Balaji Baji Rao

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For the Nana sahab of Bithur, see Nana Sahib.
Balaji Baji Rao
Painting at Prince of Wales museum.jpg
Flag of the Maratha Empire.svg Peshwa of Maratha Empire
In office
Monarch Chhattrapati Shahu
Rajaram II
Preceded by Bajirao I
Succeeded by Madhavrao I
Personal details
Born 8 December 1720
Died 23 June 1761
Religion Hinduism

Balaji Baji Rao (8 December 1720 – 23 June 1761), also known as Nana Sahib Peshwa, was the son of Bajirao from his marriage with Kashibai and one of the Peshwa of the Maratha Empire. He contributed heavily to the development of the city of Pune, India. He was appointed as Peshwa by Chattrapati Shahu himself. At time of his death in 1749, the childless Shahu made him the Peshwas of Maratha Empire.His career saw some of the best and worst moments of the Maratha empire. Maratha power in India reached its peak under his reign. With able leadership by his family members and other Maratha Generals, the borders of Maratha Empire crossed Peshawar (presently in Pakistan) by 1760 AD . However, he is also partly been held responsible for the defeat of the Marathas at the Battle of Panipat (1761).

Early life

After the death of Baji Rao, Shahu appointed his 19 years old son, Balaji Baji Rao as Peshwa. Balaji Baji Rao was called by the name of "Nana", Thus later "Nanasaheb". Balaji Baji Rao had to face many problems just after becoming Peshwa such as discontent from other Maratha chieftains such as Tulaji, the son of Kanhoji Angre and Raghoji Bhosale. Raghoji's resentment stemmed from his desire to be Peshwa. He was the husband of sister of Shahu's wife. The Hyderaban Nizam and his successors were also not ready to fulfil their treaty obligations made to Baji Rao. In Karnataka also Muslims began to challenge Maratha sovereignty, Rajput rulers were also dissatisfied with Marathas. Gaikwad of Vadodadra in Gujrat was also unhappy with Peshwa, There was also internal dispute between the Maratha Generals, Scindia and Holkar. The financial condition of the Marathas was also deplorable.

Financial Problems

Balaji Baji Rao had to pay attention towards the deplorable financial condition of the state. The royal treasury had become empty due to expeditions of his late father Peshwa Baji Rao. Baji Rao himself left the loan of 14 lakhs rupees. Nana Saheb found the solution of it in Karnataka. He appointed his officer Murarirao Ghorpade to take the money from Trichnapalli and Arkat. Then he took the loan from Mahadji Purandare and returned the money of Babuji Nayak. To improve the financial situation, Peshwa asked for and received from Shahu the right to taxation from all provinces taken from Portuguese including Basin and the whole region south of Narmada River except Gujarat.

Problem of Angre Brothers

In 1739 A.D., after the death of Sambhaji Angre, the struggle for succession started in Angre family. Peshwa favoured Manaji Angre against Tulaji Angre. But Tulaji proved himself more powerful than his enemies. At this Peshwa took naval help from the English and ended the power of Tulaji and established the sovereignty of Manaji. Manaji remained faithful towards Peshwa. For this, he had to give up full portion of Bankot to the English and Marathas navy power also ended by this.

Getting of Malwa

In 1738 A.D., according to treaty of Durai, Sarai Nizam, had given the provinces of Malwa to Baji Rao. But Mughal emperor did not confirm it till. So Balaji entered in Malwa with a strong army and confiscated all land between the Narmada and Mandala. Being afraid of this, Mughal emperor conceded the province of Malwa to Peshwa in 1741 A.D. In return, the Peshwa promised to give 500 soldiers permanently to the emperor and send 4,000 soldiers, when needed. This was the start of direct involvement of Marathas in Mughals politics that later proved destructive.

Life as Peshwa

After the death of Peshwa Baji Rao I, Chhatrapati Shahu now appointed the deceased’s eldest son Balaji Bajirao as Peshwa on 4 July 1740.

Balaji Bajirao Peshwa had received good training in war and diplomacy under his father but he was not endowed with his father’s dash and military genius. He was a man of sweet and conciliatory temper.

Conquests under Nanasaheb Peshwa


On his appointment, he planned an expedition to Northern India in order to secure the formal cession of Malwa which had been promised to his father by Nizam-ul-Mulk.

Accompanied by his uncle Chimaji Appa he left for Malwa, but Chimaji had to return from the way on account of ill-health and died at Poona on 27 December 1740. Chimnaji was a notable soldier and an administrator of repute. Not a man of great personal ambition, he loyally served his brother and gave him the credit for his achievements. His son Sadashivrao Bhau, popularly known as Bhau Saheb, was destined to rise to fame and to a tragic end.

The Peshwa after due mourning for his deceased uncle resumed his journey and reached Dholpur, where he held a conference with Jai Singh of Jaipur in the last week of May 1741. It resulted in an agreement to the effect

1.That the Peshwa and Jai Singh should act in complete friendship and help each other; 2.That the Marathas should be strictly loyal to the Mughal emperors; and 3.That the governorship of Malwa should be secured for the Peshwa within six months.

After this diplomatic success Balaji Bajirao returned to Poona on 17 July. Jai Singh now persuaded the emperor to issue a ‘farman’ appointing the crown prince Ahmad as Subedar of Malwa and Peshwa Balaji Rao, as his deputy. Balaji Rao thus became the master of Malwa in name as well as in fact. The province had been in Maratha possession since November 1738.

The formal grant of 14 July 1741 legalized the Maratha conquest of Malwa. The terms of the grant of Malwa were:

1.The Marathas should not encroach on any other imperial territory; 2.The Peshwa should station at Delhi 500 Maratha horse for imperial service; 3.That at the time of necessity 4,000 more Maratha troops should be provided at the expense of the emperor; 4.That the Peshwa should respect the jagirs in Malwa granted by the emperor to individuals and religious institutions before 1741 and that he should not enhance the taxes on the riots.


Karnataka was a great attraction for Balaji Baji Rao. The reason was that Shahu had given the work of Karnataka to Maratha Sardar Raghuji Bhonsle who was rival of Balaji. Raghuji attacked on Karnataka in 1739 A.D. and got glorious successes. He defeated Nawab Dostali in Karnataka and killed him and imprisoned his son-in-law, Chanda Saheb, and brought him Satara. By this the prestige of Raghuji Bhonsle increased much. Balaji Baji Rao becomes eager to establish his sovereignty in Karnataka.

In 1743 A.D., Nizam-ul-Mulk attacked on Karnataka and cancelled all the successor of the Raghuji Bhonsle. At this, in 1715 A.D., Peshwa sent Sadashivrao Bhau for Karnataka expedition. Sadashiv Bhau was the cousin of Balaji Baji Rao and was a brave warrior and general. He made the whole west Karnataka under Chhatrapati. Thus, Nana Saheb followed separate policy from his father. He wanted to control Karnataka like north.

Orissa, Bengal & Bihar

Rahgoji Bhonsle of Nagpur was a strong Sardar. In 1742 A.D., he increased his influence in Orissa and Bengal. His representative Bhaskar Pant plundered many places in Bengal and defeated Nawab Alivardi Khan. Raghuji and Balaji Baji Rao were already rivals. When Bhaskar Pant started plundering in Bengal, Alivardi Khan requested Peshwa for help. Meanwhile, Mughal emperor also wrote Peshwa that he would prevent the activities of Raghuji in Bengal.

So Peshwa went towards Bengal with a strong army and he defeated Raghuji at many places. Raghuji kept the whole matter in front of Shahu. Sahuji talked with Peshwa and Raghuji made them friends and divided their fields. So Peshwa had to be away from Bengal.

After that, Bhaskar Pant was killed by which Raghuji became angry and he made many successful expeditions on Bengal, Bihar and Orissa between 1747 and 1751 A.D. In the end, Alivardi Khand and Raghuji had to make treaty. According to treaty, the area of Orissa was given to Marathas and Raghuji was to pay 12 lakh rupees and Chauth of Bengal and Bihar. By this treaty, the sovereignty of Marathas over Bengal, Bihar and Orissa increased.

The Battle of Panipat

Contribution to Pune city

During his 20 year reign (1740–1761), Balaji Bajirao completely transformed Pune from a nagar (settlement) into a vast city. He established many new neighbourhoods (called peths) like Nana Peth, etc. and developed few like Shaniwar Peth, Ravivar Peth, Somwar Peth, Budhwar Peth. He built the famous Parvati temple atop a hillock that overlooks the city and built the first permanent bridge across the river Mutha. (That bridge was made of wood, so the new concrete bridge that stands at the same location today is also called Lakdi Pool or 'the wooden bridge'. He also established a reservoir at the nearby town of Katraj to provide clean running water to the city. The 250 year old system is still functioning.

His career saw some of the best and worst moments of the Maratha empire. Maratha power in India reached its peak under his reign. Balaji Bajirao, his uncle (Kaka) Chimaji Appa (younger Brother of Bajirao-I), his cousin Sadashivrao Bhau (Chimaji Appa's son), and his younger brother Raghunathrao were successful in establishing and consolidating Maratha dominance in India. By 1760 AD the borders of Maratha Empire had crossed Peshawar (presently in Pakistan. However, he is partly responsible for the defeat of the Marathas at the Battle of Panipat (1761).


Nanasaheb could not bear the personal and political loss at Panipat and died of depression and subsequent illness at Parvati,Pune on 23 June 1761.

See also

Further reading

  • "Balaji Bajirao (Nanasaheb) Peshwa" by Prof. S. S. Puranik
  • Solstice at Panipat by Uday S. Kulkarni, Mula Mutha Publishers, 2nd edition, 2012.
  • Panipat by Vishwas Patil,Rajhamns publishers.

External links

Preceded by
Baji Rao I
Succeeded by
Madhava Rao I

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