Updated: June 16, 2022
Baji Rao I was a general of the Maratha Empire in India. He served as Peshwa or Prime Minister to the fifth Maratha Chhatrapati (Emperor) Shahu from 1720 until his death. Bajirao was Peshwa in the Ashta Pradhan (8-minister council) of Shahu. He is also known by the name Bajirao Ballal.
Baji Rao had a major role in expanding the Maratha Empire in Northern India with the help of Malharrao Holkar, Ranoji Shinde, Anandrao Pawar and Ranoji Bhoite. Also known as Bajirao Ballal and Thorale (Elder) Bajirao, fought several major battles and is reputed never to have lost one. Famed for his military skills, Bajirao was also known for his love for his half-Muslim wife Mastani. He was born on August 18th, 1700 and died on April 28, 1740.
Bajirao was born on 18 August 1700 into a Marathi Chitpavan Brahmin family as the son of Balaji Vishwanath and Radhabai. He had a younger brother called Chimnaji Appa. His father was the first Peshwa of Chhattrapati Shahu. As a young boy he often used to accompany his father on military campaigns and was well trained by the Maratha cavalry generals. He grew up to be a disciplined and highly skilled warrior under the guidance of his father. His father was treacherously arrested by Maharaja Shahu's army-in-chief Dabhaji Thorat in 1716. Bajirao chose to accompany his father to jail and remained with him for two years till he was released. He traveled with his father to Delhi in 1718.
The first marriage of Bajirao was to Kashibai with whom he had two sons, Nanasaheb and Raghunathrao. His second marriage was to Mastani, the daughter of Maharaja Chhatrasal of Panna by a Muslim wife. Mastani was a beautiful and brave woman, skilled in horse-riding, spear-throwing and swordsmanship. However, Mastani was never accepted by Bajirao's mother and brother as she was a half-Muslim. This marriage also caused a rift in the orthodox Hindu Pune society of the time.
Mastani gave birth to a son who was called Krishnarao at birth. However the orthodox Hindus did not allow the couple to raise their son as a Hindu. So the boy was renamed Shamsher Bahadur and raised a Muslim.
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