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The Maratha Empire at its peak in 1760

The Peshwa (Marathi:पेशवे) were Brahmin Prime Ministers to the Maratha Chattrapatis (Kings), who began commanding Maratha armies and later became the hereditary rulers of the Maratha empire of central India from 1749 to 1818. During their rein, the Maratha empire reached its zenith ruling most of the Indian Subcontinent. Prior to 1700 one Peshwa received the status of king for eight or nine years. They oversaw the greatest expansion of the Maratha Empire around 1760 with the help of Sardars (Generals) like Holkar, Shinde, Bhosale, Pantprainidhi, Gaekwad, Panse, Vinchurkar, Pethe, Raste, Phadke, Patwardhan, Pawar, Pandit and Purandare, and also its eventual annexation by the British East India Company in 1818.



The word Peshwa may have originated in Persian, meaning "foremost", and was introduced in Deccan by the Muslim rulers. After his coronation as a Maratha Chhatrapati in 1674, the founder of the Maratha Empire, Shivaji appointed Moropant Trimbak Pingle as the first Peshwa. However, the first Peshwa was Sonopant Dabir, appointed by Shahaji to assist Shivaji. Duties and authorities of a Peshwa were equal to that of a Prime Minister. Shivaji renamed this designation as "Pantpradhan" in 1674 but this name was less frequently used.

Moropant Pingle

Moropant Trimbak Pingle was the first Peshwa (Prime Minister) in the court of Shivaji, the founder king of the Maratha empire in western India. He joined the service of Shivaji in 1647. He was one of the warriors in the famous 1659 war against Afzal Khan. Later he also won the battle of Trimbakeshwar fort, and assisted Netaji Palkar in the battle of Wani-Dindori against Mughals and in Surat's war of 1665.

He can be credited for appropriate revenue administration techniques. He also played a role in planning the fort's resources.

When Shivaji died in 1680, he was busy at development activity Salher-Mulher in Baglan-Nashik District. He died in 1683.

Ramchandra Pant Amatya (Bawadekar)

Ramchandra Amatya received King status from Chatrapti Rajaram as "Hukumatpanha" during 1689-1699. He was a basically good administrator who rose from the level of Local Kulkarni to the ranks of Ashtapradhan due to guidance and support from Shivaji Maharaj, one of the prominent Peshwas earlier from 1700.

He recaptured many forts from Moguls during 1690-1694. Some forts he captured personally using guerilla war techniques. When Chatrapati Rajaram fled to Jinji in 1689 then before leaving from Maharastra, he gave "Hukumat panha" (King Status) to Pant. Ramchandra Pant managed the entire state under many challenges like influx of Moguls, betrayal of Vatandars, and scarcity of food. With the help of Pantpratindhi, Sachiv kept the economic condition of Maratha State in a proper way. He got tremendous military help from Santaji Ghorpade and Dhanaji Jadhav the great Maratha warriors. Many times he directly participated in war, especially during 1689-1695; he personally re-captured many forts in south Maharastra from the Moguls and played a role of shadow king in the absence of Chatrapati Rajaram.

In 1698, he happily stepped down from the post of "Hukumatpanha" and Rajaram offered this post to his wife Tarabai. Tarabai gave an important position to Pant in senior administration of Maratha State. He wrote a book called Adnyapatra मराठी: आज्ञापत्र which explained different techniques of war, maintenance of forts and administration etc.

The concepts in Adnyapatra and the wisdom and leadership of Tararani (Tarabai) greatly helped the Maratha empire in building the foundation of state. As he was more loyal to Tararani than Shahu, he was sidelined after the arrival of Shahu. Later the Peshwa post was given to Balaji Vishwanath in 1713. Ramchandra Pant died in 1716 on Panhala fort.

Bhat Family

The position moved to the Bhat family of Shrivardhan in the Konkan region, upon appointment of Balaji Vishwanath Bhat as Peshwa by the fourth Chattrapati Shahu in 1713. The appointment of his son, Baji Rao I as Peshwa in 1719 by Shahu made the position hereditary in the Bhat family, and also led to a rebellion by General Trimbak Rao Dabhade, the senapati (commander in chief), over Chauthai (revenue collection) of Gujarat. The followers of Baji and Trimbak clashed at the Battle of Bilhapur on April 1, 1731, and Trimbak was killed, giving the peshwas and the Bhat family unchallenged control over Maratha.[1] Shahu, who also appointed Baji Rao's son as Peshwa in 1740, gave considerable authority to the Peshwas to command the Maratha armies, and they responded well during his reigns.

At the time of his death in 1749, Shahu made the Peshwas his successors under such conditions. Shivaji's descendants, who remained as the titular Raja of Satara, were called Swami (Marathi for The real Owner) by the Peshwas who reported to them, and they were to seek guidance from the Raja. However, the Peshwa also became a ceremonial head of state after the battle of Panipat and the death of Madhavrao.


Maratha Emperors (1674-1818)
Shivaji (1674 - 1680)
Sambhaji (1680 - 1689)
Rajaram (1689 - 1700)
Queen Tarabai (1700 - 1707)
Shahu (1707 - 1749)
Ramaraja (1749 - 1777)
The Peshwas (Prime Ministers) (1712-1818)
Balaji Vishwanath
Balaji Bajirao
Madhavrao Ballal
Sawai Madhavrao
Bajirao II
Nana Sahib

The first Peshwa to receive the status of a king was Ramchandra Pant Amatya Bawdekar in 1689 by Chatrapati Rajaram.The first Bhat family Peshwa was Balaji Vishwanath Bhat, a chitpavan Brahmin. He was succeeded as Peshwa by his son Baji Rao I, who never lost a battle. Baji Rao and his son, Balaji Baji Rao, oversaw the period of greatest Maratha expansion (see map at right), brought to an end by the Maratha's defeat by an Afghan army at the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761. The last Peshwa, Baji Rao II, was defeated by the British East India Company in the Battle of Khadki which was a part of Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817–1818). The Peshwa's territory in central Maharashtra was annexed to the British East India Company's Bombay province, and he was pensioned off.


  • Sonopant Dabir Period 1640-1652
  • Shyampant Kulkarni-Ranzekar Period 1652-1657
  • Moropant Peshwe(Pingale) Period 1657-1683
  • Moreshwar Pingale 1683-1689
  • RamchandraPant Amatya 1689-1708
  • Bahiroji Pingale 1708-1711
  • Parshuram Tribak Kulkarni 1711-1713
  • Balaji Vishwanath (1713 - 2 April 1720) (b.1660, d. 2 April 1720)
  • Peshwa Bajirao I (17 April 1720 - 28 April 1740) (b.18 August 1700, d. 28 April 1740)

From 1749 ,after death of Shahu, Peshawa became head of Maratha empire, reporting to Chatrapati.

  • Balaji Bajirao (4 July 1740 - 23 June 1761) (b.8 December 1721, d. 23 June 1761)
  • Madhavrao Peshwa (1761 - 18 November 1772) (b.16 February 1745, d. 18 November 1772)

Hereafter they remained titular

  • Narayanrao Bajirao (13 December4 1772 - 30 August 1773) (b.10 August 1755, d. 30 August 1773)
  • Raghunathrao (5 December 1773 - 1774) (b.18 August 1734, d. 11 December 1783) self -claimed not accepted by Chatrapati
  • Sawai Madhava Rao II Narayan (1774 - 27 October 1795) (b.18 April 1774, d. 27 October 1795)
  • Chimnajee Madhavarao (26 May 1796 - 3 Dec 1796) (brother of Bajirao II, adopted by Madhavrao II's wife)
  • Baji Rao II (4 December 1796-3 June 1818) (d. 28 January 1851)
  • Amritrao (brother of Bajirao II), Peshwa for a short period during Yashwantrao Holkar's siege of Pune. Bajirao was later reinstated by the British.
  • Nana Sahib (1 July 1857 - 1858) (b.19 May 1825, d. 24 September 1859)

Generals and diplomats of Peshwas (1720 to 1795)

See also


  1. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Micropædia Vol. II, p17

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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