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|Meherban Shrimant Sardar Shinde Bahadur (High and Brave Chief of the Shinde)|
Vakil-ul-Mutlaq (Regent of the Empire)
Amir-ul-Umara (Head of the Amirs)
Udaipur Diwan Saheb (Regent of Udaipur State)
|6th Maratha Maharaja of Ujjain|
|Reign||18 January 1768 — 12 February 1794|
|Coronation||18 January 1768|
|Predecessor||Manaji Rao Shinde|
|Successor||Daulat Rao Shinde|
|Died||12 February 1794 (aged 64)|
Wanawadi, Pune, Maratha Empire (present-day Maharashtra, India)
Daulat Rao Shinde (grand-nephew)
|Father||Ranoji Rao Shinde|
Mahadaji Shinde (b.1730 – 12 February 1794) also spelled as Mahadji Scindia was a Maratha Statesman and ruler of Ujjain in Central India. He was the fifth and the youngest son of Ranoji Rao Scindia, the founder of the Scindia dynasty.
The Maratha Resurrection in North India
Mahadaji was instrumental in resurrecting Maratha power in North India after the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761, and rose to become a trusted lieutenant of the Peshwa, leader of the Maratha Empire. Along with Madhavrao I and Nana Fadnavis, he was one of the three pillars of Maratha Resurrection. During his reign, Gwalior became the leading state in the Maratha Empire and one of the foremost military powers in India. After accompanying Shah Alam II in 1771 to Delhi, he restored the Mughals in Delhi and became the Vakil-ul-Mutlaq (Regent of the Empire)'. Mahadji Shinde's principal Advisors were all Shenvis.
He annihilated the power of Jats of Mathura and during 1772-73 he destroyed the power of Pashtun Rohillas in Rohilkhand and captured Najibabad. His role during the First Anglo-Maratha War was greatest from the Maratha side since he humbled the British in the Battle of Wadgaon which resulted in the Treaty of Wadgaon and then again in Central India, single handed, which resulted in the Treaty of Salbai in 1782, where he mediated between the Peshwa and the British. In 1782, Mahadaji Shinde, fought and defeated Timur Shah Durrani who had attacked Lahore to gain it back from the Sikhs. The Maratha force under Mahadaji Shinde confronted his Afghan army and swiftly defeated and then routed them. After defeating the Afghans, Mahadji Shinde and the Marathas successfully brought back three silver gates taken from Somnath Temple which were stored in Lahore. He brought them back to Somnath but the priests of Gujarat refused to accept them and place them back on Somnath Temple so he decided that these silver gates were to be placed in the temples of Ujjain instead. Today, they can be seen in two temples of Madhya Pradesh, Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, and Gopal Mandir of Ujjain. In 1787, Mahadji attempted to invade Rajputana but he was repulsed by the Rajput armies at Lalsot. In 1790, he successfully defeated the Rajput kingdoms of Jodhpur and Jaipur in the battles of Patan and Merta.
Treaty of Salbai
After the British defeat, Hastings through Murre proposed a new treaty, known as the Treaty of Salbai, between the Peshwa and the British that would recognize Sawai Madhavrao as the Peshwa and grant Raghunath Rao a pension. The treaty also returned to Shinde all his territories west of the Yamuna and so was made to withdraw to Ujjain. A resident, Mr. David Anderson (1750-1825), of St. Germains (who had negotiated the treaty) was at the same time appointed to Mahadji's court.
After the Treaty of Salbai in 1782, he invaded and overpowered the Rajput states, particularly Jodhpur and Jaipur through the Battle of Patan and the Battle of Merta. Mahadji also ruled the Punjab and the Sikh sardars and other Rajas of the Sutlej region paid tributes to him.
In 1788, Ismail beg, an Uighur who served as a general in the Mughal army along with a few hundred Mughal and Rohilla troops led a revolt against the Maratha Empire, the major power which dominated North India at the time. The reason for this revolt is unknown but most suspect that he was trying to bring the Mughals glory back to North India and depose the Marathas. However the revolt was crushed when Ismail Beg along with his soldiers was destroyed and killed by Mahadji Scindia's armies. After his death, a Rohilla chief named Ghulam Kadir and an ally of Isma'il Beg, took over Delhi, capital of the Mughal dynasty and deposed and blinded the Mughal emperor Shah Alam II, placing a puppet on the Delhi throne. However on October 2nd 1788, Mahadji Scindia, upon hearing this news, quickly assembled his army and recaptured Delhi, killing Ghulam Kadir and restoring Shah Alam II to the throne and acting as his protector.
Another achievement of Mahadji was his victory over the Nizam of Hyderabad's army in a battle. The Nizam state ceased to be a factor in the north Indian politics after this battle and it generally confined itself in the Deccan afterwards. After the peace made with Tipu Sultan of Mysore in 1792, Mahadji exerted his influence to prevent the completion of a treaty between the British, the Nizam of Hyderabad, and the Peshwa, directed against Tipu.
Death and legacy
After the Battle of Lakheri, Mahadji was now at the zenith of his power, when he died, at his camp at Wanavdi near Pune on 12 February 1794. He left no heir, and was succeeded by Daulat Rao Scindia.
Keeney, the English biographer of Mahadaji Shinde, has described Mahadaji as the greatest man in South Asia in the 18th century. Mahadaji Shinde's role was instrumental in establishing Maratha supremacy over North India.
Shinde Chhatri, located in Wanawadi, in Pune is a memorial dedicated to Mahadji Shinde. It is a hall that marks the spot of Mahadji Shinde's cremation on 12 February 1794. The three storied memorial in Rajput architectural style, is one of the most significant landmarks in the city.
In popular culture
- In 1994, a TV series named The Great Maratha aired on DD National based on the life of Mahadaji Shinde. Shahbaz Khan portrayed the character of Mahadji Shinde.
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