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A floral tribute to the bravery of Rani Lakshmibai,the then Queen of Jhansi who struggled for Independence of our motherland
(Photo of Rani Lakshmibai,the Queen of Jhansi)
Bishwa Nath Singh:
Rani Laxmi Bai was born on November 19,1835 at Kashi (Varanasi) to a Maharashtrian brahmin Rajpurohit family Moropant Tambe and Bhagirathibai Tambe. Rani Laxmibalmi was not born into royalty, her father worked at the court of Peshwa at Bithur and travelled to the court of Raja Bal Ganagdhar Rao Nmewalkar, the Maharaja (King) of Jhansi. At fourteen, she was married to Ganagdhar Rao, the Raja (King) of Jhansi and the name Laxmibalmi (Lakshmi Bai) was bestowed upon her. Due to her father's influence at the court, Rani Laxmibalmi had fewer restrictions than most women of that time; therefore, she was able to study self-defense, horsemanship, archery; and form her own female army (comprised of friends). She was also known as Chabili because of her jolly ways & beauty started life as Manikarnika, nicknamed Manu. Manikarnika's mother died when she was possibly about two years old., Manikarnika is the name of the principle cremation ghat in Varanasi. If that seems a touch morbid, for Westerners at least, it is worth noting that 'Manikarnika' means something like "mistress of the jewels" and is associated with the earrings that the goddess Parvati hid at the ghat.Her father Moropant Tambe was an advisor to Chimnaji Appa, brother to Baji Rao II who was the last of the Maratha peshwas. Chimnaji Appa died when Manikarnika was about three and her father moved to Bithur and became a member of the court of Baji Rao. As a result of her father's position she spent her childhood in the palace. As a child she seems to have been something of a tomboy. She is said to have had Nana Sahib, Tatya Tope among her playmates. However it should be noted that Nana Sahib was much older to It is also said that her father educated her to be a queen. As her father travelled with her to Jhansi and was employed by Gangadhar Rao it is likely that this education occurred after her marriage.She was married to Gangadhar Rao, Raja of Jhansi, when she was about 14 in May 1842. An entry in the Jhansi accounts shows that a sum of 40,000 rupees was allocated for the celebrations. This entry confirms the oral history noted by Lebra for this date and that the marriage was celebrated with fireworks and cannon firing a salute. Lakshmibai was Gangadhar Rao's second wife, the first having died, and without bearing a child.With her marriage, Manikarnika changed her name to Lakshmi. The change of name being the custom for Indian royalty, not dissimilar to the change of name when British royalty (or the Pope) ascend the throne.Lakshmibai was an excellent horse rider, and was also said to have been a good judge of horses. It is known that she exercised and practiced with weapons, and famously at some point, drilled and trained a 'regiment' of women. This may not have been quite so unusual as it appears. The zenana (women's quarters) was often guarded by armed women, and these occassionally took part in battles. What was unusual was for the Rani to be in charge of their training.It is said that she had a son in 1851 but that it died after three months. Whether or not this is true, when Gangadhar died on November 21,1853 they were childless. When he fell ill and his death was anticipated they tried to persuade him to adopt a son, he relented only the day before his death. They adopted the five year old Damodar Rao, a member of Gangadhar's extended family. To ensure that the British understood that the adoption was proper the local British officials, the Political Agent, Major Ellis, and a Captain Martin, were called to witness the event.At the same time, a will was prepared requesting the British to treat Damodar as the true son of Gangadhar and that Lakshmibai should be Regent. The will was read to Major Ellis, and repeated in a letter to the Political Agent for Gwalior and Bundelkhand, a Major Malcolm.Raja Gangadhar's grandfather had signed a treaty with the British which granted him and his heirs and successors title to Jhansi in perpetuity. The history of the succession had been complicated by previous childless successions, British interventions in the running of the state, and additional treaties. Nonetheless, the rulers of Jhansi had been pro-British since that time of the initial treaty and it was not anticipated that there would be a problem with the succession.The practice of sati had been outlawed by the British in 1829. It is unlikely that Gangadhar Rao, even if he approved of the practice, would expect his wife to break that law. In fact Lashmibai limited her official mourning activities to the minimum, she stayed inside for the minimum period expected, thirteen days, did not shave her head, break her bangles, or dress in the widow's white.In 1853 the governance of India was still in the hands of the East India Company. The Governor General of India being the Marquess of Dalhousie. The many principalities that made up India were each dealt with individually. Jhansi was one of those that were ruled not by the British but by its own monarch, the Raja. The Raja of Jhansi had maintained a pro- British stance throughout his reign. Jhansi had been pro-British ever since his grandfather had signed a treaty with the British in 1817 granting Jhansi to his heirs and successors in perpetuity. Gangadhar Rao made explicit reference to his loyalty and that of his predecessors in his The British had a policy of 'lapse' whereby when an Indian ruler died without an heir the principality would be annexed and come under direct British administration. Under Dalhousie adopted children were not considered as heirs.This latter point had more than a simple legal consequence. Indian custom was that an adopted child was the equal of a child by birth. Further there are certain rites which the eldest son is required to perform on the death of his father to save the fathers soul from hell. This is roughly equivalent to the Roman Catholic ritual of Last Rites. In denying the legitimacy of an adopted son they offended Indian sensibilities.The Raja of Jhansi's dying request was refused, and the annexation of Jhansi was declareThe annexation does not appear to have been due to the Rani's sex; it was not unusual for a woman to rule a state in India, or England for that matter. Nor was it because there were doubts as to her ability to govern. The British Political Agent, Major Malcolm, wrote that the Rani was 'highly respected and esteemed, and I believe fully capable of doing justice to such a charge.' He was not alone in that opinion and, as later events were to show, it was wholly justified. It can only have been due to, in essence, greed.When the Rani appealed against the decision as she did on the December 3rd 1853 the local Political Agent, Major Ellis, wrote a letter in support of her case, Malcolm, perhaps getting a hint of the political wind did not forward it. A second appeal followed on February 16th 1854. The appeals were refused.Lakshmibai then consulted with a British counsel, John Lang, who was in India and had had some success against the Company in the courts. This consultation is recounted by Lang in his book "Wanderings in India". During this consultation the Rani uttered the famous "Mera Jhansi nahin dengee".. There followed an appeal to the Court of Directors in London, at considerable cost, but it also failed.The Rani maintained her petitions into 1856, her persistence is said to have irritated Dalhousie.At the very beginning Britishers tried to put Rani Laksmi Bai on grounds and take the dominion of Jhansi. Many felt that in this time of misfortunes Rani won’t be able to take over the responsibilities and would be completely lost in her own life. But with her bravery, alertness, and firm decision of not giving up the dominion of Jhansi she shocked one and all.She was the queen of the Maratha-ruled princely state of Jhansi. She was also known as Jhansi Ki Rani. She was one of the leading figures of the First Indian War of Independence of 1857. She emerged as a legendary figure in Indian history.. She lost her mother when she was four. Her father worked at the court of Peshwa Baji Rao at Bithur and later traveled to the court of Raja Bai Gangadhar Roa Newalkar. Her name was Manikarnika and was called Manu.Manu was married to Gangadhar Rao, the Raja of Jhansi at the age of fourteen She was given the name Laxmi Bai after her marriage. Because of her father’s influence, Laxmi Bai had more independence compared to other women. She studied horsemanship, self defense, archery and every learned skills of making army at court. She gave birth to a son in 1851, but the child died soon.All these situations made Rani Laxmi Bai’s life all the more challenging. The British government passed the Doctrine of lapse under which it was stated that the Kingdom that does not have biological representation of the King is destined to lapsed under the British rule. Rani Laxmi Bai adopted Damodar Rao and appointed him as heir to the kingdom but the British government rejected the claim of the legal heir. This made Rani Laxmi Bai fight for her kingdom. She assembled a volunteer army of fourteen thousands rebels and ordered the defenses of the city. British empire attacked Jhansi in March 1858. Laxmi bai made every effort to drive away the Britishers. Thus began the rebellion against Britishers. She fought with patriotism and martyrdom. This great heroine died on battlefield on the second day of the battle, at the age of 22 years. The unfortunate day was June 17, 1858 when she had lost her precious life and went to heavenly abode. Though Rani Laxmi bai was defeated; she was successful in litting the fire of rebellion against Britishers in all Indians. In India, Rani Laxmibalmi (Rani Lakshmi Bai) was viewed as the personification of female bravery, thereby became a national champion. Rani Laxmibalmi's legendary heroic acts were record by Indian poetess Subbadra Kumari Chauhan in her Poems. Rani Lakshmibai, the Queen of Jhansi, was one of the chief champions of the First Freedom Struggle of India, and a symbol of resistance to the British rule in India. She was the queen of Jhansi (Peshwa ruled kingdom) and a celebrated figure who is touted in Indian history as "the firebrand who began the Indian Rebellion against British Colonialism and for Indian autonomy. She was seen as the epitome of female bravery in India. When Subhas Chandra Bose's Indian National Army created its first female unit, it was named after her heroic act.Let us join to pay our respectful homage and floral tribute to Her and carry out Her legacy to be worthy son /daughter of our motherland by rendering selfless service to mankind as whole for cause of humanity!
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Bishwa Nath Singh :
Let us join to pay our humble obeisance to Her lotus feet!