Mastani

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For the upcoming film, see Bajirao Mastani (film).
Mastani
Mastani 28tt13.jpg
A painting said to be of Mastani
Born Mau Sahaniya Bundelkhand
Died 1740
Occupation Second Wife of Baji Rao I
Spouse(s) Baji Rao I
Children 2[1]
Parents Maharaja Chhatrasal

Mastani 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.[2]

Biography[edit]

Peshwa Bajirao I

Mastani was the daughter of a Hindu, Maharaja Chhatrasal (1649–1731), of Bundelkhand province,[3] 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 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. The Nizam, defeated by Chhatrasal in 1698, was advised by his wife to marry his daughter to Chhatrasal to foster friendly relations with the Bundelas who had become the most dominant power in Central India and in the Indian Subcontinent.[4]

According to the third origin story, Mastani was a dancer in Chhatrasal's Court and after Bajirao Peshwa accepted the friendship during the meeting with Chhatrasal, Bajirao fell in love with Mastani and married her which was condemned by Brahmins and other Hindus as Bajirao was an upper caste Brahmin.[4]

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 was skilled in horse-riding, spear-throwing and swordsmanship and a talented dancer and singer. She accompanied Bajirao on his military campaigns. 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.

Bajirao bestowed the Jagir of Banda on Shamsher. The son fought on the side of the Marathas in the third Battle of Panipat in a.d. 1761 against Ahmed Shah Abdali and is said to have been killed in the battle.[1]

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,[3] 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.[2][3] Court records (Bakhars) during Bajirao's regime specifically never included any reference to her.[citation needed] Historians have determined that the paintings of Mastani in both Raja Kelkar Museum and Wai museum are not authentic.[citation needed]

Death[edit]

In April 1740, while Bajirao was inspecting his lands at Khargon, he suddenly became ill and died. Kashibai, Chimnaji Appa, 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.[5]

Mastani's grave

Her grave is in Pabal. It is called Mastani's Samadhi and is maintained by Mr. Inamdar.[6]

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.

A painting depicting Mastani - at display in Aina Mahal in Bhuj.

Local lore in Pune believes that while in Pune, Mastani used to go for her bath to a lake (made by Bajirao specially for Mastani on Pune - Saswad Road) with her entourage. That lake still exists today.

Mastani in popular culture[edit]

The story of Baji Rao and Mastani was made into a motion picture, Mastani, directed by Dhirubhai Desai, and released in 1955.[7]

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 of Baji Rao and Mastani.

Currently a daily serial is being broadcast on ETV Marathi by the name, Shrimant Peshwa Bajirao Mastani.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  2. ^ a b Tribure India accessed 3 March 2008
  3. ^ a b c Rajakelkar Museum accessed 3 March 2008
  4. ^ a b "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. 
  5. ^ "20090118329 | Historical grave of temptress Mastani dug up". Archaeologydaily.com. Retrieved 2013-12-03. 
  6. ^ "Mastani's grave". Indianoilxpress.com. 2007-01-27. Retrieved 2013-12-03. 
  7. ^ Mastani at the Internet Movie Database
  8. ^ "ETV website". Etv.co.in. Retrieved 2013-12-03. 

Further reading[edit]

  • 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.