The Ganpati-Pantpradhan Coins of Miraj are noted with the RY27 and the A.H. year as 122x. Till date no specimen has come to light which has featured all the 4 digits of the date clearly. Maheshwari & Wiggins in their book Maratha Coinage have mentioned the possibility of a special occasion for which these coins were minted. Also the fact that these coins differ from the regular coinage of Miraj which featured only the Nagari alphabet Ga (for their deity Ganpati) points that this indeed was a special issue. To ascertain the reason for striking such a coin it would be worthwhile to outline a brief history of the Patwardhan clan.
The forefathers of the Rajas of Miraj and Sangli, the Patwardhan Sardars made their names in the campaigns that the Peshwas led against Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan of Mysore.
In 1759AD Gopalrao Patwardhan distinguished himself in certain operations against the Nawab of Savanur, half of whose territory was surrendered to the Peshwa who subsequently gave a part of it as Jagir to the Patwardhans.
It was during the reign of the Peshwa Madhavrav Ballal that the fortunes of the Patwardhans reached their zenith. In 1761AD the fort of Miraj along with some thanas was assigned to Govindrao Patwardhan by the Peshwa for the maintenance of troops.
Govindrao Patwardhan established his capital at Miraj and resided there until his death on 21 November 1771AD. He had four sons: Gopalrao, Wamanrao, Pandurangrao and Gangadharrao. His jagir was inherited by Wamanrao, as his eldest son Gopalrao had died in battle on 17 January 1771AD, prior to his own death.
Wamanrao also died young, on 2 October 1775AD, and Pandurangrao succeeded him.
When the First Anglo-Maratha War broke out, Pandurangrao’s cousin brother Parshuram Bhau, a general in the Marathi army, gained great distinction among the peshwa’s generals for successful ventures against the British. Pandurangrao was less successful and was captured during battle against the forces of Hyder Ali. He died in prison on 4 November 1777AD.
Pandurangrao’s eldest son, Hariharrao, at that time a minor, succeeded to the jagir, with his uncle Parshuram Bhau as the appointed regent.
Parashuram Bhau (Parashuram Rao of Tasgaon) was the regent of Miraj during the reign of Harihar Rao. Seeing his reign as a regent ending, he got Harihar Rao replaced with his younger brother Chintamanrao in 1782AD.
Since Chinatamanrao Patwardhan too was a minor, his uncle Gangadharrao Patwardhan was appointed as his guardian and also the regent of Miraj. With the proverbial policy of a paternal uncle, Gangadharrao Patwardhan, had appropriated a considerable portion of his ward’s property.
Chintamanrao was involved in a series of excursions against the Raja of Kolhapur and Tipu Sultan. This led to his absence from the affairs at Miraj for large periods of time. It was during the final Anglo-Mysore War in 1799AD when Chintamanrao was presumed killed in battle and his uncle Gangadharrao took the Miraj throne.
When Chintamanrao returned, the throne was not ceded to him resulting in a civil war in which Gangadharrao lost everything except the Fort of Miraj. Cintamanrao acted with such vigour that Gangadharrao had to shut himself up in the fort of Miraj, where he would have been besieged and executed had not the other members of the family interposed and persuaded the uncle and nephew to agree to an amicable division. They were advised to approach Peshwa Baji Rao at Pune so as to get formal sanction of the territories.
In 1808AD, Gangadharrao offered a Nazarana to the Peshwa and secured his sanction to the Miraj division exempting him from feudal allegiance to Chintamanrao. Hence Gangadharrao Patwardhan became the ruler of Miraj.
Coming back to the Ganpati-Pantpradhan issue, if we were to relate RY27 on the coin to the 27th year of Shah Alam II’s reign then the year would be 1786AD (AH1200), which does not coincide with the digits seen on the coin 122x. Moreover there has been no significant event as such in the history of Miraj at that time, so we can conclude that the RY seen on the coin is not that of Shah Alam II.
Now 1808AD, when Peshwa Baji Rao sanctioned Miraj to Gangardharrao Patwardhan, would be the 27th year from 1782AD, which is when Gangadharrao was declared as the regent. 1808AD would be AH1224 which could be the year on the coin. And since Peshwa Baji Rao appointed Gangadharrao as the sovereign ruler of Miraj it would be more than appropriate to strike a special coin with Pantpradhan inscribed on it.
D. B. Parasnisia, The Sangli State, Bombay, 1917
Sangli District Gazetter
Henry Cousens, Bijapur, Outline, Pune, 1889
This article was published in the Journal of Oriental Numismatic Studies, 2015.