Mastani would have remained as an unheard princess in the history books. The name ‘Mastani’ rings a bell with people who know about the courageous and charismatic Peshwa Bajirao I.
Queen Mastani – Early Life
Mastani was of royal lineage. She was said to be the daughter of Bundelkhand’s king, Chatrasal. Her mom was said to be a Muslim who was not married to the King Chatrasal as per Hindu rituals. Nonetheless, Mastani grew up every bit of a Princess who learnt how to battle, ride horse, dance and sing. Her hometown was a village called Mau Sahaniya in the present day Madhya Pradesh. Mastani was born around 1699 AD.
Queen Mastani – Marriage with Maratha Peshwa Bajirao I
Mastani met Peshwa Bajirao I at his Bundelkhand campaign and instantly grew fond of him to which the Peshwa reciprocated. They soon became inseparable and Mastani moved to Pune to ‘his house’. Unfortunately, family of Peshwa Bajirao I was enraged that Mastani intended to take Kashibai’s place in Bajirao’s life. They had one more reason- Mastani was half Muslim which meant they were ridiculed by the conventional Brahmin priests who boycotted the family.
Mastani was very dear to Bajirao. Many historians say that Mastani did not come empty handed to Pune but brought huge wealth in the form of cash, gems, precious stones etc to Pune which helped the Bhat family in their time of financial crisis. Although they accepted King Chatrasal’s gesture with open arms, they closed their hearts to his daughter Mastani.
Helpless and saddened, Bajirao had to make separate living arrangements for Mastani to protect her from his family’s wrath. Amidst attempts of murder from Bajirao’s family, Mastani continued getting close to Bajirao. Bajirao started putting Mastani ahead of his family. Together they were blessed with a baby boy who was named as Krishnarao; however, the baby was rejected by Brahmin community and Bajirao decided to bring up the boy in Muslim faith by calling him Shamsher Bahadur.
Shamsher Bahadur – Son of Queen Mastani and Peshwa Bajirao I
Shamsher was given the Bandh province by his father Bajirao I. After Mastani and Bajirao I deid he was taken into the Bhat family house in Pune where Kashibai cared for him and helped him to refine his war skills. Later on Shamsher Bahadur fought to defend Maratha Kingdom against Mughals.
Death of Queen Mastani
Mastani’s history is stuck in doubts because historians feel that her life was not documented purposefully. As per many historians, the Bhat family did not want Mastani’s name in their records. Despite of all the hatred, Bajirao and Mastani remained utterly fond of each other.
In 1740 on his way to Delhi, Bajirao was struck with illness that became fatal. He had halted in Khargone where his health deteriorated. On the other hand it is said that Mastani was prisoned by Kashibai’s son Nanasahib, in Pune. It is widely believed that Mastani died of shock upon hearing Bajirao’s death news. However, few historians argue that Mastani joined Kashibai in Khargone for Bajirao’s funeral and took her life in the sacrificial pyre (Sati) which led to her death.