Narayanrao Peshwa

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Narayan Rao
Flag of the Maratha Empire.svg Peshwa of Maratha Empire
In office
Monarch Rajaram II
Preceded by Madhavrao I
Succeeded by Raghunathrao
Personal details
Born August 10, 1755
Died August 30, 1773(1773-08-30) (aged 18)
Religion Hinduism

Narayan Rao (b. 10 Aug. 1755 – d. 30 Aug. 1773) was the fifth Peshwa or ruler of the Maratha Empire from November 1772 until his murder in August 1773.He married Gangabai Sathe who later gave birth to Sawai Madhavrao Peshwa.

Early life and ascendancy to Peshwa[edit]

Narayanrao was the third son of Peshwa Balaji Bajirao (or Nanasaheb) and Gopikabai. Narayanrao was born on 11 August 1755. His elder brother Vishwasrao had died in the Third Battle of Panipat and the second brother Madhavrao succeeded Balaji Bajirao, their father after the latter's death. Narayanrao was made Diwan of Peshwa from 1770. Madhavrao knew that it would be difficult for Narayanrao to work as Peshwa in presence of Raghunathrao.

Madhavrao I died in 1772 and was succeeded by seventeen-year-old Narayanrao with his uncle Raghunathrao acting as regent. It was decided between Narayanrao & Raghunathrao to work together but differences arose soon. Narayanrao was very immature & angry. His uncle Raghunathrao & aunt Anandibai were very upset because Narayanrao became Peshwa. Narayanrao & Raghunathrao were surrounded by ill-intentioned advisors, who poisoned their minds against each other. Due to these reasons Narayanrao confined Raghunathrao to his house.[1]

Murder of Narayanrao[edit]

During the Ganesh Festival of 1773 (the actual date was 30 August 1773, the last day of Ganesh Festival i.e. Anant Chaturdashi), several Gardi guards, led by their captain, Sumer Singh Gardi, entered the palace and started creating a commotion. They then charged towards the sleeping Peshwa's chambers, killing a clerk on the way. They intended to release Raghunathrao. Raghunathrao and his wife Anandibai, who were opposed to Narayanrao, had promised the Gardis that they would mediate in their dispute with Narayanrao. The Gardis followed Narayanrao to his uncle's chamber and a menial pulled him while Sumer Singh Gardi cut him down. His corpse was cremated secretly by the river at midnight.[2] N[3]

According to popular legend, Raghunathrao had sent a message to Sumer Singh Gardi to fetch Narayanrao using the Marathi word dharaa (धरा) or 'hold' (actual phrase in Marathi - " नारायणरावांना धरा"/"Narayanrao-ana dhara"). This message was intercepted by his wife Anandibai who changed a single letter to make it read as maaraa (मारा) or 'kill' . The miscommunication led the Gardis to chase Narayanrao, who, upon hearing them coming, started running towards his uncles' residence screaming, "Kaka! Mala Vachva!!" or "Uncle! Save me!". But nobody came to help him and he was killed in the presence of his uncle. Rumour has it that Narayanrao's body was hacked into so many pieces that they had to carry the pieces in a pot, henceforth it was taken near the river and cremated at midnight.

This act brought ill fame to the Peshwa administration, which was being looked after by the minister Nana Phadnavis. The Chief Justice of the administration, Ram Shastri Prabhune was asked to conduct an investigation into the incident, and Raghunathrao, Anandibai and Sumer Singh Gardi were all prosecuted in absentia. Although Raghunathrao was acquitted, Anandibai was declared an offender and Sumer Singh Gardi the culprit. Sumer Singh Gardi died mysteriously at Patna in Bihar in 1775, and Anandibai performed Hindu rituals for the washing of sins.


Narayanrao's widow, Gangabai (Nee, Sathe) was pregnant at the time of his murder.After Narayanrao's murder, Raghunathrao became Pershwa but was soon was deposed by the courtiers and knights of the Empire. They instead installed Gangabai's new born son , Sawai Madhavrao as the Peshwa with the courtiers themselves, led by Nana Fadnavis, as the Regents. A popular rumour says that Narayanrao's ghost still hovers about Shanivar wada and calls out for help just like the way he did on the fateful night of his murder.

The Narayan Peth area in Pune is named after Peshwa Narayanrao.


  1. ^ Unknown (around 1796). Narayanrao Peshwe yaanchi bakhar.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ Gense, Banaji (1934). Third English Embassy to the Marathas: Mostyn's diary. Jal Taraporewalla. 
  3. ^ C. A. KINCAID; Rao Bahadur D. B. PARASNIS (1925). A History of Maratha people. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 30 April 2012. 

Preceded by
Madhavrao I
Succeeded by