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The times when Maloji became Governor of Bijapur under the Moghuls were far from favourable to the Moghul power in the Deccan. The Marathas under the leadership of Peshwas were becoming stronger. They had a free hand in the Deccan as the Muhammedan Dynasties had been annihilated by the wrong policy of Aurangzeb. The head quarters of the Imperial army were far away from their possessions. The generals in the Maratha Confederacy were trying to add to their territories by means fair or foul. It was at one time attempted by the Satara Court to get possession for itself of the ancient Karnatic Jahagir of Shahu's family, An attempt was made to induce the other Bhonsales who had an interest and share in the Karnatic Jahagirs to help the Satara Government in getting the old Jahagir. But they were quite unwilling to join hands with the Satara Government for this purpose. They correctly saw that it would be more difficult to gain and retain a Jahagir in the distant Karnatic than to add to their revenues by marauding expeditions. By the extinction of the Adilshahi and Kutubshahi Kingdoms many Sardars with their troops were out of employment.
This state of things naturally led every adventurous chieftain to carry on depredations wherever and whenever he found an opportunity. No Jahagirdar who wished to enjoy a peaceful time could do so under these circumstances. It was but natural that Maloji should be drawn into this whirlpool. He was obliged to maintain a large body of cavalry for the protection of his possessions scattered over the Deccan and Berars. He was an independent Raja owing no allegiance to the Satara Government and the Moghul Government was fast crumbling away to pieces.
The Peshwas saw clearly that they could not allow Maloji to be quite indifferent for a very long time. As an enemy he would have proved a formidable opponent while as an ally he would have been quite helpful. Maloji's aid and services were sought after by the Peshwas and he also wishing to provide occupation for his large cavalry and to gain sufficient strength to keep his possessions intact joined the Marathas in their various expeditions. The Ghorpada family of Mudhol had as Jahagirs in the Moghul dominions Pathari, Parbhine in the Berars, Naldurg, Areki and other portions near the Doab. For this Jahagir they had to render service to the Moghuls or the Nizam who was a successor of the Moghuls. On the ocher hand, the districts of Torgal and adjoining villages which Maloji held as Saranjam (for military expenses) were surrounded on all sides by the Maratha territory. For these Jahagirs Maloji had to supply a quota of horse to the Moghuls formerly but latterly his services and Jahagirs were transferred to the Maratha Confederacy by the conditions arrived at between the Marathas and the Moghuls. So Maloji had either to supply troops to the Marathas or to relinquish the Jahagirs of the districts of Torgal, etc. Maloji chose to relinquish these parts of his Jahagir rather than serve as a subordinate chief under the Maratha Confederacy. He, however, preferred to hold the lands in the Moghul territory under the Nizam in lieu of the contingent of troops. Maloji deputed his son Govindrao Raje and his brother Shankroji to manage that Jahagir and keep the army ready for the service of the Nizam. Everything went on well though at the cost of some Jahagir; but Maloji thought it suicidal to continue outside the Maratha Confederacy any longer. The Peshwas were quite ready to accept the alliance of Maloji Raje. He undertook to help the Peshwas with a contingent of his cavalry on payment of his expenses. Under this capacity of an ally Maloji had accompanied the Peshwas in their expedition against Gujarat. All went on smoothly as long as the Peshwas did not come in conflict with the Nizam. About the year 1763 Maloji had joined Raghunath Rao Peshwa in an expedition. Meanwhile, the Marathas had to declare war against the Nizam. This was really a very awkward position for Maloji and his son Govindrao. Father and son were on the best of terms though some historians want to suggest or even assert that Govindrao had a squabble with his father and had joined the Nizam against the wishes of his father. History, however, proves that Govindrao had been serving the Nizam with the consent and at the behest of his father in lieu of his Jahagir in the Nizam's territory. As a vassal of the Nizam, Govindrao had to fight on the side of the Nizam and as an ally of the Peshwas Maloji had to side with the Peshwas. Thus we find the father and the son in opposite camps. A faint heart would have shrunk from facing the situation.
On the eve of the battle which was fought at Rakshasabhuvan between the Nizam and the Peshwas, the affectionate and loving Son wrote to his father to enquire about the position to be occupied by his father and his troops on the battlefield so that he might be able to avoid coming face to face with his middle-aged father. The father was made of a sterner stuff. He wrote to his son in the following words:--
"My son, tomorrow the large armies will collide and victory will be in the hands of the Almighty. it is possible for us to avoid coming face to face by pre-arrangement, but in doing so we shall be not only failing in our duty but marring the splendour of our family traditions; both of us will disgrace the Ghorpada family by trying to avoid each other."
Govindrao took his clue from his father's letter and went to the battle with the resolve to do his duty honorably. Fate had it that Maloji and his son came face to face during the storms of the battle. The lurking love of his father had the ascendancy for a time in the heart of Govindrao. His father saw that the son was shrinking back from wielding the sword against him. Maloji saw nothing but his duty and honour of his family. He called out to his son to do his duty by his master. Thus a strange and unprecedented spectacle of a fight between the son and the father was witnessed by the armies on that memorable day of Rakshasabhuvan. By the irony of fate Maloji had the credit of inflicting wounds on his son who died of these wounds on the battlefield. Maloji must have wept through sorrow at his son's death and also through joy because he and his son were able to do their duty by their sides. Some historians state that this fight between the son and his father took place at the battle of Kharda in I795. But a Sanad issued by the Nizam in 1770 after the battle of Rakshasabhuvan is issued in the name of Narayan Rao, the son of Govindrao. The Sanad makes mention of the death of Govindrao and thus leaves no doubt about the fact that Govindrao and Malojirao fought at the battle of Rakshasabhuvan.
By fighting against the Nizam at Rakshasabhuvan Maloji had to a certain extent incurred his disfavour. The Peshwas saw that Maloji had lost the support of the Nizam, and instead of rewarding Maloji for his services at Rakshasabhuvan began to press him for Chauth (the customary one-fourth to collect which the Marathas had got the right from the Moghul Emperor). For some time Maloji remained stubborn. He neither joined the Nizam nor paid the Chauth to the Peshwas. About this time Maloji was much troubled by dissensions in his own family. The Peshwas at last consented to take Chauth from Maloji not in the form of money but in the form of personal military services for which they fully paid. After this we find Maloji always fighting on the side of the Peshwas. At various times he was promised Jahagirs by the Peshwas who wanted to prevent Maloji from joining the Nizam. The paraganas of Indi Tamba and Almela were given to Maloji, who asked his brother to accept them, for military expenses in 1778, but these were resumed and given to Bapu Gokhala immediately after the death of Maloji.
Once Maloji joined the Peshwas, we find him on active service in almost every expedition of the Peshwas. In 1779, in the battle of Vadgaon between the Marathas and English, the Ghorpada family had its share of the fight. Maloji himself was severely wounded. His son Ranoji was killed in the battle near Talegaon. Maloji's brother Shankraji fought on the side of the Peshwas. The Jahagir of Padsalgi was granted to Ranoji's son Bahirjirao. Shankraji got the district of Bilgi, Bidri and Tikota. Maloji himself declined any grant from the hands of the Peshwas. He demanded the two villages, viz., Nandgaon and Kumtha which formed part of the Deshmukh Vatan of these parts. This was a very old Watan belonging to the family, and Maloji who asserted his share in that Jahagir got it at this juncture from the Satara Rajas. It is a trait of the old kshatriya families that they are not ready to relinquish an ancient right howsoever insignificant it might be. The Ghorpada family had many feuds with the family of the famous Shivaji for this small Jahagir. Maloji true to his blood prized these petty villages more than any big territory which he might have got from the Peshwas.
Maloji though sufficiently old fought at the battle of Kharda which took place between the Nizam and the Peshwas in I795. He was accompanied by his grandson Narayanrao, the son of Govindrao. Maloji was again wounded in the battle fought against Holkar in 1802. Owing to his long experience, undaunted courage, unsullied honor and outspokenness, Maloji was held in great respect and awe in the Court of the Peshwas. Maloji had practically made Poona his permanent residence where a street is still named after the Ghorpadas. He lived with the grandson Narayanrao, leaving the management of Mudhol Jahagir in the hands of his son Maharrao.
Maharrao being prevented in the realisation of revenue by some marauders wanted to strike terror in their hearts· He collected about a hundred men in a long row and beheaded them. Owing to these and other cruelties of Maharrao, the principal inhabitants of Mudhol requested Narayanrao to take possession of the State. Narayanrao came and was joined by many leading men. Some of the partisans of Maharrao himself deserted over to Narayanrao's side. Maharrao saw the situation and fled to Kolhapur. He promised a large sum of money to the Raja for assisting him in regaining Mudhol. A party of Kolhapur men was sent with Maharrao. He was defeated in the battle of Raibag by the Mudhol troops. Maharrao fled first to Nagpur and thence to Gwalior where he was entertained by the Scindia.
The old and valiant Maloji who was called the "Bhishma" of the Peshwa's Court was approaching his death. His whole life had been spent in fighting the battles of the Moghuls or the Peshwas. In the expeditions against Tippu, Maloji was present after his joining the Confederacy. He specially distinguished himself in the capture of Dharwar and at Shira against Tippu's forces. Maloji was one of the few who accused Raghoba Dada to his face for the murder of Narayanrao Peshwa. It was through Maloji's influence at the Peshwas' Court that the Gaikwar of Baroda was able to adjust some differences with the Peshwa. It is remarkable that Maloji, an outsider, should he required to settle the differences successfully between the Peshwa and his general the Gaikwad. The Gaikwad gratefully bestowed a piece of territory on Maloji yielding an annual income of one lakh and fifty thousand rupees. Again, when Parashurambhau Patwardhan invaded Satara owing to some internal quarrels Maloji saved Satara from the Patwardhans. Maloji had to march against Kolhapur on behalf of the Peshwas. He plundered it. It is not possible to give due credit to Maloji's eventful life in a shore space. Maloji died in I805. Maloji bad four wives two of whom were Rajput, one from Pole and the other from Kathiawar, and the two others from the families of the Deccan Parmars and Maharastra Solankies. From his first wife Maloji had two sons Govindrao and Maharrao. Bajirao who managed the Baroda possessions was the son of the second wife. Ranoji, the son of the third wife was, as already mentioned, killed in the battle with the English.
The Mudhol Horse was held in great awe in the Karnatic. They were employed in the very difficult positions where other troops failed as at Dharwar, Shira and other places. Their very presence was many a time sufficient to bring the enemy to terms. Sir Charles Munro says: "Mudholian horse though few were esteemed to be the best in Karnatic."
Many superficial historians call Maloji a, cruel father, because they think that he had quarrelled and driven away his son Govindrao with whom he fought at Rakshasabhuvan. As already mentioned, the correspondence between the father and the son on the eve of the battle and, other circumstances prove that they were on the best of terms and it was duty and honour only which brought them face to face on the battlefield. It is wrong to judge of these warriors who placed faith and honour above everything by our modern standards of selfish common-sense. The fact that Narayanrao the son of Govindrao was the pet of his grandfather and lived all along with Maloji gives the lie to the superficial historians.
Maloji Raje was succeeded by his grandson Narayan Rao. Even during the life-time of Maloji the management and supervision of the Jahagir was entrusted to Narayan Rao. The Nizam by a special Sanad dated A.D. I770 continued to Narayan Rao the old family estates originally bearing the name of Mireet and situated in the Berars. The estates are known as Pathari and Parbhani prants now. Narayan Rao had two wives. The elder queen (Pattarani) being of the Solanki family and the junior Rani a Parmar. The senior Rani had two sons named Vyankatrao and Laxmanrao. The junior Rani gave birth to Govind Rao who was the eldest of the three sons. At the death of Narayan Rao a dispute about the succession to the Jahagir arose. Govind Rao offered his services to the Peshwas in lieu of his help. It was the time when the Peshwa was himself tottering on his throne. The younger brother Vyankatrao got possession of the Jahagir and made military preparations to thwart the attempts of Govind Rao. Govind Rao was never able to march against Vyankatrao but he rendered distinguished service in the battle of Koregaon fighting on the side of the Peshwas. He took part in the battles fought against the British about 1818 but at last was killed in the battle of Ashtee in 1818. The brave band of cavalry led by Govind Rao dispersed after his death.
Vyankatrao ruled Mudhol undisturbed till his death. He was very popular with his subjects and also the Chiefs of the Maratha Confederacy. He and his brother Laxmanrao were great horsemen and Vyankatrao was considered the first horseman of his time in Maharastra. At the time of the advent of the British Government Vyankatrao was in possession of the Mudhol State and the Treaty transactions took place in his name.
Unfortunately the Rajas of Mudhol had been up to the time of Vyankatrao obliged to stay away from the capital most of the time. They were either fighting the battles of the Emperors of Bijapur and Delhi or the Peshwas of Poona. The State had been quite neglected. During his long reign of 38 years Vyankatrao had got sufficient time and peace to establish good government in the Jahagir. By the aid of his courtiers (Mankaries), he established a regular system of government in the State and gained the praises of the admiring Political Officers.
After his death in I854 his minor and only son Balawant Rao was seated on the throne but Balawant Rao died at the age of 18 leaving behind him an infant son of II months (I86I). The son of Balawant Rao was named Vyankat Rao. He assumed charge of the State in 1881 and ruled for 18 years. He died in 1900. His only surviving son Maloji succeeded him and was invested with the full pourers of the State in 1904 at the age of 19. He was married to the sister of the Raja of Dhar. She gave birth to three children. The eldest son and the only daughter died when young and the younger son who is now the Yuvaraj is 16 years of age. After the death of his first wife Maloji Rao married a second time and the present Rani Saheb is the daughter of Jadeja Giras family from Kathiawar.
During the recent Great War Maloji Raja offered his services to the British Government and was taken on active military service in Egypt as a Lieutenant in the British forces. The Raja of Mudhol has the power of life and death over his subjects and wields the full powers of a second class Prince. He has a dynastic salute of nine guns and he is the first Chief in the order of precedence in this Agency.
The Mudhol State has an area of 368 sq. miles and the annual income amounts to about five lakhs of rupees. Mudhol, the capital, is situated on the river Ghataprabha which runs through the State by the side of 37 villages in the State. The soil is generally of the rich black variety and the river offers a natural advantage to the agriculture in this State.
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