Shivaji grew up and began his fight for freedom. At the young age of sixteen he
captured the fort of Thorangadh. Jijabai could not contain her joy. Shivaji would not take
any important decision without consulting his mother.
Jijabai had to face difficult situations -again and again. The sultan of Bijapur
captured Shahaji. Shivaji cleverly got him released. Before this Afzal Khan, the Sardar of
Bijapur, had come with a large army. He was determined to crush Shivaji. Afzal Khan was a
giant-like figure, seven feet tall and as strong as a rock. He smashed the idol of Thulaja
Bhavani, the family deity of Shivaji. He also destroyed many other temples. He thought
that these acts would provoke Shivaji and he would come out into the open. He thought that
then, with his powerful army, he could easily defeat Shivaji. In this critical hour
Shivaji consulted not only his trusted friends but also his mother Jijabai. Many were of
the opinion that a meeting with the Khan would prove dangerous and that it was better for
Shivaji to keep away from him. But Jija Matha was one of those who said that he should not
be afraid of danger and that he should meet the dreaded Khan. Accordingly Shivaji went out
to meet Afzal Khan. Jijabai sent him with her blessings.
To Shivajis companions Jijabai was a source of inspiration. She treated them as
affectionately as she did her own son. She felt very sad like a mother whenbrave Maratha
soldiers, after fighting heroically, fell one after another sacrificing their lives for
their motherland. Thananji Malsure was a brave and noble given away Simjhagadh (the Lion
Fort) to the Moguls. But Jijabai argued vehemently that such afort should be in the hands
of Shivaji. She said to Thanaji, "Ifyou free Simhagadh from the enemies you will be
like Shivajis younger brother to me." Thanaji went forth determined to win back
simhagadh before daybreak on the following day. The fort was quite strong, almost
invincible. It was under the protection Of a brave Rajput by name Udayabhanu Rathod.
Thanaji climbed up the terrible fortress at the dead of the night. He killed Udayabhanu in
a fierce duel. But unfortunately Thanaji himself met with death. He died like a hero. By
day break the Bhagava Jhanda (the saffron flag of Shivaji) fluttered over the fort of
Simhagadh. The whole night Jijabai had been watching from the top of Shivaneri; her eyes
were fixed on the fort of Simhagadh. When she saw the Bhagava Flag fluttering pleasantly
over Simhagadh fort, her eyes were filled with tears of joy. She forgot herself in her joy
over Thaanajis victory. The very next moment the most sorrowful news of the death of
Thanaji was brought to her. She was utterly miserable. Another loyal hero, Baji Prabhu,
fought with great valor and terrible fury at Pavankhindi to save the life of Shivaprabhu.
That his heroism had saved Shivaji should have comforted Jijabai; but she wept with sorrow
as if she had lost her own son.