Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi
Introduction: Rani Laxmi Bai (or Lakshmi Bai, Lakshmibai) was the Rani of Jhansi (Queen of Jhansi). She is among the glorious heroines of India. After the death of her husband, Rani Laxmibai battled against the British Empire as a national patriot and sacrificed her. She is remembered as one of the early figures of the Great Rebellion of 1857 in India.
Birth and early life: Laxmibai was born on November 19, 1835 at Varanasi in India. Her father was Moropant Tambe. Her mother’s name was Bhagirathi Bai. She knew horse-riding and shooting. She was married to Gangadhar Rao Newalkar (Maharaja of Jhansi) in 1842. Her son, Damodar Rao, died, when he was just 4 months old.
Application of Doctrine of Lapse by Lord Dalhousie: In the absence of a heir and successor, Moropant Tambe and Lakshmibai adopted a son and renamed him Damodar Rao. Lord Dalhousie was the Governor General of India at that time. He applied the provisions of the Doctrine of Lapse and rejected Damodar’s claim as a legal heir. The British Government ordered the annexation of State of Jhansi.
Revolt against British and War of Independence: Rani Laxmibai boldly revolted against the British policy of annexation. In 1857, the Indian patriots waged something of a War of Independence, though practically it was a national and popular revolt against British Imperialists.
Although this revolt was not properly organized, yet there sprang up a number of leaders from various parts of the country who led the revolution heroically. Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi was one of them. She was only twenty three years of age and a widow.
Rani Laxmibai did not lead the rebellion simply for the reason that her husband’s state was taken over by the British authorities. She was mainly inspired by fervor of nationalism. She was drunk deep in the wine of patriotism. She thought it to be her ethical duty to fight for the independence of her enslaved Motherland.
Rani Laxmibai took up the lead of 700 patriot-rebels of Jhansi and marched towards the Fort, which had been captured by the British soldiers. In the Fort there were 250 prisoner-patriots, who were eager to join her liberation army.
After re-conquering the Fort, Rani Laxmibai had the plan to march towards Delhi via Gwalior, Bharatpur and Mathura. The Fort was heavily garrisoned and guarded by British soldiers. It was pone of the biggest strong-hold of the British army. If the Fort was lost to the rebel-patriots, the road was clear for Rani’s gallant soldiers to link them up with the liberation army of Delhi, which was marching towards Gwalior. Thus, the British forces were determined, at all costs, to defend the Fort.
Among the 700 followers of young Rani Laxmibai, there were more than fifty girls between the ages of 24 and 25. Some of them were maidens, some young widows, whose husbands had been killed in the fight, and some were married. The patriot soldiers were dead tired because they had been fighting for days and days together. They were hungry and thirsty. Some of them even refused to march ahead. Rani Laxmibai, before mounting on her horse, delivered an inspiringly fervent speech which pierced deeply and effectively into the hearts of her followers.
After finishing her epoch-making speech she mounted on the horse carrying the yellow flag, and her followers shouted thunderingly ‘Rani Laxmibai Ki Jai! We will kill every for of our Motherland or be killed; there is no disgrace, worse than that of being heeled under foreign rule’.
There were one hundred horsemen and the remaining solders were on foot. The beautiful, brave Rani led the battalion of the fighters of India’s freedom. It was a touching and an inspiring sight. A young girl leading men to one of the grimmest fights in the history of our country’s struggle for freedom. The Rani and her battalion stopped in front of the temple of Shiva and Parvati. Dismounting the horse, she went into the temple and offered her prayer. The white-haired and grey-bearded priest of the temple, who could hardly restrain his tears, put the chandan mark on her forehead. She drank holy-water (charnamrit) and mounted on the horse. The army of patriots then marked towards the Fort.
The British soldiers, armed with guns and artillery met the bold challenges. Then followed a grim fight. The fight waged for more than two hours. The British solders wee re-enforced and their number began to increase. The solders of Rani’s battalion were killed. The British General asked her to surrender, but she rejected the idea. She died fighting heroically, and fell down in a pool of blood.
Conclusion: The inspiring story of Rani Laxmibai’s heroic death is a lesson for our country’s modern women. They should derive a good deal of inspiration out of her life and death, especially at this time when they are to play a dynamic role in nation building.