Royal affairs have always fascinated writers, historians, poets and filmmakers. From Tristan and isolde to salim and anarkali, forbidden romances became a inspiring subject for operas, plays, television serials and movies. Among all love stories, the tragic love story of peshwa bajirao and mastani gets a special attention in pages of history. Soaked in tears and blood, this love story of maratha warrior bajirao also faced severe heart breaking opposition from his family and society. The valour of shrimant peshwa bajirao was so great that even foreigners respected him for his courage, intelligence, knowledge and strategic warfare. No less than Napoleon Bonaparte and Alexander, peshwa bajirao fought and won 41 battles, conquering many territories for maratha empire. Even though shahu maharaj was the titular ruler, the real power and administration was in the hands of peshwa bajirao.
Bajirao was a epitome of courage and inspiring symbol for marathas until mastani came in his life. Bajirao was at the peak of his career when a request for help came from king chattrasal of bundelkhand. Bajirao marched with his troops to bundelkhand and liberated the land by defeating Mohammed Khan bangash in 1729. Bajirao stayed in bundelkhand as a guest of raja chattrasal and this is where his eyes met mastani. Mastani was the daughter of chattrasal and ruhanibai. A princess of rajput clan, mastani was a skilled dancer, singer and well expert in horse riding, sword fighting and spear throwing. Their series of meetings developed in love and this romance ironically was the start of downfall of bajirao’s supremacy.
Bajirao was already married to kashibai and had two children – nanasaheb and raghunath. Though he took mastani with him to shaniwarwada, the royal palace of peshwas, bajirao was well aware that his relationship with mastani will never be accepted. His instincts were true. Mastani’s arrival in shaniwarwada sparked a controversy, labelling her as a mistress of bajirao. The dark phase of stress had already begun in bajirao’s life when he was constantly kept away from mastani. Bajirao’s mother radhabai strongly opposed mastani and never accepted her relationship with peshwa. Even bajirao’ brother chimaji appa severely criticized bajirao for this act.
To make matters worse, murderous attacks were made on mastani and her child, but it was bajirao who protected her from these attacks.
The valiant bajirao was a heart broken man who couldn’t do anything for his beloved love and his new born child – shamsher.
Death of bajirao and mastani – according to legends, the separation of mastani had already started affecting the health of bajirao – both physically and mentally. The strains of battlefields and emotional stress were bringing bajrangi close to his end. During one of his tour to khargaon, bajirao suffered heat stroke and was confined to bed due to fever. Bajirao breathed his last in April 1740, hoping for the last glimpse of his beloved – mastani. The news of bajirao’s death was a shocking blow on mastani who was now imprisoned in chains on orders of nanasaheb , the elder son of bajirao. As per historical sources and documents, mastani committed suicide by drinking poison. Some historians even tell that mastani died by jumping in the funeral pyre of peshwa bajirao. Thus ended the tragic romance of bajirao and mastani which was never approved by society. No matter how infamous their love was, bajirao and mastani will be remembered forever.
Adaptation – the tragic love story of bajirao and mastani was a inspiration for the Marathi writer n.s. inamdar who wrote the popular novel – Rau. The new movie bajirao-mastani directed by sanjay leela bhansali is based on bajirao and mastani.
Had bajirao not met mastani, the history would have been different. His affection for mastani became his unforgiving flaw which he repented by his untimely tragic death. Mastani lived only to be opposed, criticized and scorned because she belonged to other religion. Sadly, if the world had realized that love is above religion, caste and custom, then there wouldn’t have been honour killings and the lovers wouldn’t had to commit suicide.
Love lives forever.