A Glorious Women

The great heroine of the First war of India Freedom. She lived for only twenty-two years. She became a widow in her eighteenth year. Jhansi, of which she was the queen, was in the grip of the cunning, cruel British. She was the embodiment of patriotism, self-respect and heroism. She was the queen of a small state, but the empress of a limitless empire of glory.

Jhansi Lakshmi Bai

It was one evening after the rainy season. Outside Bethur, along the road on the banks of Ganga, three horses were galloping. Two riders were young men and one a girl.

A Brave Girl

When one of the young men overtook her, the little girl galloped her horse faster and overtook him. Was the young man to accept defeat? Of course, he tried to overtake her but his horse stumbled and he feel down.

"O Manoo, I am dead"

When she heard that sorrowful cry, the girl rode back. The young man had been hurt and was bleeding. With difficulty she lifted him made him sit on her horse. By that time the other rider also joined them. All the three returned to the palace.

When the horse returned without the rider, Baji Rao the Second, the Peshwa of the Mahrata Empire, was quite disturbed. Although Moropanth who was with him tried to soothe him, his mind was troubled. When his children returned he breathed a sigh of relief.

The injured youth was Baji Rao’s adopted son Nana Saheb and his companion, his younger brother Rao Saheb. The girl was Manubai, the only daughter of Moropanth, a member of the Peshwa’s council.

When they returned home Moropanth 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 although seriously injured?"

"Those times were different, Manu."

"What is the difference, father? It is the same sky, the same earth. The sun and the moon are also the same."

"But Manu, the fortunes of the country have changed. This is the age of British. We are powerless before them."

The father’s reasoning did not appeal to the daughter. The father himself had taught her the lessons of the lives and the examples of the saintly Seeta, the brave Jeejabai and the brave Tarabai.

Another incident happened in the same town of Bethur: Nana saheb and Rao Saheb went out on an elephant. Baji Rao wanted to send Manubai with them. Moropanth also wished it. But their wish was not fulfilled. Nana Saheb asked the mahout to move on. Manu was disappointed.

The father said to the daughter when they were back home: "Manu, we must move with the times. Are we chieftains or kings to ride elephants? We should not wish for something for which we are not destined."

"No, not so, father; I am destined to own not one but several elephants," replied Manu.

"So, be it."

"Father dear, I will not practise shooting with a rifle," so saying she left.

Observing her manly qualities Moropanth was troubled.

Child Marriage

Baji Rao the Second was the Peshwa only in name. The British East India Company was paying him a pension of eight lakh rupees a year and had given the ‘jagir’ (the free gift) of Bethur.

Bhagirathibai was the wife of Moropanth. She was good-looking, cultured, intelligent and godly. Manubai was the daughter of this ideal couple.

The child, born on the Second day of Karthika (the 19th of November 1835) was beautiful like her mother. She had a broad forehead and big eyes. Her face reflected royalty.

Manu lost her mother when she was four years old. The entire duty of bringing up the daughter fell on the father. Along with formal education she acquired skill in sword fight, horse riding and shooting with a gun.

The young girl became the wife of Gangadhar Rao, Maharaja of Jhansi, in 1842. The poor Brahmin’s girl became Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi.

Those Dark Days

It was the beginning of the nineteenth century. The British who came to India for trade began steadily to acquire political power in the name of the East India Company.

The Indian rajas and maharajas who were engaged in quarrels competed with one another to become puppets in the hands of the British.

Every misfortune of India at the time was used to expand the British Empire. One kind of agreement was reached when the British had the upper hand, quite a different kind of agreement was reached when the British were defeated. In any case, the Indians were the suffers.

A Glorisous Woman

Jhansi Rani Lakhsmi Bai brought glory to the women of Indian, nay to the women of the world. Her life was sacred hymn. Her life is a thrilling story of womanliness, courage, adventure, deathless patriotism and martyrdom.

She was a woman although in her tender body there was a lion’s spirit. But she was well versed in statesmanship. Like all women she was weak. But when she went to war and took up arms she was the very embodiment of the War Goddess Kali. She was beautiful and frail. But her radiance made men diffident. She was young in years. But her foresight and firm decisions were mature.

When, after growing up under the loving care of her father, she entered her husband’s house she became an ideal wife. ON the death of her husband although she lost interest in life she did not forget her responsibilities. She was a staunch Hindu; but, because she was tolerant of other religions, when she led an army in a Great War, Muslims followed her first as the Hindu did.

Lakhsmi Bai lived but for 22 years and seven months – from the 19 th of November 1835 to the 18th of June 1858; she flashed and disappeared like lightning on a dark night.

The words of the British General Sir Hugh Rose, who fought against the Rani several times and was defeated again and again, and finally defeated the Rani (who became the victim of circumstances) bear witness to her greatness:

"Of the mutineers the bravest and the greatest commander was the Rani."