A Queen Mother who nurtured all essential qualities in her son, Chhatrapati Shivaji, to realise her dream of Swarajya
Accomplishment has to seep into one’s mind before reaching one’s hand. The shape of a pot is entirely dependant on the potter’s skill and creativity. The same is true of an accomplished person. One, who on catching sight of a tiger is taught as a child to leap ahead and fight it as passionately as the tiger would, does not bother with foxes and dogs in life.
It was RajMata (Queen Mother) Jijabai who nurtured courage in her son Prince Shivaji through her own courageous example, to fight the enemy obstructing the establishment of Hindavi Swarajya.
Jijau was born to Mhalsabai and Lakhoji Jadhav, a commanding officer in charge of the Sindakhed territory (a part of Buldhana district today) under the Mughal reign. Jijau was exposed to her courageous father’s accomplishments right from birth. But as she matured, her perception of the subjection suffered by the Hindu under the Mughals grew. She developed an intense revulsion towards the helplessness proliferating among the Hindus.
In an age when young girls play with dolls to prepare themselves for a married life, Jijau was immersed in learning the fine art of sword fighting. Her mother Mhalsai nurtured Jijau’s courageousness by telling her tales of valour. Excited and inspired by these tales, Jijau compelled her father to send her for armament training.
The prevalent situation in the country was appalling. Hindus were supposed to be servants whose sole purpose in life was to loyally serve the Mughal dynasty and at the most become commanding officers of territories. They were forced to loot their own communities for the enemy (the Mughal) and even give an account of it to Mughal rulers. Artists were forced to sing the glory of the enemy and the disparagement of their own people before the Mughal.
The Muslim officers would assault the Hindu women. Young girls were being auctioned. A society, who had forgotten self rule and self-esteem, had become mute spectators to all this debauchery. The farmers were in an equally bad state. All their efforts went into filling the coffers of the Mughal rulers, leaving their own stomachs empty. Jijau could not bear to see this pathetic state of affairs. She wanted a courageous person who could fight against this injustice and debauchery. But unfortunately the man in her own household was a servant of the Mughal.
Jijau was married to ShahajiRaje Bhosale in 1605. Two bright souls were joined in marriage, and yet Jijau’s dream of a Hindu rule did not see the light of day. She finally found recourse in prayer by appealing to Bhavani, the Goddess of valour and the deity of this land. She entreated to the Goddess to give her a son who would be bright, accomplished, and immensely capable of establishing Swarajya. She could see the turmoil of her accomplished husband. She could sense her husband being undervalued despite his great feats of valour under the reign of various Muslim rulers like Adilshah, Nizamshah and the Mughal. Jijau realised that though there was power, it was still just servitude under the Muslim ruler, with no recognition, security or benefit of the community.
God knows how many women there have been who have decided one’s child’s purpose in life even before their birth, but Jijau was definitely one who achieved this feat and put an end to the decades old reign of marauders over the community.
Goddess Bhavani had to fulfil Jijau’s appeal since she too shared Jijau’s sorrow in the extended assault on her land. Her religion was drowning; her temples destroyed and idols broken. She too was looking for a capable mother who could appropriately nurture an accomplished son. Both therefore shared the same goal and requirement. Both shared the same dream of Hindu Swarajya. The result of this dream was the birth of Shivaji and thus was laid the foundation of Hindu Swarajya.
Jijau told Shivaji tales which started in subjugation but ended in freedom. The accomplishment of King Ram in vanquishing Ravana who kidnapped Sita, the accomplishment of Bhim who vanquished Bakasur and freed the people of his atrocities, and innumerable such tales which idolized the accomplished man and in which freedom was the moral and ultimate goal.
She taught her son ShivajiRaje that every accomplished person has a single purpose in life – to free the subjugated. And after every tale ended was the perception that the community, including herself and Shivaji, were subjugated. It was the result of this nurturing that ShivajiRaje resolved that acquiring freedom was the only path and purpose in his life.
While sparking the flame of accomplishment in ShivajiRaje’s mind, Jijau also taught him politics. She developed in him the mind-set to deliver equal justice for all and the courage to declare the hardest punishment to the unjust. Jijau herself minutely supervised his armament training. ShivajiRaje benefited from Jijau’s guidance in innumerable incidents like ShahajiRaje’s captivity and escape, Afzhal Khan’s predicament, escape from Agra, etc. When ShivajiRaje was away on a campaign, Jijau herself minutely oversaw the administration of the State.
Children normally learn affection and moral behaviour from the mother and aptitude for accomplishment from the father, but Jijau was an exception to the rule. In the absence of ShahajiRaje she successfully executed both these roles.
On the strength of her lessons, Chhatrapati Shivaji vanquished the thousand year old monarchy and established the Hindu Swarajya. Lovingly encouraging, guiding and commending her son’s accomplishments, Jijau courageously strived till she saw the coronation of her son. Exactly twelve days after Shivaji’s coronation at Raigad fort, she breathed her last on 17th June 1674 in the independent Hindavi Swarajya.
Her samadhi is in Pachad village at the foothill of Raigad fort.