Rani of Jhansi – Luxmi Bai
Jhansi lies about two hundred and fifty miles south of Delhi, on the northernmost tip of the Deccan Plateau. It got its name from a prince who saw the state through a haze and called it Jhansi—‘Jhansi-si (झाँसी सी/ like a shadow).
Lakshmibai was born in Varanasi in 1827 and was the daughter of Morapant Jambe. She was married at a young age to Baji Rao II of Bithoor. She was indeed a very brave and unusual girl. She learnt to ride and use weapons, and mastered the art of fighting on horseback. People believed that she was the Ganga, the sacred river goddess who has descended to earth in the form of a human being.
Nine years passed after her marriage and she was childless. Therefore, she adopted a cousin of the king’s son and called him Anand Rao. The British were ruling over India then, and Lord Dalhousie, at the head of the government in Calcutta, refused to recogniseAnand Rao as the heir to the throne of Jhansi.
He also forbade Lakshmibai to rule the kingdom. She revolted, for the British wanted to take over Jhansi. With dignity, Lakshmibai left the fort at Jhansi and went to live in a, palace in the town.
On May 10, 1857, the Great Rebellion began in Meerut and around that time, the ‘Massacre of Jhansi’ also took place. Sixty-six Europeans and Christians, including sixteen women and twenty children, were killed by the Indians. The Rani was blamed for being a part of this incident.
The British decided to seize Jhansi on 25 March. The Rani, with the help of her childhood friend Tantiya Tope, put up a remarkable resistance. One thousand and five hundred men of her army were killed. The Rani escaped with two of her bodyguards, but not for long; she was hit by a bullet fired by a British soldier. She died as bravely as she had lived.
India must never forget Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi. Not only did she die for her country but she inspired many others to pick up the spirit of fighting for one’s country. She stands as a symbol of India’s determination to be free.