THE PESHWAS. 159 Peshwa, Bajf Rao (1721-40), converted ihe grant of the tribute of the Deccan, which had been given by the Delhi emperor in 1720, into a Mar&fhd sovereignty over the Deccan. The second Peshwa also wrested the Province of Malwi from the Mughal Empire (1736), together with the country on the north-west of the Vindhyas, from the Narbada to the Chambal. In 1739, he captured Bassein from the Portuguese. Malwd was finally ceded by the Delhi Emperor to the Marathas in 1743. Third Peshwa, 1740-1761.— The third Peshwa, Balaji Bajf Rio, succeeded in 1740, and carried the Marathd terror into the heart of the Mughal Empire. The Deccan became merely a starting-point for a vast series of their expeditions to the north and the east. Within the Deccan itself the Peshwd augmented his sovereignty, at the expense of the Muhammadan Nizam of Haidarabad, after two wars. The great centres of the Maratha power were now fixed at Poona in Bombay and Nagpur in the Central Provinces. In 1741-42, a general of the Nagpur branch of the Mar&thd Confederacy known as the Bhonslas, swept down upon Lower Bengal ; but, after plundering to the suburbs of the Muhammadan capital of Murshidabad, he was driven back through Orissa by the Viceroy Alf Vardf Khan. The ' Maratha Ditch/ or semi-circular moat around part of Calcutta, records to this day the panic which then spread throughout Lower Bengal. Next year, 1743, the head of the Nagpur branch, Raghujf Bhonsla, invaded Lower Bengal in person. From this date, notwithstanding quarrels between the Poona and Nagpur Marathas over the spoil, the fertile Provinces of the Lower Ganges became a plundering ground of the Bhonslas. In 1751, they obtained a formal grant from the Viceroy Alf Vardf of the chauth, or ' quarter revenue ' of Lower Bengal, together with the cession of Orissa. In Northern India, the Poona Marithas raided as far as the Punjab, and drew down upon them the wrath of Ahmad Shah Duranf, the Afghan, who had already wrested that Province from Delhi. At the battle of Panfpat in 1 761, as we have seen, the Marathas were overthrown by the combined Muhammadan forces of the Afghans and of the northern Provinces which still nominally remained to the Mughal Empire.
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