Peshwa of the Maratha Confederacy
Flag of the Maratha Empire
Last to serve
Baji Rao II
6 December 1796 – 3 June 1818
ResidenceShaniwar Wada, Pune (1732–1818)
Bithur, Kanpur (1818–57)
First holderMoropant Trimbak Pingle
Final holder
Abolished3 June 1818 (de jure)
16 July 1857 (de facto)

Peshwa[a] was second highest office in the Maratha Confederacy, next in rank and prestige only to that of the Chhatrapati. Initially serving as the appointed prime minister in the Maratha Kingdom, the office became hereditary after the death of Shahu in 1749. During the reign of Shahu, the office of Peshwa grew in power and the Peshwas came to be the de facto rulers of the Maratha Confederacy. However following the defeat of the Marathas in 1761, the office of the Peshwa became titular as well and from that point onwards served as the ceremonial head of the Confederacy underneath the Chhatrapati.[1]

All Peshwas during the rule of Shivaji, Sambhaji and Rajaram belonged to Deshastha Brahmin community.[2][3] The first Peshwa was Moropant Pingle, who was appointed as the head of the Ashta Pradhan (council of eight ministers) by Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha Kingdom. The initial Peshwas were all ministers who served as the chief executives to the king. The later Peshwas held the highest administrative office and also controlled the Maratha confederacy. Under the Chitpavan Brahmin Bhat family, the Peshwas became the de facto hereditary administrators of the Confederacy. The Peshwa's office was most powerful under Baji Rao I (r. 1720–1740). Under Peshwa administration and with the support of several key generals and diplomats, the Maratha Confederacy reached its zenith, ruling major areas of India. The subsequent Peshwas brought in autonomy and as a result later on many states were controlled and administered by the Maratha chiefs such as Scindias and Gaekwads.

In 1760, the peace of Peshwa government was broken by a rising of Kolis under their Naik Javji Bamble. Javji withdrew to the hills and organised a series of gang robberies, causing widespread terror and misery throughout the country. For twenty years he held out bravely, defeating and killing the generals the Peshwa's Government sent against him. At last he was so hotly pursued that, on the advice of Dhondo Gopal, the Peshwa's governor at Nasik, he surrendered all his forts to Tukoji Holkar and, through Holkar's influence, was pardoned and placed in military and police charge of a district of sixty villages with powers of life and death outlaws. In 1798, a fresh disturbance took place among the Kolis. The leader of this outbreak was Ramji Naik Bhangria, who was an abler and more daring man than his predecessors, and succeeded in baffling all the efforts of the Government officers to seize him. As force seemed hopeless, the Government offered Ramji a pardon and gave him an important police post.[4]

First use

Malik Ambar, Peshwa of the Ahmadnagar Sultanate

The word Peshwa is from Persian پیشوا pēshwā, meaning "foremost, leader".[5] The term was inherited from the political vocabulary of previous Persianate empires operating in the Deccan. As early as 1397, the Bahmani Sultanate designated its prime minister as "peshwa". In the 16th and 17th centuries, this practice was continued by the Ahmednagar Sultanate and the Bijapur Sultanate, both successor states of the Bahmani Sultanate.[6] After the coronation of Shivaji in 1674, he appointed Moropant Trimbak Pingle[7] as his first Peshwa. Shivaji renamed this designation as Pantpradhan in 1674 but this term was less commonly used. Moropant Trimbak Pingale's son, Nilopant Moreshvar Pingale, succeeded him during Sambhaji's rule after Moropant Pingle's death in 1683.[8]

Ramchandra Pant Amatya (Bawadekar)

Extent of the Maratha Confederacy, 1795

Ramchandra Amatya recaptured many forts from the Mughals between 1690 and 1694, some in person, as well as personally conducting guerilla war techniques. When Rajaram I fled to Jinji in 1689, before leaving Maharashtra, he gave "Hukumat panha" (King Status) to Pant. Ramchandra Pant managed the entire state under many challenges such as the Mughal influx, the betrayal of Vatandars, and scarcity of food. With his help, Sachiv kept the Maratha State on a sound economic footing.[9]

Bhat Family

Main article: Bhat family

The Maratha war of succession between Tara Bai and Shahu resulted in latter's victory and assumption of Maratha throne as Chhatrapati. In 1713, Shahu appointed Balaji Vishwanath (Bhat), as Peshwa. The appointment of Balaji's son, Baji Rao I, as Peshwa in 1719 by Shahu made the position hereditary in the Bhat family. Baji Rao proved his loyalty by controlling the feudal chieftains who wanted independence from the Maratha Empire. The rebellion of General Trimbak Rao Dabhade, the senapati (commander in chief), over Chauthai (revenue collection) of Gujarat is one example of such internal Maratha feuds. The followers of Baji and Trimbak clashed at the Battle of Bilhapur on 1 April 1731, and Trimbak was killed. In gratitude, Shahu gave the Peshwas and the Bhat family unchallenged control over Maratha empire.[10] 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 these 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 officially 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.


The first Peshwa to receive the status of a pantpradhan was Ramchandra Pant Amatya Bawdekar in 1689 by Rajaram. The first (Bhat) Deshmukh family Peshwa was Balaji Vishwanath (Bhat) Deshmukh. 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[11] Maratha expansion, brought to an end by the Marathas' 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 land (Peshwai) was annexed to the British East India Company's Bombay province, and Bajirao II, the Peshwa was pensioned off.

List of Peshwas

Sr. Name Reign Began C.E. Reign Ended C.E.
1 Moropant Trimbak Pingle 1674 1683
2 Nilakanth Moreshvar Pingale 1683 1689
3 Ramchandra Pant Amatya 1689 1708
4 Bahiroji Pingale 1708 1711
5 Parshuram Trimbak Kulkarni 1711 1713

Hereditary Peshwas from Bhat family

Sr. Name Particulars Reign Began C.E. Reign Ended C.E. Portrait
6 Balaji Vishwanath (Sixth appointed Peshwa) Assisted the Syed Brothers in deposing the Mughal Emperor Farrukhsiyar in 1719 1713 1720
7 Baji Rao I (Seventh appointed Peshwa) Known as Thorle (elder) Bajirao and acknowledged as the most influential of the nine Peshwas. Said to have fought for the establishment of "Hindu Pad Padshahi"(Hindu Empire). Helped conquer Central India (Malwa) and Rajputana and extended his dominions into Gujarat in the northwest and Deccan in the south. Attacked Delhi in 1737. Fought in over 41 battles and is one of the few to have never lost a single battle. Died at the age of 40 of sudden fever in camp en route to Delhi; he has been commemorated in the form of an equestrian statue erected at Shaniwar Wada in Pune. 1720 1740
8 Balaji Bajirao (Eighth appointed Peshwa) Known as Nanasaheb Peshwa. Managed to extend the Maratha territories into most of North-West, East and Central India. Captured Attock on the banks of the Indus River and Peshawar in 1758 in the Battle of Attock. Under his leadership, the Maratha Empire reached its peak but his general and cousin lost the Third Battle of Panipat against Ahmad Shah Abdali in 1761. Contributed to the development of the city of Pune which was the seat of the Peshwas. Built the famous Parvati Temple, Lakdi Pool and established Nana Peth (area) in Pune. Built a water reservoir near Katraj to provide clean water to Pune city; this 250-year-old system is still functioning. 1740 1761
9 Madhav-Rao I (First hereditary Peshwa) Fraught with internal dissensions and successful Wars with the Nizam. During his tenure, Maratha power recovered from the losses suffered during the Third Battle of Panipat, a phenomenon known as Maratha Resurrection. Repaired the recently weakened administration, treasury, and accounts of the Maratha Empire. He died of tuberculosis in 1772; a memorial commemorating his greatness stands at Peshwe Park in Pune. One of the theory says that he was assassinated by her aunt, Anandi Bai (wife of Raghunath Rao). 1761 1772
10 Narayan-Rao Assassinated by Gardi guards. Raghunath Rao was in favor of just kidnapping him but Anandi Bai (wife of Raghunath Rao) decided to kill him. Narayan Rao was assassinated in Shanivar Wada. Nowadays, it is considered one of the haunted place in Maharashtra. 1772 1773  
11 Raghunath-Rao Responsible for extending the Maratha empire to the zenith in the North as a General and also saw the decline of Maratha power in North India. Deposed by Nana Phadnis and 11 other administrators in what is now called "The Barbhai Conspiracy". 1773 1774
12 Madhav-Rao II Appointed Peshwa as an infant with a council of Maratha Generals and ministers as regents. Era dominated by the political intrigues of Nana Phadnis. Saw the resurgence of Maratha power in North India. 1774 1796
13 Baji Rao II 1st Reign – Was defeated by Yashwantrao Holkar, ruler of Indore, at the Battle of Poona. Fled to British protection, and in December 1802, concluded the Treaty of Bassein with the British East India Company, ceding territory for the maintenance of a subsidiary force and agreeing to treaty with no other power. This provoked the Second Anglo-Maratha War that began the breakup of the Maratha confederacy. 1796 1802
Amrut Rao[12][13] (Appointed as Peshwa by Yashwantrao Holkar) Appointed Peshwa by Yashwantrao Holkar after defeating Baji Rao II and Daulat Rao Sindhia in Battle of Poona. 1802 1803
13 Baji Rao II 2nd Reign – During his second reign began the Third Anglo-Maratha War. After the defeat at the Battle of Koregaon in January 1818, he was on the run from the British. Eventually, the British took over his dominion and made the Maratha King Pratap Singh of Satara declare in favour of the British. This ended the Peshwa's legal position as head of the Maratha confederacy. On 3 June 1818, Baji Rao surrendered to the British; he was banished to Bithur near Kanpur. 1803 1851
14 Nana Sahib
(Pretender to the position of Peshwa)
Was a leader during the Indian Uprising of 1857. As the adopted son of the exiled Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao II, he sought to restore the Maratha confederacy and the Peshwa tradition. 1851 1857
15 Bajirao III in 1864 he captured Pune from Britishers mentioned in Pune piller 1859 1896

Notable generals and diplomats

His Highness Shrimant Sawai Madhavrao Peshwa or Madhav Rao II Narayan and his Prime minister Nana Phadnavis, with two attendants at Pune.

In popular culture

See also


  1. ^ (pronunciation: [pe(ː)ʃʋaː])


  1. ^ Jaswant Lal Mehta (1 January 2005). Advanced Study in the History of Modern India 1707–1813. Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. p. 314. ISBN 978-1-932705-54-6.
  2. ^ Prasad 2007, p. 88.
  3. ^ Vasant S. Kadam (1993). Maratha Confederacy: A Study in Its Origin and Development. Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers. p. 49. ISBN 9788121505703. Under Shivaji the Great, Sambhaji and Rajaram all the incumbents of the office of Peshwa were from the Deshastha (residing in the Desh area of Maharashtra) subcaste of the Brahmans.
  4. ^ Hassan, Syed Siraj ul (1989). The Castes and Tribes of H.E.H. the Nizam's Dominions. New Delhi, India: Asian Educational Services. p. 333. ISBN 978-81-206-0488-9.
  5. ^ under Jahangir, M. Learning focus. Longman History & Civics ICSE 7, 84.
  6. ^ Eaton, Richard Maxwell (2005). A social history of the Deccan, 1300–1761 : eight Indian lives. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 185. ISBN 0-521-25484-1. OCLC 58431679.
  7. ^ Kulkarni 1996, p. 47.
  8. ^ Joshi 1980, p. 112.
  9. ^ Surendranath Sen, Surendra Nath Sen (1993). Studies in Indian History: Historical Records at Goa. Asian Educational Services. p. 42. ISBN 9788120607736.
  10. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Micropædia Vol. II, p17
  11. ^ Shirgaonkar, Varsha S. "Peshwyanche Vilasi Jeevan" (Luxurious Life of Peshwas). Continental Prakashan, Pune (2012). ISBN 8174210636. In Marathi.
  12. ^ Wg Cdr (Retd.) Dr. M. S. Narawane, Battles of the Honourable East India Company. pg 65
  13. ^ Jadunath Sarkar, Fall of the Mughal Empire:1789–1803. pg 179
  14. ^ "पेशवाई [Peshwai]".
  15. ^ "Peshve Gharanyacha Itihas".