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"Khoob ladi mardaani, woh toh Jhansi wali Rani thi," (She fought like a man, she was the queen of Jhansi) is a line from the famous 'Jhansi Ki Rani' poem composed by Indian poetess Subhadra Kumari Chauhan and there is hardly any child in India who haven't heard of Rani Lakshmi Bai.
This poem describes the warrior queen of Jhansi. Born in a Brahmin household, her parents were Moropant Tambe and Bhagirathi Sapre. On 19 November 2019, her birth anniversary, let us know some unknown facts about the brave queen who laid down her life for the freedom of India.
Her Birth And Early Years
- She was born in Varanasi on 19 November 1828 and was named Manikarnika. But, she was lovingly called 'Manu'.
- She was only four years old when her mother passed away. This when Manu came to Bithoor, the place where Manu's father worked under Peshwa Baji Rao II.
- Peshwa was quite fond of Manu and used to call her 'Chahabili' meaning the one who is playful. He treated Manu the way he treated his son Nana Saheb. He ensured Manu receives a quality education.
- Manu was quite different from kids of her age. She was independent and was always indulged in various sports and adventures such as horse riding, martial arts, sword fighting, fencing and shooting.
Her Marriage And Life Ahead
- In the year 1842, she was married to Raja Gangadhar Rao Nevalkar, the King of Jhansi. The King named her Lakshmi Bai in the honour of Goddess Lakshmi. She then came to be known as Rani Lakshmi Bai, also known as the Jhansi ki rani.
- Even after getting married, she didn't give up her interest in favourite sports and went ahead to prepare her own small army consisting of females from the palace and the villages. She trained them in many warfare skills including horse riding, sword fighting and shooting.
- While going to the temple from the palace, she preferred to ride the horse rather than going in a Paalaki (palanquin).
- She made sure women receive education and enjoy their basic rights.
- Also, she took an interest in the politics of the Kingdom and made sure every citizen gets justice.
- She had three horses named Badal, Pawan and Sarangi. Badal was said to be her loyal horses and she chose to ride Badal while going in the war against Britishers in the year 1958.
Her Motherhood And The Death Of King
- In the year 1851, Rani Lakshmi Bai gave her birth to a baby boy. But unfortunately, the boy couldn't survive and died while he was four months old. Shortly after this, the King fell ill.
- In the year 1853, the King adopted Anand Rao, the son of his cousin and re-named him as Damodar Rao. He made Damodar Rao his heir and gave a letter to the British political officer in which he mentioned that after his demise, his kingdom shall be handed over to her queen and Damodar should be considered his heir. The King passed away the next day.
- As soon as the King passed away, the East India Company rejected Damodar Rao as the heir of Jhansi tried to annex Jhansi to its territories and asked the Queen to vacate the Jhansi Palace. To this, the Queen replied, 'Main meri Jhansi nahi dungi' (I won't surrender my Jhansi).
- In the year 1854, Queen was given an annual pension of 60,000 INR and was asked to leave the palace and the fort as well.
The Battle With Britishers And Her Death
- Queen Lakshmi Bai led her armed forces to fight against the Britishers in the year 1858. She installed heavy guns and canon on the wall of the Fort. Meanwhile, she also repaired the damages and asked some of her defenders to seek help from Tantya Tope, her friend, mentor and a great warrior.
- He sent 20,000 armed forces to help the Queen.
- Sir Hugh Rose, the commanding British Officer asked the Queen to surrender along with her men, denying to which he would destroy the entire city.
- The brave Queen tied her son Damodar on her back, sat on Badal (her horse) with swords in both of her hands, reins of the horse in her mouth and then went in the battle to fight against the well-trained forces of Britishers.
- Since Britishers were trained with advanced techniques and had advanced weapons, Queen couldn't defend the fort any more. Eventually, the British forces entered the city and headed towards the palace. The Queen fought valiantly. She realised if she stays in the palace, the Britishers would kill each and every citizen. Therefore, she jumped with her horse and her son tied on her back from the palace wall.
- Unfortunately, the horse died and this made the Queen quite sad. She then sat on Sarangi and went on to join Tantya and Nana Sahib.
- She captured the Gwalior Fort by defeating Scindia and declared Nana Sahib as the Peshwa of Maratha Empire. Then she went on to prepare her army once again. However, she was unsuccessful in persuading her people to prepare themselves from the upcoming British attackers.
- Soon the Queen again led a war against the British attackers. However they again lost to British forces.
- While fighting, the Queen got many fatal injuries but still rode her horse and killed as many attackers as she could. Lastly, somehow she reached a temple. The devotee in the temple recognised her and offered her Gangajal on her request.
- She then took her last breath. Since she didn't want the British to get access to her dead body, therefore, she was cremated in a hassle way. The devotee laid the dead queen in his hut and set the entire hut on fire.
So this was the entire story of the valiant Queen. She is often referred to as the incarnation of Goddess Durga due to her exceptional warfare skills and bravery. Even after years of her death, people remember her as a patriotic who led her life for the sake of the country.