This Day in History (30-Aug-1773) – Peshwa Narayanrao was murdered by his uncle Raghunath Rao

On the death of Madhavrao Peshwa in November 1772, having no son, was succeeded by his 17 year old brother Narayanrao. Narayanrao found himself completely under the sway of his mother Gopikabai. Soon differences started arising between Narayanraos mother Gopikabai and Anandibai, the wife of Raghunathrao (Narayanrao’s uncle). Raghunathrao for his treacherous ways was captured and imprisoned. However on Gopikabais instructions, Narayanrao turned Raghunathraos imprisonment into a house arrest at Shanivarwada. The women of the Peshwa household especially Gopikabai, used to perform a lot of daily religious rituals and spent huge amounts of money in giving away alms to the Brahmins. This hampered the treasury leading to non payment of the soldiers and other employees. There was discontent amongst many including the ‘Gardis’ a community who were the traditional bodyguards of the Peshwas. Raghunathrao sent them overtures promising them higher payscales.

Raghunathrao sent the chief of the Gardis a letter stating that he would intervene and settle the pay dispute. But for the same, Narayanrao should be seized (‘dharaa’ in Marathi) and be produced before him. But as the legend of the bakhar goes, the letter was forged by Anandibai , who changed the letter ‘dha’ to ‘ma’ making word ‘maara’, meaning ‘to kill’ ( धरा चा मारा ), or as is popularly known ( ध चा मा). On the fatefull night of 30th August 1773, the Gardis swarmed in Shanivarwada, hacking down anyone who came in their way. Two of Narayanraos servants by the names of Chaphaji Tilekar and Naroba Phatak who tried to shield the Peshwa were hacked down. The panicky Peshwa Narayanrao then fled to his uncle’s quarters and implored him to save him (काका मला वाचवा). But it was all in vain, for the Gardis (Sumersingh, Kharaksingh, Mohommed Yusuf and Tuloji Pawar a servant of Raghunathrao) wasted no moment in striking down the young Peshwa. His body was secretly taken away through the Narayan gate of Shanivar wada and cremated near Lakdi pul, where his samadhi exists.



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