A painting said to be of Mastani
|Born||Mau Sahaniya Bundelkhand|
|Occupation||Concubine of Baji Rao I|
|Spouse(s)||Baji Rao I|
Mastani (died 1740) was the wife of Peshwa Baji Rao I (1699–1740), an Indian general and prime minister to the fourth Maratha Chhatrapati (Emperor) Shahuji. She is said to have been a beautiful and brave woman.
Mastani was a daughter of a Hindu, Maharaja Chhatrasal (1649–1731), of Bundelkhand province, and was borne by his Persian-Muslim wife Ruhaani Bai who was a court dancer of the Nizam of Hyderabad. When a Mughal chief from Allahabad, Mohammad Khan Bangash, invaded Chhattrasal’s kingdom during 1727-28 and imprisoned him and his family, Chhattrasal sent a secret message, seeking help, to Bajirao, who happened to be on a military campaign in the vicinity of Bundelkhand. Bajirao came to the rescue of Chhatrasal, defeated Bangash's army, and restored Chhatrasal to his throne. In gratitude, Chattrasal gave Bajirao his daughter Mastani, and also a third of his kingdom, including Jhansi, Sagar and Kalpi. He gave 33 lakh Gold coins to Bajirao. He also gifted a Diamond mine to Bajirao in marriage to Mastani.
However sources vary on this context. According to the second view of Chhatrasal, she was the daughter of Nizam of Hyderabad, Chhatrasal who had defeated the Nizam in 1698 was advised by his wife to marry his daughter to Chhatrasal to foster friendly relations with the Bundela's who had become the most dominant power in Central India and in the Indian Subcontinent.
The third origin of Mastani is said to be that she was a Dancer in Chhatrasal's Court and after Bajirao Peshwa accepted the friendship during the meeting with Chhatrasal, Bajirao he fell in love with Mastani and married her which was condemned by Brahmins and other Hindus as Bajirao was an upper caste Brahmin.
However the most accepted version is that she was the daughter of Chhatrasal with his Persian-Muslim wife. Mastani is often referred to as Bajirao's concubine or mistress. However, she was his Lawfully Wedded Wife.
Mastani gave the Peshwa a son, on whom their father bestowed the Jagir of Banda. The son fought on the side of the Marathas in the third Battle of Panipat in a.d. 1761 between Ahmed Shah Abdali and the Marathas and he is said to have been killed in the battle.
Mastani was a skilled horse-rider, and she accompanied Bajirao on his military campaigns. According to legends, she was skilled in spear-throwing and swordsmanship. She was also a talented dancer and singer. Both Mastani and Bajirao's wife, Kashibai, bore sons to Bajirao within a few months of each other. Kashibai's child died at an early age. Mastani's child was named Shamsher Bahadur.
However, Bajirao's love for his half-Muslim wife Mastani, and neglect of Kashibai angered his mother, Radhabai. In deference to Radhabai, Bajirao's brother, Chimnaji Appa, tried to send Mastani into exile. Bajirao's son, Balaji, also tried to coerce Mastani into leaving his father, but she refused. Enraged by her growing influence on Bajirao, and Bajirao's neglect of Kashibai, Balaji had Mastani placed under house arrest for a time, while Bajirao was on military campaign.
Mastani lived for some time with Bajirao at his palace of Shaniwar Wada in the city of Pune. The palace's north-east corner held Mastani Mahal and had its own external doorway called Mastani Darwaza. Because of his family's intolerance of Mastani, Bajirao later built a separate residence for Mastani at Kothrud in 1734, some distance away from Shaniwar Wada. The site still exists at the Mrutyunjay temple on Karve road. The palace at Kothrud was dismantled and parts of this are displayed at a special section of Raja Kelkar Museum. Court records (Bakhars) during Bajirao's regime specifically never included any reference to her. Historians have determined that the paintings of Mastani in both Raja Kelkar Museum and Wai museum are not authentic.
In April 1740, while Bajirao was inspecting his lands at Khargon, he suddenly became ill and died. Bajirao's wife Kashibai, his brother Chimnaji Appa, his son Balaji (Nanasaheb), and Mastani came to Khargon. Bajirao's mortal remains were consigned to flames on 28 April 1740, at Raver Khed on the banks of the Narmada River. Mastani died at Pabal Village near Pune, soon afterwards.
- Cause of death
According to popular folklore, Mastani committed suicide after hearing about Bajirao's death, by drinking poison from a ring which she was wearing. Others say that she jumped into the funeral pyre of her husband and committed sati. No documentation is available to confirm the actual cause. However it is accepted that she did not live long after Bajirao's demise and died in 1740.
- Mastani's grave
Her grave is in Pabal. It is called Mastani's Samadhi and is maintained by Mr. Inamdar.
Kashibai took Mastani's six-year-old son Shamsher Bahadur (also named as Krushnarao) into her household and raised him as one of her own.
Mastani in popular culture
|This section requires expansion. (June 2008)|
- The story of Baji Rao and Mastani was made into a motion picture, Mastani, directed by Dhirubhai Desai, and released in 1955.
- Sanjay Leela Bhansali announced in 2003 that he wanted to make a film titled "Bajirao Mastani", but he has indefinitely postponed the project. Towards the end of 2011, there are unconfirmed reports about Sanjay approaching Aishwarya Rai Bachchan for the role of Mastani and Salman Khan for the role of Bajirao but didn't materialise. 
- A Marathi serial, "Rau", was produced in the 1990s, based on a Marathi book of the same name by historical novelist N. S. Inamdar about the life story of Baji Rao and Mastani.
- Currently a daily serial is being broadcast on ETV Marathi by the name, Shrimant Peshwa Bajirao Mastani.
Local lore in Pune believes that while in Pune, Mastani used to go for her bath to a lake (created by Bajirao specially for Mastani on Pune - Saswad Road) with her entourage. That lake still exists there.
- [dead link]
- Tribure India accessed 3 March 2008
- Rajakelkar Museum accessed 3 March 2008
- "Advance Study in the History of Modern India (Volume-1: 1707-1803) - G.S.Chhabra - Google Books". Books.google.co.in. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
- "20090118329 | Historical grave of temptress Mastani dug up". Archaeologydaily.com. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
- "Mastani's grave". Indianoilxpress.com. 2007-01-27. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
- Mastani at the Internet Movie Database
- "ToI article about the movie".
- "ETV website". Etv.co.in. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mastani.|
- Godse, D. G. Mastānī, Pôpyulara Prakāśana, 1989 (Marathi)
- Anne Feldhaus. Images of women in Maharashtrian society. SUNY Press (1998), p. 70.
- Stewart Gordon. The New Cambridge History of India vol. 2 part 4: The Marathas 1600-1818. Cambridge University Press (1993),p. 130.