Kid's Org.: ‘Shakti’ Epitomised
|Sinhasan hil uthey raajvanshon ney bhrukuti tani thi,
budhey Bharat mein aayee phir se nayi jawani thi,
gumee huee azadi ki keemat sabney pehchani thi,
door phirangi ko karney ki sab ney man mein thani thi.
Chamak uthi san sattavan mein, yeh talwar purani thi,
Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi,
Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi.
Children, this is the most famous poem composed by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan. It is an extremely moving account of Lakshmibai’s life and her demonstration of courage and how she fought valiantly till the very end.
Lakshmibai, was the queen of the Maratha-ruled princely state of Jhansi and a symbol of resistance to British rule in India. She has gone down in Indian history as an epitome of courage.
Born on November 19, 1835 at Kashi, to a Maharashtrian Karhade Brahmin family from Satara District she was named Manikarnika at birth, but was nicknamed Manu. She lost her mother at the age of four. As a result, the responsibility of raising her fell upon her father. She was educated at home. While pursuing studies, she also took formal training in martial arts, which included horse riding, shooting and fencing. Her father Moropant Tambey worked at the court of Raja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar, the Maharaja of Jhansi.
At the age of 14, she got married to the Maharaja of Jhansi, Raja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar. She was named Lakshmi Bai after her marriage. In the year 1851, she gave birth to a son. Unfortunately, the child died.
In 1853, Gangadhar Rao fell sick and became very weak. So, the couple decided to adopt a child. To ensure that the British do not raise an issue over the adoption, Lakshmibai got this adoption witnessed by the local British representatives. They named the child Damodar Rao. On November 21, 1853, Maharaja Gangadhar Rao died.
On March 7, 1854, the British issued a gazette dissolving the State of Jhansi. An English officer, Major Ellis came to meet Lakshmibai. He read out the official declaration dissolving the State. The furious Lakshmibai told Ellis Main apni Jhansi nahin doongi when he sought her permission to leave. This led to the onset of the First War of Independence.
When the British arrived in Jhansi they discovered that the Jhansi Fort had been well guarded. Sir Hugh Rose, who was commanding the British army, asked for the city to be surrendered. Lakshmibai refused to surrender and went on to defend Jhansi from the British.
The British bombarded the fort on March 24th, but were met with heavy fire in return. Fighting continued and, when Lakshmibai realised that resistance in Jhansi by her army was not resulting in anything, she decided to leave Jhansi.
Lakshmibai, along with her son escaped from Jhansi and reached Kalpi where she joined forces with Tatya Tope. The British attacked Kalpi on May 22nd 1858 and Lakshmibai and Tatya Tope fled to Gwalior. Lakshmibai and her team wanted to occupy the Gwalior Fort for its strategic location, to protect Gwalior against the British.
On June 16th 1858, General Rose’s forces annexed Morar. On June 17th, British troops under Captain Heneage fought Indian forces being commanded by Lakshmibai. Lakshmibai dressed as a man, with her infant son tied to her back, began attacking the British troops. The British attacked back and Lakshmibai was grievously wounded. Since she did not want her body to be captured by the British she told a hermit to cremate her. Upon her death on June 18th 1858, her body was cremated as per her wishes. Three days after the death of Lakshmibai, the British captured the Fort of Gwalior.
Lakshmibai’s tomb is in the Phool Bagh area of Gwalior. She continues to remain an inspiration to generations of Indians and is remembered for her fearlessness and determination. Even British officer Hugh Rose who had wanted to annex Jhansi described Lakshmibai as “clever and beautiful” and as the “most dangerous of all Indian leaders”.
Lakshmibai's name lives till this day and a medical college in Jhansi, the Maharani Laxmibai Medical College is named after her. Apart from that, a women’s unit of the Indian Army has been named the Rani of Jhansi Regiment.