Ramaraja – Adopted Son of Chhattrapati Shahu

Ramaraja, also known as Rajaram Bhosle II, was the sixth monarch of the Maratha Empire. He was the adopted son of the Chhatrapati Shahu. Tarabai presented him to Shahu as her grandson and used him to grab power after Shahu’s death. But soon she stated her as an imposter.

Peshwas Balaji Baji Rao retained him as the titular Chhatrapati. Ramaraja was just a puppet and all the powers are in the hands of Peshwas and other chiefs.

Early Life of Ramaraja

In the 1740s, during the last years of Shahu’s life, Tarabai brought Ramajara (Rajaram II) and presented to him as her grandson. She portrayed him as a descendant of Shivaji through her husband Rajaram Chhatrapati. She claimed that he had been raised by the wife of a Rajput soldier, concealed after his birth for his protection. Hence, Shahu adopted him as a child.

After Shahu’s death, Ramaraja was appointed as the new Chhatrapati, the Emperor of Marathas. Tarabai urged Ramaraja to remove him from the post of Peshwa when Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao left for the Mughal frontier.

When Ramaraja refused, on 24 November 1750, she imprisoned him in a dungeon and claimed that he was an imposter from the Gondhali caste and was falsely represented as her grandson to Shahu. During his imprisonment, his health deteriorated considerably. Late, Tarabai signed a peace treaty with the Balaji Rao acknowledging his superiority.

On 14 September 1752, Tarabai and Balaji Rao took an oath at Khandoba temple in Jejuri, promising mutual peace. At this oath ceremony, Tarabai also swore that Ramaraja was not her grandson, but an impostor from the Gondhali caste. Nevertheless, the Peshwa retained Ramaraja as the titular Chhatrapati and a powerless figurehead.

His Reign

During the reign of Ramaraja, the power of the Chhatrapati based in Satara was almost totally overshadowed by his hereditary Peshwas belonging to the Bhat family in Pune and other commanders of the empire such as the Holkars, Gaekwad, Scindia, and Bhaonsale.

During this period, the Marathas were engaged in a continual conflict with the Durrani empire based in Afghanistan and the Third Battle of Panipat took place during this time.

In 1752, the Marathas and the Mughals signed an agreement. The Marathas agreed to help the Mughals defeat external aggression as well as internal rebellions. Peshwa Balaji Rao was appointed as the Subahdar of Ajmer and Agra subah by the Mughals. They were also granted to collect the Chauth from Lahore, Multan, and Sindh subahs as well as some districts of Hisar and Moradabad.

The Mughal Emperor had also ceded Lahore and Multan to Ahmad Shah Durrani to pacify him. Additionally, he did not ratify the transfer of Rajput-ruled territories like Ajmer to the Marathas. It resulted in the conflict of Marathas with the Durranis and Rajputs.

Madho Singh sought help from the Shuja-ud-Daula as well as the Afghan King Ahmad Shah Durrani(Abdali). The Marathas-Jat relationship also worsened during the reign of Ramaraja. He was succeeded by another titular ruler Shahu II of Satara.

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