By the end of the 16th century India was completely under the Islamic rule.With the Mughals in the north and Adilshah in the south entire Aryavart became a land of spineless wimps for whom slavery was sacred and the sultans were deities. The Bramhins prayed for the well being of sultans and the Kshatriyas laid their lives for their masters. The ordinary citizens suffered in silence and fear and were deeply distressed by seeing their temples razed, women raped and sold as slaves, cows slaughtered mercilessly. They wanted a messiah, a leader who would free them from their miseries. They waited, prayed in silence for about 350 years. The dark night of slavery was was getting even darker. Frighteningly dark. But as it is said, its always darkest before the dawn. On 12th January 1598 Jijabai was born to Lakhuji Raje Jadhav and Mhalasabai at Sindhkhed Raja in Buldhana district of Maharashtra. She was the first ray of hope that pierced the darkness and brought glimmer to the lives of the rayat(citizens).
Although much description is not available about her childhood, her father Lakhuji Raje was a prominent saradar of the Nizamshah of daulatabad. They claimed their descent from the Yadav lineage of Devagiri who in turn were descendants of Shri Krishna. She was only sister born to 5 brothers and hence was raised in great luxury. At an early age she married to Shahajiraje Bhosle, a handsome a brave young man belonging to the Bhosle family, descendants of lord Ram. This marriage was a union of Suryavansh and Chandravansh, the greatest dynasties of ancient India from which was born Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Being a Kshatra-kanya(daughter of the Kshatriya clan) Jijabai was well versed in battle skills and horse riding. From her childhood she had a fury against the sultans. After her marriage she inspired her husband to rebel against the Adilshah and establish a sovereign state. Unfortunately the experiment failed and Shahaji Maharaj was forced by the baadshah to live in the Karnataka region.
Taking leave of her husband and elder son (Sambhaji Maharaj) she traveled to Pune along with her younger son, Shivaji. This was the beginning of a new chapter in Indian history. Pune city was razed by adilshah to curb Shahaji’s plans. Jijabai took it to herself to renovate the city. A beautiful palace of red sandstone called Lal Mahal was built in the city. Here Shivaji used to listen tales of Ramayan and Mahabharat from his mother. She inspired him to rise against the tyrannous rule of sultans and establish a sovereign kingdom – Swarajya. Her judgement was impartial and she was a strict administrator. These qualities started seeping into young Shivaji who learnt everything by observing his mother. The greatness of Shivaji Maharaj had its source in Jijabai.
Her thoughts were very progressive for her time. She urged Shivaji Maharaj’s wives to form an army of women. She raised her grandson Sambhaji Maharaj (the 2nd Chhatrapati) in the same manner as her son after the untimely death of Maharani Saibai, the chief consort oh Shivaji Maharaj. Although great devotee of Goddess Tulajabhavani she never let religion interfere in state matter. Although her husband was far away she regularly consulted him on matters of state and guided Maharaj accordingly. She herself had an army of 25000 horsemen whom she led independently to defend swarajya in maharaja’s absence. In an event when Shivaji Maharaj was trapped at Panhala fort, she herself donned the armor and prepared to fight and rescue her son. She was widely respected in her household and by her citizens. In order to honor this, Maharaj performed her Suvarna Tula (weighing a person in gold) at Mahabaleshwar. In order to form a sovereign identity, she ordered Shivaji Maharaj to get a Rajyabhishek performed. A grand ceremony of Rajyabhishek took place at Raigad fort and this was culmination of her entire life’s effort. The mission which she began was completed in the grandest form possible. Completing her life’s purpose, she breathed her last on 17th June 1674.
Even today Jijamata is considered as the ideal mother, the true Shakti and an excellent example of women empowerment. Today’s India needs more Shivajis, but for that we need to raise more Jijabais.