((a)The section on ancient history is contributed by Mahamahopadhyaya Dr. V. V. Mirashi, Nagpur University, Nagpur.)
((b) The sections on mediaeval and modern period are contributed by Professor B. K. Apte, Nagpur University, Nagpur.)
THE OLDEST VESTIGES OF HABITATION IN THE NAGPUR DISTRICT are furnished by dolmens and other sepulchral monuments which can be noticed within a radius of about 48,280 km. (thirty miles) round Nagpur in the vicinity of the villages of Koradi, Kohali, Junapani, Nildhoa, Borganv, Vathora, Vadganv, Savar-gailv, Hingana, etc. Some of these were opened first by Pearson and then by Hislop but their detailed reports are not available. They require to be excavated and studied scientifically. Hislop describes the as follows:
“They are found chiefly as barrows surrounded by a circle of stones, and as stone boxes, which when complete are styled kistvaens, and when open on one side, cromlechs. The kistvaens, if not previously disturbed, have been found to contain stone coffins and urns.”
Such sepulchral monuments are generally found to contain copper and bronze weapons, tools and earthen vessels. Some scholars find in these copper and bronze objects traces of the migration route of the Vedic Aryans. This culture is supposed to be later than that of the Indus Valley, of which no traces have yet been noticed in Vidarbha.
With the advent of the Aryans we get more light on the past history of this region. It was then covered by a thick jungle. Agastya was the first Aryan who crossed the Vindhya and fixed his hermitage on the bank of the Godavari. This memorable event is commemorated in the mythological story which represents Vindhya as bending before his guru Agastya when the latter approached him. The sage asked the mountain to remain in that condition until he returned from the south, which he never did. Agastya was followed by several other sages who established their hermitages in different regions of the south. They were constantly harassed by the original inhabitants who are called Raksasas in the Ramayana. “These shapeless and ill-looking monsters testify their abominable character by various cruel and terrific displays. They implicate the hermits in impure practices and perpetrate the greatest outrages. Changing their shapes and hiding in the thickets adjoining the hermitages, these frightful beings delight in terrifying the devotees. They cast away the sacrificial ladles and vessels; they pollute the cooked oblations, and utterly defile the offerings with blood. These faithless creatures inject frightful sounds into the ears of the faithful and austere hermits. At the time of the sacrifice they snatch away the jars, the flowers, the fuel and the sacred grass of these sober-minded men.” (Muir’s Original Sanskrt Texts, quoited in the previous edition of Nagpur Distrit Gazetter.)
In course of time a large kingdom was founded in this region by king Vidarbha, the son of Rsabhadeva. His capital was Kundinapura in the Amravati district, which is still known by its ancient name. The country came to be known as Vidarbha after the name of its first ruler. Agastya married his daughter Lopamudra. He is ‘the Seer’ of some hymns of the Rgveda. His wife Lopamudra is also mentioned in Rgveda I. 179, 4, though Vidarbha is not named therein. The country became well-known in the age of the Brahmanas and the Upanisads. Bhima who is called Vaidarbha (i.e., the King of Vidarbha), is mentioned in the Aitareya Brahmana (VII, 34) as having received instruction regarding the substitute for soma juice. The Brhadaranyaka Upanisad mentions the sage Kaundinya of Vidarbha. Among those who asked questions about philosophical matters in the Prasnopanisad there was one named Bhargava from Vidarbha. The Ramayana in the Uttarakanda states the story of king Danda in whose time Vidarbha was devastated by a violent dust-storm. Danda was the son of Iksvaku and grandson of Manu. He ruled over the country between the Vindhya and Saivala mountains from his capital Madhumanta. He led a voluptuous life and once upon a time violated the daughter of the sage Bhargava. The sage, then cursed the king that his whole kingdom would be devastated by a terrible dust-storm. The whole country between Vindhya and Saivala extending over a thousand yojanas was consequently turned into a great forest which since then came to be known as Dandakaranya. It was in this forest that the Sudra sage Sambuka was practising austerities.(Ep. Ind. Vol. XXV, p.11) As this was an irreligious act according to the notions of those days, Rama beheaded him and revived the life of a Brahmana boy who had died prematurely. That the Nagpur region was included in the Dandaka forest. is shown by the tradition which states that Sambuka was practising austerities on the hill near Ramtek, about 45.062 km. (28 miles) from Nagpur. The site is still shown on that hill and is marked by the temple of Dhumresvara. This tradition is at least seven hundred years old, for it is mentioned in the stone inscription of the reign of the Yadava king Ramacandra fixed into the front wall of the garbhagrha of the temple of Laksmana on the hill of Ramtek.(Ibid, Vol. XXV, p.7.f) The Ramayana the Mahabharata and the Puranas mention several sacred rivers of Vidarbha such as the Payosni (Puma), Varada (Wardha) and the. Vena (Wainganga) and name many holy places situated on their banks. The royal house of Vidarbha was matrimonially connected with several princely families of North India. The Vidarbha princesses Damayanti, Indumati and Rukmini, who married Nala, Aja and Krsna, respectively, are well-known in Indian literature. Several great Sanskrt and Marathi poets from Kalidasa onwards have drawn the themes of their works from their romantic lives.
As stated below, the region round Nagpur was flourishing in the early centuries of the Christian era, but the name of Nagpur is noticed for the first time in a record of the tenth century A.D. A copper-plate inscription of the Rastrakuta king Krsna III dated in the 8aka year 862 (A.D. 940), discovered at Devali in the Wardha district, records the grant of a village situated in the visaya (district) of Nagpura-Nandivardhana.(Ibid, Vol, V, p.196. For the identification of the donated village and its boundaries, see S tudies in Lindology, Vol.II,p.253 f) Nandivardhana, which was well-known as an ancient capital of the Vakatakas, is now represented by the village Nandardhan, about three miles from Ramtek. Nagpur, which was situated near it, may have marked the original site of the modern town of that name. Tradition, however, gives the credit for settling the town of Nagpur to the Gond king Bakht Bulanda of Devagad. He is said to have included in the new town twelve hamlets, laid streets and erected a wall for its protection. It is not unlikely that Bakht Bulanda chose to call the new town by the name of Nagpur since it was associated with the place from ancient times.
Coming to historical times, we find that the country was included in the empire of the great Asoka. The thirteenth rock edict of that great Emperor mentions the Bhojas as the people who follow his religious teachings. The royal family of Bhoja was ruling over Vidarbha in ancient times. Since then the people came to be known as the Bhojas. A territorial division named Bhojakata (modern Bhatkuli in the Amravati district) is mentioned in a grant of the Vakatakas.(Fleet, C.I.I., Vol. III, p. 341) An inscription probably issued by the Dharmamahamatra placed by Asoka in charge of Vidarbha, has been found at Devatek in the Canda district.(Mirashi, Studies in Indology, Vol. I, p.109 f.) It records an order promulgated by the Dharmamahamatra interdicting the capture and slaughter of animals. It is dated in the fourteenth regnal year, evidently of Asoka.
After the overthrow of the Maurya dynasty in circa B.C. 184, the imperial throne in Pataliputra (Patna) was occupied by the Senapati Pusyamitra, the founder of the sunga dynasty. His son Agnimitra was appointed Viceroy of Malva and ruled from Vidisa, modern Besnagar, a small village near Bhilsa. Vidarbha, which had seceded from the Maurya Empire during the reign of one of the weak successors of Asoka was then ruled by Yajna-sena. He imprisoned his cousin Madhavasena, who was a rival claimant for the throne. The sister of Madhavasena escaped to Mii!vii and got admission as a hand-maid under the name of Miilavikii to the royal palace. Agnimitra, who had espoused the cause of Madhavasena and had sent an army against the king of Vidarbha, fell in love with Malavika and married her. The Malava army defeated the king of Vidarbha and released Madhavasena. Agnimitra then divided the country of Vidarbha between the two cousins, each ruling on one side of the Varada (modern Wardha). Eastern Vidarbha thus comprised Wardha, Nagpur, Bhandara, Canda, Seoni, Chindvada and Balaghat_ districts. It was bounded on the east by the country of Daksina Kosala (Chattisgad). From the Mahabharata also we learn that the province of Venakata bordered on that of Kosala. The story of Malavika forms the plot of the play Malavikagnimitra of the great Sanskrt poet Kalidasa.
Kalidasa does not state to what royal family Yajnasena and Madhavasena belonged and these names do not occur anywhere else. Still it is possible to conjecture that they may have been feudatories of the Satavahanas. From the Hathigumpha inscription at Udayagiri near Bhuvanesvar, we learn that Kharavela, the king of Kalinga, who was a contemporary of Pusyamitra, sent an army to the western region not minding Satakarni (Ep. Ind., Vol. XX, p. 71 f. Jayaswal’s and Banerji’s reading Musika in line 4 of this inscription is incorrect. Barua reads Asika which seems to be correct. For the identification of this country, see A.B.O.R.I., XXV, p. 167 f.). The latter evidently belonged to the Satavahana dynasty as the name occurs often in that family. Kharavela’s army is said to have penetrated up to the river Kanhabenna and struck terror in the hearts of the people of Rsika. The Kanhabenna is the river Kanhan which flows about 10 miles from Nagpur. Kharavela’s army, therefore, invaded Vidarbha. He knew that as the ruler of Vidarbha was a feudatory of king Satakarni, the latter would rush to his aid. When Vidarbha was thus invaded, the people of Rsika (Khandes) which bordered Vidarbha on the west, were naturally terror-striken. No actual engagement seems however to have taken place and the army retreated to Kalinga perhaps at the approach of the Satavahana forces.
The Satavahanas, who are called Andhras in the Puranas, held Vidarbha for four centuries and a half from circa B.C. 200 to A.D. 250. Their earliest inscriptions, however, which record their performance of Vedic sacrifices and munificent gifts to Brahmanas are found in the Poona and Nasik districts. Towards the close of the first century A.D. they were ousted by the Saka Satraps from Western Maharashtra. They then seem to have found shelter in Vidarbha. No inscriptions of the Satavahanas have indeed been found in Vidarbha, but in one of the Nasik inscriptions Gautamiputra Satakarni, who later on exterminated the Sakas and re-occupied Western Maharashtra, is called Benakatakasvami, the lord of Benakatakataka (Ep. Ind., Vol. VIII, p. 65 f.). No satisfactory explanation of this expression was possible until the discovery of the Tirodi plates of the Vakataka king Pravarasena. II(Ibid., Vol. XXII, p. 167 f.). As shown below, these plates record the grant of a village- III in the Benakata, which must have comprised the territory on both the banks of the Benna or the Wainganga, now included in the Balaghat and Bhandara districts. Gautamiputra, was, therefore, ruling over the country of Benakata (or Venakata), before he. reconquered Western Maharashtra from the Saka Satrap Nabhapana.
Gautamiputra was a very powerful king whose kingdom extended from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal and comprised even Malva, Kathiavad and parts of Rajputana in the north. His son Pulumavi was similarly the undisputed master of the whole Deccan. Yajnasri also, a later descendant of the family, retained his hold over the whole territory as his inscriptions and coins have been found in the Thana district in the west and the Krsna district in the east. Two hoards of Satavahana coins have been found in Vidarbha, one in the Brahmapuri tahsil of the Canda district (P.A.S.B for 1893,pp. 116-17.)and the other at Tarhala in the Mangul tahsil of the Akola district(J.N.S.I., Vol.II,pp. 83 f). The latter hoard, which was discovered in 1939, contains coins of as many as eleven kings. beginning from Gautamiputra Satakarni. Some of them such as (Gautamiputra) Satakarni, Pulumavi, Sivasri Pulumavi, Yajnasri Satakarni and Vijaya Satakarni are mentioned in the Puranas, while some others such as Kumbha Satakarni, Karna Satakarni and Saka Satakarni are not known from any other source. This hoard shows that the Satavahanas retained their hold over Vidarbha to the last.
The Satavahanas were liberal patrons of learning and religion. As stated above, the early kings performed Vedic sacrifices and lavished gifts on the Brahmanas. Gautamiputra, Pulumavi and Yajnasri excavated caves and donated villages to provide for the maintenance, clothing and medicine of Buddhist monks. They also patronised Prakrt literature. The Sattasai, an anthology of 700 Prakrt verses, is, by tradition, ascribed to Hala of the Satavahana dynasty.
About A.D. 250 the Satavahanas were supplanted by the Vakatakas in Vidarbha. This dynasty was founded by a Brahmana named Vindhyasakti I, who is mentioned in the Puranas(D.K.A., pp. 48 and 50.) as well as in an inscription in Cave XVI at Ajantha (Mirashi, C.I.I., Vol. VI, p. 102 f.). The Puranas mention Vindhyasakti, the founder of the dynasty, as a ruler of Vidisa (modern Bhilsa near Bhopal)( R. C. Majumdar and A. S. Altekar: The Vakataka-Gupta Age, p. 96.). His son Pravarasena I ruled over an extensive part of the Deccan. He performed several Vedic sacrifices including four asvamedhas and assumed the title of Samrat (Universal Emperor). According to the Puranas he had his capital at Purika (D.K.A., p. 50. I accept Jayaswal’s reading Purikam Canakari-ca vai in place of Purim Kancanakam-ca vai.) (Altekar mentions that Purika is connected with Vidarbha (modern Berar) and Asmaka by ancient geographers. The Purika province is mentioned along with Vidarbha and asmaka in the Markandeya Purana ( R.C. Majumdar and A.S. Altekar : The Vakataka – Gupta Age,p.96) which was situated at the foot of the Rksavat or Satpuda mountain (Mirashi, C.I.I., Vol VI, p. xviii, f. n. 5.) He had four sons among whom his empire was divided after his death. Two of these are known from inscriptions. The eldest son Gautimi-putra had predeceased him. His son Rudrasena I held the northern parts of Vidarbha and ruled from Nandivardhana, modern Nandardhan, near Ramtek. He had powerful support of the king Bhava-naga of the Bharasiva dynasty who ruled .at padmavati near Gwalior who was his maternal grandfather (R. C.Majumdar and A.S.Altekar. The Vakataka-Gupta Age, p. 102). Rudrasena was a fervent devotee of Mahabhairava. He has left an inscription incised on the aforementioned slab of stone found at Devatek, which contains a mutilated edict of the Dharma-mahamatra of Asoka. It records his construction of a Dharma-sthana (temple). (Ibid., Vol. VI, p. 1f.)
Rudrasena I was followed by his son Prthivisena I, who ruled for a long time and brought peace and contentment to his people. During his reign this branch of the Vakatakas became matrimonially connected with the illustrious Gupta family of north India. Candragupta II-Vikramaditya-married his daughter Prabhavatigupta II to Prthivisena I’s son, Rudrasena II, probably to secure the powerful Vakataka king’s help in his war with the Western Ksatrapas. Rudrasena II died soon after accession, leaving behind two sons Divakarasena and Damodarasena alias Pravarasena II. As neither of them had come of age, Prabhavatigupta ruled as regent for the elder son Divakarasena for at least thirteen years (Ibid., Vol. VI, pp. 5 f. According to Altekar, she carried on the administration for a period of about twenty years.(R. C.Majumdar and A. S. Altekar, The Vakataka-Gupta Age, p. 112). She seems to have been helped in the government of the kingdom by military and civil officers sent by her father Candragupta II. One of these was the great Sanskrt poet Kalidasa, who, while residing at the Vakataka capital Nandivardhana, must have visited Ramagiri (modern Ramtek), where the theme of his excellent lyric Meghaduta suggested itself to him. (Mirashi, Studies in Indology, Vol. I, p. 12 f.)
Prabhavatigupta has left us two copper-plate inscriptions. The earlier of them, though discovered in distant Poona, originally belonged to Vidarbha. It was issued from the then Vakataka capital Nandivardhana (Mirashi, C.I.I., Vol. VI, p. 6.) and records the dowager queen’s grant of the village Danguna (modern Hinganghat) to a Brahmana after offering it to the feet of the Bhagavat (i.e., Ramacandra) on Kartika sukla dvadast evidently at the time of Parane after observing a fast on the previous day of the Prabodhini Ekadasi. (Nandivardhana is most probably Nagardhan (also spelt as Nandardhan) near Ramtek about 13 miles north of Nagpur. This City is also identified with Nandpur, 34 miles north or Nagpur (R.C. Majumdar and A.S.Altekar: The Vakataka-Gupta Age,p. 114). Some of the boundary villages can still be traced in the vicinity of Hinganghat.
Divakarasena also seems to have died when quite young. He was succeeded by his brother Damodarasena, who on accession assumed the name Pravarasena of his illustrious ancestor. He had a long reign of thirty years and was known for his learning and liberality. More than a dozen land-grants made by him have come to light. One of them which was made at the instance of his mother Prabhavatigupta in the nineteenth regnal year is noteworthy. The plates recording it were issued from the feet of Ramagirisvamin (i.e., God Ramacandra on the hill of Ramagiri) and record the grant which the queen-mother made as on the previous occasion, viz., after observing a fast on the Prabodhini Ekadasi. (Ibid., Vol. VI, p. 34.)
Pravarasena II founded a new city which he named Pravara-pura, where he shifted his capital some time after his eleventh regnal year. Some of his later land-grants were made at the new capital. He built there a magnificent temple of Ramacandra evidently at the instance of his mother who was a devout worshipper of Visnu. Some of the sculptures used to decorate this temple have recently been discovered at Pavnar on the bank of the Dham, 9.656 km. (6 miles) from Wardha, and have thus led to the identification of Pravarapura with Pavnar. (Ibid., Vol. VI, p. lx f.)
Pravarasena II is the reputed author of the Setubandha, a Prakrt kavya in glorification of Ramacandra. This work has been greatly praised by Sanskrt poets and rhetoricians. According to a tradition recorded by a commentator of this work, it was composed by Kalidasa who ascribed it to Pravarasena. (Ibid, Vol. VI, p. liv.) Pravarasena is also known from some Prakrt gathas which were later interpolated in the Sattasai.
Pravarasena II was succeeded by his son Narendrasena, during whose reign Vidarbha was invaded by the Nala king Bhavadatta-varman. The latter penetrated as far as the Nagpur district and even occupied Nandivardhana, the erstwhile Vakataka capital. The Rddhapur plates record the grant which Bhavadatta had made while on a pilgrimage to Prayaga. The plates were issued from Nandivardhana which was evidently his capital at the time (Ep. Ind., Vol. XIX, pp. 100 f.). In this emergency the Vakatakas had to shift their capital again. They moved it to Padmapura, modern Padampur near Amganv in the Bhandara district. A fragmentary inscription which was proposed to be issued from Padmapur has been discovered at the village of Mohalla in the Durg districts. (Mirashi, C.I.I., Vol. VI, p. 75 f.)
The Nalas could not retain their hold over Vidarbha for a long time. They were ousted by Narendrasena’s son Prthivisena II, who carried the war into the enemy’s territory and burnt and devastated their capital Puskari which was situated in the Bastar State (Ibid., Vol. VI, p. xxvii.). Prthivisena II, taking advantage of the weakening of Gupta power, carried his arms to the north of the Narmada. Inscriptions of his feudatory Vyaghradeva have been found in the former Ajaigad and Jaso States (Ibid., Vol. VI, p. 88 f.).
This elder branch of the Vakataka family came to an end about A.D. 490. The territory round Nagpur was thereafter included in the dominion of the other or Vatsagulma branch.
The Vatsagulma branch was founded by Sarvasena, a younger son of Pravarasena I. It is also known to have produced some brave and learned princes. Sarvasena, the founder of this branch, is well-known as the author of another Prakrt kavya called Harivijaya, which has received unstinted praise from several eminent rhetoricians. The last known king of this branch was Harisena, who carved out an extensive empire for himself, extending from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal and from Malva to the Tungabhadra.
The Vakatakas were patrons of art and literature. In their age the Vaidarbhi riti came to be regarded as the best style of poetry as several excellent works were then produced in Vidarbha. Three of the caves at Ajintha, viz., the two Vihara caves XVI and XVII and the Caitya Cave XIX were excavated and decorated with paintings in the time of Harisena (Ibid, Vol. VI, p. lxv f.). Several temples of Hindu gods and goddesses were also built. The ruins of one of them have come to light at Pavnar (Mirashi, Studies in Indology, Vol. II, p. 272 f.). Others are known from references in copper-plate grants.
The Vakatakas disappear from the stage of history about A. D. 550, when their place is taken by the Kalacuris of Mahis-mati, modern Mahesvar in Central India. They also had a large empire extending from Konkan in the west to Vidarbha in the east and from Malava in the north to the Krsna in the south. The founder of the dynasty was Krsnaraja, whose coins have been found in the Amravati and Betul districts (Mirashi, C.I.I., Vol. IV, p. xlvi.). He was a devout worshipper of Mahesvara (Siva). That Vidarbha was included in his Empire is shown by the Nagardhan plates of his feudatory Svamiraja dated in the Kalacuri year 322 (A.D. 573) (Mirashi, C.I.I., Vol. VI, p. 611 f.). These plates were issued from Nandivardhana which seems to have maintained its importance even after the downfall of the Vakatakas. Svamiraja probably belonged to the Rastrakuta family.
About A.D. 620 the Kalacuri king Buddharaja the grandson of Krsnaraja was defeated by Pulakesin II of the Early Calukya dynasty, who thereafter became the lord of three Maharastras comprising 99,000 viIlages (Ep. Ind., Vol. VI, p. 1 f.). One of these Maharastras was undoubtedly Vidarbha. The Rastrakutas, who were previously feudatories of the Kalacuris, transferred their allegiance to the Calukyas and, like the latter, began to date their records in the Saka era. Two grants of this feudatory Rastrakuta family have been discovered in Vidarbha-one dated Saka 615 was found at Akola and the other dated Saka 631 was discovered at Multai. They give the following genealogy (Mirashi, Studies in Indology, Vol. II, p. 29 f.) :-
(Known dates A. D. 693 and 713)
About the middle of the eighth century A. D. the Early Calukyas were overthrown by the Rastrakutas. No inscriptions of the Early Calukyas have been found in Vidarbha, but their successors the Rastrakutas have left several records. The earliest of them is the copper-plate inscription of Krsna I discovered at Bhandak and dated in the Saka year 694 (A. D. 772) (Ep. Ind., Vol. XIV, p. 121 f.). It records the grant of the village Nagana to a temple of the Sun in Udumbaramanti, modern Rani Amravati in the Yavatmal district. Thereafter several grants of his grandson Govinda III have been found in the Akola and Amravati districts of Vidarbha (See e.g.Ep.ind., vol.XXIII,pp. 8f.; Vol. XXIII, p. 204 f., etc.). The Rastrakutas of Manyakheta and the Kalacuris of Tripuri were matrimonially connected and their relations were generally friendly. But in the reign of Govinda IV, they became strained. The Kalacuri king Yuvarajadeva I espoused the cause of his son-in-law Baddiga-Amoghavarsa III, the uncle of Govinda IV and sent a large army to invade Vidarbha. A pitched battle was fought on the bank of the Payosni (Purna) 16.093 km. (10 miles) from Acalapura, between the Kalacuri and Rastrakuta forces, in which the former became victorious. This event is commemorated in the Sanskrt play Viddhasalabhanjika of Rajasekhara, which was staged at Tripuri in jubilation of this victory. (C.I.I., Vol. VI, p. lxxix f.)
The next Rastrakuta record found in Vidarbha is the aforementioned Devali copper-plate grant of the reign of Baddiga’s son Krsna ITI, which mentions the visaya of Nagapura-Nandi-vardhana.
The Rastrakutas were succeeded by the Later Calukyas of Kalyani. Only one inscription of this family has been found in Vidarbha. It is the so-called Sitabuldi stone inscription of the time of Vikramaditya VI (Ep. Ind., Vol. III, p. 304 f.; Studies in Indology, Vol. II, p. 231 f.). From the account of Vinayakrav Aurangabadkar this record seems to have originally belonged to the Vindhyasana hill at Bhandak. It is dated the Saka year 1008 (A. D.1087) and registers the grant of some nivartanas of land, for the grazing of cattle, made by a dependant of a feudatory named Dhadibhandaka. Another inscription of Vikram – aditya’s reign was recently discovered at Dongarganv in the Yavatmal district. (Ep. Ind., Vol. XXXII, P. 112 f.). It sheds interesting light on the history of the Paramara dynasty. It shows that Jagaddeva, the youngest son of Udayaditya, the brother of Bhoja, left Malva and sought service with Vikramaditya VI, who welcomed him and placed him in charge of some portion of Western Vidarbha. This inscription is dated in the Saka year 1034 (A.D. 1112).
Though western Vidarbha was thus occupied by the Later Calukyas, the Paramaras of Dhar raided and occupied some portion of eastern Vidarbha. A large stone inscription now deposited in the Nagpur Museum, which originally seems to have belonged to Bhandak in the Canda district, traces the genealogy of the Paramara Prince Naravarman from Vairisimha. (Ibid., Vol. II, p. 180 f.). It is dated in the Vikrama year 1161 corresponding to A. D. 1104-05, and records the grant of two villages to a temple which was probably situated at Bhandak ; for some of the places mentioned in it can be identified in its vicinity. Thus Mokhalipataka is probably Mokhar, 80.47 km. (50 miles) west of Bhandak. Vyapura, the name of the mandala in which it was situated, may be represented by Vurganv 48.280 km. (30 miles) from Mokhar. After the downfall of the Vakatakas, there was no imperial family ruling in Vidarbha. The centre of political power shifted successively to Mahismati, Badami, Manyakheta and Kalyani. Men of learning who could not get royal patronage in Vidarbha, had to seek it elsewhere. Bhavabhuti, who ranks next to Kalidasa in Sanskrt literature, was a native of Vidarbha. In the prologue of his play Mahaviracarita he tells us that his ancestors lived in Padmapura in Vidarbha. As stated above, this place was once the capital of the Vakatakas and is probably identical with the village Padampur in the Bhandara district. (Mirashi, Studies in Indology, Vol. I, p. 21 f.). With the downfall of the Vakatakas this place lost its importance. In the beginning of the eighth century when Bhavabhuti flourished there was no great king ruling in Vidarbha. Bhavabhuti had therefore, to go to Padmavati, the capital of the Nagas in North India, and had to get his plays staged at the fair of Kalapriya-natha (the Sun-God at Kalpi) (Ibid., Vol. I, p. 35 f.). Later, he obtained royal patronage at the court of Yasovarman of Kanauj. Rajasekhara, another great son of Vidarbha, was probably born at Vatsagulma, (modern Vasim), which he has glorified in his Kavyamimamsa as the pleasure-resort of the god of love. He and his ancestors Akalajalada, Tarala and Surananda had to leave their home country of Vidarbha and to seek patronage at the court of the Kalacuris at Tripuri. Rajasekhara’s earlier plays, viz., the Balaramayana, the Balabharata and the Karpuramanjiri, were put on the boards at Kanauj under the patronage of the GurjaraPratiharas. Later, when the glory of the Pratiharas declined as a result of the raids of the Kalacuri king Yuvarajadeva I, Rajasekhara seems to have returned to Tripuri in the train of the victorious conqueror. There his last play Viddhasalabhanjika was staged in jubilation at the victory of Yuvarajadeva over a confederacy of Southern kings led by Govinda IV in ‘the battle of the Payosni (Mirashi, C.I.I., Vol. IV, p. lxxix f.). Another great poet of Vidarbha who had to go abroad in search of royal patronage is Trivikramabhatt, the author of the Nalacampu, in which he has given us a graphic description of several towns, holy places and rivers of Vidarbha. He flourished at the court of the Rastrakuta king Indra III and is known to have drafted the two sets of Bagumra plates of that king, dated Saka 816 (EP. Ind., Vol. IX, p. 24 f.).
In the last quarter of the twelfth century A.D. the Yadavas of Devagiri came into prominence. They had been ruling over Seunadesa in an earlier period as feudatories of the Later Calukyas, but Bhillama, the son of Mallugi, declared his independence and soon made himself master of the whole territory north of the Krsna. He then founded the city of Devagiri, which he made his capital. His son Jaitrapala, killed Rudradeva of the Kakatiya dynasty on the field of battle and released his nephew Ganapati whom he had put into prison. Under Jaitrapala’s son Singhana the power of the family greatly increased. He annexed the Kolhapur kingdom after defeating the Silahara king Bhoja in 1212. A. D. The first inscription of the Yadavas found in Vidarbha belongs to the reign of Singhana. It is dated in the Saka year 1133 and records the erection of a torana at Ambadapura in the Buldhana district of Vidarbha (Ibid., Vol. XXI, p. 127 f.). Many of the victories of Singhana were won for him by his Senapati Kholesvara who hailed from Vidarbha. He defeated Laksmideva the ruler of Bhambhagiri (modern Bhamer in Khandes), Paramara Bhoja of Cahanda (modern Canda) and Arjunavarmadeva, king of Malva, and devastated the capital of the Hoyasalas. He even pressed as far as Varanasi in the north where he put Ramapala to flight. Kholesvara constructed several temples in Vidarbha and also established agraharas on the banks of the Payosni and the Varada (G.H. Khare, Sources of the Mediaeval History of the Deccan (Marathi), Vol. I.). The former agrahara is still extant under the name of the village Kholapur in the Amravati district.
Singhana was succeeded by his grandson Krsna, whose inscription has been found in the temple of Khandesvara on a hillock on the outskirts of the village Nandganv in the Amravati district. It is dated in the Saka year 1177 (A.D. 1254-55) and records the donations of some gadyanakas for the offerings of flowers at the temple of Khandesvara. After Krsna’s death, the throne was occupied by his brother Mahadeva superseding the claims of the former’s son Ramacandra. Mahadeva annexed konkan to his kingdom after defeating Somesvara, of the Silahara dynasty. He left the throne to his son Amana, but the latter was soon deposed by Ramacandra, who captured the impregnable fort of Devagiri by means of a coup d’etat (Ep. Ind., Vol. XXV, p. 205.f). He is the last of the independent Hindu Kings of Devagiri. He won several victories and in a grant of his minister Purusottama he is said to have driven out the Muhammedans from Varanasi and built a golden temple there, which he dedicated to Visnu (Ibid., Vol. XXV, P.207). A fragmentary inscription of his time is built into the front wall of the temple of Laksmana on the hill at Ramtek (Ibid., Vol. XXV, p. 7 f.). In the first half of it, it describes the exploits of Ramacandra’s ancestors from Singhana onwards while in the second half it describes the temples, wells and tirthas on and in the vicinity of the hill which it names as Ramagiri. The object of the inscription seems to have been to record the repairs done to the temple of Laksmana by Raghava, the minister of Ramacandra. Another inscription of Ramacandra’s reign was found at Lanji in the Balaghat district. It is fragmentary and has not yet been deciphered.
In A. D. 1204 Ala-ud-din Khilji invaded the kingdom of Ramacandra and suddenly appeared before the gates of Devagiri. Ramacandra was taken unawares and could not hold out long. He had to pay a large ransom to the Muslim conqueror. He continued, however, to rule till A. D. 1310 at least; for a copperplate grant which his minister Purusottama made is dated in the Saka year 1232. He was succeeded by his son Sankaragana some time in A.D. 1311. He discontinued sending the stipulated tribute to Delhi. He was then defeated and slain by Malik Kafur. Some time thereafter Harapaladeva, the son-in-law of Ramacandra, raised an insurrection and drove away the Mohammedans, but his success was short-lived. The Hindu kingdom of Devagiri thus came to an end in A.D. 1318.
Like their illustrious predecessors the Yadavas also extended liberal patronage to art and literature. During their age a peculiar style of architecture called Hemadpanti after Hemadri or Hemadpant, a minister of Mahadeva and Ramacandra, came into vogue. Temples built in this style have been found in all the districts of Vidarbha. In the Nagpur district they exist at Adasa, Ambhora, Bhuganv, Darsevani, Savner, Ramtek and some other places. Several learned scholars flourished at their court.Among those who hailed from Vidarbha, Hemadri was the foremost. During the reign of Mahadeva he held the post of srikaranadhipa or Head of the Secretariat. He was appointed Minister and Head of the Elephant Force by Ramacandra. He was as brave as he was learned and liberal. He conquered and annexed to the Yadava kingdom the eastern part of Vidarbha called Jhadi-mandala. Hemadri is well known as the author of the Caturvargacintamani comprising five parts, viz., (1) Vrata-khanda, (2) Danakhanda, (3) Tirthakhanda, (4) Moksakhanda, and (5) Parisesakhanda. Of these the third and fourth khandas have not yet come to light. Hemadri’s work is held in great esteem and has been drawn upon by later writers on Dharma-sastra. Hemadri wrote on other subjects as well. He is the author of a commentary on Saunaka’s Pranavakalpa and also of a Sraddhakalpa in which he follows Katyayana. His Ayurveda-rasayana, a commentary on Vagbhata’s Astangahrdaya, and Kaivalyadipika, a gloss of Bopadeva’s Muktaphala are also well known.
Hemadri extended liberal patronage to learned men. Among his proteges the most famous was Bopadeva. He was a native of the village Vedapada (modern Bedod) on the bank of the Wardha in the Adilabad district of the former Hyderabad State. Bopadeva is said to have composed ten works on Sanskrt grammar, nine on medicine, one for the determination of the tithis, three on poetics and an. equal number for the elucidation of the Bhagavata doctrine. Only eight of these are now extant. The Mugdhabodha, his work on Sanskrt grammar is very popular in Bengal.
Marathi literature also flourished in the age of the Yadavas. Cakradhara, who propagated the Mahanubhava cult in that age, used Marathi as the medium of his religious teachings. Following his example, several of his followers composed literary works in Marathi. They are counted among the first works of Marathi literature. Mukundaraja, the author of the Vedantic works Vivekasindhu and Paramamrta, and Jnanesvara, the celebrated author of the Bhavarthadipika, a commentary on the Bhagavad-gita are the most illustrious writers of that age.
The fall of the Yadavas of Devagiri marks a turning point not only in the history of the Deccan but also in that of the Peninsular India. Their fan facilitated Islam’s penetration deep into the South.
The Yadavas dominated the Deccan politics (EHD, p. 515.) in the thirteenth century. They claimed descent from Yadu of Puranic fame. Drdhaprahara was the first member of the family to attain some distinction (EHD, p. 516) in about 860 A. D. His successor founded the city of Seunapur probably modern Sinnar in the Nasik district. Later in the struggle between the Rastrakutas and the Calukyas, the Yadava King Bhillama II took the side of latter. He also participated in the overthrow of the Paramara King Munja (EHD, p.517.). For this help the Rastrakuta King granted Ahmadnagar district to Bhillama. Bhillama assumed the title Vijayabharana Ornament of Victory-for himself.
It was Bhillama V who for the first time assumed imperial titles for his dynasty in about 1187 A. D. (EHD, p. 520). He gained victories after victories but in the end met with a tremendous set-back in the struggle to maintain a hold over the Doab region between the Krsna and the Tungabhadra. In this struggle he was pitched against the Hoyasala King Ballala II on the battlefield of Soratur near Dharvar. The famous Yadava general Jaitrapala lost his life while fighting against the Hoyasala King (EHD, p. 525). This event took place towards the end of 1191 A. D. (EHD, p. 523). It is to the credit of Bhillama V that he consolidated the Yadava rule over Maharastra, carried successful inroads into Malva and Gujarat and occupied the whole of the Raicur Doab (EHD, p. 527).
The sorrowful defeat of Soratur was avenged by Singhana Yadava (C 1210 to 1247). The Yadava empire reached its meridian under this most able ruler. In the struggle for the hegemony of the Deccan Singhana was successful over his rivals the Hoyasalas and Kakatiyas of the south and the Paramaras and the Calukyas to his north. Roughly his territory extended to the south of the line joining Nagpur and Broac and was limited by the line connecting Girisappa and Karnul (EHD, p. 542). According to Hemadri the minister of Mahadeva Yadava and the inventor of the temple architecture known as Hemadpanti style, Singhana’s empire included the Chattisgad area. Some of the inscriptions claim that the kings of Mathura and Kasi felt the power of Singhana and one of his generals defeated a Muslim ruler. They also state that either King Singhana himself or his generals Kholesvara, Rama or Bicana defeated the kings of Sindh, Rohilkhand, Bengal, Bihar, Kerala and Pandya. All these high claims for Singhana appear to be more imaginary than real in the absence of independent and trustworthy evidence (EHD, pp. 540-41). However, it is significant to note that the arm of the Yadava power under Singhana had reached as far as Nagpur in its eastward expansion. Ramacandra Yadava (1271-1311) extended his sway over Vajrakar (probably Vairagad, eighty miles north east of Canda) and Bhandagara i.e., Bhandara, thirty-eight miles east of Nagpur. He then marched northward and took Tripuri near Jubbulpore. From here he proceeded to Benaras and restored it to Hindu rule. This event must have taken place after the death of Balban in A. D. 1286 and prior to the accession of Jalal-ud-din Khilji, when the hold of Islam over the outlying provinces was slack. This is evidenced by the famous Purusottamapuri plates of Ramacandra (EHD, P. 551.).
The eastern border of the Yadava kingdom under Ramacandra extended beyond the Wardha river, the traditional boundary line of Berar. Hemadri, probably took a leading part in the conquest of Nagpur, Bhandara and Canda beyond the Wardha river. Nagpur, Bhandara and Canda comprised the Jhadimandala i.e., the wooded territory. From the Lilacaritra i.e., the biography of the saint Cakradhara it seems that the Jhadimandala where he wandered was not far off from Acalapur i.e., Ellicpur. (Lilacaritra, Ekanka, p. 37-by H. N. Nene. Also see Samsodhana Muktavali, Sarga Dusara by V. V. Mirashi. Madhyaprades Samsodhana Mandala, Nagpur, 1957, pp. 196-97. The inscription of Ramacandra found at Ramtek speaks for the Yadava sway over Nagpur- Epigraphica Indica, Vol. 25, p.7.).
Thus we gather from the Ramtek inscription and the Lilacaritra that the district of Nagpur was at one time under the Yadavas of Devagiri. It formed part of the thickly wooded, country-Jhadimandala. It is quite natural that the region to the east of the Wardha river should be thickly wooded as it has had better rainfall than the region to its west. Nagpur under the Yadavas does not seem to have attained any political importance, like the western wing of the Yadava Kingdom.
By 1292 A. D. the Yadava power was at the height of its glory. It. however, began to decline fast when Devagiri was invaded by Ala-ud-din Khilji in 1294 (EHD, P. 552). Ramacandra Yadava was taken by surprise and completely defeated. He purchased peace by offering vast quantity of gold, the revenue of Ellicpur as annual tribute and one of his daughters to the victor Ala-ud-din. The pride of the Yadavas was humbled.
Sankaradeva, the son of Ramacandra, tried in vain to regain the lost independence. He was easily defeated by Malik Kafur the distinguished general of Alai-ud-din. The last ruler of the Yadavas Harapaladeva was defeated and killed in 1318 A. D. by Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Sah. By this defeat Maharastra passed into the hands of the Muslim rulers and Devagiri became a centre of Islamic culture (EHD, pp. 555-56).
From the fall of the Yadavas till the entry of the Moghals in Gondavana, the Gond Rajas were more or less free from any political domination. Even during the hey-day of the Yadavas, it seems that they were never, completely subjugated as their habitat was in the fastness of hills and forests.
Gondavana roughly includes the area running from Jubbulpore to Telangana, north to south and from west to east by the line joining the satapuda hills and the Chattisgad region. The Gonds are mainly divided into the Raja Gonds and the Khatoles. The former consider themselves as Rajputs or Ksatriyas. (NPI, pp. 9, 10.).
The principal Gondi kingdoms in the Gondvana area had their seats at Gadha, Mandla, Devgad, Candrapur or Canda and Kherala, on the northern slopes of the Satapuda. Besides there were petty Gond naiks in the Melghat styling themselves as Rajas. Of these kingdoms Gadha is noted in history because of its brave Rani Durgavati. The ambitious Moghal Emperor, Akbar, appointed Khvaja Abdul-Majid as the Governor of Karra conferring upon him the title of Asaf Khan. One of his valuable services was the conquest of Gadha ruled by Rani Durgavati. The Rani fought valorously against heavy odds and when helpless killed her self in order to escape the disgrace she would have been put to if taken a captive. Gadha had given no provocation to Akbar. Its conquest was an act of Imperial aggression, pure and simple. This historic incident is described in Tarikh-i-Alfl. (S. R. Sharma, Mughal Empire in India, Part I, p. 210.). After the Rani’s death her son Bir Narayan resisted from the fort of Cauragad till he fell fighting. The kingdom of Gadha was offered to Candra sah as the Moghal vassal.
During the reign of sah Jahan the unfortunate ruler of Gadha, Hirde sah was attacked by Raja Pahad Sing Bundela. Hirde sah shifted his capital to Mandla. His successors fought among themselves inviting alternately Aurangzeb and the Marathas for help to put down the rival party. With the rise of Raghuji Bhosle the rules of Gadha and Mandla were once again subjugated and forced to pay tribute. Thus, with the advent of the Moghals-Akbar-in Gondavana and the rise of Raghuji Bhosle these kingdoms lost their independence and were reduced to the status of vassals.
The Gond rulers of Devagad are directly related with the history of Nagpur With the loss of independence of Gadha and Mandla, Devagad, too, was destined to go the same way. The Devagad house hailed from Harayagad, but shifted its seat, to Devagad under its founder Jatba. Originally Devagad was a feudal state under Gadha. However, when the latter passed under the Moghal rule, Devagad automatically became part of the Moghal territory. According to the Ain-i-Akbari when Akbar was the Emperor, Jatba, the ruler of Devagad, possessed two thousand horses, fifty thousand foot-soldiers and a hundred elephants. Jatba extended his kingdom as far as Nagpur and constructed there a fort as an outpost. The descendants of this family are yet known as “killevale -Raje” in Nagpur. (NPI, p. 28.)
According to a local Gondi tradition recorded by Craddock in the old edition of Nagpur Gazetteer, Devagad was originally a Gavali Kingdom conquered later by Sarabasa, a Gond king of Gadha. Jatba was the eighth descendant from Sarabasa. Historically it is Jatba who merits our attention and not his predecessors whose account is shrouded in legends.
By about 1600 A. D. Koka Sah, the son of Jatba, succeeded to the gadi. For the non-payment of tribute to the imperial treasury sah Jahan ordered Khan Dauran to raid Devagad territory. In 1637 A. D. Khan Dauran laid siege to the fort of Nagpur and blew off its bastions. Koka Sah hastened to Nagpur from Devagad and purchased peace by paying one and a half lakh of rupees and hundred and seventy elephants. Nagpur fort was restored to Koka sah.
Later, during the reign of Sah Jahan Devagad was raided twice, once by Sah Navaz and next by Aurangzeb as the Governor of the Deccan, with a view to extract its wealth. But poor Devagad was like a cow which had gone dry due to constant milking without proper feeding.
Koka Sah was succeeded by Bakht Sah or Bakht Buland the most distinguished ruler of the Devagad house. Bakht Buland was driven out of Devagad in the War of succession by his brothers. He appealed to Aurangzeb for help. Aurangzeb, a staunch Sunni, agreed to help on the condition that Bakht should embrace Islam. Helpless Bakht became a Musalman with the understanding that he would dine with Muslims but would continue to take brides from among the Gonds. Aurangzeb accepted this compromise and with the military assistance offered by him Bakht Buland regained his lost gadi. The descendants of Bakht continued to have marital relations with the Raja Gonds. They, however, performed their marriage ceremony according to the Hindu rites followed by those of the Islamic. Elastic Hindu religion has never taken serious note of such lapses but has given them a place within its fold.
Bakht Buland was a capable ruler. He extended his kingdom reaching up to the borders of Berar from north and east. He founded the city of Nagpur by joining the twelve small hamlets formerly known as Rajapur Barsa or Barasta. He constructed roads, divided the city into wards and erected a strong wall around as a protective measure. Part of old Nagpur is even today known as Burhan Sah’s Killa named after the last deposed king of this house. Bakht Buland died in about 1706 A. D.
His kingdom included the present district of Chindvada and Baitul and some portions of Nagpur, Sivani, Bhandara and Balaghat. During the declining days of the Moghal empire Bakht Buland raided the territory on both the banks of Wardha and drew upon himself the disfavour of Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb thereupon ordered that the title Bakht Buland meaning ‘of high fortune’ should be changed to Nigun Bakht-of mean fortune. Nothing is known of the army sent to punish Bakht. ‘
Nagpur attained importance under Cand Sultan, the son and successor of Bakht. Taking advantage of the fast collapsing Moghal empire after Aurangzeb’s death, Cand Sultan captured Paunar in Berar, an important military station. It remained under him for more than twenty years. After Cand Sultan’s death in 1738, his illegitimate son Wali Sah put to death Bahadur Sah, the legitimate heir and occupied the gad. The younger brothers of Bahadur Sah, Akbar and Burhan being teen-agers, their mother Rani Ratankuvar, the dowager, appealed to Raghuji Bhosle for help. This was a welcome opportunity for young Raghuji who was aspiring for power. At the request of the queen he promptly moved from Bham, his headquarters, defeated Wali and took him a captive. He then moved to Devagad and installed Burhan Sah on his ancestral throne. In recognition of his timely help Rani Ratankuvar gave Raghuji one-third of her kingdom. Later, when the two brothers Akbar and Burhan quarrelled with each other, the latter asked for Raghuji’s help. Raghuji exploited the family dispute to his full advantage and became the de facto ruler of the Gond kingdom of Devagad. At present Jatba’s tomb and some foundations of buildings are the only remains among the ruins of Devagad fort.
The Gondi house of Candrapur or Canda like that of Devagad was destined to fall a prey to its powerful neighbour Raghuji Bhosle. This house originally hailed from sirpur on the west bank of Wardha. About 895 A.D. Bhlma Balla is said to have founded the kingdom. Relevant details of Candrapur are given under Raghuji’s exploits in the following pages.
According to Sir Richard Jenkins much of the credit for the development of agriculture, industry and commerce in Gondavana and Nagpur goes to Bakht Buland. He brought industrious settlers into his domain by offering them liberal land grams. The superstructure of the Maratha administration erected by the Bhosles stood on the ground work prepared by Bakht Buland. With due regard for the work done by the Gonds, for their bravery and simple virtue, it must be admitted that they remained in the backwaters of civilization.
Administration under the Gonds.
The administrative system obtaining in Nagpur and the territory to its east during the Gondi period was semi-feudal. Nagpur proper then formed part of Devagad below the ghats.
The Raja Gonds ruled the tract known as Gondavana, and Nagpur formed part of it till it was conquered by Raghuji Bhosle I. The whole country under the Raja Gonds was distributed among a number of subordinate local chiefs known as Rajas, Rais and Thakurs. These subordinate chiefs exercised considerable power within their jurisdiction but recognised the authority of the Maharaja of Devagad in a general manner (RMSH, p. 182.).
From Abul Fazal’s account of the Gadha-Katanga Gondi Kingdom one gathers that a number of paraganas in the area were held by the Rajas. Obviously, such paraganas in the days of Abul Fazal yet retained the traces of the Gondi administration.
The system of administration by subordinate chiefs existed in the Gondavana till the Marathas overran it. Those areas of Gondavana which remained unaffected by either the Moghal or Maratha influence naturally retained their semi-feudal characteristics peculiar to the Gonds. The Government of Damoh, for instance, was entirely feudal, unaffected as it was by foreign influence for a long time. This country was divided into a number of chiefships each having the headman of the clan who enjoyed the entire revenue and rendered military service to the Government whenever called upon to do so. The chiefs in addition had to pay an annual tribute of a jar of butter or one or two bamboo walking-sticks or the like. (RMSH. P. 185.)
Similarly, the Gondi administrative system in the Narsingpur district was almost exclusively feudal. The district was divided among the feudatory chiefs who were bound to attend upon the overlord at the capital with a stipulated number of troops but were not required to pay revenue in money.
In the Chattisgad area there existed greater chiefs and smaller chiefs prior to its conquest by the Bhosles. (Ibid p. 187)
In Harrai in the Chindavada district where Gondi administration continued for a long time the tribute (takoli) was settled in chironji-nuts-and honey. (Ibid p.189.)
Some useful details of Gondi administration in the Devagad above the ghats are presented here for, what was existing there was most probably obtaining in the Devagad below the ghats i.e., the Nagpur area in the pre-Bhosle period.
The local chiefs called Thakurs took cognisance of petty crimes and offences in their area. They could levy fines and confiscate the property of the offenders. For good Government the Thakurs were to protect the travellers passing through their country and were responsible for any harm done to them within their jurisdiction. Further they were not to punish any person with death or mutilation or imprisonment beyond a certain number of days without reference to the Government.
Petty offences such as abusing, beating, stealing were decided according to the customary rules. Adultery, rape, fornication, disputes about marriage, breach of observance of caste rules, etc. were settled according to the laws of the caste.
Dispute between two Thakurs was to be judged by the overlord. Thus, within his own area the position of the Thakur was very strong. He was the head of the local minor clan,captain of the local levies and the representative of the authority of the Raja of Harrai immediately above him, and finally of the. Maharaja of Devagad.
A comparatively small domain was held, by the Maharaja, the surrounding area being under the local chiefs known as the Rais or Rajas. They were in complete subjugation to the Maharaja according to his military strength. They attended him with levies of local troops and definitely paid much more than a jar of butter or bamboo sticks. They had a free hand in internal matters. The major part of the estate was under the Thakurs who made contributions in cash and kind according to their means and provided a quota of troops for their service of the Raja.
This structure of the Kingdom of the Raja Gonds of Gadha and Devagad, though common, was subject to modifications elsewhere.
One of the striking features of Gondvana administration was the absence of hereditary officers like Desmukhs and the Despandes so common in Berar. The only hereditary officer in Gadha-Mandla was the registrar or accountant called beohar or sometimes gumasta who was always a Kayastha. Beohar is quite likely the corrupt form of the Sanskrt word vyavahara. In the semi-feudal semi-tribal Governments these hereditary officers were absent (RMSH, pp. 194-95).
In Devagad and Canda, the original basis the same as in Gondvana. The Rajas were little more than feudal superiors of a number of petty chiefs. Their dependants contributed to them military service. The Rajas like other feudatories possessed a territorial domain in which they exercised direct authority.
With regard to the land revenue system of Devagad i.e., Nagpur and Canda there were officers known as Desmukhs,
This highly centralised administration through the Desmukhs, Despandes, Hudars etc., in the Gondavana appears an anomaly. It was certainly common in Berar. But its presence in some parts of Devagad Kingdom would mean that it was found there by the Gond Rajas already existing when they conquered it. In other words, the system of administration by Desmukhs and Despandes in some parts of Gondavana i.e., Devagad was remnant of the previous Khalsa or centralised system, and was continued by the Gonds when they conquered it. The Marathas, when they conquered the Gondi kingdoms of Devagad and Canda, therefore, found in some parts the administration by Desmukhs and Despandes not in fact indigenous to Gondavana. It may be noted here that in Devagad above the ghats the real home of the Devagad Maharajas which forms part of the present Chindavada district, administration by Desmukhs and Despandes was unknown Again, as late as 1801 A. D., the Pathan jagirdar of Sivani (Seoni) maintained a feudal state owing allegiance to the Bhosles of Nagpur as his overlord. (RMSH, pp. 197-98).
Bhosles of Nagpur
Origin and rise
The Bhosle family is counted among the royal or Ksatriya clans of the Marathas. The Bhosle house to which Chatrapati Sivaji, the founder of Maratha Kingdom belonged, hailed from Verul near Daulatabad. The Bhosles of Nagpur are known as Hinganikar as one of their ancestors who was probably a contemporary of Maloji, the grandfather of Chatrapati Sivaji rehabilitated the village Beradi near Hingani in the present district of Poona. The two brothers Mudhoji and Rupaji of Hingani-Beradi were contemporaries of Sahaji Bhosle the father of Sivaji. Like Chatrapati Bhosle house, the Nagpur Bhosle family, too, considers that it descended from the Sisodia Rajputs of Udaipur. It is quite possible that some Ksatriya clans of the Rajputs came down to the Maratha country from the north during the long ascendancy of the Muslims. Nevertheless, it is a historical fact that there were Ksatriya families in the Maratha country like the Rastrakutas, the Calukyas and the Yadavas, who had no relationship with the Rajputs of the north.
The family tree in the bakhar of the Bhosles of Nagpur denotes ancestors who were common to this house and also to the Bhosle house of the Chatrapatis. The Bhosles of Nagpur and the Chatrapati’s house belonged to the same Ksatriya clan. However, there is no independent historical evidence to establish common ancestry between the two families in the few generations preceding Chatrapati Sivaji. The account in the bakhar of the Bhosles of Nagpur, therefore, has to be taken with a grain of salt.
In the biography of Chatrapati Sambhaji by Malhar Ramrav Citanis it is stated that after the death of Sivaji his obsequies were performed by Sabaji Bhosle, as Sambhaji, the eldest son was in confinement on the fort of Panhala. But James Grant Duff in his’ A History of the Marathas’, Vol. I, p. 243, says that Sivaji’s funeral rites were performed by one ‘Shahjee Bhonslay’ (Sahaji Bhosle). There is no unanimity among contemporary writers about the person performing Sivaji’s funeral rites.
If, however, Sabaji Bhosle performed the obsequies there is every possibility that this Bhosle the ancestor of the famous Raghuji Bhosle of Nagpur was a known blood relation of the Chatrapatis. At the time of Sahu Chatrapati’s home-coming when Tarabai and her partisans purposely cast doubt about Sahu being the grandson of Sivaji, it was Parasoji of the Nagpur Bhosle house who dined with Sahu and dispelled the doubt. Then again during the last years of Sahu’s reign it was strongly rumoured that he would select an heir to the gadi of Satara from the Bhosles of Nagpur as he had no son. Later, the English offered to seat one of the Bhosle’s of Nagpur on the gadi of Satara. All these events indicate the possibility of a common ancestor of the Bhosles of Satara and Nagpur though direct historical evidence is not yet forthcoming to establish the fact.
The two Bhosle brothers Mudhoji and Rupaji were contemporaries of Sahaji Bhosle and were noted roving soldiers. (NPI., p. 44.). Rupaji, it seems was residing at Bham in the district of Yavatmal where he had a jagir.(Ibid, p. 46.). He was childless. Of the sons of Mudhoji, Parasoji and Sabaji stayed with their uncle at Bham and served in the army of Chatrapati Sivaji.
Parasoji seems to have gained some distinction by his inroads into the territories of Berar and Gondavana during the reign of Sivaji. He exacted tribute from these regions. After Sambhaji’s death when Rajaram succeeded to the throne of the Chatrapati Parasoji rendered him valuable help. In appreciation of his service Rajaram honoured Parasoji by presenting him robes, jari-pataka and the title of ‘Senasaheb Subha’. Gondavana, Devagad, Canda and Berar from where he had exacted tribute were given to his charge. (Malhar Ramrav Citanis Viracita Srimant Chatrapati Sambhaji Maharaja Ani Thorale Rajaram Maharaja yanci Caritre by K. K. Sane, Third Edition, 1915, p. 51). Parasoji was the first of the Bhosles of Nagpur to have received this honorific title. This grant was made in 1699 A. D. (NPI, p. 45,)
When Sahu was released by the Moghals, Parasoji was the first of the Maratha nobles to join him. Parasoji dined with Sahu in the same dish to dispel the doubt of the latter’s royal descent. In 1707 Sahu conferred on Parasoji the title of ‘Sena suheb Subha’ and issued a sanad granting him and his successors in perpetuity ‘mokasa’ of the following places:-
1. Prant Ritapur and Sarkar Gavel, Prant Berar, Prant Devagad, Canda and Gondavana.
So far, for the grant of 147 mahals from the six Sarkars, there is no documentary evidence. (NBB, p.31 states that these Mahals were granted to Parasoji Bhosle. Independent evidence in support of this statement is not available. P. D., Vol. 20, p. 1. “The Early struggle of the Bhosles cannot yet be set down with accuracy, not a single paper relating to Parasoji the founder, of the Nagpur Rajas and first prominent adherent of King Sahu, having been hitherto discovered”). Parasoji the first Senasaheb Subha died at Khed at the confluence of the rivers Krsna and Venna in 1709, on his homeward journey from Satara. (NPI, p.50.)
Parasoji was succeeded by his son Kanhoji. Chatrapati Sahu granted Kanhoji his hereditary title and also some land at Khed for the maintenance of his father’s memorial. Darva was taken by Kanhoji and he made Bham his headquarters.
In the struggle between the Sayyad brothers and Nizam-ul-mulk far the control of the Delhi affairs, the farmer received the support of Sahu. Sahu sent Bajirav Pesva and Kanhoji Bhosle against the Nizam. In the battle of Balapur fought an 10th August 1720, the Nizam came out victorious. Many Marathas last their lives. In the battle of Sakhar-Kheda, 1724, Kanhoji Bhosle offered to help Mubarij Khan against the Nizam, but Mubarij impudently refused it.
Kanhoji breaks his relations with Sahu
Kanhoji was a religious minded orthodox Maratha nobleman. It is said that he accepted food prepared by Brahmans alone. The religious bent of his mind was probably due to his having no son. He performed sacrifices, religious rites and observed fasts so that he should be blessed by God with a san. Kanhoji soon gat a son wham he named Rupaji. (Ibid, p. 56.)
Kanhoji it seems was hat tempered. He could not carry on well either with the Chatrapati or the Pesva (P.D., vol. 20, p. 1.). When called by the Chatrapati to explain the causes of his failure to pay the dues into the treasury, Kanhoji could neither pay the dues nor explain the accounts. The fact seems to be that he was not prepared to brook control with sahu. As the relations worsened, Kanhoji on 23rd August, 1725, decamped from Satara and hastened to the Nizam for asylum. The Nizam, however, did not back Kanhoji as Sahu reminded him that such an act was against the treaty entered into between them. When all attempts at rapprochement failed, Sahu set Raghuji Bhosle against Kanhoji. Raghuji had been asking Kanhoji, his uncle, far his share in the ancestral jagir. This had naturally strained the relations between the nephew and the uncle. Chatrapati Sahu in setting the nephew against the uncle exploited the family feud to his awn advantage.
After making the necessary preparations Raghuji marched in 1728 from Satara against his uncle. Sahu granted him the mokasa of Devur near Wai. Far this grant the Bhosles of Nagpur were also styled as the Rajas of Devur. Raghuji received the robes of Senasaheb Subha, sanads for Berar and Gondavana and the right to extend the levy of cauthai to Chattisgad, Patna, Allahabad and Makasudabad (Bengal).
Raghuji entered Berar via Aurangabad. Near Jalana Samser Bahaddar Atole objected to Raghuji’s taking the army through his territory as the old route passed through Nanded and Asti. Raghuji avoided an encounter with Atole and encamped at Balapur after crossing the Lakhanvada ghats. From Balapur Raghuji sent his armed men all over the Berar and collected tributes. Sujayat Khan Pathan of Akola serving under the Navabs of Ellicpur was easily defeated by Raghuji and his territory subjugated. Thus, after establishing his rule over a greater part of Berar, Raghuji proceeded towards Bham. the headquarters of his uncle, in 1730 A. D. The small fortress at Bham was besieged by Raghuji’s army. He was joined by his other uncle Ranoji. Finding himself in a difficult situation Kanhoji escaped from Bham and ran for safety towards Mahur. He was hotly chased by Raghuji and Ranoji and overtaken near Mandar (Vani). In the skirmish that took place, Kanhoji was defeated and taken a prisoner. Kanhoji, the second Senasaheb Subha, spent the remaining part of his life as a prisoner at Satara. (NPI, pp. 58-64) At one time Kanhoji was an enterprising officer of Sahu. He made some conquests in Gondavana and led an incursion into Katak, laying the foundation of Maratha expansion eastward. His proposals. that he should be allowed to maintain 200 horse, and Akola and Balapur in Paya Ghat should be restored to him, were not accepted. All was lost, once he lost the favour of Sahu. (James Grant Duff., Esq.-A History of The Marathas, Vol. I, p. 424, Calcutta, Published by R. Cambray and Co., Law Booksellers and Publishers, 9, Hastings Street, 1912.) The end of Kanhoji’s political career in about 1730 A. D. opened up for Raghuji new opportunities in Berar, Nagpur and the region beyond to the east.
By suppressing the recalcitrant Kanhoji, Raghuji gained the favour of Chatrapati sahu. As already observed Sahu conferred on him the title of Senasaheb Subha and the right to collect cauthai from Berar, Gondavana Chattisgad, Allahabad, Makasudabad (Bengal) and Patna. According to Grant Duff on the occasion of granting these rights Raghuji gave a bond which stated (Ibid, p. 424.) :-
1. That he would maintain a body of 5,000 horse for the service of the State;
These terms of the bond are important in determining Chatrapati-Raghuji and Pesva-Raghuji relations.
Details of Raghuji’s early life are not available. It seems that shortly after his birth his father Bimbaji died and he was brought up by his mother Kasibai and grandmother Bayabai at Pandava-vadi near Wai (District Satara). The child, it is said, was born by the grace of one Ramajipant Kolhatkar, a pious devotee of Rama and was, therefore, named Raghuji. There seems to be much truth in this story. Raghuji was a devotee of God Rama, though the family deity was Mahadev. He installed the new idol of Rama at Ramtek and was responsible for reviving the religious importance of this ancient place. In his letter-head he incorporated the word ‘Sitakanta’ meaning, the Lord of Sita in honour of his favourite God Rama.
When Raghuji attained manhood he served in the army of his uncle Ranoji. Later he was with his other uncle Kanhoji at Bham. Raghuji did not fare well with Kanhoji and entered the services of Cand Sultan of Devagad. For some time he was also with the Navab of Ellicpur (NPI, p. 69.) Finally Raghuji decided to serve Chatrapati Sahu at Satara. During his stay there he was asked to accompany Fatehsingh Bhosle to the Karnatak where he distinguished himself as a capable soldier. When Raghuji’s qualities as a soldier and leader of men came to the notice of Sahu, he appointed him against the disobedient Kanhoji.
In the early part of his career Raghuji appears to have been a freelance soldier, shifting his loyalty from his uncle to the weak Gond Rajas. This was rather the time-honoured expedient resorted to by many an ambitious soldier. Raghuji was not slow to grasp the political situation prevailing in the area from the distant Karnatak to Gondavana and finally threw his lot with Sahu, who was by then a well-settled Chatrapati. This was indeed a wise decision which benefited Raghuji as also the Maratha expansion.
After consolidating his position at Bham in Berar, Raghuji turned his attention to the Gond Kingdoms of Devagad, Gadha-Mandla Canda and Chattisgad. Internal dissensions in these kingdoms and their wars with other States were the occasions availed of by Raghuji for establishing his sway over them. In 1739-1740 Raghuji was sent to Karnatak by Sahu. Raghuji distinguished himself in this expedition. Returning from Karnatak he made the necessary arrangement for the invasion of Bengal and dispatched a large’ army under the command of his General Bhaskarpant. Bengal invasion engaged Raghuji’s attention for ten years, from 1741 to 1751 A. D. The net gain was the province of Orissa. It was during these years that the historic dispute between. Raghuji Bhosle and Balaji Pesva arose when their interest in the east clashed. Thus, broadly the chronological sequence of Raghuji’s major exploits is –
securing Berar by defeating his uncle Kanhoji;
Raghuji and the Gond Kingdoms
Devagad: Raghuji for sometime had sought service (RMSH, p. 171.) with Cand Sultan of Devagad after quitting his uncle Kanhoji at Bham with whom he had quarrelled. The details of Raghuji’s service with Cand Sultan are not available from the known source-material. Cand Sultan died in about 1738. (NPI, pp. 71-74; also see RMSH, p. 173-As desired by the Rani Ratan Kuvar her “possessions were divided into three equal parts and one of them, namely that containing Gondavana Pavani, Marud, Multai and Barghat was given to Raghuji Sena Saheb” “He then lived in Nagpur and Devagad provinces.”) His illegitimate son Wali Sah killed Mir Bahaddar the legitimate son of Cand Sultan. Rani Ratankuvar, the widow of Cand asked for Raghuji’s help as her two other sons Akbar and Burhan were minors. Raghuji at once proceeded from Bham and defeated Wali. Sah’s generals at Patansavangi. He next conquered Pavani to the south of Bhandara on the river Wainganga. This was a, strategic post. Raghuji appointed his own officer Tulojirampant. The fort of Bhanore or modern Bhandara was Raghuji’s next target of attack. Wali Sah, from Devagad hurriedly dispatched an army under his divan Raghunathsing to relieve the pressure on Bhandara fort. Raghuji was camping at Sirasghat on the Wainganga. He split his army into two divisions stationing them at Sonbardi and Giroli. A select army under Raghuji Karande was sent to face the enemy with the instruction that it should take to its heels at a suitable time and lure Raghunathsing between the two Maratha divisions. Raghunathsing’s army was entrapped, routed and drowned into the Wainganga. He himself was taken a prisoner in a wounded state and honourably sent back to Devagad with a view to capturing Wali sah by treachery. The fort of Bhandara was besieged. Its killedar resisted bravely for about 22 days but was finally forced to deliver it to the enemy.
Raghuji next marched to Devagad. Wali Sah was advised by his divan Raghunathsing to go out of the fort. This was preplanned. In a skirmish outside the fort Wali was defeated and arrested. Rani Ratan Kuvar considered Raghuji as her third son and gave him the third part of her kingdom. She paid him rupees ten lacs for war expenses. In 1737, the Rani granted Raghuji a sanad of her one-third kingdom bestowed upon him.
The sanad states that the fort of Pavani along with Ba1apur, paragana Mulatai with Cikhali and 156 villages under the said paragana, the whole of paragana Marud, were granted to Raghuji and his successors in perpetuity. (NPI, pp. 71-74; also see RMSH, p. 173-As desired by the Rani Ratan Kuvar her “possessions were divided into three equal parts and one of them, namely that containing Gondavana Pavani, Marud, Multai and Barghat was given to Raghuji Sena Saheb” “He then lived in Nagpur and Devagad provinces.”). The Rani also agreed that she would not enter into a treaty with any other power without the knowledge of Raghuji. With the possession of these parts of Devagad Raghuji shifted his headquarters from Bham to Nagpur. By 1748, the divan Raghunathsing attempted to break off his relations with Raghuji. The latter, therefore, brought Akbar and Burhan to Nagpur under his direct protection and care. (NPI., p.74.) Eventually their kingdoms came to be managed by Raghuji and the Gond house of Devagad shaded into insignificance.
According to the account given in the bakhar (NBB) Raghuji secured a fresh sanad from sahu in 1738 A. D. bestowing upon him the right to collect cauthai and mokasa of Lucknow, Makasudabad, Bedar, Bengal, Bitia, Bundelkhand, Allahabad, Hajipur, Patna and Devagad., Gadha, Bhavargad and Canda (Ibid, p. 76,). This very information given by Wills runs as follows, “while returning from Satara Sahu Chatrapati bestowed Gondavana jhadi up to Katak free of revenue upon the Senasaheb Subha.”(RMSH, P.173.) Gondavana jhari is the ancient Zadi Mandala to the east of the Wardha river which included Nagpur, Bhandara, Canda, etc.
Gadha-Mandla.-it seems that when Bajirav was busy fighting with the Nizam at Bhopa1 in 1736, Raghuji proceeded as far as Allahabad and exacted tribute from the Raja of Gadha-Mandla. Bajirav strongly resented this act. His son Ba1aji invaded Gadha-Mandla (NHM., Vol. II, p. 213. Raghuji complained to Sahu that Balaji captured his posts Gadha and Mandla, and ruined his paraganas Sivani and Chapar. The ruler of Mandla burnt himself to death to escape disgrace.) in 1742 on his way to Bengal. Raghuji who was engaged in his Bengal expedition at this time bitterly complained to Sahu of Balaji’s encroachment upon Gadha-Mandla which was his sphere of activity. Along with Bengal, Allahabad, etc., Gadha-Mandla too was the bone of contention between Raghuji and Balaji. Both were finally reconciled to one another by Chatrapati Sahu in 1743. (Ibid, p. 219)
Canda – The fate of the Gond rulers of Canda was sealed when Devagad and Gadha-Mandla had come under Raghuji’s sway. During the reign of Rama Sah, Raghuji invaded Canda, but finding him a saintly king Raghuji was so impressed that he left the country unmolested. His successor Nilakanth sah had gained disrepute as a tyrant. To deliver the people of Canda from his tyranny Raghuji invaded his country and made him a captive. The successors of Nilakanth Sah were granted pension by Raghuji. Among the Gondavana territories of Raghuji Canda was next in importance to Nagpur. (NPI., p. 37.)
Raghuji’s Karnatak expedition
After the death of Aurangzeb the whole of Karnatak was in a state of chaos. The various principalities were trying to extend their territory at the cost of their neighbours. Karnatak, then, roughly included the territory to the south of Krsna bound by the Sahyadri and the Eastern Ghats. Aurangzeb had put Karnatak under the subhas of Bijapur and Hyderabad. The sanad of Cauthai granted to Sahu by Emperor Muhammad sah included Hyderabad and Bijapur Karnatak in addition to the four other subhas of the Deccan. According to this sanad the tributary states of Tanjore, Tricinopoly and Mysore were also subject to the levy of Cauthai.(A History of the Marathas, Vol. I. (1912), by James Grant Duff, p. 368.). The Nizam-ul-mulk as the subhedar of the Deccan claimed that all these territories belonged to him. The various navabs of Karnatak fought among themselves, the strongest of them trying to assert his authority over others by the simple law of might. The stronger navabs were those of Arcot, Sira, Kadappa, Karnool and Savanur. The principality of Tanjore from the days of Sahaji comprised the paraganas of Bangalore. Hoskot, Kolar, Balapur and sira. Its ruler Pratapsinha, Chatrapati Sahu’s cousin, was constantly harassed by Canda Saheb, the son-in-law of Dost Ali, the navab of Arcot. Canda Saheb had usurped the kingdom of Tricinopoly by tempting its Rani Minaksi to form perpetual friendship with him. With the fall of Tricinopoly he cast his covetous eyes on Tanjore which belonged to Raja Pratapsinha. Pratapsinha appealed to sahu for help who dispatched a large force under Fatehsingh and Raghuji Bhosle. In April 1740 the Maratha forces attacked Area, killed the navab Dost Ali and took his divan Mir Asad, a prisoner in May 1740. With Area in their possession Raghuji and Fatehsingh laid siege to Tricinopoly, the stronghold of Canda Saheb. Raghuji was joined by Pratapsinha. Canda Saheb unable to receive aid from his brother Bada Saheb of Madura delivered the fort to Raghuji on 14th March 1741, the auspicious day of Ramanavami. Canda Saheb and his son Abid Ali were imprisoned by Raghuji and at once sent to Nagpur under the strict supervision of his general Bhaskar Ram. Later, in 1744 Raghuji freed these royal prisoners on payment of a ransom of Rs. 7.25 lacs from the bankers of Satara. Nothing is known about the place where Canda Saheb and his son were confined. Raghuji’s leadership and tact in the Karnatak campaign at once enhanced his prestige at the court of Sahu. Pleased with his exploits Sahu conferred upon him the mokasa of Berar and Gondavana up to the frontiers of Katak. (NHM., Vol. II, pp. 253-57)
During the war Canda Saheb had sent his treasure and zanana for safe custody to Dumas, the French Governor of Pondicerry. Raghuji, who had an eye on the wealth of the navab, at once reprimanded Dumas for sheltering his enemy. Dumas politely yet firmly refused to surrender the entrusted wealth and women. Raghuji’s wrath was wafted away when he was presented a few fine champagne bottles by Dumas. Raghuji’s wife is said to have been highly delighted with this French gift and asked for more. When Sahu came to know of this he is reported to have remarked that a kingdom was sold for a bottle of wine. Whatever the account of this story, its realistic side must not be lost sight of by historians. Dumas at Pondicerry was well-equipped with men and material. In the extreme hour of difficulty he would have easily escaped into the sea with his wealth and women, and Raghuji’s attack would have been rendered ineffective if he had chosen to launch one. Raghuji was not slow to understand the power of the French. Weighing things in mind Raghuji might have preferred an honourable retreat to a futile attack.
Karnatak campaign gave Raghuji eminence at the court of Satara and eventually in the Maratha confederacy. It helped him in giving a status on par with the Pesvas.
Raghujis raids on Bengal.
Raghuji hurriedly returned to Nagpur as the Bengal affair was awaiting his presence.
It was Kanhoji Bhosle who first led an incursion into the territory of Orissa or Katak taking advantage of the chaotic conditions prevailing there. Before he was defeated and sent to Satara as a prisoner by Raghuji Bhosle, Chatrapati Sahu granted Raghuji a sanad of Berar and Gondavana and of the right to collect cauthai of Chattisgad, Patna, Allahabad and Maksudabad (Mursidabad). (NPI., p. 61.) The date of his sanad 1723 A. D. is obviously incorrect. On this occasion the grant of mokasa of Devur near Wai to Raghuji is dated 1731, A. D. (Ibid, p. 59.). The sanad, of Chattisgad etc., up to Mursidabad, therefore, should also be roughly of the same date, i.e. 1730 or 1731 or an year earlier. It is not likely to have been given as. early as 1723 A. D. For this sanad of collecting cauthai from Chattisgad to Mursidabad sahu never obtained regular permission from the Moghals. In order to secure the cession of Malva under imperial seal Bajirav I endeavoured hard all his life. He forced the Nizam after defeating him at Bhopal in 1738 to obtain a sanad for Malva. (NHM., Vol. II, p. 159.) Actually Malva was given to the charge of his son Balaji as its deputy subhedar by an imperial farman as late as 1741 A. D. (Ibid, p. 202.) But Sahu when he allowed Raghuji Bhosle to extend his sway as far as Bengal and collect cauthai, had not actually obtained a royal farman from Delhi to that effect.
The political condition of Bengal was precarious by about 1740. Bengal, Bihar and Orissa were, then, all under the navab. who resided at Mursidabad. Its able governor Mursid Qulikhan died in 1727. In 1740 his son-in-law Sarfaraz Khan who was the navab, was killed by an ambitious Turk in his service named Alivardi Khan. (Ibid, p. 209.) Alivardi’s usurpation was hated by the partisans of the dead navab. The strong faction at Alivardi’s court was headed by an able Persian of Siraz, by name Mir Habib who had risen to the position of deputy navabship of Orissa from very humble beginnings. He had made offers to Raghuji in the Bengal territory if he undertook an invasion. This was a very tempting offer to Raghuji who had been waiting to extend his sphere of influence to the east of Nagpur. Rather he considered the region from Nagpur to Bengal as his special field of activity. His brilliant successes in Karnatak had strengthened his claim which had the full support of Chatrapati Sahu who had granted him a sanad to that effect.
When Raghuji was in Karnatak Mir Habib had been to Nagpur urging Bhaskar Ram to invade Bengal. But Bhaskar Ram waited till his master returned home from the distant Karnatak. On his return from Karnatak Raghuji made thorough preparations and sent a force of ten thousand under the able command of Bhaskar Ram. On the auspicious day of Dasara of 1741, Bhaskar Ram set out for the expedition. He marched through Ramgad plundering Pacet (60 miles or 96.540 km. east of Ranci) on the way to Burdvan. Alivardi Khan camping at Burdvan (15th April 1742) with his slender army was surprised by the Maratha forces. Bhaskar Ram employed half of his army in looting the area adjacent to Burdvan. The Khan finding himself helpless sent his agents to Bhaskarpant begging for peace. The negotiations, however, fell through as Pant demanded rupees ten lacs as peace price. The Khan secretly left Burdvan for Katva hotly chased by the Marathas. As it was then the month of May Bhaskar decided to return to Nagpur to avoid the fury of monsoon. He, however, changed his plan at the prospect of obtaining immense booty from Mursidabad as designed by Mir Habib. Mir Habib with a light Maratha force fell on Mursidabad and returned to Katva loaded with booty worth two to three crores. Alivardi reached his capital just a day late-7th May-when it had been denuded of its wealth by the Marathas.During the rainy season the Marathas and Mir Habib established their sway as far as Calcutta. They took back Orissa. The East India Company dug a ditch round their factory known as the Maratha Ditch.
The Maratha camp at Katva was busy celebrating the Durga puja festival on 18th September 1742. It was attacked on 27th September by Alivardi’s forces compelling them to run for safety helter-skelter. Bhaskar Ram escaped towards Pacet. He had to give up the outposts of Burdvan, Hugli and Hijli. Katak was retaken by Alivardi and he returned to Mursidabad on 9th February 1743. Bhaskar Ram informed Raghuji of this discomfiture requesting him to despatch aid immediately. Raghuji however could not send succour to Bhaskar Ram owing to his clash with Balaji Bajirav Pesva.
The Pesva had left Poona as early as 1741 with a view to putting a stop to Raghuji’s activities in Bengal. He consolidated his position in Malva with the help of Malharrav Holkar, and captured Gadha, Mandla, plundering Sivani and Chapar. Alivardi was terribly afraid on learning these activities of the Pesva, as he was expecting a joint attack by the Pesva and Raghuji. The Pesva, however, offered to help the emperor and Ahvardi Khan against Raghuji if he were granted the cauthai right of Malva, Bundelkhand and Allahabad. The Emperor readily agreed to this proposal and sent the Pesva to relieve Alivardi.
On 1st February 1743, the Pesva and his vast army took a bath in the holy waters of the Ganga and the Yamuna at Prayag. Thence he proceeded to Mursidabad where he had a meeting with Alivardi near Plassey on 30th March, 1743. Alivardi agreed to pay the cauthai of Bengal to Sahu and rupees twenty-two lacs to Balaji towards the expenditure of the army(OUM., p.11). A meeting between Raghuji and Balaji earlier could nor bring any tangible result(NHM., vol. II, p. 216).
The Pesva’s army actually clashed with that of Raghuji’s in the Bendu pass near Pacet. The rear part of Raghuji’s army was attacked and plundered by the Pesva. From Pacet Raghuji made good for Nagpur and the Pesva too started back for Poona via Gaya(Ibid, p. 217).
Chatrapati Sahu who had known the deep-rooted rivalry between Balaji and Raghuji called them to Satara and brought about a reconciliation which was respected by both the parties. Had the breach been neglected it would have certainly been detrimental to the interest of the Maratha power in India. Raghuji and Balaji signed an agreement at Satara in the presence of the Chatrapati on 31st August 1743. By this, all the territory from Berar to the east reaching Katak, Bengal and Lucknow was assigned to Raghuji, and that to the west of this line including Ajmer, Agra, Prayag and Malva to Balaji Pesva. None was to interfere with other’s sphere(Ibid, p. 219).
Freed from the troubles with the Pesva, the Senasaheb Subha retuoc-ned to Nagpur from Satara and sent an expedition into Bengal under Bhaskar Ram with a view to making up the lost ground. Bhaskarpant left Nagpur early in 1744. Together with Mir Habib he harassed Alivardi pressing him to pay cauthai. Driven to desperateness Alivardi hatched a plot to kill Bhaskar by deceit. Through his agents he invited Bhaskar for a meeting. It was arranged at Mankura between Amniganj and Katva when both the parties had pledged not to do any mischief by touching the Kuran and Ganga water. Mir Habib had warned Bhaskar of the Khan’s evil intention. But the brave and over-confident Bhaskar went to a parley with the Khan accompanied by a few select men. When Bhaskarpant took a seat in front of the Navab the latter gave a signal as pre-planned and the hiding Muslim soldiers cut Bhaskar and his comrades to pieces. Twenty-two Maratha chiefs were killed. This tragic event took place on 31st March 1744.(OUM, p. 12)
Bhaskar Ram’s murder was an irreparable loss to Raghuji and he never forgot the treacherous act of the Khan. With a view to punishing the Khan, Raghuji started with fourteen thousand horses, crossed the mountainous tract and putting Sambalpur to his left reached Orissa in March 1745. Durlabhram, the new deputy governor of Orissa, who was taken by surprise entered the fort of Barabati for safety. The fort was besieged by Raghuji, Durlabhram soon surrendered to Raghuji and found himself a prisoner in his camp, but the siege continued as another officer, Abdul Aziz offered stiff resistance. Alivardi was unable to send supplies to Abdul Aziz at the approach of the rainy season. Abdul therefore surrendered the fort to Raghuji on 12th May 1745, after bravely defending it for two months. When the siege was on the Marathas occupied Orissa as far as Midnapur and Hugli, and plundered Burdvan (Ibid, p. 14).
After capturing the fort of Barabati the Marathas moved to Burdvan. At the invitation of a number of disgruntled Afghans Raghuji marched towards Bihar. An indecisive battle was fought at Mehib Alipur and Alivardi ran towards Mursidabad on 21st December 1745. At Ramdighi near Katva Raghuji received a terrible set-back and left for Nagpur in January of 1746. He stationed three thousand Marathas under Mir Habib on the understanding that he would pay rupees eleven lacs for the use of his army (OUM., pp.15,16).
In order to checkmate the Marathas Alivardi sent his men from Mursidabad in November 1746. They inflicted a crushing defeat upon the Marathas at Midnapur. The Marathas fled towards Balasore through Jalesvar.(NHM., vol. II, p. 224)
By this time Janoji Bhosle appeared on the scene. He reached Katak for the rescue of Mir Habib. A stiff battle ensued between Janoji and Alivardi, but as the rains were on, the latter returned to Mursidabad leaving the Marathas masters of Orissa up to Midnapur throughout the year 1747. The plundering operations of the Marathas continued unabated. Janoji returned to Nagpur on hearing the news of his mother’s death. Mil Habib was at Midnapur with a Marathas force to help him. Raghuji sent his son Sabaji for the assistance of Habib.
In 1748 Alivardi reached Balasore and despatched his army to drive away the Maratas who were making preparations to plunder the English factory under the command of Nilo Pandit. He in vain tried to search for the force under Habib, who was hiding in the jungles of Katak. He then made a surprise attack on the fort of Barabati and was finally able to take it in his possession. In June, 1749, Alivardi returned to Bengal.
Mir Habib with the Maratha force reappeared at Katak. Alivardi had to postpone his attack on the Marathas as the rains had set in. On his reaching Mursidabad he was taken ill in October, 1749(OUM., pp.16, 17).
From October, 1749 to March, 1751, the Marathas did not allow Alivardi to rest. They harassed him by avoiding an open war when he came out with a large army from Mursidabad. In 1750 when Alivardi was at Midnapur the Marathas quickly marched towards Mursidabad plundering all the way. Durlabhram and Mir Jafar the officers who were stationed at Midnapur were nervous and unable to check the Maratha inroads. This lingering war was a great drain on Alivardi’s resources and men. The territory under him was a house divided against itself. In 1750 Alivardi was a man of 75, physically ailing. As the situation was intolerable his shrewd wife advised him to negotiate with the Marathas(NHM., vol. II, p. 224). Old Alivardi accepted his wife’s counsel and deputed Mir Jafar to meet Janoji and Mir Habib to settle the terms of peace. For more than a couple of years Janoji was in Orissa(NPI., p. 98) or Raghuji was busy with the political affairs at Satara and Nagpur. The treaty was signed in May, 1751:- ,
(1) Mir Habib was to be confirmed in the Government of Orissa as the deputy Subhedar of Mursidabad.
(2) The Navab was to pay annually 12 lacs of rupees to the Bhosles of Nagpur for the cauthai of Bengal and Bihar.
(3) When these amounts were regularly paid, the Bhosles were not to harass the two provinces.
(4) The district of Katak, i.e., the territory up to the river Suvarnarekha was to be considered as the possession of the Bhosles.( NHM., vol. II, 224, Dr. B. C. Ray in his Orissa under Marathas, p. 20, expresses doubt regarding the exactness of the terms of the treaty. But from the treaty of Devganv, 1803, it is certain that Katak and Balssore were surrendered to the British by the Bhosles. This means that Katak and Balasore were with the Bhosles upto 1803, since their conquest.)
After a long struggle lasting for nearly ten years, Raghuji was able to establish his right of collecting cauthai from Bengal and Bihar. The province of Katak as far as Suvarnarekha came under his possession. This was the greatest achievement of Raghuji Bhosle crowning his earlier successes.
The smaller states of Raipur, Ratanpur, Bilaspur and Sambalpur of Chattisgad area were conquered by Bhaskar Ram during the first two raids of Bengal. Raghuji’s illegitimate son Mohansingh D. was in charge of these States (NPI., p. 100).
Raghuji’s territory included the area from Berar to Katak. The Gond Kingdoms of Gandha-Mandla, Candd or Candrapur and Devagad were in his possession. Berar proper was under the dual authority of the Bhosles and the Nizam. Originally the Bhosles were to get from the revenue of Berar 25 per cent as cauthai, 10 per cent as sardesmukhi and 5 per cent as ghasdana, the total working at 40 per cent. The remaining 60 per cent of the total revenue of Berar was to go to the Nizam. But later this original treaty seems to have been reversed by which the Bhosles secured 60 per cent of the revenue and the Nizam the remaining 40 per cent.(NPI., pp. 48 and 102)
The strategic forts of Gavilgad and Narnala with the territory attached to them were exclusively under Raghuji’s possession. Similarly, the fort of Manikdurg in the Mahur area belonged to him. As already observed the states of Chattisgad were also under his sway as important outposts between Nagpur and the province of Katak. The acquisition of this vast territory speaks for Raghuji’s generalship. He might have lost a few battles but he always won the war. In diplomacy, as understood in his day, he was second to none. By his mounting successes he won the confidence of Chatrapati Sahu and on critical occasions he was consulted by him Sahu, prior to his death had called Raghuji to Satara to discuss the matter of succession to the Chatrapati’s gadi. Raghuji was related to Sahu through his wife.
Like Bajirav I, Raghuji too was loved by his followers. He had capable and trustworthy persons like Bhaskarpant, Raghuji Karande, Tulojipant, Naroji Jacaka, Rakhamaji Ganes, Krsnaji Atole and others(NPI., pp. 105, 106).
Raghuji and the Pesvas were not always on good terms. The rivalry between the two goes back to the days of Pesva Bajirav. The spheres of influence of Raghuji and Bajirav came into conflict when Bajirav secured one-third part of Bundelkhand for the timely help rendered to Chatrasal against Bangas. When Bajirav was fighting with the Nizam at Bhopal in 1738, Raghuji did not offer him any help in spite of repeated requests. In the agreement between Raghuji and Sahu, it was clearly stated that the former would accompany the Pesva in his campaigns. But actually neither Bajirav nor his son Balaji was able to command the services of Raghuji in their capacity as the Pesva or Prime Minister. Chatrapati Sahu too often found it difficult to exercise control when two or more of his high servants were at sixes and sevens. Lack of strong central authority was rather the serious defect from which the Maratha power suffered in the post-Sivaji period.
Raghuji avoided an open clash with Bajirav knowing well his ability as also the influence he wielded over the Chatrapati. Bajirav too acting on the advice of his brother Cimajiappa settled his differences with Raghuji amilcably(NPI., p. 80).
The differences between Raghuji and Balaji Pesva over the eastern sphere are historic. They were settled by the mild-tempered Sahu, who divided the spheres of activity of the two by granting Raghuji the territory from Nagpur to Katak and to the Pesva to the west of this line. Raghuji supported Babuji Naik who was aspiring for Pesvaship as against Balaji Bajirav. But so long as Sahu was alive such differences were not allowed to take a serious turn. After sahu’s death Raghuji respected the Pesva’s authority. He did not join the Pesva’s opponents in the Maratha confederacy being convinced that he was the ablest man among the Maratha’s to occupy the Pesvaship. Raghuji knew well when to oppose and when to yield. He was not prepared to allow matters to be carried to the breaking point unnecessarily. In one of his letters to Nana Pesva he writes-‘ the Late Srimant Bajirav was kind to me. But differences arose when we had a clash with Avaji Kavade who had entered Berar. All these matters should now be forgotten and I should be treated as your man(PD. 20, p. 30).’ Balaji Pesva on learning the death of Raghuji wrote-‘ Raghuji was a respectable nobleman. His death is indeed a matter of great regret. God’s will has to be accepted. Of late Raghuji was of much help to us .(PD. 20, p. 68).
Raghuji An Assessment
Raghuji was a self-made man. He had risen to the status of a first-rate nobleman at the court of Sahu by the dint of his merit. He therefore regarded that his status was on par with that of the Pesva for all practical purposes. He disliked that the Pesva should interfere with his sphere of influence. It may be observed that for this mutual jealousy neither the Pesva nor Raghuji was so much at fault. The defect lay in the weakness of the central authority. In the absence of a strong centre the Marathas were not able to create an effective confederacy which could enforce its authority over all.
Raghuji was mainly responsible for the prosperity of Nagpur. He brought along with him a number of Maratha and Brahman families from western Maharastra who infused new order and life in the administration of Nagpur and Berar. Cultivation of Nagpur improved under Raghuji. A number of Kunbi or’ cultivators’ families settled in the territory under Raghuji. The credit of settling the weavers or Kostis also goes to Raghuji Bhosle.
Raghuji was a devotee of Rama. He installed the idol of Rama at Ramtek and revived the importance of this place of epic fame. He made land grants to many other temples and holy places.
Janoji Bhosle, 1755-1772
The Jari-Pataka and the saffron-coloured flag were the emblems of Raghuji. This great general who extended the Maratha power as far as Katak breathed his last at Nagpur on. the 14th of February 1755.(NPI., p. 103)
Raghuji had four sons, Mudhoji: and Bimbaji from the elder wife, and Janoji and Sabaji from the younger. Janoji was the eldest among these brothers. It was Raghuji’s desire that Janoji should succeed him and others should get their due shares of his vast territory. However, Mudhoji put his claim for his father’s gadi on the plea that he was the son of the eldest wife of Raghuji. By the practice of primogeniture then prevailing, this claim was inadmissible. Janoji had the support of a number of courtiers like Krsnaji Govindrav the subhedar of Berar, Narahar Ballal, the subhedar of Nagpur, Sivabhat Sathe, the Subhedar of Katak, Raghuji Karanade, Bimbaji Vanjal, Naroji Jacaka, sivaji Kesav Talkute, Anandrav Vagh and Krsnaji Atole. Mudhoji had the support of Sadasiv Hari, his divan, Dinkar Vinayak, Sivaji Vinayak and Narashigrav Bhavanl. The dispute of the two brothers was referred to the Pesva Balaji Bajirav. Both of them were called to Poona. The title of Senasaheb Subha was conferred on Janoji while the new title of Senadhurandhar was created for Mudhoji Mudhoji received Candrapur or Canda and Chattisgad with the former as his seat of administration. Bimbaji was to reside at Chattisgad and Sabaji at Darva in Berar(NPI., pp. 115-118). The Bhosle brothers agreed to pay to the Pesva a sum of twenty lacs(NHM., Vol. II, p. 342) as present on this occasion according to the time-honoured custom. Actually the sanaa of Senasaheb Subha was issued as late as 1761 by Tarabai when Madhavrav I assumed Pesvaship. At the time, Devajipant Corghade was a promising young man who settled the amount of present between Janoji and the Pesva Balaji Bajirav.
Janoji and Mudhoji fought among themselves when their negotiations were in progress at Poona, and even after their dispute was settled by the Pesva.
By about 1759, the two brothers tried to settle their differences by resorting to arms. A battle was fought near Rahatganv in which Mudhoji was forced to retreat. In the treaty that followed, it was decided that Mudhoji should actively participate in the administration and Raghuji Karande, Trimbakji Raje (Wavikar), Bhosle and Piraji Nimbalkar should act as mediators with a view to avoid any rupture in future. Piraji Nimbalkar along with his force of six thousand was brought into the service of Janoji by Divakarpant. Piraji hailed from western Maharashtra.(NPI., pp. 126, 127)
In 1760 Janoji: and Madhoji appealed to Sadasivrav to settle their dispute. Sadasivrav offered to settle it but asked them to run to his help at Udgir in his war against the Nizam. Both the brothers hastened to help Sadasivrav but the latter had concluded a treaty with the Nizam before the armies of the Bhosles could be brought into the field(Ibid., pp. 128,129).
Later, Mudhoji was forced to leave the fort of Canda when two of his trusted officers AbajI Bhosle and Gangadharpant turned against him. Janoji taking advantage of this difficulty marched on Canda, but hurriedly left the place being involved in the Pesva-Nizam war, leaving behind Tulojipant and Majidkhan for the reduction of Canda fort.(Ibid., p. 155.)
The differences between the two brothers often resulting in an armed clash naturally weakened the power of the Bhosles. Nagpur after the death of Raghuji became a hot bed of political intrigues. Many courtiers exploited the family faction to their selfish ends. The two brothers were finally reconciled to each other because Janoji who was without a son decided to adopt Mudhoji’s son as his successor. The credit for this amity, however, goes to the situation rather than to the wisdom of either of the brothers.
Janoji Bhosle was a man of vacillating nature. In the conflict between the Pesva and the Nizam he sided with the latter. But both the Pesvas Balaji and Madhavrav I proved too strong for him. Raghuji Bhosle when once reconciled with the Pesva by the efforts of Sahu remained loyal to him. Janoji failed to grasp the situation and had to pay heavily for the same in his relations with the Pesvas. At least as a matter of policy for safeguarding his own territory, he should have maintained friendly relations with the Pesvas.
It was Bajirav who brought about a compromise between Janoji and Mudhoji. Janoji never cared to pay the Pesva the sum of the present he had agreed to, when he was invested with the title of Senasaheb Subha. Similarly, he was very negligent in the payment of the dues to the central treasury. The Pesva’s efforts to recover the State dues through his agents Vyankat Moresvar and Trimbakaji Bhosle proved futiles(NPI., p. 125). In 1757-58 Mudhoji accompanied Raghunathrav in his north Indian expedition. But soon returned back to Berar owing to some differences with him(NPI., p. 123).
In the Battle of Udgir Janoji and Mudhoji went to help Bhau when the war was practically over. For a short time, when the Bhosle brothers worked in co-operation they helped the Pesva in his attack on the Nizam at Sindkhed(NHM., Vol. II, p. 342). The Bhosle brothers, mainly Janoji and Mudhoji did not accompany Bhausaheb to the battle-field of Panipat. Nor does the Bhau seem to have commanded their service when the Marathas were to engage themselves in a life and death struggle with Ahmad Sah Abdali. The cordial relations which existed between the Pesvas and the Sindes were conspicuous by their absence between the Pesvas and the Bhosles of Nagpur.
Janoji and Mudhoji were with Nanasaheb Pesva when he was hastening to help Bhau before the final rout of the Marathas on the battle-field of Panipat. Janoji saved the retreating Marathas from the attacks of the anti-Maratha elements on their homeward journey. He brought the recalcitrant Bundela Chiefs under control.(NPI., p. 132)
Following their defeat in the Third Battle of Panipat, the Marathas were busy putting their own affairs in order. The robes of Pesvaship were granted to Madhavrav I. His uncle who was aspiring for the same office was not happy with this arrangement. The Nizam who was smarting under the defeat he had suffered in the Battle of Udgir was eager to fish in the troubled waters at Poona. With a vast army of sixty thousand strong he desecrated the holy places of Toka and Pravara-Sangam and dug up Sinde’s palaces at Srigonda for hidden treasure. In December 1761, he camped at Urulikancan for an attack on Poona. Raghunathrav sent urgent calls to the Maratha generals for help. Janoji Bhosle had joined the Pesva with his army(NHM., Vol. 2, p. 467). He was present in the Battle of Cambhargonda with a force of seven to eight thousand(NPI., p. 136). The Nizam was surrounded by the Maratha forces and compelled to surrender. Majority of the Maratha nobles felt that this was the long awaited opportunity to exterminate the Nizam. But this could not be brought about because of the easy terms he was given by Raghunathrav.
Raghunathrav had given easy terms to the Nizam at Uruli with a view to securing his support in his dispute with Madhavrav which was expected any moment. Rav was unwilling to work in co-operation with his young nephew who was the Pesva. The situation deteriorated fast heading towards a civil war. Rav’s partisans had secretly secured the help of the Nizam and Janoji Bhosle. In this great plot headed by Raghunathrav it was decided to deprive Madhavrav of his Pesvaship and power. Raghunathrav was to appoint men of his own choice in high offices. Janoji Bhosle was lured into the plot by the offer of Chatrapatiship at Satara after deposing Ramraja. Janoji and the Nizam met near Kalaburgi (Gulburga) and agreed to join the plot. From the territory that would be acquired, the Nizam was to secure sixty per cent of the total tribute and Janoji forty per cent. The Pesva’s agents Vyankar Moresvar and Ramaji Ballal tried in vain to dissuade Janoji and his adviser Divakarpant from joining the plot.
Young Madhavrav realising the gravity of the situation boldly surrendered himself to his uncle and put an end to the civil war that was threatening to sap the Maratha power. By this dramatic decision Janoji’s dream of securing Chatrapatiship evaporated.(NHM., Vol. 2, p. 472)
Shortly after the surrender of Madhavrav to his uncle, the latter-Raghunathrav-started making his own arrangement by distributing offices and titles to his favourites and partisans. For some days in November, 1762, the Maratha leaders and diplomats assembled at Aleganv and discussed all domestic issues.(NHM., Vol. II, pp. 472-73) Unfortunately such meetings could not be had frequently to solve the problems of the Maratha confederacy. Moreover, there was not a strong central authority which could force the decisions on all the members taken at such meetings.
The treaty between the Marathas and the Nizam proved to be short-lived. Raghunathrav who was proceeding against Haidar Ali received news that the Nizam and Janoji Bhosle along with a number of discontented courtiers were busy forming a coalition against him. Janoji and the Nizam met at Gulburga on 9th February 1763 and discussed the plan of seizing the Pesva’s lands and sharing the spoils. Among the other Marathas who joined the Nizam were the Patvardhans and the Pratinidhis. The Nizam as the head of this unholy alliance sent his demands to the Pesva stating that all the forts east of the river Bhima should be delivered unto him, those who had been deprived of their Jagirs should receive them back and the Pesva should settle all State affairs in consultation with the Nazism’s divan(Ibid., p. 475).
This challenge nullified the easy terms which Raghunathrav had given to the Nizam at Urulikancan. Giving up the march on the territory of Haidar Ali, Raghunathrav moved towards Aurangabad. Malharrav Holkar joined Raghunathrav when he was promised an additional jagir of ten lacs. The plan of Raghunathrav and Holkar was to lay waste the territory of the Nizam and his partisans. Knowing well that Raghunathrav was a past master in the guerilla warfare, the Nizam decided to attack Poona on the advice of Janoji Bhosle. The combined armies of the Nizam and the Bhosles fell upon Poona in 1763. Gopikabai sought shelter with her men and jewellery in the fort of Purandar. Heavy tribute was exacted from the people of Poona, and the city burnt down. The shrine of. Parvati and other temples were desecrated and idols destroyed. Raghuji Karande the general of the Bhosle laid waste the region around Sinhga and Purandar. He looted the Pesvas jewellery at Sasvad and set on fire important State records taken there for safety(NPI., p. 150). To retaliate the sack of Poona Raghunathrav and his men carried fire and sword in the Nazism’s territory. His army sacked parts of Berar. Mahadaji Sinde was ordered to raid Janoji’s territory and he proceeded towards Berar from Ujjain. Raghunathrav had written to Janoji reprimanding him of his disloyalty and bringing to his notice how unbecoming it was for him to join the Nizam. At the same time Malharrav Holkar was trying to dissuade Janoji to give up the cause of the Nizam through his advisers Divakarpant and Bhavani Munsi. Janoji was offered territory worth 31 lacs and was to be confirmed in the Sena-Saheb-Subhaship. These direct threats and diplomatic approaches finally won Janoji to the Pesva’s side. He agreed to leave the Nizam at the nick of the moment when the Marathas would lead an attack. The other Maratha nobles like Bhavanrav Pratinidhi, Gopalrav Patvardhan, Piraji. Nimbalkar and Gamaji were also persuaded to desert the Nizam on the promise of receiving jagirs and restoring lost positions(Ibid., p. 152). In the Battle of Raksasabhuvan (10th August, 1763) the Nizam was routed and forced to surrender. He gave to the Pesva territory worth 82 lacs. Janoji gave a banquet to the Pesva and presented him the guns he had captured in the sack of Poona along with the Nizam. Janoji and the Pesva were reconciled temporarily.
Vitthal Sunder the divan of the Nizam who was the brain behind all the ambitious schemes of his master was killed in the Battle of Raksasabhuvan.
The young Pesva Madhavrav distinguished himself in this battle. The success of this battle was mainly due to his strategic and tactical movements.
Janoji and Madhavrav Pesva
In the Maratha-Nizam struggle which ended in the battle of Raksasabhuvan, Janoji because of his changing policy had displeased both the Nizam and the Pesva. He had given up the wise policy of his father of supporting the Pesva as the strong man. His policy was devoid of any sound principle. It was guided by the idea of extending one’s own territory at the cost of others, including that of the other Maratha potentates. This was rather the common malady from which the entire Maratha power was suffering. Madhavrav was determined to correct this defect. With great difficulty he had brought Janoji into his camp in the life and death struggle with the Nizam. The sack of Poona in which Janoji carried fire and sword was an act which the Pesva was not prepared to forget. In the family dispute between Madhavrav and Raghunathrav Janoji: always espoused the cause of the latter. Raghunathrav in his own way gave easy terms to Janoji looking upon him as his supporter in his dispute with Madhavrav.
Madhavrav was waiting for an opportunity to punish Janoji. Berar was subject to the dual administration of the; Bhosles and the Nizam. This naturally created friction between the two on several occasions. In 1765 Mora Dhondaji an officer of the Nizam in Berar was attacked by Janoji’s men. The Nizam’s fiasco in the Battle of Raksasabhuvan was the result of Janoji’s treachery. He was keen on taking revenge upon Janoji for his breach of trust. He therefore appealed to the Pesva for help when his officer was attacked. The Pesva at once decided to help the Nizam(NPI., p. 159) On 17th October, 1765, Madhavrav proceeded from Poona and was joined by the Nazism’s divan Rukna-ud-Daula with a force of seven to eight thousand. The combined forces camped at Edalabad in December, 1765. Raghunathrav also came with his force to join his nephew. The Nizam started from Hyderabad and camped at Karanja. His army was well-equipped with artillery. From Edalabad the Pesva’s forces went to Balapur and started looting the territory of the Bhosle after dividing themselves into suitable batches. Sums of Rs. 1,75,000 and Rs. 1,70,000 were exacted from Balapur and Akola respectively as tributes. Janoji and Mudhoji took shelter in the fort of Amner along with their families. Later, they shifted to the stronger fort of Canda. Janoji finding the combined forces too strong for him to overcome sued for peace through the Pesva’s I envoy Vyankat Moresvar. The Pesva too had no stomach for the fight. He was satisfied with the punishment he had meted out to the disobedient Janoji. The terms of the treaty were finalised at Kholapur, near Daryapur in 1766. It was decided that the Bhosle should retain territory worth Rs. 8 lacs only, out of the total territory of Rs. 32 lacs he had received from the Pesva, in the Battle of Raksasabhuvan. Out of the remaining 24 lacs, the Pesva was to give the Nizam territory worth 15 lacs and was to retain for himself the rest(NPI., p. 165.). Many differences between the Nizam and Janoji were settled on this occasion. Following rapprochement Janoji sent his men to help Raghunathrav in his north Indian campaign.
When the negotiations between Madhavrav and Janoji were in progress, the former’s agent conveyed him Janoji’s contention. Its gist is indicative of the general state of affairs in the Maratha Confederacy. Janoji was not slow to understand that the dispute between him and the Pesva would only benefit the Nizam. But desire for power rendered any satisfactory solution difficult. The letter written to the Pesva by his agent conveying Janoji’s mind runs as follows: “The Srimant being angry with us (Janoji) has invaded Berar. I am not guilty of burning Poona.When the Nizam indulged in this act I did not support him. I, however, admit that I did not help in the campaign against Haidar Nayak. It is after all human to err. But the punishment meted out to me by depriving me of territory worth Rs. 30 lacs is too heavy. That has now been offered to the Nizam. Should the serpent be fed with milk? If I am ordered to attack the Nizam, I would destroy him in no time. ……… I shall proceed by rapid marches to meet your honour. I should not be let down”.(NPI., p. 163) Janoji gave expression to his feelings in these words. But it seems that he did not really repent for what had happened. For, within a couple of years after the treaty of Daryapur he once again sided with Raghunathrav in his dispute with Madhavrav and drew the latter’s wrath upon himself.
Madhavrav attacks Janoji and humbles him.-In the quarrel between Madhavrav and Raghunathrav in 1768, Janoji decided to support the latter. However, Raghunathrav was defeated and arrested before Janoji’s army could join him. Madhavrav was determined to teach Janoji a lesson for violating the treaty of Daryapur in which he had agreed to support his cause. Janoji was apprehensive of a fresh attack by the Pesva. He, therefore, sent his envoy Cimanaji Rakhamangad Citanis to the Pesva for a talk. The Pesva refused to listen to the envoy and asked Janoji to send Devajipant to Poona, as he considered Devajipant to be the mischief-maker in the Pesva-Bhosle altercation. Madhavrav arrested Devajipant and marched on Berar. The Pesva was accompanied by his generals Gopalrav Patvardhan and Ramacandra Ganes Kanade. The Nizam sent a force of eight thousand strong under Rukna-ud-daula and Ramcandra Jadhav. The Pesva with the forces of his ally occupied Bhosle’s territory to the west of the Wardha river. The relatives of Janoji had taken shelter into the fort of Gavilgad. Jewellery too was removed to this place. Janoji with his forces encamped at Tivasa to the west of Wardha river, 7-12-1768.
The Pesva did not chase Janoji. He took the fort of Amner (20-1-1769) and straightway proceeded to Nagpur. Nagpur was looted and burnt. The burning of Poona by Janoji was fully avenged. The fort of Bhandara was besieged and reduced by Ramacandra Ganes.( NPI., p. 175)
The fort of Candrapur or Canda the strong-hold of the Bhosles was the next target or attack. The fort was besieged by the Pesva’s army. Janoji who was outside moved from place to place carrying on a running warfare with the Pesva’s army. In order to relieve the pressure on the fort of Canda Janoji spread rumours that he was marching towards Poona to release Raghunathrav from the custody. At the same time Devajipant who was in the custody of Madhavrav managed to receive secret letters from Janoji stating that when the Pesva was engaged with the siege of Canda, Janoji should attack Poona and set Raghunathrav free. The letters were intended, to be seized by Pesva’s intelligence department. This ruse had its effect. The Pesvas apprehension of Janoji’s attack on Poona was strengthened. When these rumours gained currency, Poona was in the grip of consternation as the memory of Janoji’s first invasion was yet fresh(NPI., p. 179). The Pesva at once decided to raise the siege of Canda and sent his men against Janoji. He sent a letter through Rukna-ud-daula to Janoji on 3rd March, 1769, expressing his desire for peace. Janoji who was eager to end the war sent his terms and the treaty was finalised on 23-3-1769 near Kanakpur. Devajipant was the principle figure on behalf of the Bhosle in bringing about this treaty.
In the treaty of Kanakpur it was decided that-
Madhavrav and Janoji met at Mehekar ceremonially. Parties and presents were exchanged. The Nizam’s divan Rukna-ud-duala was also present at Mehekar.(NPI., p. 184)
A careful analysis of these terms shows that Madhavrav’s aim was to bring central control in the Maratha confederacy, which was so necessary for its growth and survival. From the days of Bajirav I, the Pesvas were struggling hard to assert their authority over the Bhosles of Nagpur in their capacity as prime ministers. There was no clear constitutional ruling on this point except the prevailing practice. The Bhosles in their own way considered themselves as the equals of the Pesvas.All accepted the overlord. ship of the Chatrapati. But after the death of Sahu his successors proved to be nonentities. Under the circumstance the Pesvas tried to assert their authority over others with a good degree of success up to Madhavrav.
During Janoji’s Sena-Saheb-Subhaship Purusottam Divakar alias Devajipant Corghade of Narkhed rose into prominence. He secured for Janoji huge sums of money required for war. In his dealings with Madhavrav Pesvas Divakarpant was his chief adviser. Madhavrav considered Devajipant as the Machiavelli at the Nagpur Court. He was a full wise man out of the three and a half wise men of the day. (The three and a half wise men were popularly known as Deva, Sakhya, Vitthal and Nana. Deva stood. for Devajipant, Sakhya for Sakharam Bapu Bokil, Vitthal for Vitthal Sundar at the Court of the Nizam and Nana was the famous Nana Phadnis). For some time towards the end of Janoji’s career Divakarpant lost his master’s confidence and fell on evil days. But he was always looked upon as the inevitable man on critical occasions because of his keen grasp of events. Very few original papers are available about this diplomat of Nagpur. He died in 1781. Among other persons of note of Janoji’s times may be mentioned Bhavanipant Munsi, Bhavani Kala and Ganes Sambhaji. Bhavanipant Munsi became Janoji’s counsellor when Devajipant fell from his favour. Bhavani Kalo rose to the position of the general. For sometime he was the subhedar of Katak. He constructed the temple of Balaji at Vasim and installed the image. The last, Ganes Sambhaji too acted as the Subhedar of Katak(NPI., pp. 187-93).
Janoji Bhosle had no son. He had decided to adopt Raghuji, the eldest son of his brother, Mudhoji. After the treaty of Kanakpur he was on good terms with Madhavrav Pesvas. Janoji travelled to Thevur near Poona where Madhavrav was on his death-bed and secured his consent to Raghuji’s adoption. From Thevur he went to the holy places, Pandharpur and Tulajapur. He died at Yeral (Naldurg) on his homeward journey on 16th May 1772, owing to severe stomach-ache. Mudhoji created a monument in honour of Janoji and secured some land from the Pesvas for its maintenance(Ibid., 187).
After the death of Janoji the house of Bhosles. was plunged into family feud worse than the one that was witnessed at the death of Raghuji. Prior to his death Janoji had secured the consent of the Pesva for regularising the adoption of Raghuji II, as he was himself without a son. Hut the actual adoption ceremony had not been gone through. Neither was the title of Sena-Saheb-Subha conferred on Raghuji II, officially. Exploiting these lapses Sabaji the younger brother of Mudhoji, approached Madhavrav Pesva for the grant of Sena-Saheb-Subhaship. As Mudhoji was a partisan of Raghunathrav, Madhavrav sent the robes of Sena-Saheb-Subhaship for Sabaji with his agent Ramaji Ballal Gune. At the same time Daryabai, the widow of Janoji, joined Sabaji and declared that she was pregnant and would give birth to a posthumous child. This created an embarrassing situation for Mudhoji(INPI.,p.195). The success of the parties at Nagpur thus depended upon the powerful personality in the family dissensions of the Pesvas at Poona. Family disputes for power and position broke out in every Maratha confederate state. Neither the Bhosles nor the Pesvas were an exception to this state of affairs.
As a safety measure Mudhoji sent his family members into the fort of Canda and collected a force of 25,000 strong to face Sabaji. The armies of the two brothers met at Kumbhari near Akola in 1773. After a few engagements the two brothers decided to close the fight. It was agreed that Sena-Saheb-Subhaship should go to Raghuji II and actual administration should be looked after jointly by Mudhoji and Sabaji(NPI.,p.197). The Prabhu brothers, Vyankal Kasi and Kaksman Kasi were deputed to Poona for securing the robes of Sena-Saheb-Subhaship for Raghuji. At this time Narayanrav was the ruling Pesva. This arrangement proved unsuccessful as Sabaji was dissatisfied with it. In the rivalry between Narayanrav and Raghunathrav, Sabaji took the side of the former while Mudhoji supported the latter. Sabaji sought the aid of the Pesva and the Nizam, and the combined forces laid siege to Ellicpur as its Navab was a partisan of Mudhoji. But in 1773, when Narayanrav Pesva was murdered Sabaji’s party was considerably weakened and he openly supported the Barabhais. Mudhoji’s cause was greatly strengthened when Raghunathrav assumed power after murdering his nephew. A compromise was brought about between Mudhoji and Sabaji, which in its own way was destined to be short-lived. The Nizam, who had taken the side of Sabaji, drew upon himself the wrath of Raghunathrav. The Nizam was attacked and forced to enter into a treaty with Raghunathrav. With the Bhosles, the Nizam formed the treaty of Sixty-Forty.(Ibid., p. 202)
The family dispute between Mudhoji and Sabaji was finally set at rest when the latter was killed in the battle of Pancganv near Nagpur on 26th January 1775. In this battle Mudhoji was joined by the Gardi Muhammad Yusuf, one of the murderers of Narayanrav(NPI., p. 205). The Pancganv battle gave Mudhoji a free hand in the political affairs of Nagpur. Daryabai and the other partisans of Sabaji quietly surrendered to Mudhoji. (NPI., p. 205)
For sometime in 1775, the Barabhais instigated Sivaji Bhosle of Amravati to rise against Mudhoji. They promised Sena-Saheb-Subhaship to Sivaji. This move was deemed necessary by them as their rival Raghunathrav had the support of Mudhoji Bhosle. On 6th March 1775, Raghunathrav entered into an alliance with the British at Surat in order to oppose the Barabhais. The rising of Sivaji Bhosle of Amravati could not assume any serious proportion due to the timely mediation of Divakarpant.(Ibid., p. 209).
The fratricidal wars among the Marathas were fully exploited by the English for the expansion of their power. In 1773, when the Poona court was faced with extraordinary situation following the assassination of Narayanrav, the British forces moved from Bombay and took the fort of Thana’. In fact the British had been casting their covetous eyes on the island of Sasti (Salsette), since long, for the safety of Bombay. The fort of Thana surrendered on 28th December 1773(NHM., Vol. III., p. 43). This was the actual beginning of the First Anglo-Maratha war which terminated in the Treaty of Salbye in 1782. Raghunathrav, in his quarrel with the Barabhais finally embraced the British giving them the long sought opportunity of interfering with the internal affairs of the Marathas. Raghunathrav became a British protege by the Treaty of Surat, 6th March 1775. With a view to curbing the growing ambition of the British and their aggression Nana Phadnis proposed an anti-British Confederacy consisting of the Pesva’s Government, the Nizam, Haidar Ali and the Bhosles of Nagpur. At this time the prestige of the British had suffered a set-back in the eyes of the Indian powers due to the unscrupulous methods of Warren Hastings. This was rather the opportune time for the Marathas to move against the British as they were engaged in a long war with the French. But the well-conceived quadruple alliance could not be worked out because of the machinations of Warren Hastings. Realising the danger of the alliance proposed by Nana Phadnis Hastings restored Guntur to the Nizam and detached him from the Confederacy. His next move was the seduction of the Bhosles of Nagpur.
According to the plan of Nana Phadnis, the Bhosles were to attack the English in Bengal, Haidar Ali to proceed against Madras and the Poona forces to harass the British in Gujarat and Bombay. To execute a part of this joint plan, a large force under Khandoji Bhosle popularly known as Cimanaji marched towards Orissa. Cimanaji was a man of courage and action. He was instructed to invade Bengal for the collection of cauthai which was in arrears. But at the eleventh hour he was, prevented from stepping into Bengal by Raghuji II on the advice of his crafty minister Divakarpant Corghade. Hastings was able to purchase the loyalty of both Khandoji and Divakarpant by bribing them heavily. By the end of 1778 Goddard had secured Mudhoji’s permission for the passage of his army through the latter’s territory into Gujarat. Nana was enraged at this and immediately sent for Raghuji and Divakarpant and secured their support to his four-party alliance(NHM., Vol. III., pp. 97, 98). But the two never kept their word
Mudhoji Bhosle who was a sworn member of the Confederacy was the first to inform Hastings of Nana’s plan. It was he who prevented Khandoji Bhosle from invading Bengal. Mudhoji, in all these activities had violated the Treaty of Kanakpur between Janoji and Madhavrav. It was presumed that he would observe the treaty to which his elder brother Janoji was a party. But at the critical juncture he cast the previous bindings to the winds and went ahead recklessly allying himself with the British and their protege Raghunathrav for selfish gains. The role played by Mudhoji, Raghunathrav and their supporters is indicative of the state of affairs prevailing among the ruling Maratha noblemen.
In 1785 Mudhoji had been to Poona with his army to help Nana Phadnis in the war against Tipu Sultan. The battle was fought at Badiimi-1786 in which the Nizam, the Bhosles and the Pesvas jointly defeated Tipu. Cimanabapu distinguished himself in this war. On his homeward journey Mudhoji paid a visit to the holy places in Maharastra and returned to Nagpur. Mudhoji died at Nagpur on 19th May 1788(NPI.,pp. 213, 214), after a very active political career of over two decades.
Towards the end of Janoji’s career Divakarpant had fallen from his grace and was imprisoned. His property too was confiscated. Mudhoji who needed his help most released him. Divakarpant was soon restored to his former position and served Mudhoji as his principal counsellor. Mudhoji was never loyal either to the Barabhais or to Nana Phadnis. Throughout his career he supported Raghunathrav. At one time he was prepared to serve as the vassal of Warren Hastings severing his relations with the Pesva. Divakarpant had to tow the line of his master. But in doing so he could have impressed upon his master as to what was ultimately good for the Maratha nation as a whole. This naturally required a man of high moral character. It could not be expected of Divakarpant who was enjoying the confidence of Warren Hastings, to rise above self-interest. Divakarpant was bribed by Hastings in order to dissuade the Bhosles from the quadruple alliance of Nana Phadnis. Thus, ‘the full-wise man’ out of the noted three and a half wise men of the Maratha country, proved to be otherwise in the large national interests.
Raghuji Bhosle II, 1775-1816
The title of Sena-Saheb-Subha was finally conferred on Raghuji in 1775, during the Pesvaship of Savai Madhavrav(NPI., pp. 300-302). Actually he was designated for this title much earlier but sanction for the same could not be had from Poona, because of the strained relations between the Pesvas and the Bhosles. Raghuji assumed power after the death of his father Mudhoji.
Raghuji’s relations with Nana Phadnis were amicable. In the Battle of Kharda, 1795, Raghuji: sent his army under Vitthal Ballal Subhedar to help the Pesva. Vighal Ballal distinguished himself in this war and was highly honoured by Nana. Raghuji’s gains in this war were substantial. He received territory worth three and a half lacs from the Nizam for the ghasdana of the Gangthadi region. The Nizam agreed to pay his arrears to Raghuji amounlting to Rs. 29 lacs. It was decided that both should share the revenues of Berar as in the past. New sanads of the territory to the south of the Narmada were granted by the Pesva to Raghuji. Sanads of this territory were granted to the Bhosles by Nanasaheb Pesva but the officers of the latter had not given the actual possession so far. Raghuji got the possession of Husangabad, Cauragad and Bacai. Raghuji stuck to the party of Nana Phandnis even after the tragic end of Savai Madhavrav. In appreciation Nana gave Raghuji Rs. 5 lacs in cash and the possession of Gadha-Mandla.
The Raja of Sagar gave Raghuji a part of his territory for the help he had rendered in the event of an attack by one Amirkhan. Similarly, the fort of Dhamoni was secured from a petty Rajput chieftain and Husangabad from the Navab of Bhopal by Raghuji. Thus, by 1800 Raghuji’s kingdom was at its zenith. It was the largest of the Maratha states towards the close of the eighteenth century.
The following account might give some idea of the territory and its revenue under Raghuji II:(NPI.,p.310)
These figures of revenue from the different parts of the territory under Raghuji appear to be true. Raghuji, however, was destined to see the decline of the Bhosle house when called upon to face the powerful East India Company.
In 1798, Lord Wellesley came to India as the Governor-General. His objective was to bring the Indian States under ‘Subordinate Isolation’ by his most potent weapon of ‘subsidiary system’. Mysore was the first of the Indian States to be forced to accept the subsidiary alliance. The Nizam was the next to enter it for self-protection. Bajirav II in his wars with the Maratha potentates and in particular with Yasvantrav Holkar, embraced the subsidiary treaty in 1802. Thereafter the Maratha states one after another sold their freedom for a mess of pottage. Under the circumstances, it was not easy for Raghuji to keep himself out of the iron trap laid by Wellesley. As early as 1799 Mr. Colebrooke was sent to Nagpur to persuade Raghuji to enter the subsidiary alliance. He stayed in Nagpur for two years but was not successful in bringing Raghuji under the alliance.(NHM, Vol. III, p. 402)
The Treaty of Bassein of 1802, by which Bajirav II bartered away his freedom was highly resented by Yasvantrav Holkar. Daulatrav Sinde and Raghuji Bhosle, too, were upset by Bajirav’s decision. After the Treaty of Bassein Lord Wellesley had been pressing upon Daulatrav and Raghuji to enter into a similar alliance with the British without delay. It was clear that Wellesley was trying to hold aloof Daulatrav and Raghuji. Col. Collins was deputed for negotiations with the two chiefs. They evaded a definite reply in order to gain time, whereupon, Col. Collins left the Sinde’s camp. On 7th August 1803, General Wellesley proclaimed a war against the Bhosles and the Sindes, and called upon the general populace to keep itself aloof from the struggle.
The fort of Ahmadnagar which was equipped with munitions and supplies was attacked by Wellesley. Sinde’s European Officers who were bribed and seduced went over to the English. Sinde’s Brahmin keeper of the fort finding the position untenable surrendered the fort on 12th August 1803. The Bhosle’s army joined the Sindes near Jalanapur and a stiff action took place culminating in the battle of Assai on 24th September. The Marathas fought well but were finally defeated. The loss on the English side was heavy, 663 Europeans and 1,778 Indians were killed in action. Stevenson next captured Burhanpur and Asirgad, the two strongholds of the Sindes. These successes of the English depressed both the Sindes and the Bhosles. On the 6th November Sinde’s agent Yasvantrav Ghorpade came to Wellesley’s camp to arrange the terms of peace.(Ibid, Vol. III, pp. 410,411)
The Bhosles were now singled out by Wellesley and Stevenson advanced against the fort of Gavilgad. The Sindes sent their force to help the Bhosle, violating the truce they had made with the English. The two armies met on the vast plane between Adganv and Sirasoli. The Maratha guns played havoc among the English army forcing them to flee. But the English Generals collected their forces again and attacked the Marathas. In the last action the Marathas were defeated. The battle of Adganv thus decided the fate of the Marathas on the 29th November 1803. The fort of Gavilgad fell on 25th December when its keeper Benisingh Rajput died fighting.(NHM, Vol. III, p. 412)
On 17th December Raghuji Bhosle signed a treaty at Devaganv near Ellicpur with the English.
The terms of the treaty of Adganv were as follows:
(1) The Bhosle should surrender the territory to the west of the river Wardha as also the provinces of Katak and Balasore. The Bhosles were to retain for themselves the forts of Gavilgad and Narnala and the territory under these forts worth Rs.4 lacs; i.e., the paraganas of Akot, Adganv, Bagnera, Bhatkuli and Khatkali.
(2) Any dispute between the Nizam, the Pesva and the Bhosle should be settled through the mediation of the English.
(3) The Bhosles should have no relations with any European except the English. The English too should have no relations with either the enemies or relatives of the Bhosles.
(4) The Bhosles should have no relation with any member of the Maratha Confederacy.
(5) Both the parties should have the envoy of the other at their Courts.
(6) The Bhosles should respect the treaties which the English have formed with the former’s feudatories lying between Orissa and Chattisgad.(NPI., p: 344)
Berar was given to the Nizam for the help he rendered to the English. By this, treaty the Bhosles practically lost their independent status. The territory under them was now confined to Nagpur and the neighbouring area.
The English were successful in keeping Yasvantrav Holkar out of the picture in their struggle with the Sindes and the Bhosles. They fully utilised the hostility between Daulatrav and Yasvantrav. The long cherished dream of the English to secure the coastal strip stretching from Calcutta to Madras was fulfilled.
Daulatrav Sinde too, signed a treaty with the English at Suraji-Ananganv on 30th December 1803.
According to the 5th term of the treaty of Devaganv Mount Stuart Elphinstone was sent to Nagpur as the British resident. He forced Raghuji to give up his sovereignty over the States to the east of Nagpur. Smarting under the recent defeat he had suffered at Devaganv, Raghuji was trying to reorganise his army and secure news about Yasvantrav Holkar’s movement so that he might take revenge upon the English if a suitable opportunity permitted such action. But the Resident kept a close watch over. Raghuji’s movements and desisted him from keeping any contact with Holkar and his men.(NPL, pp. 361.62)
With the fall of the Sindes and the Holkars the marauding bands of the Penharis became the scourge of the restless times. They fell upon the peasants and the citizens and looted their property. Where resistance was offered they indulged in killing and raping. With the fall of their supporters the Sindes and the Holkars, the cruelties of the Pendharis became all the more wanton. They have been rightly described as the scavengers of the Maratha army.
One of the leaders of the Pendharis Amirkhan attacked Jubbulpore in about 1809. The local Subhedar of the Bhosles Jijaba Ghatge tried his best to defend the city but was defeated and forced to take shelter in the fort of Mandla. In order to defend the Narmada region from the Pendharis inroads Raghuji appointed Vitthal Ballal Subhedar, Benisingh, Raghunathravbaji Ghatge and Muhammad Amirkhan of Sivani.
At one time the Pendharis looted Ramtek and Bhandara and appeared in the suburbs of Nagpur. The Bhosle’s officers Ali Khan and Malji Ahirrav were finally able to force them to retreat(Ibid, pp. 373-75). It was Lord Hastings who exterminated the Pendharis by conducting an all-out campaign against them.
During the Bhosle-English wars the Navab of Bhopal had taken Husangabad and Sivani from the Bhosles. In 1807 Raghuji sent his army and captured Cainpurvadi and Cankigad of the Bhopal territory. Later he entered into an agreement with the Sindes for a concerted attack on Bhopal. The two armies besieged Bhopal fort in 1814. But Raghuji withdrew his forces when the Nawab of Bhopal asked for British help.(NPL, pp. 377-78)
Sambalpur and Patna were granted back to Raghuji in 1806.
After the battle of Adganv Raghuji was being persuaded to accept the subsidiary alliance. Jenkins, who succeeded Mount Stuart Elphinstone as the resident of Nagpur, once again appealed to Raghuji that he should allow the stationing of the British army at Nagpur. But Raghuji skillfully avoided all such appeals. In 1811 when the Pendharis burnt some wards of Nagpur city Raghuji asked for British help, but it was refused as Raghuji was not willing to enter subsidiary alliance.
In 1801-02, on the occasion of the Sinhastha Parvani Raghuji with the members of his family had been to Dharmapuri on the bank of the Godavari for a bath.(Ibid, p. 308)
Raghuji’s relations with his brother Vyankoji alias Manyabapu were not happy. Manyabapu enjoyed the title of Senadhurandhar. He was brave and adventurous. He died at Kasi in 1811.(NPI., p. ;386)
Mr. Colebrooke the great Sanskrt scholar, who was deputed to Nagpur as an envoy in 1799, has left a lively description of Raghuji. Raghuji lived in a spacious palace surrounded by gardens. The palace had six quadrangles or cauks each of which had a three-storeyed structure. The drawing hall in the palace was well decorated with chandeliers and pictures. The hall which was meant for the Raja had beautiful carving. The garden around the palace had good roads enclosed by fencing.
Raghuji was not fond of pomposity either in dress or manners. He was sweet-tongued and behaved in a friendly manner even with his subordinates. He was, however, careful in maintaining the decorum and discipline of the darbar. During leisure hours all were entertained by singing and dancing. Raghuji was fond of hunting, so much so that when a tiger was reported in the neighbourhood he often hastened to the place with his party leaving the office work. He, however, never neglected administrative duty. Sridhar Laksman. Munsi and Krsnarav Citnais were the most trusted courtiers of Raghuji.
The Dasara festival during Raghuji’s reign was a brilliant spectacle displaying his grandeur and glory.(NPI., pp. 312-14)
Raghuji loved his kith and kin and was extremely fond of children. Bakabai was his favourite queen. He was pious and devoted to his mother. But Raghuji lacked quick decision and courage. In the war with the English he often left his fighting forces. He was willing to wound yet afraid to strike. In diplomacy he was no match for the contemporary Englishmen with whom he was required to deal.
After the treaty of Devaganv, Raghuji, it seems, was in financial difficulties. His anxiety for wealth grew with age bringing him into disrepute. He was nicknamed the big baniya for the methods he used in collecting money. Raghuji who had the good fortune of witnessing the glory of the Bhosle house at its zenith was also destined to see its decline. He died on 22nd March 1816.
Parasoji Bhosle, 1816-1817
Raghuji II was succeeded by his son Parasoji in 1816. Parasoji was paralytic, blind and mentally deranged. His father’s efforts to improve him proved fruitless. Bakabai, Parasoji’s step-mother brought him to her palace and took charge of the administration with the help of Dharmaji Bhosle, Naroba Citanis and Gajabadada-Gujar. Dharmaji was an illegitimate son of Raghuji and was the custodian of the royal jewellery and treasury.
Next to Parasoji the only other claimant to the Nagpur gadi was Appasaheb Bhosle. He was a smart young man having support of many courtiers, as Parasoji was practically insane.Ramcandra Vagh and Manbhat were prominent among his chief supporters. They were trying to seduce the partisans of Parasoji. Thus after the death of Raghuji, Nagpur Court had two factions, one headed by Appasaheb and the other led by Bakabai, Dharmaji and others with Parasoji on the ancestral gadi.
Appasaheb had no claim over the gadi as Parasoji was the son of Raghuji. The army was under the command of Dharmaji, Siddik Ali Khan and Gajabadada. Appasaheb impressed upon the courtiers that it was not desirable that Dharmaji, a bastard. should manage the affairs of the Bhosle house. The resident Mr. Jenkins was secretly backing Appasaheb as he was counting upon him to accept the subsidiary alliance which Raghuji had been carefully avoiding all through his life. When Siddik Ali Khan smelt this, his loyalty to Parasoji and Bakabai wavered. He sat on the fence ready to jump to the side of the winning party. Appasaheb called Dharmaji for a meeting on 11th April, 1816 and got him arrested. He took possession of the Raja and his treasury. Without any further loss of time Appasaheb ceremoniously performed the coronation for Parasoji. He personally held the cauri over Parasoji’s head and walked barefooted in the procession taken out in honour of the Raja. A grand darbar was held in which the Raja was made to proclaim the appointment of Appasaheb as his regent. Mr. Jenkins graced the occasion by his presence, lending stability to Appasaheb.
Dharmaji was murdered on 5-5-1816(NPI., p. 397). Appasaheb’s evil intention of occupying power for himself was thus finally fulfilled. He entered the subsidiary alliance with the English on 28-5-1816, bartering away the independent status of Nagpur which Raghuji II had maintained with great difficulty. The important terms of this alliance were-
(1) For the protection of Nagpur the English were to maintain six platoons of foot-soldiers and one of cavalry. The king was to pay seven and a half lacs of rupees for the maintenance of this force.
This alliance was brought about through Appasaheb’s envoys Nagojipant and Narayan Panditji. The former received an annual pension of Rs. fifteen thousand from the English for his successful mediation.
Part of the English subsidiary force moved from Ellicpur to Nagpur under General Dovetone and the rest was stationed at Kalamesvar near Nagpur to strengthen Appasaheb’s position. Afraid of the machinations of the rival party Appasaheb left the palace and took residence in the Telankhedi Garden.
On the morning of 1-2-1817 Parasoji was found dead in his bed. Appasaheb was out of station. It was rumoured that Appasaheb managed to throttle Parasoji to death by seducing his body-guards Sadikmanu Bhaldar and Janu Bansod. The Resident absolved Appasaheb of the murder charge which was thickly rumoured at this time, but later, when he tried to break the bonds of subsidiary alliance he was conveniently made the culprit(NPI., pp. 403-404).
Appasaheb bhosle, 1817-1818
After Parasoji’s death, Appasaheb being the only heir to the Nagpur gadi his succession ceremonies were gone through quietly on 21st April 1817. The moment Appasaheb assumed charge of Nagpur he began to feel the weight of British supremacy which he had accepted by the subsidiary alliance. His efforts hereafter were directed to overthrow the British yoke. The Resident suspected that Appasaheb was in contact with Bajirav Pesva and the Sindes. The agents of one of the Pendhari leaders Cituu were openly honoured in the darbar by presenting dress. As a precautionary measure Col. Adams was asked to move his force to the south of the Narmada to meet any emergency. Similarly, Scott left Ramtek for Nagpur. It was in this atmosphere that Appasaheb decided to receive the robes of SenaSaheb-Subha, formally, from Bajirav Pesva; 24th November 1817 was decided as the day for receiving the robes in the darbar. Appasaheb invited the Resident for this ceremony. But the latter declined it as war had broken out with the Pesvs in Poona, and informed Appasaheb that he should not receive the honours from the enemy of the British. In spite of this opposition Appasaheb received the robes and the title in the darbar. This was considered as a breach of the subsidiary treaty by the Resident and a war with Appasaheb seemed imminent(NPI., p. 408).
Like. Bajirav, Appasaheb too wanted to free himself from the shackles of the subsidiary treaty. He was helped in this task by Manbhat, Ramcandra Vagh, Subhedar Nimbalkar and Narayan Nagare. Appasaheb’s Arab soldiers occupied a position between the city and Sitabuldi. He had a total force of 18 thousand men and 26 guns while the English force numbered only 1,800.
Having come to know the movements of the Maratha army, the Resident ordered Lt. Col. Scott to occupy the Sitabuldi hills. Scott had two battalions of Madras Native infantry, two companies of Native infantry and three troops of Bengal Cavalry. He was equipped with four six-pounder guns. Strategically the Marathas committed the first blunder in allowing Scott to occupy the hills.
The Raja’s palace was in the present Mahal area which was protected by the Sukravar daravaja. This was the fort.
The English had taken shelter in the Tulsibag, about the 24th December 1817.
The English residency was situated to the west of the Sitabuldi Fort, i.e., on the site of the present Nagpur Mahavidyalaya. The English had their treasury to the west of the smaller hill of the two Sitabuldi hills. The southern hill spreads, from east to west and is the bigger one. The smaller one is to the north. The two hills roughly rise above the ground to a height of hundred feet and are separated by the same distance.(NPI., pp. 411-13)
Peace talks were in progress when both the sides were preparing for war simply to gain time. On the evening of 26th November 1817, the Arabs of Appasaheb opened fire on the smaller hill. He sent a message to the Resident saying that this had been done against his orders. Appasaheb throughout this war was wavering making the position of his loyal supporters like Manbhat most awkward. It is possible that the mercenary Arabs might have acted on their own without waiting for the orders of their master but this speaks for Appasaheb’s lack of leadership. Appasaheb, after his defeat, pleaded that his Arabs opened fire at the order of Manbhat.(Ibid., p. 417)
The fire of the Arabs was well replied by the English guns on the hills. Captain Lloyd was in charge of the bigger hill. Captain Sadler was killed by a shot while he was defending the small hill. On the morning of 27th the Bhosle’s forces approached the hill. The smaller hill was attacked and occupied. The English were in a confused state. The Arabs were preparing to launch an attack on the bigger hill. The English would have lost the battle but for the brave and spirited attack of Captain Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald’s determined onslaught pushed the Maratha’s back and they broke in all directions. This infused new spirit in the English soldiers who were drooping from fatigue. A combined attack of the cavalry and infantry finally won the day for the English.(NPI., p. 422)
It was Manbhat and his Arabs who really fought well bringing victory within easy reach for the Maratha’s(Ibid, p. 423). But lack of concerted action and Appasaheb’s vacillation were mainly responsible for the defeat of the Maratha’s. Appasaheb in order to save himself pleaded to the Resident that all was done by Manbhat without his orders. Bakabai too towed his line. Thus, in war, Appasaheb proved to be a coward and in defeat acted most disgracefully. Manbhat, Ramcandra Vagh, Ganpatrav Subhedar and their supporters were against any talk of peace. When Doveton was preparing to-attack the city, Appasaheb walked into the protection of the Resident on 16-12-1817, at about 90’clock in the morning(Ibid, pp. 42.8-29). The masterless Marathas fought one more battle known as the battle of Sakkardara, only to lose(Ibid, p. 430). Manbhat with his Arabs and North Indian soldiers totalling 5,000, defended the city from behind the fort.
But he was helpless when the Arabs in a, divided state of mind were seduced by the English. They left. Nagpur on the 30th when the arrears of their pay were cleared. The Union Jack was hoisted on the old palace of the Bhosles on the same day. Poor Manbhat was arrested and later died in prison(NPI., p. 434).
Appasaheb signed a treaty on 6-1-1818 with the English in which he was bound by terms stricter than those of the subsidiary alliance. The terms of the treaty were: –
1. Appasaheb was to surrender the forts of Gavilgad, Narnala and the territory attached to them, along with the states of Sirguja and Jaspur.
This sealed the fate of Appasaheb as also of Nagpur once for all.
These terms of the treaty were ratified by the Governor General.
With the surrender of Appasaheb Bhosle the outlying posts of Jubbulpore, the forts of Sivani, Dhirud (south-east of Nagpur), Gavilgad, Cauragad. Narnala and Mandla fell to the English without much resistance. The fort of Mandla which was protected by the river Narmada offered resistance for sometime. But when its keeper Raya Hajari ran away the beleaguered force numbering 1,100 surrendered.(NPI., pp. 438-44)
After his surrender, Appasaheb was reinstated on his ancestral gadi and allowed to stay in the palace. For three months things appeared to move smoothly. On 19th February 1818 Bapu Gokhale the last great general of Bajirav fell fighting in the battle of Asta. Bajirav lost all hope of regaining his position and took to heels begging for help till his surrender to Malcolm. During his flight he was at Vasim for a while and then camped at Panharkavada. He was accompanied by Ganpatrav Subhedar one of the generals of Appasaheb. It was rumoured that Balrav would be joined by Appasaheb and both would march to Canda which was yet in the hands of its keeper Gangasingh. Jenkin’s suspicion that Appasaheb was in correspondence with Bajirav was strengthened when a letter from Appasaheb to Bajirav was intercepted by Elphinstone and sent to him(Ibid, p. 445). He at once arrested Appasaheb on 15-3-1818. Appasaheb along with Ramcandra Vagh and Nagopant was sent to Prayag, as his presence in Nagpur was considered dangerous.
The fort of Canda fell on 30th May 1818. Its keeper Ganga-singh fought desperately till he fell dead along with his trusted followers. (NPI., p. 473)
On his way to Prayag Appasaheb escaped from the English camp at Raicur on 13-5-1818. Hereafter began the long flight of Appasaheb.
Appasaheb took shelter in the Mahadev hills of Madhya Prades and was helped by Mohansilig Thakur of Panchmadhi and Cain Sah of Harai. A few petty Gond Kings too supported Appasaheb in his last days. The English forces under Adams, MacMorin and Scott combed out the Hills and arrested the Gond leaders. Mohansing and Cain Sah were taken into custody. Appasaheb made good for the fort of Asirgad, the gateway of the Deccan, on 1st February 1819. He was escorted by the Pendhari leader Cittu and his followers. Appasaheb was received into the fort by Yasvantrav Lad, its keeper. The fort was yet in the possession of the Sindes. It was admirably suited for defence. The English moved their men and material from Malva, Poona, Nagpur and Hyderabad. Prior to the surrender of the fort on 9th April of l819, Appasaheb had escaped towards Khairi Ghat to the north-west of Asirgad and taken shelter with a Brahmin at Burhanpur. From there Appasaheb travelled through the territory of the sindes, Holkars, Jaipur and Jodhpur begging for asylum and took shelter for sometime with Ranjit Sing. The Raja of Mandi gave Appasaheb protection for a short time. Finally Appasaheb was found with the Raja of Jodhpur. The Raja refused to hand over A Appasaheb to the English in keeping with the chivalrous traditions of the Rajputs. In 1829 Appasaheb’s wandering career came to an end and he spent the remaining part of his life as a guest-cum-royal prisoner at the court of Jodhpur. He died in l840(NPI., p.465).
During. his luckless days Appasaheb desperately moved from court to court begging for help. But he was too late. Had he shown sufficient courage and determination in the battle of Sitabuldi the chances of success were brighter. He let down his honest supporters like Manbhat and Ramcandra Vagh. In expecting aid from Bajrav, Appasaheb was leaning on a reed. After his confinement at Jodhpur nobody seems to have been really sorry for the unfortunate Appasaheb. In his flight his wife Umabai supplied him money secretly. His other wife Savitribai who was enjoying a pension at Nagpur did not go to him even after she came to know of his stay at Jodhpur.(Ibid, p. 466)
Rahuji III, 1818-1853
When Appasaheb was arrested the Resident Mr. Jenkins decided to adopt Bajiba, the son of Banubai, as the successor to the Bhosle gadi. Banubai was the daughter of Raghuji II. The adoption ceremony was performed on 26-6-1818 and Bajiba was renamed Raghuji III. He was then only ten years old. It was the Resident who took the entire administration into his own hands during the minority of Raghuji III. Bakabai was to look after the palace affairs. Her ambition to rule may be said to have been fulfilled at least partly. Prior to his retirement the Resident held a grand darbar and read out the terms of the treaty with Raghuji III on 1-12-1826. It was ratified by the Governor General on 13-12-1826.
The terms of the treaty were
Mr. Jenkins gave charge of his office to Captain Hamilton on 29-12-1826 and proceeded to Bombay for further journey.(NPI., pp. 486-88)
Jenkins deserves praise for the peace and good administration he gave to the Bhosle raj during his ten years career. He was able to turn the deficit of the kingdom into a surplus treasury. His treatment of the Bhosles was far more considerate than the one meted out to the Pesvas by Malcolm. He could have easily annexed Nagpur to the British territory had he meant so.
Jenkins took care to educate Raghuji III. Raghuji was introduced to the ‘Three R.’s’ and had working knowledge of Persian and Marathi though he had no inclination for learning.(Ibid, p. 482) In the early part of his royal career Raghuji took keen interest in administrative matters but later neglected them. He loved music and dancing and later indulged in gambling to the neglect of his duties. He was addicted to drinking and during his last illness he drank desperately. Apart from these personal vices Raghuji was on the whole a just and good administrator. He was a popular King.
Raghuji was not blessed by progeny though he had in all eight wives. He had one son who died in infancy after whom he probably did not get any issue. He does not seem to have cared for his successor. He probably considered his being without a son as a blemish and left the question of succession to its own fate. This, however, proved to be detrimental to the Bhosle House as is borne by facts. Raghuji was not on Rood terms with Resident Mansel. This might have adversely affected the succession question.
Raghuji had been to Kasi, Gaya and other holy places on a pilgrimage in 1838. He was accompanied by Captain Fitzgerald with his Madras contingent. Raghuji died at the age of 47 after a long illness of 25 days on 11th December 1853. His obsequies were performed by his nephew Nana Ahirarav and it was decided to adopt his son Yasavantrav as the next successor.(NPI., pp. 507-08)
Annexation of Nagpur
The question of adoption to the Nagpur gadi was discussed thrice prior to the death of Raghuji III. In 1837 the Resident Mr. Cavendish stated that Raghuji III had no right to adopt as his territory had been conquered by the British and given back to him and his sons. In the absence of an heirapparent or a posthumous child, therefore, the Raga’s kingdom should escheat or lapse to the British. The views of Resident Wilkinson were in favour of Raghuji. In 1840 he opined that Raghuji or after his death his queen had the right to adopt a son as successor to the gadi. The case of Nagpur was in no way different from that of Gwalior or Hyderabad. Actually, according to the treaty of 1826, when Mr. Jenkins was the Resident, the British had promised to continue the raj of the Bhosles in perpetuity. But this term was very conveniently set aside and the Court of Directors in England concurring with the views of Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General, ordered that “it had been determined on grounds, both of right and policy, to incorporate the State of Nagpur with the British territories”( HFM., p. 45). Mr. Mansel, the then Resident, had suggested that Nagpur should be annexed. The fateful decision of the Court of Directors was proclaimed by Lord Dalhousie, and Mr. Mansel was ordered to take charge of Nagpur as-the first Commissioner. He started working in this capacity from 13th March 1854.
Bakabai, the favourite queen of Raghuji II, and the queens of Raghuji III were informed of this proclamation. There was no popular agitation against this unjust decision of the British, though the late king Raghuji III was liked by his subjects. There was, however, sorrow and resentment among the Brahmins and the Marathas of Nagpur as is witnessed by the two posters which were stuck on the wall of Jagrutesvar temple. One of the posters expressed anxiety regarding the very existence of the Hindu State after the death of Raghuji and called upon all the Brahmins to attend the abhiseka and japa (recitation of God’s name) which were being performed in the temple of Jagrutesvar in the city. Those not attending were considered as bastards.
The other poster condemned Dadoba sirke, a relation of the Bhosles, who helped the British in the annexation of Nagpur.(HFM., pp. 46, 47)
These posters have their own value but they cannot be taken as expressive of popular view. Colonel Low, a member of the Governor-General’s council, who was against the annexation of Nagpur wrote that the people in the raj of the Bhosles were very much tired of their rule and would be happy under the British. Mr. Mansel, the Resident, in his report says that the annexation of Nagpur raj would cause great sorrow to all those who are connected with it, but the general public to whom the Marathas were foreigners would desire to be relieved from their troublesome rule, This stale of affairs has got to be taken into account in studying the history of Nagpur after its annexation.
The unjust annexation of Nagpur was followed by the highhanded confiscation of the private treasure of the Bhosle family. Popular estimate placed the value of the treasure between Rs.50 lacs and Rs.75 lacs.(Ibid, p. 49) On July 15th, 1854, the Resident’s Assistant informed the ‘ranis that they would be pensioned and with the exception of a small portion of their jewellery their property would be seized on behalf of the Government. The strong protests of Bakabai and others were of no avail. By the end of October 1854, 136 bags of treasure were removed from the palace to the British treasury. The palace animals were sold by public auction and part of the jewellery was sent to Calcutta where Messrs. Hamilton and Company were appointed as auctioneers.(Ibid, p. 52)
This loot of the private property of the Bhosles under the garb of law deeply wounded the feelings of Bakabai and the widows of Raghuji III, and caused great excitement among the citizens of Nagpur.
Parvatrav and Jamaluddin who helped the Resident in this arbitrary act became targets of mob fury. The latter was beaten. Mr. Hislop the well-known missionary of Nagpur was mistaken for an officer and manhandled.
From the sales of the confiscated property of the royal family, the Bhosle Fund was formed. This was to be utilised for the pensions of the relatives of the royal family.
Pensions sanctioned for the members were as follows: –
Bakabai tried to represent her case directly to Calcutta pointing out that she herself and the ranis of the late king had expressed their desire to adopt a son, but the Resident completely changed their case and sent it up while he always promised them that he would look to their interest. Bapu Hanmantrav, the envoy of Bakabai, was asked to send the case through the Commissioner of Nagpur. Later, Bakabai sent her envoys to England to meet the members of the Board of Directors. But she withdrew her case and called back her envoys fearing that this might result in the displeasure of the Commissioner. Bakabai died on 7-9-1858 at Nagpur at the age of seventy seven.
Prior to her death Bakabai arranged the adoption of Yasvantrav, the son of Nana Ahirrav, as the next successor in 1855. Yasvantrav was renamed as Janoji. Final sanction to this adoption was received in 1861 during the Viceroyalty of Lord Canning. An annual pension of Rs. 1,20,000 was sanctioned for Janoji’s and the title ‘Raja-Bahadur of Devur’ was conferred on him. The pension was subject to revision after Janoji’s death but the title was to continue in the’ family perpetually. Janoji II died in 1881.
Nagpur during the Revolt of 1857
What happened in 1857 in India has been variously described by historians as the Revolt of 1857, the Sepoy Mutiny, 1857, and the War of Independence. The last view that it was a War of Independence is borne by the fact that it was an attempt to overthrow the Government of the East India Company which was well-established in India. The attempt was sufficiently widespread. Any attempt to overthrow an established Government is recognised as War of Independence. By virtue of this definition, what happened in 1857 can be considered as the War of Independence.
There was certainly favourable background for an uprising in Nagpur as the memories of annexation of the raj of the Bhosles, confiscation of their jewellery and public auctioning of their palace property were yet fresh in the public mind. The question of adoption to the Nagpur gadi was kept pending as late as 1861.
The Nagpur army and the people learnt with excitement the happenings at Meerut, Delhi, Lucknow, Kanpur and Jhansi. The irregular cavalry at Takli, about three miles from Nagpur was much agitated by the news of the risings. It consisted mostly of Muslims who were disturbed by the recent Government proposal to shift their burial place from the vicinity of the city to an outside spot. In co-operation with some civilians they seem to have hatched a plot. On 13th June at the signal of a fire-balloon it was decided to attack the Residency. But the plot leaked out and failed. Mr. Plowden, the Commissioner, who had known about the plot ordered a company of the Sitabuldi regiment to move into the city. The irregular cavalry at Takli was dismayed by this action and gave up the attempt of attack. Major Arrow tried to elicit information from the soldiers about the ring-leaders. But none came forward to give out the names. From Kamptee and Nagpur arms numbering over 5,000 were collected from unauthorised persons as a. precautionary measure. After an enquiry of the plot Dildar Khan, Dafadar of the army, and Inayatulla Khan, Vilayat Khan and Navab Kadar Khan of the irregular cavalry were tried and executed.
Bakabai during the troubled period summoned all her relations, Brahmins, Sardars, Marathas and Muslims numbering between 400 and 500 and dissuaded them with threats from any action against the company’s Government. This completely chilled the spirit of the public. In 1858, Tatya Tope’s presence was reported in the Melghat. He looted Multai. There was no response or agitation in Nagpur. Thus, all was quiet in Nagpur when Nana Pesva, Rani of Zhansi and Tatya Tope were desperately fighting against the British.
Nagpur Aministration under Bhosles
By about 1737 A.D., Raghuji I received one-third of the Devagad kingdom from Rani Ratan Kuvar for the help he rendered her in the fratricidal war. Shortly after this he shifted his capital from Bham in Berar to Nagpur and in 1748 the whole of Devagad kingdom came under his sway. He removed the sons of Rani Ratan Kuvar, Akbar Sah and Burhan Sah to Nagpur under his care.Thus, in 1748 A.D. Raghuji assumed direct charge of the whole of Devagad kingdom, though by a formal sanad the cauthai and mokasa of Devagad and Canda of Prant Gondvana were granted to him by Chatrapati Sahu much earlier.
Raghuji’s new administrative set-up in Nagpur forming part of Devagad below the ghats was more or less a prototype of the system common in other parts of the Maratha country.
When Raghuji I was offered the robes of Sena-Saheb-Subha he first proceeded to Berar and then to Nagpur, and was accompanied by a number of experienced officials of the Rajamandal recommended by Sahu. The officials going with Raghuji to Nagpur were assigned important posts.
These posts assigned to different persons shed light on the principal structure of Nagpur administration. Sahu’s intention in sending his own men with Raghuji was to help him to carry on the administration of Nagpur successfully and at the same time to keep an effective check over Raghuji. However, the aim of keeping central control over the distant noblemen was not so successful. It depended upon the personality of the Chatrapati. After Sahu’s death the central authority of the Chatrapati remained only in name and the Maratha Sardars tried to be independent within their own territories. This is borne out by the serious differences which existed between the Pesvas and the Bhosles from the beginning to the end.
The Divan was the chief minister of the Bhosles and represented them in all the. matters of the State. He was sometimes addressed as the Karabhari. The word Karabhari in addition to being synonymous with Divii1J means a manager. Its use in this sense shows how the Divan or the Karabhari was all-in-all.
The Citnavis was the General Secretary. This office continued to be in the family of Rakhamaji Ganes throughout the reign of the Bhosles. The duties of the Citnavis were:
In addition, the Citnavis tendered advice to the Raja on all diplomatic matters. By his very office, Secretaryship, he wag closely associated with the ruling Bhosle.
For the loyal services of Rakhamaji Ganes, Raghuji I gave him Varambh in the Umred tahsil of Nagpiir district as inam in perpetuity(From the unpublished papers of Srimant Raja Balasaheb Citnavis of Nagpur).
Bhaskar Ram was Raghuji’s General. He distinguished himself in the Bengal expeditions of Raghuji I. He, however, does not seem to have the entire army of Raghuji under his command. There were for instance other noblemen like Raghuji Karande, Anandrav Vagh, Babaji Ghatge, Zunjararav and Sambhaji Sirke having armies under their own command and themselves being directly responsible to Raghuji.
The Potnis was in charge of the treasury, royal jewellery and valuables, and stores. He was to credit to the treasury presents-Najarana, tribute-peskas, etc., and maintain the accounts.
The Phadnavis was the Secretary of the Finances, and the Baksi the Paymaster of the army. The Sikkenavis was the Keeper of the Seal of the Bhosles. He was to put the seal on all important State documents.
The office of the Munsi, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, seems to have been created by the later Bhosles. He was usually wellversed in Persian and transacted all the correspondence in that language.
Sometimes two offices were combined in one person as in the case of Bhavani Kalo who was in charge of the army but also acted as the Divan(NPI, p. 285).
The Subhedar of the Subha or the province held military as well as civil command within the subha. These officers held jagirs for their services.
The Varhadpande was responsible for land revenue.
The Maratha noblemen were known as Mankaris and were directly responsible to the Raja. There were no hard and fast rules regarding the duties attached to a particular office. For instance, Divakarpant Corghade, who was the Divan, also acted as the ambassador of the Bhosles to the East India Company. The Subhedar in a distant province like Katak, similarly, acted in various capacities as the man on the spot.The Bhosles held their darbar-court in an open varandah. They sat on the throne with the sword and the shield placed in front. Ministers and Military officers attended the darbar. All business which required the Raja’s attention was openly transacted here. The Raja was accessible to the people, he heard their grievances and redressed the wrongs.
The revenue office took cognizance of civil and criminal cases, while the patil or the village headman decided cases requiring minor magisterial powers. In important cases the appeal rested with the Sena-Saheb-Subha who decided them in the open darbar after consulting the proper authorities.
The Bhosle administration was direct and efficient though inelegant. It was free from burdensome mannerism and less paper-ridden than that of the Pesvas.
The Sena-Saheb-Subha was not an absolute ruler. Constitutionally he was accountable to the Chatrapati and the Pesva. The younger brothers of the Sena-Saheb-Subha were assigned territories wherein they were more or less independent. Mudhoji, the younger brother of JanojI Bhosle was given Canda and the title of Sena-Dhurandar. The two other younger brothers Bimbaji and Sabaji were posted at Chattisgad and Darva respectively. Other relations of the Bhosles too were given important assignments.
The army of the Bhosles consisted of the foot-soldiers, the cavalry, artillery and elephants.
The details of the cavalry given by Forster, the first Resident of Nagpur (1788-1791) are as follows:
The cavalry of the Bhosles was known for its speed and efficiency. After the death of Raghuj I, the army of the Bhosles became heterogeneous in an increasing proportion. In the Battle of Sitabuldi, Manbhat was in command of the Arab contingent.
The income of the Bhosles from different provinces during the Residency of Forster was:
Out of this income, Rs. 16 lacs were spent in the following manner(NPI., pp. 289,302) :
In 1800 A.D. the Bhosles received highestrevenue as the territory under them was at its maximum
1858 To 1885
After the annexation of the kingdom of the Bhosles, Resident Mansel was appointed as the first Commissioner of Nagpur on 13-3-1854. The English directly assumed the administration of Nagpur in which they had been taking keen interest for their own political gains since the treaty of Devaganv. The Central Provinces were formed into a new administrative unit in 1861, comprising Nagpur, Canda, Bhandara, Chindavada, Raipur (Chattisgad, Sironja with their dependencies Bastar and Kuronda-these formed the Nagpur territory; and Sagar, Damoh, Jubbulpore. Mandla, Seoni, Baitul, Narsimhapur and Husangabad-these formed the Sagar-Narmada territories.
From the map of this period it seems that Nagpur then extended up to the Wardha river. The territory up to the western bank of Wardha granted to the Nizam by the treaty of Devaganv-1803, was annexed by Dalhousie on the plea that the Nizam had failed to pay the money for the maintenance of the subsidiary force. The arrears then amounted to Rs. 50 lacs. The annexation took place in 1853. The Berar was then divided into the Northern and Southern Berar. For the loyal services of the Nizam, however, during the rising of 1857, Southern Berar was given back to him. Again in 1903 it was joined to the Central Provinces forming the Central Provinces and Berar(HFM., pp. 109,.112.). This arrangement remained unchanged till the redemarcation of the provinces by the States Reorganization Commission.
A wave of repression spread all over India at the end of the rising of 1857. Thousands of innocent persons were hanged after a summary trial. At times a whole village was set on fire on the ground that some person or persons participating in the revolt hailed from it. The whole village was held at stake for the acts of just a few persons. These repressive measures were intended to strike terror into the hearts of the people. Nagpur with its surrounding area was saved for some time from these cruelties of the government as Bakabai remained loyal to the East India Company during the rising. Actually she discouraged any rising in the neighbourhood of Nagpur. However, the result of the repression was engendering racial hatred between the ruling English and their Indian subjects. Nagpur was no exception to this general situation.
The Arms Act of 1857 was passed with a view to disarming the people. The property of those who were suspected of having participated in the rising was confiscated. In the Nagpur area chieftains like Navab Quadir Alikhan and a number of petty zamindars came to be deprived of their property on the suspicion that they had a hand in the revolt. The Arms Act was renewed in 1860 and finally took shape as the Arms Act of 1878. This new Act introduced licensing of firearms throughout India and imposed heavy import duty. Penalties for the breach of this Act were enforced very stringently.
Along with the repressive measures, the British Government astutely employed the policy of divide and rule in order to keep their hold firm over the populace. In the army as well as in the civil services, this policy was very carefully implemented which finally divided India vertically and horizontally.
The armies were organized in such a manner that tribal, sectarian, religious and caste groups could maintain their own peculiarities. They were stationed at such places where they had no contacts of any kind with the local population and therefore were considered alien.
The newly invented theory of martial and non-martial races was applied and the people of U. P. and Bihar were classed under the second category. The communities of North West India were declared as martial. The people of Oudh and North Western Provinces who had helped the British in the conquest of the Punjab and the North-West Frontier suddenly became nonmartial(HFM., p. 122).
The Police force in the Central Provinces including Nagpur was placed under the supervision of the police officers of the Regular Police. The old local village police which had strong affinities with the population were done away with. The aim was to create an efficient administrative instrument isolated from the public.(Ibid, p. 124)
The loyal support afforded by Sayyad Ahmad to the British soon bore fruit. After 1875 the Muslims became the chosen people of the Government to put down the patriotic Hindu activities. In the Central Provinces the Muslim population was negligible. Yet more than fifty per cent of the officers and nearly the same percentage of posts in the police were given to them(HFM., p 125). The policy of the British of setting the Muslims against the Hindus continued unabated. The evidence of the ‘Berar Mitra’ of 8th July 1879, is significant in this respect. In one of the editorials it asked, “why is it that only Musalmans are appointed Tahsildars these days(Ibid, p. 236.)?”.
As a part of the divide-and-rule policy in 1861 the entire Nagpur Irregular Force was incorporated in the police. The police were trained to be overbearing and contemptuous in their behaviour towards the people. The rank and file of the police force was drawn from that section of the population which had no character in the past. This naturally led to corruption and abuse of power in the police force. Sir Richard Temple, the Chief Commissioner of Central Provinces, 1864-65, referring to this state of affairs says, “Service in the police has always been unpopular with natives of superior stamp, and men of character avoided entering it. Men of ability rarely entered it except with the intention of making an unlawful fortune within a short time, risking the chance of such detection as would lead to personal punishment but quite prepared for dismissal(Ibid, p. 126.)
The police purposely insulted men of status and the Government connived at their rudeness. A British police officer could easily whip a citizen of Nagpur on the street if he failed to stand up when the Saheb- passoed by (Ibid,p.127). The feeling of oneness between the police and the people was completely disrupted.
Dalhousie’s policy towards the native states was topsyturvied in the aftermath of the revolt. Except for their sovereignty the states were restored to their former honour and rights. As a result the States came to be recognised as one of the pillars of the British Empire in India till their disappearance. Next to the States, it were the Zamindars who merited the attention of the British. In the Nagpur area a new class of Zamindars and Malguzars was created with full proprietary rights in their villages. This was quite against the Indian tradition which did not recognize private ownership in land. The landlords were revenue farmers or managers in the pre-British period. Endowed with proprietary rights in land, majority of them became stooges of the alien Government and at the same time took upon themselves the odium of revenue collection(HFM., p. 133).
The Nagpur revenue assessment was enhanced by the Residents right from 1830. The revenue system under the Bhosles though crude and elementary left the farmers with a surplus that was enough for their maintenance and future agricultural operations(Ibid, p. 137).
The activities of the Christian Missionaries began to be felt in Nagpur since 1845. In that year Stephen Hislop arrived in Nagpur and soon founded the Scottish Mission(NPI., p. 498). One of the associates of Hislop, Mr. Voss was belaboured by the Nagpur mob for his proselytising activities. The Nagpur people stoutly resisted the missionary activities(HFM., pp. 157 58), however, the missionaries in course of time further divided the Indian society which was already subjected to the divide-and-rule policy of the British.
In sum, in Nagpur as in other parts of India the alien rulers set the police against the people, the landlords against their cultivators, the Muslims against the Hindus, one caste against the other and even one sub-caste against another sub-caste. The socia-political repercussions of the dissensions nurtured by the British are felt by the people even today. In its trail, it has created problems which are difficult of solution.
Within less than a hundred years of the British rule the indigenous economy was killed in the interest of Great Britain. No wonder that Nagpur should have fallen a prey to this general economic devastation. The cotton and silk textile industries of Nagpur which were carefully, built by the Bhosles had once great demand in the markets of Egypt and Europe. With the advent of machine-made cloth imported free of duty these industries were totally ruined(HFM., pp. 170-71.).
Lord Lytton’s unblessed regime (1876-80) left sad memories in the people’s mind. The oppressive Vernacular Press Act, the huge expenditure incurred during the Second Afghan War, the lowering of age-limit for admission of Indians to the I. C. S. and the opening of the Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligad roused public feelings throughout India. Nagpur was not slow to react against these measures.
Nagpur was moved when Vasudev Balavant Phadke of Sirdhon, the first revolutionary, tried to overthrow the British rule. He failed in his attempt and was deported to distant Aden. Nagpur was quick to receive new ideas from Poona, which led to the formation of nationalism. Soon after the foundation of the Sarvajanik Sabha of Poona, the Loka Sabha was established in Nagpur with its branches in the principal towns of the Madhya Prades(Ibid,p.171). The educated well-to-do middle class formed the backbone of these public activities.
Establishment of Congress
For the Second Session of the Congress which met at Calcutta, B. K. Bose of Madhya Prades was invited but could not attend. However, his friends Bapurav Dada Kinkhede, Garigadharrav Citnavis and Gopal Hari Bhide of Nagpur were present at the session. Abdul Aziz of Kamptee, near Nagpur, made a fine speech in Urdu at Calcutta. The Calcutta meeting imparted fresh vigour to the efforts of Krsnarav Pathak to establish a Sabha on the lines of the Sarvajanika Sabha of Poona. Garigadharrav Citnavis was the President of the Nagpur Loka Sabha and Bapurav Dada Kinkhede its secretary. In 1886, a similar Sabhaa was founded at Amravati with the efforts of Vinayak Digambar Devras of Akola, Khaparde, Mudholkar, Josi and Kazi Badruddin of Malkapur.
Soon after the visit of Svami Dayanand Sarasvati to Nagpur, in 1884, the Goraksana Sabha was formed in the city. Within a year it had as many as 49 branches in the Madhya Prades. The Sabha shortly assumed an all-India form with Lokmanya Tilak, Malaviya and Pettit as its prominent members.
The Seventh Session of the All-India National Congress was held in Nagpur in 1891. Out of the 3,812 delegates 480 were from Berar. P. Ananda Charlu presided and the venue chosen was the Lal Bag. Among the chief topics taken for discussion were the Second Afghan War and Forest Laws. The latter were irksome to the people as they had deprived the villagers of their privileges, such as the common pasturage. The Nagpur session gave new impetus to the national movement in the surrounding area(Ibid, pp. 181-84).
In 1893, a public meeting in Nagpur held at the Neill City High School appealed to the Secretary of State that the Central Provinces should be allowed to send one member under the Council Act of 1892. In 1896, Gangadharrav Citnavis of Nagpur was the member recommended to the Viceroy.(HFM.,p.189)
When the outbreak of plague towards the end of the last century resulted in the murder of Rand and Lt. Ayerst in Poona, Tilak was sentenced to eighteen months’ rigorous imprisonment. Nagpur was agitated at this news. In the year 1897 when the Congress session was held at Amravati, Dadasaheb Khaparde referred to the famine and plague which I ravaged the country.(Ibid, p. 192)
Towards 1907, Tilak came to the forefront as the leader of the: extremist group in the Congress. From Nagpur province Dadasaheb Khaparde and Munje represented the Tilakite school; whereas Mudholkar and Gangadharrav Citnavis backed the, moderates. In 1907 the Congress was to meet in Nagpur. The extremists wanted it to be presided over by Tilak. After a meeting which was held in the Town Hall, the students took out a procession with the photographs of Tilak, Lila Lajpat Rai, Arabindu Ghos and Bipin Candra Pal, singing Vandemataram. The students in the Morris College (now Nagpur Mahavidyalaya) greeted their European professors in the class with Vandemataram. Situation in Nagpur grew quite tense. The Congress, however, was held at Surat which marked a turning point in its history.
The group of extremists in Nagpur were encouraged by the lectures of Babu Arabindu Ghos in the city in 1908. He urged the people to adopt the cult of Svadesi. Acyutrav Kolhatkar was sentenced. To eighteen months’ rigorous imprisonment for publishing the speeches of Arabindu in his journal Desasevak.(HFM.,p.119)
The Rastriya Mandal was established in Nagpur when the Terrorist Movement was seriously disturbing the Government. Nilkanthrav Udhoji was the President of the Mandal and Munje, Acyutrav Kolhatkar, Paranjape Madhavrav Sapre, Ramnarayan Rathi, Barrister Cakravarti and Gadre its principal members.(Ibid,p.213)
During the Industrial Exhibition held on the Kasturcand Park in Nagpur in 1908, the statue of Queen Victoria in the Maharaj Bag was defaced with coal-tar. One Narayan Paranjpe was arrested for this act and later released.
The news of Tilak’s deportation to Mandaley for six years created sensation in Nagpur. The students left their classes and took out a procession. The Principal of Morris College was pelted with stones. A mammoth meeting held at the Citnavis Park was dispersed by the police. In the second meeting held on 19th August 1908, in front of the Venkates theatre a resolution was passed demanding the release of Tilak, and as a protest against injustice it called upon the people to completely boycott British goods.(Ibid, p. 221.)
The repressive measures which followed this agitation deprived Nagpur press of its freedom. Acyutrav Kolhatkar was arrested on the Nagpur station on his arrival by Calcutta mail. In 1913, Viceroy Hardinge came to Nagpur to lay the foundation stone of the Central Provinces Legislative Council. Out of its 26 members, 3 were from the Congress.(Ibid, p. 232.)
The Svadesi mills-now Model Mills-was founded in 1870. Its first directors were members of the Congress, namely, Gangadharrav Citnavis, Gopalrav Bhide, Mukundrav Buty and Gopalrav Ghatare. Along with Svadesi and Boycott, the Paisa Fund too received support from Nagpur.(HFM./p. 247.)
To meet the local needs, the first Provincial Conference was held in 1905. Dadasaheb Khapade was its President and Garigadharrav Citnavis the Chairman of the Reception Committee. The demands of the Conference were
1. abolition of Patvari cess;
After 1907, the Congress in Nagpur was sharply divided having overwhelming supporters of Tilak.
In 1915, Mrs. Besant explained in Nagpur the objectives of the Home Rule League. In 1918, Tilak toured the Nagpur area: for the same purpose.(Ibid, p. 279.)
He had full faith in the constitutional struggle for the attainment of Svaraj Like many. others he was convinced of its practicability under the given situation. He, however; did not consider the activities of the terrorists or the revolutionaries as ineffectual or theoretically objectionable. He was not opposed to the overthrow of the British rule by an armed revolution if one could bring it about. In the Rand murder case the Caphekar brothers who were convicted stated in the enquiry that they were driven to desperateness by the writings of Tilak in the Kesari. Being involved in this case Tilak was sentenced to eighteen months’ rigorous imprisonment. For many revolutionaries he was the source of inspiration.
Hedgevar, the brain behind the revolutionary movement in Nagpur, had been to Poona to consult Tilak on the matter. Nothing is known about the nature of the advice he received. One Bhanji Kavare was the trusted associate of Hedgevar. Both used to secure pistols and ammunition clandestinely from outside. One Dadasaheb Baksi repaired old pistols and made them serviceable. Hedgevar once unsuccessfully tried to secure arms and ammunitions from Goa. Funds were collected for this movement and secret meetings were held at the out-of-the-way places like Baraedvari, Tulsi Bag, Soneganv Mandir, Colonel Bag, Indora Mandir,and Mohite Vada. Like of Mazzini, stories of the Bengal Revolutionaries, the Alipur and Maniktola Bombing Cases, and Indian War of Independence by Savarkar were widely circulated among the revolutionaries as food for thought. Hed geviir had sent his own trusted persons to Punjab with a view to keeping contact with the revolutionaries there. One Ganga Prasad was the principal figure in this secret deputation. He was accompanied by Appaji Josi of Wardha and, Nanaji Puranik and Baburav Harkare of Nagpur. These revolutionary activities were conducted for nearly three years from 1916 onwards. Towards the end of the World War I, Hedgevar found that the movement was losing its dynamism and the chances of its success were few. He therefore called back his compatriots and. systematically disorganized the movement. He then joined the Congress.(Dr. Hedgevar-by N. H. Palkar, pp. 60-69.)
Emergence of Gandhiji
Between 1906 and 1914 Gandhiji had attracted the attention of Indian political leaders by his peaceful resistance to injustice in South Africa. He was successful in getting abolished the most hated Asiatic Act and the discriminatory treatment meted out to the Indian immigrants there. His activities in Africa were heartily blessed by Gopal Krsna Gokhale. On his return to India in 1914 he was hailed as the votary of truth and ahimsa. In spite of his bitter experience of the British rule in Africa he expressed full faith in the justice of England and advised his countrymen to offer unconditional help to the British during the First World War. But the hollowness of the proclamation during the War that responsible Government would be introduced in India; the disappointing Montford Reforms, the Rowlatt Bills and the Jallianvala Bag Tragedy of 1919, in mounting succession convinced him that the British Government was satanic. In the Khilafat Conference of November 1919 Gandhiji expounded his policy of non-co-operation with Government as a political weapon. This was largely supported in the Congress Session that followed (HFM., p. 291.). However, Congress stalwarts like Tilak, C. R. Das and Moti Lal Nehru had misgivings regarding the Gandhian ways and programme. Mrs. Annie Besant was against his Satyagraha movement, and the Jallianvala Bag Tragedy resulted in her exit from the Congress and politics. (Ibid, p. 288.)
Death of Lokamanya Tilak
With Tilak’s death on 1st August 1920, India lost a great scholar and a fearless leader of exceptional abilities. The death of the “Father of Indian Unrest” was mourned throughout the country. Nagpur people paid their homage to Tilak in a mammoth meeting.(Ibid, p. 293.) The era of vigorous extremism in the Congress may be said to have ended with the passing away of Tilak.
The Gandhian Era
The special Congress Session which met at Calcutta in September 1920 marked a turning point in Indian politics, Gandhiji’s resolutions on Hindu-Muslim unity and the policy of non-violent, non-eo-operation for the attainment of Svaraj were passed by the Session, though Bipin Candra Pal and Das strongly opposed them considering them to be disadvantageous to the country. The Nagpur Session of the Congress which met at the end of 1920 firmly established Gandhiji’s leadership in India. His philosophy and method received a clear support. His progressive policy of non-co-operation and boycott actually outstripped the extremists.
On the eve of the Nagpur Session, opposition members had expressed their disapproval of the policy and principle of non-co-operation. They thought the movement would do more harm than good to the country. Before the Congress Session met, Dadasaheb Khaparde published a memorandum pointing out how Gandhiji’s resolution sought to divert the energies of the Congress in attaining spiritual force and moral excellence to the neglect of immediate political objectives. He further thought that boycotting the Councils would result in the loss of contact with the de facto Government ultimately depriving the people of the practical training ground for political struggle. It would not be far from truth if one states that this opinion was largely shared by the intellectuals of Nagpur.
In addition to the non-violent non-co-operation programme for the attainment of Svaraj, the Nagpur Session passed resolutions regarding promotion of Khadi, unconditional support to the Muslims in the Khilafat movement, removal of untouchability and creation of Tilak Svaraj Fund. Svaraj was to be attained within one year.
The Nagpur Congress gave tremendous fillip to the national movement in the Madhya Prades. As part of the peateful programme the Non-Co-operator’s .Asram and the Tilak Vidyalaya were established at Nagpur. To make Prohibition effective volunteers picketed at the liquor shops on January 1921. Police opened fire on the picketers in the city.(HFM.,pp.303-308.)
After the Cauri Caura incident in which the constables were cut to pieces by the angry mob, Gandhiji withdrew his mass civil disobedience movement which was to be launched all over the country. His promise of attaining Svaraj within an year fell through and a sort of lull spread over the entire programme of the Congress. It was in this atmosphere that the Svarajist Party was established following the Congress Session of Gaya of 1923. Das and Motilal Nehru formed the Svarajist Party to carry the fight into the legislatures. Svaraj was to be attained by Councilentry. By this time M. V. Abhyankar who was the acknowledged leader of Nagpur moved a resolution at the All-India Congress Committee meeting in Bombay that Council-entry should be accepted as the programme of the party( Ibid, pp. 320-322.). Khaparde and Munje too were in favour of capturing all public bodies and Councils. Thus, there was a tussle between the Non-changers and the Svarajists within the Congress party.
In the elections of 1923, the Svarajists in the Central Provinces got a clear majority. The Governor called Munje, the leader of the Svarajists to form the Ministry. He promptly refused the invitation and the party launched its obstructive battle. When the Governor formed his own Ministry, the Svarajists in the house passed a motion of non-confidence against it. This was the first non-confidence motion to be passed against a Government under the Reform Act. It was the first triumph of the battle for freedom inside the Council (HFM., p. 333.). The Svarajist party itself, however, soon betrayed signs of schism under threats from the Governor. The election of Tambe of the Svarajist Party as President was hailed as its truimph. He decided in October 1925 to accept the membership of the Executive Council in the Central Provinces in the vacancy caused by the retirement of M. V. Josi. This had a nation-wide reaction. Tambe was supported by Kelkar and M. R. Jayakar of Bombay. The Berar Svaraj Party in the Executive Committee meeting of 26th October 1925, declared that time had come for adopting a policy of the Svarajists which created such a serious situation that a meeting of the All-India Svarajist Executive Committee was called at Nagpur and Motilal Nehru after heated discussions with Munje remarked that, “Maharashtra was a diseased limb of the Svaraj Party and he was quite prepared to amputate it.”(lbid, pp. 341-342.) The result was that N. C. Kelkar and M. R. Jayakar resigned from the Party and Munje followed the suit. The Responsive Co-operationist group formed their own party under the presidentship of Jayakar. Munje Aney of this faction broke off from Abhyankar-Vamanrav Josi.
The Congress Party which was developing cracks inside was destined to witness worst kind of communal riots between 1923 nd 1925. In 1923 Mustafa Kamal Pasa declared Turkey a Republic and in 1924 the Khilafat itself was abolished. The Indian Muslims were baffled. It knocked the bottom out of the Hindu-Muslim unity nurtured by the Congress all these years. The Muslims fell apart from the Congress increasingly.
In 1923, in the tense atmosphere of communalism the Nagpur peop1e under the leadership of Hedgevar, Paranjpe and Colkar successfully carried the Dindi Satyagraha(Dr. Hedgevar-by N. H. Palkar, pp. 123-29.). During the riots of he next year Munje gave complete co-operation to Hedgevar he founder of the Rastriya Svayamsevak Sangha. What was happening in Nagpur was common phenomenon in many other cities of India. To quell the riots Gandhiji started a fast of 21 days on 18th September, 1924(HFM., p. 352.).
It may be noted here that Hedgevar was once an active and prominent worker of the Congress Party. He was the chief associate of Paranjpe who founded the Bharat Svayamsevak Mandal with a view to training the volunteers for the Nagpur Session of the Congress of 1920. During the Non-co-operation Movement Munje and Hedgevar carried a hurricane campaign against the Government in and out of Nagpur. Hedgevar was, sentenced to one year’s rigorous imprisonment. After his release he found that his heart was not in the Congress as the unconditional help to the Muslims in the Khi1afat movement to the exclusion of Goraksa-Cow protection-in the Congress programme presented a real contrast(Dr. Hedgevar-by H. N. Palkar, p. 84. One Badhe wanted that the Congress meeting in Nagpur should take the question of Goraksa as it was national. Gandhiji told him that this could not be taken as it would touch the feelings of the Muslims, and asked Mr. Badhe to leave the meeting. On his refusal to do so the meeting was adjourned.). To him, as to many others in Nagpur, unconditional help to Muslims for the attainment of Hindu-Muslim unity was a theoretical or spiritual solution fraught with danger. It was this mental dichotomy that drove Hedgevar to found the Rastizya Svayamsevaka Sqngh and forced many a thinker of Nagpur to join the Hindu Maha Sabha(Dr. Hedgevar-by N. H. Palkar, pp. 136, 143, 147.).
When the Simon Commission visited Nagpur in March 1929 the Youth League and the Students’ Organization were on the forefront of the protests and demonstrations. The educational institutions in the city became active centres of youth agitation. On 14th July, the National Flag was hoisted on the Hislop College. As a sequel to Government warning against such actions all colleges in Nagpur were closed for sometime(HFM. , pp. 383,384.).
Civil Disobedience Movement of 1930-32
With Gandhiji’s historic march from Sabarmati to Dandi the Satyagraha movement spread throughout the length and breadth of the country. On 16th April 1930, the Nagpur War Council was formed with Abhyankar as its president. Among the other members of the Council were Jamnalal Bajaj, Mahatma Bhagvandin, Khare, Punamcanda Raka and Nilakanthrav Desmukh. In Berar Brijlal Biyani, Bapuji, Aney and Vamanrav Josi led the movement.
1931-47. The Gandhian Era
Abhyankar was arrested. Bapuji Aney was arrested for cutting grass in the Pusad forest. Anusayabai Kale was arrested for picketing (Ibid,. pp. 385-389.). Nagpur people gave a good account of themselves in the Civil Disobedience Movement.
After the passing of the Act of 1935, the Congress decided to contest the elections. It had clear majority in five provinces. When the new constitution came into force in the Madhya Prades a new ministry was formed with Khare as the Chief Minister, on 14th July 1937(My Political Memoirs or Autobiography, p. 8.). At the time of forming the Ministry Khare had to drop Harkare from the list of Ministers at the instance of Vallabhabhai Patel. Because of serious differences between N. B. Khare and his Mahakosal colleagues and also because of his differences with the Congress High Command, he had to resign his office of Chief-Ministership. He later published his case in the papers under” My Defence “(Ibid, pp. 10-15.).
After the outbreak of the Second World War the Congress Working Committee which met at Wardha from 8th September 1939 took the following momentous decisions:
(i) It condemned Nazism and Fascism.
On these fundamental questions no compromise was possible and the Congress Ministries from different provinces resigned. A deadlock became inevitable. Gandhiji started his individual satyagraha and Vinoha Bhave was the first volunteer to launch it on 17th October 1941. In 1942 when the Quit India Call was given by the Congress, arrests, repression, underground activities and violence became a matter of daily occurrence. On the 12th August, the Police fired on the Nagpur mob killing even women and children. At Ramtek in Nagpur district there was no government for sometime. The atrocities at Asti in Wardha and Cimur in Canda are too well-known during the freedom. struggle. On the 12th August 1942, the ltvari Railway Station Godown and Post Office were set on fire. The underground movement was very active in Nagpur under the leadership of Maganlal Bagadi(HFM., pp. 472-473.).
Post Independence Period
After the end of the war, in Madhya Prades, the Cabinet was sworn in with Ravi Sankar Sukla as the Chief Minister on 27-4-1946. When freedom dawned finally on the 15th August 1947, the Nagpur people celebrated it by hoisting the National Flag on the historic fort of Sitabuldi. Ravi Sankar Sukla was the Chief Minister and Mangaldas M. Pakvasa the Rajyapala(HFM.. pp. 492-493).
With the reorganisation of States in 1956, Nagpur along with the other districts of Vidarbha region became a part of the bilingual State of Bombay. In 1960 the State of Maharashtra came into existence of which Nagpur district forms a part.
The British Residents of Nagpur.
List of the Chief Commisioners and Governors of the Central Provinces since their constitution
Historical Families of Nagpur.
2. The Cond Rajas of Devagad, descendants of Bakhat Buland, the founder of Modern Nagpur.
Ahirrao, Malji first to come to Nagpur. Bakshi, accompanied Raghuji I.
Cujar, Janrao accompanied Raghuji I.
Sakhadeo Timmaji, Divan of the Gond Rajas of Chanda. When Raghuji conquered Chanda he brought Timmaji to Nagpur.
( This account of (i) the British Residents of Nagpur, (ii) the Chief Commissioners and Governors of the Central Provinces and Berar and (iii) the Historical Families of Nagpur has been prepared with the help of NPI and Selections from the Nagpur Residency Records-by H. N. Sinha)