On the history trail: Trimbakrao Dabhade meets his end

Peshwa Bajirao had set up camp at Savli when he learned about the plans of Trimbakrao Dabhade and Gaikwad. The two had decided for an open attack on the plain of Dabhoi and Bhilapur with a force of 40 thousand while the Peshwa had managed to gather just about 25 thousand for this armed conflict.


Messages were sent repeatedly from Savli to Trimbakrao Dabhade to proceed to Satara and resolve the dispute amicably in the presence of Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj. The Peshwa stressed upon the fact that two servants of the Maratha State must not engage in a personal fight that will severely jeopardise the security of the Chhatrapati.


However, Trimbakrao Dabhade turned a deaf ear to the messages and the summons and instead went about the details of the attack. The Peshwa decided to precipitate the matter and fell upon Trimbakrao Dabhade’s camp on 1 April 1731 with such fury that Trimbakrao Dabhade was forced to retaliate with equal measure.


The battle raged on till a chance musket shot pierced Trimbakrao’s head killing him instantly. The Peshwa wrote a detailed account to his Guru Brahmendra Swami, “Dabhade with his allies came forward for an encounter on 4th Shavval. Trimbakrao himself, Javji Dabhade, Maloji Pawar and Pilaji Gaikwad’s son Sambhaji were killed outright. Udaji Pawar and Chimnaji Damodar were captured. Pilaji Gaikwad and Kuvar Bahadur escaped wounded. A large booty was secured. Our side too lost a few brave ones in the battle.”


The Peshwa rightly desisted from any celebration after the victory. He handed over the elephants that carried the body of the Senapati to his brother Yashwantrao who had just arrived with fresh troops. Yashwantrao performed the funeral rites during the night and resumed the hostilities the next morning.


But Peshwa Bajirao wisely made his way back to Satara with the booty. A minor skirmish with the Nizam’s men near Surat was handled with ease. The Peshwa wanted to report the whole matter to Shahu Raje himself before his enemies poisoned the mind of the Raje.


The news stunned Shahu Raje and the Senapati‘s mother Umabai. The latter was heartbroken over her son’s demise and squarely put the blame on the Peshwa and demanded that Shahu Raje should punish him immediately. Shahu Raje rushed to Talegaon to meet Umabai and brought her to Satara to confront the Peshwa but as the Peshwa had not initiated the hostilities, he was deemed to be innocent and only acting in the interest of the Maratha State and the Chhatrapati.


Shahu Raje conferred the office of the Senapati upon Yashwantrao but he proved to be incompetent. Both Pilaji Gaikwad and his son Damaji were left to manage the affairs of Gujarat. The Pawars and Bandays and others were restored to their former offices.


Written by Lakshmi Subramanian


* Information about Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj is taken from archives

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