(Kannada: ಜೀಜಾಬಾಯಿ ) was the mother of Shivaji
, founder of the Maratha Empire
. She was a daughter of Lakhuji Jadhav, a prominent grandee of Sindkhed in the present-day Buldhana
district of Maharashtra
State. As per the customs of that age, she was wed at an early age to Shahaji Bhosale
, a nobleman and military commander under the Adil Shahi
sultans of Bijapur
in present-day Karnataka
. She was his second wife.
Jijabai was the mother of eight children, six daughters and two sons. Shivaji was the younger of her sons.
Jijabai was well known for her chivalry and character.
She wholeheartedly supported her husband's cause.
Shahaji had tried to establish a Maratha state on the ruins of the erstwhile Nizamshahi sultanate. However he was defeated by the combined forces of the Mughals and Adilshahi. As per the treaty he was forced to move south.
In order to continue the struggle, he deputed her as queen regent
to look after his holdings in and around Pune. She was chosen for this because of her ability as a warrior and administrator. This has been the tradition of Maratha women since time immemorial.
At that time Shivaji was 14 years old and so accompanied his mother. The elder son Sambhaji remained with their father. Shivaji left Banglore along with her mother, a council of ministers and chosen military commanders. Against this background, Shivaji took oath of "Swaraj" at the temple of lord Raireshwar. The rest of the story is well known.
Her elder son Sambhaji was killed in a battle tracherously by Afzul Khan
of the Adil Shahi court. Shivaji later killed Afzul Khan and avenged his death.
When Shahaji died Jijabai tried to commit [[sati],(an old ritual)] and end her life but Shivaji convinced her with great difficulty from not doing so.
Jijabai is widely credited with raising Shivaji in a manner that led to his future greatness. She gave a human touch to Shivaji's personality. His policy towards captured women reflects her influence.
She died immediately after the coronation of Shivaji, fulfilling her mission.
It is worth mentioning that apart from her, Rukmini (wife of Krishna), Damayanti (wife of Nala), Lopamudra (wife of sage agasti) were princesses from Bhoj Yadavas of Vidarbha. All four princesses are well known for their versite personality and character.