Lakshmi Bai : Warrior Queen of Jhansi

Posted August 12, 2013 by admin in Historical Figures

1857 saw one of the bloodiest revolutions in world history as hundreds of thousands perished as India bid for freedom and the greatest empire in the world tottered for a fall.

Racial prejudices and brutality exposed itself at its worst as Indians were subjected to the worst forms of apartheid in their own country with the increasing hold of the British over the political structure of India backed by its native Indian army.  Everything was set for an explosion.

And matters exploded in 1857 memorably by the first martyr for Indian freedom, Mangal Pandey. Soon Northern India was on fire as the British and their troops scurried for cover as the name of dharma and justice rang through the land.

Central in this struggle was a young widow, Lakshmi bai of Jhansi (19 November 1828 – 18 June 1858). At birth she was named Manu. The young Manu, unfortunately she lost her mother when she was only four. The entire duty of bringing up the daughter fell on her father. Along with formal education she acquired the skill in sword fighting, horse riding and shooting. Manu later became the wife of Gangadhar Rao, Maharaaj of Jhansi, in 1842. From then on she was known as Maharani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi.

In 1851 Maharani Lakshmi Bai bore a son but her fate was cruel and she lost her child within three months. Her husband, the Maharajah of Jhansi passed away on the 21st November 1853. Although prior to this the Maharaja and Maharani adopted a boy the British government claimed they did not recognise the right of the adopted boy. Thus they tried to buy off the Rani however she stated:

“No, impossible! I shall not surrender my Jhansi!”

It did not take her long to realise how difficult it was for the small state of Jhansi to oppose the British when even the Peshwas and Kings of Delhi had bowed down to the British Demands. The Rani’s battle now was against the British who had cunningly taken her kingdom from her.

After the British took over her government her daily routine changed. Every morning from 4am to 8am were set apart for bathing, worship, meditation and prayer. From 8am to 11am she would go out for a horse ride, practise shooting, and practice swordmanship and shooting with the reins held on her teeth. Thereafter she would bathe again, feed the hungry, give alms to the poor and then have food; then rested for a while.

After that she would chant the Ramanyan. She would then exercise lightly in the evening. Later she would go through some religious books and hear religious sermons. Then she worshipped her chosen deity and had supper. All things were done methodically, according to her strict timetable. Such a dedicated and devoted women!

1When the fires of freedom were spreading the Rani had no hesitation in throwing her lot in with the freedom fighters. Her brave and steady character with her son Damodar Rao was strapped tightly to her back going onto the battlefield earned her the respect of the other fighters such as Tatya Tope, Kunwar Singh, Amar Singh , Peshwa Nana Saheb and others.

She maintained a determined and gritty struggle for over a year  as the leaderless revolutionaries fought desperately in small groups and pockets all over north India facing the reinforced British and their Indian lackeys.

The tide of war washed over the subcontinent as the British were everywhere uprooted and the Indians bid to reverse the inequities thrust upon them. However without trained leadership and fighting independently from each other, united by nothing more than a desire to be free they were subdued one by one.

Despite the turning of the tide she scored some notable victories over British troops earning even the grudging respect of the British in this brutal race war.

All these disciplined and training patterns came in use during the Indian war of Independence in 1857. Many lives were lost and innocence people killed. Although India  did not gain independence the Rani did win back Jhansi and created the state to its former glory having a full treasury and army of women matching the army of men.Finally, in  1858 with the rebel leaders either killed in action or hanged Sir Hugh Rose attacked Jhansi  . The next day’s battle was the Rani’s last.

Her death was heroic, her army had declined as they were out numbered by the opposition. The British Army had encircled her and her men. There was no escape blood was flowing, darkness was approaching. The British army was pursuing her. Holding the reins of her horse in her mouth and wielding a sword in either hand she made a last attack on the British After a great struggle the Rani died muttering quotes from the Bhagvad Gita. She died as she had lived. –

A martyr to freedom, for dharma and independent womanhood. She was the very embodiment of the War Goddess Kali. Her name remains as a beacon for Dharma

MORE : Video : Maharani Lakshmi Bai’s birth place lies in neglect

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