The mother of Shivaji who was the protector of the country as well as religion. She was the guide who shaped his mind from his early years.
She was the embodiment of self-respect. That great mother suffered in silence and became a source of inspiration to her heroic son.
Is there anyone in India who has not heard the immortal name of Chatrapati Shivaji? His glowing story has always been a fountain of inspiration to Indians and will continue to inspire them.
Everyone knows the story of those who brought glory to the land. The stories of their mothers are not so well known, but they are equally inspiring. The mothers, who strengthen the lives of such great men by refining their natures, and who, by great sacrifice, kindle the heroism in them and so shape the history of the land, occupy a proud place. The part played by the heroic mother of the epoch-making Shivaprabhu is as thrilling as it is sacred.
One Rangapanchami Day
Jijabai was born in the town of Sindhkhed in Maharashtra. She was the daughter of a Maratha Sardar name Lakhuji Jadhav Rao. Jadhav Rao and his wife Malasa Bai brought up the child in great love.
An incident occurred in their house on one Rangapanchami day.
“Whatever may happen, the Sardar’s daughter cannot become the daughter-in-law of a Shiledar,” said Lakhuji Jadhav Rao.
Up rose a radiant Maratha hero, in great anger.
“A Maratha hero is always bound by his words.
Your words are a great insult to me. Henceforth our meeting will be according to our worth. I shall not cross the threshold of your house until I acquire the worth.” So saying the Maratha hero left the hall. Firmness and anger were writs large on his face.
Lakhuji Jadhav Rao was the first great Sardar in the Nizamshahi, administration. He was known for his great valor. During those days many Maratha Sardars were serving under the Nizam. They had small armies of their own. They had obtained lands, high positions, and ranks from the Nizam, according to their abilities. They found supreme satisfaction in serving him. But these Maratha Sardars hated one another.
Enmity with members of their clan, but the keen competition to serve the Nizam loyally – such was the condition of the Marathas at that time.
Why This Bitterness
It was the Holi festival (the festival held in honor of the God of Love) in the month of Phalguna. They were celebrating the Rangapanchami festival in the big hall of Jadhav Rao. Sardar, Darakhdar, Shiledar, Bargir, Chopdar – many such officers had assembled. Maloji Shiledar, the son of Babaji Patil of Verul, was also present. The splendor of Lakhuji Jadhav Rao was well known.
At the center was seated Sardar Jadhav Rao.
Around him were seated the invitees according to their ranks. The celebrations came to a close. Then they began to throw colored water on another in the spirit of the Holi festival. Just then, Jija, the beautiful daughter of Jadhav Rao, came out of the house ready to throw colored water, Shahaji, the little son of Maloji, was sitting in the lap of his father. Jija at once began to pour the colored water on Shahaji. He also poured colored water on Jija.
Shahaji was fair and looked like a handsome prince. Jadhav Rao liked the boy immensely. He drew the boy to his side with deep affection. He looked at the assembled men and light-heartedly asked, “Don’t Jija and Shahaji make a fine couple?” Everyone nodded his head saying, “Ah!
What a fine couple!”
Maloji was watching all this. His affection for his son was stimulated.
He said, “Sardars, did you hear what our Sardar Jadhav Rao said? Henceforth, we are related to each other as parents of the bride and the bride-groom. Jija is my daughter-in-law.” But Jadhav Rao attached much importance to his rank and position. He did not relish these words. After all, he had spoken only in jest. He never meant that they should become relatives. He said harshly,
“My daughter can never become the daughter-in-law of an ordinary Shiledar.” Maloji had a sense of self-respect. He stood up in great fury on hearing the words of Jadhav Rao. He declared that Jadhav Rao’s words were a challenge to him and left. And he gave up his post under Jadhav Rao.
Maloji Is Worried
Having given up service under Jadhav Rao, Maloji went straight to his native place, Verul.
His mind was very agitated. He was always lost in thought. Some days passed in this manner.
One night, after supper, Maloji was lying in the corridor of his house. His mind had become the battlefield of clashing ideas. The insult he had suffered in Jadhav Rao’s house had shattered his peace of mind. Pondering over these things, Maloji fell fast asleep. It was the calm hour of four in the morning.
It is said that an extraordinary thing happened at that hour. Maloji had a dream. A deity of exquisite beauty and supreme splendor stood before him. She held the conch, the wheel, the lotus and the Trishul (the trident) in her hands. She said, “My dear child, Maloji, arise. Do you know who I am? I am the protecting deity of your family. A great epoch-making hero is going to be born in your clan. His fame will spread far and wide.
Arise, do not delay. Act and strive. You have my fullest blessings”. So saying, the deity disappeared. Maloji woke up from his slumber and looked around. There was no one. He felt the thrill of new strength and a new spirit.
It is said that on the very next day Maloji had the proof of the blessing of the deity. The following night Maloji went towards his fields in a bullock cart, along with his brother, Vithoji.
They wanted to keep watch over the crop on that moonlit night. The hours passed. It was mid-night. Vithoji fell asleep. But Maloji did not get sleep. Before his eyes, he could still see the very form of the goddess Parvati he had seen in his dream.
The words of Jadhav Rao were piercing his mind.
He was restless. He got up and with a spade, in his hand, he began to dig a mound in his fields.
As he dug with great force, the spade struck something, and there was a metallic sound.
Maloji became curious. He dug out the earth and looked – there was a large pot glittering in the moonlight. The pot was full of gold mohurs to the brim. Seven pots followed one another. Tears of joy welled up in his eyes. He offered silent prayers to his family deity. Now the treasure had to be carried home before daybreak. He woke up his brother Vithoji. When Vithoji saw the treasure he danced with joy like a mad man. Together they managed to carry the seven huge pots of treasure home in a cart. They offered worship to the Goddess of Wealth, with great joy.
Jijabai Becomes Maloji’s Daughter-in-law
Immediately after he got the huge wealth, Maloji began to think of the future. He bought one thousand horses of the finest breed from Sheshova who was a merchant friend. He built up a powerful army of one thousand soldiers.
His influence grew in the neighboring regions.
More and more villages began to serve Maloji with great respect. Maloji, now a very rich man, could have led a life of pleasure and ease. But he had a clear and high ideal before him. He had to accomplish a great deed. Maloji knew that a selfish man would not be honored.
Only those who gave their all – body, mind, and wealth – to the service of others were honored. So he used his wealth for noble purposes. He built free lodges for travelers and dug wells. He also renovated temples and mutts. He arranged for the poor and the needy to be fed freely. He renovated the famous temple of Ghrishneshwara at Velur. He constructed the large tank at Shinghanapura.
And so everyone was full of praise for Maloji.
Maloji’s fame reached the ears of Jadhav Rao.
His wife Malasabaj had a high appreciation for his personality and valor. His acts of generosity and charity deepened her affection.
Jadhav Rao was a proud man. His pride in his rank had not diminished. Maloji now owned a contingent of two thousand horses. His army numbered three thousand-horses and soldiers.
He began to give Jadhav Rao pinpricks. He also made serious attacks on the Nizamshahi.
Gradually Maloji grew more and more powerful.
The Nizam too had some idea of his courage and strength. He wanted to make Maloji somehow or the other one of his Sardars so that his state might be secured. He conferred the title of ‘Mansabdar Raje’, the Commander of twelve thousand horses, on Maloji. He made him the Sardar of the villages around Shivaneri Fortress.
Now Maloji became ‘Sardar Maloji Rao Bhosle’. The Nizam also compelled Sardar Jadhav Rao to give his consent to the marriage of his daughter Jija with Maloji’s son Shahaji. ‘No doubt Maloji had won his aim. But Sardar Jadhav Rao nursed his anger. His hatred for Maloji increased as Maloji’s strength and fame grew.
Maloji breathed his last at the age of seventy.
Shahaji Raje succeeded his father as Sardar and continued to serve the Nizam.
A Burning Heart
Like his father, Shahaji was courageous and diplomatic. He was known as a seasoned politician and warrior. Though he had married Jija, his relations with his father-in-law had not improved. There was hatred between the two families. Jadhav Rao could not bear the growing fame of his son-in-law. As time passed he left the Nizamshahi. He joined the Moguls to revenge himself on his son-in-law. He spent his entire life in this attempt Jija was filled with sorrow over the enmity between the two families.
And she was also unhappy because both her father and her husband were spending their lives in the service of the Muslims. Jija’s heart had become a volcano. She had a strong love of liberty. The benevolence of the Nizam or the Moghuls to the Maratha warriors seemed to her like fetters of gold. Her husband was one of them. The very thought of their humble and helpless condition burnt her heart with fires of fury.
But she was helpless. As a model house-wife, she had to put on a calm appearance. It is not that Shahaji could not understand his, wife’s displeasure. But he could not do anything single-handed. He had to bow his head to circumstances and serve his master with loyalty.
Her Father Prisoner
In the meanwhile, the Mogul Emperor Shahjehan invaded the Nizam’s dominions. At that time there were only two brave Sardars on the side of the Nizam – Mallik Amber and Shahaji Raje Bhosle. Just at this time, Mallik Amber passed away. So the entire responsibility fell on Shahaji.
Then Shahaji was in the fort of Mahuli. Taking advantage of this, Jadhav Rao joined the Moghul army against the Nizam and lay seize to Mahuli fort.
Shahaji fought heroically for six months and saved the fort. The father-in-law himself had set out to destroy the son-in-law. At that time Jijabai was also in the Mahuli fort. In the midst of all this, a plot was brewing against Shahaji in the Nizamshahi. Shahaji did not receive timely help.
He had no choice. He secretly left the fort with Jijabai. As soon as he heard of Shahaji’s escape Jadhav Rao pursued Shahaji. Jijabai was then in the fourth month of her pregnancy. As her horse raced down the dangerous slopes she suffered much. She got off the horse and said to her husband, “My Lord, the enemy is quite near. I cannot move. Going at this pace may prove dangerous.
Leave me here and go. Do not be worried about me.” Shahaji realized the seriousness of the situation and rode on.
In no time Jijabai fell into the hands of her father. After all, she was his daughter. She was also with child. Observing her condition, Jadhav Rao said, “Jiju, my child, why do you suffer so much? Go at once to my house in Sindhkhed. I will arrange for a palanquin.” Jijabai was the wife of a hero. How could she relish such suggestions? She answered her father fearlessly: “Baba Saheb, you still wish to take revenge on the Bhosle family, don’t you? Here I stand before you. You may fulfill your desire.
I have no business in your house. On the very day I got married and crossed the threshold of your house and stepped into my father-in-law’s house, I ceased to belong to your family. Now I am the heroic daughter-in-law of-the Bhosle family. The bread prepared out of husk in my husband’s house is more tasteful to me than the cakes of pearl in your house. I shall die as a heroic wife of the Bhosle family.” When he heard these words, Jadhav Rao was filled with fury. He roared like an angry lion: “Jiju, do you know before whom you have been blabbering?” Jija answered with equal resoluteness,
“Yes, I do know it. I have blabbered in the presence of a friend of the Moguls, and an enemy of the Marathas – in the presence of one who is an avowed enemy of my husband.”
“Father, what do you take me for? Do you think that I am still a little child? A Maratha woman is not afraid of anyone but her husband. Go at once. Capture your prey and win a prize from the Moghuls. After all, that will be the glory of your life, will it not? Why are you standing still? I do not need your protection. Look, there is the fort of Shivaneri. That is my home. I will spend my days in the worship of Jagadambe, the Mother of the Universe!” So she insulted him to his face.
The father was speechless. She appeared like Durga Devi, the Goddess of Power. Thinking it was meaningless to remain there any longer, Jadhav Rao went away.
‘I Must See an Independent Emperor’
When he left Jijabai in the woods, Shahaji had asked one of his trusted soldiers by name Sreenivasa Rao to hide nearby. This person took Jijabai safely to Shivaneri.
Jijabai was the very embodiment of self-respect. She dared to face any difficulty. She was pained at the sight of holy places and secret shrines in ruins. She now-lived in luxury; she had pearls and diamonds, palatial mansions which offered every comfort, servants and workmen, elephants, horses, palanquins and wealth. But she cared for none of these.
She used to sit before the idol of Jagadambe, lost in thought. She prayed to Her, “Oh Rudramba, give me the strength of one of your arms. Put an end to the pride of the Marathas in the service of others. I want to see an independent and powerful Maratha Emperor shining in the glory of his flag and his army. Grant that my wish may be fulfilled!”
What a vision! If the Nizam had come to know that such a woman lived in his kingdom, he would have ordered her house as well as the whole town to be burnt to ashes. A sovereign Hindu throne in the Kingdom of the Nizam!
Absurd and impossible!
But Jijabai was discontented. She was indignant with the Maratha Jagirdars and Sardars.
Had they no sense of self-respect in them? Men without any knowledge of their religion and culture! Men without any anger for the shame heaped on them! What kind of Sardars are these who cannot protect their motherland and religion!
The time needed a hero like Sri Rama to organize and lead the sturdy but ignorant Maratha Mavalas to fight against the Sultan. If only such a hero was born..!
Jijabai loved the Ramayana written by Valmiki and the Mahabharatha written by Veda Vyas. She had heard the stories of heroines like Draupadi, Kunthi, and Vidula. They peculiarly affected her. Oh, if only she could give birth to a son like Bhima or Arjuna! How blessed she would be! How she pined for such a son!
Would Goddess Thulaja Bhavani be able to fulfill her wish?
It was a matter of great sorrow for Jijabai that Shahaji was serving the Nizam. But this did not affect her love for him. In every way, she was the light of his house. But her mind boiled at the thought of the servility of the Marathas.
Pining For A Heroic Son
Jijabai was studying the most intricate political problems in the company of elderly and experienced politicians and diplomats. She had acquainted herself with the state of her country and the world. She could see the poor brave Maratha Mavalas trembling under the high handed rule of the Sultanshahi. She only wished to have a son who had the strength to bring them together.
Perfect arrangements had been made to look after Jijabai who was pregnant. Everyone was eager to fulfill every wish of hers. But she had unusual wishes. Pregnant women usually want sweet dishes or perfumes or delicious drinks.
But Jijabai desired none of these. She wished to climb up to forts on tops of hills, to wield swords, to discuss difficult political questions and to put on mail and ride on horseback. The most amazing thing was that she wished to fight armed, with tigers.
Her Parent’s House Reduced To Ashes In the midst of all this, most crushing news reached Shivaneri and struck her like lightning.
The family of Jijabai’s parents was blighted.
Lakhuji Jadhav Rao who had made friends with the Moguls decided to return to the service of the Nizamshahi. Along with his three sons, he waited on the Nizam and offered obeisance to him. The Nizam’s Sardars cut off their heads as they bent down to salute the Nizam. Within a few seconds, the entire family of Jijabai was destroyed.
Jijabai’s mother Malasabai and the wives of her elder brothers performed ‘Sati’ and burned themselves with the bodies of their husbands.
These terrible happenings burnt her very heal.
The Mogul Badshah of Delhi had sent Raja Jai Singh to the South at the head of a huge army.
The Nizam had no faith in Shahaji Raje Bhosle, too. No one could know when he would be in danger. But Shahaji was quite shrewd. He became wary before it was too late. He, too, joined hands with the Moguls. But the Moguls wanted to keep Shahaji away from Sahyadri. So they appointed him as the Sardar of Karnataka. Stories of the cruel deeds of the Nizam and his officers reached Shivaneri one after another.
Whole villages and the families of poor Marathas were being wiped out. Kheloji Rao was a young relative of Shahaji Raje Bhosle. Sardar Mohabat Khan forcibly carried away his young and beautiful wife when she was bathing. When such was the fate of the daughter-in-law of the famous Bhosle family, what could not happen to poor and helpless Marathas? When Jijabai heard all this, she became furious.
Shivaji on His Mother’s Lap
The festivities of Dasara, Divali, and Sankranthi were over. The day when Jijabai would become a mother was approaching. One day Jijabai had labor pains. Worship was offered to God Vighneshwara and Goddess Jagadambe. On an auspicious day, Friday, the eighteenth day in the month of Phalguna of the Hindu year Shukla, 1551 of the Shalivahana Era, (Corresponding to the 19th February 1630 of the Christian Era) Jijabai gave birth to a son. It was a day of festivities and great jubilation in Shivaneri.
It was the Twelfth Day after the birth of the baby. Mother Jija clad in a yellow, gold-bordered sari and bedecked with ornaments, sat with the child on her lap. The child was to be given a name. Elderly ladies joyfully performed the customary rites. Then came the question: What name was the child to be given? All eyes turned to Jija Matha. She prostrated before Jagadambe, and serenely said: “Shivaji.” The cradle was swung.
The infant with the three-syllable name carried in it the power to shape the history of India.
The Architect of Liberty It was Jijabai’s strong wish that her son should become a great hero. She wanted him to put an end to the shameless life of the Marathas and begin a new chapter of liberty and self-respect.
Now a son had been born to her. It was her duty to mold his nature and to make him the savior of his country. She had a high sense of self-respect, a heart as strong as steel, and a deep religious consciousness. With these virtues, she seemed born for such a difficult and sacred task.
Shahaji arranged to send Mother Jija and Shivaji to Pune with Dadaji Kondadev. Pune was then a small village. It had been destroyed by the attacks of the forces of the Nizamshahi, the Adil Dynasty, and the Moguls.
Not a single holy shrine was left standing. The idols had been broken to pieces. Under the able administration of Kondadev, Pune was rebuilt.
It was fortunate that Dadaji was there to assist Jijabai.
Amid corrupt officers, Dadaji earned a good name as an honest and straightforward officer. At a time when even men in high places silently suffered disgrace and humiliation, he gave protection to the common man. He also narrated to the boy Shivaji stories of the past glory of India and the deeds of ancient heroes so vividly that they were printed on his mind.
Under the orders of Jijabai, many temples were built in Pune. Shivaji’s education was mostly in her hands. Listening to stories selected from the immortal epics of India, namely the Ramayana, the Mahabharatha and the Bhagavatha, from the lips of his dear mother was a part of young Shivaji’s daily life. As he listened to the accounts of the exploits of Sri Rama, Hanumantha, Krishna, Abhimanyu, Arjuna, and others, the mace, the bow, and shafts seemed ever before his eyes.
Whenever any holy men came to Pune Mother Jija used to make Shivaji offer them service. Their great refinement, their teachings, and blessings infused new strength into Shivaji’s body. Under the able administration of his Guru Dadaji and in the cool shade of Jija’s culture, superhuman strength grew in him.
The Mavale boys became his friends. They were poor but loyal and they became his intimate companions. He played with them the game of building forts and laying siege to them. Mother Jija’s strict discipline and her regard for justice became the very breath of Shivaji. Even as a boy Shivaji issued orders for cutting off the hands of the sinner who slaughtered the sacred cow. He sentenced to death a man who insulted a woman.
Pune acquired a new look after the arrival of Mother Jija. She laid foundations for the prosperity of the neighboring villages by her orderly administration. She settled disputes and meted out justice in the open court. Shivaji used to sit with her on such occasions. He had lively discussions with her. He was particularly interested in political matters and exchanged views with his mother. He watched Dadaji Kondadev at work and learned much.
Like Seetha and Shakunthala
One after another troubles over-whelmed Mother Jija. In 1630 Shahaji Raje married Tukabai, as his second wife in Bangalore. After this marriage, he visited Jijabai and his son Shivaji only now and then. He spent his time mostly with Tukabai and her son. But Jijabai did not lose heart. She spent all her time in the education of Shivaji. No doubt Shahaji was a valiant man.
But the love of liberty had dried up in him. He had completely given himself to the service of others. Jijabai knew that her ideals could not be achieved if the boy Shivaji lived with Shahaji.
The far-sighted Jijabai brought up her son in such a way that his father’s aloofness did not cause young Shivaji unhappiness or pain. Love of his country, his religion, freedom, and a good life – this was the firm foundation on which she raised the structure of Shivaji’s great life. As Shakunthala taught her son Bharatha and as Seetha shaped the lives of her sons, Lava, and Kusha, Jijabai completed the difficult task of modeling the future independent sovereign of the Maratha State in the shade of her motherly care and love.
An incident took place while Jija was in Pune.
Maldar Khan, a close associate of Shahaji, came to Pune. At that time Shahaji who had given up his service under the Nizam was living in Bangalore in the service of the Moghul King. Maldar Khan came to Pune under the pretext of trying to win over Shahaji to the side of the Nizam again by appointing him to a high office. He tried to meet Jija Matha.
She knew him and agreed to give him an audience. Maldar Khan took this chance to deceive her. He captured Jijabai and kept her prisoner in Pamalghar. Sardar Jagdev Rao came to know of this. He was furious. Fortunately, Shivaji was then at Shivapuri. Therefore he escaped. Jagdev Rao had friendly relations with the Nizam. The Nizam feared that he might rebel in his anger and join the Moghuls; so, to please him, the Nizam agreed to set Jijabai free.
After she was set free, Jagdev Rao arranged for her safe stay in Gandapur. Jijabai was a proud woman and a woman of firm resolution. This incident affected her deeply. Shahaji also came to know of this. The efforts of Dadaji Kondadev and Vishwas Rao brought back the Jahagir of Pune to Jijabai the danger that threatened Pune was thus averted.
Jija Matha was a woman of great foresight.
To quote an instance, she played a great part in bringing back to the Hindu fold brave soldier like Bajaji Nimbalkar who had embraced Islam.
He was a valiant general. To allow such a person to remain on the side of the enemies would weaken the Maratha Kingdom. In those days many people were opposed to such a move.
They argued that once a Hindu was converted to another faith he could not be admitted again to the Hindu faith. It required much courage to say that if a Hindu converts wished to return to Hinduism, he should be welcomed. Jija Matha persuaded everyone that her view was reasonable. She did not stop at that. After getting Nimbalkar back to the Hindu faith, she also gave Shivaji’s daughter Sakhubai in marriage to his son Mahadaji. What love of her religion and how liberal-minded!
Shivaji grew up and began his fight for freedom. At the young age of sixteen, he captured the fort of Thorangadh. Jijabai could not contain her joy. Shivaji would not take any important decision without consulting his mother.
Jijabai had to face difficult situations again and again. The sultan of Bijapur captured Shahaji. Shivaji cleverly got him released. Before this Afzal Khan, the Sardar of Bijapur had come with a large army. He was determined to crush Shivaji.
Afzal Khan was a giant-like figure, seven feet tall and as strong as a rock. He smashed the idol of Thulaja Bhavani, the family deity of Shivaji. He also destroyed many other temples. He thought that these acts would provoke Shivaji and he would come out into the open. He thought that then, with his powerful army, he could easily defeat Shivaji. In this critical hour, Shivaji consulted not only his trusted friends but also his mother Jijabai.
Many believed that a meeting with the Khan would prove dangerous and that it was better for Shivaji to keep away from him. But Jija Matha was one of those who said that he should not be afraid of danger and that he should meet the dreaded Khan. Accordingly, Shivaji went out to meet Afzal Khan. Jijabai sent him with her blessings.
To Shivaji’s companions, Jijabai was a source of inspiration. She treated them as affectionately as she did her son. She felt very sad like a mother when brave Maratha soldiers, after fighting heroically, fell one after another sacrificing their lives for their motherland. Thananji Malsure was a brave and noble, who gave away Simjhagadh (the Lion Fort) to the Moguls. But Jijabai argued vehemently that such a fort should be in the hands of Shivaji.
She said to Thanaji, “If you free Simhagadh from the enemies you will be like Shivaji’s younger brother to me.” Thanaji went forth determined to win back Simhagadh before daybreak on the following day. The fort was quite strong, almost invincible. It was under the protection of a brave Rajput by name Udayabhanu Rathod. Thanaji climbed up the terrible fortress at the dead of the night. He killed Udayabhanu in a fierce duel. But unfortunately, Thanaji himself met with death. He died like a hero. By daybreak, the Bhagava Jhanda (the saffron flag of Shivaji) fluttered over the fort of Simhagadh.
The whole night Jijabai had been watching from the top of Shivaneri; her eyes were fixed on the fort of Simhagadh. When she saw the Bhagava Flag fluttering pleasantly over Simhagadh fort, her eyes were filled with tears of joy. She forgot herself in her joy over Thaanaji’s victory. The very next moment the most sorrowful news of the death of Thanaji was brought to her. She was utterly miserable. Another loyal hero, Baji Prabhu, fought with great valor and terrible fury at Pavankhindi to save the life of Shivaprabhu that his heroism had saved Shivaji should have comforted Jijabai; but she wept with sorrow as if she had lost her son.
The King’s Mother
Jijabai who had pledged her son Shivaji to the protection of the country and the Hindu religion had to suffer sorrow after sorrow. Her affectionate son Shivaji was always in the jaws of danger.
He was compelled by circumstances to go to Agra to meet the Moghul King, Aurangazeb. It was very difficult to foretell what would befall Shivaji who was at Aurangzeb ‘s mercy.
Shivaji, too, had realized that he was entering a dreadfully dangerous den. Who was to look after the state till his return from Agra? Who would be able to think calmly in the face of difficulties and take wise decisions? Jijabai also knew that her son was walking into the jaws of death. In such circumstances, Shivaji placed the reins of the state in the hands of his mother, Jijabai.
Both Shivaji and his son Sambhaji were thrown into prison at Agra by the Mogul ruler. What anguish must Jijabai have suffered! And yet the administration of the state went on smoothly till Shivaji returned from Agra. Jijabai suffered silently all the sadness of her long separation from her husband and offered her life itself at the altar of the country for her son Shivaji.
In January 1664 Shahaji fell from his horse when he was hunting and died. The news of Shahahi’s death was a bolt from the blue to Shivaji and his mother Jija. She was so overcome by sorrow that she decided to perform ‘Sati’, burn-ing herself on the pyre. But Shivaji begged of her to give up the decision and finally she agreed. A free state was about to be born; what would its fate be if this great mother, the source of inspiration, was to perform ‘Sati’?
The day dawned when the sacrifice was to flower into fulfillment. On that auspicious day, Jijabai witnessed the coronation of her son. On the thirteenth day in the month of Jyestha of the Hindu year Ananda (1674), Shivaji bowed to his noble mother at Raigadh, received her blessings and ascended the golden throne.
Even amid such rejoicing, there was piercing pain and sorrow in a corner of Jija Matha’s heart. She remembered Thanaji, Baji Prabhu, Suryaji and a host of other heroes who had sacrificed their all for the establishment of ‘Swaraj’.
Jija Matha became Rajjmatha, the King’s Mother. But fate was cruel. On the twelfth day after the coronation of Shivaji, this great and noble mother passed away. The light was extinguished. Shivaprabhu wept like an orphaned child.
To this day Raigadh has remained a holy place.
Splendid statues of Mother Jija and the boy Shivaji have been installed there. The young men and the children of our land should climb up to the fort of Raigadh. They should draw inspiration from these magnificent figures.