Janoji Bhosle, 1755-1772

The Jari-Pataka and the saffron-colored 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.

This article is part of MARATHA PERIOD (Complete History of Nagpur)