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Mahadaji Shinde


Mahadaji Shinde

Mahadji Scindia
Maharaja (Ruler of Gwalior), Vakil-ul-Mutlaq (Regent of the Empire), Amir-ul-Umara(Head of the amirs)[1]
Mahadaji Sindhia by James Wales
Maratha ruler of Gwalior
Reign 1768 - 1794
Coronation 18 January 1768
Predecessor Manaji Rao Scindia
Successor Daulat Rao Scindia
Born 1727, 1729 or 1730
Died 12 February 1794
Wanavdi near Pune
Spouse 4 wives
Issue Daulat Rao Scindia (adopted son)
Bala Bai
Chimna Bai
Full name
Madho (Madhoji) Rao Scindia
House Scindia
Father Ranoji Rao Scindia
Mother Chima Bai
Religion Hinduism

Mahadaji Shinde ( Marathi: महादजी शिंदे Mahādajī Śiṃdē ) (ca. 1730 – 12 February 1794) also spelled as Mahadji Scindia or Mahadaji Scindia, was a Maratha ruler of the Maratha Empire of the state of Gwalior in central India. He was the fifth and youngest son of Sardar Ranoji Rao Scindia.

Mahadaji was instrumental in resurrecting Maratha power in North India after the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761, and rose to become a trusted lieutenant of the Peshwa, leader of the Maratha Empire. Along with Madhavrao I and Nana Fadnavis, he was one of the three pillars of Maratha Resurrection. During his reign, Gwalior became the leading state in the Maratha Empire and one of the foremost military powers in India. After accompanying Shah Alam II in 1771 to Delhi, he restored the Mughals in Delhi, under the suzerainty of Marathas.[2]

He annihilated the power of Jats of Mathura and during 1772-73 and destroyed the power of Pashtun Rohillas in Rohilkhand and captured Najibabad. His role during the First Anglo-Maratha War was greatest from the Maratha side since he humbled the British in Central India, single handed, which resulted into the Treaty of Salbai in 1782, where he mediated between the Peshwa and the British.

After the Treaty of Salbai in 1782, he invaded and overpowered the Rajput states, particularly Jodhpur and Jaipur through the Battle of Patan ,the Battle of Medtya and the Capture of Ajmer in 1790. Even Sikh sardars of the cis-Sutlej region paid tributes to him.[3]

Mahadji became Vakil-ul-Mutlaq (regent of Mughal affairs), and The Mughals also gave him the title of Amir-ul-Umara (head of the amirs) in 1784.[4]


  • Scindia (Shinde) family 1
  • Early campaigns of Mahadji 2
    • South India 2.1
    • North India 2.2
  • Ruler of Gwalior 3
  • Later campaigns 4
  • First Anglo-Maratha War 5
    • Battle of Wadgaon, 1779 5.1
    • British defeat in Central India 5.2
    • Treaty of Salbai 17 May 1782 5.3
  • After the Treaty of Salbai 6
  • Vakil-ul-Mutlak 7
  • Later Years 8
  • Death and legacy 9
  • Wives 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13

Scindia (Shinde) family

Suhasini Shinde was the daughter of Jankojirao Scindia, the Patil of Kanherkhed in Maharashtra. Ranoji Rao Scindia was put in charge of the Maratha armies in Malwa by the Peshwa. He conquered much of Malwa from the Mughal Empire, and fixed his headquarters in the ancient city of Ujjain, which ultimately became the capital of the Shinde dominion, which was known after it′s later capital of Gwalior. Ranoji died in 1745 and left three legitimate sons, Jayappaji Rao Scindia, Dattaji Rao Scindia and Jyotiba Rao Scindia, and two illegitimate, Tukoji Rao Scindia and Mahadji Scindia. He was succeeded by Jayappaji who expanded their territories up to the River Yamuna.

Mahadji's mother was a Rajput woman named Chima Bai. From an early age, he was given a thorough military education. He first went to war at the age of 10.

Early campaigns of Mahadji

South India

In 1742, the Maratha's were attacked by the Nizam of Hyderabad at Berar and Belur.1742 a war took place in berur and belur against the maratha . Balaji Baji Rao peshwa son of Baji Rao I forwarded Sardar Abajirao Jagdale of Garade (age 73), Moroji and Visaji pant brothers age approx (68) and (64) resp along with Mahadji(12 years) and Jyotiba Scindia (age 15 years) to handle the Matter. Both the Scindia brothers along with only 1500 army reached berur and defeated the enemy next day morning the army under Sadashiv rao bhau reached there and Mahadaji had already set a camp for them . There was meeting between Mahadaji, Jyotibha Shinde and Sadashivrao Bhau . Bhau ordered both the Shinde′s to capture the enemy army at belur. So Mahadaji and Jyotiba Scindia reached belur to decide the matter finally and successfully won the war.

North India

Ahmad Shah Durrani and his coalition decisively defeat the Maratha Confederacy, during the Third Battle of Panipat and restore the Mughal Empire to Shah Alam II.[5]

Between 1745 and 1761, Mahadaji fought in around 50 wars, including those in Malwa, Rajputana, Bundelkhand, Brij, Doab, Rohilkhand, Delhi, Kunjpur, and in the Battle of Panipat. Among the campaigns which Mahadji assisted, the notable ones include the ones at Chandravati Ganj (1746), Fatehabad (1746), Badi Sadri (1747), Marwar (1747), and Himat Nagar (1748)

The army of Malharrao Holkar joined the Scindia army to bring all the Rajput states under Maratha control and force them to accept Maratha suzerainty, as directed by the Peshwa. Under this campaign, several city states were added to the Maratha Empire such as Medtya, Ratangarh, Lalgarh, Bikaner, Laswari, Lachhmangarh and the states with territory of Jaipur and Jodhpur agreed to become vassals of the Maratha Empire. All the Jat states except Bharatpur and Vijaynagar too were conquered.

Mathura which was under Mughal rule was conquered by Mahadaji in 1755 where he reconstructed various old temples and established a centre for Sanskrit learning. In January 1758, Mahadaji established Gwalior as his headquarters.

Ruler of Gwalior

A Bazaar in Seendhiya's Camp,

Jayappa Scindia, the head of the Scindia family was murdered in his own house and was succeeded by his son Jankoji. In 1761, the Scindias joined the Peshwa's army led by Sadashivrao Bhau against the Afghan forces of Ahmad Shah Abdali at the Third Battle of Panipat. In this battle, Jankoji was taken prisoner and put to death. Dattaji, brother of Jayappa had also been killed previous year in a battle with Abdali's forces at Buradi Ghat in 1760 and so Mahadaji being the next successor in line ascended as the ruler of the Gwalior state.

Mahadaji too had fought at Panipat, and made a hair-breadth escape from the rout of the Maratha army. He suffered a serious wound in his leg, which left him with a limp for the rest of his life.

Besides his military training, Mahadaji was also literate in Persian and Sanskrit. He used to read all his audits himself, unlike other rulers of later medieval India who employed scribes.

Later campaigns

Shah Alam II, Mahadaji was instrumental in installing Shah Alam as a puppet ruler in Delhi, under Maratha suzerainty.

When the Maratha army crossed the Narmada in February 1770, the Jat king Nawal Singh of Bharatpur opposed them. However, in the battle on 6 April 1770 Mahadji defeated him and Maratha supremacy over the North was evident.

In early 1771, ten years after the collapse of Maratha supremacy in North India following the Third Battle of Panipat, Mahadji recaptured Delhi, and installed Shah Alam II as the puppet ruler on the Mughal throne in January 1772.

Although the power of Rohillas was decisively crushed, the Marathas were defeated soon after at the Battle of Asadpur when they attacked the forces of Ahmad Khan Bangash, who was reinforced by Hafiz Rahmat Khan successfully gained reinforcements by his longtime ally by Shuja-ud-Daula and his subordinate Ghamkin Khan, together their combined forces expelled the Marathas out of Rohilkhand. But after peace was restored the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II chose to return the favor granting Mahadji Sindhia the title Naib Vakil-i-Mutlaq (Deputy of Mughal affairs) and also the title of Amir-ul-Amara (head of the Emirs).

Mahadji ruled the Punjab as it was a Mughal territory and Sikh sardars and other Rajas of the cis-Sutlej region paid tributes to him.[6]

In 1777, Mahadji provided military assistance to the Peshwas against the Maratha army of Kolhapur. Mahadji besieged and attacked the town of Karvir in Kolhapur.

First Anglo-Maratha War

Mahadaji Sindhia entertaining a British naval officer and military officer with a nautch

In 1773, Peshwa Narayanrao was murdered in a conspiracy involving his uncle Raghunathrao who placed himself as the next Peshwa although he was not a legal heir. Meanwhile, a group of twelve Maratha chiefs known as the Barbhai council made Narayanrao's infant son Sawai Madhavrao the legal Peshwa. The Barbhai council included Mahadji Scindia and Nana Phadnis, who was acted as the Peshwa's regent. Raghunathrao, unwilling to give up his position of power, sought help from the British East India Company at Bombay.

Battle of Wadgaon, 1779

A memorial of H.H. Maharaja Mahadji Scindia marking the place where the Marathas (led by Mahadji Scindia) defeated the British (circa 1779 CE) during the First Anglo-Maratha War

In 1777, Nana Phadnis violated his treaty with the Calcutta Council by granting the French a port on the west coast. The British replied by sending a force towards Pune. Mahadji Scindia joined forces with other Maratha generals to fight the British army supported by Raghunathrao.

In January 1779, the forces of British troops consisting of about 3,900 men under command of Col. Egerton marched towards Pune. They were joined on the way by Raghunath's forces, adding several thousand more soldiers, and more artillery. The Maratha army was commanded by Mahadji ScindiaShinde and Tukojirao Holkar. Mahadji slowed down the British march by firing from above a hill and sent forces under Jiwbadada Bakshi and Lakhbaji to cut off its supply lines by burning food and fodder. When they found out about this, the British halted at Talegaon Dabhade near Pune. The Maratha cavalry harassed the British from all sides and applying a scorched earth policy, burnt farmland and poisoned wells. The British began to withdraw from Talegaon Dabhade in the middle of the night, but the Marathas attacked, forcing them to halt at Wadgaon, where the British force was surrounded on 12 January 1779.

On 16 January, the British signed the Treaty of Wadgaon that forced the Bombay government to relinquish all territories acquired by East India Company in western India since 1773 which included Sashti (Salsette), Thane, and the entire Gujarat region. The British were also made to pay Rs. 41,000 as an indemnity to the army of Mahadji. It was agreed that Raghunathrao would be handed to the Marathas. On 18 January 1779 Mahadji captured Raghunathrao and his forces. He also defeated and arrested Sakharam Bapu and imprisoned him in the jail of Sinhagad.

British defeat in Central India

Mahadaji Scindia

The British Governor-General in Bengal, Warren Hastings, rejected the Treaty of Wadgaon on the grounds that the Bombay officials had no legal power to sign it, and ordered Colonel Goddard to secure British interests in the area. Goddard's 6,000 troops captured Ahmedabad in February 1779, and Bassein in December 1780. Skirmishes took place between Mahadji Scindia and General Goddard in Gujarat, but indecisively.

Another Bengal detachment led by Captain Popham captured Gwalior Fort on 4 August 1780, before Mahadji Scindia could make preparations. Hastings sent yet another force commanded by Major Camac to harass Mahadji Scindia. In February 1781, the British beat Mahadji at the town of Sipri, but every move they made after that was shadowed by his larger army, and their supplies were cut off, until they made a desperate night raid on 24 March, capturing not only supplies, but even guns and elephants. Thereafter, the military threat from Scindia's forces to the British was much reduced.

Colonel Murre arrived with fresh forces in April, 1781, to assist Popham and Camac. After his defeat at Sipri, Mahadji Scindia got alarmed. Finally, he decisively crushed the forces of Murre on 1 July 1781.

At the same time the British invasion on Konkan was thoroughly defeated.

Learning about these defeats, Warren Hastings, who arrived at Varanasi, urged Colonel Murre to begin peace talks with Mahadji.[7]

Treaty of Salbai 17 May 1782

After the British defeat, Hastings through Murre proposed a new treaty, known as the Treaty of Salbai, between the Peshwa and the British that would recognize Sawai Madhavrao as the Peshwa and grant Raghunath Rao a pension. The treaty also returned to Shinde all his territories west of the Yamuna and so was made to withdraw to Ujjain. Mahadji was recognized as an independent chief and not as a vassal of the Peshwa. A resident, Mr. Anderson (who had negotiated the treaty) was at the same time appointed to Mahadji's court.

After the Treaty of Salbai

Mahadji took full advantage of the system of neutrality pursued by the British to resurrect Maratha power over Northern India. In this he was assisted by Benoît de Boigne who increased Sindhia's regular forces to three brigades. With these troops Sindhia became a power in northern India.

After the growth in power of feudal lords like Malwa sardars, landlords of Bundelkhand and Rajput kingdoms of Rajasthan, they refused to pay tribute to Mahadji. So he sent his army conquer the states such as Bhopal, Datiya, Chanderi (1782), Narwar, Salbai and Gohad. He launched an expedition against the Raja of Jaipur, but withdrew after the inconclusive Battle of Lalsot in 1787.

The strong fort of Gwalior was then in the hands of Chhatar Singh, the Jat ruler of Gohad. In 1783, Mahadji besieged the fort of Gwalior and conquered it. He delegated the administration of Gwalior to Khanderao Hari Bhalerao. After celebrating the conquest of Gwalior, Mahadji Shinde turned his attention to Delhi.


Shinde Chhatri, Pune is a memorial dedicated to Mahadji Shinde for his service as the commander-in-chief of the Maratha army.
A mural of The Great Maratha, Maharaja Mahadaji Shinde (Scindia) Bahadur. In this mural, he is seen discussing political affairs with H. H. Shrimant Sawai Madhavrao Peshwa

In 4 December 1784, Mahadji was conferred the titles of Vakil-ul-Mutlaq, and Amir ul-Umara from Mughal emperor Shah Alam II.

Later Years

Although facing reverses at the Lalsot Campaign against the combined armies of Jaipur and Jodhpur in 1787,Mahadji's armies defeated Ismail Beg, a Mughal noble who resisted the Marathas, On 17 June 1788. The Rohilla chief Ghulam Kadir, the grandson of Najib Khan and the son of Zabita Khan, Ismail Beg's ally, took over Delhi, capital of the Mughal Empire, and deposed and blinded the Emperor Shah Alam II, placing a puppet on the Delhi throne. Mahadji intervened, taking possession of Delhi on 2 October, restoring Shah Alam to the throne and acting as his protector and brutally killed Ghulam Kadir.

Thereafter, Mahadji sent de Boigne to crush the forces of Jaipur and Marwar. Jaipur was overcome in the Battle of Patan(20 June 1790) while Marwar succumbed to the Battle of Medtya(10 September 1790). He went on to capture Ajmer in the same year.

Another achievement of Mahadji was his victory over the Nizam of Hyderabad’s army in a battle. The Nizam ceased be a factor in the north Indian politics after this battle and it generally confined itself in the Deccan afterwards. After the peace made with Tipu Sultan of Mysore in 1792, Mahadji successfully exerted his influence to prevent the completion of a treaty between the British, the Nizam of Hyderabad, and the Peshwa, directed against Tipu.

In the later part of his life, hostilities broke out between Scindia and Holkars, which culminated into the Battle of Lakheri on 1 June 1793, where Mahadji's forces under De Boigne routed the forces of Tukoji Rao Holkar.

Death and legacy

After the Battle of Lakheri, Mahadji was now at the zenith of his power, when he died from typhoid fever, at his camp at Wanavdi near Pune on 12 February 1794. He left no heir, and was succeeded by Daulat Rao Scindia, a grandson of his brother Tukoji Rao Scindia, who was scarcely 15 years of age at the time.

Kini, the English biographer of Mahadaji Shinde, has described Mahadaji as the greatest man in South Asia in the 18th century.[8] Mahadaji Shinde’s role was instrumental in establishing Maratha supremacy over North India.

Shinde Chhatri, located in Wanowrie,in Pune is a memorial dedicated to Mahadji Shinde . It is a hall that marks the spot of Mahadji Shinde's cremation on 12 February 1794. The three storied memorial in Rajput architectural style, is one of the most significant landmarks in the city.


Mahadji Shinde married four wives from the Maratha community of Maharashtra: Gangabai, Yamunabai from the Ramling Raul family, Annapurnabai from the Nimbalkar family of Beed, and Radhabai from the Padmasing Raul family.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ The Great Maratha Mahadaji Scindia - N. G. Rathod - Google Books. Retrieved 2012-07-21. 
  3. ^ History Of The Marathas - R.S. Chaurasia - Google Books. Retrieved 2012-05-26. 
  4. ^ A Comprehensive History of Medieval India: From Twelfth to the Mid ... - Farooqui Salma Ahmed, Salma Ahmed Farooqui - Google Books. Retrieved 2012-07-21. 
  5. ^ S. M. Ikram (1964). "XIX. A Century of Political Decline: 1707–1803". In Ainslie T. Embree. Muslim Civilization in India. New York: Columbia University Press. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  6. ^ History Of The Marathas - R.S. Chaurasia - Google Books. Retrieved 2012-05-26. 
  7. ^ The Great Maratha.NG Rathod.p.20
  8. ^
  • Hunter, William Wilson, Sir, et al. (1908). Imperial Gazetteer of India, Volume 12. 1908–1931; Clarendon Press, Oxford.
  • Keene, H. G. The Fall of the Moghul Empire of Hindustan e-text
  • Markovits, Claude (ed.) (2004). A History of Modern India: 1480–1950. Anthem Press, London.

External links

Mahadaji Shinde
Born: 1730 Died: 12 February 1794
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Manaji Rao Scindia
Maharaja of Gwalior
Succeeded by
Daulat Rao Scindia
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