Maratha expeditions in Bengal
|Expeditions in Bengal|
|Part of Imperial Maratha Conquests|
|Maratha Empire||Nawab of Bengal|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Raghuji Bhosle||Alivardi Khan|
The Expeditions in Bengal was taken by the Maratha Empire after the successful campaign in Carnatic at the Battle of Trichinopolly. The leader of the expedition was Maratha Maharaja Raghuji of Nagpur. Raghoji was able to annex Orissa permanently as he successfully exploited the chaotic conditions prevailing in the region after the death of their Governor Murshid Quli Khan in 1727.
Death of the Governor of Bengal
In 1727, Murshid Quli Khan, the Governor of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa died. His successor Sarfaraz Khan was killed by an ambitious Turk in his service in 1740, and the post of Nawab thus went to the usurper known as Aliwardi Khan. This most unworthy act of Alivardi was detested by one Mir Habib, a loyal servant of the late Nawab. Mir Habib, who had risen to the position of deputy of Nawab by the dint of his merit, resolved to overthrow his new treacherous master and for the accomplishment of his object sought Raghuji's aid. This was an excellent opportunity for Raghuji, who was eager to expand into Subhas of Cuttack, Patna and Murshidabad.
Expedition of Bengal
From 1741 to 1748, Raghuji carried in all six expeditions to these regions; popularly known as Bengal expeditions. The first one in 1741, as also the third in 1744, were led by Raghuji's general Bhaskar Ram Kolhatkar. The second in 1742 and the fourth in 1745 were led by Raghuji himself. The fifth in 1747 and the sixth in 1748 were undertaken by Janoji and Sabaji respectively. Alivardi Khan made peace with Raghuji in 1751 ceding in perpetuity Katak up to the river Suvarnarekha, and agreeing to pay Rs. 12 lacs of tribute annually in lieu of the Chauth of Bengal and Bihar.
The net result of these campaigns is seen in the treaty concluded between Alivardi, the Nawab of Bengal, and Raghuji in 1751. The terms of which are as follows:
- Mir Habib was to be confirmed in the Government of Orissa as the deputy Subhedar of Murshidabad.
- The Nawab of Bengal was to pay annually Rs. 12 lacs to the Bhonsles in lieu of the Chauth of Bengal and Bihar.
- So long as this amount (Rs. 12 lacs) was regularly paid, the Bhonsles were not to harass the provinces of Bengal and Bihar.
- The district of Katak i.e., the territory up to the river Suvarna-Rekha was to be considered as the possession of the Bhonsles.
The smaller states of Raipur, Ratanpur, Bilaspur and Sambalpur belonging to Chhattisgad territory were conquered by Bhaskar Ram, and were placed in charge of Mohan Singh, the illegitimate son of Raghuji. Towards the end of his career, Raghuji was the master of the whole of Berar; the Gond kingdoms of Devgad including Nagpur, Gadha-Mandla and Chandrapur; the Subha of Katak; and the smaller states spreading between Nagpur and Katak. Very few Maratha noblemen had such a vast territory under them.
- SNHM. Vol. II, pp. 209, 224.
- "Forgotten Indian history: The brutal Maratha invasions of Bengal".
- OUM. pp. 16, 17