Jijabai (1594-1674) was the mother of Shivaji, the legendary Maratha king and warrior who stood strong against the rivaling Mughal Empire. Jijabai was born in 1594 in the town of Sindhkhed in Maharashtra. Her father was an eminent Maratha Sardar and nobleman named Lakhuji Jadhavrao, while her mother was Malasa Bai. Her father served the NizamShahi of Ahmednagar and was proud of his high position and status.
Marriage came very early to Jijabai’s life, as customary, and she tied the knot with Shahaji Bhosle, who was a spirited warrior and a diplomatic official who also served the Nizam Shah. Shahaji Bhosle was the son of Maloji Shiledar, who later grew in ranks to become ‘Sardar Maloji Rao Bhosle’. Although the couple led a happily married life, there was an enmity that brewed amongst the family members. This led to a growing ill-feeling relationship between Shahaji and his father-in-law Jadhav that tore Jijabai apart, having to choose her loyalty between her husband and her father. Her father eventually left the kingdom to join forces with the Mughals of Delhi, against the Nizamshahi and revenge against Shahaji. Jijabai remained with her husband at the Fort of Shivneri, devotedly standing by his side; however, she was disappointed with the fact that both he and her father served under other rulers, while she longed for freedom under a kingdom founded by the Marathas themselves. Together they had eight children, of whom six were daughters and two were sons, Shivaji being one of them. Praying earnestly to the gods for a son who would become an independent ruler of the Maratha clan, her prayer was answered and Shivaji grew up to become the founder of the Maratha Empire.
Jijabai was known to be an influential and determined woman who was an embodiment of self-respect and virtue. Famed for her fore-sight, Jijabai was herself an able warrior and administrator. She passed down her quality traits to the growing Shivaji, and instilled within him a sense of duty, courage and fortitude to overcome any hardship arising. Under her guidance and care, Shivaji developed within him a human touch that saw him harbor a great respect for all women, religious tolerance, and justice, along with the love for his country, his religion and his quest for freedom of Maharashtra. Shivaji owes his greatness to the inspiration of his mother who dedicated her life to bringing up her son to become one of the greatest rulers of the Maratha Empire.
After Jijabai became the queen regent, she moved to Poona to manage her husband’s Jagir there, taking Shivaji with her. In 1666 however, Shivaji left for Agra, leaving Jijabai to manage the affairs of the state. Since then, innumerable events in history went on by in Jijabai’s life, some good, some tragic and painful, yet she silently bore them. The death of her husband brought her great sorrow. Her eldest son Sambhaji being slain by Afzal Khan, whom Shivaji later avenged with Jijabai’s blessings. However, Shivaji’s great conquests like his capture of the Fort of Thorangadh, his several gallant escapades with the Mughals, along with the valiant achievements of heroes like Thanaji, Baji Prabhu, Suryaji, who were also inspired by her, brought a unique feeling to her heart as that of a proud mother. Jijabai’s dream was fulfilled when she witnessed the coronation of her son, Shivaji, as he ascended the golden throne in 1674, to become leader of the legendary Marathas.
Affectonately known as ‘Rajmata’, Jijabai died soon after a few days following Shivaji’s coronation, in the village of Pachad, at the foot of Fort Raigarh. Her death brought great sorrow to the entire kingdom and more on Shivaji who mourned so deeply. Today, the region of Raigadh is regarded sacred, and its several statues of the Mother Jija with the boy Shivaji, makes it reminiscent of the maternal bonding between two great inspirational figures of Indian history.
Facts and Information about Jijabai
|Original name||Jijabai Bhosale|
|Also known as||Rajmata Jijabai|
|Born||12 January 1598 (Sindkhed Raja, Buldhana District, India)|
|Died||17 June 1674 (aged 76)|
|Children||Two sons and six daughters|
|Husband||Shahaji Bhosale. She supported Shahaji in making a Hindu state on the land which was formerly known as Nizamshahi sultanate.|
|Temple Renovation||The Kasaba Ganapati Temple was renovated by her.|
|Inspired Shivaji||She narrated tales to Shivaji Maharaj from Mahabharata, Balaraja and Ramayana.|
|Death of elder son||Sambhaji, Jijau’s elder son, was killed on a military expedition by Afzal Khan.|
|Attempt at Sati||Jijabai attempted to commit sati when Shahaji died.|
|Film||Rajmata Jijau, 2011is a film on the life of Jijabai.|
|Death||She died on 17 June 1674, just after 12 days of Shivaji’s coronation. Her Samadhi has been built at Village “Pachad” near Fort Rajgad.|