13 December 1772 – 30 August 1773
|Preceded by||Madhavrao I|
|Born||10 August 1755|
|Died||30 August 1773 (aged 18)|
|Father||Balaji Baji Rao|
Shrimant Peshwa Narayan Rao Bhat (10 August 1755 – 30 August 1773) was the 10th Peshwa of the Maratha Empire from November 1772 until his assassination in August 1773. He married Gangabai Sathe who later gave birth to Sawai Madhavrao Peshwa.
Narayan Rao was the third son of Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao (also known as Nana Saheb) and his wife Gopikabai. Narayan Rao's eldest brother Vishwasrao, heir to the title of Peshwa, was killed during the Third Battle of Panipat. The second brother, Madhavrao, succeeded their father after the latter's death in 1761. Their uncle Raghunathrao was appointed as regent to Madhavrao, but conspired against his nephew, and was eventually placed under house arrest.
Madhavrao I died in 1772 from tuberculosis and was succeeded by the seventeen-year-old Narayan Rao, with his uncle Raghunathrao again acting as regent after being released from house arrest. Differences soon arose between the immature Narayan Rao and his ambitious uncle, who had wanted to become Peshwa since Balaji Baji Rao's death. Both men were surrounded by ill-intentioned advisors, who further poisoned their minds against each other. As a result, Narayan Rao had his uncle again confined to his house.
Rao writes that "the guiding its behind the conspiracy were Anandibai, the disgruntled wife of Raghunath and Tulaji Pawar, a servant. Tulaji was the main link between the smarting couple in the palace and the clamoring sepoys outside". During the Ganesh Festival of 1773 (the actual date was 30 August 1773, the last day of Ganesh Festival i.e. Anant Chaturdashi), several Gardi guards, led by their captain, Sumer Singh Gardi , entered the palace and started creating a commotion. They intended to release Raghunathrao. Raghunathrao and his wife Anandibai, who were opposed to Narayanrao, had promised the Gardis that they would mediate in their dispute with Narayanrao. Narayanrao ran to Raghunathrao, assuming that his uncle would not let them harm him. The Gardis followed Narayanrao to his uncle's chamber and the menial Tulaji Pawar pulled him while Sumer Singh Gardi cut him down. At the scene, a total of 11 persons were killed. Historian Sardesai writes that these 11 victims included seven brahmins (including Narayanrao), two Maratha servants and two maids. The entire carnage happened within half an hour. This happened at around 1 p.m. Narayanrao's body was secretly taken away through the Narayan gate of Shanivar wada and cremated near Lakdi pool by the banks of Mutha river.
There were a total of 49 people implicated in the assassination: twenty-four Brahmins, two Saraswats, three Prabhus, six Marathas, one Maratha maid-servant, five Muslims and eight north-Indian Hindus.
According to popular legend, Raghunathrao had sent a message to Sumer Singh Gardi to fetch Narayanrao using the Marathi word dharaa (धरा) or 'hold' (actual phrase in Marathi - " नारायणरावांना धरा"/"Narayanrao-ana dhara"). This message was intercepted by his wife Anandibai who changed a single letter to make it read as maaraa (मारा) or 'kill' . The miscommunication led the Gardis to chase Narayanrao, who, upon hearing them coming, started running towards his uncles' residence screaming, "Kaka! Mala Vachva!!" ("Uncle! Save me!"). But nobody came to help him and he was killed in the presence of his uncle. Rumour has it that Narayanrao's body was hacked into so many pieces that they had to carry the pieces in a pot, henceforth it was taken near the river and cremated at midnight. This act brought ill fame to the Peshwa administration, which was being looked after by the minister Nana Phadnavis. The Chief Justice of the administration, Ram Shastri Prabhune was asked to conduct an investigation into the incident, and Raghunathrao, Anandibai and Sumer Singh Gardi were all prosecuted in absentia. Although Raghunathrao was acquitted, Anandibai was declared an offender and Sumer Singh Gardi the culprit. Sumer Singh Gardi died mysteriously in Patna, Bihar in 1775, and Anandibai performed Hindu rituals to absolve her sins. Kharag Singh and Tulaji Pawar were handed over by Hyder Ali back to the government and they were tortured to death. Swift punishment was given to the others too. As the result of the murder, senior ministers and generals of the Maratha confederacy formed a regency council , known as the "Baarbhai Council", to conduct of the affairs of the state. In the next political development, the posthumous son of Narayan Rao, who was named Sawai Madhav Rao II, was declared to be the “peshwa”. Raghunath rao (Raghoba) fled away from the scene. The Baarbhai Council began to conduct the affairs of the state in the name of Sawai Madhav Rao II as he was a minor.
The new Peshwa lived only for 21 years and died in 1795. As he had no successor of his own blood, Baji Rao II (1796-1818) the son of Raghunathrao became the next Peshwa.
Thus within the short space of about half an hour eleven persons came to be murdered in cold blood in that famous palace, seven being Brahmans, two Maratha servants, two maids.
It is worth noting," Sardesai points out, "that out of the 49 persons found guilty of the murder of Narayanrao (Peshva), 24 were Deccani Brahmans of the murdered Peshva's caste, 2 Saraswats, 3 Prabhus, 6 Marathas, 1 Maratha maid-servant, 5 Mussalmans, and 8 North Indian Hindus"
A popular belief still prevails among people belonging to older generation here who claim that they had heard heart rending shouts of 'Kaka Mala Vachva' (Uncle please save me), at midnight emanating from the relics where Narayanrao Peshwa, one of the last heirs to the Peshwa throne, was slain on August 30, 1773 by 'Gardis' (royal guards) in a contract killing ordered by his uncle, Raghoba, in a power struggle.
It was to propitiate the ghost of Narayanrao, that haunted him throughout his life, that the Peshwa planted thousands of mango trees around Poona, gave gifts to Brahmins and to religious establishments