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  • Anushree Pathrikar

Rani Tarabai - The ‘Star’ Among Queens

We all have heard about dauntless women who have helped in the making of our country. From liberating our motherland from the shackles of foreign oppression to reforming the discriminatory thought process of the masses, the Indian women have done it all.

We have heard countless tales of how Rani Lakshmibai fought like a tigress. We have also heard about the innumerable sacrifices of Savitribai Phule to educate women or even the caring nature of Mother Teresa.

But have we ever heard about the lionesses of the Maratha Empire? She who took charge of the Maratha Empire after her husband, the Chhatrapati’s (King) death; She who fought indefatigably against the one of the greatest Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb; She who refused to let anybody even dream of conquering her homeland. She is Rani Tarabai Bhosale.

From an early age, Tarabai was influenced by the politics and war against Mughals for the freedom of the country. She was the daughter of the Commander-in-chief of the Maratha army, Hambirrao Mohite. Her father made sure to give her every kind of training, from shooting arrows to wielding the sword and horse riding.

Tarabai was then married into the Bhosale family, to Chhatrapti Shivaji Maharaj’s younger son, Rajaram. Tarabai had witnessed the rise and fall of the Maratha empire. Tarabai and Rajaram had to live in disguise and hiding due to the lack of power of the Marathas and the life-threatening oppression of the Mughals. Tarabai, an independent woman and an even more determined empress, did not live in disguise for long. After about a year, Tarabai broke free from the chains of disguise.

Tarabai soon began the re-formation of the then-fragmented Maratha empire. But then in March 1700, Rajaram passed away. However, this hapless incident did not deviate Tarabai from her goal. The Mughals saw the death of Rajaram as the end of the Maratha Empire (as they considered Tarabai, a female, inferior to them). The Mughals and their Emperor, Aurangzeb had greatly underestimated the power of Tarabai.

Tarabai faced Aurangzeb in the Battle of Satara. Aurangzeb waged continuous war in the deccan region for almost two decades, and thus lost a fifth of his army. With significant contributions from Nemaji Shinde and other Maratha commanders under the able leadership of Tarabai, the Mughals had to retreat and accept defeat.

At last a tired, hopeless, broken and weak Aurangzeb had retreated to a small place in Maharashtra, Burhanpur, in the hopes of acquiring this territory from Tarabai. He however did not succeed and died alone in a small tent. Tarabai had successfully gotten rid of the last prominent Mughal, Aurangzeb, by emerging victorious in multitudinous wars and making him die a lonely death.

For all these reasons and her remarkable victories against Aurangzeb, Tarabai was given the title- Rani Shrimant Akhand Soubhagyavati Tarabai Raje Saheb Bhosale. Today her name might be fading away from the pages of history, but we as Indians must remember her sacrifices to protect our nation and to give us the heavenly boon of freedom.

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