On the history trail: The Mughals want peace with the Marathas

The decisive victories over the Mughals in Malwa, Bundelkhand and Gujarat in 1729 created quite a consternation in the heart of the ruler of Delhi. Though Nizam-ul-Mulk was checked to some extent in Palkhed, he continued to cause trouble for the Marathas in the Deccan. The death of Giridhar Bahadur and the defeat of Muhammad Khan Bangash in Bundelkhand created a sharp division in the policy and attitude towards the Marathas.


It became clear that one party headed by Sawai Jai Singh and Khan Dauran were in favour of peace with the Marathas while the other party headed by Saadat Khan, Muhammad Khan Bangash and Abhay Singh were in favour of launching a united assault on the Maratha lands.


The Wazir Qamruddhin Khan and the ruler remained clueless and listened to both sides patiently. The ruler of Delhi was quite lazy and used to a life of pleasure, unfit to govern and too weak to wage a war. Sawai Jai Singh seeing the indecisiveness of the Mughals took the responsibility of dealing with the Marathas and succeeded in getting back Mandavgad from them.


It was imperative to present a proper picture in the Delhi court about the disposition of Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj towards the Mughals. Reliable information needed to be ascertained through trustworthy agents.


It was decided that the ruler of Delhi would send his men to meet with Shahu Raje and the Peshwa at Satara to personally discuss the terms for a lasting settlement and also gather the views of the Nizam who was held in high esteem by the ruler. The Mughal delegation was instructed and empowered to arrange definite terms of an agreement to be ratified at a later date.


Sawai Jai Singh took the lead in this negotiation after consulting Rana Sangram Singh of Udaipur. He nominated Deep Singh and Mansaram Purohit while Sangram Singh nominated Vyaghraji. The ambassadors arrived in the later part of 1730 and both privately and openly consulted the Peshwa, Fateh Sinh, Raghuji Bhosle, the Pratinidhi, the Sumant, Purandares and others.


They then proceeded to meet the Nizam after which they left Aurangabad in early November. They made their report to Sawai Jai Singh and to the ruler of Delhi. It was indeed a flattering opinion of the Maratha Court and their policy which was expressed with great vigour.


The report showed that the Marathas were not greedy or aggressive or of wicked character. They stood by the terms offered to the late Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and in the peace treaty ratified during the time of the Sayyid brothers. They demanded 11 and 15 lacs for annual chauth of Gujarat and Malwa respectively.


However, the views of the Nizam were quite contrary to this report causing further anguish to the Marathas.


Written by Lakshmi Subramanian


* Information about Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj is taken from archives

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