Lakshmibai, The Rani of Jhansi (c. 1828/1835 – June 17, 1858)(Marathi was the queen of the Maratha-ruled princely state of Jhansi in North India. She was one of the leading figures of the Indian rebellion of 1857, and a symbol of resistance to British rule in India.
Alternate name: Manu,Manikarnika
Place of birth: Kashi, Uttar Pradesh, India
Place of death: Gwalior,India
Movement: 1857 rebellion
She was born at Kashi and died at Gwalior. Her childhood name was Manikarnika. She is sometimes referred to as the Boudicca of India.
Lakshmi Bai was a Maharashtrian born sometime around 1828 at Kashi (presently known as Varanasi). An alternate date of 19 November 1835 was asserted by D. B. Parasnis in his biography of the Rani. However, no other credible historian agrees with this date and all the evidence points to 1828. The simplest and most direct evidence comes via John Lang. In his account of his meeting with the Rani in 1854 he mentions that her vakil said she was a woman of about 26 years.
Her father Moropanth Tambey was a Karhade Brahmin and her mother Bhagirathibai was cultured, intelligent and was affectionately called Manu by her family. Manu lost her mother at the age of four, and responsibility of looking after the young girl fell to her father. She completed her education and martial training, which included horse riding, fencing and shooting, when she was still a child.
She was married to Raja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar, the Maharaja of Jhansi in 1842, and became the queen of Jhansi. After their marriage, she was given the name Lakshmi Bai. The ceremony of the marriage was performed at the Ganesh Mandir, the temple of Lord Ganesha situated in the old city of Jhansi. Rani Lakshmi Bai gave birth to a son in 1851, but this child died when he was about four months old.
In 1853 Gangadhar Rao fell very ill and he was persuaded to adopt a child. To ensure that the British would not be able to contest the adoption, the Rani had it witnessed by the local British representatives. Maharaja Gangadhar Rao expired the following day, 21 November 1853.
At that time, Lord Dalhousie was the Governor General of British India. Though little Damodar Rao, adopted son of late Maharaja Gangadhar Rao and Rani Lakshmi Bai, was Maharaja's heir and successor under Hindu tradition, the British rulers rejected Rani's claim that Damodar Rao was their legal heir. Lord Dalhousie decided to annex the state of Jhansi under the Doctrine of Lapse.
The Rani then did the unprecedented: she sought the advice of a British lawyer, John Lang, and appealed her case in London. Although these petitions were well-argued, they were ultimately rejected. The British Indian authorities clearly sought to punish Rani for her presumptuous behavior. They confiscated the state jewels and deducted her husband's debts from her annual pension of Rs. 60,000. She was required to leave Jhansi fort for the Rani Mahal in Jhansi town, as well. But Rani Lakshmi Bai was determined to defend Jhansi. She proclaimed her decision with the famous words :Mi mahji Jhansi nahi dehnar (I will not give up my Jhansi).
The Ranee of Jhansi, an illustration from Chambers's History of the Revolt in India. London, 1859.
Jhansi became a center of the rebellion upon the outbreak of violence in 1857. Rani Lakshmi Bai started strengthening the defense of Jhansi and assembled a volunteer army. Women were recruited as well as men and given military training. Rani was accompanied by her generals. Many from the local population volunteered for service in the army ranks, with the popular support for her cause on the rise.
In September and October of 1857, the Rani led the successful defense of Jhansi from the invading armies of the neighboring rajas of Datia and Orchha.
In January of 1858, the British Army started its advance on Jhansi, and in March laid siege to the city. After two weeks of fighting the British captured the city, but the Rani escaped in the guise of a man, strapping her adopted son Damodar Rao closely on her back. She fled to Kalpi where she joined Tantya Tope.
During the battle for Gwalior the Rani met her death on 17 June. During this battle the Rani's original horse was mortally wounded. He had to be replaced by a younger, more energetic, but less trained horse.
The folklore surrounding her during the war is that during the battle the Rani was trying to escape and two British officers followed her. The horse reached a cliff and being insufficiently trained, could not pass over it. The British set upon her by surrounding her. As she was cornered, she knew there was only one option to take was to jump off which she did. A Brahmin, who found her, carefully took her into his ashram. She lay there unconscious for a moment then her last words were "Jai Hind!", meaning victory to India. In actual fact, most sources have the Rani being shot or run through with a saber and there is no mention of a cliff. It is also unlikely that the many princes who led the Mutiny were in any way more than peripherally concerned with the concept of a united India. All were uniformly concerned with the loss of their personal powers and privileges, and at most, with regional issues. Indeed Laksmi Bai's main objective throughout the Mutiny seems to have been to secure the throne of Jhansi for her adopted son. For a considerable length of time after the start of the Mutiny, she was in correspondence with the British and professed to be on the British side, stating in her letters that she hoped in return that the East India Company would eventually restore all privileges to her son. There are also allegations that Lakshmi Bai did not do enough to prevent the massacre of the British garrison at Jhansi. It is probable that soldiers in her pay took part in the massacre.
The British captured Gwalior three days later. In his report of the Battle for Gwalior, General Rose commented that the Rani had been "the bravest and the best" of the rebels. Because of her unprecedented bravery, courage and wisdom and her progressive views on women's empowerment in 19th century India, and due to her sacrifices, she became an icon of Indian nationalist movement.
The fall of Jhansi and the death of Rani Lakshmibai was the last series of the resistance to British Raj under the Sepoy Mutiny. Its immediate effects included:
Due to her bravery, she became a national hero and the epitome of female bravery in India. When the Indian National Army, formed by Subhas Chandra Bose of Indian prisoners of war to fight the British created its first female regiment, it was named after her.
Her father, Moropant Tambe, was captured and hanged a few days after the fall of Jhansi.
Her adopted son, Damodar Rao, was given a pension by the British Raj, although he never received his inheritance.
The administration of an undivided India passed on from the East India Company to the British crown.
The Rani was memorialized in bronze statues at both Jhansi and Gwalior, both of which portray her in equestrian style.
Literature on Jhansi ki Rani
The Queen of Jhansi is English translation of Jhansir Rani by Mahashweta Devi. This book is fictional reconstruction of life of Rani LaxmiBai and was originally published in Bangla, year 1956, ISBN 81-7046-175-8.
Subhadra Kumari Chauhan created a famous heroic poem in honour of Jhansi ki Rani which is very popular in India.
Flashman in the Great Game - Two meetings between Flashman and the Rani are described in this historical fiction about the Indian Revolt by George MacDonald Fraser.
The Rebel (Jhansi Ki Rani) is a new film by Ketan Mehta, and is a companion piece to his film "Mangal Pandey: The Rising. The screenplay is by Farrukh Dhondy from a story by Chandra Prakash Dwivedi. The film is currently in pre-production. IMdB page
La femme sacrée, in French, by Michel de Grèce. A novel based on the Rani of Jhansi's life in which the author imagines an affair between the Rani and an English lawyer.
Maza Pravas: 1857 cya Bandaci Hakikat by Vishnu Bhatt Godse.
Amar Balidani by Janki Sharan Verma
Zila Vikas Pustika, 1996–97, Jhansi
Meyer, Karl E. and Shareen Blair Brysac. Tournament of Shadows. Washington D.C.: Counterpoint, 1999.
Subhadra Kumari Chauhan
Rani of Jhansi Regiment
 External links
http://www.india-forum.com/articles/...Rani-of-Jhansi A politically incorrect history of the Rani of Jhansi,
Lakshmibai, Rani of Jhansi
John Lang's account of his meeting with the Rani
Timeline for Lakshmibai, Rani of Jhansi from birth until her death.
In memory of our Rani
Poetry on Jhansi Ki Rani by Smt Subhadra Kumari Chauhan
Ron Schuler's Parlour Tricks: Lakshmi Bai, Maharani of Jhansi
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19th July 2007 From India, Madras
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