Rajmata Jijau, the mother of Shivaji, the Maratha king, was a feminist who believed in doing the right thing, no matter what the circumstances.
Recently we had the birth anniversary of Jijabai Bhosale, commonly (and fondly) known as Jijau or Rajmata Jijau (on 12th of January). Most of us know of her as the mother of Shivaji – The founder of Maratha empire.
I would rather like the world to know Jijau as – ‘The Mother who nurtured her son to be Shivaji – the founder of Maratha empire’. This is because Jijau’s contribution in the making of Shivaji was enormous. We really owe the Hindavi Swarajya to Jijau because without her upbringing and the values she inculcated into her child, we could not have got a king, a warrior like Shivaji.
Jijau was a very powerful Indian woman; in the 16th century, she really had everything that we see in today’s feminist women.
When her husband had to move to the South as a part of his duties towards Adilshah, he sent Jijau with little Shivaji to Pune and declared her the queen regent. Pune was a wild forest then. Jijau with the help of her council of ministers changed the face and eventually the fate of Pune, and successfully handled her duties as queen regent.
This was along with a 5 year old kid whom she gave the best upbringing possible. Much like today’s women who stay away from husbands who are away as a part of work/career. On an average in all long distant couples, its the woman who looks after the kids and the family; many times along with her full time job.
She stood by the side of her husband in his tussle against her own father who was wrong, even if she had a deep affection for her father, showing her commitment to her marriage. It was Jijau who convinced society to accept Bajaji Nimbalkar who had been forced to convert to Islam, when he wanted to come back to Hinduism. She did not think of consequences and supported what was right, which showed her ability to fight for the right cause.
She was a woman with vision, foresightedness and was passionate about her dream of achieving freedom for all her people. Her conduct was so influential that all mothers were willingly ready to sacrifice their sons to establish freedom. She is often referred as a ‘Lioness’ for all the bold and brave traits that Shivaji eventually got from his mother. She was the first mentor to Shivaji and was responsible for most of his education; having him learn about the Holy scriptures and arts of administration and weaponry, and the political situations in the land.
She raised Shivaji in such a manner that in an era where women were treated as inferior and being molested openly by the enemies, Shivaji grew up into a man, a king who treated every woman (even those belonging to enemies camp) with immense respect and he always kept safety of women as his top priority.
Jijabai supported gender equality and rooted it in the culture that women are not inferior but should be treated as EQUALs. If all mothers of today world can get this attitude in their children, I am sure the incidents of molestations, rapes and violence against women can be avoided.
Jijabai’s stellar qualities — like her independent nature, leadership skills, strong instinct to stand up against evil, passion for dreams, decision making ability and clarity of thought are some of the things that make me relate today’s women to Jijabai or vice-versa.
Jijabai Bhosale was undoubtedly a great woman, a strong mother and a role model for today’s women. There is much more to write about or learn from her life. Her birth anniversary just reminded me of the immense power each woman has and the contribution she can make, to improve this society, and to improve the status of women in our society.
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Image source: By Bharath12345 at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons