Biography

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Biography Category
Detail of Biography - Rani Laxmibai
Name :
Rani Laxmibai
Date :
Views :
951
Category :
Birth Date :
01/01/1970
Birth Place :
Not Available
Death Date :
Jun 17, 1858
Biography - Rani Laxmibai
Not Available
Moropant Tambe, a member of the retinue of Chimunji Appa at Benaras and his first wife Bhagirathi Bai had only one child, a baby girl who later earned immortal fame. The girl was named Manikarnika or Manu, named after the holy Indian river, Ganges. The exact date of Manu’s birth is uncertain, however as per the Hindu calendar she was born on Kartik Badi 14, Samwat 1891, which is equivalent to November 19, 1835. As per ancient Indian customs, a girl got married when she reached her puberty and Manu (Rani) was married in 1842. It is also said that when she moved to Bithur with her father she was four. At that time Moropant joined the last Peshwa Baji Rao II who succeeded Chimunji Appa, his brother (who died in 1832). By this calculation she must have been born in or close to 1829. We shall assume her birth to be in 1830.[br /]
[br /]

[b]Adventurous Childhood[/b][br /]
[br /]


Manu was born to a very well-to-do high caste family. Her mother, Bhagirathi Bai died when Manu was just 4. She was the only daughter brought up in a household of men. Manu grew up in the religious Brahmin family. She stuck to her principles all her life. She was different from other girls of her age. At Bithur she came in touch with Nana Saheb, Rao Saheb (children of Baji Rao) and Tatya Tope, who, like Manu, where destined to play leading roles in Revolt of 1857.[br /]
[br /]


Manu was much younger to these three but got very well acquainted with them. She developed skills like horse riding, shooting, fencing etc in their company. she also learnt a lot by reading. Owing to her charms and noble traits she was nicknamed Chhabili.[br /]
[br /]


Little Manu was athletic and loved to compete with boys. Her bravery is described in one of her childhood legends. One evening, three horses came galloping on the banks of Ganga. Two riders were young men and one was a girl. When one of the young men overtook her, she galloped her horse faster and defeated him, his horse stumbling down. The two young men were Baji Rao’s son Nana Saheb and Rao Saheb and the little girl - the skilled rider was Manu, who could also ride her horse by holding the reins in her teeth.[br /]
[br /]


The knowledge she acquired by reading gave her the confidence to stand for her life’s principles. Manu’s father had taught her lessons of life giving the examples of saintly Seeta, the brave Jeejabai and Tarabai (Other outstanding women in Indian History). Manu had incarnated these teachings so well that she always debated on What she thought wrong. It is said that when she defeated Nana Saheb in a horse race, Nana got injured and Peshwa and Moropant were worried. On returning home, Moropant said : “Manu, how unfortunate ! Nana has been seriously hurt.” “Not so, father; he has been hurt just a little. Did not Abhimanyu continue to fight despite being seriously injured ?”[br /]
[br /]

“Those times were different, Manu.”[br /]

“What is the difference, father ? It is the same sky, the same earth. The sun and the moon are also the same.”[br /]
[br /]

“But Manu, the fortunes of the country have changed. This is the age of British. We are powerless before them.” The strong and confident girl was not convinced with the idea and pledged to do whatsoever needed to make the country free.[br /]
[br /]


By the time she was 12, she had mastered in various fields. She had acquired excellency in equestrian art, artillery and commendable knowledge in various fields through vast reading.[br /]
[br /]

[b]Child Marriage[/b][br /]
[br /]


Manu was noted and appreciated for her wits and knowledge. Her proficiency made many courtiers to have some serious discourse, which required commendable knowledge.[br /]
[br /]


During the 19th century, child marriages were prevalent in India. Moropant was anxious to get Manu married and in 1842, Raja (King) Gangadhar Rao, whose first wife Rama Bai had died without leaving an heir sent a proposal. Gangadhar Rao was in his 40s at the time of their wedding. Manikarnika was wedded to Raja Gangadhar Rao and after her betrothal, she was given the name of Rani (Queen) Lakshmi Bai (Goddess of wealth). Now, Manu was Queen of Jhansi - Lakshmibai. Moropant Tambe was given the rank of a Sardar in Jhansi with an allowance of Rs 300 per month.[br /]
[br /]

[b]Motherhood[/b][br /]
[br /]


Almost after nine years of her marriage, there was a celebration at the palace. Rani Lakshmibai gave birth to a baby boy in 1851. The child was given an overwhelming welcome. He was the only heir to Gangadhar Rao. People of Jhansi rejoiced a lot; entire Jhansi was lit up, sweets were distributed, and alms were given to poor. Unfortunately, the child could not survive and the happiness lasted only for three months. This was a crushing blow to the kingdom. Gangadhar Rao was shaken and was concerned about the future of the state. The worry was due to ‘Annexation’ policy of the Britishers. To expand the empire in India, Lord Dalhousie came out with the enunciation and implementation of his famous ‘Doctrine of Lapse’. It meant that in absence of a natural heir, the ‘dependent’ states would be ‘lapsed’ to paramount power, which the British Government had acquired after the fall of Mughal Empire. It also stated that if the king adopted a child the indulgence should be the exception and not the rule.[br /]
[br /]


The ‘Doctrine of Lapse’ had swallowed many states. It had been applied to Mandavi in 1839, to Kolaba and Jalaun in 1840 and to Surat in 1842. The constant worry about the future of Jhansi led Gangadhar Rao to severe mental stress.[br /]
[br /]


[b]Doctrine of Lapse at Work[/b][br /]
[br /]


British officials, who always were on a look out to expand their territory decided to lapse the state, but on what conditions, was not fixed up. Their correspondence reveals their intention as a certain Major Ellis was ordered to assume charge of the state. The Britishers were also aware that Maharaja was entitled to adopt an heir without their consent and they were prepared to tackle any adoption that could cause any trouble in annexing the state of Jhansi. One such letter stated, “We of course will not recognize it (adoption)…”[br /]
[br /]


Every move at the palace was observed. Lord Dalhousie wrote on November 11, 1853. “The Raja of Jhansi has no heirs. In the event of his dying without adoption, the Raj will lapse. If he should adopt, the case will be considered… it is impossible for the Government to issue precise instruction by anticipation.”[br /]
[br /]

[b]Adoption[/b][br /]
[br /]


Old Gangadhar Rao was unable to take the blow of his son’s death. He was haunted by the prospects of his State. He decided to adopt a son and on November 19, 1853, he adopted a five-year-old boy named Anand Rao, son of one of his kinsmen, Vasudeo Nevalkar. Anand Rao was sixth in descent from the common ancestor Raghu Nath Rao. After the adoption ceremony he was named Damodar Rao Gangadhar.[br /]
[br /]


On November 20, he announced the adoption in front of two British officers - Major Ellis and Major Martin. The Maharaja handed over the letter of adoption addressed to Major Ellis to his representatives. On the very next day, November 21, 1853, Gangadhar Rao died. Maharaja Gangadhar Rao left his mortal coil and the charge of Jhansi State was taken by the political assistant of Lord Dalhousie till the government came out with further instructions.[br /]
[br /]

[b]Annexation Proceeding[/b][br /]
[br /]


Till the death of Gangadhar Rao, Rani Lakshmibai was a traditional Indian woman, completely devoted to her husband and did nothing to mark her individuality. Lakshmibai was also ready to be a ‘Sati’ (The woman who burnt herself alive with her husband’ body) but his last wish was that she would take care of the kingdom until their adopted son grows up to shoulder the responsibility of the Jhansi Raj.[br /]
[br /]


The adoption of Damodar Rao was not confirmed. Differences of opinion prevailed among the British officials on this matter. Major Ellis was in favor of this adoption while Major Malcolm thought otherwise. Though the caliber of Queen of Jhansi was recognized, he was of the opinion that the State of Jhansi should be taken over by the government and Rani Lakshmibai would be allowed to retain all personal properties of her late husband and the palace in the town of Jhansi. He also suggested giving an ‘adequate allowance’ that would allow her to be in comfort and respectability for the remainder of her life.[br /]
[br /]


Major Ellis, on the other hand, held altogether a different opinion. He supported the validity of the adoption on the basis of decision taken by British officials for Orcha and few other states, where in similar conditions adoption was considered valid.[br /]
[br /]

[b]Efforts in Vain[/b][br /]
[br /]


Widow Lakshmibai had started making moves to fulfill Raja Gangadhar’s last wishes, one of them was to administer the state efficiently till Damodar grew up and second was to secure British approval of Damodar’s adoption and recognizing him as the infant Raja. She made her first application in this respect to the Governor General in which she emphasized ‘uniform and faithful attachment’ of the ruling house of Jhansi to the British Government. The letter acknowledged the ‘Hindu Shastras’ which inculcated the doctrine that liberation offered to the manes of a deceased parents were as efficacious when performed by an adopted as by a real son. Her letter was concluded with the citation of government’s sanctioning adoption in the States of Datia, Jalaun and Orcha in similar situations.[br /]
[br /]


After correspondence with Governor General of state and having lost all hope in British Government, she wrote to the Court of Directors in London. The appeal, which was characterized by accuracy of facts, clarity of logic and boldness of tone fell flat upon ears that were deaf to all reasonable considerations except those of an immediate ‘material gain.’ Her case was lost and so was the expenditure of Rs. 60,000 incurred on these unfruitful negotiations. Lord Dalhousie’s words, “The adoption was good for the conveyance of private rights, though not for the transfer of the principality” became the law.[br /]
[br /]


Power hunger and imperialism were the clear intentions of the British rulers and Rani Lakshmibai was highly offended by reward ‘of annexation’ in return for 50 years of uninterrupted support and faithful attachment of Jhansi to the British government. Around 1855, the environment in India was non-rebellious. India was till then divided into various big and small kingdoms. The fall of Mughal Empire, one of the biggest of the time, had weakened other states’ efficiency and morality, and surrendering was thought the only apt decision under such circumstances. [br /]

Dark Days[br /]
[br /]


Rani Lakshmibai, who lived behind veil as a queen to Raja Gangadhar, never thought of entering the public life or protesting against the so-called ‘Paramount Power’. After annexation she felt helpless and reconciled herself to her lot.[br /]
[br /]


She moved out from the royal palace to her residence in the city and began to live a simple and pious life of a widow devoting most of her time to religious activities and charity. Rani Lakshmibai had almost accepted the fate of Jhansi but the British authorities brought one after another measures that further wounded her feelings by piling the discontents whenever they got a chance. This mounting discontent resulted into the fire that gradually set entire India into blazing flames for a century.[br /]
[br /]

[b]Humiliations[/b][br /]
[br /]


The Britishers considered Jhansi as an orphan and Rani Lakshmibai to be an easy target who was incapable to reply any of the injustice done to her. Thus, series of wounds followed which later acted as ignition and proved to be horrendous of all nightmares for the Britishers.[br /]
[br /]


Though Rani was the legal guardian of Damodar Rao, she was asked to furnish security and also to execute the written bond for maintaining the property to late Raja. The Queen of Jhansi was declined to receive the property on the basis that she had not produced any guarantor for her. It was derogatory for Queen to ask for any banker and hence declined the property.[br /]
[br /]


This was not all, after annexation of Jhansi some claims were advanced against the State for old liabilities against the former ruler. The unpaid amount was Rs. 36,000. F D Gordon, the Deputy Superintendent of Jhansi was of the opinion that none of the claims was for personal debts of late Raja Gangadhar Rao. They were of the earlier date and should be considered the debts of State and when the State of Jhansi was annexed under British rule the amount of these claims should be defrayed by the government. But Captain A Skene, the superintendent held that the balance of the debt against the State would be deducted from the pension of the Rani. Rani requested against this on the basis that debt on the state was not incurred for personal use and henceforth must not be deducted from personal earning. The request was discussed well between the British officials. The conversation was concluded by Sir Robert Hamilton, agent to the Governor General in Central India urging John Russel Colvin, the Lieutenant Governor of the north-west provinces to comply with Rani’s request but later became inexorable.[br /]
[br /]

Finally, the Government stopped the pension to Rani in connection with the payments of the debts.[br /]
[br /]

[b]Eruption of Lava[/b][br /]
[br /]


Rani did not react to the government’s invasion into her personal sphere, accepted it all, but when Britishers offended the sentiments of the people of Jhansi by starting cow slaughter. The ‘Queen’ stood up to protest. She filed a petition stating the deed to be against the faith of Hindus and also urged to respect the beliefs of the Hindus. For the first time Rani warned that if the order of cow slaughter were not cancelled, it could result in agitation among people and government. The people in general, even the sepoys of 12th regiment demonstrated against beef being sold within the cantonment.[br /]
[br /]


This did not stop the pestering. The Government further offended Rani in particular and people in general by resuming the villages assigned to the temple of Mahalaxmi. After lots of arguments the government agreed to add Rs. 1000 per year to Rani’s account. She accepted this unfair deal. Never to be healed scars were yet to follow.[br /]
[br /]


After the death of Gangadhar Rao, Rani had allotted few hundred acres of land to Brahmins as bhumidan (donation of land) in connection with the funeral rites of the late Raja. Rani desired that these grants should be respected but Major Erskine, the commissioner, disagreed and resumed the land. Taking the ‘Hindu Law’ in account he pointed out that the widow had no right to alienate the land of the state.[br /]
[br /]


Rani was humiliated again at time of sacred thread ceremony of adopted son Damodar Rao. At the time of Gangadhar Rao’s death there were six lakhs rupees in the treasury and it was held in trust by the British Government. Rani asked for rupees one lakh for the ceremony but the government again asked for four guarantors for the repayment of the sum. Lakshmibai, though insulted, furnished the desired guarantee.[br /]
[br /]


As per Hindu customs, a widow must shave off her hair, and even a Rani was not exempted from it. Lakshmibai sought the permission of the Government to go to Benaras (sacred place of Hindu) but her request was turned down, and according to a legend the Rani pledged not to shave off the hair until she freed Jhansi from the British rule.[br /]
[br /]


In short, Lakshmibai had number of grievances against the British Government, which were enough to provoke the revolt. Her remonstrances were ignored and rejected with careless indifference. The people of Jhansi were also discontented by the new set up. The annexation had caused the unemployment of a large number of troops, of numerous courtiers and officials, dismissal of numberless retainers and deprivation of the means and sustenance of several families, which depended on state.[br /]
[br /]


The sepoys of the 12th Native Infantry and 14th Irregular Cavalry stationed at Jhansi were also at unrest regarding the new rules and regulations and were losing faith, especially due to the introduction of greased cartridges. Rumors were in the air that the cap of the cartridge was made of beef and ham, prohibited in Hinduism and Islam respectively. Thus, uneasiness, unrest and discontent had gripped Jhansi.[br /]
[br /]

[b]Revolt of 1857[/b][br /]
[br /]


The prevailing discontent had assumed such proportion by 1857 and had taken a violent shape and awaited an opportune moment. The needed opportunity was provided when Mangal Pandey, a sepoy at Meerut revolted on May 10, 1857 against the usage of cartridges. Soon the mutiny of sepoys was formed, which triggered the great revolt of 1857. It had its repercussions in almost entire North and Central India. Jhansi came in this orbit and was important in many ways.[br /]
[br /]


At Jhansi, the left wing of 12th Regiment of NI (Native Infantry), the headquarters and right wing of the 14th Irregular Cavalry was posted. They were under the command of Captain Dunlop. There were two forts in Jhansi, one in the town itself under control of Captain Alexander Skene, the Superintendent, and other the Star Fort named after its shape, which held the magazine and treasure chest and it was under control of Captain Francis Gordon, the Deputy Commissioner. After the outbreak of Meerut and its rapid spread, Captain Skene was confident about the fidelity of the sepoys. He wrote to his superior officers in Agra, “I do not think … there is any cause for alarm … I am going on the principle of showing perfect confidence - and I am quite sure I am right.”[br /]
[br /]


A few days before the outbreak, Captain Skene, however had informed Captain Dunlop about the rumor that some secret communication was going on between one Bholanath and Lachman Rao, a retainer of Rani Lakshmibai and some sepoys. He also further added that the progress was being watched closely. On the other hand Captain Gordon reported Captain Dunlop about the meeting taking place between the representatives of Thakurs and one Havildar and two sepoys of the wing.[br /]
[br /]


But Captain Skene was still hopeful and wrote to the officials at Agra, “All continues quiet here…the Thakurs, who have never affected towards any Government, … is said, to talk of doing something. All will settle down…” On the very next day, Captain Gordon informed Captain Skene that as per a trustworthy information something could be expected from the Panwar Thakurs of pargana (small province) Karahra. As a precautionary measure, a force was sent to take possession of the abandoned fort of Karahra under leadership of Lieutenant Ryves. On the very afternoon they reached, two bungalows were set on fire, sending a warning of coming storm.[br /]
[br /]

[b]Sepoy’s at Jhansi turn Mutineers[/b][br /]
[br /]


At Jhansi, the situation seemed cool but some uneasiness prevailed among the sepoys. A servant of the sepoy of the Regiment brought a letter from Delhi stating that whole of Bengal Army had mutinied and as the Regiment at Jhansi had not participated, men comprising it were outcasted. This letter provided the required ignition to lit up the fire. The things were planned out, it was arranged that an alarm would be raised at early hours that dacoits had attacked the Star Fort and with it the sepoys would take position there.[br /]
[br /]


At 4 pm, on June 5, 1857, just after an hour when the alarm was raised the fortified magazine called the Star Fort, which contained Post Guns, ammunition and treasure worth rupees five lakhs was seized by sepoys of 12th wing NI and few artillery men. The authorities did not react, as they feared revolt in case of gunfire. Help was summoned from every possible place, express messages were sent to Kanpur and Gwalior, help was asked from State of Samthar and Orcha.[br /]
[br /]


The British, put into fix, had to appeal to Rani Lakshmibai who was held in high esteem by the people and whom ‘they (Britishers) had so grossly wronged’.[br /]
[br /]

[b]The First Shot[/b][br /]
[br /]


Captain Dunlop tried to regain control over the situation. Captain Skene and Captain Gordon met him and discussed the situation. Tahsildar of Jhansi was asked to arrange for men and he did, 24 men were posted at the gates of the fort. British were loosing the grip, Robert Andrews, Deputy Collector, who had been sent to bring ammunition to the fort returned with meager amount as the Jail Guard and Jail Darogha had joined the revolt.[br /]
[br /]

Large number of men proceeded towards the cantonment. When they reached the lines, a man named Ansan Ali called the Mohammedans for prayers and after it they openly mutinied and shot dead their officers - Captain Dunlop, Lieutenants Campbell and Tumbull, while Lieutenant Taylor was seriously injured. He somehow managed to reach the fort and closed the gates of the fort.[br /]
[br /]


The rebels by then marched towards the jail and released the prisoners. Setting fire to the office and a bungalow at cantonment they proceeded towards the fort. Capturing the fort was not easy, heavy firing took place outside the fort. Captain Gordon again requested Rani to send assistance, but the Rani was helpless, the mutineers threatened to put her to death and to set fire to the Palace if she assisted the British.[br /]
[br /]


On June 7, Captain Skene sent three men to Rani but they never reached her. They were captured by the sepoys and murdered. On June 8, the mutineers compelled 150 men of Rani to join them, with increased strength they succeeded to capture the lower outskirts of the fort. Major blow came to the British when Captain Gordon - ‘life and soul of the garrison’ was shot through his head.[br /]
[br /]

[b]Massacre[/b][br /]
[br /]


Captain Skene showed the sign to surrender on condition of his safety. But when they came out, they were made prisoners. The whole party was then taken through the town and when they reached Jokhan Bagh, just outside the city wall, all were massacred by an order from Risaldar Kalakhan. A proclamation was issued on the evening of June 8, 1857 :[br /]
[br /]


“The people are God’s; the country is the king’s (Padshah’s), and the two religions govern.”[br /]
[br /]


By now, Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah II had taken the leadership of the revolt and Delhi became an important rendezvous for the mutinied sepoys. The sepoys of Jhansi also wanted to march to Delhi but they were short of funds. Therefore, they told Rani that they would leave the State in her hands if she provided them three lakhs of rupees in cash. Rani, under pressure, gave them one lakh rupees. After her help another revised proclamation was soon issued : “The people are God’s, the country is the king’s, and the Raj is Rani Luchme Baee’s”. They left Jhansi for Delhi on June 11, 1857.[br /]
[br /]


British Government never understood Rani’s position during this revolt and massacre and carried out the misconception about Rani’s involvement in the mutiny. The bitterness had increased and Rani who never though of opposing the government was forced to revolt in 1858.[br /]
[br /]

[b]Rani and British Authorities[/b][br /]
[br /]


Soon after the mutineers left for Delhi she wrote to Major W E Erskine commissioner on June 12, 1857. She condemned the cruelty and the violence of the native forces that killed all the Europeans. She regretted her inability to provide the aid she was asked for. She further stated that her position was not commanding as the mutineers behaved with much violence against her. Rani stated that she was entirely dependent on British authorities but if she had not complied with their (mutineer’s) request, they would have blown up the place. Just two days later Rani again addressed the same official when she referred her last letter and further showed her inconvenience in handling the state without government’s assistance.[br /]
[br /]


Major Erskine acknowledged both the letters of Rani and replied on July 2, 1857 and promised to send assistance to restore order in Jhansi. A proclamation with his seal and signature was issued, it stated : “… until officers and troops reach Jhansi, Rani will rule in the name of British government … The British Army has retaken the city of Delhi…and has killed thousands of the rebels, and will hang or shoot all the rebels wherever they may be found.”[br /]
[br /]

[b]Jhansi Encircled[/b][br /]
[br /]


Rani had maintained her position and was faithful to the British during the revolt but was never rewarded for that. No troops, as promised by Major Erskine, came to take up the governance, it was difficult for Rani to meet the challenges from various sides. Sada Shiv Rao of Parola, a distant nephew of Gangadhar, with the help of mutineers, seized the fort of Karahra. Rani sent troops to stop Sada Shiv Rao.[br /]
[br /]


Shortly, she regained the fort but Rani was again in trouble when challenges came from the neighbors, the Orcha and Datia States. The Diwan of Orcha, Nathey Khan, offered the takeover of Jhansi to extend same regard to her as Rani as was done by the British if she surrendered city and fort to him. To overcome the challenge Rani appealed her loyal Thakurs who rendered their service in form of Diwan Dilip Singh, the son-in-law of the Queen of Orcha. She still was optimistic for help from the Commissioner of Jabalpur but no help was extended to her. In such circumstances, Rani decided to meet the aggressors. After two months of siege, Rani won her ‘first’ battle. This encounter brought Rani in military attire among her troops for the first time. The victory boosted the morale of Rani and people of Jhansi.[br /]
[br /]


Though no assistance was provided by the British, Rani Lakshmibai continued to maintain friendly relations with the British but failed to get satisfactory response. British officials were having some different plans, Sir Hugh Rose who was on his way towards Jhansi for inquiring the massacre and Rani’s involvement in it was strictly instructed that in case Rani fell in to the hands of British, ‘she must be tried out, not by a court martial, but by the commissioner appointed for the purpose … you will be able to finish her trial on spot…’[br /]
[br /]


It was sure that Rani would not get any help or justice from British and Rani’s father and Gangadhar bhau were of the opinion that if no reply was received then they had no option but to fight and die. Sir Hugh Rose was nearing Jhansi, he reached Chanchanpur about 14 miles from Jhansi on March 20, 1858.[br /]
[br /]


Meanwhile Sir Hugh Rose received an express message from Sir Robort Hamilton to march at once towards Charkhari, 80 miles from Chanchanpur where Tatya Tope had besieged the king in his fort. Soon Sir Hamilton permitted Hugh Rose to continue with his plan of attacking Jhansi, as fall of Jhansi would have greater influence on the revolutionaries.[br /]
[br /]


According to Vishnu Godse, one of the survivors of the siege and massacre at Jhansi (whose account was published some 50 years after the event) “Lakshmibai decided to defend Jhansi … took up the work of repairing and strengthening the city walls … bastions and turrets were now manned day and night … ammunition manufacture … Hundreds of tons of rice and grains were roasted and stored for ready distribution to the poor. All available silver turned into currency. Special messengers were sent to Rao Saheb and Tatya Tope asking for help.”[br /]
[br /]


With untiring energy and uncommon resourcefulness, Rani prepared the State against a superior power, well-equipped with latest weapons. Sir Hugh Rose had minute observation of the defenses of the town and its terrain on his arrival at Jhansi. He was convinced that it was impossible to take the fort by assault, so he decided to capture the southern face where the fort could be breached and this could help to dismantle the enemy’s defense.[br /]
[br /]

[b]The Attack[/b][br /]
[br /]


On March 25, 1858, the right batteries posted by Sir Hugh Rose opened fire, which was effectively replied by Rani’s gunner. On March 29, 1858, Rani’s guns were silenced as its parapet and bastions were damaged. The damage was repaired overnight and Rani’s men reopened the fire. The two famous Guns of Rani - Ghana Garjan and Karak Bijli wrought great havoc in the British ranks. On March 30, 1858, British Guns succeeded in making a breach in the city wall, everything was arranged for final assault but revolutionary force called the ‘army of Peshwa’ arrived under the leadership of Tatya Tope.
Tatya Tope with 22,000 men and 28 guns came to Rani’s aid. He signaled his arrival by lighting an immense bonfire on the hill on Jhansi side of the river Betwa. Tatya Tope’s arrival changed the scenario of the battle. Sir Hugh Rose was caught in dilemma over how to deal with the situation. On April 1, 1858, Tatya Tope attacked and his two wings overlapped the British force. Sir Hugh Rose planned double attack policy, he detached two bodies of cavalry with light guns to develop flank attack, while the infantry was in the center.[br /]
[br /]


The double attack surprised the revolutionaries and they had to retreat. The British victory at the battle of Betwa boosted the morals of British force. Sir Hugh Rose was now in a position to attack with vigor. The final plan was decided, the assaulting force was divided into two parts, and attack was to be launched from both the sides. On April 3, 1858, the two-sided attack started and the British army succeeded in entering the fort after a fierce battle.[br /]
[br /]


When Rani received the news, she and her devoted 1,500 Afghan regulars made a charge on the British force. She was able to check but could not drive them away. The condition worsened and an old chief of Rani advised her to retire in the fort. The forces were advancing towards the Palace, but the going was tough, as the people of Jhansi were resolute to defend the city and British force had to fight for every inch of land. The town went under British control after a vigorous fight of one night and a day. The city was ruthlessly sacked. British soldiers blindly killed anyone who came in their way without distinguishing between men, women or children. Rani, unable to bear this, urged that rest should leave in dark and do their best to survive.[br /]
[br /]


In the darkness of the night, Rani dressed as a man and armed with two swords and pistols, along with her followers left the fort for Kalpi.[br /]
[br /]

[b]Inhuman Act[/b][br /]
[br /]


British seemed to have entered Jhansi to avenge the massacre. They spared no one. As per Vishnu Godse’s account, “April 5 was the day of massacre and every one in Jhansi felt as if he was lying in the cemetery … if an European was seen … people had themselves behind the heap of grass … but they used to set grass on fire … if anybody tried to save his life by jumping into the well … either the poor man had to die in water in utter suffocation or forced to fall victim to the bullets of the Europeans.”[br /]
[br /]


The British did not quench their thirst by blood, they also looked for all the valuables. The well-stocked library of Jhansi and even the ornaments and other valuables of the Goddesses at Mahalaxmi temple were looted.[br /]
[br /]

[b]Rani Recollecting the Strength[/b][br /]
[br /]


Rani, after riding strenuously, reached Kalpi and met Rao Saheb. She succeeded in getting Rao Saheb’s support. All the troops consisting of some regiments of the Gwalior contingent, several of native infantry, the contingent of different revolutionary and Jhansi garrison joined hands against the British force. On April 17, Rao Saheb issued a proclamation to the chiefs and Taluqdars of Kachhwahagarh in which he promised suitable jagirs, positions and titles if they helped Peshwa.[br /]
[br /]


Rao Saheb, Rani Lakshmibai and Tatya Tope planned to resist the advancement of British force at Kunch on Jhansi Road. On April 26, 1858, Hugh Rose left Jhansi and action at Kunch started on May 7, 1858. Sir Hugh Rose reused his flank strategy and retreated the revolutionaries capturing the old fort.[br /]
[br /]


Rani returned to Kalpi disappointed. The uneasiness increased as Tatya Tope went to Chrukhi, a village about 20 miles away to see his parents, leaving the army to its fate. During this time, revolutionary strength increased as Nawab Ali Bahadur II of Band also joined them at Kalpi. Now, the union was left with the only option of saving Kalpi at any cost.[br /]
[br /]


[b]Loosing Again[/b][br /]
[br /]


The defence of Kalpi was well planned. The revolutionaries were under three influential leaders Rao Saheb, Rani of Jhansi and Nawab of Banda. This time they swore on the sacred water of Jamuna that they would either drive the British force away or die. Four days, from May 16 to May 20 constant skirmishes occurred between the two armies. Revolutionaries were gaining grounds. But the arrival of British camel corps turned the fortune against them. The fort of Kalpi was evacuated and leaders left the place at night.[br /]
[br /]

[b]Gwalior - The Last hope[/b][br /]
[br /]


The defeats had turned the spirits down, but Rani Lakshmibai tried to motivate the revolutionaries. She rode about in military attire armed with swords and pistols. Now their only hope was support from Gwalior and Tatya Tope went to Gwalior to convince the Sindhias of Gwalior who continued to be anti-revolutionary. It was decided that first the troops shall be won over and then get the possession of the state.[br /]
[br /]


After the retreat at Kalpi the revolutionaries decided to proceed towards Shergarh but a letter from Gwalior directed them to move towards Gwalior. It brought a ray of hope among the revolutionaries. They started marching towards Gopalpur on Gwalior Road. The troop increased at Gopalpur as they were joined by Nawab of Banda and Lalpur Gosain, an officer of Nana Saheb with 200 foot soldiers, 150 horses and 3 guns from Shergarh. Tatya Tope had also arrived at the camp from Gwalior.[br /]
[br /]


On their way to Gwalior, Rahim Ali Khan of Kumona joined the revolutionaries with 400 sabres and 400 matchlocks from Bariely. Till then no favorable sign was seen from Sindhias. Rao Saheb sent a friendly letter to Baiza Bai and Maharaja from Dehgaon. The revolutionaries reached Sipoli on May 30, 1858. At the same time Sindhia was gathering his huge troop of 8,000 men and 24 guns. The fight commenced on June 1, 1858 and revolutionaries began to flee. Rani Lakshmibai handled the situation by her influential speech. She said, “…where shall we go if our own servants get us beaten. We are determined to die here, let those who are also determined, come with us, but let those otherwise disposed go away.” Her speech produced good results. Sindhia had to flee to Agra as his troops had joined the revolutionaries. After gaining Gwalior, Nana Saheb was declared Peshwa. The administration was taken in hands very tactfully. The three-month salary due to the Sindhias troop was paid along with two months pay as gratuity. The jail was thrown open and all the major posts were taken by the Peshwas. Finally, the revolt started from Jhansi had reached its peak. With great determination the young Rani had successfully provoked the fire in the heart of every Indian, who had never thought of raising voice against the Paramount Power till 1857, they took weapons and accepted martyrdom with smiling faces.[br /]
[br /]

[b]Rani’s Death[/b][br /]
[br /]


The fall of Gwalior was a jolt to the British Government. Hugh Rose who had laid down the command after Kalpi started for Gwalior on June 6, 1858. Kota ki Seria, southeast to Gwalior was decided to be the place of attack. Sindhia was also invited to proceed towards Gwalior. On June 16, Sir Hugh Rose arrived to Morar Cantonment, where large number of revolutionaries had gathered to oppose the British troops. After a fierce battle, Morar was won by the revolutionaries.[br /]
[br /]


Every effort was made to regain Gwalior. General Smith opened fire on the hills between Kota ki Seria and Gwalior on June 17, 1858. Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi died on the battlefield. It was the greatest blow and her death broke the heart of revolutionaries. The last battle continued till June 19, 1858 when the British were victorious. Tatya Tope was hanged but Rao Sahib managed to escape.[br /]
[br /]


Today, after more than two centuries, the world lauds her bravery. She lived a valiant life of 28 years. In that short span of life she did not gain Jhansi back but achieved an immortal place in the heart of every Indian. She was an eminent leader, capable commander, courageous, and dauntless persona. She received an ovation even from her adversaries. Sir Hugh Rose was full of praise for the qualities of the Rani. He had aptly observed : The high descent of the Rani, her unbounded liberality to her troops and retainers, and her fortitude which no reverses could shake rendered her an influential and dangerous adversary. He considered her to be ‘the bravest and best military leader of the rebel’.
Contradictory versions are found about the death of Rani Lakshmibai. Mrs Henry Duberly in a contemporary work of the period observes that the Rani was killed by a private of the 8th Hussars, who had no idea that the man in white turban and crimson tunic and trousers was a woman. She further states : “Once Sir Hugh Rose told me that although mortally wounded she (Rani) was not actually killed on the field, but was carried off the ground, and ordered a funeral pile to be built which she ascended and fired with her own hand”.[br /]
[br /]


Another version by Yamuna Sheorey, the granddaughter of Chintaman Rao Tambe, brother of Rani gives different account.[br /]
[br /]


“While fighting - the bayonet of a white soldier pierced the lower side of her chest… she killed the attacker… Another soldier’s bullet hit Rani in the left thigh, three or four soldiers remained around her. One of them struck Rani on the head… right side of her head was cut and her right eye bulged out bleeding… she hit back the soldier and cut out his shoulder…”[br /]
[br /]


Her followers carried her to the hut of Baba Ganga Das. Holy Ganga water was poured in her mouth and she was muttered her last words Har Har Mahadeo and became unconscious. She regained consciousness and whispered the peace giving mantra Om Namo Bhagwate Vasudevaya and passed away into eternal sleep.[br /]
[br /]


Funeral was hurriedly arranged as it was the last wish of the Rani that her body should not fall into Britishers hands. [br /]
[br /]
[br /]

“She is wonderful woman, very brave and determined. It is fortunate for us that men are not all like her.”[br /]
[br /]

- Cornet Combe (one of those who intercepted her flight from Jhansi)[br /]
[br /]


Rani Lakshmibai was one of the greatest heroines in the history of the Indian freedom struggle. The 200 years of colonial rule was openly opposed and challenged for the first time by a widow Rani of 22 years. Jhansi was like a dot on the vast British empire, and was ruled on behalf of Britishers for almost half a century. A traditional Indian lady who lived behind the veil of the traditional ‘nav-vari’ (9 yards) Sari, for many decades of her life stepped out of the conservative tradition to protect her motherland.[br /]
[br /]


Rani had the company of Nana Saheb, Tatya Tope and Rao Saheb in the revolt that was determined to protect ‘Jhansi’ till last drop of blood. She made her stand for almost two-and-a-half months. Fighting for her right and truth, she accepted martyrdom on June 17, 1858 at the age of 28 years. This brave young woman laid her life and led the first revolution for the Independence of India, which was achieved in 1947.[br /]
[br /]


Rani Lakshmibai has achieved an immortal place in Indian history. She is enshrined in the hearts of her countrymen for her chivalrous deeds and noble sacrifice. The Rani has every claim to be called the Joan of Arc of India or the Indian Boadicea. [br /]
[br /]
[br /]

[b]1830[/b] Birth of Manikarnika.[br /]
[br /]

[b]1842[/b] Married to Gangadhar Rao, Raja of Jhansi, became Lakshmibai.[br /]
[br /]

[b]1851[/b] Gave birth to a baby boy, who died in 3 months.[br /]
[br /]

[b]November 19, 1853[/b]

Adoption of Damodar Rao.[br /]
[br /]

[b]November 21, 1853[/b] Death of Gangadhar Rao.[br /]
[br /]

[b]May 10, 1857[/b] Revolt started at Meerut.[br /]
[br /]

[b]June 5, 1857[/b] Sepoys at Star Fort, Jhansi rebelled.[br /]
[br /]

[b]June 8, 1857[/b] Rani was compelled by mutineers to give her 150 men.[br /]
[br /]

[b]June 11, 1857[/b] Mutineers left for Jhansi.[br /]
[br /]

[b]June 12, 1857[/b] Rani clarified her position to the British consoling in the massacre.[br /]
[br /]

[b]July 2, 1857[/b] Major Erskine wrote a letter asking her to manage Jhansi for the interim.[br /]
[br /]

[b]October 1857[/b] Rani fought for the first time and got victory against Nathey Khan.[br /]
[br /]

[b]March 20, 1858[/b] Sir Hugh Rose reached Chachanpur.[br /]
[br /]

[b]March 25, 1858[/b] Sir Hugh Rose opened fire.[br /]
[br /]

[b]April 1, 1858[/b] Tatya Tope came to Rani’s support.[br /]
[br /]

[b]April 3, 1958[/b] Rani was defeated and she fled to Kalpi.[br /]
[br /]

[b]May 20, 1858[/b] Kalpi was lost.[br /]
[br /]

[b]June 1, 1858[/b] Rebellions took over Gwalior.[br /]
[br /]

[b]Jun 17, 1858[/b] Rani was killed while fighting at Kota ki Seria.[br /]
[br /]
[br /]

Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi holds a prominent place not only in the Revolt of 1857 but also among those who sacrificed their lives in the freedom struggle of India.[br /]
[br /]

Rani Lakshmibai is described as a fair and beautiful lady with a dignified figure by her contemporaries. John Lang, a British counsel observes: “She was a woman of about middle size rather stout but not too stout. Her face must have been very handsome when she was younger, and even now it had many charms… The eyes were particularly fine, … nose very delicately shaped. She was not very fair, though she was far from black.” She was very simple. It was strange that she wore no ornaments except gold earrings. She used to dress in plain white muslin wrapped tightly around her that the outline of her remarkably fine figure could be seen. During the revolt, she dressed in a small turban with pearls and rubies laced into it and wore a pair of loose trousers. A belt embroidered with gold tightly drew in her waist and she stuck two swords on either side.[br /]
[br /]


She followed a strict daily schedule. As per Vishnu Godse, she used to get up early in the morning and do exercise and horse riding till 7 or 8 am. She would sleep for half an hour and after taking bath she would offer herself to religious meditation and God worship. After meal she used to distribute alms among the poor and dependents. At 3 0’clock she would appear in the court. She sat on the raised seat behind a curtain and looked after the civil, criminal and revenue affairs. On every Tuesday and Friday she visited the Mahalakshmi temple with her adopted son.[br /]
[br /]

Rani Lakshmibai was very pious and generous, no needy man returned disappointed from her door. Vishnu Godse narrates that one day when Rani was returning from the Mahalakshmi temple thousands of beggars waited for her. When she inquired the reason she was told that the condition of beggars had become miserable, as they had no clothes to protect them from excessive cold. She immediately ordered for a cap, blanket and cotton padded waistcoats too everyone, and about 4,000 caps and waistcoats were distributed.[br /]
[br /]


Rani Lakshmibai was not only a noble lady but also an able administrator with astounding organization capability. Rani was strict in the administration of Justice. With her sharp intellect, Rani devoted herself for the welfare of the people.[br /]
[br /]


Rani Lakshmibai secured an immortal place in the Indian history. She was an embodiment of freedom. She showed her countrymen the path of liberty. Although the revolt failed and her great ambition of liberating her motherland from foreign bondage could not be fulfilled, her brave actions and deeds filled the roots of liberalization. It bore fruits on August 15, 1947 when India gained independence from the British rule. [br /]
[br /]
[br /]

Comments - Rani Laxmibai