Birth: 12 January 1598
Death: 17 June 1674
Jijabai also is known as Rajmata Jijabai, mother of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, founder of the Maratha kingdom.
Jijabai was born on 12 January 1598. Her parents are Mahalasabai Jadhav and Lakhuji Jadhav. Lakhuji Jadhav belonged to Deulgaon, near Sindkhed, in the present-day Buldhana district of Maharashtra. As per the customs that prevailed in those days Jijabai was married at an early age (at the age of 8 years) to Shahaji Bhosle, son of Maloji Bhosle of Verul village.
The wedding was held in Sindkhed on 5 Nov 1605. Jijabai was eight years old and her husband was hardly twelve years old. As per the custom of those days, Jijabai remained with her parents for several years before joining her husband.
Jijabai’s father-in-law, Maloji Bhonsle, had begun his career as a shilledar serving under the command of her father, Lakhujirao Jadhav. Her father was not happy with the marriage of his daughter due to the difference in the background and status of both families.
Jijabai bore Shahaji as many as eight children (six daughters and two sons). All the daughters died in infancy and only the two sons, Sambhaji and Shivaji, reached adulthood. Sambhaji was the elder son and Shivaji was the younger. In 1630, three years after Shivaji’s birth, Jijabai received a co-wife into her household after Shahaji married Tukabai.
Shahaji was a valiant, courageous, and brave Sardar of the Marathas. He himself aspired to establish a Swaraj. Initially, he was in the service of the Nizamshahi. He tried to save the Nizamshahi from the combined forces of Adilshahi and Mughals. But he could not withstand the combined forces of Adilshahi and Mughals. After the Nizamshahi wiped out, Shahaji became a Sardar in the court of Adilshahi. He was granted Jagir of Bengaluru and as per the terms of the treaty forced to move to Bengaluru. While Shivaji and Jijabai were at Bengaluru, Shahaji provided excellent education to Shivaji.
While Sambhaji was with his father Shahaji, in Karnataka, Jijabai along with young Shivaji and a few chosen associates shifted to Pune.
In those days, a large part of Maharashtra was under the rule of Nijamshah of Ahmadnagar and Adilshah of Bijapur. These two rulers were in a constant fight with each other to prove their dominance over the parts of Maharashtra. Along with these rulers, there are Siddis along the coastline of Konkan, the Portuguese, the British, the Dutch, and the French. All these foreign invaders constantly tried to prove their dominance over Maharashtra. Due to all these factors, there was instability and insecurity in Maharashtra. The condition of the common man was miserable.
There were many great Sardars of Marathas but they were worked either for the Adishah or Nizamshah. They concerned with their own jagirs and at constant conflicts with each other.
Jijabai was not happy that her husband and her father were serving under the Muslim rulers. She always had a vision for an independent kingdom.
Nijamshah deceitfully murdered Jijabai’s father Lakhuji Jadhav and his sons in his royal court. This incident had a deep impact on Jijabai.
Jijabai was a very pious and intelligent woman with a great vision for an independent kingdom. Jijabai is widely credited with raising Shivaji in a manner that led to his future greatness. She inspired Shivaji by telling stories from Ramayana, Mahabharata. Right from his childhood, Jijau would tell Shivaji about the lives of Shriram, Maruti, Shrikrishna to make him pious and patriotic. Right from his childhood, she sowed the seeds of devotion to the nation. She instilled in him many values like courage, modesty, truthfulness, fearlessness. She inspired him to the establishment of Hindavi Swaraj. In Shivaji’s spotless character and courage, Jijabai’s contribution is enormous. It was the efforts of Jijau that Shivaji became an Ideal administrator and ruler.
She died soon after the coronation of Shivaji on June 17, 1674. Shivaji was heartbroken by her death. She was not only a mother to Shivaji but also a source of inspiration. She gave a number of decisions in legal and administrative matters.
She was loved and respected by all her family members. She was looked upon as the support system in the family. In all aspects, she was an ideal Hindu woman.
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