Balaji Vishwanath: The First Peshva
Balaji Vishwanath, a Brahmin was the first in the line of the hereditary Peshwas or Prime Ministers.
In 18th century the Peshwas became the holders of the Maratha Power. Balaji was instrumental in the release of Shahuji’s family from Mughals and took his side in the civil war with Tarabai.
He became the first Peshwa in 1713. Aurangzeb had already died in 1707 and the power in Delhi was Farrukhsiyar, who was placed on the throne by Sayyid Brothers. Later Farrukhsiyar was replaced with Rafi ul Darjat in 1719.
This time, Balaji Vishwanath supplied a 15000 army to Mughals and in return got the right to extract autonomy to Marathas and right to levy Chauth from 6 Deccan Provinces.
In 1720 Balaji Vishwanath died. Sahuji appointed his son Baji Rao I as Peshwa at the age of 20 years.