On the history trail: Trimbakrao Dabhade in alliance with the Nizam

It became clear to Peshwa Bajirao and Chimaji Appa that the strong chiefs who espoused the Peshwa‘s leadership would affect the prospects of Nizam-ul-Mulk as their territory was intermixed with his. The Nizam began to use powerful artillery to crush them into submission to protect his interests.


By the end of 1730, the Peshwa and Chimaji Appa began to prepare themselves for a possible armed conflict. Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj sent his personal agents to meet Trimbakrao Dabhade to accept a compromise and asked the Peshwa to concede all that he claimed.


As the expedition to Gujarat and Malwa had been undertaken by the Peshwa and Chimaji Appa to repay the considerable debts that Shahu Raje had incurred over the years, Chimaji Appa took a tough stand and said thus, “If Dabhade creates trouble for us, we are quite equal to stopping him from doing mischief but if he goes over and joins the Nizam, your Highness must not hesitate to deprive him of his office of the Senapati.”


Shahu Raje then sent his own trusted agents Ambaji Trimbak, Naro Ram and Naro Gangadhar Muzumdar to meet Trimbakrao Dabhade and Umabai to reason with them and resolve the issue. However, Trimbakrao had already made up his mind and wasted precious time in accusations and vague discussions. He continued to complain about the Peshwa and showed no inclination to come to terms.


He made hollow proclamations of loyalty while intriguing with the Nizam putting the Peshwa on his guard. Trimbakrao then made the cardinal mistake of declaring to Shahu Raje’s agents, “We shall not give up an inch of the lands we own and will render only such service as we can.”


On hearing this, Shahu Raje understood that Trimbakrao had shifted his loyalties to the Nizam and sent him the following strong remonstrance, “You have been a loyal Hindu servant of the State and as such we have all along dealt with you most kindly. You have nevertheless deserted to the enemy, taking offence at something we are not aware of. You must know what fate traitors meet with. We urge you, therefore, to forget all wrongs, to remember how your ancestors behaved, and serve the State instead of the enemy, so that the nation may be proud of your conduct. You must exert yourself to execute our commands and win increasing favours from us. Such a conduct alone will be noble. You have to subdue the nation’s enemies and not join them. You must work to extend the Maratha raj. This warning is addressed to you in full confidence that you will remain a loyal servant of the State and not molest the poor innocent ryots.”


Sadly, this remonstrance did not have the desired effect upon Trimbakrao and instead took a dangerous turn. The Nizam plotted to remove the Peshwa altogether from the Maratha Court and away from Shahu Raje. A fair number of prominent chiefs serving Shahu Raje readily agreed to this.


Udaji Pawar and his brother Anandrao, Pilaji Gaikwad and the Banday brothers, Chimnaji Damodar and others aligned themselves with the Nizam not knowing that his evil motive was to decide the fate of the Deccan, Malwa and Gujarat in his favour.


This unholy alliance seriously threatened Shahu Raje’s position and security. The Peshwa prepared to meet his enemies with foresight and caution all the while taking great care to ensure the protection of Shahu Raje.


Shahu Raje ordered Peshwa Bajirao to proceed to Gujarat and bring Trimbakrao Dabhade to Satara as he failed to obey the written commands and messages. This mission entrusted only to the Peshwa and Chimaji Appa put the Peshwa in a tight spot.


Written by Lakshmi Subramanian


* Information about Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj is taken from archives

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