Ramchandra Pant Amatya
|Ramchandra Pant Amatya|
Hukumat Panah of the Maratha Empire
(Pune District, Maharashtra)
(Kolhapur District, Maharashtra)
|Religion||Hindu, Deshastha Brahmin|
Ramchandra Neelkanth Bahutkar (1650–1716), also known as Ramchandra Pant Amatya, served on the Council of 8 (Ashta Pradhan) as the Finance Minister (Amatya) to Emperor (Chhatrapati) Shivaji dating from 1674 to 1680. He then served as the Imperial Regent (Hukumat Panah) to four later Emporers, namely Chhatrapati Sambhaji, Rajaram, Shivaji II and Sambhaji II. He authored the Adnyapatra, a famous code of civil and military administration, and is renowned as one of the greatest civil administrators, diplomats and military strategists of the Maratha Empire.
Ramchandra Pant was born to a Deshastha Brahmin family in approximately 1650. He was the youngest son of Neelkanth Sondeo Bahutkar (more popularly known as ‘Nilo Sondeo’) who had risen from a local revenue collection post (Kulkarni) to the post of Minister in the court of Shivaji Maharaj,
His family originally hailed from the village Kolwan near Kalyan Bhiwandi. Ramchandra Pant's grandfather Sonopant and uncle Abaji Sondeo were in the close circle of Shivaji. The Bahutkar family was closely associated with Samarth Ramdas, the spiritual guru of Shivaji Maharaj Samarth Ramdas is believed to be the one who named the newly born child as Ramchandra.
Before 1672, Ramchandra Pant was engaged in various clerical jobs in Shivaji Maharaj's administration. In 1672, he and his elder brother Narayan were both promoted to the post of Revenue Minister (Mujumdar) by Shivaji Maharaj. In 1674, at the Coronation ceremony, the post Mujumdar was renamed as Amatya and the title was solely bestowed upon Ramchandra Pant. He worked in this capacity until 1678. On his death bed, Shivaji Maharaj named him as one among six pillars of the Maratha Empire that would save the kingdom in difficult times.
After Shivaji Maharaj's death in 1680, Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj took over rulership of the Maratha Empire and Ramchandra Pant continued with his administration in various posts. Among other duties, Ramchandra Pant was sent to Prince Akbar, Aurangzeb's rebel son, for negotiations and, in 1685, Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj also deployed him as an envoy to Vijapur for certain sensitive talks.
Contribution to Maratha War of Independence
In 1689, at the time of Sambhaji’s assassination by Aurangzeb, Ramchandra Pant was deployed at Fort Vishalgad. In consultation with Sambhaji’s queen Yesubai, who was located at Fort Raigad along with Rajaram and her son Shahu, he decided to send Rajaram to Fort Gingee (in current-day Tamil Nadu) to divide the battlefield. Subsequently, Rajaram was brought to Panhala fort and was secretly sent to Gingee. Before leaving for Gingee, Rajaram conferred on Ramchandra Pant the title of Imperial Regent (Hukumat Panah).
Thereafter, with the aid of generals Santaji Ghorpade, Dhanaji Jadhav, Parshuram Pant Pratinidhi, and Shankaraji Narayan Sacheev, Ramchandra Pant launched a great retaliatory war against the Mughal Empire.
- To encourage the local Maratha warriors to fight independently against the Mughals, Ramchandra Pant adopted a new policy to officially reward pieces of land (Vatans) in exchange for military service. Turn out the Mughals and own the land was the pronouncement. This mercenary policy went against Shivaji's will, but Ramchandra Pant saw no alternative given the changed circumstances.
- Independent Maratha warlords were encouraged to cross the Maharashtra border and to invade Mughal areas in response to Mughal invasion. Nemaji Shinde and Chimnaji Damodar were the first warlords to successfully respond to this strategy.
- Appealing to Mughal greed, Maratha forts were traded to the Mughals for large sums. Once the forts were well-equipped by the Mughals, the forts were re-captured by Maratha forces.
These strategies proved to be extremely effective against the Mughal Empire.
In 1700, after Rajaram’s death, Queen Tarabai once again delegated enormous wartime powers to Ramchandra Pant. Both of them continued to fight against the Mughal power in India. At the time of Aurangzeb’s death in 1707, the Marathas had become extremely powerful and the Mughal Empire was on the verge of total devastation.
After Prince Shahu’s release from the Mughal camp, most of the Maratha generals defected from Queen Tarabai and joined Shahu. As a result, Tarabai was forced to leave the capital Satara, fleeing to Panhala fort. Ramchandra Pant, however, strongly supported Tarabai at the time and worked as the Senior Minister for her son Shivaji II.
In 1712, Sambhaji II overthrew Queen Tarabai, placing the Queen and her son Shivaji II in prison and taking over rulership of the Maratha Empire. Modern-day scholars generally conclude that Ramchandra Pant was behind this conspiracy as he was appointed by Sambhaji II to the Imperial Regency immediately thereafter. It is speculated that Ramchandra Pant and his supporters were not satisfied with Tarabai’s treatment of her peerage.
On the request of Sambhaji II, Ramchandra Pant wrote the Adnyapatra (also pronounced Ajnapatra), a standard code of civil and military administration for the Maratha Empire. It can be compared to Kautilya’s Arthashastra.
In 1716, Ramchandra Pant died at the age of 66. A monument dedicated to his life and valiant effort in fighting against the Mughal invaders is located at Panhala fort. His heirs still live near Fort Gaganbawada to this day — a gift to Ramchandra Pant for his great contribution to Maratha power.
- Shivaji, the great Maratha, Volume 2, H. S. Sardesai, Genesis Publishing Pvt Ltd, 2002, ISBN 81-7755-286-4, ISBN 978-81-7755-286-7