There was a time when almost all of India was a part of the Great Maratha Empire. From South to North and from East to West everywhere the Marathas dominated. While the origins of Maratha Empire date back to Shivaji’s times, it was actually Balaji Vishwanath who saved the Maratha Empire and laid such a strong foundation that it continued to grow for almost another century.
Strong financial system is always required for a strong build of any empire. By employing talented men he ensured the management of financial interests of the empire which continued in the coming generations. He was the one who had the idea to extend the empire beyond the Swarajya concept. Later with his son and grandsons including the Great Peshwas Bajirao and Bajirao Balaji would conquer to strengthen the empire.
Jaswant Lal Mehta in his book Advanced Study in the History of Modern India 1707-1813 has described Balaji Vishwanath as a self made man who made name for himself through his hard work and good fortune. He has also mentioned that Balaji Vishwanath was not one of the greatest warriors/soldiers and some said that he couldn’t even ride a horse easily yet managed to become the commander in chief.
Maratha history would not be considered as complete without referring to the role of Balaji Vishwanath. Had he not dared during those difficult times, the Maratha Empire would not have been so large that to rule the nation and may be the third battle of Panipat would have never happened although he had no role to play in that.
Maratha history has had many great heroes that one can research about or read about to learn and improve oneself.
Such was the greatness of the Balaji Vishwanath that he convinced warriors like Kanhoji Angre (also known as Samudratla Shivaji – Shivaji of the Seas) to join hands with Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj. Had Balaji Vishwanath’s support not been with Shahuji, it would not have been easy for the latter to rule for so many years with prosperity.
It was Balaji Vishwanath who brought the capital from Satara to Pune. Such was the loyalty of Balaji and trust of Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj in Balaji Vishwanath that he almost became the ruler of the Maratha Empire. Not only did he managed to get the greatest leaders in his side but also strengthened the financial system.
When Tara Bai had revolted, the Mughals set Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj free to see the Maratha set up decline. Had Balaji Vishwanath not been there, it would have been difficult for the Marathas despite their strong feelings for independence and Swaraj. Not only did he make the people believe in Chhatrapati but also made them feel important for the country.
Maratha history has umpteen great heroes that contributed to the national history overall however less discussed despite that fact that every history has them. People and especially children should be taught how these people became great men out of nothing. How bravery is achieved through mind games. For example Nana Phadnis (also pronounced Phadnavis) was not the greatest warrior yet was almost the controller of Maratha Empire at one time. We will discuss about Nana Phadnis some other time.
Author - Archit
लाभस्तेषां जयस्तेषां कुतस्तेषां पराजयः I येषामिन्दीवरश्यामो हृदयस्थो जनार्दनः II