Rani Lakshmibai was one of the leading warriors of the India's first struggle of independence that started in 1857. She is a symbol of bravery, patriotism and honor.Rani Lakshmibai wasthe queen of the Maratha-ruled princely state of Jhansi, situated in the north-central part of India.
Lakshmibai was born on 19 November 1828 in the holy town kashi (Varanasi)to a Maharashtrian Karhade Brahmin family from Dwadashi, District Satara.Her father Moropant Tabme was a court advisor, and mother Bhagirathi was a scholarly woman.During her childhood, she was called by the name Manikarnika. Affectionately, her family members called her Manu.At a very early age she lost her mother. Her father raised her in an unconventional way and supported her to learn to ride elephants and horses and also to use weapons effectively.She grew up with Nana Sahib and Tatya Tope, who were active participants in the first revolt of independence.
In 1842, Rani Lakshmibai was married to Raja Gangadhar Rao who was the Maharaja of Jhansi. After the marriage to Gangadhar Rao she was called Lakshmi Bai.In 1851, she gave birth to a son but unfortunately he died in his fourth month. After this tragic incident, Damodar Rao was adopted by Maharaja of Jhansi as his son. Moved by the death of his son and his poor health, Maharaja Gangadhar Rao also died on 21st November 1853. When the Maharaja died, Rani Lakshmi Bai was just eighteen years old, but she didn't lose her courage and took up her responsibility.
During that period, Lord Dalhousie was the Governor General of British India. The adopted child was named Damodar Rao. As per the Hindu tradition, he was their legal heir. However, the British rulers refused to accept him as the legal heir. As per the Doctrine of Lapse, Lord Dalhousie decided to seize the state of Jhansi. Rani Lakshmibai went to a British lawyer and consulted him. Thereafter, she filed an appeal for the hearing of her case in London. But, her plea was rejected. The British authorities confiscated the state jewels. In March 1854 Rani of Jhansi was granted an annual pension of 60,000 and was ordered to leave Jhansi fort and move to the Rani Mahal in Jhansi. Laxmibai was firm about protecting the state of Jhansi.
For strengthening the defense of Jhansi Rani Lakshmi Bai assembled an army of rebellions, which also included women. For this great cause she was supported by brave warriors like Gulam Gaus Khan, Dost Khan, Khuda Baksh, Sunder-Mundar, Kashi Bai, Lala Bhau Bakshi, Moti Bai, Deewan Raghunath singh and Deewan Jawahar Singh. She assembled 14,000 rebels and organized an army for the defense of the city.
From the period between Sep-Oct 1857, Rani defended Jhansi from being invaded by the armies of the neighboring rajas of Orchha and Datia. In January 1858, the British army headed it's away towards Jhansi. The conflict went on for two weeks. Finally, the Britishers succeeded in the annexation of the city. However, Rani Lakshmi Bai managed to escape along with her son, in the guise of a man.She took refuge in Kalpi, where she met Tatya Tope, a great warrior.
She died on 18thJune of 1858, during the battle for Gwalior. It is believed that, when she was lying unconscious in the battle field, a Brahmin found her and brought her to an ashram, where she died. For her immense effort, she is referred to as the 'Icon of the Indian Nationalist Movement'. Throughout the uprising, the aim of Rani was to secure the throne for her adopted son Damodar. Her story became a beacon for the upcoming generations of freedom fighters.