Rani Lakshmi Bai
Manu Bai was the maiden name of Rani of Jhansi or Rani Lakshmi Bai. Manikarnika (Manu Bai) was born on 19th November 1828 at Kashi/Varanasi. Her father was Moropant Tambe and Bhagirathi Tambe was her mother. Manu lost her mother at a very young age, she was just about 3-4 years old then. She was brought up by her father alone. They shifted to Bithoor after the death of her mother, and started living with Peshwa Baji Rao.
Ever since her childhood, Manikarnika was inclined towards the use of weapons. She trained herself in horse-riding, sword fighting and martial arts. Manu Bai was a beautiful, intelligent and courageous girl. She spent her childhood in the company of Nana Sahib who was the son of Peshwa Baji Rao II. She had once saved Nana Sahib from getting crushed by the horse’s feet, a testimony of her bravery and presence of mind.
Manu Bai got married to Raja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar in May, 1842. He was the Maharaja of Jhansi and hence she came to be known as Rani Lakshmi Bai. She gave birth to Damodar Rao in 1851. But the infant died when he was just four months old. However, in 1853, Gangadhar Rao adopted a kid and named him after his son, Damodar Rao. Later on, Gangadhar Rao died due to illness. Lord Dalhousie, the then Governor General of India denied his adoption as well.
Doctrine of Lapse
As per the ‘Doctrine of Lapse’, all the states which did not have a legal heir to the throne were annexed by the British forces. Since Lord Dalhousie did not approve of the adoption, the kingdom of Jhansi was annexed as well. An enraged Lakshmi Bhai, filed a couple of petitions against Lord Dalhousie, but her attempts bore no fruits.
Revolt of 1857
The first war of Indian Independence broke out in 1857. The revolt spread like a wildfire. Fierce battles were fought in regions such as Delhi, Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad and Punjab. Bahadur Shah Zafar was declared as the king by the revolutionaries. Rani Lakshmi Bhai took part in the revolt swiftly. She gained command of the revolutionary forces and captured the fort of Jhansi on June 7, 1857. She ruled as a regent on behalf of her minor son, Damodar Rao.
On 20th March 1858, a huge force under Sir Hugh Rose was sent by the British for recapturing Jhansi. But Jhansi Rani had the support of Tantya Tope. Both parties suffered heavy losses in the severe battle that followed. By betrayal, the Britishers finally recaptured the fort. Somehow, she managed to escape with a few of her loyal followers. She reached Kalpi. Within no time, she captured the Gwalior fort from Jivaji Rao Scindia with the help of Tantya Tope and Rao Sahib.
Scindia took the help of Britishers. Rani Lakshmi Bhai was a real hero in the battle ground. In the great battle against Scindia and Britishers, Lakshmi Bai was wounded by one of the English horsemen. While fighting she had her son tied on her back, Jhansi Rani had a heroic death with a sword in her hand. Her loyal attendant Ramchandra Rao lit the funeral pyre. She was killed on 18th June 1858 at Kotah-ki-Serai in Gwalior.
Jhansi Ranis is one of the bravest women in Indian history. She lost her life fighting for Swaraj. She fought for the liberation of the Indians from British rule. She was a true patriot. She continues to inspire millions of people in our country. Her name is etched in golden letters in Indian history!
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