Yashwantrao Holkar

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Yashwant Rao Holkar
Maharaja (Ruler of Indore)
Ali Jah (the Exalted Dignity)
Zubdat ul-Umara (Best of the Army)
Bahadur ul-Mulk (Hero of the Empire)
Farzand-i-Arjmand (Son of the Nobleman)
Nusrat Jang (Who Help in War)[1]
Yashwant Rao Holkar I.jpg
Yashwant Rao Holkar
Reign (as regent. 1799 – 1807)
(r. 1807 - 1811)
Coronation January 1799
Full name H. H. Maharajadhiraj Raj Rajeshwar Sawai Shrimant Yashwant Rao Holkar
Marathi महाराजा यशवंतराव होळकर
Born December 3, 1776
Birthplace Malwa, Maratha Empire
(present-day Madhya Pradesh, India)
Died October 27, 1811
Place of death Bhanpura, Malwa
Successor Malhar Rao Holkar II
Father Maharaja Tukoji Rao Holkar
Religious beliefs Hinduism

H. H. Maharajadhiraj Raj Rajeshwar Sawai Shrimant Yashwant Rao Holkar (Marathi: यशवंतराव होळकर) Bahadur, was one of the Maharaja from Maratha Empire. He was born on 3 December 1776. He was a gifted military leader and educated in accountancy as well as literate in Persian and Marathi.[2] Yashwant Rao has been often referred to as the "Napoleon of India".

In January 1799, Yashwant Rao Holkar was crowned King, as per Hindu Vedic rites and in May, 1799, he captured Ujjain. He started campaigning towards the north to expand his empire in that region. Yashwant Rao rebelled against the policies of the Peshwa Baji Rao II. On May 1802, he marched towards Pune the seat of the Peshwa. This gave rise to the Battle of Poona in which the Peshwa was defeated. After the defeat the Peshwa he fled from Pune. Conquering Pune resulted in Yashwant Rao Holkar in charge of the administration and made some constructive steps to rebuild the Maratha Empire.[3]

To keep the British at bay, Yashwant Rao Holkar played a great role in Indian history. He stood up against the British with his forces. Accompanied by Raghuji Bhonsale and Daulat Scindia, Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar on 4 June 1803 decided to fight against the British force after their meeting at Bodwad. However, after a conspiracy against him, he decided not to be a part of the Maratha Confederacy. To curb the power of British, Maharaja Yashwant Rao Holkar wrote letters to different rulers and welcomed them to get united and fight against the British power. But, all his plans and appeal went in vain as all the kings had already signed treaties with the British. Afterwards, Yashwant Rao decided to fight against the British on his own. He defeated the British army, led by Colonel Fawcett, at Kunch, in Bundelkhand as well as attacked Delhi to free the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II, who was imprisoned by the British and attacked the army of Colonel Ochterlony and Berne. This battle lasted for a week, but Yashwant Rao Holkar could not succeed because Colonel Ochterlony was supported by Lord Lake. Yashwant Rao Holkar won the title of "Maharajadhiraj Raj Rajeshwar Alija Bahadur" as a token of admiration by Mughal Emperor Shah Alam for his bravery.[3]

Afraid of the power and enthusiasm of Yashwant Rao Holkar, the British planned to make peace with Maharaja Yashwant Rao Holkar at any price as their wasting more time fighting Holkar could result in his success and create difficulty for British rule in India. Finally, Yashwant Rao Holkar signed a treaty with the British on 24 December 1805, at Rajghat (then in Punjab, now in Delhi?). Yashwant Rao was known to be the only king in India whom the British approached to sign a peace treaty. Being admired as a sovereign king the British returned all his territory, and accepted his dominion over Jaipur, Udaipur, Kota, Bundi and also affirmed not to interfere in matters relating to the Holkars. The victorious king reached Indore and started ruling his kingdom.[3]

Though Yashwant Rao Holkar again tried to unite the Maratha Confederacy and appealed to Daulatrao Scindia, but Scindia gave the information about this letter to British resident, Marsor. Holkars and Scindias agreed on eleven defensive and offensive strategies on 14 November 1807. To give his plan a success he decided to stay in Bhanpura to form a large army and manufacture cannons. With all his energies and military techniques, he was successful in keeping the British out of his state and started preparations to drive the British out of India. He gathered an army of 100,000 soldiers to attack Calcutta, however, on 27 October 1811 he died (Kartiki Ekadashi) at the age of 35 years.[3]

Struggle for the throne[edit]

Kashi Rao Holkar was not an able ruler, but Malhar Rao Holkar had all the qualities of an able ruler and was also a military leader; naturally, the people and the soldiers preferred Malharrao. Malharrao, Vithojirao, and Yashwantrao opposed Kashirao and demanded that Malharrao should be the heir after Maharaja Tukojirao. Another reason was the courage, leadership, and bravery shown by Malharrao in the Battle of Lakhairi (1793), where the Holkars were defeated by the well-trained modern army of Scindia under the command of Benoît de Boigne. He stood till the last soldier fell in the battlefield, and was wounded and fell unconscious there. Support was growing for Malharrao, and Kashirao felt his authority was in danger—so he sought the help of the Scindia, who were considered jealous of the Holkars, due to the growing prominence and rising power of Holkars in North India. This move angered the people, as during the siege of the Kumher fort in 1754, Scindias had agreed to sign the treaty with Surajmal Jat even though Malharrao's son Khanderao was killed during the siege.

On 14 September 1797, Daulat Rao Scindia suddenly attacked Malharrao and killed him.[citation needed] He imprisoned Malharrao’s pregnant wife, Jijabai, who gave birth to Khande Rao Holkar, and Bhimabai Holkar, daughter of Yashwantrao Holkar. Nana Phadnawis condemned this, and so Peshwa Bajirao II, Scindia, and Sarjarao Ghatke imprisoned him. Yashwantrao Holkar took shelter at Nagpur’s Raghoji II Bhonsle. When Scindia learned this, he asked Raghoji II Bhonsle to arrest Yashwantrao Holkar; accordingly, Yashwantrao Holkar was arrested on 20 February 1798. Bhawani Shankar Khatri, who was with Yashwantrao, helped him to escape, and both of them escaped from Nagpur on 6 April 1798.

Rise of Yashwantrao[edit]

After these incidents, Yashwantrao Holkar never trusted anybody. Meanwhile, support for Yashwantrao Holkar was growing. Vithojirao Holkar, Fatthesinh Mane, Aamir Khan, Bhawani Shankar Bakshi, Zunzhar Naik, Govardhan Naik, Rana Bhau Sinha, Balaji Kamlakar, Abhay Sinha, Bharmal Dada, Parashar Dada, Govind Pant Ganu, Harmat Sinha, Shamrao Mahadik, Jiwaji Yashwant, Harnath Chela, Vazir Hussain, Shahmat Khan, Gaffur Khan, and Fatteh Khan had joined the army of Yashwantrao Holkar.

The King of Dhar, Anandrao Pawar, requested Yashwantrao Holkar's help in curbing the rebellion of one of his ministers, Rangnath; Holkar successfully helped Anandrao Pawar. In December, 1798, Yashwantrao Holkar defeated the army of Shevelier Duddres and captured Maheshwar. In January, 1799, he was crowned King, as per Hindu Vedic rites (but it was as regent of infant nephew Khande Rao Holkar, he became sole ruler after the death of Khande Rao in 1807). In May, 1799, he captured Ujjain. Vithojirao Holkar declared that he was working for Amrutrao, who was more capable of being the Peshwa than Bajirao II. To grow their empire, Yashwantrao Holkar started a campaign towards the north, whereas Vithojirao started a campaign towards the south. Bajirao II sent Balaji Kunjir and Bapurao Ghokale to arrest Vithojirao Holkar, and in April, 1801, Vithojirao was arrested and taken to Pune. On the advice of Balaji Kunjar, he was sentenced to death under the feet of an elephant. His wife and son Harirao were imprisoned. The well-wishers of the Maratha Confederacy warned the Peshwa not to take such a drastic step, as it would lead to the collapse of the Maratha Confederacy; but Bajirao II Peshwa ignored it. When Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar learned this, he vowed to take revenge.

Battle of Ujjain[edit]

The Battle of Ujjain took place on 4 July 1801, Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar attacked Sindhia's capital Ujjain, and after defeating Sindhia’s army led by John Hessing, extorted a large sum from its inhabitants, but did not ravage the town. In this war nearly 3,000 soldiers of sindhia’s army were killed. The Holkar’s victory was an embarrassing defeat for the Sindhia.

Battle of Poona[edit]

In May 1802, Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar marched towards Pune. He kept on corresponding with the Peshwa, to whom he put forward the following propositions, which, if agreed to, would put an end to hostilities.

He conquered Sendhwa, Chalisgaon, Dhulia, Malegaon, Parol, Ner, Ahmadnagar, Rahuri, Nashik, Sinnar, Dungargaon, Jamgaon, Pharabagh, Gardond, Pandharpur, Kurkumb, Narayangaon, Baramati, Purandhar, Saswad, Moreshwar, Thalner, and Jejuri. On Sunday, 25 October 1802, on the festival of Diwali, Yashwantrao Holkar defeated the combined armies of Scindia and Peshwa at Hadapsar, near Pune. This Battle of Poona took place at Ghorpadi, Banwadi, and Hadapsar. Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar had ordered his army not to attack first and wait until 25 cannonballs were fired from other side; when 25 cannonballs were fired, Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar ordered his army to attack. As soon as he won the war, he ordered his army not to harm the civilians of Pune. When the Peshwa learned that he was defeated, fled from Pune via Parvati, Wadgaon, to Sinhagad. Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar asked the Peshwa to return to Pune. If Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar wanted to arrest the Peshwa, he would have arrested him; but he sent food to Peshwa so that he didn’t suffer.

On 27 October 1802, Peshwa Bajirao II, along with Chimnaji, Baloji, and Kunjir along with some soldiers of Scindia, went to Raigad and spent one month in Virwadi. He then went to Suwarnadurgh, and on 1 December 1802, went to Bassein via a ship named Harkuriyan. The British offered him enticements to sign the Subsidiary Treaty in return for the throne. After deliberating for over a month, and after threats that his brother would otherwise be recognised as Peshwa, Bajirao II signed the treaty, surrendering his residual sovereignty and allowing the English to put him on the throne at Poona. This Treaty of Bassein (1802) was signed on 31 December 1802.

The British also had to check the French influence in India. The British Government feared that if they had not adopted measures for the restoration of the peshwa’s authority, Yashwantrao Holkar would have either attacked the Company’s territories, or those of their ally the Nizam of Hyderabad. They felt therefore the restoration of the peshwa under the protection of the British power was a measure indespensably requisite for the defence, not only of the territories of their allies, but of their own possessions bordering on the Marhatta dominions in the peninsula of India.[4]

Panse, Purandhare, and some other Maratha Sardars had requested the Peshwa to return to Pune and have a dialogue with the Holkars. Even Chimanaji was against signing a treaty with British.

Peshwa[edit]

The flight of Peshwa left the government of Maratha state in the hands of Yashwantrao Holkar.[5] After conquering Pune, the capital of Maratha Empire, Yashwantrao Holkar took the administration in his hands and appointed his men. He appointed Amrutrao as the Peshwa. All except Gaekwar chief of Baroda, who had already accepted British protection by a separate treaty on 26 July 1802, supported the new regime.

He freed Phadnawis, Moroba, Phadke, etc., who were imprisoned by Bajirao II and went to Indore on 13 March 1803.

The British reinsted Bajirao II as the Peshwa at Pune on 13 May 1803, but soon the Peshwa realised that he was only a nominal peshwa and that British had taken total control.

Maratha-British treaties[edit]

On 4 June 1803, Raghuji Bhosale, Daulatrao Scindia, and Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar met at Bodwad and decided to jointly fight against the British. However, the just demands of Yashwantrao Holkar were not fulfilled, and he was betrayed again. Daulatrao Scindia wrote a letter to Bajirao II and stated that they need not worry about Yashwantrao Holkar, as they only should show that they would fulfill the demands of Yashwantrao Holkar, and once they defeat the British, they will take their revenge against Holkar. However, the letter reached the hands of Amrutrao, and he handed the letter over to General Wellesley; Wellesley immediately sent the letter to Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar. Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar decided not to be a part of Maratha Confederacy.

On 17 December 1803, Raghuji Bhonsale II of Nagpur signed the Treaty of Deogaon with the British after the Battle of Laswari and gave up the province of Cuttack including Balasore. On 30 December 1803, the Scindia signed the Treaty of Surji-Anjangaon with the British after the Battle of Assaye and ceded to the British Ganges-Jumna Doab, the Delhi-Agra region, parts of Bundelkhand, Broach, some districts of Gujarat, fort of Ahmmadnagar. Gaekwad of Baroda had already signed a treaty on 29 July 1802. This was 34-year-old Wellesley's first major success, and one that he always held in the highest estimation, even when compared to his later triumphant career. According to anecdotal evidence, in his retirement years, Wellington considered the Battle of Assaye his finest battle—surpassing even his victory at the Battle of Waterloo. On 20 December 1803, General Wellesley, in one of his letters, stated that it was necessary to curb the rising power of Yashwantrao Holkar as he was brave, courageous, and ambitious.

Yashwantrao's success and anxiety in British camp[edit]

Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar wrote letters to different kings to unite and fight against the British. He stated, "First Country, and then Religion. We will have to rise above caste, religion, and our states in the interest of our country. You too must wage a war against the British, like me." His appeal fell on deaf ears, as all of them had already signed treaties with the British.In a letter dated 15 February 1806 to Vyankoji Bhosale of Nagpur he states:

On 4 April, Lake forwarded some intercepted correspondence of Holkar, which he was said to have been carrying on with the other Indian chiefs of Hindustan to forge an alliance against the British. Lord Wellesley needed no fresh argument to justify his war against Holkar.

In a letter to General Wellesley he demanded 1. That the right of Holkar to collect the tribute, as old, should be recognized; 2. That the ancestral claims of the Holkar family in the Doab, and the right to one pargana in Bundelkhand, should be recognized; 3. That the country of Haryana, which formerly belonged to Holkar, should be surrendered; and 4. That the country now in Holkar’s possession should be guaranteed and stated: “Although unable to oppose your artillery in the field, countries of many hundred miles in extent will be overrun and plundered. British shall not have leisure to breathe for a moment; and calamities will fall on the backs of human beings in continual war by the attacks of my army, which overwhelms like the waves of the sea.” [6]

When agents of General Perron visited him with a message, “Jaswantrao pointed to his horse and spear, and directed the men to tell their master that the former at all times afforded him a shade to sleep in, and the latter means of subsistence and that he carried his Kingdom on the saddle of his horse and the dominion of the saddle was still formidable.” [7]

In letter dated 4 March 1804 to Lake he told, “My country and property are upon the saddle of my horse, and please God, to whatever side the reins of the horses of my brave warriors shall be turned, the whole of the country in that direction shall come into my possession. As you are wise and provident, you will consider the consequences of this affair, and employ yourself in settling the important matters which will be explained by my agents.” [8]

Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar defeated the British army, led by Colonel Fawcett, at Kunch, in Budhlekand. On 8 June 1804, the Governor General, in a letter to General Gerard Lake, wrote that the defeat caused a great insult. This would endanger the company rule in India, and hence Yashwantrao Holkar should be defeated as soon as possible.

On 8 July 1804, Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar defeated the army of Colonel Manson and Leukan at Mukundare and Kota. Bapuji Scindia surrendered before Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar. From June till September 1804, he defeated the British at different battles. On 8 October 1804, Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar attacked Delhi to free Mugol Emperor Shah Alam II, who was imprisoned by the British. He attacked the army of Colonel Actorloni and Berne. The battle lasted for a week, but Yashwantrao Holkar could not succeed as General Lake came to help Colonel Actorloni. Assessing the situation, he changed the plan, and postponed it. Admiring his bravery, Mughol Emperor Shah Alam gave him the title of "Maharajadhiraj Raj Rajeshwar Alija Bahadur".

Colonel Marey and Wallace captured Indore and Ujjain on 8 July 1804. On 22 August 1804, Wellesley marched against Holkar from Pune [1], along with Bajirao Peshwa's army. In Mathura Maharaja, Yashwantrao Holkar learned that the British had captured some of his territory; he decided to stay in Mathura and work out a strategy to regain his territory. In a letter dated 11 September 1804 written to Lord Lake, Wellesley said that if Yashwantrao Holkar was not defeated at the earliest, the rest of the Kings of India may unitedly stand against the British.

On 16 November 1804, Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar reached Deeg by defeating the army of Major Frazer. After the death of Major Frazer, Manson took the charge of the British army. The Jat King Ranjit Singh of Bharatpur welcomed him and decided to be with Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar against the British. In Farrukhabad, Lord Lake was a mute spectator, watching Yashwantrao Holkar proceeding towards Deeg; he didn't dare attack Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar. The Governor General was disappointed by this conduct of Lord Lake, and he wrote to him about his disappointment.

Battle of Bharatpur[edit]

Lord Lake attacked Deeg on 13 December 1804 (Battle of Bharatpur); the army of Holkar and Jat resisted successfully and reached the Bharatpur Durg. Lord Lake attacked Bharatpur on 3 January 1805, along with General Manson, Colonel Marey, Colonel Don, Colonel Berne, Major General Jones, General Smith, Colonel Jetland, Setan, and others. The war lasted for three months in Bharatpur and was compared with the Mahabharata war. Many poems on this war were written, praising Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar.

To keep the Indian kings divided, the British declared that they would distribute the territory of Holkars amongst its Indian friends. Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar had become famous throughout India, due to his bravery; however, Amir Khan (Pindari) and Bhawani Shankar Khatri betrayed him. The British gave the Jahagir of Tonk to Amir Khan Pindari, and a Mahal and a Jahagir in Delhi were given to Bhawani Shankar Khatri. Bhawani Shankar Khatri's Haweli, situated in Delhi, is even today referred to as Namak Haram ki Haweli (Traitors House). Daulatrao Scindia decided to help Holkar, but was prevented from doing so by the ill advice of Kamal Nayan Munshi.

Sir P.E. Roberts states that surprisingly, the Jat King Ranjit Singh signed a treaty with the British on 17 April 1805, when they had nearly won the war. Due to this, Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar had to leave Bharatpur.

The failure of General Lake to conquer the fort of Bharatpur shattered the myth of invincibility of British arms, and raised the fears about the revival of Maratha Confederacy against Wellesley’s wars of aggression in India. This came as an anti-climax to Lord Wellesley’s ‘forward policy’. British Prime Minister was therefore constrained to retort that ‘the Marquis had acted most imprudently and illegally, and that he could not be suffered to remain in the government’. Thus Lord Wellesley was recalled.[9]

Attempting to unite the Maratha Confederacy and rest of the Indian kings[edit]

Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar, Daulatrao Scindia, Satara Chattrapati, and Chatarsinh met at Sabalgad. It was decided that, united, they would uproot the British from Indian soil. In September 1805, Holkar and Scindia reached Ajmer. Maharaja Man Singh Rathore sent his army to support them. Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar sent letters to the rest of the kings of India, appealing to them to fight against the British. The King of Jaipur, Bhosale of Nagpur, Ranjit Singh of Punjab, accepted his appeal. When the British learned that Holkar and Scindia were united, they informed Lord Lake to pursue them. On 25 April 1805, Lord Lake replied to Governor General Wellesley and stated that he was unable to pursue them and that Holkar felt great pleasure killing the Europeans; Governor General Wellesley replied that all disputes with Holkar be resolved without any war. The British were worried because of the continuous failure against Holkars. They felt that Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar would drive out the East India Company. Finally, they called back Lord Wellesley and appointed Lord Cornwallis as the Governor General of India. As soon as he came to India, he wrote to Lord Lake on 19 September 1805 and stated that all the territory of Yashwantrao Holkar be returned and that he was ready to make peace with Holkar. Holkar refused to sign any treaty with the British. George Barlow was appointed as Governor General, due to the sudden death of Lord Cornwallis. Barlow immediately tried to divide Holkar and Scindia. The British signed a treaty with Daulatrao Scindia through Kamal Nayan Munshi on 23 November 1805, and in this way, Holkar was left alone to fight with the British.

Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar tried to create an alliance with Raja Bhag Singh of Jindh, Raja Fateh Singh Ahuwalia of Kapurthala, and other Sikh rulers against British; but could not succeed. Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Lahore initially agreed to join Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar, but Maharaja Ranjit Singh's (Lahore, Punjab) letter dated 1 August 1804 addressed to Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar was intercepted by the British at Mathura. As soon as the British learned this, they sent Bagh Singh, uncle of Ranjit Singh, to prevent Ranjit Singh from supporting Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar. The British requested Ranjit Singh to immediately break off all communications with the Maratha.[10] Ranjit Singh and Fateh Singh signed a friendship treaty with the British (The Treaty with Lahore). The agreed draft of this treaty was ready on 17 December 1805. Subsequently, Maharaja Ranjit Singh turned down Holkar's request to fight against the British. Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar cursed him; this curse became a saying in Punjab.

Holkar-British treaty[edit]

Chhatri of Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar at Bhanpura

The British Council told Lord Lake to make peace with Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar at any price, because if they were late and the other kings accept the appeal of Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar, it would be difficult for them to remain in India.

The British commander halted after crossing the boundary-line of Alexander’s conquests and encamped his troops on the banks of the Hyphasis (the Beas) within the reach of the troops of Holkar, where, upwards of two thousand years before, the veterans of the Macedonian conqueror had pitched their tents after the Battle of the Hydaspes where Alexander and his army finally gave in and returned by securing the banks of the river as the borders of his empire and refused to go further into India.[11] Later Chandragupta Maurya had recaptured the Macedonian territories in India. Even Chengis Khan's Mongol invasions of India could not cross this boundary-line and were repulsed by Indians.

He was a man of self-respect. He was the only king in India whom the British approached with an unconditional peace treaty as per the London policy of withdrawal. It was not a Treaty of Subsidiary alliance that the British had entered with others. Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar saw that the rest of the kings were not ready to unite and were interested in personal benefits. He was the last to sign a treaty with the British, on 24 December 1805 at a place called Rajpur Ghat on the bank of Beas River. The treaty was named 'The Treaty of Peace and Amity between the British Government and Yashwantrao Holkar.' The British recognised him as a sovereign king and returned all his territories and possessions, and accepted his dominion over Jaipur, Udaypur, Kota, Bundi, and some Rajput kings. They also accepted that they would not interfere in the matters relating to Holkars. The treaty was duly ratified by the Governor-General George Barlow in Council on 6 January 1806 and later duly amended on 2 Feb 1806 on the Banks of River Ganges Rajghat. (The Treaty of Rajghat)(London policy of withdrawal).[12] Thus he got his demands fulfilled and successfully resolved the disputes with Shinde, Peshwa and the British. The Victorious king reached Indore and started ruling his kingdom by declaring that he had saved his ancestral State. The King of Jodhpur always helped Holkars.

Lord Lake denounced the abandonment of Indian allies by the Company, resigned his post in protest, and returned to England.[13]

In a letter dated March 14, 1806 addressed to Mr. Sherer, Charles Metcalfe, 1st Baron Metcalfe, who witnessed the treaty, states, “But why do I constantly harp upon the character of our Government? I believe it is because I am compelled to feel that we are disgraced; and that Holkar is the prevailing power in Hindostan.” Mr. Metcalfe many years later looking back admitted that the measures adopted by Sir George Barlow were necessitated and it was hardly possible to have followed any other course.[14]

Aftermath[edit]

Maratha State 1805 with dominion over Rajputana

In a letter dated 15 February 1806 to Vyankoji Bhosale of Nagpur he states, “The Maratha state had been grasped by foreigners. To resist their aggression, God knows, how during the last two and a half years I sacrificed everything, fighting night and day, without a moment’s rest. I paid a visit to Daulatrao Sindia and explained to him how necessary it was for all of us to join in averting foreign domination. But Daulatrao failed me. It was mutual cooperation and goodwill which enabled our ancestors to build up, the Maratha states. But now we have all become self-seekers. You wrote to me that you were coming for my support, but you did not make your promise good. If you had advanced into Bengal as was planned, we could have paralyzed the British Government. It is no use of now talking of past things. When I found myself abandoned on all sides, I accepted the offer which the British agents brought to me and concluded the war.”

Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar again tried to unite the Maratha Confederacy and wrote to Daulatrao Scindia about this. However, Scindia gave the information about this letter to British resident Marsor, who appraised the Governor General about this on 12 May 1806. Holkars and Scindias agreed on 11 points on defensive and offensive strategies on 14 November 1807; however, the British once again succeeded to divide Scindias from Holkars.

Finally, Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar decided to fight with the British singlehandedly and drive them out of India. He decided to stay in Bhanpura to gather a large army and manufacture cannons to defeat the British. He was successful in keeping the British out of his state, but he wanted them out of India. He knew that this was impossible without sufficient cannons, so he built a factory to manufacture cannons in Bhanpura. For this reason he is also referred to as the "Father of Modern Indian Army". He worked day and night and manufactured 200 short and long range cannons. He gathered an army of 1 lakh soldiers to attack Calcutta. The stress of the work and the deaths of his nephew Khanderao Holkar on 22 February 1807 at Shahapura and Kashirao Holkar in 1808 at Bijagad lead to a stroke, from which he suddenly died at Bhanpura (Mandsaur, M.P.) on 27 October 1811 (Kartiki Ekadashi) at the age of 35 years. The most probable cause of his death must have been a brain tumor.

His battles were the most remarkable in the History of Indian Wars and the title given to him by the Mughal Emperor gave him a prominent position amongst the rulers of India.[15]

Maharaja Yashwant-Rao Holkar started the first freedom struggle in 1803; he was a gifted military leader. If the Battle of Assaye was Wellesley's first major success, and one that he always held in the highest estimation as his finest battle, surpassing even his victory at the Battle of Waterloo, then the victory at the Battle of Bharatpur undoubtedly makes Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar the Napoleon of India.

Legacy[edit]

Yashwantrao Holkar was the greatest Maharaja of Holkar

He was as clever organizer as he was skillful in war. The various branches of the army were organized on the sound military basis. As a military strategist he ranks among the foremost generals who have ever trod on Indian soil. His heroic achievements shed a noble luster on his military genius, political sagacity and indefatigable industry. He was undoubtedly the greatest and most romantic figure on the stage of Indian history.[16] Yashwant Rao Holkar rose to power from initial nothingness entirely by dint of his personal valour and spirit of adventure. So great was his personality that even in those troublesome times, no state or power could venture to commit aggression on his territory; and this influence kept the Holkar State secure even after his death for some years.

References[edit]

  1. ^ indore4 Raised to the titles Ali Jah, Zubdat ul-Umara, Bahadur ul-Mulk, Farzand-i-Arjmand and Nusrat Jang by the King of Delhi (Akbar Shah II) in 1807
  2. ^ Notes relative to the transactions in the Marhatta empire
  3. ^ a b c d R.C. Majumdar (general editor) and A.D. Pusalker (assistant editor). The History and Culture of the Indian People. Bombay [Mumbai], Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1951.
  4. ^ Notes relative to the transactions in the Marhatta empire : Fort William, Governor General Wellesley. Dec 15, 1803. P. 19, 20
  5. ^ C A Kincaid and D B Parasnis, A history of the Maratha people. Vol III pg 194
  6. ^ Holkar to General Wellesley , Feb. 21, 1804. Malcom 305.
  7. ^ Gulgule, PRC ix. No. 50; Malcolm, i. 220]Jadunath Sarkar, Fall of the Mughal Empire Vol 5 (1789 -1803) pg 158.
  8. ^ Lawrence Dundas Campbell, E. Samuel, The Asiatic annual register, or, A View of the history of Hindustan For the year 1805, London 1807, Volume 7, pg. 264
  9. ^ J. L. Mehta, Advanced study in the history of modern India – 1707-1813. P. 649
  10. ^ The history of British India, Volume 3 By James Mill. p.685
  11. ^ John Capper, The three presidencies. 1853 P. 163
  12. ^ The gentleman's magazine, and historical chronicle, Volume 76, Part 2, p.664
  13. ^ J. L. Mehta, Advanced study in the history of modern India – 1707-1813. P. 652
  14. ^ The life and correspondence of Charles, Lord Metcalfe, Vol 1 p. 208.
  15. ^ Sutherlands Scketches pg 64, Somerset Playne Op. Cit. pg 87
  16. ^ Hemchandra Rai, Flowers of Hindostan, 1932, p.261, 262.

Books[edit]

See also[edit]

Yashwantrao Holkar
Born: December 3, 1776 Died: October 27, 1811
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Khande Rao Holkar
Maharaja of Indore
1807 – 1811
Succeeded by
Malhar Rao Holkar II