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She had the English scurrying for cover in the First War of Indian Independence. She was the extraordinarily fearless Rani of Jhansi.
Born Manikarnika (alias Manu), Lakshmibai had a very different childhood. When girls her age reveled in dolls and dreams, Manu sported with horses and swords, stuff that a boy’s world was made of.
She married the ruler of Jhansi and bore him a royal heir too. Even as Jhansi rejoiced, Lakshmibai’s world came crashing with the death of her son, barely 4 months old and soon, the brokenhearted king.
A widowed Rani and a princely state with only an adopted incumbent to the throne! The English seized the opportunity to annexe Jhansi under the Doctrine of Lapse. But Rani Lakshmibai would not part with what was rightfully hers.
The English laid siege to Jhansi. Rising to the occasion, Lakshmibai mobilized volunteers, even women to put up a stiff resistance. Her prowess astounded the English, who acknowledged her as the most dangerous combatant in the 1857 rebellion. Lakshmibai finally died of her wounds in Gwalior, a martyr at the age of twenty-three.
Rani Lakshmibai stands out as the epitome of heroic valour, immortalized by the Subhadra Kumari Chauhan’s ballad – ‘Khoob Ladi Mardani Woh To Jhansi Wali Rani Thi’
Why we find her inspiring?
– Because she was a gutsy and confident woman
– Because notwithstanding her tender age, she took on a mighty enemy by herself
– Because she exhibited exemplary courage and determination in the face of personal grief
– Because she galvanized an entire nation by her heroic example
Rani of Jhansi
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