“Swarajya Janani Jeeja Mata” – The woman behind Shivaji’s success
Monday,20 February 2023 01:40 PM IST
As a woman, freedom and empowerment of women is a topic close to my heart. I remember Rousseau’s famous statement during the French Revolution, “man is born free, but he is everywhere in chains”. But for men a lot changed but what has not changed is for women. So, we can correctly say “women are born free, but she is everywhere in chains”. Even in the 21st century there is not much change anywhere in the world. She is a victim of domestic violence, rape and many horrors. The US has the most cases of domestic violence in the world. To add to misery, religions play a huge part in their condition.
Nineteenth of February is celebrated as Shivaji Jayanti or the birth of Chhatrapati Shivaji who is one of Bharat Ma’s greatest son. So, I thought let me write about her. Jeeja Mata was born on 12th January 1598. I can safely say it was Jeeja Mata who made the Hindu Hridaya Samrat Shivaji so great. It is rightly said “behind every successful man is a great mother who nurtures a great life” and the life of Shivaji is a testimony to this fact.
Jeeja Mata is also known as Rajmata Jeeja Bai, mother of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Maratha kingdom and the protector of our Bharat Ma as well as his Dharma Hinduism. “She was the guide who shaped his mind from his early years. She was the embodiment of self-respect -- the great mother who suffered in silence and became a source of inspiration to her heroic son”.
The true importance of a mother in any individual’s life can be judged from the fact that while on one hand, she is the first guru to her child, on the other hand, the very heaven sleeping on her lap, listen to her lullabies, eating food served by her, and lastly touching her holy feet. Jeeja Mata was such a combination -- mother and brave woman. She was not only his friend, and guide but also a great source of inspiration. She never lost courage and patience in case of difficulties and adversities. She imparted moral values and ideals to her son. As a result, her son grew up to be a great protector of the Hindu society and came to be known as Hindu Hridaya Samrat Shivaji Maharaj.
She was born in a village named Sindkher to Lakhuji Jadhav and Mahalasabai Jadhav . Her father belonged to Deulgaon, near Sindkhed, in the present-day Buldhana district of Maharashtra. He was equally brave and ambitious and proud of his lineage as his daughter. She was the only daughter of Lakhuji Jadhav, and as per the customs prevalent in those days, she was married at an early age to Shahaji Bhonsle, who was the son of Maloji Bhosle of Verul village. She was only eight years old and her husband was hardly twelve years old and, she remained with her parents for several years before joining her husband.
She had eight children (six daughters and two sons), unfortunately, all the daughters died in infancy and only the two sons, Shambaji and Shivaji reached adulthood.
Shahaji was granted Jagir of Bengaluru and as per the terms of the treaty was forced to move to Bengaluru. While Shivaji and Jijabai were at Bengaluru, Shahaji provided excellent education to Shivaji. However, Jeeja Bai along with young Shivaji and a few chosen associates soon shifted to Pune. In those days, a large part of Maharashtra was under the rule of Nizam Shah of Ahmadnagar and Adil Shah of Bijapur and these two rulers were in a constant fight with each other to prove their dominance over the parts of Maharashtra. Along with these rulers, the Portuguese, the British, the Dutch, and the French, constantly tried to prove their dominance over Maharashtra. Due to all these factors, there was instability and insecurity in Maharashtra and needless to say the condition of the common man was miserable.
There were many great Sardars who belonged to the Maratha clan, but they worked either for the Adil Shah or Nizam Shah. Jeeja Bai was not happy that her husband and her father were serving under the Muslim rulers. She always had a vision for an independent kingdom. Nijam Shah deceitfully murdered her father Lakhuji Jadhav and his sons in his royal court. This incident had a deep impact on Jijabai. She was a very pious and intelligent woman with a great vision for an independent kingdom. Shivaji grew up and began his fight for freedom. At the young age of sixteen, he captured the fort of Thorangadh. Shivaji would not take any important decision without consulting his mother. Jeeja Bai is widely credited with raising Shivaji in a manner that led to his future greatness.
She inspired Shivaji by telling stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata. Right from his childhood, she would tell Shivaji about the lives of Sri Ram, Maruti, and Sri Krishna to make him pious and patriotic. No wonder, he believed in the saying “Janani janma bhumishcha swargadapi gariyasi”. Right from his childhood, she sowed the seeds of devotion to Bharat Ma. “She instilled in him many values like courage, modesty, truthfulness, fearlessness. She inspired him to the establishment of Hindu Swaraj”. In Shivaji’s spotless character and courage, her contribution is enormous. It was through the efforts of his mother that Shivaji became an ideal administrator and ruler.
Even to Shivaji companions, she was a source of inspiration, and she treated them as affectionately as she did her own son. A glimpse of this was seen in the Bollywood blockbuster Tanaji. “She felt very sad like a mother when brave Maratha soldiers, after fighting heroically, fell one after another sacrificing their lives for their country”. After hearing the news of her elder son and husband’s death, she was very upset and unfortunately died soon after the coronation of Shivaji on June 17, 1674, in Pachad. Shivaji was heartbroken by her death, as she was not only a mother, but also a source of his inspiration.
Jeeja Bai lived through life without any assistance, and the moment she stepped into the Bhonsle household, “she absorbed and adapted to their customs and traditions. She had cemented a concrete resolution in life – to cultivate Shivaji into an exemplary king, one who would abide by the ideals of Swaraj and Swadharma, whose subjects would have sufficient to survive on and in whose kingdom, the woman would be treated with due honor and respect”. She realized this cherished dream through her great son.
If only in today’s world we had such mothers!