As per Wiki article on Male Rao Holkar, son of Ahilyabai Holkar:

Shrimant Subhedar Male Rao Holkar II Bahadur (1745 – 5 April 1767), belonging to the Holkar dynasty of the Marathas was the Maharaja of Indore (r.1766 – 1767). He was the only son of Khande Rao Holkar Bahadur, and his mother was Ahilya Bai Holkar.

Being king for just one year, he died at a very early age which looks very unlikely. Even in the Wiki article there is no mentioning of the cause of death. So what was reason of his death, whether it was some serious sickness or a war or something else?

2 Answers 2


'Reasons' seem clear, exact mode of death not.

Malerao died within a year after his succession, being affected by insanity.

— N. N. Nagrale: "Ahilyabai and her Benevolent Administration", Proceedings of the Indian History Congress , 1979, Vol. 40 (1979), pp. 700–706 (jstor)

As is repeated here:

On 5 April 1767, Male Rao sank into insanity and died within a year of succession.

Equally terse:

She began to assume more and more of the responsibilities of rulership. Malhar Rao's death soon followed, and Ahalyabai's son Male Rao was named head of the government, but he was mentally unstable and died shortly thereafter.

— Kathryn Hansen: "The Virangana in North Indian History: Myth and Popular Culture", Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 23, No. 18 (Apr. 30, 1988), pp. WS25-WS33 (jstor)

But this all too convenient, is it:

At first, Ahilyabai’s son Male Rao Holkar was appointed as the ruler, with Ahilyabai as the regent. But his reign lasted only a few months before he died. Male Rao was apparently insane, cruel and incompetent, depending on which accounts you read. In one story, he put scorpions into the shoes of some courtiers; they were bitten and died. For this, Ahilyabai herself sentenced him to death, and he was crushed beneath the foot of an elephant.

It sounds impossible: How could a mother do this? Let alone one so revered for her compassion and piety. But the story is cited by some as evidence of her divine wisdom and the depth of her caring for the people of her kingdom. She was not going to let them be ruled by a madman.

Ahilyabai Holkar: the people’s ruler, the people’s goddess December 10, 2018 (Aliza)

  • 3
    I believe I've mentioned before the poor track records of regencies keeping their charges alive, particularly as they get close to taking over. One could argue this has a distinct resemblance to that trend.
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 1, 2021 at 18:13
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    @T.E..D. As I remember the majority of regencies ended with the child monarch coming of age and assuming power. Cosidering the dangers of life in ancient and medieval times I don't think thre was a particularly poor track record.
    – MAGolding
    Oct 2, 2021 at 19:23

I believe that Male Rao Holkar died because of illness and he was not sentenced to death by Ahilya bai by crushing him by elephant. That is not believable.

  • 2
    Do you have a source to back up "I believe..."? Apr 14, 2023 at 1:34

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