Postage stamp depicting Jijabai and a young Shivaji, dated 1852
Jijabai (1598 – 1674) was the mother of Shivaji, one of the most famous and successful Hindu rulers of all time. The life story of Jijabai, is no less inspiring than that of Shivaji, and takes an equally proud place in the history of the Hindu people.
Jijabai’s father, Lakhuji Jadhav Rao, was a leader serving under the Muslim Nizamshahi administration. During those days, many Hindu chieftains of that region were serving under the Nizam. They had small armies of their own and had obtained lands, money and status. These Hindu chieftains were always vying to outdo each other; trying to increase their power and prestige at each other’s expense [parallels with today???].
It was Holi, and Jijabai’s father threw a large celebration. Jijabai, still a young child, threw coloured water over a boy named Shahji, who in turn did the same back to her. Jijabai’s father liked the boy. Drawing the two children towards him, he jokingly exclaimed, “Don’t you think these two make a great couple?” Everybody agreed.
At this point Shahji’s father, Maloji, got up said, “Noble men, did you hear what our Jadhav Rao has said? Henceforth we are related to each other as parents of the bride and bridegroom!”
But this is not what Jijabai’s father had in mind! He was just making a light-hearted remark, and considered himself too high to seriously think of marrying his daughter to the son of an inferior ranked man like Maloji. Jadhav Rao harshly rebuked Maloji’s presumptuousness, causing Maloji to leave the hall feeling embarrassed and angered at the public spectacle.
Maloji never forgot the shame he felt that day. He left his military post, and returned to his ancestral village. For a while he went back to tilling the fields, and was very depressed. But his fortunes were soon to improve.
One night, it is said that Maloji had a strange dream. The Goddess Bhavani appeared before him in dazzling splendour and advised him not to sulk, but to strive hard in life, as a hero and harbinger of a new era was soon to be born in his family. The next day in the field, late at night, he once again felt the presence of Bhavani, who advised him to dig at a certain spot. He did so and unearthed 7 pots of treasure. While the verity of this account is questionable, what is beyond dispute is that Maloji’s acquisition of this wealth was to have a profound impact upon the future of Hindu civilisation.
Maloji brought a unit of 1000 cavalry, and infantry. He provided security to the people, and to traders, and in doing so grew increasingly wealthy. With his money, he dug wells, built lodges for travellers, fed the needy and renovated temples. His power and prestige grew, and so did the number of men serving under him.
At the same time, Maloji still felt insulted by Jadhav Rao’s rejection, and began to press him to allow Jijabai and Shahji to marry. Jadhav Rao refused, but Maloji resorted to intense pressure, and invoked the Nizam’s mediation, forcing Jadhav Rao to comply. Jijabai and Shahji were married. Now it was Jadhav Rao’s turn to feel angered.
Shahji grew up as a renowned general, while Jadhav Rao spent his life harassing and conspiring against Shahji. This deeply troubled Jijabai. She was also unhappy that both her father and her husband were serving under Muslim sultans, who she saw as marauders. Jijabai cared not for the riches that this service could bring; it was an undignified existence for Hindus in the land of Bharata. She was angered at being around men who spent their time bickering amongst themselves and could not protect their women, children, country and religion. She longed that her son may be an agent of change for the destiny of Bhartiya civilisation. With this inspiration, she studied the intricate political problems of the country, in the company of experienced politicians and diplomats. She could see people falling into poverty in the once rich land and could see the culture that she loved so much being disintegrated. If only a leader could be born who could unite the scattered Hindus.
It was ordered that while she was pregnant, every comfort be conferred upon Jijabai. But she wished for none of it. Rather, she wanted to climb to the tops of forts on hills, wield swords, discuss political questions, put on armour and ride on horseback. It has been said in ancient Hindu shastras that the pregnant mother, by the psychological environment she provides does a tremendous amount to shape the child’s life for better or worse. In Vedic traditions, there are a series of sacraments and chants to be carried out as to optimise the child’s potentials. Jijabai infused in Shivaji a decisive and mighty psychological force, which was to flourish with grandeur and majesty throughout his life.
Then, the most crushing news struck Jijabai like lightening. Jadhav Rao, her father, who had recently been readmitted to the service of the Nizam after defecting to the Moghuls, had been beheaded, together with her entire family. The exact reason for this was not known. The Nizam was purging influential Hindu leaders within his forces.
Her husband too was in danger of meeting a similar fate, but he was shrewd and left the Nizam. In the time that followed, whole villages of Hindus were wiped out. A Hindu princess was carried away while bathing. At one time Jijabai herself was kidnapped to be used as a bargaining chip. Such were the times in which she lived.
Jijabai’s fiery spirit was set ablaze by the slaughter of her family. Instead of frightening her, it just strengthened her resolve that an independent protector of the Hindus was an urgent necessity.
She brought up Shivaji in the city of Pune, under the protection of Dadaji Kondev. Jijabai was one of the main administrators of the city. She was educated, able and wielded great authority (not adhering to the myth of the “oppressed Hindu woman of medieval India”). When they arrived, Pune was a city that had been consecutively ransacked by the Nizam, Adil Shah, and the Moghul forces. Each and every Hindu shrine had been smashed. But soon Pune flourished, with the help of Jijabai. She restored the shrines, and on many occasions settled disputes and meted out fair justice. She was responsible for most of Shivaji’s education; having him learn about the Hindu shastras and arts of administration and weaponry, and the political situation in the land of Bharata.
Shahji married a second wife, Tukabai, and spent most of his time with the latter. The effect this had on Jijabai, nobody can tell. Jijabai did not lose heart, and concerned herself as before, with administration, bringing up Shivaji and in long periods of prayer and meditation. Jijabai even set the scenes for social reforms in Hindu society. For example, on Jijabai’s advice, the Brahmins allowed a soldier named Balaji Nimbalkar to re-embrace Hinduism after converting to Islam under force of the sword. In those days, many people were opposed to such a move, believing such individuals were somehow polluted and no longer worthy to be Hindus. This is an attitude that to some extent persists today. But Jijabai could see that because Hindus created a system whereby people could leave the Hindu fold, but not enter it, Hindu society had been weakened. Jijabai impressed upon everybody the logic of this position. Furthermore, showing that she was genuine in her view, she arranged the marriage of Shivaji’s daughter Sakhubai to Balaji’s son.
Shahji and Dadaji were worried and angered at Shivaji, when at the age of 16 he first captured a major fort. Jijabai on the other hand was overjoyed. When Afzal Khan, the renowned general of Bijapur came with a large army to crush Shivaji early in his career, Shivaji turned to his mother, who unlike others told him to face the danger resolutely. Shivaji’s army was much smaller by comparison, but by biding his time and using lightening guerrilla techniques, he worsted Afzal Khan’s army. When at a private meeting, Afzal Khan tried to kill Shivaji, it was Afzal Khan who ended up dead. This episode greatly increased Shivaji’s prestige.
Jijabai treated Shivaji’s companions as her own sons, and was a source of courage and inspiration to them all. Tanaji Malasure is one such renowned example. He lost the fort of Simhagadh to an intense Moghul attack. She famously told him “If you free Simhagad from the enemies you will be like Shivaji’s younger brother to me.” Tanaji went forth, for what others advised to be an impossible mission. He succeeded in his mission of winning back the fort, but was slain in the process. Jijabai was watching from her castle in the distance all night. Although at first overjoyed at the news that the saffron flag had ascended on Simhagad, when she received the news of Tanaji’s death, she began to cry with pain and could not be consoled.
On another occasion Baji Prabhu, a childhood friend of Shivaji, fought with great valour to save Shivaji’s life from imminent danger, and in doing so was slain. On hearing the news of Baji Prabhu’s death and Shivaji’s safety, Jijabai wept for the sacrifice of the brave Baji rather than feeling glad for the safety of her own son.
In 1674, Shivaji held a vast ceremony, declaring himself an independent ruler. Jijabai was present at the ceremony. What joy she must have felt attending the ceremony – everything she had lived for had finally bore fruit. 12 days later, Jijabai died.
In her life Jijabai had to bare sorrow after sorrow, and did it bravely for her people and religion. She reflected the glory and strength of Mother Durga. We hope her life will always be remembered with reverence.
External link: On YouTube, a popular song about Jijabai and Shivaji
HINDU RESISTANCE: Hindu civilisaton alone out of all the ancient civilisations of the world has survived in a continuity with its past, againt many determined attempts to exterminate it. This series of articles will focus on contributions of different persons and sections of Hindu society to this phenomenal achievement.
1. Early years
Jijabai was born to Lakhojiraje Jadhav in Sindkhed territory of Vidharbh, Maharashtra in the year 1598 A.D. She was affectionately called as ‘jiu’. Lakhojiraje Yadav was a Yadava, traditionally the rules of Devgiri. So, Jijau was actually the princess of Devgiri. But Lakhojiraje, along with his three sons accepted to be chieftains in the Sultan’s military. This was something that irked Jijau.
1A. Righteous anger that fuelled Jijabai
Maharashtra was so subjugated that Brahmins would go to the Sultan to settle their disputes like, ‘Who should proffer the offerings in a religious ritual?’ The Sultan’s army would often abduct the wives of the local Kshatriyas, and they would meekly offer bribes to have their wives back. In a state where Brahmins and Kshatriyas had discarded Dharma (righteousness) and valour, nothing much could be expected of the others ! Jijau wold seeth with fury at the manner in which the Hindus were being treated by the invaders. Thus, right from the childhood, she developed an intense hatred towards the invaders who had used every ploy to humiliate Hindus.
2. Post marriage, Jijau’s love for Dharma unites two warring clans against the invaders
2a. Shahaji and Jijau’s intense desire to end the hostilities between the Jadhavs and Bhosales
Jijau got married to the most valorous general of the Sultan’s army, Shahajiraje Bhosale. Thereafter, she lived in Pune. Once, when all the Maratha sardars had come together, an elephant belonging to Khandagle suddenly became violent and went on a rampage. In the ensuing chaos, the Sardars used weapons which wounded the elephant. Unfortunately, this led to a misunderstanding between the Bhosales and the Jadhavs who took up arms against each other. Petty hostilities between the Maratha sardars flared up. Jijau and Shahaji had to witness their near and dear ones die. They earnestly wanted both the families to forgo bitterness of the past and rise above personal ego; put an end to the hostility between the two families and fight the foreign invaders and establish Hindu Kingdom. But the egoistic Maratha Sardars were hardly convinced by the noble thoughts.
2b. Jijau’s patriotic words that force her father to introspect on the petty clashes
The Nizam had sent Lakhojiraje along with his army to Junnar to capture Shahajiraje. As Jijau was pregnant, it was not possible for her to travel to Pune on horseback. So, Shahjiraje placed Jijau under the care of Vishwasrao and Vaidhyaraj Nirgudkar (a doctor) in the Shivneri fort, and proceeded to Pune. Meanwhile Lakhojiraje reached Junnar and met his daughter at Shivneri fort after many years.
Jijau said to her father, ‘Marathas are fighting with each other for sake of mere ego and greed. If their valorous swords unite, foreign invaders will be vanquished in no time. It is a disgrace to be working under invaders for your livelihood, you must give it up’. Jijau’s intense patriotism and love for Dharma touched her father. Her earnest thought compelled Lakhojiraje to introspect. When he met Shahajiraje at the foothills of Shivneri, Lakhojiraje was pacified and that put an end to the hostility between Jadhavs and Bhosales forever.
3. Jijau, who always kept the flame of vengeance burning, through hardship !
3a. Shahajiraje’s sister-in-law abducted by Mahabat Khan
Mahabat Khan, a Mughal general, abducted Godavaribai in broad daylight. Kheloji made no efforts to rescue his wife; but Shahajiraje promptly rescued his sister-in-law Godavaribai from Mahabat Khan and in due course of time killed Mahabat Khan who had fled away.
3b. Nizam deceitfully killing Jijau’s father and three brothers
Nizam called Jijau’s father, Lakhojiraje and her three brothers in his royal court unarmed and killed them deceitfully. This callous event tore Jijau’s heart apart. Her maternal family was ruined, but she did not forgo her yearning for ‘Swaraj’.
3c. Pune destroyed under Adilshah’s orders
On Adilshah’s orders, Rairao attacked Pune (Shahaji’s territory) and burnt it to ashes, committed innumerable atrocities on the common man and killed many, destroyed the fields and houses. Pune, known as ‘Punyabhumi’ was sullied by the marauding forces.
These devastating incidents, occuring one after another, made a deep impact on Jijau who was residing at Shivneri. She was unable to endure this situation and felt like forsaking her life, but she consoled herself, did not lack composure and kept the flame of vengeance burning !
4. Prayers offered by Jijau prior to Shivaji’s birth and her longings during pregnanc
4a. Prayers offered to Bhavanimata
Jijau would ernestly pray to Bhavanimata ‘To destroy the villainous and for the protection of the nation and Dharma, bless me with a son like Shri Ram or a daughter like Goddess Durga who would vanquish the enemies.
4b. Longings during pregnancy
Jijau would feel like wielding a sword, sit on a tiger and slay the enemies. She would often dream of Dharmik war and establishment of Ramrajya.
5. Jijau, an ideal mother who instilled values like patriotism and love for Dharma in Shivaji
Shivaji was born on Vaishakh shukla Paksha Trutiya (1627 A.D.) at Shivneri fort. Right from his childhood, Jijau would tell Shivaji about the lives of Shriram, Maruti, Shrikrishna and also from Mahabharat and Ramayana to make him pious and patriotic. Thus, she moulded him into an ideal ruler by sowing seeds of devotion to the nation and Dharma. She was not only a mother to Shivaji, but also a source of inspiration.
6. Personal Life
6A. How Dharmacharan helped Jijau face difficult situations courageously
When Jijau went to stay in Pune along with Shivaji, she founded Kasbapeth Ganapati temple and renovated the Tambdi Jogeshwari and Kevereshwar temple. Besides being a patron of temples, Jijau listened to bhajan-kirtans by Saints, studied Sanskrut scriptures and religiously performed the vowed religious observances. She was a chaste wife and dutiful mother. Although she was religiously inclined, her devotion was above rituals. She had lot of merit that she gathered by abiding to Dharma in her daily life. This gave her immense strength to face difficult situations.
6B. Her undaunted faith in God blessed her with success
She had a strong faith that she was blessed by Goddess Bhavani and Mahadev. She always backed her valorous husband and son fearlessly and resolutely. When her husband or son would be in perilous situations, she would ardently pray to Bhavanimata night and day, for their protection and safe return. She strongly believed that our efforts bring success to our doorstep only with the grace of God.
6C. An ideal Hindu woman
Jijau played all the roles in her life such as daughter, sister, wife, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother just as the scriptures have mentioned. 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. Entire Hindu community is grateful to God for having set an example before us in the form of Rajmata Jijau. A prayer unto the divine feet of Bhavanimata and Shambu Mahadev that, ‘May all Hindu women be inspired by Jijau to be ideal women !’
7. Jijau – an ideal Queen Mother !
7A. A warrior par excellence
Jijau was adept in warfare, possessing skills like horse riding, as well as mastery over the sword.
7B. Valorous Ranaragini
7B 1. Jijau, wielding a sword, had decided to declare war against Siddi Jauhar to rescue Shivaji from the encircled fort of Panhala
7B 2. Jijau the inspiration behind Afzal Khan’s slaying : The Mughal commander Afzal Khan had killed Jijau’s elder son, Sambhajiraje in a military expedition of Kanakgiri by firing a cannon deceitfully. Later Afzal Khan set his sights on capturing Shivaji Maharaj. In this endeavour, he was unstoppable; destroying temples, idols of Deities, burning fields and inhumanly murdering people, as he was headed swiftly towards Rajgad. In this situation, if Shivaji Maharaj was to clash with Afzal Khan’s army, the Maratha army’s defeat was inevitable. Also if Shivaji was to meet Afzal Khan to sign a treaty, he would certainly not return. So, Shivaji’s sardars and his learned ministers advised him to move to a safe place, away from Afzal Khan. But, Jijau ordered Shivaji to meet Afzal Khan and slay him and display the Maratha valour to the world.
7D. An efficient administrator
Jijamata would keep a close watch on socio-political affairs of the state and in times of need would efficiently handle the administration.
7D 1. Leading the Marathas who were fighting Shaistakhan : Shivaji Maharaj was trapped for four months when Siddi Jauhar had besieged Panhala fort. Jijau had shouldered the responsibility of Swaraj then. Till Shivaji escaped from the besieged fort, Jijau led the Marathas who were fighting Shaistakhan thus protecting Swaraj.
7D 2. ProtectingSwaraj even in her advanced age : While proceeding to Agra, Shivaji Maharaj entrusted Swaraj in the safe hands of Jijau. Shivaji Maharaj’s imprisonment by Aurangazeb did not deter Jijau. Mughals from South, armies of Adilshah and Kutubshah, British and Portuguese invaders in Konkan and Gomantak (Goa) and vast army of Siddi Jauhar in Murud Janjira all had trained their greedy eyes on the Hindavi Swaraj. Jijau, though aged, protected her people from these enemies for more than 8 months. Beyond this, she accomplished completion of Sindudurg fort, recaptured a fort from the enemies, attended to problems of the subjects and showed her efficiency in governing.
7E. Judicious nature
She promptly delivered justice to her subjects to settle numerous problems related to their family and state administration and well as social, religious and financial issues. She was well versed in scriptures, strong, principled and unbiased and so, she was able to deliver perfect and Dharma abiding justice. As the culprits were duly punished, her subjects looked upon her as a ray of hope and were blessed with Dharmrajya / Ramrajya.
7F. Pillar of swaraj
She never distanced herself from her subjects to enjoy pleasures as Rajmata or Queen mother. She was always a responsible mother of a responsible king. She was the pillar of swaraj.
7G. Excellent political and war advisor
Her decisiveness and perceptive nature was so valuable and par excellence that Shahjiraje and Shivaji Maharaj used to value her opinion while taking major political decision. She was extremely good at planning strategies and war tactics.
7H 1. Singlehandedly bringing up Shivaji in the absence of Shahjiraje : Shahajiraje signed the treaty of Mahul and was compelled to leave Maharashtra and go to Karnataka with his elder son. Although this incident scattered her family and uprooted Swaraj, Jijabai was steady. Jijau stayed back in Maharashtra under the pretext of taking care of Pune and Supe Paraganas given by Adil Shah to Shahjiraje and brought up Shivaji as an ideal son.
7H2. She taught her grandson Sambhaji, Urdu and Persian, to help understand the enemy’s plans and strategies.
7H3. Jijau encouraged Shivaji after the treaty of Purandar and Shivaji restablished Hindavi Swaraj : Shivaji Maharaj lost many of his territories and 23 forts to Raje Jaisingh in the treaty of Purandar, but he had a narrow escape from the clutches of Mughals. He did not let the enemy wreck Swaraj completely. Jijau expressed her amazement over Shivaji’s commendable achievement. Her positive approach encouraged Shivaji and he set about re-establishing swaraj with a renewed enthusiasm.
7I. An ideal queen, whose priority lay in her subjects
As Jijau was Shahjiraje’s wife and Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s mother, she was the queen and Rajmata too. As her prime concern was well-being of her subjects, she always gave priority to her duties as a queen or rajmata rather than just emotional bondages as a wife or a mother.
7I 1. Jijau, the force behind Shivaji’s Hindavi Swaraj : Hindus were oppressed under the barbaric atrocities of the Mughals in north India and the AdilShahs, KutubShahs in south India. Shivaji Maharaj, along with his mavlas was trying to reign in these demons. Shivaji Maharaj was the lone survior among Jijau’ sons and he too had to face many life threatening odds. But that did not deter Jijau who braved all this and blessed Shivaji in all his endeavours.
7I2. Jijau enduring the grief of her husband’s death and contributing to swaraj : Shahjiraje’s death shattered Jijau but she endured it despite her advanced age. She refrained from committing sati for the sake of swaraj. She overcame grief and helped Shivajiraje by guiding him in the administration.
Gratitude and prayer
Barely 12 days after witnessing the golden moment of Shivaji’s coronation Jijau breathed her last in Pajad 1674. She devoted her entire life for swaraj. Obeisance to God for setting a personified example of what an ideal Hindu women should be like, in the form of Rajmata Jijau. ‘Jijamata had multi-faceted qualities like intense yearning, faith, determination, patience, sense of respect towards her Dharma, selflessness, warrior attitude, broad-mindedness, fearlessness, leadership, courage, war strategies, sacrificing attitude as well as a desire for victory. A prayer unto the Divine Feet that may all Hindus develop these abilities.
Source :Dainik Sanatan Prabhat