Bajirao Ballal Bhat (Rau) or Bajirao I was born on 18th August 1700 at a time when Mughal empire was on decline. He was a peshwa(Prime Minister) of fifth Maratha Chatraparthi Shahu Raje Bhosle. He became the peshwa after death of his father Balaji Vishwanath at a young age of 20 years. He was one of the greatest warriors that india had seen and won about 41 wars successively. He initiated the movement of the administration capital of Martha empire from Satara to Pune.
Mastani was the daughter of Maharaj Chatrasal of Bundelkand and his Persian mistress(cocubbine) Ruhaani Bai. Maharaj Chatrasal was invaded by a mughal chief Pathan Mohmmad Shah Bangash and was about to be defeated when Bajirao helped him defeat the Mughal commander and reinstall him as King. In gratitude Maharaj Chatrasal offered him a part of his revenue and his daughter Mastani in marriage. After his death Bajirao even got a third of his kingdom. The marriage took place around 1728.
Mastani was a skilled warrior and knew horse ridding, swordmanship etc and often accompanied Bajirao on his military campaigns. She was a multi talented person with good dancing and poetry skills. Bajirao came from an orthodox Brahmin family and his family never accepted Mastani as Bajirao’s wife. Bajirao and mastani had a son initially called Krishna Rao at birth.
But none of the priests were ready to initiate the sacred thread ritual for Brahmin children or allow him to be named Krishna Rao. Bajiraos family wanted him to be raised a muslim as his mother was muslim. Hence Bajirao was forced to rename him Shamsher Bahadur and bring his son up as a muslim.
Mastani lived initially after marriage in Shaniwar wada in Pune with Bajirao’s family. But his mother and brothers and other family members had great objections to her staying with them. It is belived that attempts were made on her life by Bajirao’s family and she only survived as she had support of Shahuji Maharaj(Emperor of Marthas). She was even once placed under house arrest at orders of Balaji(Nana Saheb) the son of Bajirao and Kashibai in this fathers absence away on campaign in north india. Mastani was even ordered to leave Bajirao and go into exile by his family but she refused to leave him.
Bajirao built her a place in Kothrud and moved her there. Mastani’s tomb is in pabal. Bajirao died on 28th April 1740 at a young age of 39 years. Mastani died shortly after again at a young age. The circumstances under which she died remain unknown. Some say she committed suicide after Bajirao’s death and some that she jumped into funeral pyre of her husband etc. Kashi bai, Bhajiraos first wife took care of their son Shamsher Bahadur after their death. Shamsher Bahadur was 6 years old at time of his parents death.
It was a very rare thing for a Hindu ruler to marry a muslim princess in that time. There was hardly an hindu ruler who ever married a muslim royal princess in history. Hence Bajirao I the peshwa marrying princess Mastani was a very rare occurrence. No hindu ruler ever agreed to marry the mughal princesses or other muslim rulers princess like lodhi, khiji etc to ensure their blood line was pure. So Bajirao marrying Mastani was an unprecedented event in those times. Despite opposition from society, marthas, family etc Bajirao married Mastani and gave her the respect and dignity of of Royal princess. Hence their marriage and love story will go down the annals of history as a rare event.