Peshwa Narayan Rao – Assassination of 18 year old ruler for the greed

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  Narayan Rao was the Peshwa of the Maratha confederacy from November 1772 AD until he was murdered by the conspiracy plotted by his uncle Raghunath Rao to fulfill his greed  to become the Peshwa of the Marathas. He was murdered only after his 9 months of regime. 

Narayan Rao had gone on an expedition with his elder brother Madhav Rao to Karnataka before the age of 18 . Narayan Rao was highly learned Peshwa in reading, writing, arithmetic and in Sanskrit languages.

He was the youngest  son of Balaji Bajirao and Gopika Bai. He was born on 10th August 1755 and was married to Gangabai Sathe on 18th April 1763.

He was the youngest brother of Peshwa Madhavrao who was credited for the resurgence of the Maratha empire after the terrible loss of marathas in the third battle of Panipat which happened in 1761 AD. The death of Madhav Rao due to illness in November 1772 proven to be a nightmare for the Marathas as there was no one in the marathas who had matched with the proficiency of Peshwa Madhav Rao. 

The youngest brother of Madhavrao was given the responsibility to carry the legacy of the marathas empire. The accession of Narayan Rao at the age of 18 wasn’t considered important as he was a minor or a fugitive from his capital and country , unable to have a prominent hold in the civil war.

Narayan raw was advised by his elder brother Peshwa Madhavrao before his death to conduct the administration with the help of the two ablest and most experienced ministers i.e. Shakha Ram Bapu and Nana fadnavis . He was further advised to continue the confinement of Raghunath Rao from doing any kind of mischiefs in future.

He had just turned 18 when he was installed at the throne of the Peshwa. He had a lack of decision making power. He failed to evaluate the pros and cons of the decision he was taking. He was a short-tempered Peshwa. But still he had tried hard to follow the footprints of his brother ( Late Madhav Rao) . 

Soon after the death of Madhav Rao, the British started to take the advantage by attempting to capture Thana, Bassein, Vijaydurg and Ratnagiri of the West Coast.

Narayan Rao promptly retaliated by appointing Trimbak Vinayak as the head of the army and sent him to take the battle with the British. With the co-operation of Dhulap, Maratha naval officer of Vijaydurg, Trimbak successfully chased down the British from those territories. 

After the death of Janoji Bhosle in may 1772, the two brothers ( Mudhoji and Sabaji) in his family were ready to declare themselves as the successor of Janoji Bhosle. The civil war between them went too far which was later calmed down by the intervention of their well-wishers who acted as the mediator. It was decided to make Raghuji, the son of Mudhoji , the ruler of Nagpur.

To get the Sena-Saheb Subah and the confirmation for Raghuji’s installation as the ruler, the two agents named Vyankatrao Kashi Gupte and Lakshman of the Prabhu caste were sent to the Pune. 

After reaching Pune, they found the troublesome and the tussle going on between the Peshwa and Raghunath Rao. To make their capital out of it, they indulged themselves into this freaking fight through the help of the diplomat of Nagpur , Devajipant chorghode. 

They all together started their mischievous game plan to instigate and espouse the cause of Raghunath Rao against the Peshwa Narayan Rao. 

When Narayan Rao got aware of the mischievous act of these two agents who belonged to the Prabhu jaati, in agitation he took up the earlier case of that community which was sensitive. 

Prabhu Jati claimed the rights of kshatriyas in the performance of their religious functions and insisted upon the use of Vedic hymns for that purpose. It had arisen in the days of Shivaji whose confidential secretary Balaji Avaji chitnis , Prabhu by caste performed the thread ceremony of his sons at the same time as that of Shivaji Maharaj himself by using Vedic chants under the direction of the celebrated Gaga Bhatt. But some selected brahmins were not happy with this act and they were continually talking about it. 

The super magnificent kings and Peshwas didn’t give an eye to their senseless talk but this time Narayan Rao who was heavily flustered by the mischievous act of those two agents who belonged to the same community took up the issue to the Pune court and deprive the Prabhu caste from their kshatriyas status and forced them under severe penalties to adopt the practice prescribed for the Shudras who didn’t enjoy the right to use the vedic hymns. 

To complete his purpose, some prominent leaders were called up from Prabhu community and torture them and eventually compelled them to sign an agreement of specific articles purporting their acceptance of the Shudra status.

Note : Don’t misinterpret that in those days Shudras were assaulted because of their status. It was a  part of the varna system which had their certain rights to perform and make a working and inter-dependent society to run. 

Here, Narayanrao committed a blunder to the whole community of Prabhu who later with the purpose of taking revenge from Peshwa, joined the army of Raghunath Rao.

It wasn’t a decisive decision as there was no fault of the whole community. The culprit should have to punish for their wrongdoing, not the whole community. This kind of naive decision created faultline among the strength of the Marathas which later proved to be a path for the British to settle their legs in Marathas regions. 

As Shakharam Bapu shared an emotional relation with Raghunath Rao which later widened the differences between Narayan Rao and Sakharam Bapu. Patwardhan also came into picture after they were hated by Raghunath Rao and Sakharam Bapu for their prestige status. To resolve this issue, all three of them went to Gangapur in March to meet Gopika Bai . 

In the meantime, Raghunath Rao took advantage of the absence of the Peshwa and tried to escape from Pune but his attempt to run failed as he was captured by the guards. 

One dark night in August 1772, Raghunath Rao tried to escape with the assist of the arm of Laxman Kashi ( Prabhu caste agents). But again he was detected by the Guards and later on taken back to the custody.

This move of Raghunath Rao severely agitated Narayan Rao’s patience. He then restricted his move only up to the room. His expenditure was severely curtailed. 

Tulaji Pawar played a key role in plotting and executing the murder of Narayan Rao. Tulaji was a very close servant of Raghunath Rao and Anandibai.

Sakharam Bapu always tried to resolve the matters by compromising to avoid extreme disturbance in marathas. He was completely unaware of the plot created to murdered the Peshwa.

The execution of the plan had been started from 16th to 13th August. 10 days of Ganpati festival started from 21st to 31st August were chosen to be the best time to execute the plan to murder the Peshwa . In those 10 days, the administration had a holiday and occupied with the details of the celebration of Ganpati. 

Tulaji Pawar began his activities in these days. A Gardi named, Sumer Singh had been appointed by Narayan Rao to be in the immediate charge of his confined uncle Raghunath Rao. He was the best person to be consulted by Tulaji Pawar to support them in their plan. He was soon won over by Tulaji along with the Muhammad Yousuf, Khadag Singh and Bahadur khan to easily excute the plan. In return , Tulaji agreed to reward Gardi chiefs with 3 lakhs . 

A written letter or order by Raghunath Rao was procured and delivered to the Gardi chiefs purporting that the Peshwa should be “seized ” but later this word was scratched and replaced by “slain”. In Marathi “dharaa” was changed into ” maraa”.

According to Peshwa-Bakhar, it was Anandibai who did it but Anandibai all along averred that she didn’t have any clue of the murder of the Peshwa Narayanrao. The mystery is still unsolved who changed the word.

On 30th August 1773 when the Peshwa Narayan Rao was taking rest in his Palace tulaji Pawar reported it to the gardi chiefs. Somehow, their plan against Narayanrao had been leaked out which scared both Pawar and gardi chiefs of unbearable punishment. 

Without wasting much time, entered the palace on 30th August with his 5000 army into the palace and proceeded to the peshwa’s room with drawn swords and defening shouts. 

Narayan Rao who didn’t hold any kind of weapons in his hands during his rest, seeing the death near, ran to the room of Raghunath Rao and clasped him with a shaking voice of ” Save me , save me ” . But Gardi and Tulaji Pawar dragged him out violently and Sumer Singh hacked him to pieces.  It all happened in the presence of Raghunath Rao. That’s why he was indirectly called out as the murderer of Narayan Rao. He could have easily saved the life of Narayan Rao but his silence made him the murderer. 

An innocent life was taken down by a greedy person . It was a big blot in the history of the marathas. If Narayan Rao had been alive he must have done a phenomenal job in empowering the marathas in India. After his death the marathas scattered but by the grace of Shiva, Nana Fadnavis and Mahadji Scindia with their super administration gathered the scattered Marathas brilliantly and saved until they alived ( Mahadji scindia died in 1795 ) . 

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