Pilaji Rao Gaekwad
Pilaji was the eldest son of Jhingojirao Kerojirao Gaekwad. He was adopted by his uncle Damaji I Gaekwad (died 1721), who had been given the hereditary title of Shamsher Bahadur by Chhattrapati Shahu for bravery in a battle.
In Dabhade service
The Gaekwads were originally lieutenants of the Dabhade family, the Maratha chiefs of Gujarat and holders of the senapati (commander-in-chief) title. Pilaji was a mutalik (deputy) of Trimbak Rao Dabhade. When Trimbak Rao was killed for rebelling against the Maratha Peshwa in 1731, his minor son Yashwant Rao Dabhade was appointed as the senapati. The Peshwa allowed the Dabhades to retain their territories in Gujarat, on the condition that they would remit half of their revenues to the Maratha Chhatrapati's treasury. Pilaji continued to serve Yashwant Rao, and was granted the title Sena Khas Khel by the Peshwa in addition to Shamsher Bahadur. Since Yashwant Rao was a minor, Pilaji was responsible for collecting the revenues from Gujarat.
Pilaji was assassinated on 14 May 1732 in Dakor by emissaries of Abhay Singh, the Mughal governor of Gujarat. He was cremated in Saavli village, which lies on the Baroda-Dakor road. He was succeeded by his son Damaji Rao (also known as Damaji II). Damaji fought against Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao when the Dabhades rebelled against the Peshwa. He was defeated and arrested, but later, the Peshwa appointed him as the Marath chief of Gujarat, replacing the Dabhades. Pilaji's descendants thus ruled Gujarat in form of the Gaekwad dynasty.
- "Baroda State: History". Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 7. Oxford, Clarendon Press. 1908. p. 31.
- Roper Lethbridge (1893). The Golden Book of India. Macmillan. p. 57.
- James M. Campbell, ed. (1885). Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, Volume 19 - Satara. Bombay: Government Central Press. p. 274-276.
- Charles Augustus Kincaid and Dattatray Balwant Parasnis (1918). A History of the Maratha People Volume 3. Oxford University Press. pp. 2–10.
- Genealogy of princely states of Baroda at Queensland University
- Detailed history and genealogy of Baroda state Royalark
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