Shrimant Vishwasrao Peshwa was the eldest son of Balaji Baji Rao Bhat, Peshwa of Pune of the Maratha Empire. He was the heir to the title of Peshwa of the Maratha Empire.
He had impressed the Maratha infantry by his performance at Sindkheda and Udgir battle 1760. During the Battle of Udgir, he was unstoppable with the bow and arrow while mounted on a war elephant.
Although Vishwas Rao Bhat was first exposed to actual warfare at Sindkheda near Hyderabad, against Nizam in 1756, he was the nominal Commander of Maratha Forces and the Peshwa’s representative during the Third Battle of Panipat under the guidance of his uncle Sadashivrao Bhau.
At the time of the battle, the Maratha Empire was in control of about two-thirds of the Indian subcontinent (including areas of the modern Republic of India and Pakistan).
Personal life of Vishwasrao Peshwa
Vishwasrao was born on 22 July 1742 as the eldest son of Balaji Baji Rao at Supe near Pune (Supe was the Jagir of Shahaji near Pune). He was trained in Administrative matters and was exposed to Military training from the age of 8 years.
Vishwasrao was tall and well-built following the genetic constitution of the Peshwa family. Although he seemed exactly like the younger version of his grandfather Peshwa Bajirao, Vishwasrao had blue eyes. Vishwasrao was tall and well-built following the genetic constitution of the Peshwa family.
G. S. Sardesai writes that none was there with more handsome looks in the Peshwa family than this Viswas Rao. Raghunath Yadav author of one of the Panipat Bakhar had stated “पुरुषात देखणा विश्वासराव” (“The one most handsome among all men Vishwasrao.”)
Vishwasrao was married to Lakshmibai on 2 May 1750, the daughter of Hari Balkrushn Dikshit-Patwardhan.
Training of Vishwasrao Peshwa
Shrimant Vishwasrao had undergone training in administration and warfare from the age of 8 years old. His specialty was Bow and Arrow or Dhanur-Vidya along with sword fighting.
As per Sardesai and few other authors that named him the most handsome among the Peshwa men, Vishwasrao followed a vigorous gym routine and performed Kawaiti ( army training regularly).
Kaustubh Kasture states in his book, “Sakalraj Karya Dhurandar Sadashivrao Bhausaheb” that Sadashivrao Bhau, that is his uncle saw that Vishwasrao received thorough military and administration training. It is believed as per some sources, it was Nanasaheb Peshwa who began regular army training and continued the best armor to the Maratha army.
During the War
Shrimant Vishwasrao had sensed that there could be a failure on the final day of battle although Abdali was falling. There was no food and Sadashivrao, Parvatibai and Vishwasrao were pretending to be on a fast taking the moral responsibility.
Meanwhile, they were trying to make food available to the soldiers. Shrimant Jankoji Shinde asked him to write a letter to Nanasaheb Peshwa asking for help. Worrying, that he wouldn’t let his ever-victorious and righteous uncle Sadashivrao lose his streak in front of the gilchas, Vishwasrao wrote a letter to Nanasaheb.
In that letter, he urged Nanasaheb to bring in more soldiers, money, and food to help Bhausaheb. Shrimant Vishwasrao wrote that his own life was not important as Nanasaheb had two more sons.
However, if he were to lose a brother and the nation a patriotic leader like Bhausaheb then that loss would be irreparable. His fears came out to be true as due to some deceit, Najib Khan, Abdali’s friend, and Malharrao Holkar’s foster son was able to murder Mehendale while he was returning victorious from a skirmish prior to the battle. Bhausaheb was at a personal loss and without a commander.
During the battle of Udgir, Shrimant Vishwasrao had proved himself as the rising brave Maratha leader. He successfully led the troops and fought beside Shrimant Jankoji Shinde. The two were very close friends. Even the brave Tukoji and Mahadji Shinde were having faith in their captain, Bhausaheb. They had promised to fight till their last breath. Trusting, his strongly loyal and able young team, he made Vishwasrao a commander in the Third Battle of Panipat.
Death of Vishwasrao Peshwa
On the final day, Shrimant Vishwasrao went to the battlefield with no piece of food relying only on sugared water like the rest of the Maratha warriors. He fought bravely by his uncle’s side killing many gilchas and creating thunder in the opposing camp. While he was fiercely fighting on the front lines, as he was hit by an arrow on his shoulder, a shot hit his head while he was lying down, injured.
At the Third Battle of Panipat, he got hit in the head by a shot fired by a Pashtun officer during the period of the most intense fighting (Approx. between 01:00 PM and 02:30 PM). He died fighting on the front lines. Marathas were winning the battle but some contingents charged ahead of their cue and obstructed the cannon lines creating a problem for Ibrahim Khan Gardi at aiming for the enemies.
After his Death
As per Grant Duff, upon hearing about Shrimant Vishwasrao’s death Malharrao Holkar withdrew from the field with at least 10,000 soldiers and sardars. He also took men of significance like Damaji Gaekwad with him. He went to Delhi and asked people of significance like Vinchurkar to vacate Delhi.
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