- Rani Lakshmi Bai was born on 19 November 1828 at Poona
- Rani Lakshmi Bai’s father supported her to learn to ride elephants and horses and also to use weapons effectively
- The courageous stories of Rani Lakshmibai inspired many generations of freedom fighters in India
Rani Lakshmi Bai was one of the leading warriors in India’s First War of Independence, which was fought in 1857. She is famously known as ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’. Her mother passed away when Rani Lakshmi Bai was just four years old. Her father raised her as an independent, courageous girl. Her father supported her to learn to ride elephants and horses and also to use weapons effectively. Then she lost her husband when she was just twenty-four-years-old, who was the Maharaja of Jhansi. Even after so many loses, Rani Lakshmibai didn’t lose hope and took over his responsibilities.
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Rani Lakshmi Bai was born on 19 November 1828 at Poona. Her real name was Manikarnika. Her name changed to Lakshmi Bai, in honour of Goddess Lakshmi. Rani Lakshmi Bai is considered as the epitome of female bravery in India and a symbol of bravery, patriotism and honour. She learned her battle skills with Nana Sahib and Tatya Tope, who were active participants in the first revolt of independence.
Rani of Jhansi
In 1842, Rani Lakshmi Bai got married the Maharaja of Jhansi, Raja Gangadhar Rao. It was after her marriage that she came to be known as Lakshmi Bai. After nine years of her marriage, Rani Lakshmi Bai gave birth to a son but unfortunately, he died in his fourth month. The incident took a heavy toll on Maharaja Gangadhar Rao and ultimately led to his death on 21 November 1853. Later, Damodar Rao was adopted by Rani Lakshmi Bai as her son.
Taking an advantage of the misfortune of Jhansi, Lord Dalhousie, and the Governor-General of India at that time tried to expand the British Empire. They declined to accept Damodar Rao, as the legal heir of late Maharaja Gangadhar Rao and thus Britishers planned an attack on Jhansi on the ground that it did not have any legal heir. Finally, in 1854, the British government offered an annual pension of 60,000 to Rani Lakshmi Bai and ordered her to leave the Jhansi fort. But being very firm on her decision of not bogging down in front of Britishers, Rani Lakshmi Bai gathered an army of rebellions, which also included women.
Many brave warriors like Gulam Gaus Khan, Dost Khan, Khuda Baksh, Deewan Raghunath Singh, Deewan Jawahar Singh and much more came to her support in defending Jhansi from Britishers. Rani Lakshmi Bai was able to assemble 14,000 rebels and organised an army for the defence of the city.
Revolt of 1857
Rani Lakshmi Bai revolted against the British company when they annexed the territories of Jhansi with treachery. She was accompanied by other Indian rebellion leaders.
During her clash with the British ground forces, Rani Lakshmibai showed exemplary courage and surprised them by showing extraordinary fighting spirit and valour in battles fought at Jhansi and Gwalior.
The brave death in the battleground of Rani Lakshmi Bai motivated many patriots such as Shahid Bhagat Singh and to all revolutionaries from Veer Savarkar to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
Rani’s issues an epic proclamation just before the battle of Jhansi. After due consideration, the Rani issued a declaration: “We fight for independence. In the words of Lord Krishna, we will if we are victorious, enjoy the fruits of victory, if defeated and killed on the field of battle, we shall surely earn eternal glory and salvation.”
It was March 1858 when the war broke out and continued for about two weeks. Rani Lakshmi Bai’s army posed a very stiff resistance and fought very bravely, even though Jhansi lost to the British forces.
When the British army entered Jhansi, Rani Lakshmi Bai along with her son Damodar Rao on her back, fought bravely using two swords in both her hands. She was able to escape to the ‘kalpi’ fortress under the cover of darkness and was accompanied by many other rebellions. Then she made her way to Gwalior and again there a fierce battle was fought between the British and the Rani’s army. On 17 June of 1858, this great warrior martyred her life for India’s freedom.
Till date, she is been glorified for her commendable efforts and fearlessness.
- With her basic education, Rani Lakshmi Bai also received formal training in martial arts. She learnt horse riding, target shooting, fencing and sword fighting. Her formal education was very different from other girls of her age, as she was brought up in an environment which was more independent compared to others.
- Under her reign, there occurred an invasion of Jhansi by the forces of British Company allies ‘Orchha’ and ‘Datia’; their intention was to divide Jhansi among themselves. Rani Lakshmi Bai went up to the Britishers for help but was declined. Therefore, she assembled forces on her own and defeated the invaders in August 1857.
- During the period of August 1857-January 1858, Jhansi under her rule was at peace. Rani Lakshmi Bai strengthened her party and encouraged Indian troops to fight for independence from British rule. Finally, when the forces arrived and demanded her to surrender the city, she refused and fought back for her kingdom. Thus, began the battle of Jhansi on March 23, 1858.
- In her childhood, Rani Lakshmi Bai was called ‘Chabbili’ by the Peshwa, which means ‘playful’. The Peshwa was very fond of him and brought her up like his own daughter.
- Queen preferred riding horses to palanquins. She loved moving in between palaces on horseback, accompanied by a small escort group.
- Rani Lakshmi Bai lived and died the death of a soldier, unlike other queens of India. She died at a very young age of 22 and was buried in Phool Bagh, Gwalior. She left in the clothes of a soldier with the body of her close Muslim friend lying next to her. Rani Lakshmi Bai defended Jhansi against British troops till the very end, not giving up at any point. Sir Hugh Rose may have besieged Jhansi on 23 March 1858, but her spirit remained indomitable.
- Rani Lakshmi Bai’s palace and her burial palace, The Rani Mahal, is now converted into a museum. It houses a collection of archaeological remains of the period between the 9th and 12th centuries AD.
Rani Lakshmi Bai was much ahead of the times she was living in. She had the heart and courage to go for what was right and left us a very important message of courage and fearlessness. The courageous stories of Rani Lakshmibai inspired many generations of freedom fighters in India.