Dedicated to nation and religion, a symbol of Indian culture and embodiment of bravery, Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar is synonymous with the strong Indian woman. Rani Ahilyabai Holkar was born on May 31, 1725 to Manikoji Shinde, a simple farmer, in a village named Chowdhi in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. His mother’s name was Sushila Shinde. His father Shivbhakt Manikoji was a farmer as well as a thoughtful person. He started teaching his daughter Ahilyabai from childhood. It is a matter of that period in which women were not given education. Along with being studious, Ahilyabai used to work with compassion. The sanskar of father’s devotion to Shiva was also very much on his mind. Marriage and Family Life – Once King Malhar Rao Holkar was passing through his village and he saw a girl performing the aarti with full devotion in the temple while the aarti was being performed. King Malhar Rao Holkar was greatly impressed by this. He asked the villagers and called his father and told him that he wanted to make his daughter the daughter-in-law. Her father considered the king’s proposal as his honor. In this way, the eight-year-old girl came as the wife of Rajkunwar Khanderao Holkar of Indore. Even after coming to her in-laws’ house in Indore, Ahilya Bai used to engage in worship and worship. After marriage, he got two daughters and a son. After her husband suddenly died in 1746 after suffering from some serious illness, a mountain of sorrows broke down on Ahilyabai. In this crisis, the queen ran the kingdom with patience, wearing white clothes like an ascetic. After some time, his son, daughter and daughter-in-law also died. Even after this thunderbolt, the queen remained unmoved and stood on the path of her duty. In the 18th century, she moved her capital to Maheshwar and built Ahilya Mahal, the best of the century. At that time Maheshwar had become a big stronghold in the field of literature, sculpture, music and art. Marathi poet Moropant and Sanskrit scholar Khulasi Ram were great personalities of their time. In the hour of sorrow of the queen, the neighboring king Peshwa Raghoba hatched a huge conspiracy against her. He suddenly attacked Indore by trapping Indore Diwan Gangadhar Yashwant Chandrachud in his trap. The queen did not lose courage. Without losing patience, he wrote a warning letter to the Peshwa. The queen wrote that if you are victorious in this war, then your fame will not increase by winning a woman and if you are defeated, your face will be blackened forever. Further, she also wrote that I am not a woman to be afraid of death or war. Although I have no benefit of the state, still I will fight the great battle till the last moments of my life. Peshwa Raghoba was surprised to receive this letter. In this, where on one hand the queen had hurt him diplomatically, on the other hand she had also shown her strong determination. Restoration of temples and priority to social service – Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar was a very capable, efficient administrator. He made an important contribution in rebuilding all the temples of India. The temple of Somnath was rebuilt by the Pratihara king Nagabhatta in 815 AD and then Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi of Ghazni attacked it and the temple was ransacked and looted. After 750 years, in 1783, Maharani Ahilyabai, along with the Peshwa of Pune, built a separate temple near the demolished temple. Similarly, Ahilya Bai was also instrumental in giving a new look to the Vishwanath temple of Kashi. The present form of Kashi Vishwanath temple was built in 1780 by Ahilya Bai. Rani Ahilyabai got many construction works done inside and outside her state, in which many famous temples, ghats, forts and stepwells are prominent. She also got many Dharamshalas constructed. He got the Vishnu temple of Gaya, the Maheshwar fort, the palace Narmada Ghat, the Ghats of Banaras, the temples of Dwarka and the temples of Ujjain renovated and constructed. Goddess Ahilyabai not only got the temples constructed but also got the Dharamshalas and Bawdis constructed along the way. Ahilyabai was of the opinion that wealth, glory and royalty are the heritage funds given by the people and God, of which I am the protector to be used for the welfare of the people. She used to take information about the happiness and sorrow of the people directly by meeting the people and give just decisions. Rani Ahilyabai was a pious ruler and throughout her life she protected her entire empire from Mughal invaders, fought many wars and emerged victorious. Dedication to Lord Shiva – Her devotion to Lord Shiva is known from the fact that the queen did not write her name while signing the edicts, but used to write only Sri Shankar at the bottom of the letter. The picture of Bilvapatra on Shivling is inscribed on the currency of his state. It is said that since then all the kings who came to the throne of Indore were not considered as royal orders until they were issued in the name of Shri Shankar. Maharani Ahilyabai made many laws in the interest of women and while emphasizing on their education, did a lot of work on that too. He had also created a large army of women, which was later operated by Rani Lakshmi Bai. Ahilyabai’s personal life was an ocean of sorrows but her sacrifice was so unique, courage so limitless, talent so excellent, restraint so difficult and generosity so immense that her name has been written in golden letters in history. As long as the Indian culture is awake, the character of Ahilyabai will continue to inspire us all. Ahilyabai Holkar died on Bhadrapada Krishna Chaturdashi, accordingly on August 13, 1795 AD in Indore state. (The author is a freelance commentator.)
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