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कृण्वन्तो विश्वमार्यम्


By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM

Bajirao Prathem was indeed a great general not only of cavalry but for all arms. Noteworthy is the fact that in his lifetime he fought and fought against the high and mighty Moghuls and the Nizam of Hyderabad but never lost a battle. His military strategy was just superb. He combined SPEED in movement of his troops and giving battle to the enemy when the latter expected it the least. His surprise appearance at the least expected time and place flabbergasted the enemy commanders who lost their nerve first and the battle later.

Appointed Peshwa at the age of just 20 by Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj superseding many experience and mature men in the run, gave Bajirao an additional strong dose of self confidence. It was this super self confidence that acted like his impenetrable personal armour that saved his persona and that of his troopers even while facing stronger enemy forces in a battle. Indeed that X factor explains his victory through and through in the 20 year impeccable battle career where he was always a victor.

I am pained to say that the Mastani episode has maligned Bajirao's name and fame and caused a chasm between him and the Brahman Samaj of Pune. Kashibai, his lawfully wedded wife was ever devoted to Bajirao as a devout Hindu wife should be to her husband. The Mastani episode has been made much of by film makers and story writers but I must go to the rescue of the great Peshwa General, Bajirao the First and say that his image remained as bright as ever.

Allow me to recall that it was Peshwa Bajirao who knocked at the gates of Delhi to test the prowess of the Moghuls and found that they were as vulnerable as a decadent power could be. Bajirao and his 500 horsemen had camped in the Talkatora grounds and the Moghul generals did not have the strategic strength or courage to oust the Marathas from the capital of the Moghul empire. By the way, Bajirao had travelled at breaknech speed to Delhi leaving his artillery behind in order to sound a warning bell to the Moghuls to leave the Marathas alone. Bajirao had succeeded in his mission.
Peshwa Bajirao followed the tactics of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in maintaining surprise and speed while giving the enemy a battle at the time and place that was to his disadvantage and to the advantage of the Marathas. Bajirao and his horsemen travelled light and discouraged heavy baggage to be a part of the campaign. The TEETH to Tail ration was invariably in favour of the Teeth. Once the Marathas had pierced their teeth into the enemy’s flesh they did keep on biting deep until the enemy was forced to disengage and flee from the battlefield. The Moghuls, Nizam’s and Sultan’s forces did not have a chance to withstand the mighty cavalry charge of Bajirao’s Maratha horsemen and invariably turned tail leaving heavy artillery, Adm tail including their women behind. Bajirao had learnt his military lessons well from the campaigns of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and followed them like the Cardinal principles of war and victory.

It is time the historians reassessed the life and time of Peshwa Bajirao I and give him a place of honour that he deserved. Baji Rao was indeed a great Peshwa, a military commander, a strategist as well as a tactician. Next to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj whom he emulated both in letter and spirit, Baji Rao is second to none.
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