Sai Bhosale

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A 2012 artist's rendition of Saibai[1]
Bornc. 1633
Phaltan, Maharashtra, India
DiedSeptember 5, 1659 (aged 26)
Rajgad Fort, Pune, India
SpouseChatrapati Shivaji Maharaj
IssueSakhubai Nimbalkar
Ranubai Jadhav
Ambikabai Mahadik
HouseNimbalkar (by birth)
Bhosale (by marriage)
FatherMudhoji Rao Naik Nimbalkar

Sai Bhosale (née Sai Nimbalkar) (c. 1633[1] – 5 September 1659) was the first wife and chief consort of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Maratha Empire. She was the mother of her husband's successor and the second Chhatrapati, Sambhaji.


Saibai was a member of the prominent Nimbalkar family, whose members were the rulers of Phaltan from the era of the Pawar dynasty[citation needed] and served the Deccan sultanates and the Mughal Empire. She was a daughter of the fifteenth Raja of Phaltan, Mudhojirao Naik Nimbalkar and a sister of sixteenth Raja, Bajaji Rao Naik Nimbalkar.[2] Saibai's mother Reubai was from the Shirke family. Ravali from Andhra Pradesh being the current last grand daughter of Shivaji and Saibai.


Saibai and Shivaji were married while still in their childhood on 16 May 1640 at Lal Mahal, Pune.[3][4] The marriage was arranged by Shivaji's mother, Jijabai, but was evidently not attended by Shivaji's father, Shahaji nor his brothers, Sambhaji and Ekoji. Thus, Shahaji soon summoned his new daughter-in-law, Shivaji and his mother, Jijabai, to Bangalore, where he lived with his second wife, Tukabai.[5]

Saibai and Shivaji shared a close relationship with each other. She is said to have been a wise woman and a loyal consort to Shivaji.[6] By all accounts, Saibai was a beautiful, , good-natured and an affectionate woman. She is described as having been a "gentle and selfless person."[7]

All of her endearing personal qualities, however, were a sharp contrast to Shivaji's second wife, Soyarabai, who was an intriguing lady.[8] Yet, there is no record of any friction or mutual differences between Saibai and Shivaji's other wives.[9] As long as Saibai was alive, she was an asset to Shivaji, not only regarding the affairs of the state, but also regarding the household affairs. She also had significant influence over her husband and the royal family as well. Saibai is reported to have acted as a counsel to Shivaji when he was invited by Mohammed Adil Shah, the king of Bijapur, for a personal interview.[10] During Saibai's life time, the entire household of Shivaji bore a homogeneous atmosphere despite the fact that most of his marriages were performed due to political considerations.[9]

After Saibai's untimely death in 1659 followed by Jijabai's death in 1674, Shivaji's private life became clouded with anxiety and unhappiness.[11] Although Soyarabai had gained prominence in the royal household following their deaths, she was not an affectionate consort like Saibai, whom Shivaji had dearly loved. Soyarabai was constantly working towards her own son, Rajaram's succession the throne despite the fact that Saibai's son, Sambhaji, was the eldest and thus, the heir-apparent to his father. Soyarabai's political intrigues further caused more domestic difficulties in Shivaji's life.[12]

Saibai remained Shivaji's favourite till he died. A great source of inspiration to him, legend has it that "Sai" was the last word he uttered on his deathbed.[1]


During the course of their nineteen years of marriage, Saibai and Shivaji became parents of four children: Sakavarbai (nicknamed "Sakhubai"), Ranubai, Ambikabai and Sambhaji. Sakhubai was married to her first-cousin, Mahadji, the son of Saibai's brother, Bajaji Rao Naik Nimbalkar. This marriage took place in 1657 with an objective to consolidate Bajaji's return to Hinduism as he had been converted to Islam by the Mughal viceroy Aurangzeb[citation needed]. Ranubai married into the Jadhav family. Ambikabai married Harji Raje Mahadik in 1668.[13] Saibai's fourth issue was her only son, Sambhaji, who was born in 1657 and was Shivaji's eldest son and thus, his heir-apparent. The birth of Sambhaji was an occasion of great joy and significance in the royal household for many different reasons.[14]


Saibai died in 1659 in Rajgad Fort while Shivaji was making preparations for his meeting with Afzal Khan at Pratapgad. She was ill from the time she gave birth to Sambhaji and her illness became serious preceding her death. Sambhaji was taken care by her trustworthy Dhaarau. Sambhaji was two years old at the time of his mother's death and was brought up by his paternal grandmother, Jijabai, which must have entailed long spells of separation between Shivaji and his much-loved son, Sambhaji.[15] Saibai's samadhi is situated at Rajgad Fort.

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Tare, Kiran (June 16, 2012). "First-ever portrait of Shivaji's queen to be unveiled soon". India Today. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  2. ^ Katamble, V.D. (2003). Shivaji the Great. Pune: Dattatraya Madhukar Mujumdar, Balwant Printers. p. 36. ISBN 9788190200004.
  3. ^ Balkrishna Deopujari, Murlidhar (1973). Shivaji and the Maratha Art of War. Vidarbha Maharashtra Samshodhan Mandal. p. 35.
  4. ^ Gordon, Stewart (1993). The Marathas 1600-1818. Cambridge University. p. 60. ISBN 9780521268837.
  5. ^ Rana, Bhawan Singh (2004). Chhatrapati Shivaji (1st ed.). New Delhi: Diamond Pocket Books. p. 19. ISBN 9788128808265.
  6. ^ Sen, Surendra Nath (1930). Foreign Biographies of Shivaji Volume 2 of Extracts and Documents relating to Maratha History. K. Paul, Trench, Trubner & Company Limited. p. 165.
  7. ^ Kincaid, Dennis (1987). The History of Shivaji: The Grand Rebel. Karan Publications. p. 78.
  8. ^ Sardesai, H. S. (2002). Shivaji, the Great Maratha (1. publ. ed.). Cosmo Publ. p. 1011. ISBN 9788177552881.
  9. ^ a b Vaidya, Sushila (2000). Role of Women in Maratha politics : 1620-1752 A.D. (1. publ. ed.). Sharada Publ. House. p. 77. ISBN 9788185616674.
  10. ^ Kulkarni, A. R. (1996). Medieval Maratha country (1. publ. ed.). [New Delhi: Books & Books]. p. 20. ISBN 9788185016498.
  11. ^ Sardesai, Govind Sakharam (1957). New History of the Marathas: Shivaji and his line (1600-1707). Phoenix Publications. p. 263.
  12. ^ Kincaid, Dennis (1937). The Grand Rebel: An Impression of Shivaji, Founder of the Maratha Empire. Collins. pp. 162, 176.
  13. ^ Charles Augustus Kincaid, Dattātraya Baḷavanta Pārasanīsa (1922). A History of the Maratha People: From the death of Shivaji to the death of Shahu. S. Chand. p. 44.
  14. ^ Joshi, P.S. (1980). Chhatrapati Sambhaji, 1657-1689 A.D. S. Chand. pp. 3, 4.
  15. ^ Mehta, J. L. (2005). Advanced study in the history of modern India, 1707-1813. Slough: New Dawn Press, Inc. pp. 45, 47. ISBN 9781932705546.
  16. ^ "Shivpatni Saibai, Sadashiv Sivade". Retrieved 30 May 2013.