Rani Lakshmibai was born in 1828. As a young woman she rode often and was an accomplished horsewoman. She married the Maharaja of Jhansi in 1842. She gave birth to a son but he died as an infant. Then the Maharaja and Rani adopted a son who they named Damodar Rao. The adoption was done in the presence of a British officer who accepted a letter from the Maharaja instructing that in the event of his death the boy be treated with respect and the government of the province of Jhansi be given to his widow, Rani, for her lifetime.
But when the Maharaja died the British East India Company, annexed the state to its territories. When Rani heard of this she cried out:” I shall not surrender my Jhansi”. But in 1854 she was ordered to leave the palace.She refused to do so.
I857 marks the beginning of the Indian Rebellion and in March of that year the British forces besieged Jhansi. Rani would not surrender. She issued a proclamation: “We fight for independence. In the words of Lord Krishna, we will if we are victorious, enjoy the fruits of victory, if defeated and killed on the field of battle, we shall surely earn eternal glory and salvation.”
Rani had to flee from the palace and sought refuge in the fort of Jhansi. When her counselors advised her that defeat was imminent she mounted her horse Baadal and with her son strapped to her back, leapt off the wall of the fort. Tradition has it that she and her son survived and escaped but the horse did not.
On the 17th of June 1858 Rani was commanding a large Indian force. She was wearing a sawar’s uniform and attacked one of the British hussars but she was unhorsed and wounded by his sabre. As she lay bleeding on the ground she fired at him with a pistol. He then turned and “dispatched the young lady with his carbine. ” Rani was only 30 years old.
To the British she was a bloodthirsty hellion but to India she was a warrior Queen who fought and died for her country’s independence.
My main source of information on Rani Lakshmibai is from Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rani_of_Jhansi
My inspiration for this post came from Prashant Ramani , at Tack and Rider, in Wellington Florida. This just goes to show you can never know where you may have a conversation that will take you to the other side of the world! Thank you Prashant!
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