"Jhansi is mine and I can’t surrender it." - Rani Lakshmi Bai
The name of Queen of Jhansi Rani Lakshmi Bai is counted in the leading brave women of the country. When in the year 1943, Netaji Subhash had thought of forming a woman regiment in Azad Hind Fauj in Singapore, then that regiment was named 'Rani Jhansi Regiment'. By chance, the first commander of this regiment was also a lady whose name was Colonel Lakshmi Swaminathan.
"Rani Lakshmibai faced the diplomatic conspiracies of the British very bravely. "
“She gave a befitted reply to her enemies and always faced the adverse conditions boldily. Rani Lakshmi bai was a brave warrior of unique courage and spirit."
If we see with a little sympathy we will find that happiness was not in her luck. The pleasure was merely of name and sufferings, trouble and sorrows were unlimited and gigantic. In such adverse circumstances. how did she manage to earn such name-fame, is a matter of surprise. Her parents had named her 'Manikarnika' and her nick name was 'Manubai'.
Her father Moropant was a servant in the royal court of Peshwa Baji Rao second. His wife Bhgirathi Bai was a religious lady. Baji Rao Second had no issue. Hence Britishers took over their rule and fixed a pension for him. Then Peshwa left the Pune and settled in Bithur near Kanpur. At the same time, Moropant left the royal court of Peshwa and went to Varansi. There Bhagirathi Bai gave birth to a girl on a November, 1835 who was named Manikarnika.
When Manikarnika (Manu Bai) was four years old her mother Bhagirathi Bai died untimely. The world of Moropant got ruined. Now the responsibility of upbringing of his daughter came to his lonely shoulders. Then he took his daughter with him and again went to the shelter of Peshwa. Peshwa had no child of his own. Hence he adopted two children-one was Nana Saheb Dundi Raj Pant and other was Rao Saheb. But British Govt. Disapproved this adoption method.
Moropant was entrusted the task of educating these children. Since they all used to live in the same haveli Manu bai become 'Dharam Behin' of Nana Saheb. Manu Bai's education and initiation went on with Nana Saheb and Rao Saheb. Normally the education of girls used to be different from boys, but there was no such facility. She used to wear the dresses of boys. She learnt horse riding and used of arms and weapons and become expert in them. She was very beautiful. Hence she was named 'Chabili'. She was full of energy. She was full of sense of humour and joy.
That period of fun and frolic and carefreeness remained only till the age of 7 years. Moropant become worried about her marriage. In those days there was the prevalance of child marriage. The family and social status of bridegroom had so much importance that his age and health was not taken care of. It was the hard heartedness of Moropant that he married 13 year old Manu bai to the old king of Jhansi Ganga Dhar Rao. The wife of king Gangadhar Rao had died. he had no issue of his own. As a result of it he wanted to remarry. In such works, pundits- purohits are proved very useful. Rajpurohit of Jhansi, Tatya Dikshit once had gone to Bithur. There Moropant showed him the horoscope of her daughter Manu Bai. After seeing horoscope and the girl Tatya said that for Manu Bai there is a chance (Yog) of becoming a queen in the horoscope. A thought of marriage between Gangadhar Rao and Manu Bai came to his mind. God knows what was written in the horoscope but Dikshit ji had firm belief that neither Gangadhar Rao nor Moropant will be able to turn down the proposal of marriage. Some people say that at that time Manu Bai was 13 years of age. But according to some others, she was of 7 years of age at the time of her marriage.
The only important thing is that she was very young at the time of her marriage. Marriage took place in 1848 (or in 1842). The hope of a child was minimal due to the health of Ganga Dhar Rao. In the year 1857, Manu Bai (She was named Lakshmi Bai in her in-laws after marriage) gave birth to a son. But the child Anand Rao was very weak. he managed to survive for three months and after that due to fever he died. It was dreadful shock for Lakshmi Bai and Raja Saheb.
Gangadhar adopted Damodar Rao as he was not hopeful of having another child of his own. He wanted to make him the successor of his kingdom. But British Govt. did not approve adoption. Gangadhar's state of health was already very bad. His condition deteriorated due to tensions and worries. Gandhar Rao died in 1853 leaving behind the dispute of adopted son and kingdon of Jhansi. “Rani Lakshmi Bai faced the diplomatic conspiracies of Britishers very bravely. “She gave a befitted reply to her enemies and always faced the adverse conditions boldly. Rani Lakshmi Bai was a brave warrior of unique of unique courage and spirit.”
After that Rani Lakshmi Bai had to face such hardships and adversities that she got no chance to prepare herself for them. Inspite of being the wife of Peshwas, she was not the member of royal family. By marrying a king of old age, she had indeed become a queen but the power was in the hands of king and queen was nothing more than a respectable servant. But after the death of Ganga Dhar Rao, the royal power came into her hands as she became Raj Mata. Money and respect were also associated with this power.
There were so many hardships. First, her son died, then died her husband. Then adopted son Damodar Rao’s succession was disapproved by British Govt. Maharajyapal Dalhousie had started this malpractice. According to this practice if any king or jagirdar dies childless, the succession right of his property or estate will not be transferred to the adopted child and that state or jagir will be merged in British empire. As a consolation nominal pension will be given. In this manner, company has seized many stated and jagirs as a result of which there was widespread resentment.
Ultimately the country wide revolt of 1857 took place. When this dispute with British was going on, a relative of Gangadhar Rao, Sadashiv Narain Rao declared himself the king of Jhansi. Rani Lakshmi Bai immediately took action and invaded the fort of Sadashiv Rao and captured him. It brought lots of respect and reputation to Rani. Orcha Sardar Nathe Khan understimated the power of helpless queen and attacked Jhansi with 10 thousand soldiers.
But Lakshmibai gave him a befitted reply and Nathe Khan suffered heavy loss and had to return. Then he provoked the Britishers and asked them to take action against her. British Govt. issued the order to this effect that the kingdom of Jhansi is being merged in British empire. Queen refused to obey this order of Maharajyapal and said, “Jhansi is mine. I will not give it any cost.” But following the principle of ‘might is right’, the Britishers took over charge of Jhansi forcibly. Company’s locks were put on treasury. Queen Lakshmi Bai started living like a prisoner in her own place. She made correspondence with Governor but it was of no use.
The British flag was hoisted on the fort of Jhansi. Queen was very helpless and waited for an appropriate opportunity. After sometime the revolt of 1857 took place in which Nana Saheb, Rao Saheb, Rani Lakshmi Bai, Tatya Tope etc. were playing active role. On 14 June, 1857 regional armies (forces) revolted against Britishers and attacked the fort. The fort was handed over to Rani Lakshmi Bai. The childhood education came to use of Lakshmi Bai. She took over the power and command of army. Those days there were no differences between Hindus and Muslims.
There were gunners like Gaus Khan and Khuda Bakhsh in the force of Queen who served her with heart and soul. Britishers entrusted the task of again taking possession of Jhansi Fort to the army chief Huerose. British force was very powerful and large in comparison to the Jhansi. Their arms and weapons were also very good. Inspite of that Bundel soldiers of Queen give them a tough fight. Huerose was forced to withdraw and faced heavy loss. But the position of Queen was not sound and firm. The enemy force had surrounded the fort.
Britishers had the facility to arrange new army and war material whereas Queen surrounded in the fort had no such facility. Huerose again attacked fort with army and guns. The war continued for the whole day and Britishers had the upper hand. On seeing the weak position of the fort, Queen went out of the fort through a secret gate with her soldiers who were on horses. She was in the male dress. Her adopted child Damodar Rao was tied to her back. Britishers had reached Gwalior and took over the Gwalior Fort very easily. All the patriots were very angry against British those days. Queen got money and military support in Gwalior. She found she can face British Army quite well here. After victory over Jhansi, the courage of British army chief Huerose had increased.
He chased the Queen and reached Gwalior. Here also he surrounded the fort through his large army. Fierce battle went on for two days. The Queen was surrounded in the fort and her military ration and arms and amunitions had also remained less. Whereas British force continuously received food stock. Finding the situation against her, Queen once again tried to break the circle of British army. She also managed to come out of it with some of her soldiers.
But British soldiers chased them. Queen was on the horse. There was a nullah (nala) in the way. Horse was reluctant to cross the nala. It refused to go forward. When Queen applied the spur it opposed and tried to threw down the Queen by lifting its front leg. Till that time Britishers had reached there. At there on the day of 18 June, 1857, Queen fought with the British army with her few soldiers. Suddenly British soldiers coming from behind, on horses fired bullets at Queen. A bullet hit her. She fell down from the horse and died a heroic death. Being a woman, her performance of bravery and valiance was unmatched and proudsome. Her fellow soldiers took her to a hut and quickly arranged weed and straw and wood and performed her cremation.
They did not want to let the Britishers touch the body of their Queen. When the British army reached there, there were only ash and bones. That was the day of 1857. Rani Lakshmi Bai did not get victory in the war but inspite of being a lady the manner in which she fought the battle bravely, is unmatched not only the Indian history but also in world history. Maharani Lakshmi Bai really was ‘Ranchandi.’ Listening the sound of her sword the British soldiers used to run away from the battle ground. She was a woman but used to possess the dreadful roop of Bhairavi in the battle field and used to kill her enemies. She did not give up even after getting hit by bullet.
Undoubtedly she was the pride of women. Not only Indian but all the women of the world are proud of her. Lakshmi Bai was a brave lady. She was expert in war activities. No such other woman has been seen in this world. Some people compare her to the brave girl of France ‘John of Arc’ but Lakshmi Bai had more capability of war and administration than the ‘Arch’. Rani Lakshmi Bai had to fight with Britishers in adverse circumstances. Hence, even her enemies praise her.”
“Her bravery, her expertise in war, her administrative excellence and struggling power had made her personality irrepressible Facing the adverse circumstances Rani Lakshmibai achieved huge fame.”