While the nation remains abuzz on the big Feminism movement, Rani Laxmi Bai – the queen of Jhansi had already established herself as the leading personalities in the country who also took the British Raj by surprise. Hailed as one of the greatest freedom fighters of the country, she has been an icon of women empowerment and beauty that still remains a legendary queen in the hearts of many.
Often referred to as India’s ‘Joan of Arc’, the rani’s will and power are still talked about in History books, as she remains a topic of discussion at International podiums as well. She was renowned as one of the leading personalities of India’s first war of Independence, as she fought valiantly against the British and left a path-breaking impact on Indian history.
As we celebrate Rani Laxmi Bai’s birth anniversary today, here are some facts about her.
1. She was born on 19 November 1828 in Varanasi into a Marathi Brahmin family.
2. Her parents called her – “Manikarnika” was fondly called Manu by those who knew her.
5. She was brought up in the Palace of the Peshwa.
6. She had all qualities of a fighter despite being a Brahmin Girl – She trained in martial arts, sword fighting, and horse riding. In an era where girls weren’t exposed to the world, she pretty much learned everything that a princely boy her age would.
7. She rode horses like a pro
Even while moving in between the Palace and the Temple, she preferred riding a horse to using a Palki.
8. It was after her marriage, that she got her new name ‘Lakshmi Bai’. In May 1842, at the age of fourteen, she was married to the Raja of Jhansi, Gangadhar Newalkar. Her name was changed in honor of Goddess Lakshmi.
9. She lost her first child ‘Damodar Rao’ while he was just four months old.
10. She adopted Anand Rao, the son of Gangadhar Rao’s cousin and renamed him Damodar Rao, a day before Raja Gangadhar Rao passed away.
11. She did not accept the British ‘Doctrine of Lapse’, which stated that in case a ruler didn’t have a natural heir, the kingdom would be passed on to the British. Hence, the famous revolt line “Main Meri Jhansi Nahi Dungi” came into being.
12. She declared war against the British to defend Jhansi, in most famous portraits she can be seen with her son strapped behind her as she fought with swords.
13. On June 17, 1858, while bravely fighting the British squadron in Gwalior, Rani Lakshmi Bai was martyred on the battlefield.
14. Twenty years after her death, Colonel George Bruce Malleson, (a British officer and author) wrote in his book ‘History Of The Indian Mutiny’ volume 3, 1878 – “Whatever her faults in British eyes may have been, her countrymen will ever remember that she was driven by ill-treatment into rebellion and that she lived and died for her country.”
15. A women’s unit of Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj) was named ‘Rani Jhansi Regiment’ in 1942 after her death. Two postage stamps were also issued in 1957 to commemorate the centenary of the rebellion.
Rani Laxmi Bai was an exceptional woman of valor, and her name is etched in time as a great freedom fighter. We hope women of today take her undying spirit as inspiration and end misogyny in their own way, whenever and wherever they can.
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