There was a battle of succession between Tarabai and Saahoji Maharaaj after Aurangzeb’s death in 1707. Since the fall of the Maratha stronghold, Raigad in 1689, when Chhatrapati Rajaram moved the capital to Jinji fort Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, Shahu Raje and Maharani Yesubai have been held as political captives by the Mughals.
Mughal Internal War
Therefore, during this Mughal internal war, the Mughals attempted to play a game to split the Maratha power and free Shahu Raje in order to avoid a conflict with the Marathas, which they had been losing for 27 years.
The circumstance was that Rani Tarabai served as the current Chhatrapati of Swarajya, Shivaji II, who was the son of Chhatrapati Rajaram and Maharani Tarabai. As the eldest prince of the dynasty and the son of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, who was the eldest son of the first Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Shahu Raje arrived in Deccan when the Mughals freed him and asserted his claim to the throne of Swarajya.
Because Shahu was the son of Sambhaji Maharaj, his claim was stronger than that of Chhatrapati Rajaram’s son. Shahu claimed to be the rightful successor in letters to all generals and administrations, inviting them to join him. On the other hand, Maharani Tarabai had her doubts about him because he had spent a considerable amount of time—17 years—in Mughal captivity. She wondered whether he was really Shahu or an impostor sent by the Mughals. She therefore refused to accept him as the heir to the kingdom.
As a result of his letter, numerous ministers have now joined Shahu. Balaji Vishwanath was one among them. Battle lines were therefore set between two sides close to the town of Khed. The Maharani Tarabai was still supported by the Sarsenapati of the Marathas, Dhanaji Jadhav. Along the river, he was camped out with the troops in preparation for battle. Then, Shahu gave Balaji Vishwanath instructions to approach Dhanaji Jadhav and persuade him to support his position. As a result, Balaji Vishwanath went to see Dhanaji and Jadhav and persuaded them that Shahu was the rightful successor, leading Jadhav to change his allegiance and join Shahu.
Shahu easily prevailed in the battle of Khed and proceeded to the capital of Swarajya, the fort of Satara, Ajinkya Tara. Maharani Tarabai withdrew to Kolhapur’s Panhala Fortress when Shahu captured Satara.
Shahu was installed on the throne of Swarajya as the Chhatrapati, and Maharani Tarabai founded a rival kingdom in Kolhapur. That is the primary cause of the war.