The Rani of Jhansi was the epitome of female strength and was the one who revived the desire within the Indian people to live on their own, to be ruled by their own and not by the monstrous British.
Lakshmibai was the title given to Manikarnika Tambe, the Queen of the Maratha princely state of Jhansi. She was born on November 19, 1828 in the town of Varanasi in a Marathi family. She was educated at home and her extracurricular activities included shooting, horsemanship and even fencing which violated many expectations for women at that time.
But, she matured into a modern personality- a woman who was educated and could fight. She married the Maharaja of Jhansi in May 1842 so evidently, she became the Rani. After the Maharaja’s death in November 1853, the Doctrine of Lapse was applied by Lord Dalhousie of the British East India Company, which rejected Damodar Rao’s (Maharaja’s adopted son) claim to the throne of Jhansi and annexed the princely state. When Rani of Jhansi was informed, she cried out “I shall not surrender my Jhansi.” She reigned from 21 November 1853-10 March 1854 and 4 June 1857-April 1858.
She became a symbol of resistance during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 when the British forces demanded the surrender of Jhansi but she refused. She, then, as one of the leading figures, joined the revolt also known as India’s first battle for independence from the British rule. The uprising spread from town to town and it soon reached Jhansi in June 1857 in which dozens of British were killed but we do not know whether she had any role in it. She even offered to protect British children and women. However, after the British conquered Jhansi, she escaped on horseback with her son and then began training an army in Gwalior. The British attacked Gwalior and The Rani of Jhansi led a countercharge with trained men and women. She fought fearlessly but unfortunately died in the battle.
Even though she died in battle, she was immortalized as its most courageous opponent. She was a role model for the people of India who had some hope that they could defeat the rule of British and gain freedom.