Rani Laxmibai: The Warrior Queen Of Jhansi
Rani Laxmibai, The Warrior Queen Of Jhansi is a concisely written and thoroughly researched book about the Queen-cum-diplomat-cum-warrior of Hindustan who died on the battlefield like a brave soldier while fighting the forces of the British East India Company.
In India or for instance elsewhere in the world the names of the male warriors who showed the extreme courage in the battlefield are not only memorized but eulogizing their deeds are considered worthy enough, isn’t it.
But, we also need to understand that there were some courageous women also who not only ruled their respective kingdoms but when the time demanded they also lead their army from the front in the battlefield.
And one of them was, The erstwhile Queen of Jhansi, Rani Laxmibai. The latter is the best example that shows us how to remain as traditional at the same time showing no hesitation in accepting the concepts of modernity for the greater good.
Although, in India, reel life actors and actresses like to portray themselves as these historical figures. And in that process they tend to think that they are the real warriors.
People of India need to be aware of those people who uses these historical personalities to fulfill their heinous agendas.
If riding fake horses and using a fake sword will make someone a warrior. Then, I guess we need to change the definition of a warrior.
Who was Rani Laxmibai?
Rani Laxmibai was the Queen of the kingdom of Jhansi (Now in Uttar Pradesh, India). She died on 17 June 1858 in Gwalior while fighting the forces of General Hugh Rose of the British East India Company.
Early life of Laxmibai:-
Rani Laxmibai was born to Moropant Tambe and Bhagirathi on the banks of the River Ganga in Kashi in the early nineteenth century.
As the girl was born on one of the Ghats of the river Ganga so she was named as Mankarnika. She was also called as Manu.
Manu’s father Moropant Tambe was a brahmin who belonged to Parole, a nondescript village in Maharashtra.
Tambe came to Pune during the reign of the Peshwa Baji Rao II. And he was employed with the Peshwa.
Manu’s mother died when she was a young child. She grew up in the palace of Peshwa Baji Rao II. And the latter considered the former as his own child.
Unlike the other girls of her age, Manu learnt the skills of Sword, horse riding and mastered over it like a pro warrior.
She also used to do Mallakhamba, The Indian style Gymnastics performed on a vertical wooden pole.
Manu was an extraordinary child. In fact, when she was born an astrologer had told her father that she would be a queen one day. Although, she was not from a royal family.
But, destiny had planned something else for his daughter as predicted by the astrologer. Because as they say, No force on earth can stop an idea whose time has come.
When Manu was thirteen or fourteen years of age her marriage was fixed by none other than, Peshwa Baji Rao II, to Gangadhar Rao of Jhansi.
The Queen of Jhansi:-
In May 1842, Mankarnika Tambe marries Raja Gangadhar Rao of the kingdom of Jhansi. After her marriage she became Rani Laxmibai.
The age difference between her and her husband is almost thirty years. She was around thirteen or fourteen years old and Gangadhar Rao was around forty or forty two years old when they were married.
Before, we start talking about her life in Jhansi we need to understand few important things about Jhansi.
Jhansi was originally just a nondescript village known by the name of Balwantnagar. And it was under the rule of Bir Singh Judeo, The Bundela king of Orchha.
But, during the reign of Maharaja Chhatrasal, the city of Jhansi and its surrounding regions were given away to Peshwa, Baji Rao I.
But, after the end of the Peshwa rule in 1818, the kingdom of Jhansi became independent and they also signed a treaty of friendship with the British East India Company.
After her marriage to Gangadhar Rao, Rani Laxmibai adjusted pretty well in the kingdom of Jhansi.
In fact, she persuaded her husband to abolish the capital punishment. She was a religious person who used to worship regularly.
People of Jhansi call her, Baisaheb. Bai means woman and Saheb is a suffix given to someone of high office.
In 1851, she gave birth to a son. After hearing this news the people of Jhansi became elated with extreme joy and happiness. But, the child died within three months.
Gangadhar Rao who was already too old at the time of his child’s birth was devastated when he heard this news. We can’t even imagine what Rani Laxmibai had gone through after losing her first and only child.
The British East India Company and the Governor General, Lord Dalhousie had already started annexing Indian kingdoms on one pretext or another.
And they already had their evil eyes on the kingdom of Jhansi. To avoid this situation, Gangadhar Rao and Rani Laxmibai adopted a son by the name of Anand.
After the adoption the name of this boy was changed to Damodar Rao. The adoption was done in accordance with the Hindu Dharamshastra. But, the British already decided to annex Jhansi.
In fact, within a day of adoption, the king of Jhansi, Gangadhar Rao died on 21 November 1853. This leaves Laxmibai and Jhansi in a very precarious situation.
And what they feared the most became true on 27 February 1854, When Governor General, Lord Dalhousie, invoked the Doctrine of Lapse and announced the decision to annex Jhansi.
So, some of you might be thinking what is Doctrine of Lapse. This doctrine was the brain child of Lord Dalhousie.
It was designed to annex those states which have no heir means state have no heir they get lapsed the right of ruling and it will not reverted by adoption.
Although, Rani Laxmibai tried to persuade the British East India Company to recognize Damodar Rao as the heir to the kingdom of Jhansi but to no avail.
After the annexation of Jhansi, Laxmibai became a pensioner of the British and she was also humiliated by the British East India Company when they denied her the rights over the properties which she owned as the Queen of Jhansi. This was the so-called system of fairness which the British never tired of preaching worldwide.
Although, Jhansi was annexed by the British but Laxmibai never accepted this treacherous behaviour of the company.
That’s why she not only participated in the Revolt of 1857 or The First War Of Independence but she also became the most feared rebel leaders during the war
The Revolt of 1857 and Rani Laxmibai:-
On 10 May 1857, the sepoys at Meerut cantonment revolted. The whole of North India which was sitting on a powder keg blew up because of the spark that was lighted by the sepoys.
Within a few days, the sepoys not only captured Delhi but they also reinstated the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar ll as the emperor.
Although, the revolt was started by the sepoys but the deposed Kings, Queens, Zamindars, and common people alike also participated in it through thick and thin.
During the revolt of 1857, Laxmibai played the situation very well. She not only stayed in touch with the British during the mutiny but she was also in touch with those Kings who were fighting against the British.
Her main motive at that time was to regain her lost kingdom. But, the sepoys who had started the mutiny reached Jhansi and there they not only massacred the British soldiers but they also threatened Rani for the money and other logistics.
Although, Rani gave the sepoys the necessary logistics but she also kept in loop the British officials about the ongoing situation in Jhansi. She was a shrewd diplomat.
But, after the brutal massacre of the British officials and their families in Jhansi the British wanted revenge. So, under the command of General Hugh Rose a strong army was sent to capture Jhansi.
As soon as Laxmibai Bai learnt that British Army were planning to launch an offensive against her she like a brave warrior started preparing for the war.
In fact, During the Battle of Jhansi she fought like a ferocious warrior. The British Army were stunned when they saw a woman on a horseback fighting with two swords on her hands.
In fact, the moment General Hugh Rose saw this he said, Among the rebel leaders she was the best and the most courageous.
Although, Rani Laxmibai lost the battle of Jhansi but during the darkness of night she escaped from Jhansi and joined the forces of the Peshwa Nana Saheb and his General, Tatya Tope in Kalpi.
We need to understand one most important thing that throughout the battle Laxmibai made sure that her adopted son, Damodar Rao stayed nearby her.
In fact, when she left Jhansi she tied Damodar Rao on her back and rode on her horse like a gallant warrior. What a brave person she was. We can only imagine her bravery.
When she reached Kalpi it was decided to March to Gwalior and to persuade the Maharaja of Gwalior to join them against the British.
Gwalior was a maratha centre of power in the central India region. The territory of Gwalior was given by the peshwa to the Scindias.
But, when the rule of the peshwa ended in 1818 like the other tributaries of the Peshwa, Scindias also asserted their independence and signed a treaty of friendship with the British.
Mahadji Scindia was the first Scindia ruler of Gwalior.
During the revolt of 1857, Jayaji Rao Scindia was the ruler of Gwalior and he was openly supporting the British.
When Jayaji Rao Scindia declined to join the forces of Peshwa against the British a battle was fought in between them and in this battle majority of Scindia’s army joined the army of the peshwa.
After losing the battle, Jayaji Rao Scindia fled along with his family to the neighbouring city of Agra.
And on 3 June 1858, Nana Saheb was declared the Peshwa in the palace of Gwalior.
The British knew the importance of Gwalior and after capturing Jhansi and subduing other rebel leaders they moved towards Gwalior.
In the Battle Of Gwalior, the British forces defeated the army of Peshwa. Although, Peshwa Nana Saheb and Tatya Tope fled only to be caught later and hanged to death but Rani Laxmibai died while fighting.
In fact, during the battle she was hit on her head so powerfully by a soldier that her right eye came out from her eye socket. Still, she fought ferociously.
Rani Laxmibai already told her followers that she didn’t want to be caught by the British either dead or alive.
So, after being mortally wounded she was brought to a hut of a hermit by the name of
Gangadhar baba and they put her on a bale of dried grass and set it on fire.
The place where Rani Laxmibai breath her last is in the Phool bagh (Flower Garden) area of Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, India.
I’ve clicked the pictures of that place where she died and included in the article too.
She was the most feared leaders amongst the rebels. That’s why the British had announced a prize of twenty thousand rupees on her head.
Although, Laxmibai is no more with us but her courage, her deeds and her strong personality became immortal in the annals of Indian history.
The real heroine and inspiration to many people:-
During her life time Baisaheb never spitted venom against any community. In fact, in her army there were Hindus as well as Muslims.
But, it’s an irony that reel life people who ride fake horses consider themselves as Rani Laxmibai.
The people of India, especially the youth of this country need to understand the difference between the real warriors like Laxmibai and those people who can be described as impostors. The former is worth to emulate unlike the latter.
Even after her death, Rani Laxmibai inspired many freedom fighters of India. And one of them was, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose who created the The Rani of Jhansi Regiment (RJR) in 1943 in Singapore.
This is what Netaji said about Laxmibai:-
For the freedom of one Jhansi, one Rani Laxmibai came forward. For this nation of thirty eight crore, thousands of such Ranis of Jhansi will emerge and come forward. Unfortunately, the Rani of Jhansi lost. However, it was not her defeat. It was the defeat of the whole of India. The Rani died but she remains immortal. India will once again give birth to such Ranis of Jhansi and move towards triumph.
People like Laxmibai are the real heroines of this country. And if people learn from historical personalities like these then we will have a society which will be less ignorant and more humane.
I will end these lines of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar:-
A nation that forgets its past can never see a bright future. It is also right that a nation should not merely sing the ‘glory of ancestors’ but imbibe in itself the spirit to use the past to a make a bright future for the nation. Instead of living like helpless slaves of the past, a nation should be masters of the past.
I hope you like this, Thanks for reading, Jai Hind.
My Ratings: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5)
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