Rani Lakshmibai was the queen of Maratha-ruled princely state of Jhansi, the present day Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh. She is considered one of the most prominent leaders during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 against the British Raj. She strived her best to protect her territory from the British invasion. Rani is acclaimed for her bravery and patriotism during the British Raj. Check out Lakshmibai’s Age, Family, Husband, Biography, Death and more.
Rani Lakshmibai was born on 19 November 1828 in Varanasi, British India. Her actual name was Manikarnika Tambe. Her father worked at the court of Peshwa Baji Rao II of Bithoor district. She was nicknamed as “Chhabili” by the Peshwa. She learned different warfare techniques such as horse riding, fencing, shooting and the use of other weapons along with Nana Sahib and Tantia Tope. Rani was supported and motivated by her father to learn these tactics, which made her grow to be an independent and courageous girl. She was educated at home and was also trained in martial arts and sword fighting. She was married to Maharaja of Jhansi after which she was designated as Lakshmibai. Her fearless courage to fight against the British invasion and to protect her territory against the Doctrine of Lapse, renowned her to become the heroic Jhansi Lakshmibai. She is entitled as ‘Indian Joan of Arc’ for being a renowned freedom fighter of India’s First War of Independence.
Family, Husband & Caste
Rani Lakshmibai was born into a Marathi Brahmin Family to Moropant Tambe and Bhagirathi Sapre. Her nickname was Manu. She lost her mother at a very young age of 4 years. Since her childhood, her close friends and companions were Nana Sahib (Nana Rao Peshwa) and Tantia Tope, who later helped her during the revolt of 1857.
On 19 May 1842, at the age of 14 years, Rani married to Maharaja of Jhansi, Gangadhar Rao Newalkar. Gangadhar’s first wife had died before giving birth to a child to succeed his throne. In 1851, Rani Lakshmibai and Raja Gangadhar were blessed with a son named Damodar Rao. However, the child could not survive and died from a chronic illness after 4 months. Later, in the presence of a British Political Officer, the couple adopted a child named Anand Rao, the son of Raja’s cousin and named him after their deceased child, Damodar Rao. It is said that even after adopting a child, Gangadhar could not give up on his deceased child; because of which his health started deteriorating, and eventually, he passed away in 1853.
The legend of Rani Lakshmibai
After the death of Raja Gangadhar Rao, as per his will, their adopted child, Damodar Rao, was to become his legal heir and Rani Lakshmibai to be the Viceroy of Jhansi for a lifetime. However, Lord Dalhousie who was the Governor-General of India in 1853, refused to accept the adopted child of Raja Gangadhar Rao as their legal heir and implemented the Doctrine of Lapse for the annexation of the territory of Jhansi. According to this Doctrine, the British could annex any state whose ruler had died; leaving no legal male heir to take up the throne. Nevertheless, Rani Lakshmibai refused to surrender Jhansi to British. With the help of an Australian Lawyer, John Lang, she filed a petition in London to oppose the annexation of Jhansi, but Rani’s plea was rejected. According to the sources, it was one of the factors responsible for the 1857 Indian Rebellion.
1854 :: Petition of Queen Laxmi Bai Against East India Company Opposing Annexation of Jhansi Under Doctrine of Lapse Policy .
Petition Was Filed by Australian Lawyer John Lang After Meeting Queen Laxmi Bai In Jhansi pic.twitter.com/QrvDBzmbsF
— indianhistorypics (@IndiaHistorypic) June 18, 2018
During the time of Doctrine of Lapse, the East India Company acted as both, the Judge as well as the Defendant with no proper court of law. In 1854, after multiple rejections of Rani’s appeals against the Doctrine of Lapse, Lakshmibai was granted a pension of ₹60,000/- and was ordered to move to Rani Mahal; leaving the Jhansi fort. However, Lakshmibai was persistent in protecting the throne of Jhansi with respect to her husband’s will and for her adopted son. She intensified Jhasi’s defences; accumulating a ‘volunteer army’ of 14000 rebellions, which had many brave warriors like Tantia Tope, Nana Rao Peshwa, Gulam Gaus Khan, Dost Khan, Khuda Baksh, Deewan Raghunath Singh, Deewan Jawahar Singh and women warriors such as Jalkari bai, Sundar-Mundar and many more. Women were given military training, which strengthened them to fight against the British troop.
On 10 May 1857, the Indian Rebellion in the form of the mutiny of sepoys arose as a response to the oppressive rule of the British in Meerut. Gradually, unrest began to spread in various territories of India, which culminated in the form of the First War of Indian Independence. After the mutiny, the British became more focused to crush the rebellion. Meanwhile, Lakshmibai was given permission to raise a body of armed men for her own protection by Captain Alexander Skene. Thereafter, she went on to defend Jhansi from being invaded by the neighbouring armies of Orchha and Datia; whose intention was to divide Jhansi among themselves. Under the leadership of Lakshmibai, Jhansi was peaceful even in the midst of the rebellion.
Lakshmibai had made her army much stronger during her reign for any battle against the British. She kept an acquaint with Tantya Tope, Nana Sahib, and her ally Raja Mardan Singh of Banpur. In 1858, ‘General Hugh Rose’ seized the fort of Jhansi with four columns; assaulting the defences at different points and killing those who tried to escalate the walls. But Rani was reluctant to surrender and fought against the British for over 10 days; proclaiming with rage Mai Apni Jhansi Nahi Dungi (I will not surrender my Jhansi). Meanwhile, an army led by Tantia Tope, which attempted to relieve Jhansi and get back Lakshmibai to freedom was also defeated by the British troops. Lakshmibai’s army could no longer hold against the British forces, and within a few days, the British breached the city walls and conquered the city. However, under the mounting pressures, Lakshmibai, with the help of a small force of palace guards, managed to escape the fort by jumping from a palace wall with her horse, Badal.
Along with her son Damodar Rao, Rani left for Kalpi with her small force and joined other rebel forces (which were also fighting against the British) including Tantia Tope. While defending Kalpi along with her forces, Lakshmibai once more lost against the overpowering British troops. Left with no alternatives, Rani, along with, Tantia Tope, moved to Gwalior and joined other Indian forces. According to the reports, Rani’s father, Moropant Tambey, was killed by the British after the defeat of Jhansi.
Cause Of Death
While fighting against the British in the Gwalior City, Lakshmibai was deployed towards the eastern flank, which was considered as one of the toughest battlegrounds at that time. On 18 June 1858, Rani progressed into the battle in Gwalior. While battling against the 8th Hussar in Kotah-ki Serai, where Rani succumbed to her injuries. She battled with an undying patriotism till her last breath and achieved martyrdom. After three days, Gwalior was captured by the British.
As per Rani’s wish that her body not to be captured by the British troops, the rebel army mourned her for 2 days before cremating her body at a nearby Gangadas Mutt by a hermit. Later, Rani’s adopted son, Damodar Rao, was given pension by the British Government. He later died on 28 May 1906, at the age of 58 in the city of Indore.
- When the Indian National Army was created by Subhash Chandra Bose, the first female unit of the army was named after Rani Lakshmibai as the epitome of female bravery in India.
- In 2009, a letter, written by Rani Lakshmibai in the Persian Language; citing the hypocritical tricks of Lord Dalhousie for annexing the kingdom of Jhansi, was found in the British Library in England.
- It was stated that General Sir Hugh Rose flattered Rani to be ‘remarkable for her cleverness and perseverance’ and that she had been the ‘most dangerous of all the rebel leaders’.
- The place where Rani Lakshmibai was cremated has now become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the City of Gwalior; the place is known as ‘Samadhi Sthal of Rani Lakshmibai’.
Samadhi Sthal of Rani Lakshmibai
- Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, an Indian poetess, wrote a poem ‘Jhansi ki Rani’, which is regarded as the most popular literary piece in her gallantry and is still recited by the school children in India.
- Shubha Mudgal, an eminent Indian singer, sang an influential ditty, Khoob Ladi Mardani, on the occasion of 150 years of the 1st Freedom movement, in the Indian Parliament.
- Various movies, as well as TV shows based on Rani Lakshmibai and her valour, have been made including Jhansi Ki Rani Laxmibai (2012), Jhansi Ki Rani (1953), and the 2019 film ‘Manikarnika’ starring Kangana Ranaut as Rani Lakshmibai.