Baji Rao & Mastani

bajiBajirao Mastani is now a buzz word in air, Baji Rao was the famous Peshwa.    The seat of power was at Pune. Jija Bai ji, Shiva Ji, Nana Phadanvis, Peshwa, Sahu ji, Tulsi Bai or Tulsa bai, etc all names were associated with the Maratha narratives. Pune was famous for their Brahmin stronghold and had own identity other than Vidharbha. I have a connection with the name “Peshwa” and peshwa sahi. One of my ancestors had settled at Bithoor, Kanpur. Being Brahmin it was said that they might have been associated with the Peshwa. At bithoor there is a Ghat named as Maharaj Ghat. Name suggests that may be it was built by the Maharaja- the Peshwa, who was settled in Bithoor, when he was exiled by the British. There is one temple on Maharaj Ghat, Bithoor. Now the interiors have faded away, earlier it had nice paintings all over the walls and roofs keeping with the tradition. On the right side there was another small temple, or a deity was established and pooja was performed. on the first room stayed family of my ancestors. one of my grandfather became a Dandi Swamy. Every one near the Maharaj Ghat knew him as Dandi Swamy. He lived on the front part of Maharaj Ghat. In the first room stayed his family, i mean his son and other family members. It was a tradition in our Mishra clan to gather at this Maharaj Ghat and in this house and celebrate festivities, on the Kartik Poornima. When everyone would gather to take bath in River Ganga. Those belonging to the Mishra clan of Jugrajpur village gather at this spot. And thus whole of family get reconnected. Often members of this clan gather for Janeyu, the Yagyopavit Sanskara, the thread ceremony, On the mundan ceremony. we used to go there from IIT Kanpur many times. Little did i notice that the place was having any historic significance. Baji Rao was a great warrior, Brahmin, and a Peshwa of Maratha rulers. As I had read in the Amar chitra Katha way back when I was in school, Chatrasal had sent a letter to Baji Rao. It read something like- Baji jaat chatrasal ki, Baji Rakho aye.

जो गत भई गजेन्द्र की वही गत हमरी आज, बाज जात बुन्देल की बाजी राखियो लाज

Baji Rao went to help Chatrasal and they won the battle. Later in the book it was mentioned that Chatrasal who considered Mastani dear and like a daughter, had gifted her to Baji Rao. Mastani went with the Peshwa to Pune. It was unlikely mastanithat being a muslim she might have been welcomed back at Pune.
Now it also rumoured that mother of Mastani was from deccan, either from the court of Hyderabad. She was dancer and later must have come to Bundelkhand. She stayed with the Chatrasal. Mastani was their daughter. Mastani was a good Dancer. But similarly it is also said that she was good at Horse riding and sword.

On doordarshan i saw a serial “Phoolwanti”.  the opening song was by Lata ji (if I remember correctly). That was the serial I watched with much fascination. Archana Joglek2_Archana_Joglekar_as_a_Dancerar was in lead role of phoolwanti. In that serial the word “Kalawant” was used for dancer. Archana ji was a Kathak dancer that i knew. In that serial the Pune style of Brahmin was highlighted. There was some Shastri ji I think he was a Dharmadhikari also. Shri Arun Govil acted. He had commented over the dancing of Phoolwanti. She objected over that comment and registered a complaint with the ruler (must be the Peshwai). It was decided that a competition will be held between two. Eventually the Sastri had won and Phoolwanti had to accept the defeat and stayed with the household of Sastri ji as their homemaid or so to say disciple. In that serial I clearly remember there was a dialogue of Archana Joglekar. She was shown standing in front of a portrait of Mastani. And phoolwanti said that Mastani, now it is time to take your revenge? I don’t know why that statement was shown in that serial and that too a Kalawant like “phoolwanti” thought in her mind?. I also read somewhere that in Kelkar Museum they have reconstructed the mahal/chamber of Mastani and Baji Rao after collecting those pieces from the original mahal(??)

Mostly Movie makers do no justice with the characters of past. Eventually they have to make film for commercial success. Thus to make screen look more attractive few drama elements are added. Thus in the recent film Bajirao mastani also the film maker had taken the liberty. He did introduce a drama element by showing a dance sequence between the Kashibai and Mastani, both were partner of Baji rao. One was first wife and second was a lover. Thus in those days on many occasions both must have shared same space, either on the formal darbars or formal celebrations or few Family rituals. Till now I did not know that there were descendants of Mastani Bai? Why they are now called as the descendants of Mastani? If she was married to Baji Rao and thus might have had children out of that wedlock then only those can be called as descendants of Mastani Bai? Or if it is true then why they are called on TV as descendents of Mastani alone? Why not the descendants of Peshwa also. Why I am saying this is that as we are hearing on News channels(ABP) that Mastani was the daughter of Chatrasal by his dancer wife. Similarly these descendants of Mastani should also be addressed as the descendants of Peshwa? Or there was a confusion whether Mastani was married to Peshwa or not? On Tv a descendant of Peshwa was shown as saying that Kasibai and Mastani could never have danced. But most surprising thing was that the one of them said “Mastani Saheb”. Thus it shows that in the household of peshwa Mastani was considered part of household. Otherwise the word “Mastani saheb” could never be used to address Mastani. I appreciate that descendant of Peshwa family who used that word “saheb”. If the word sahib is attached with the name of Matsani by the people then her soul must have attained peace. There is confusion over the death of Mastani. Her grave is situated few kilometers away from Pune. Why? I did not know that. Peshwa died at Indore? But the news reached Mastani, when she by then fled the Pune and reached the village, which were given to her for her maintenance. The revenue collection of those villages was to be used for the maintenance of Mastani. She is said to have committed suicide by consuming Diamond. There was a son of Baji Rao and Mastani, named as Krishna Rao, but since Pune was a brahmin stronghold they were not accepted in the royal family.  Thus as i have read that the son was very young when Mastani died leaving him behind. Kashibai took that son into her fold. That was a brave step to be taken by any royal lady of that time. This single step shows Kashibai as a brave and courgeous lady. Or she must have loved Peshwa very much thus she acepted the son of her lover the Peshwa ji. The boy was raised up among the royal family. But being a son of a Muslim lady he was named as Samsher Bhadur (if i am correct), and later grew as a Maratha general and was kept as incharge of Banda, which was founded by him from the region Bundelkhand, Kalpi and jhansi areas,( which were originally under Chatrasal the father of Mastani and it is said that he had gifted these areas to Baji Rao). His son was called as Nawab of Banda- very close to kanpur(my place !!!)

In this story there was another person who gave shape to tradhabai1he Peshwa(s) The Radha Bai, wife of first Peshwa. She herself took interest and
groomed her two sons, Baji Rao and his brother Appa ji. She was able administrator as was said. May be due to the strict discipline from Mother Baji Rao became what he is famous for. As we remember Jija Bai for shiva ji. Similarly we should also remember RadhaBai ji for the Baji Rao and other peshwas. it is said that she was most respected in other kingdoms also. As when she went for pilgrimage to Varanasi (banaras then) on the way few kings welcomed her and offered gifts (as was the custom) and offered all their help so that she can travel peacefully.
Later I read that the Nawab of Banda also helped Rani Jhansi Laxmibai in the battle against British..
thus the Peshwa and all Maratha narative is very majestic and full of bravery.

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Gaurang Katyayan misra

I am nobody on this vast globe. trying to search for my relevance for existence. Trying to read boundaries.. how to demolish them? want to walk on path of wisdom.. such as vivekananda, Ram, Krishna, Meera, kabir, Sankaracharya, rani chennama, ahilyabai holkar, Laxmi bai, umrao jaan, Rai praveen, Chanakya, SitaRam Raju, Shiva ji, lachit burfukan, Sankar Dev, list is endless

2 thoughts on “Baji Rao & Mastani”

  1. It gives me immense pleasure reading your informative article about Peshwas and their connection with your family…well written and explained…m proud of you ..keep writing..Gd bls you

    Liked by 1 person

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