Inspiring Indians - Jhansi Rani

Rani Lakshmi Bai, the fiery Queen of Jhansi, also known as the Rani of Jhansi, was known for her bravery and is a role model for women in India, to this day. 

Early life

Rani Lakshmi Bai, was born on 19th November at Kashi (presently known as Varanasi). Her father Moropanth was a Brahmin and her mother Bhagirathibai was a cultured, intelligent and God fearing lady. She was named Manikarnika at birth. Affectionately called Manu, she lost her mother at a very young age. The complete responsibility of the young girl fell on the father. She completed her education and also learnt horse riding, sword fighting and shooting on a target with a gun. 

As the Rani of Jhansi

Manu was married to Raja Gangadhar Rao, the Maharaja of Jhansi and became the Rani of Jhansi. After the marriage, she was given the name Lakshmi Bai. They had a child, which died very soon. Gangadhar Rao did not have any children and this worried him. The reason for his worry was a rule followed by the Britishers, that if a King died without children the British would take over the State. Even if the ruler adopted a son, the adopted son would not have ruling powers. As a result of this rule, a yearly pension would be fixed for the descendants and the full responsibility for protecting the State would be that of the British Government. Applying this rule, the British had swallowed many native States. Now it was the turn of Jhansi. 

To Maharaja Gangadhar Rao, who was already old, this was a serious blow. He was bedridden. In 1853, the Maharaja and Lakshmi Bai decided to adopt Damodar Rao, a boy of their community. The Maharaja died soon after this adoption. The prince was still a minor so Lakshmibai decided to run the kingdom until the adopted son reached maturity. At this time she was only eighteen years old. 

The War that followed 

The Britishers did not accept an adopted son as heir to any throne. So, Jhansi came under British rule but she did not want that and the Britishers attacked Jhansi in March 1858. Rani Jhansi with her faithful warriors decided not to surrender. Fierce fighting continued for about two weeks. During the war in Jhansi army women were also carrying ammunition and were supplying food to the soldiers. 

Rani Lakshmi Bai was very actively involved in the army and was personally inspecting the defense of the city. She was full of courage and patriotism. As the British advanced, dressed as a man, her son Damodar Rao strapped tightly to her back, she was holding the reins of her horse in her mouth. She would use the sword with both her hands as she fought with vigour and a never say die attitude. However, on the second day of fighting (on 18 June 1858), the great heroine of the first struggle for India's freedom, at the tender age of 22 years, lost her life.

Go back