Khando Ballal

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Khanderao Ballal , popularly known as ‘Khando Ballal’, was a diplomat in Maharashtra during the late 17th century and the early 18th century. He was also the Personal Assistant of Chhatrapati Sambhaji, Rajaram and Shahu. He is remembered for his splendid contribution in strengthening the Maratha Empire by way of loyalty, diplomacy and exceptional sacrifice.

Early life

Khando Ballal was born around 1660. His father Ballal Avaji Chitnis, popularly known as ‘Balaji Avaji’, was the Chitnis (Secretary) of Chhatrapati Shivaji from 1658 to 1680. Balaji Avaji's original surname was chitre. However, after being appointed as the personal assistant of Chhatrapati Shivaji the family started using Chitnis as the surname. In the regime of Chhatrapati Sambhaji, however, Balaji Avaji was executed by Sambhaji because of misunderstandings. Thereafter, on advice by Queen Yesubai, Khando Ballal was appointed to take up the vacant post of his father in 1681.

Contribution

Khando Ballal worked as Sambhaji’s Personal Assistant for about 8 years until Sambhaji was captured and put to death by Aurangzeb in 1689. It is believed that once while Sambhaji was crossing a flooded river, he along with his horse was caught in the speedy currents of water and was about to drown. Khando Ballal, however, was extremely attentive and fast enough to move at once to him, pull him back to the shore and thus to save his life. After Sambhaji’s execution, Ramchandra Pant Amatya secretly sent Chhatrapati Rajaram to fort Gingee to divert attention of the Mughal army. Khando Ballal was one of the few who accompanied Rajaram in this hazardous journey. After reaching Gingee, with the help of Pralhad Niraji, Khando Ballal made tremendous efforts in finding out the diplomats and warriors those were vanished in the way and gathering them back. He also conspired with Ramchandra Pant Amatya to secretly move Queens of Rajaram from Maharashtra to Gingee with the help of his maternal uncles Lingoji Shankar and Visaji Shankar Tungare. For the performance shown during the tough times at Gingee, Rajaram gave him the vatan of Dabhol in the konkan area of Maharashtra.

Conspiracy for Rajaram’s Escape

In the early 1698, when the Mughal army had surrounded fort Gingee and was prepared for the final blow, Khando Ballal designed a plot for the escape of Rajaram. He secretly met Ganoji Shirke, one of the Maratha Generals in the Mughal camp who was also the brother-in-law of Sambhaji, and asked him to help for Rajaram’s escape from the Mughal blockade. Ganoji dictated certain terms which were negotiated and accepted in writing. Thereafter, Ganoji put forth his major demand of the vatan of Dabhol which was then owned by Khando Ballal himself. Thereupon, within no time Khando Ballal pulled a piece of paper and wrote Gift Deed of the vatan in favor of Ganoji and put his signature and stamp. Ganoji was impressed and also embarrassed with the site of this great sacrifice but he could not control his greed. He, however, kept his word and helped Khando Ballal to escape Rajaram from the blockade and to hand him over to the troops under Maratha General Dhanaji Jadhav.

Later life and death

Until the death of Chhatrapati Rajaram in 1700, Khando Ballal worked with him not only as his Personal Assistant but also as an Adviser in confidence. After Rajaram’s death, Khando Ballal was continued on his post by Queen Tarabai until 1707. On release of Shahu after the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, Khando Ballal was invited by Shahu to join his hands. Having sincerely felt that Shahu was the rightful and eligible heir of the throne of Maratha Empire rather than Shivaji II, he accepted Shahu’s invitation. Until his death, he worked as Personal Assistant and Senior Member of the Advisory Committee of Shahu and attained great respect and honor. When Shahu became wild on the so-called betrayal by Parshuram Pant Pratinidhi, one of the great diplomats and warriors of the Maratha Empire, he ordered to arrest him at once and smash his eyes. When came to know about this, Khando Ballal ran to Shahu’s court and requested him to stop this nonsense. He then reprimanded Shahu for such unfair deal with the great contributor of the Maratha Empire like Parshuram Pant. Shahu realized his mistake. He immediately released Parshuram Pant, apologized to him and bestowed his honor back. Soon after this episode, Khando Ballal died probably in 1712.

Legacy

Khando Ballal’s son Govind Khanderao Chitnis worked as the Personal Assistant of Shahu. After Shahu’s death in 1749, Govind Khanderao played leading role along with Nanasaheb Peshwa in restoring Ramraja on Shahu’s throne. Malhar Ramrao Chitnis, the first Indian to write History of Marathas, was the grandson of Govind Khanderao and great grandson of Khando Ballal. Balvantrao Chitnis, son of Malhar Ramrao, was a minister in the court of Chhatrapati Pratapsinh since 1818. He remained loyal to Pratapsinh until his death in the prison of the British Government.

References

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