In a world full of male rulers, characters, and other personalities, it is to read about a woman.
A very unique and characteristic story who fought single-handedly and courageously for her kingdom, self-respect, husband and the people of her kingdom.
She was born in a Marathi Brahmin family and was nicknamed Manu.
Her parents came from Maharashtra and were related to Nana Saheb and it is said that the two were cousins.
Her father Moro Pant Tambe held the treasury for the Peshwa of Bithur at the court of Bithur district.
The Peshwa was an honest man and raised Manikarnika as his daughter, because of her happy, cheerful, playful and notorious personality, the Peshwa called her Chabeli, which means playful in English.
Like others she was educated at home, education was lacking in those days and.
Schools attended only by men, making it very difficult for a girl to get an education in any way, but given Lakshmibai’s background and her parents’ level of acceptance, it was.
Very supportive of her education. Manu was more independent in her childhood than any other child of that age.
It is interesting to know that her studies included activities like shooting, horse riding, fencing and Mala Khamba and she practiced with childhood friends Nana Sahib and Tantya Tope.
Manikarnika’s upbringing was very daring as her mother died when she was four years old and her father was left with a terrible son like Manikarnika.
Manikarnika’s own life was very turbulent and full of ups and downs, she was married to the Maharaja of Jhansi, Raja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar in May 1842.
She gave birth to a son named Damodar Rao in 1851 but unfortunately he died four times.
A few months after his birth, the Maharaja decided to adopt a boy named Anand Rao who was the son of Gangadhar Rao’s cousin, who was renamed Damodar Rao a day before the Maharaja died.
This was a very decisive period as Damodar was adopted by then Governor-General Lord Dalhousie.
The ruling British East India Company applied the doctrine of lapse which basically denied Damodar Rao’s claim to the throne and took over the kingdom.
Pradesh, when this news reached Lakshmibai she swore that she would not surrender Jhansi at any cost, her exact words being “Main Meri Jhansi Sharan Jaa Nahi” (Main Meri Jhansi Nahi Doongi).
Rani Mahal, the palace of Rani Lakshmibai which is now converted into a museum, houses a collection of archaeological remains dating back to the 9th to 12th centuries.
About Rani Lakshmibai
Rani Lakshmibai, 19 November 1835 – 17 June 1858, popularly known as Rani of Jhansi, was the queen of the Maratha-ruled state of Jhansi, one of the leading figures of the Indian Uprising of 1857 and a symbol of resistance to British India.
Jhansi Rani’s original name was Manikarnika Tambe but, as a legendary figure in Indian history, as the Indian ‘Joan of Arc’.
Her name was Manikarnika. Her family fondly called her Manu. She lost her mother at the age of 4.
So the responsibility of raising her fell on her father. After completing her education, she also trained in horse riding, shooting and martial arts.
Life of Lakshmibai
Raised in the family of Peshwa Bajirao II, Lakshmibai’s childhood was unusual for a Brahmin boy.
Raised among the sons of the Peshwa court, she studied martial arts and became proficient in swordsmanship and horse riding.
She was married to Maharaja Gangadhar Rao of Jhansi, but was left a widow with no living heir to the throne.
Following existing Hindu tradition, the Maharaja adopted a son as his heir before his death.
The British Governor-General of India, Lord Dalhousie, refused to recognize the adopted heir and took over Jhansi following the doctrine of lapsing.
A representative of the East India Company was placed in the small state to handle administrative duties.
Lakshmibai’s Reign and Rebellion
The 22-year-old Rani refused to hand over Jhansi to the British.
After a rebellion broke out in Meerut in 1857, Lakshmibai was declared the ruler of Jhansi and became Queen Lakshmibai of Jhansi.
She ruled on behalf of the minor heir. Leading the revolt against the British, she quickly organized her army and took command of the rebels in the Bundelkhand region.
Rebels from the nearby areas moved towards Jhansi to support them.
With General Hugh Rose, the East India Company had launched a counter-offensive into Bundelkhand by January 1858.
Advancing from Mahu, Gulab captured Saugor (now Sagar) in February and then moved to Jhansi in March.
The Company’s forces besieged the fort of Jhansi and a fierce battle ensued.
The queen of Jhansi did not give up despite her outnumbered army, putting up a stout resistance to the invaders.
Another rebel leader, Tantya Tope’s defense force was defeated at the Battle of Betwa.
Accompanied by a small force of palace guards, Lakshmibai managed to escape from the fort and headed east, where she was joined by other rebels.
Death of Rani Lakshmibai
Tantya Tope and Lakshmibai successfully attacked the city fort of Gwalior.
The treasury and arsenal were confiscated and a popular Sardar Nana Sahib was declared Peshwa (ruler).
After taking Gwalior, Lakshmibai marched east to Morar to meet a British counterattack led by Rose.
Dressed as a man, she fought a fierce battle and was killed in battle.
She is understood to have been cremated on the same day where she was injured.
One of her maids helped organize a quick funeral.
Her father Moropant Tambe was executed a few days after the fall of Jhansi.
Her adopted son Damodar Rao received a grant of British rule and was provided for, though he did not inherit it.
Her strength, courage and intelligence, her progressive vision for the emancipation of women in India in the 19th century and her sacrifice made her an icon of the Indian freedom movement.
The queen is commemorated in bronze sculptures at both Jhansi and Gwalior, both depicting her on horseback.
In contemporary social norms that clashed with liberal notions of gender inequality, the queen was imaginatively educated as a woman who read the scriptures and wielded a sword of equal strength to a man.
Opposing the British rule, she did more than fight for Jhanshi first, temporarily and finally without yielding.
She fought for the right of an adopted child, the right of a woman to rule while her chosen heir was a minor, the right of women to wear uniforms in war, the freedom to live and rule instead of being a sati.
Every ‘citizen’ of her empire, male or female, Muslim or Hindu or otherwise, to participate in the freedom struggle.
her dedication to a national agenda that only coalesced and seeded beyond her dominance; for leading her army of men and women with exemplary courage;
to give birth to a victorious feminist ideology; to rally her forces. It will remain forever in the history of the national movement.
Other lesser known facts
- She excelled in horse riding and was fully trained.
- It is said that because she did not want the British to take possession of her body, she asked someone else to cremate her or the locals of the area to bury her body.
- As she was very naughty and playful from her childhood, she was given the name Chhabili by the Peshwas of Bithoor.
- Lakshmibai’s palace, popularly known as Rani Mahal, has been converted into a museum so that people from all over can easily access the greatest fitness woman of all time.
- Two postage stamps were minted or issued in 1957 to commemorate the birthday of the Rebellion.