Friday, 11 December 2015

Who was Bajirao ? (Part II)

Bajirao's dash upon Delhi

Sawai Jaisingh of Amber had sincerely conducted offensive operations against the Marathas during the years 1733-35, putting forth his own utmost effort along with that of several Mughal chiefs, such as the Wazir and the Mir Bakhshi. Jaisingh fully realized the futility of trying to stop the Maratha aggression by
force of  arms, and once more used his influence with the Emperor to bring about a reconciliation. He advocated direct negotiations with the Peshwa himself, to avoid the mischief and misunderstanding which middlemen on both sides were prone to create. If Bajirao and the Emperor could, he urged, meet face to face in a friendly conference, many vexatious and  immoderate demands would be avoided. Jaisingh discussed these views freely in the Emperor's counsels and with his permission invited Bajirao to come over for personal talks first with the Rajput princes and then with the Emperor. Bajirao himself was not very sanguine about the outcome of such spectacular visits and conferences, but agreed to the proposal out of his great regard for Jaisingh and also for a chance of winning over the Rajput princes through friendly
Bajirao obtained Shahu's consent for such a venture, left Poona during the auspicious Divali time of 1735 and reached Udaipur in February of the following year.

The Emperor not caring to receive Bajirao in a personal visit at Delhi, sent his own agents Yadgar Khan
and Kriparam to Jaisingh with certain proposals tending to effect as advantageous a bargain as possible. Bajirao at once rejected the offer and sent his own agents Dhondo Govind and Baburao Malhar to Delhi with counter proposals on his part, the high tone of which displeased the Emperor so much,
that he declined to reply and prepared for an offensive against the Marathas. The season also advanced and as there seemed no prospect for Bajirao of a visit to the Emperor, he at once returned to the Deccan fully determined soon to compel the Emperor to grant his demands .

The Peshwa Bajirao then decided to teach the Mughal emperor a lesson of his lifetime. Bajirao personally marched towards Delhi with a large Maratha army in Dec 1736. He divided the army into two. One contingent was led by Peshwa Bajirao and the other by Pilaji Jadhav and Malharrao Holkar. The contingent of Holkar was however anhilated by a much larger army led by Sadat Khan, the Nawab of Oudh and mughal governor of Agra . Malharrao Holkar himself managed to escape and reach the other group led by Bajirao.

Thinking that the Maratha threat was over, Sadat Khan sent the good news to Delhi. And to join in the ill fated and premature celebrations of his perceived success, the other Mughal commanders also joined in, leaving Delhi virtually unguarded. That was when the contingent of Bajirrao's hardy band of Marathas, in a swift movement, completely bypassed the encamped Mughal army and reached the outskirts of Delhi (28 March 1737), covering a ten-day journey in just forty eight hours.

What followed thereafter was the total loot of the suburbs of Delhi. The Mughal emperor himself hid in the safe confines of Red Fort, while Bajirao and his men plundered the countryside in glee abandon. An eight thousand strong mughal army led by Mir Hassan Koka did try to take on Bajirao, but they were hopelessly out maneuvered and defeated, Mir Hassan himself was wounded in the battle for Delhi.

Then before the main mughal army could gather their wits, Bajirao with his entourage returned to the Deccan. On 31 March 1737, the victorious Maratha army left Delhi with their large booty leaving behind Delhi, mauled and humbled.

Nizam humbled at Bhopal

The Emperor, terrorized by Bajirao's raid of the summer of 1737, sent repeated and urgent calls to Nizam-ulmulk to repair to Delhi and stop the Maratha nuisance. When Nizam reached Delhi the Emperor and received in return unprecedented courtesy and lavish honours. The latter bestowed on him his own robe and sirpao with the title of Asaf-Jah, the highest among the Mughal nobility, and sent him choice dishes from his own kitchen every day, during the period of his stay. Nizam-ul-mulk left Delhi in October with thirty thousand select troops, a powerful park of artillery and full authority to act in expelling the Marathas from Bundelkhand and Malwa. 

Bajirao enthusiastically took up the challenge and cheered up his sovereign's drooping spirits. The die was cast. On the auspicious day of 15 October Bajirao took his. departure for the north along with his master's blessings and the best wishes of his nation, now united as never before.
In the meantime Nasir Jang, a worthy son of a worthy father, had not been idle. He raised fresh levies for use in Malwa and spent lavishly in preparations to crush the Marathas between two pincers, himself moving from the south and his father from the north. Bajirao, foreseeing the game, stationed his brother Chimnaji Appa at Varangaum on the Tapti with instructions to prevent Nasir Jang from proceeding beyond Burhanpur. Chimnaji performed this duty excellently. camp with strict attention to compactness and supervision. From the beginning of December the Maratha bands started hovering about the Mughal camp and harassing them from a distance, keeping well out of the range of their artillery. The advanced Maratha troops i'
gradually drove the Mughals towards the south into Bajirao's net, as soon as he had arrived on the tableland of Malwa.The Maratha tactics soon proved effective and the Nizani realized early enough that he could not pursue the Maratha and retaliate swiftly with his huge camp, whose necessaries of life came to be rapidly cut off. He, therefore, decided to find shelter in a well fortified place wherein he could keep his
army secure and deal piecemeal with the various Maratha bands.
He was coming towards Bajirao, and as he neared Bhopal he took shelter in that fortified town without first assuring himself of plentiful provisions and remained fully entrenched.

The siege commenced on 14th December and in less than a week's time the Mughals came to an extremity for want of food. Artillery alone served them well and kept the Marathas out of the range of their fire. Nizam-ul-mulk soon found his position intolerable and tried to move out with his whole camp under the shelter of his guns. But he could hardly travel more than (our or five miles a day. Thus nearly a fortnight
elapsed under extreme pressure, and when he learned that his longed for relief under his son had not even reached Burhanpur, he was overwhelmed with despair and in agony of heart sent for Anandrao Sumant, his friend in the Maratha camp, and through him begged Bajirao for terms of peace.
Bajirao refused to negotiate through the Sumant whom he did not trust and offered to send instead his own agents Pilaji Jadhav, Baji Bhivrao and Baburao Malhar. In the meantime Jaysinh's minister Ayamall arrived on behalf of the Nizam with Saiyad Lashkar Khan and other agents to see Bajirao and arrange terms of peacc. They urged that if Bajirao would release the Nizam from the present difficult position, without inflicting any disgrace on him, the Nizam would grant any compensation that would be demanded. After long
and vexatious conferences, Nizam-ul-mulk affixed his signature to the following terms on 7th January 1738 at Doraha Sarai about 64 miles north of Sironj

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