India is a land of love stories; we have grown up reading and listening to love stories of Ram-Sita, Krishna-Radha, Shiv-Sati from the mythology and Laila-Majnu, Salim-Anarkali, Heer-Ranjha from the history. And this might be the reason even today Bollywood makes such beautiful love stories. We Indians know a bit more about love, with India being home to Taj Mahal, the monument of love. And today we are talking about a not-so-typical love story but undoubtedly among the top love stories our country is blessed with, the love story of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Saibai.
Shivaji Bhosale, popularly known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the founder of the Maratha Empire belonged to Maratha clan and we all know him as a brave Indian warrior king. He was crowned as ‘Chhatrapati’ at Raigad on 1674. He was popularly known as the ‘Mountain Rat’ for his awareness of land and guerrilla methods like ambushing, raiding and surprise attacks on rivals. He always knew the importance of good army unit and hence started with a small contingent of 2,000 soldiers he created an army of 10,000 soldiers. He was also known for preserving Hindu political and court traditions and also for broadcasting the use of Marathi and Sanskrit. He always stood for the honour of women and always treated them with respect and those who dishonoured women had to undergo harsh punishments.
Among the eight wives, Sai Bhosale was his first wife and the chief companion of Shivaji. She also helped him in affairs in regards of State and the royal family. Sai also known as Saibai. She belonged to Nimbalkar dynasty that ruled Phaltan. Her father Mudhojirao was the ruler of Phalthan. But this was not always the case. He was held by Adil Shah’s army and was kept in prison. Shahji, Shivaji’s father, helped him to escape and as act of appreciation, Mudhojirao came up with a marriage proposal. This is how Shivaji and Sai met and got married young in 1640.
Though Shivaji remained busy, the couple had a peaceful and trouble-free married life for 19 years and were blessed with four children – three daughters i.e. Sakavarbai, Ambikabai, Ranubai and a son -Sambhaji.
Sadly after the birth of Sambhaji, Saibai’s health deteriorated and she passed away at the age of 26, in 1659. Her son was later looked after by Shivaji’s mother Jijabai. A tomb has been built in the memory of Saibai at Raigad fort, where she breathed her last.
Later, Shivaji’s second wife Soyarabai took over the duties that were followed by Saibai. Though she was not as favourite as Saibai, she took care of everything brilliantly.
Shivaji died in 1680, 21 years after Saibai’s death, but it is said that the last word uttered by Shivaji was ‘Sai’. All we can say is ‘True love never ends!’