Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi……
Young Manikarnika used to gallop across the fields of Kashi at full speed. Even at the tender age of four, she was very courageous! Manikarnika had started to learn shooting, horsemanship and fencing among other things at a very young age. “Papa, one day I will become a queen,” said the brave Manikarnika to her father, Moropant Tambe.
Her wish was granted soon. At the age of fourteen, she was married to the Maharaja of Jhansi, Raja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar. “I like my new name, Laxmi bai”, she used to say. In those days, as a custom, women were given a new name after her marriage. Soon after the marriage, Laxmi Bai gave birth to baby boy but he died within a few months of his birth. The King died of grief and shock upon hearing the news. Rani Laxmi Bai was only eighteen years old. She then adopted a son.
Rani Laxmi Bai was different from the rest of the Royal womenfolk. She hadn’t stopped practicing shooting, horsemanship and fencing even after her marriage. When the British attacked Jhansi in 1857, Jhansi was without its king. However, Rani Laxmi bai decided she would lead her people and save her land.
With her young adopted son tied onto her back, Rani Laxmi Bai rode out to the kings of other nearby provinces to gather support against the British. She convinced them saying, “Together, we can fight the British. Let us unite!” She also encouraged the women folk of the province. “You should contribute to the war! We will arrange to teach you to shoot, and to ride a horse,” cheered the Rani. She explained to the people of her kingdom that it was a ‘do or die’ situation.
It was a fierce battle. In guise of a man, Rani Laxmi bai fought courageously and fiercely against the British. She got hurt on the battlefield and died. However, till her last breath she didn’t give up. “Do not give up! We should fight. Victory is near.”
For her courage and never die sprit, Rani Laxmi bai is a great role model for all of us. In praise of bravery, the Hindi poet Subhadra Kumari Chauhan wrote:
“Bundeley Harbolon se hamney suni kahani thi.
Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi”
(We heard it from all the people of Bundelkhand of a brave lady warrior who fought fiercely, the warrior being the Queen of Jhansi!)