through diplomacy.

Malwa was the link between the Deccan and North India, its location giving it great military strategic importance. It sat astride the crossroads of the commercial highways and the military routes to and from the Deccan and Gujarat, connecting North India. Armies based in Malwa were ideally placed to strike rapidly into Rajputana and Bundelkhand. From the time Humayun conquered the region, Malwa had been firmly held by the Mughals, a self-sufficient and reasonably peaceful province. The tranquillity was shattered when Aurangzeb drained it of wealth to fund his Deccan campaign. Further, the majority Hindu population of Malwa was distressed with the Jaziya tax as well as Aurangzeb’s religious bigotry and rebelled. They welcomed the Maratha intervention.

Malwa and Khandesh had been assigned as the Peshwa’s jagir and Baji Roa had invaded Malwa first in February 1723 and then in May 1724 bringing southern Malwa under Maratha control permanently. In June 1725, the new Mughal Subahdar, Girdhar Bahadur, had managed to push the Marathas south to the River Narmada, while Baji Rao was preoccupied with his fight with the Nizam. The Peshwa managed to turn his attention to Central India only after successfully containing the Nizam at Palkhed in February 1728. In end-1728, two large Maratha armies invaded Central India.

The First Army

One army, under the command of Chimnaji Appa, entered Malwa through the Mandu Ghat and surprised Girdhar Bahadur in his camp near Amjhera on 29th November 1728. The Mughal forces were comprehensively defeated, Girdhar and his generals were killed in battle, and all equipment captured. This was a great victory for the Marathas. Chimnaji’s further attempt to move towards the capital Ujjain was halted by Girdhar’s son, Bhavani Ram. However, he managed to collect tribute from a large tract of territory and then returned to the Deccan via Jhalod. The Marathas now controlled the mountain passes into Malwa.

The defeat of Girdhar Bahadur brought out into the open the internal fissures in the Mughal camp and the demonstration of diminishing Mughal power encouraged the petty chiefs to withhold payment of revenue. Malwa descended into administrative and financial chaos. In late 1729, Sawai Jay Singh of Amber was appointed as the new governor by the Mughal ‘emperor’ in Delhi. On taking over he assessed the situation on the ground and concluded that the only way to stabilise the province was to follow a policy of appeasement, by aligning Mughal activities in consonance with Maratha aspirations. As an initial step, Jay Singh made a grant of 10 Lakh rupees to Raja Shahu to ensure that the Maratha generals did not make any further inroads into Malwa territory. A Maratha general was deputed to serve with Jay Singh and in March 1730, a senior Rajput commander moved to Shahu’s court for liaison duties. It was presumed that these initiatives would be the harbingers of lasting peace to Malwa.

Lasting peace was not destined for the province. Both the parties were neither sincere about adhering to the arrangements nor were they serious about the professions of friendship. Jay Singh was keen to seize the province and add it to his own territorial holdings in Rajputana, where he was an independent king. Jay Singh had also assessed that the Mughal emperor could not enforce his writ on provincial governors who rebelled. The Peshwa, on the other hand, wanted to take over Malwa in its entirety as his personal jagir, the province having been allotted to him. He was not satisfied by the minor grant that had been made to Shahu by Jay Singh. To complicate the situation further, the nobles in the Mughal court were suspicious of Jay Singh’s intentions and influenced the emperor to remove him from Malwa. In September 1730, he was replaced by an avowed anti-Maratha Rohilla Afghan called Muhammad Khan Bangesh. The Mughal’s Malwa policy therefore vacillated between attempts at appeasement and complete belligerence, swinging with no rationale or context but based purely on individual fancies of the governor.

The Second Army

The second army was commanded by the Peshwa himself and entered Bundelkhand. Bangesh had been the governor of Allahabad from 1720 and had applied continuous pressure on the Bundela chief, Raja Chhatrasal. The Bundelas had been pushed into a situation of distress and finally asked for Maratha assistance to push the Mughal governor back, providing the necessary excuse for the Peshwa to intervene. In the interim, Bangesh had gradually captured Bundela strongholds, cherry-picking them at will. By December 1728, the last Bundela fort at Jaitpur had been forced to surrender. So confident was Bangesh of his control over Bundelkhand that he camped at Jaitpur with a mere 10,000 strong army, sending the rest of his forces away to Allahabad.

Baji Rao pushed into Bundelkhand from Deogarh, joined with the Bundela chiefs and their forces near Mahoba, and surrounded Bangesh. The governor requested for assistance from both Delhi and Allahabad, but no help materialised. There are two versions of the flow of events after this. One states that Bangesh was bundled out of Bundelkhand by the Maratha-Bundela forces. The second version is that Bangesh’s wife and son, Kaim Khan, in Allahabad roused the Rohillas and rescued Bangesh from captivity, spiriting him out of Bundelkhand. Subsequently, the Mughal emperor dismissed him from the governorship of both Malwa and Allahabad. In either case, the outcome was the liberation of Bundelkhand.

A grateful Chhatrasal promised a part of his newly recovered kingdom to the Peshwa. The old Bundela king also adopted Baji Rao as his son and before his death divided the kingdom into three parts, between his two natural sons and the Peshwa. Accordingly, Baji Rao inherited one-third of Bundelkhand as a jagir, which included the provinces of Sagar and Kalpi, both vantage points to dominate Central India. The Peshwa now had another foothold in the north from which to mount offensive actions against the Mughals.

Malwa Under Maratha Control

It was obvious by now that both the policies of the use of force and that of appeasement, individually or in judicious combination, were not sufficient to contain the Maratha advance into Malwa. Muhammad Bangesh, who took over the governorship before being banished, chased the Maratha’s from place to place for almost two years with no success in tying them down or diminishing their ability to wage war. Sawai Jay Singh, the ruler of Jaipur, had regained his influence in the Mughal court and was once again brought back to Malwa in October 1732 as the governor.

Jay Singh was a refined and cultured king, unlike some of the boorish Afghan and Arab noblemen in the Mughal court. He was also astute enough to understand the terminal decay of Mughal power and continued to entertain ambitions of enlarging his own kingdom through the annexation of Malwa. He knew that such a move would require conciliating the Marathas and therefore he embarked on placatory diplomacy. However, he did not factor in the universal truth that diplomacy without a clear demonstration of force and the intent to use it never succeeds. The Mughals had not yet demonstrated any capability to defeat the Marathas in battle. Further, the other Rajput princes were not ready to gather, even as a confederacy, under Jay Singh’s Amber banner. In any case, the Peshwa was not willing to accept anything short of complete control over the entire province.

In October 1730, the Peshwa gave Malhar Rao Holkar full responsibility for bringing Malwa under Maratha control. Holkar was joined by Ranoji Scindia and Udaji Pawar in October 1731. By mid-1732, control of Malwa was being shared by Peshawa’s principal generals—Holkar, Scindia and Pawar. Unfortunately, Udaji Pawar demanded half the share of the revenue, rather than one-third that was due, and on being refused by the other two, joined the disgruntled faction of nobles led by the Senapati, effectively ending his career. His brothers however, stayed loyal to the Peshwa. Holkar made Indore his headquarters; Scindia centred on Ujjain and the Pawar brothers were at Dhar and Dewas. The revenue from Malwa was shared equally by the three generals, after 45 per cent of it was handed over to the Peshwa.

Increasing Encounters

From 1732, the Maratha offensive into Malwa was two-pronged. Holkar and Scindia moved into western Malwa through Gujarat and another force under the Pawar brothers entered the province through Bundelkhand, ravaging the countryside all the way to Gwalior and Gohad. By February 1733, Jay Singh was surrounded and had to buy his way out of the quandary by paying six lakh rupees and ceding the revenue of 28 parganas, or districts.

The Delhi court could not let this setback go unquestioned. In the winter of 1734–35 two separate Mughal armies marched to defeat the Marathas in Malwa and take the province back. The first, led by Vazir Qamar ud-Din Khan came up against Pilaji Jadhav at Narwar in February 1735. The light cavalry of the Marathas circled the heavy and cumbersome Mughal force like so many hornets and submitted them to constant harassment. Finally, at his wits end, the Vazir paid a sum of five lakh rupees to be permitted to retire to his own country. The second army was commanded by Mir Baksh Khan-i-Davran and was joined by Jay Singh and some other Rajput princes. The large force, nearly 200,000 strong, did not have an accepted chain of command, was unwieldy and difficult to manage and manoeuvre.

While camped at Rampura, the second army was surrounded by the forces led by Holkar and Scindia and their supplies cut off. While keeping the Mughal forces pinned down, the Marathas passed to their rear and invaded Jay Singh’s territory. On 28th February 1735, the Marathas sacked the rich city of Sambhar. The Rajput princes in the Mughal army realised the threat to their own territories and rapidly left to protect their own kingdoms and principalities. Left alone, Mir Baksh came to an agreement with the Marathas on 24th March 1735 and retired after paying 22 lakh rupees as Chauth for Malwa. The Marathas now assumed control of even the districts that were previously only paying tribute. The Mughal boundary continued to recede, giving way to the expanding borders of the Maratha Confederacy, which now reached Gwalior and the vicinity of Agra.

Intrigue in the Mughal Court

Jay Singh’s policy of appeasement, attempted twice in separate times, did not work. The Peshwa, now even more firmly in control of Maratha destiny asked Jay Singh to approach the Mughal emperor to formally grant both Malwa and Gujarat to the Marathas as jagir. The fact was that both the provinces were under their control for all practical purposes. However, Jay Singh’s opponents in the Mughal court poisoned the emperor’s ears and made him believe that the Rajput king was in league with the Marathas, especially since they were co-religionists. The court was divided on the course of action to be adopted to deal with the real and live threat emanating from the Maratha offensive.

One faction, with almost no personal experience in operations in the Deccan against the Marathas advised fighting them in the Deccan in collusion with the Nizam who was still at Hyderabad. The other group, who had experience in fighting the Marathas stated that they could not be defeated and advocated adopting a negotiated settlement. There was also talk about another two armies taking to the field against the Marathas—indecision was rife in the Mughal court. While the Delhi courtiers were debating the course of action but had not yet commenced any, the Peshwa grabbed the initiative and swung into action.

Baji Rao’s Demands

In October 1735, Baji Rao, feeling that he needed to be closer to the action, left Pune at the head of a large army, gradually marching north. While moving north, he appealed to all the Hindu rulers to gather under his banner to oust the Muslim foreigners from Hindustan. In February 1736, the Peshwa officially visited the Rana of Udaipur in a formal Durbar. Baji Rao demanded that a district be granted to him as a jagir. However, the Rana demurred, allocating the revenue of Banera district for the use of the Peshwa but not as his jagir. The enhanced power of the Marathas is evident in this interaction.

The Mughals now realised the futility of trying to defeat the Marathas in battle and started sending draft agreements for Baji Rao’s approval. Jay Singh, representing the Mughal emperor met the Peshwa on 4th March 1736 at Bhambholao near Kishangarh with the Mughal terms for an agreement. The Mughal emperor was willing to concede Chauth and Sardeshmukhi of the entire province of Malwa and grant 13 lakh rupees for the districts south of Chambal. He also authorised the Peshwa to levy tribute from the Rajput states from Bundi in the west to Badwar in the east. These offers were without any inputs from the Maratha side and therefore Baji Rao realised that he could demand much more from the dying Mughal Empire. He reciprocated by laying out the Maratha demands:

  1. The entire Malwa and its tributary states to be granted to the Peshwa as his personal jagir;
  2. Rohilla chiefs of Bhopal and Bhilsa to be evicted and their territorial holdings to be given to the Peshwa;
  3. The forts at Mandu, Dhar and Raisin, all commanding the southern passes into Malwa, to be handed over to the Peshwa;
  4. Entire province of Chambal to be granted to Baji Rao as jagir;
  5. 50 lakh rupees or the entire revenue of Bengal to be given to the Peshwa to defray debts he had incurred in conducting his military campaigns;
  6. Four major Hindu holy places—Allahabad, Benares, Mathura and Gaya—to be ceded to the Marathas;
  7. The Sardespandeship of the entire Deccan to be bestowed on Rajau Shahu; and
  8. 50 lakh rupees to be paid annually for the Deccan for as long as a Mughal prince continued to hold it formally.

From what had started as a modest demand to levy Chauth in Malwa, Baji Rao now demanded full control of Malwa, Bundelkhand, and Bengal, as well as the six provinces of the Deccan—a staggeringly high-handed list of demands. Once again, the demands are indications of the altered state of the relationship between the Mughals and the Marathas; from being considered mere rebels, the Marathas had become masters of the Deccan and were now powerful enough to lay down terms and conditions that would buy their peace. The Mughals decided to fight but considered it prudent to not initiate any action as long as the Peshwa personally remained in Malwa. However, Baji Rao decided to go back to the Deccan and soon left Malwa, leaving Holkar and Scindia to press the Maratha demands. Renewal of hostilities was inevitable.

© [Sanu Kainikara] [2021]
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About Sanu Kainikara

Sainik School Kazhakuttam (Kerala), National Defence Academy 39/A, 108 Pilot's Course IAF, fighter pilot, QFI, FCL, psc, HACC, Voluntary Retirement as Wing Commander. Canberra-based Political and Defence Analyst specialising in military strategy, national security, and international politics. PhD in International Politics from University of Adelaide Executive Masters in Public Adminsitration (ANZSOG) Adjunct Professor, University of New South Wales, Distinguished Fellow Institute For Regional Security (IFRS) Distinguished Fellow Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS)

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