His father was a very powerful noble who was made responsible for the maintenance and expansion of a considerable part of a powerful kingdom. He had four brothers and his father died after a long life of repute. His father’s life was entwined before another noble, who was equally powerful but of a vastly inferior caste and family of origin. Though he is illegitimate, he was treated as another of the brother and received all love and military training from his siblings. The eldest of his brothers, who became the head of his clan, is assassinated in some political machinations. Due to the betrayal of a principal noble of an ally, he lost two brothers including the current regent of the clan. His nephew, the head of the clan was injured in the fight. In anger over his brother’s death, a grand army was sent to avenge his death. In the battle that followed, his surviving brother was killed and his nephew was captured. Because the same noble found about his nephew’s capture, his nephew, a boy of seventeen years was buried alive. Even the person in question, he was seriously injured and was assumed dead. He is considered to be one of the top 29 who died in the battle along with his brother and his nephew. He got a permanent limp because of the injuries and with none left in the family, he had to take up the mantle not just of his family, but of the fortunes of the kingdom in his theatre. He lost everyone he loved – all his brothers, his nephew and the head of his clan, all because of one person. Added to that, he lost his suzerains, many of his friends in a single carnage. His trauma is clearly visible from the fact that he overfondled one of his brother’s grandson which made him not a great ruler and one of the reasons for the collapse of the mighty empire they represented. He was just 30 when the battle happened. What will a person do if he is in such a situation? Can his act be rational?

This is the story of the great Mahadji Shinde, the upholder of the Maratha flag in North India. After what Najib-ud-Daulah did to his family, he hurled himself against Najib-ud-Daulah continuously. In 1768, Ganga Yamuna Doab was surrendered to the Marathas. He lost independence literally the day he joined the Marathas to bring down Rahmat Khan, the Nawab of Rohillakhand. It looks like Mahadji Shinde was not able to lay his hands on Najib before his death in 1770. His son, Zabita Khan, first lost Delhi in 1771 and then his capital Najibabad in 1772. The loot of Panipat is recovered and may be, something broke in Mahadji Shinde and he got Najib-ud-Daulah’s grave dug and the bones were thrown away with contempt.

Such an exalted person, one of the foremost of the rulers in India, disregarding all social decencies and throwing away the bones of a dead in a dustbin, one can only guess the level of personal torment he faced and the scars he carried, both physical and mental all his life. Was this anger the reason for how Daulat Rao Shinde turned out? Had he been given concentrated training in  governance and military art, India would have been far different.

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