One of the main reasons Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj agreed to a peace treaty with Sayyid Husain Ali was to secure the release of his mother Maharani Yesubai, wife Savitribai and brother Madansinh who were held hostage in Delhi. Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath and Shankaraji Malhar cleverly put in the stipulation to that effect in return for their support.
The terms agreed were:
1. That all territories known as Shivaji’s swarajya; together with the forts therein, should be delivered to Shahu in full possession.
2. That such territories as had been recently conquered by the Marathas in Khandesh, Berar, Gondwana, Haidarabad and Karnatak as described in the annexure to the treaty, should also be ceded to them as part of the Maratha Kingdom.
3. That the Marathas should be allowed to collect chauth and sardeshmukhi from all the six Mughal Subahs in the south; in return for the chauth, the Marathas were to serve the emperor with a contingent of 15 thousand troops for his protection; and in return for the sardeshmukhi, the Marathas were to be responsible for maintaining order by preventing robberies and rebellions.
4. That Shahu should do no harm to Sambhaji of Kolhapur.
5. That the Marathas should make a cash payment annually of ten lacs of Rupees to the emperor by way of tribute.
6. That the emperor should release and send back from Delhi Shahu’s mother Yesubai, his wife and his brother Madansinh with all the followers that were detained there.
With his back against the wall and fearing for his life, Sayyid Husain Ali agreed to these terms and promised to get them formally ratified by the emperor. On 1 August 1718, Shahu Raje directed his local officials to enforce the terms of the agreement and make the obligatory collections of chauth and sardeshmukhi.
On 30 July 1718, Peshwa issued an order to the Deshmukhs and Deshpandes of Poona to stop them from making payments to the Mughal officer Rambhaji Nimbalkar. After the agreement had been confirmed, he left on a tour of these districts and took control of them in the name of Shahu Raje. He raised a special corps of troops to serve the Mughals as per the terms.
Though, the Mughals had invaded the lands and had destroyed more than they built, the citizens were not yet united to fight them. This agreement though perhaps not in good taste was the only option available to Shahu Raje to gain valuable time to strengthen his own position and raise an army to protect the Maratha lands.
This diplomatic masterstroke raised the prestige of Shahu Raje and firmly established his position as the lawful leader of the Marathas. This legal title was of great importance to Shahu Raje who had spent a large part of his life in captivity, desperately holding on to his identity and values of his lineage.
A government order for Shahu’s swarajya came to be organized with divided loyalties set aside and a formal status granted to the Maratha government. This treaty enabled the Marathas to become masters of their lands with fresh opportunities for expansion outside of their motherland.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Information about Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj is taken from archives