“If defeated and killed on the field of battle, we shall surely earn eternal glory and salvation”Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi
Origins of the Quote
These were words that the fiery rani spoke as she inspired her troops to gear up in battle against the British. Going into battle she was well aware of the strengths and weakness of her army. Astute as ever, she knew that she could switch the mood with inspiration.
She was successful too, as she led her troops well till the last moment.
The Person Behind the Words
The story of the remarkable queen of Jhansi is oft-told. There is a reason why her story is so popular. It is not just one royal or one guard on whose shoulders the battle rests. However, the pivotal point or the fulcrum of a movement is critical. The Rani was that point. And she knew it.
It was purely miraculous that she was raised the way she was. Born to a brahman household in Poona to Moropant Tambe and Bhagirathi in 1835. Her father was a court advisor. Moving to Varanasi as a little child, her life was already full of movement. Losing her mother at the age of four, Manu, or Manikarnika had a long hard road. Her father decided to empower and train her in martial skills, horsemanship, and basically battle-ready.
However, it was extremely unusual for this kind of upbringing. Also, Manu was very well-read and an extremely quick learner. Her personality began to shine from a young age. Thus, when she got married at 14, though young, she was sharp. She understood court intrigue and politics.
Amongst great joy, she gave Jhansi its much-needed heir, but unfortunately, he died at four months. Quickly she and her husband adopted Damodar Rao. This was the time that the British were systematically entering the country – and they hit where it hurt. Going after the royalty, and the heirless royalties. They knew that they had to disarm leadership and they suspended recognising adopted heirs – through the Doctrine of Lapse.
Widowed at 18, the Rani lost her husband and had to garner her acumen to put up a fight against the Empire. The British sent their best, and she valiantly fled, fought, plotted, and raised armies – but eventually she succumbed in battle.
Some Final Thoughts
Before her death – and this is what made Rani immortal was that she had brought together her childhood friends who were also rebels. The battles fought in 1857 gained a lot of impetus through her effort – people were aware of the larger movement.
Though the war was not successful for India at that time – she had established a foundation. Her legend would be of great support for future generations of fighters.
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