Rani Lakshmibai was the Queen of Jhansi in undivided India.
Rani Lakshmibai Biography
She was born to Bhagirathi Sapre and Moropant Tambe in 1828, who was then serving Peshwa Baji Rao II. She married Gangadhar Rao Newalkar, Maharaja of Jhansi, on May 12, 1842, following a matrilineal system of inheritance known as ‘Marumakkathayam’.
The Maharaja adopted Damodar Rao, who succeeded him to the throne at 13 years old. He died due to tuberculosis in 1853, while he was still a minor.
Since Rani Lakshmibai could not bequeath her kingdom because she did not have a son, the Maharaja of Jhansi under the Doctrine of Lapse gave Jhansi to the British East India Company.
During the 1857 war of Independence, Rani Lakshmibai organized an army to fight against British rule in India. The Indian soldiers fighting for the British were led by British officers and were known as sepoys, while Rani Lakshmibai led the Indian soldiers fighting against them.
|Manu Bai, “Joan of Arc” of the Indian Independence Struggle
|Date of Birth
|19 November 1828
|Age (as of 2021)
|Benares, Kingdom of Kashi-Benares (present-day Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India)
Rani Lakshmibai Early Life
Manikarnika Tambe was born on November 19, 1828, in Varanasi, then known as Kashi or Banaras, the capital city of the Kingdom of Kashi. She was born to Bhagirathi Sapre and Moropant Tambe, who served Peshwa Baji Rao II.
Rani Lakshmibai Early Marriages
Manikarnika married Ganga Dhar Rao Newalkar at the age of 13. This was part of a matrilineal system called Marumakkathayam, where the Maharaja adopted Damodar Rao, who would take over when he died.
Rani Lakshmibai Physical Appearance
The Rani of Jhansi was never known by her name but only as Lakshmibai.
She wore masculine clothing, carried a sword, and rode on horseback like the male soldiers. She even cut down trees to forge guns for her soldiers. The British were shocked by this sight and proclaimed that “the king has three hundred wives who all ride out with him on his campaigns.”
Rani Lakshmibai Family And Relationship
Rani Lakshmibai was born into a Maratha family, the daughter of Moropant Tambe and Bhagirathi Sapre. She married Gangadhar Rao Newalkar, Maharaja of Jhansi, in 1842.
Maharaja Gangadhar Rao died in 1853 while still a minor. Rani Lakshmibai ruled as regent for her son until she defended Jhansi against the British in 1857–1858 when others surrendered.
The unnamed child adopted by Lakshmibai after her husband’s death succeeded to the throne at 13 years old, but he died soon afterward from tuberculosis which caused his death on February 21, 1858. Since Rani Lakshmibai could not bequeath her kingdom because she did not have a son, the Maharaja of Jhansi under the Doctrine of Lapse gave Jhansi to the British East India Company.
|(If Married): Damodar Rao (Adopted)
Rani Lakshmibai And The Indian Rebellion of 1857
The Indian Rebellion of 1857 was a large-scale rebellion in India against the rule of the British East India Company, which functioned as a sovereign power on behalf of the British Crown.
The rebels were also known as Sepoys. They took part in what is now called the Sepoy Mutiny by Indians, resulting from a combination of factors such as misunderstandings and ignorance about how rifles worked. Poor communications and disunity handicapped the resistance among various groups.
After Rani Lakshmibai’s husband died in 1853, she took over her late husband’s position just two years before the war. She started ruling the Jhansi fort under Maharaja Kalyan Singh, who had become a titular king while his minister Tript Bihari Singh Negi, ruled the area.
After the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the British abolished the titular Maharaja system in India and made it a part of its colony. The Rani was shocked by this news when she realized that her son Damodar Rao Newalkar was deprived of his birthright and his royal pension.
The Rani appealed to Governor-General James Andrew Brown Ramsay, 1st Earl of Dalhousie, for justice, but she failed. Then she sent an agent Hukam Singh Gill to London in March 1861, who submitted two memorials to the Secretary of State for India in Council and Parliament, but there were no results again.
Rani Lakshmibai Facts
Facts 1: Rani’s agent went to Nepal in 1863 for help, but Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah rejected the appeal. Then she met Rajendra Bir Bishwa I, King of Nepal, and discussed her problem. Later he sent his brother prince Dal Mardan Shah.
The Nepalese army managed to occupy Jhansi fort, drove off the British military garrison, which was no match for them, and rescued Damodar Rao Newalkar, who was held under house arrest by the British East India Company at Agra Fort.
Facts 2: After this rescue act Rani Lakshmibai became popular among Indian nationalists like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lal Bal Pal, and Aurobindo Ghosh.
Facts 3: Rani Lakshmibai died on June 18, 1858, during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, from a bullet wound while fighting against British troops who had breached the fortress of Jhansi – she was one of the critical leaders of this rebellion.
The “Last message” letter addressed to her son is believed to have been drafted by Tatya Tope before leaving the fort to fight the approaching British forces. The Queen’s body was cremated in a sandalwood pyre.
Lakshmi Bai After Death
After Rani Lakshmibai’s death, various monuments were constructed in India to tribute her resistance during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. These include a temple in Firozabad district, Uttar Pradesh, a statue at Town Hall in Kolkata, and another in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, which was converted into a museum.
In 2009 commemorative coins were issued by the Government of India to honor her courage during the 1857 Indian Movement or Sepoy Mutiny.