Tarabai, also known as Rani Tarabai, was the Maratha Queen and the wife of the Rajaram, son of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. After the death of Raja Ram Maharaj, Tara Bai became the became the de facto head of government. She crowned her son Shivaji II, then a child of four, and became his regent.
Tarabai is remembered for continuing the Maratha War of Independence and defending the territories of the Marathas. The Queen of Maratha Empire was a spirited lady who did not waste time or tears on the fall of the new Maratha capital Satara within a month of Rajaram‘s death. She infused vigor in her people and organized a tough opposition to Aurangzeb.
Tarabai exhibited wonderful powers of organization and inspired the Marathas with a sense of devotion to their national cause. Aurangzeb, therefore, directed his forces for the conquest of Panhala and Vishalgarh, the two strong fortresses which became the seats of the Maratha court. The Marathas constantly hovered round the emperor’s camp and carried away everything that they could. The emperor captured several Maratha forts, but lost them one by one.
Under the leadership of Rani Tarabai, the Maratha power grew stronger and stronger with the result that Aurangzeb was compelled to be on the defensive. The Maratha Empire in India, during the last year of the aged emperor’s reign, proceeded beyond Maharashtra and led distant expeditions into Malwa and Gujarat. They ravaged Burhanpur, Surat, Broach and other rich towns of the western coast. They established their rule over Southern Karnatak. In the midst of these difficulties Aurangzeb died on March 2, 1707.
Tarabai skilfully managed the affairs of Maharashtra in the name of her son, Shivaji II. The main Supporters of Tarabai were were Paras Ram Trimbak, Dhanaji Jadhav and Shankarji Narain, with whose assistance she prosecuted the war with vigor and success. She moved constantly from fort to fort in order to direct operations and encourage her men. The success of Maratha war of independence was in no small measure due to the indomitable personality of the Maratha Queen.
After the death of Chhatrapati Shahu, Rani Tarabai claimed that Ramaraja is the son of Shivaji II. She also managed to crown Rajaram to the throne. But, Tarabai exercised too much control over Ramaraja which led to a quarrel between the two.
However, Tarabai had much influence over the Maratha Empire. She remains one of the most celebrated women in Indian History.