The seeds of mistrust and rift, sown during Gopikabai's time (Refer to my post on Gopikabai), came to fruition and a quagmire of doubt, one up man ship and evil deeds spread like fire in the Shaniwarwada.
Who was Anandibai?
Till today she remains an unsolved puzzle in History. She has been much maligned and so many questions remain unanswered that even today, she, for me is a beautiful, formidable, courageous, mystery.
The cause of the descent, of the glory of the Peshwas, was largely attributed to her. Was this lady so ambitious and aspiring? Was conspiracy and deceit really in her blood? Could she have taken such drastic measures to take away the title of Peshwa from Nanasaheb's descendants?
The second wife of Raghunath rao (Younger brother of Nanasaheb Peshwa). Infamous for her hand in the murder of her nephew Narayan Rao Peshwa in 1773.
The mystery remains whether Anandibai changed the orders from Arrest to Kill ( धरा चा मारा ), or as is popularly known ( ध चा मा ). No historian or any record has been able to pinpoint this till date.
I have tried to understand and discover this complex woman through this post and I cannot help feeling that maybe she was wronged.
Let us go back in time to the period between 1755 and 1773 and try to understand the political and familial scenario being unfolded.
As was the custom, in those days if a girl remained unmarried past the age of 8 years, she was married to a widower. Anandibai was 9 years old when she was married to Raghunath rao who was 13years older than her. Her paternal side was the Oak family and she was very proud of that.
Anandibai was fair and beautiful and she was also adept at getting her way through frank and sweet talk.
After Nanasaheb's demise his son Madhav rao became the next Peshwa. He was 16 years old. As was the custom and diktat of Shahu Maharaj, the descendant of the ruling Peshwa would take over the throne.
Raghunath rao harboured thoughts of usurping the title and when this did not materialise, he started plotting and created a rift in the Peshwa household.
As Madhav rao was young Raghunath rao started taking undue advantage in the administration but he had not anticipated the strength and intelligence of Madhav rao.
Unwittingly,Anandibai upheld the ambitions of Raghunath rao alias Raghoba dada and this alienated her from the Peshwa household.
Two sons and a daughter were born to Anandibai and Raghoba dada but neither of the sons survived.
Raghunath rao was 41 years old then and wanted an heir, in the mischance of becoming a Peshwa.
He was so hell bent on this that without paying any heed to Anandibai or Madhav rao saheb he adopted a son Amrutrao from the Bhuskute family at Nashik in 1768. Immediately after, he demanded half the kingdom from Madhavrao.
Fed up of his continued discrepancies and to teach him a lesson, Madhavrao confiscated all the palaces and properties of Raghunath rao, leaving only Anandvalli near Nashik for Anandibai and Raghunath rao.
They were placed under House arrest in Shaniwarwada.
Anandibai who had entered the Peshwa household in splendour, was forced to live a life under arrest, due to the capricious, hypocritical, selfish and mercurial personality of her husband.
She did not interfere with any of Raghunath rao's political manouveres. Madhav rao was well aware of this and always treated her with great respect and Anandibai too had immense faith her nephews governance.
She was completely disheartened with Raghunath rao's attitude. He on the other hand started neglecting his duties and immersed himself in pleasures and had nemerous mistresses.
As beautiful and charming as she was her love for jewellery and rich attire is legendary. She is known to have owned 32 kinds of exquisite jewellery and her नवं वारी or nine yard sarees were enmeshed with pure gold and silver.
All this affluence came to an inglorious end due to Raghunath rao's treatises.
A woman so proud of the Peshwa dynasty was named as being the one who abetted in the murder of Narayan rao Peshwa.
Thus began her downfall when Raghunath rao plotted and schemed against his own nephew. Shunned from Shaniwarwada, she kept moving from place to place with her husband. Dhar, Mandaleshwar, Burhanpur, Jhansi, Surat, Varli and Kopargaon. Her flight and plight were endless. It was during this period that Bajirao 2 and Chimnaji were born to her.
Her last stay was in Kopargaon where she lived with her two sons and daughters in law, after the demise of Raghunath rao, still under house arrest.
Her one aim was to see that her sons were given the education and training befitting young princes. They were well looked after but her constant grouse was that Bajirao2 and Chimnaji were purposely neglected. Sadly for her Bajirao2 did not live up to the name of his ancestor. This indeed was a huge blow for her.
Anandibai had two idols to look up to one was her husband Raghunath rao, who inspite of his contradictory personality, was a very brave warrior and the other was the title 'Peshwa'. Destiny though played a different hand in her life.
Was she the woman wronged or was the political turmoil between 1773 to 1797 the reason behind her change, from a woman who only had her husband and children's welfare at heart to a woman who eventually went against the Peshwa.
My next post will explore this and the period of the emergence of the Barbhai Politics at Shaniwarwada.