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DOULUT RAO SINDHIA.
The recent death of Maharajah Doulut Rao Sindhia, the Mahratta chieftain, tempts us to bestow a cursory glance upon the eventful history of a personage who was once the most powerful prince in India, and might have been the most formidable enemy with whom the British Government has ever contended in that quarter.
The origin and caste of the Sindhia family are rather obscure: Sir John Malcolm tells
US, have heard from other sources, that they are really Sudras of the Koombee or agricultural tribe: but they claim to be Rajpoots; and Captain Grant Duff, whose authority is weighty on this point, favours this account of their extraction. It is certain that the first individual who became eminent as a soldier, Ranojee Sindhia (subsequently a silledar of the first Bajee Rao), was employed in the humble office of carrying the Peishwa's slippers,
which became in some measure a badge of the family: the most potent of the Sindhias, upon being visited by the Peishwa, produced the very slippers which had been borne by Ranojee, and which are still preserved in the family, and held them under his arm during the visit, without evincing any shame, but rather feeling pride, at recollecting the original occupation of his family.
This individual was Madhajee Sindhia, the illegitimate son of Ranojee, who became head of the family, and soon after the fatal battle of Paniput, in 1761, succeeded, by his talents and address, in ranking as the most powerful of the Mahratta chiefs. He was enabled to extend his territories gradually, through the weakness and dissensions of the court of Poonah; and, by the aid of De Boigne, a French adventurer, Madhajee eventually attained a greater, if not a more consolidated power, than any Indian prince since the death of Aurengzebe. * He died, whilst meditating further schemes of ambition, in 1794.
Madhajee Sindhia, having no male issue, adoptedt • Malcolm, i. 127.
This is a point disputed; it is said that Madhajee did not adopt any person, but signified his wish that Doulut Rao should succeed him, in preference to the sons of an elder nephew. The succession of Doulut Rao was disputed by the widows of Madhajee, who set up another prince.
the son of Anund Rao, his youngest and farourite
, and an army better disciplined and equipped, as well as more efficient, than had ever been formed by a native prince in India. Doulut Rao Sindhia was in fact, in a condition to become the arbiter of the Mahratta empire.
From policy, perhaps from habit, Madhajee Sindhia professed a respect for the Peishwa's go vernment, which he manifested throughout life
. But his successor, who was born at a distance from the Deccan, and educated without the sphere of Poonah influence, no sooner established his authority than he openly threw aside all allegiance to the Peishwa, and considered himself rather the principal sovereign of India than a member of the Mahratta confederacy. His prime minister, Shirzee Rao Ghatgay, whose daughter Sindhia married, acquired a vast influence over the young prince
, and to the evil counsels of that wicked minister must be attributed, in a greater measure, the bold and
ured the Mahratta powers against the
, involved the Mah-
a remarkable manner the features of the era character. Sindhia, encouraged by the se temper, or rather the refined cunning, of Joe Rom
, the new Peishwa, not only interfered esate affairs of Poonah, but practised there a bre arbitrary than these chiefs of the confe
czas had ever attempted.
tas at this period that Shirze Rao Ghatgay azerced his abominable intrigues, in conjunction
a Baje Rao, who persuaded him that his views
testing minister to his future son-in-law (for a laughter, though promised, was not yet given
i barnage to Doulut Rao*), would always be obwested whilst Nana Furnavese, the celebrated SR Poonah, had a vestige of power. In
shameless rapacity, the unexampled atrocities,
which marked the commencement of his reign, the
arrangements between these two indimubuals, Nana Furnavese and all his adherents were
He married her in March 1798.
A coalition of the Mahratta powers against the Nizam, in 1795, was the first transaction of importance in which Doulut Rao engaged; that prince was forced to purchase security at an exorbitant sacrifice of money and territory.
The violent death of Madhoo Rao, the young Peishwa, at this very juncture, involved the Mahratta princes in a series of intrigues, which disclose the most consummate baseness and treachery, illustrating in a remarkable manner the features of the Mahratta character. Sindhia, encouraged by the passive temper, or rather the refined cunning, of Bajee Rao, the new Peishwa, not only interfered in the state affairs of Poonah, but practised there acts more arbitrary than these chiefs of the confederacy had ever attempted.
It was at this period that Shirzee Rao Ghatgay commenced his abominable intrigues, in conjunction with Bajee Rao, who persuaded him that his views of becoming minister to his future son-in-law (for his daughter, though promised, was not yet given in marriage to Doulut Rao*), would always be obstructed whilst Nana Furnavese, the celebrated minister at Poonah, had a vestige of power. In pursuance of arrangements between these two individuals, Nana Furnavese and all his adherents were
• He married her in March 1798.
treacherously seized, and such a scene of tortures and barbarities was exhibited, as will be remembered, whilst Poonah exists, with horror and execration.* Of these transactions Sindhia was cognizant; and by consenting to create Shirzee Rao Ghatgay his Dewan, at the desire of Bajee Rao, in return for two crore of rupees levied by Ghatgay upon the rich inhabitants of Poonah, he became, in effect, criminis particeps. Bajee Rao himself was at length shocked at the wretch's enormities, which he had never contemplated, and remonstrated with Sindhia on the subject; but the latter lent a deaf ear to his complaints.
The public odium which attached thereby to Sindhia, and the arbitrary, undisguised authority which he assumed, induced Amrut Rao, the bro ther of Bajee Rao, to propose to the Peishwa the bold scheme of seizing that chief. Bajee Rao eagerly acquiesced; and Amrut Rao, with his brother's privity, prepared a military party to be ready at an appointed signal ; and Doulut Rao was invited to the palace on business. The invitation being declined, a positive order was sent by the Peishwa, desiring his attendance. He came, and Bajee Rao, assuming an unexpected tone of superiority, required Sindhia to declare whether he
• Grant Duff, iii. 196.