“Jhansi ki Rani” Laxmibai
Rani Laxmibai, also known as ‘Manikarnika’, was born on June 18, 1828, to Marathi Brahmin parents. She was married at the age of 14 to the Maharaja of Jhansi, Gangadhar Rao Newalkar. Today, on 18th June is the death anniversary of Rani Laxmi Bai whose fierce battle against the Britishers is known to the generations. She is the epitome of valour, courage and intelligence. The legacy of Jhansi ki Rani still lives today in the hearts of people. Even the enemies feared her and praised for her bravery. Let’s take a look at the biography of ‘Jhansi ki Rani’ and how she struggled for her rights.
Early Life of Rani Laxmibai
Rani Laxmibai was born in a Maratha family in Varanasi on 19th November 1828 and was named as Manikarnika Tambe. Her parents called her as Manu. She lost her mother when she was 4 years old. She was much ahead of the children her age. she got educated at home by excelling in horse riding, shooting and fencing. Her beliefs were against the stereotypical patriarchal cultural norms.
Jhansi Rani Lakshmi Bai
In 1842, Manikarnika was married to the King of Jhansi, Gangadhar Rao Newalkar, at the age of 14. She was renamed as Lakshmibai afterwards according to traditions. Lakshmibai gave birth to a boy named Damodar Rao who died after 4 months. Later, king adopted the son of his cousin on the day before he died. A letter was given to the British officers stating that the adopted son must be given the Kingdom of Jhansi. After the death of Maharaja, Lakshmi Bai took over the responsibilities of Jhansi and was called Jhansi ki Rani Lakshmi Bai.
Rebellion and Revolt of 1857
After the death of the king of Jhansi in November 1853, the British East India Company, under Governor-General Lord Dalhousie, applied the Doctrine of Lapse in Jhansi. As Damodar Rao was an adopted son, East India Company rejected Damodar Rao’s claim to the throne and tried to control the state and its territories. Rani Lakshmibai was given an annual pension of Rs. 60,000 and asked to leave the palace.
Rani Laxmibai didn’t bow down in front of the Britishers. She pledged to protect Jhansi till her last breath. As India prepared itself for the First war of independence, she joined the uprising and organized troops and marches. In 1858, the East India Company surrounded the Jhansi fort and ordered to surrender under the command of Gen. Hugh Rose.
She managed to escape Jhansi and went to meet up her childhood friend and fellow freedom-fighter, Tatya Tope at Kalpi. They organised an army, to wage a successful assault on the city of Gwalior. They then marched east to confront the British counterattack at Morar. Lakshmibai fought a fierce battle dressed as a man and was killed in the combat at the age of 29.
On her death anniversary, we pay a tribute to the fierce lady who fought against the powerful Britishers alone to save the fort of Jhansi. Here are the few lines from the famous poem by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan that describes the Bravery of Queen, LakshmiBai:
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।