Raghuji Bhosle

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;
2. Pay an annual sum of Rs. 9 lacs;
3. Pay half of the tribute, prizes, property and other contributions excluding the ghasdana;
4. Raise 10,000 horse when required, and accompany the Pesva or proceed to any place he might be ordered.

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;
extending his sway over the Gond Kingdoms;
Karnatak expedition; and incursions into Bengal.

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.)

Raghuji’s Achievements

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.

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

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