Ahilyabai Holkar Essay In Marathi

Western ‘scholarship’ has generally painted a picture of Hindu society in which women have forever been secluded from public life. This view has penetrated widely into the public mind, and has even been internalised by many Hindus. Yet if fails to take into consideration many facts.

For example, that women in much of India got the right to vote before women in Britain, that female saints were amongst the composers of the Vedas, that in some parts of India property has traditionally been passed down to the women in the family rather than to the men, or the fact that Hinduism is the only religion that could conceive of the Supreme Being as being female.

While it is true that there have been many problems for women in Hindu society, the same can be said for all societies in the world. There are many great women in Hindu history who have achieved great renown for their deeds in many spheres of life, who are remembered fondly by all Hindus, not as rebels who went against the norms of society, but as ideals that should inspire all people.

Ahilyabai Holkar is one such figure. She is fondly remembered as a noble, saintly and courageous woman. She ruled the kingdom of Indore (which was then part of the wider Maratha Empire) for several decades. Her rule is remembered as a golden age in Indore’s history.

From an agricultural background herself, she married Khanderav, prince of Indore. Thereafter, she resided in the Royal Palace. Later, she was trained in statecraft and accompanied the army to war on many occasions. At that time the Maratha Empire (which was founded by Shivaji) was at the apex of its power. There were frequent battles and skirmishes, both against foreigners as well as internal feuds. In one such battle in 1754, Ahilyabai’s husband was killed. Her aged father-in-law was shattered at the death of his son. He summoned Ahilyabai who he loved deeply, and said: “You are now my son. I wish that you look after my kingdom.”

On taking control of Indore, she declared, “This kingdom belongs to Shankar (Shiva). On behalf of Shankar I will do my duty to manage the affairs for the benefit of the people.” She lived a very simple life. Instead of living in the palace she preferred to live on the banks of the River Narmada at the pilgrimage site called “Maheshwar”. Very few rulers in history have demonstrated such a lifestyle in which they give up all royal comforts but at the same time carried on their job very well.

In 1766 the kingdom passed to Ahilyabai’s son. He is remembered as being an unworthy ruler – addicted to vice and at times cruel. At any rate, he died young and once again Ahilyabai resumed control of the kingdom’s affairs. Soon the kingdom became very prosperous. This attracted the envy of many.

The supreme ruler of the Empire, Peshwa Raghoba, was instigated by one of Ahilyabai’s own ministers to confiscate the excess wealth of Indore. Ahilyabai pointed out to him that under the agreements that existed the wealth of the treasury was supposed to be for the well being of her subjects or for charitable purposes.

The Peshwa was infuriated that she defied him, and threatened military action. She in turn challenged him to come and meet her on the battlefield. She gathered a small force, which included many women, and set out to fight. A message was sent to the Peshwa: “Now I will show you how weak I am. If I lose fighting against men I will have lost nothing. But if you lose against women then you will be in the soup! And remember, that is exactly what will happen.”

The Peshwa had a change of heart. He said, “You have misunderstood. I do not come to fight, but to mourn your son’s death.” He ended up staying as Ahilyabai’s guest for a month and was thoroughly impressed at the skill with which she ruled. For example, she had greatly reduced crime and theft, by encouraging poor people to get involved in trade and farming.

She employed forest tribes to be the protectors of travelling merchants; a job for which they were paid handsomely provided it was performed well. She spent wealth on projects such as construction of roads, wells, dharamshalas (resthouses) and mandirs (temples). She even contributed to projects outside her dominion, particularly the restoration of ancient Hindu shrines that had been destroyed by Islamic invaders.

Two famous examples were the Vishnupad Mandir in Gaya and the Somnath Mandir in Gujarat. Every day she distributed food and clothes to the poor and to holy men and women. She would personally see any citizen who wished to lodge a complaint, whether it was a poor peasant or a rich merchant. Her success in administration stands out in contrast with most other important Hindu rulers of the time who were involved in petty feuds, and were not discharging their duties fully.

Ahilyabai’s humility was one of her outstanding characteristics. Considering her achievements, she had every reason to become arrogant, a common trait in many otherwise great men and women. But quite the opposite. A court-poet once compiled a book of poems praising Ahilyabai She had the book thrown into a river! The reason was that she did not want to receive all these eloquent praises. She just wanted to discharge her duties.

At the age of 70 Ahilyabai passed away in Rameshwar. Her life shines brightly in the firmament of history, for ruling her kingdom with piety and selflessness; sincerely devoting herself to her subjects while keeping Dharma at the forefront of all that she did. Her life will be an inspiration for future generations of Hindus.

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh paying floral tributes at the statue of Devi Ahilyabai Holkar

“For thirty years her reign of peace,
The land in blessing did increase;
And she was blessed by every tongue,
By stern and gentle, old and young.
Yea, even the children at their mothers feet
Are taught such homely rhyming to repeat
“In latter days from Brahma came,
To rule our land, a noble Dame,
Kind was her heart, and bright her fame,
And Ahlya was her honoured name.”

-Poem on Rani Ahilyabai Holkar by Joanna Baillie in 1849


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Ahilyabai Holkar

महारानी अहिल्याबाई होलकर / Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar History in Hindi

महारानी अहिल्याबाई होलकर भारत के मालवा साम्राज्य की मराठा होलकर महारानी थी. अहिल्याबाई का जन्म 31 मई 1725 को महाराष्ट्र के अहमदनगर के छौंड़ी ग्राम में हुआ. उनके पिता मंकोजी राव शिंदे, अपने गाव के पाटिल थे. उस समय महिलाये स्कूल नही जाती थी, लेकिन अहिल्याबाई के पिता ने उन्हें लिखने -पढ़ने लायक पढ़ाया.

अहिल्याबाई के पति खांडेराव होलकर 1754 के कुम्भेर युद्ध में शहीद हुए थे. 12 साल बाद उनके ससुर मल्हार राव होलकर की भी मृत्यु हो गयी. इसके एक साल बाद ही उन्हें मालवा साम्राज्य की महारानी का ताज पहनाया गया. वह हमेशा से ही अपने साम्राज्य को मुस्लिम आक्रमणकारियो से बचाने की कोशिश करती रही. बल्कि युद्ध के दौरान वह खुद अपनी सेना में शामिल होकर युद्ध करती थी. उन्होंने तुकोजीराव होलकर को अपनी सेना के सेनापति के रूप में नियुक्त किया था.

रानी अहिल्याबाई ने अपने साम्राज्य महेश्वर और इंदौर में काफी मंदिरो का निर्माण भी किया था. इसके साथ ही उन्होंने लोगो के रहने के लिए बहोत सी धर्मशालाए भी बनवायी, ये सभी धर्मशालाए उन्होंने मुख्य तीर्थस्थान जैसे गुजरात के द्वारका, काशी विश्वनाथ, वाराणसी का गंगा घाट, उज्जैन, नाशिक, विष्णुपद मंदिर और बैजनाथ के आस-पास ही बनवायी. मुस्लिम आक्रमणकारियो के द्वारा तोड़े हुए मंदिरो को देखकर ही उन्होंने शिवजी का सोमनाथ मंदिर बनवाया. जो आज भी हिन्दुओ द्वारा पूजा जाता है.

इतिहास में उनका आना एक घटना का ही परीणाम है:

मल्हार राव होलकर, मराठा पेशवा बाजीराव के कमांडर थे. वे एक बार पुणे जाते समय छौंड़ी रुके और इतिहासकारो के अनुसार उन्होंने उस समय मंदिर में काम कर रही 8 साल की अहिल्याबाई को देखा. उन्हें अहिल्या का चरित्र और स्वभाव काफी पसंद आया, इसीलिये उन्होंने अपने पुत्र खांडेराव के लिये अहिल्या का हाथ माँगा. बाद में 1733 में उन्होंने खांडेराव से विवाह कर लिया.

अहिल्याबाई के संबंध में दो प्रकार की विचारधाराएँ रही हैं. एक में उनको देवी के अवतार की पदवी दी गई है, दूसरी में उनके अति उत्कृष्ट गुणों के साथ अंधविश्वासों और रूढ़ियों के प्रति श्रद्धा को भी प्रकट किया है. वह अँधेरे में प्रकाश-किरण के समान थीं, जिसे अँधेरा बार-बार ग्रसने की चेष्टा करता रहा. अपने उत्कृष्ट विचारों एवं नैतिक आचरण के चलते ही समाज में उन्हें देवी का दर्जा मिला.

अहिल्याबाई किसी बड़े राज्य की रानी नहीं थीं लेकिन अपने राज्य काल में उन्होंने जो कुछ किया वह आश्चर्य चकित करने वाला है. वह एक बहादुर योद्धा और कुशल तीरंदाज थीं. उन्होंने कई युद्धों में अपनी सेना का नेतृत्व किया और हाथी पर सवार होकर वीरता के साथ लड़ी. 13 अगस्त 1795 ई. को लोकमाता अहिल्याबाई होलकर की मृत्यु हो गई.

ईश्वर ने मुझ पर जो उत्तरदायित्व रखा है,
उसे मुझे निभाना है.
मेरा काम प्रजा को सुखी रखना है.
मैं अपने प्रत्येक काम के लिये जिम्मेदार हूँ.
सामर्थ्य और सत्ता के बल पर मैं यहाँ- जो कुछ भी कर रही हूँ.
उसका ईश्वर के यहाँ मुझे जवाब देना होगा.
मेरा यहाँ कुछ भी नहीं हैं, जिसका है उसी के पास भेजती हूँ.
जो कुछ लेती हूँ, वह मेरे उपर कर्जा है,
न जाने कैसे चुका पाऊँगी.

– अहिल्याबाई होलकर

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