Balaji Viswanath – The Peshwa
- The death of Maratha emperor “Shahu Maharaj’ passed the baton of the throne to Balaji Viswanath, who was working as the Peshwa under Shahu till his death. Balaji Viswanath was highly powerful and was an able minister under the king.
- His extraordinary service to Shahu and the way he helped the ruler to consolidate the empire Balaji was credited with the sobriquet “Second Founder of the Maratha”.
BALAJI VISHWANATH: He served as the minister and chief tactician of Shahu Maharaj. He was also known as the “First hereditary Peshwa” of the Maratha empire in \(1713\).
- Balaji also had sound knowledge in the field of finance, as he had negotiated a treaty with the Mughal ruler of Deccan in \(1718\), which allowed the Maratha’s to collect the taxes of Chauth and Sardeshmukh from the Deccan provinces of Mughals.
- He was also credited for making the title of the Peshwa hereditary during his tenure. Peshwa became all-powerful and the de facto ruler of the Maratha empire while the King became a nominal head of his kingdom.
- Balaji Viswanath met his death due to ill-health in \(1720\), and his position was transferred to his elder son, Baji Rao I.
Maratha under Baji Rao I: (1720 – 1740)
- Baji Rao succeeded his father Balaji Viswanath after his death. He also ruled the Maratha empire for a brief period of \(20 years\). His tenure is the period where the Maratha power reached its Zenith, as he defeated most of the opponents during his stint.
BAJI RAO I: He was a brave warrior and able administrator of the Maratha empire who was considered the “greatest exponent of the Guerilla warfare”.
- Baji Rao took his attack to the bastions of Mughals in Deccan and the Nizam of Hyderabad and assumed the post of the chief commander during these conquests.
The Confederate system of Baji Rao
- Baji Rao gave prominence to the small kingdoms under his empire and made them part of his campaigns against his enemies. This allowed the growth of the minor kingdoms which allowed Baji Rao to establish a new system called the “Confederate system”.
- Baji Rao joined forces with the minor Chieftains which raised the positions of the kingdoms in the society. “Deshmukh” an elite group of armed forces that was part of the Maratha kingdom slowly lost their prominence.
1.Peshwas – Pune.
THE MARATHA CONFEDERACY
2. Bhonsle – Nagpur.
3. Gaikwad – Baroda.
4. Holkar – Indore.
5.Scindia / Shinde - Gwalior
- Baji Rao also showed his might by taking on foreign powers like the Portuguese in a battle called “Battle of Vasai in 1733” and defeated them. He also went on to capture the Salsette and Bassein from the Portuguese.
Restoration of Shahu
- Baji Rao constantly attacked the Mughals and the Nisam to weaken their power centres. In the meantime, Baji Rao amassed more wealth and army strength which allowed him to restore Shahu as the ruler of Maharashtra.
TREATY OF DURAI SARAI: This treaty was signed by the Nisam-ul-Mulk who lost the battle against Baji Rao in \(1737\).
- Post the series of losses by the Nisam, Marathas were empowered to collect more taxes from the Nizam's territories. Baji Rao’s continuous expedition on Mughals weakened their power as there were no rulers to wither the might of the Maratha warriors. Thus the Maratha’s reigned supreme in Deccan.