Rani Laxmibai, also known as the Queen of Jhansi, was a remarkable figure in the Indian freedom struggle. Her indomitable spirit and bravery continue to inspire people around the world. Born on November 19, 1828, in Varanasi, India, Laxmibai grew up with a thirst for knowledge and a strong sense of justice.
At a tender age, Laxmibai displayed exceptional courage and determination. She received training in martial arts, horseback riding, and archery, defying traditional gender norms of her time. This prepared her for the challenges she would face as a leader and warrior.
Laxmibai’s story takes a significant turn when her husband, Maharaja Gangadhar Rao, passed away, leaving her in charge of the kingdom of Jhansi. In the face of British imperialism and the Doctrine of Lapse, which threatened to annex Jhansi, Rani Laxmibai fearlessly took up arms to defend her land and its people.
This blog delves into the extraordinary life of Rani Laxmibai, exploring her valiant efforts to safeguard her kingdom and her fearless fight for independence. Join us on this inspiring journey as we uncover the legacy of one of India’s most iconic freedom fighters.
Manikarnika Tambe fought battles during the revolt of 1857 CE. After marriage, her husband renamed her as “Rani Laxmi Bai Nevalkar.”
At Varanasi on 19th November 1835
Mother: Bhagirathi Bai, Father: Moropant Tambe
In the year 1842, with the king of the princely state of Jhansi, Gangadharao Nevalkar
On the day of 18th June 1858 at Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh
Introduction to Rani Laxmi Bai
Indian History is full of enthusiasm, courage, and patriotism. Among the patriots, the contribution of women patriots is significant. Rani Velu Nachiyar, Rani Durgavati, Rani Gaidinliu, Rani Laxmibai are some great women patriots. They inspired millions of Indian women towards patriotism.
We popularly knew Laxmi Bai as “The Queen of Jhansi.” We remember her in Indian history as a skilled ruler, loyal patriot and brave warrior.
We also knew her as Manikarnika was her real name before marriage. But most popularly, people know her after marriage name called Laxmi Bai.
Rani Laxmi Bai changed the male-dominated culture of women limited to stove and child.
Because of her bravery mostly in India, the name of Laxmi Bai is associated with the empowerment of women.
This ultimately made her one of the true revolutionaries of India.
10 Points About Rani Laxmi Bai
- The father of Rani Laxmi Bai was Moropant Tambe, and he used to work as a political advisor of Peshwa Bajirao II. Her mother was Bhagirathi Bai Tambe.
- Laxmi Bai took birth in Varanasi, which was one of the religious centers of India.
- Rani Laxmibai was Manikarnika before marriage. After marriage, her husband renamed her as “Laxmibai.”
- The meaning of Manikarnika is the bejeweled earring. Before marriage, everyone called her as Manu, and Peshwa Bajirao II used to call her with the nickname Chabili.
- After her birth, she grew up in the Palace of Peshwa with her friends, Nana Saheb and Tatya Tope.
- At her time, women could not take education, but as she grew up in Peshwa Palace, she was free to take education and read literature and books.
- She never thought of war against the British monarchy until the British Governor withdrew the claim to the throne of Jhansi.
- Despite losing her family at an early age, she stood against the British army.
- In her lifetime, she fought three major battles during the war of 1857. She lost every battle but still furiously struggled until the last breath.
- She led the army during the battle of Gwalior in which she was seriously injured. British records tell that she died due to a fired bullet by a British soldier.
Before of Rani Laxmi Bai
During that time, on the Indian subcontinent, the British monarchy well established themselves.
The Marathas, who were unbeatable for almost 50 years before British rule, were also subordinate to the East India Company.
Peshwa surrendered to the British East India Company. Therefore, Peshwa Bajirao II had to move to Varanasi after leaving Shaniwar Wada. Chimaji Appa was the younger brother, Peshwa Bajirao II.
Birth of Rani Laxmi Bai
A close friend of Chimaji Appa, Moropant Tambe, was a political advisor of Peshwa and an administrative assistant as well.
While in Varanasi, the wife of Moropant, Bhagirathi Bai, gave birth to a daughter.
The Moropant named his daughter as “Manikarnika” which means a bejeweled earring. Manu was her nickname, so family and friends often called her with that nickname.
Suddenly, while in Varanasi, Chimaji Appa died. Then Peshwa migrated to “Bithur” in Uttar Pradesh. Moropant also went to Bithur along with Peshwa to assist in the work of Peshwa.
Rani Laxmi Bai vs. British Troops
Jhansi Ki Rani Laxmi Bai fought with British troops three times in her lifetime.
The Queen of Jhansi fought against the British East India Company to defend Jhansi. They fought the first battle at Jhansi on March 24, 1858, but she failed in her mission to defend Jhansi.
So, she has to go to Kalpi to join the army of Tatya Tope and Nana Saheb.
Rani Laxmi Bai, along with Tatya Tope and Nana Saheb, fought with the British on May 22, 1858. But rebellions failed in defending the British army, and they had to run away to Gwalior.
Indians fought this battle in Gwalior near Phool Bagh on June 16, 1858. Rani Laxmi Bai led the Battle of Gwalior, and this became her last battle.
She got seriously injured during the battle, and she died due to shooting a bullet. (Source: British Records)
Childhood of Rani Laxmi Bai
Manikarnika spent the entire childhood in the Palace of Peshwa. So, Tatya Tope and the son of Peshwas, Nana Saheb (adopted), were her childhood friends of Manikarnika.
Since her childhood, Manikarnika had a sporty and courageous attitude. Therefore, Peshwa used to call her “Chabili.”
Since the childhood of Laxmi Bai, Moropanta had told her stories about Chhatrapati Shivaji and other patriots of India.
He also taught about the importance of patriotism and independence.
In those days of Indian society, people did not teach girls. But in that manner, Manu was lucky, and she loved to read and write.
The more noticeable thing was she leads in sports such as swordsmanship, Malla Khamba, and Horse Chesal.
Marriage of Manikarnika
In May 1942, Manikarnika was married to Maharaja Gangadharrao Nevalkar of Jhansi.
After marriage, according to the tradition of Jhansi province, Manikarnika was renamed as “Rani Laxmi Bai.”
Not only before marriage but also after the wedding, Laxmi Bai used to horse ride.
In the Palace, there was a stable where highborn horses possessed. Among those horses, Pavaan, Sarangi, and Badal were especially dear to Rani Laxmi Bai.
According to historians, to save Rani Laxmi Bai, her horse named Badal, jumped from the castle wall. Afterward, Rani Laxmi Bai ran out of the Fort, far away from the reach of enemies.
In the year 1851, Gangadharao and Laxmi Bai gave birth to a child. They named their son “Damodarrao.” But this happiness did not last long because the child died prematurely.
Adoption Of Anandarao
After the death of their son, Gangadharao adopted the son of a cousin called “Anandrao.”
In memory of his dead son, the Maharajah Gangadharao gave his name as Damodararao to Anandarao.
In November 1853, Gangadharrao died unexpectedly. Until that moment, Queen Laxmi Bai not agreed to rebel against the British.
Finally, British governor General Lord Dalhousie gave the reason that Damodara Rao was an adopted son of Gangadharrao and rejected his claim to the throne of Jhansi.
Dalhousie abruptly applied the policy known as “Doctrine of Lapse.”
When Rani Laxmi Bai informed about this, she angrily shouted,
I will not give my Jhansi!
– Rani Laxmi Bai
This policy made Rani Laxmi Bai a brave rebellion.
Enforcement of the British East India Company
After some period, Britisher forced Laxmi Bai to leave the Palace and the Fort. So, in March 1854 CE, she left the Palace of Jhansi.
The British East India Company admitted to giving her a pension of rupees 60,000 per annum. Then, Laxmi Bai stayed in Jhansi and started preparing for the revolt.
According to the Marathi writer Vishnu Bhat Godse, Rani Laxmi Bai liked the sports of steeplechase and wrestling.
Also, in the morning before breakfast she was accustomed to exercising early.
Her sharpness, intelligence, and humble disposition had made her personality unique from other women.
Background of the 1857 Revolt
The revolt began on 10th May 1857, in Meerut. Laxmi Bai told Captain Alexander Skene to send troops for self-defense.
Here in the city, Laxmi Bai had organized the Haldi-Kumkum program to inspire the citizens of Jhansi.
She said to people that the British were cowards, so no one needs to be scared of them.
All the women of Jhansi joined that program which encouraged them to rebellion movement.
The Bloodshed by the Mutinies at Star Fort
In June 1857, rebels of the local Bengal infantry seized the British stronghold named “Star Fort.”
Afterward, the mutinies asked British officers to drop their weapons. After laying off weapons and surrender, rebellions killed all the British officers, along with their wives and children.
Those Rebellions robbed treasures and ammunition in the Fort. British Army doctor Thomas Lowe wrote that Queen Laxmi Bai was also involved in the massacre.
Finally, how could these British leave the chance to disrepute Queen Laxmi Bai?
Rani Laxmi Bai Successfully Defended the Jhansi
Anyway, the rebels subsequently collected ransom money from Rani Laxmi Bai and threatened to destroy her palace.
After that, Rani Laxmi Bai gave detailed information about incidents that happened to Erskine.
Then, the commissioner of the Saugor division, named Major Erskine, replied to her letter.
In reply, Erskine told the queen to manage the city until the new director of the British government reached Jhansi.
The Army of Rani Laxmi Bai successfully stopped the attempt of rebellions to occupy the Jhansi.
Finally, the opponent prince, nephew of Gangadharao named Sadashiv Rao, failed to capture the throne of Jhansi.
Attack on Jhansi Fort
In January 1858, the British government declared that a military force was being sent to command the Jhansi.
However, the advisers and army of Jhansi wanted to gain independence from British rule.
Also, the delay in the arrival of the British military increased the confidence of the troops of Jhansi.
During that time, the army of Jhansi provided a good supply of ammunition and guns.
Revolt Declaration to British General Hugh
Finally, the British army arrived at Jhansi in March 1858 C.E.
On analyzing Fort General, Hugh recognized that the defense system was stronger than before.
Then, the General asked Rani Laxmi Bai to surrender. Otherwise, destruction would take place everywhere.
After thinking a lot, Queen Laxmi Bai decided to fight with the British army. Rani Laxmi Bai said,
We will fight for freedom. If victory is ours, we will know the taste of freedom. And if we lose, our spirit-soul will be accelerated towards God by sacrificing life on the battlefield.
– Rani Laxmi Bai
Rani Laxmi Bai herself took the lead in defense of Jhansi.
War of Jhansi — Rani Laxmi Bai Vs. Britisher
From March 1858, the English artillery began firing at the Fort. On the opposite hand, the party of the Queen has also done the heavy bombardment.
Most noticeably, Jhansi’s army repaired the destructed walls within one night. The Queen also sought the help of Tatya Tope.
Tatya Tope sent 20,000 troops. But the military failed to save the Jhansi.
On April 2, 1858, the British cannons finally broke the walls of the Fort of Jhansi.
Two divisions of the army entered the Fort. There was intense opposition everywhere in the Palace and outside.
Escape from the Fort of Jhansi
Meanwhile, the Queen took her horse named Badal and jumped from the castle. At that time, the horse Badal died.
Later, a group of soldiers joined the army of rebels led by Tatya Tope. He was fighting to overthrow British rule.
Under the leadership of Rani Laxmi Bai, rebellions took control over the city of Kalpi and rebuilt the fort with an excellent defense system.
On May 22, British troops again attacked. Rani Laxmi Bai led herself. But unfortunately, the army of Laxmi Bai was defeated again.
Last Struggle at Fort of Gwalior
Afterward, Rani Laxmi Bai, Nawab Banda, Tatya Tope, and Rao Saheb moved to the Fort of Gwalior. Nana Saheb declared “Peshwa” before the proceeding of this mission.
Rani Laxmi Bai also attempted to unite the other rebels in India and used the Fort of Gwalior against the British to gather them. But this failed to do so.
The rebels of other groups did not agree to unite. Therefore, due to a lack of troops, the party of the queen again faced defeat.
Rani Laxmi Bai Death
Rani Laxmi Bai died at the early age of 29 on June 17, 1858. She died on the battleground of Gwalior near Phool Bagh while leading the war.
The death of Laxmi Bai is another controversial topic. According to British records, her death resulted from firing a pistol.
On the other hand, Queen Laxmi Bai had instructed the Christian monks to set their bodies on fire.
The Doctrine of Lapse
Doctrine policy was a claim to cancel policy known as the Doctrine of Lapse in English.
If any of the Indian rulers could not maintain the state or died without an heir. Then, under this British incorporation policy, that state gets abolished. So that state will merge under the British East India Company.
Captured Provinces by the policy of Doctrine of Lapse
Under this policy, they subjected many smaller states to the British East India Company. They strictly enforced this policy during the reign of British General Dalhousie from 1848 to 1856.
Important Barton like Satara (1848), Jaitapur and Sambalpur (1849), Nagpur and Jhansi (1854), and Udaipur (Chhattisgarh), Oudh (1856), Tore and Arcot (1855) merged with the British East India Company under this policy.
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