Tarabai Biography

(Regent of Maratha Empire)

Birthday: April 14, 1675 (Aries)

Born In: Satara

Tarabai was the regent of the magnificent Maratha Empire in India for a few years in the early 1700s. Rarely has there been a female personality like her in Indian history who saved a kingdom from collapse through her sheer courage and willpower. A woman whose indomitable spirit was unarguably at par with that of the legendary Rani of Jhansi, she deserves more than a passing mention. The younger daughter-in-law of Chhatrapati Shivaji, she acted as regent of the Maratha Empire from 1700 to 1708 on behalf of her minor son, Shivaji II. At the time, the Maratha foothold was weakening due to constantly losing territories to Aurangzeb’s vast Mughal army. She not only oversaw the resistance against enemy occupation, but also planned and supervised many of her army’s raids and military operations. When her power was taken away from her first by Shahu, and later by Sambhaji II, she came back stronger each time. Thanks to her political acuity, she not only outlived her adversaries but also the Maratha Empire, given the crushing defeat it was dealt in 1761 in the 3rd Battle of Panipat at the hands of Ahmad Shah Abdali. In the pantheon of great Maratha warrior heroes, Tarabai has reserved for herself a special place.
Quick Facts

Indian Celebrities Born In April

Also Known As: Tarabai Bhosale

Died At Age: 86


Spouse/Ex-: Rajaram I

father: Hambirao Mohite

children: Shivaji II

Born Country: India

Empresses & Queens Indian Women

Died on: December 9, 1761

Cause of Death: Lung Disease

  • 1

    What was Tarabai's role in the Maratha Empire?

    Tarabai was a prominent queen and regent who played a crucial role in the Maratha Empire's affairs after the death of her husband, Rajaram. She actively led military campaigns and diplomatic negotiations during her regency.
  • 2

    How did Tarabai handle the challenges of succession after her husband's death?

    After Rajaram's death, Tarabai successfully navigated the complexities of succession by supporting her son Shivaji II as the new Maratha ruler. She skillfully managed political factions and ensured stability in the empire.
  • 3

    What were Tarabai's contributions to the Maratha Empire's expansion?

    Tarabai expanded the Maratha Empire's territories through military campaigns and strategic alliances. She played a key role in strengthening the empire's position and influence in the tumultuous political landscape of her time.
  • 4

    How did Tarabai's leadership impact the Maratha Empire's administration?

    Under Tarabai's leadership, the Maratha Empire saw administrative reforms that improved governance and infrastructure. She implemented policies to enhance the empire's efficiency and promote economic growth.
  • 5

    What was the significance of Tarabai's legacy in shaping the Maratha Empire's history?

    Tarabai's legacy as a strong and capable ruler left a lasting impact on the Maratha Empire's history. Her leadership during challenging times helped preserve the empire's power and influence, setting a precedent for future rulers.
Childhood & Early Life
Tarabai was born on April 14, 1675, into the Mohite household of the Maratha Empire.
Her father, Hambirao Mohite was a famed commander-in-chief of the Maratha army. As a result, she was trained in the arts of archery, sword-fighting, military strategy and statecraft from an early age.
At the age of eight, she was married to Chhatrapati Shivaji’s younger son, Rajaram. This was at a time when the Mughals and the Marathas battled each other constantly to gain control over the Deccan.
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Military Career
In 1689, Chhatrapati Sambhaji was killed when Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb’s army laid siege to Raigad, and his wife, Yesubai, and son, Shahu, were taken prisoners.
Thus, the title of Chhatrapati passed on to Rajaram, who, along with Tarabai, had managed to escape the siege and reach Gingee Fort (Tamil Nadu), the southernmost post of the kingdom.
When the Mughal army laid siege to the fort, she took command owing to Rajaram’s deteriorating health and managed to hold the fort for eight years. There she also gave birth to Shivaji II in 1696.
With Rajaram succumbed to a chronic lung ailment in 1700, she declared her four-year-old son, Shivaji II, as the successor to the throne and thus became the queen regent, a title she held for eight years.
As regent, she led from the front. She successfully used Aurangzeb’s own tactics against his army and administration. Thus, her forces penetrated deep into the Mughal-held territories of Gujarat and Malwa by 1706. She even managed to appoint her own ‘kamaishdars’ (revenue collectors) in these territories.
With Aurangzeb’s death in 1707, a succession struggle broke out between his sons, Azam Shah and Shah Alam. To create dissention among Tarabai’s followers, the Mughals released Prince Shahu, the son of slain Sambhaji from captivity as a new claimant to the Maratha throne.
She refused Shahu’s claim which resulted in a full-fledged battle. But it also triggered desertion by a few of her commanders who felt that Shahu’s right to succession was most in accordance with the law. She had to finally concede the title of Chhatrapati to him in 1708, thanks partly to the intervention of Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath.
Tarabai set up a rival power structure in Kolhapur, but that too was taken away from her by Rajaram’s second wife, Rajasabai, who put her son, Sambhaji II, on the Kolhapur throne instead. Consequently, she and Shivaji II were imprisoned; her son passed away in 1726 while still a prisoner.
Later, when Sambhaji II turned hostile against Chhatrapati Shahu, the latter freed Tarabai from prison and invited her to stay in Satara palace, albeit without any political powers.
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During the final years of Shahu’s life, she brought a child to him and presented him as Ramraja (Ramraja II), her grandson, who she had concealed from everyone fearing for his life. Since Shahu had no heirs, he adopted the young prince who became Chhatrapati Rajaram II following the former’s death in 1749.
However, when Rajaram II did not heed to her wishes to remove Nana Saheb from the post of Peshwa, she had him thrown into a dungeon in Satara in 1750 and citing that he was an imposter, she disowned him. In that period, a section of the Satara garrison also rebelled against her, and while she quelled the mutiny, she also realized it would be difficult to hold on to power.
She finally agreed to a truce with Peshwa Nana Saheb in 1752, wherein she accepted the latter’s authority, and her role as that of a dowager, albeit a sovereign and powerful one. Nana Saheb reinstalled Rajaram II as the titular Chhatrapati.
Major Works
During her eight-year reign as regent of the Maratha Empire, Tarabai was personally responsible for leading the Maratha rebellion against Aurangzeb, who at the time was perhaps the most powerful ruler in the world. That the Marathas were able to gain inroads into the Mughal strongholds of Gujarat and Malwa is a testimony to her military strategy and leadership.
A Mughal chronicler described how Tarabai’s greatest strength was in gaining the confidence of her officers, as a result of which the Maratha power increased by the day despite the best attempts of the Mughal king Aurangzeb.
The Portuguese in their chronicles referred to her as ‘Rainha dos Marathas’ (Queen of the Marathas).
Family & Personal Life
Tarabai was one of the three wives of Chhatrapati Rajaram I. She got married to him when she was only eight years old.
She had one son, Shivaji II, who was born in 1696 in Gingee Fort at a time when the Mughal army had laid siege on the fort. He served as the Raja of Kolhapur between 1710 and 1714.
She passed away on 9th December 1761, aged 86, in Satara, having had outlived her family as well as her political adversaries.
Facts About Tarabai
Tarabai was known for her strong will and determination, leading the Maratha forces in battles against the Mughal Empire.
Despite facing numerous challenges, Tarabai managed to hold her own as a regent and ruler, showcasing her leadership skills.
She was a patron of the arts and culture, supporting poets, artists, and musicians during her reign.
Tarabai was highly respected by her subjects for her dedication to protecting the Maratha Empire and its people.
In addition to her military and political prowess, Tarabai was also known for her strategic thinking and diplomatic skills in dealing with rival factions.

See the events in life of Tarabai in Chronological Order

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