What was the results of Third Battle of Panipat?


Viswas Rao, the eldest son of Peshwa Balaji Baji fell at Panipat in January 1761. The total loss of the Marathas may be put at more than a lakh; among the slain were Sadasiva Rao Bhau, the hero of Udgir. The booty taken by the Afghans was beyond calculation.

However, authors like Sardesai believe that it is a popular mistake of long standing to suppose that the third battle of Panipat destroyed the Maratha power in the North or that it essentially shook the Maratha Empire in India. Notwithstanding the terrible losses in men and material the disaster decided nothing. Muhammad Shah Abdali did not gain much from the victory over the Marathas; soon after the battle the Maratha power began to prosper again. Mahadji Syndhias occupied Delhi in 1788. The supremacy of the Marathas in the North collapsed only with occupation of Delhi by the British in 1803.

But J.N. Sarkar believes differently. According to him, “In South India, Panipat undid what had been done at Udgir and opened Mysore to Hyder Ali’s successful ambition. The Peshwa no longer enjoyed that ascendancy which Baji Rao and Balaji Baji Rao had established. The Peshwa ceased to be an effective factor so far as the remnant of the Maratha Empire in the North was concerned.” Still it must be said that the Marathas continued to be a power to be reckoned with in all affairs in the India at least until the opening of the 19th century. Their revival after the third battle of Panipat was remarkable, but of course at a diminishing degree.


Immediately after the defeat at Panipat Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao breathed his last on 23rd June 1761 and was succeeded by his second son Madhava Rao I (1701-72). The Peshwaship of Madhava Rao saw a signal recovery of Maratha Imperial power both in the North and South of the Vindhyas.

Raghunath Rao, the paternal uncle of Madhava Rao had an eye on the Peshwaship. Soon bitter quarrels began to take shape between uncle and nephew. Exploiting this Opportunity to the full, Nizam Ali invaded Maharashtra and besieged Poona. The Maratha forces defeated him at Uruli near Poona and secured territories worth 40 lakhs.

Soon after his return to Hyderabad, Nizam Ali dethroned his brother Salabat Jung and Became the Nizam. Within a short span of over a decade the Peshwa established his authority from Delhi in the north to Mysore in the south. Haider Ali whose military power was a terror to British generals was defeated in all the campaigns led against him by Madhava Rao. He also suppressed all the internal revolts led by his uncle Raghunath Rao.

Nizam Ali, the de facto ruler of Hyderabad made a final bid to reverse the consequenci of the battle of Udgir. He marched towards Poona with about 60,000 troops but the Marathas won a decisive victory over him in the battle of Rakshabhavan in August 1763.


By the treaty signed after the battle Nizam Ali agreed to make large territorial sessions. This agreement remained in effect until the battle of Kharda in 1795 between Poona and Hyderabad. The battle of Rakshabhavan so shattered all hopes in the mind of Nizam that he never did venture to attack the Marathas again this victory was a glorious event in the history of Marathas as it was the first manifestation of the revival of the Marathas after their disaster at Panipat in 1761.

Haider Ali, after having strengthened his position in Mysore, threatened the Marathas in the Krishna-Tungabhadra region. Peshwa Madhava Rao sent a few expeditions to counter Haider which proclaimed to the outside world the supremacy of the Marathas in the South. But an unavoidable calamity overtook the Marathas; the young ruler died a natural death on 18th November 1772. His premature death, in the words of Grant Duff, was more fatal to the Maratha Empire than the Third Battle of Panipat.

Madhava Rao was succeeded by Narayan Rao, an “immature fickle” of seventeen. Raghunath Rao incessantly continued his struggle for the Peshwaship and opposed Narayan Rao at all levels. Eventually Narayan Rao was murdered on 30 August 1773 at the instigation of Raghunath and the latter assumed the Peshwaship shortly after. He led his forces to Bidar in November 1773 and made a treaty of friendship with the Nizam.

Meanwhile a plot to dislodge Raghunath was organised by Sakharam Bapu and Nana Fadnavis. They formed a clique called the “Council of the Barbhais” which secured a proclamation issued by the Chhatrapati to the effect that Raghunath had been dethroned. Raghunath’s Peshwaship came to a close when a son was born to Narayan Rao’s wife in April 1774. Chhatrapati conferred the Peshwaship on this infant child named Madhava Rao Narayan or Madhava Rao II in May 1774 and asked the Council of the Barbhais to be the Regent.


Later Raghunath Rao approached English Government of Bombay for support and assistance. He fled to Gujarat and concluded a treaty at Surat with the Governor-in-Council of Bombay in March 1775, by which he ceded to the English Company in perpetuity all the Bombay islands including Thana, Bassein and Salsette. He also promised to meet the expenses of 2500 troops to be placed at his disposal by the Company.

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