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Radhikabai (4 July 1745 – 29 November 1798) was the daughter of Sardar Gupte of Nashik, Maharashtra, India, a Tipnis (secretary) of Baji Rao I and later Raghunathrao. She was the niece of Parvatibai, wife of Sadashivrao Bhau, and was emotionally attached to her.
Childhood and engagement
Radhikabai spent her childhood in the custody of her aunt Parvatibai at Satara. Like her aunt, she received training in archery, armoury and handling court matters. Chatrapati Shahu, who had a secular outlook in order to broaden the base of his Peshwa administration (avoiding capture of all posts by any particular community), arranged Radhikabai's marriage to Vishwasrao, eldest son of Balaji Baji Rao, as one of the preconditions for making the Peshwa post hereditary. The arrangement was made on Padwa day, 1749. Likewise, Shahu’s confidante Parvatibai had become the wife of Sadashivrao Bhau.
In May 1758, when Radhikabai was 13, she and her aunt Parvatibai left Deccan along with their entourage to go to Kurukshetra to perform a religious pilgrimage. As per the records available at various pilgrimage sites Paravatibai and Radhikabai visited Ujjain, Vrindavan, Haridwar, the Shiv temple of Rawalpindi, and the Narasinha temple of Multan. Donations given by Parvatibai to the Golden Temple at Amritsar for burning oil lamps is clearly recorded, with the confirmed date of her visit as Diwali Amavasya of 1759, almost 14 months prior to the battle day.
Radhikabai's meeting with Gopikabai
Radhikabai had come to Nashik on a pilgrimage during Kumbhmela in 1778. Gopikabai, living in destitution, used to beg before the wadas of Sardars who had retired to the holy city of Nashik. As per the records, Gopikabai would not take alms from servants, but would collect offerings only from mothers, wives or daughters of high-ranking Sardars; she would ring a bell tied to the cow which accompanied her. During the Hindu month of Paush, 1778, Gopikabai unknowingly went to Sardar Gupte's house seeking alms. She waited for some time, ringing the bell of the cow. Radhikabai, who was staying in her father’s residence, came out with an offering and was shocked to see Gopikabai begging for alms. Just then Gopikabai raised her head to see who was giving alms, and the eyes of the two women met. Gopikabai, who had always blamed Radhikabai for the early death of her son Vishwasrao, burst into a rage and started screaming at Radhikabai that she was a bad omen, the prime reason for Gopikabai's ill fate and why God had kept her alive to bear such humiliations. Gopikabai fasted the rest of the month and, with her frail health, suffered dehydration which resulted in her death. Radhikabai performed the last rites for Gopikabai and erected a deepmala (light tower) on the banks of the Godavari River in Nashik. During the floods of 1961 this deepmala was washed away, leaving only a foundation where people put oil lamps while performing the last rites of their kin.