Chatrapati Rajaram Bhosale was the youngest son
of Shivaji. He was born in 1661 at Fort Raigad.
When his elder (half) brother, Sambhaji, was
executed by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, Rajaram was under house
arrest (on the orders of his brother, after his mother Soyrabai had
tried an unsuccessful coup attempt against Sambhaji). However, after
Sambhaji's execution, the Marathas felt the need for unifying their
ranks against the Mughals.
After the coronation of her infant son
Shahuji as the next king, Sambhaji's widow Yesubai ordered the
immediate release of Rajaram. She also magnanimously requested that
Rajaram be made regent.
In 1689, a traitor by the name of Suryaji
Pisal, who was the killedar of Fort Raigad, surrendered the fort
(along with Queen Yesubai and the infant king Shahu) to the Mughals.
Rajaram was then at Fort Vishalgadh.
With both the queen mother and the young
king being taken away as captives by the Mughals, the Maratha
ministers (such as Ramchandrapant Bavdekar, Prahlad Niraji, Khando
Ballal Chitnis, Hanmante, etc) felt the need for an immediate
succession in order to fill the leadership vacuum. Rajaram was soon
declared the next king in 1681.
Rajaram has been described as a person
with a congenial demeanour, someone who was flexible in his approach
and accommodating towards one and all. He wasn't a warrior in the
real sense like his predecessors, but was able to evoke the loyalty
of his men.
Rajaram was married to Jankibai, the daughter of
Prataprao Gujar. His second wife was Tarabai, the daughter of
Hambirao Mohite, and thirdly he married Rajabai, from the family
of Ghatges of Kagal.
Rajaram's resistance to the Mughals was carried
forward by his two commanders, Santaji Ghorpade and Dhanaji Jadhav.
On one occasion in 1689, Santaji even conducted a daring raid into
the Mughal camp at Tulapur, where Aurangzeb himself was staying.
Aurangzeb managed to escape with his life.
Rajaram, shown in this print from the museum in the New Palace,
September 1689: the Mughal commander,
Sheikh Nizam, was routed by Santaji Dhanaji at Fort Panhala.
25 May 1690: Sarzakhan, also known as
Rustamkhan, was defeated and captured by Ramchandrapant, Santaji,
and Dhanaji at Satara.
1692: Rajgad (led by Shankar Narayan
Gandekar), Panhala (led by Parshuram Trimbak) was recaptured
by the Marathas.
8 October 1692: Dharwad in Karnataka
was captured by Santaji Dhanaji.
14 December 1692: Santaji defeated
Alimardan Khan and took him captive to Jinji.
9 January 1693: Santaji defeats and
captures Ismailkhan Makha, Janisaar Khan for ransom.
5 January 1693: the Mughal camp at Desur
was looted by Santaji Dhanaji.
21 November 1693: Santaji defeats
Fort Panhala was the scene of the route of the Mughal army
1693: Sidhoji Gujar, the sarkhel
(naval admiral), captured the naval forts of Suvarnadurg and
1693: Vishalgad was retaken by Parshuram
July 1695: Santaji traps the Mughal army
20 November 1695: Qasim Khan is killed
by Santaji at Doderi.
1699: Parsoji Bhosale of Nagpur, Haibatrao
Nimbalkar, Nemaji Shinde, and Atole, along with Rajaram, overwhelmed
the Mughal force at Godavari Valley. Dhanaji Jadhav defeated a Mughal
contingent at Pandharpur. Shankar Narayan cleared another contingent
led by one Sarzekhan near Pune.
Fort Raigad, birthplace of Chatrapati Rajaram Bhosale,
was handed over to the Mughals by its commander, or
killedar as his rank was known by the Marathas
 After Sidhoji Gujar, the mantle
of sarkhel was passed on to the famous Kanhoji Angre.
Later Santaji fell out with Rajaram and Dhanaji, and was murdered
in July 1697, by a man named Nagoji Mane, who bore a grudge against
Santaji. (It is rumoured that Nagoji Mane murdered Santaji on the
behest of Dhanaji Jadhav, who had fallen out with Santaji Ghorpade.)
Following were Rajaram's ministers: Nilo Pant Pingale
(son of Moropant Pingale) the Peshwa or finance minister, Janardhan
Hanmante (son of Raghunath Hanmante ex-governor Jinji) the Amatya or
finance minister, Ramchandra Bavdekar, the viceroy of Maharashtra,
Shankar Malhar Nargundkar was the Pant Sachiv or accountant general,
Shamji Pinde was the Mantri or home minister, Shrikaracharya Kalgavkar
was the Panditrao or chief priest, Mahadji Gadadhar was the Sumant or
foreign minister, Niraji Ravji was Sarnyayadhish or chief justice,
Santaji Ghorpade (later Dhanaji Jadhav) was the Sarsenapati or army
commander in chief, Parsoji Bhoosale became governor of Berar, Nemaji
Shinde the governor of Khandesh, and finally Khanderao Dabhade, the
governor of Nasik.
Aurangzeb was determined to crush the Maratha resistance.
To achieve this, he had himself encamped in the Deccan with a huge force.
Due to continuous Mughal onslaughts, Rajaram escaped in 1689, to Jinji
in Tamil Nadu (a fort captured early by Shivaji). From there he
continued with the Maratha struggle until the fall of Jinji in 1698.
Rajaram managed to escape the clutches of the Mughals led by Zulfikar
But his life was cut short because of illness in 1700.
He died at Fort Sinhagadh, near Pune.
Yesubai Sambhaji, one of the wives of Sambhaji who was captured
along with her son, the new king, in 1689
Rajaram left behind two sons and one daughter,
Shivaji by Tarabai, Sambhaji by Rajasabai, and the daughter, Soyrabai,
by Jankibai. His youngest wife, Ambikabai, whose only daughter had
died, became a Sati. There was also said to be an illegitimate son,
Raja Karna (from a mistress named Sagunabai).
The war continues
Rajaram's feisty wife Tarabai took over the reins
of the Maratha army and continued the resistance against Aurangzeb,
until the release of Shahu (the son of Sambhaji and Rajaram's nephew)
from Mughal prison. What followed was a brief power struggle for
Maratha leadership between Tarabai and Shahu, which was eventually
won by Shahu.
Shahu was declared king with Satara as his capital.
Bendre, W S and Patil, Vishwas - Works on
Duff, James Grant - History of the
Mahrattas, Associated Publishing House, New Delhi, 1971
Kincaid G A - A History of the
Maratha People, Oxford University Press, London, 1918