Nana Phadnavis

Nana Phadnavis (1742-1800)

Nana Phadnavis

Nana Phadnavis was born in 1742 and he died at the age of 58. He was thin in body and half fair in complexion. He was always serious and was hardly seen laughing. He was very studious and regular in his habits. He worked very hard at his desk. He attended to all the details of the administration. He did not like the open methods of Mahadji and always worked in secret. He was usually reasonable and fair in his dealings. He was afraid to commit treachery of wrong.he was strict in punctually carrying on the work. However, he did not possess self-sufficiency of Mahadji. He took counsel with all separately, but acted according to his own considered judgment. He was not at all loved as he was a stern task master. He was often in danger of assassination. On about 20 occasions, he had a miraculous escape from attempts on his life.

Nana lacked military leadership and that was a great disadvantage in the rough times in which he lived.

Nana did not possess a conciliatory spirit. He gradually removed all the members, one by one, of the Bara-Bhai Council and concentrated all power in his own hands. If instead of that, Nana had shared powers with others, there would have been better prospects for the future of the Marathas. It has been suggested that if Nana Phadnavis had taken into confidence all the Maratha chiefs and pooled together all the resources of the Marathas, the Marathas would not have fallen as they did under Bajirao II.

Nana had too much love for power. It is suggested that if he had retired from politics in 1795, he would have rendered a great service to the Maratha cause.
Another criticism of Nana Phadnavis is that he loved money too much. It is estimated that his private property amounted to several lakhs. It was with a view to safeguarding his own money that he opposed to the nomination of Bajirao Peshwa at the beginning.

According to Sardesai, Nana would have acquired a much higher place in history if he had subordinated his love of power and monetary interest to the service of the nation.

Reference may be made to some of the tributes paid to Nana after his death, according to Captain Browning, “Nana is gone and with him the Brahman Raj. Poona has fallen.”

According to Palmer, “With Nana has departed all the wisdom and moderation of the Maratha Government.”

According to Sir Richard Temple, “Maratha administration lost all vestige of honey and efficiency by the death of its great Minister.”

According to Grant Duff, “Nana Phadnavis was certainly a great statesman. His principal defects originated in the want of personal courage and in an ambition not always restaied by principles. His life was entirely public. In private he was a man of strict veracity, humane, frugal and charitable. His whole time was regulated with the strictest order and the business personally transacted by him almost exceeds credibility. Nana doubtless shines out as the last genius produced by the Maratha nation.”


Milan Tomic

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