Rani Lakshmi Bai (Manu or Jhansi Ki Rani). A Short Biography

Rani Lakshmi Bai was the queen of Jhansi, a princely state in north-central India, born into a Maratha Brahmin family. She was one of the leading personalities of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and became a strong wall against to the British Raj for Indian nationalists. Lakshmi Bai was born as Manikarnika Tambe in the town of Varanasi in 1828. She was married to Maharaja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar of Jhansi, at the age of 14. She gave birth to a son, Damodar Rao, in 1842, but he died after four months. Lakshmi Bai’s husband died in 1853, and she became the regent for her adopted son, Shivaji Rao. When the Sepoy Mutiny broke out in 1857, she took charge of the Jhansi garrison and fought against the British forces. She was defeated and killed in battle in 1858.


Early Life:


Rani Lakshmi Bai was born on 19 November 1828 into a Karhade Brahmin family. She was named as Manikarnika Tambe. Her father’s name was Moropant Tambe, and her mother was Bhagirathi Sapre (Bhagirathi Bai). They came from the Tambe village of the Guhagar taluka located in the Ratnagiri. She was only four years old when her mother died. Her father was the commander who worked for Peshwa Baji Rao. The Peshwa called her “Chhabili,” which means “lively and cheerful” and “beautiful”. She was independent in her childhood. She learned to read and write and completed her education at home. She learned shooting, horsemanship, and fencing, with her childhood friends like Nana Sahib and Tatya Tope.


History from 1842 to May 1857:


She was the only daughter of Moropant Tambe. Her father served as a Subedar in the Peshwa Baji Rao II army. Lakshmi Bai was married to the Maharaja of Jhansi, Gangadhar Rao, in 1842. Afterward, she was called Lakshmibai after the name of the goddess Devi Lakshmi, according to a tradition that gave a new name after marriage. She gave birth to a son named Damodar Rao. He died after four months after his birth. Her husband adopted a child named Anand Rao, the son of Gangadhar Rao’s cousin. The boy remained on the day before Maharaja died. After the death of the Maharaja, the British East India Company denied his claim to the throne because he was an adopted son. When Lakshmi Bai heard this news, she cried, “I shall not surrender my Jhansi.”

Lakshmi Bai became the Rani of Jhansi after her husband’s death in 1853. She was 18th at the time. Vishnu Bhatt Godse wrote that Lakshmi Bai could exercise in weightlifting, wrestling, and steeple chasing. She was an intelligent and simple-dressed woman who ruled entirely.


The Revolt of 1857:


The Indian Rebellion started in Meerut on 10 May 1857. When she heard the news, she asked Captain Alexander skene for permission to have men for her protection. The captain agreed and allowed her to do so. When there was unrest everywhere, she conducted a ceremony of Haldi Kumkum to ensure her subjects that the English were cowards. There is no need to fear. She was reluctant to rebel against the British government. In June 1857, rebels of Bengal Native Infantry, promising no harm to the British, broke their word and massacred almost 60 Europeans along with their wife and children. The involvement of the Rani in this incident is still debatable. The forces of Lakshmi Bai were defeated by the mutineers of the nephew of Maharaja, who claimed the throne. Lakshmi Bai appealed to the government for aid, but they did not give any response considering her the responsibility for the massacre. She assembled the forces to defeat the invaders. Her wish at that time was also to hold Jhansi for the British.


Siege of Jhansi:


Jhansi under the Lakshmi Bai was at peace from August 1857. The Siege of Jhansi was one of the key battles of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The British decided to send force to defend Jhansi. Lakshmi Bai proclaimed that they would fight for independence. The rebel forces, led by Rani Lakshmi Bai, were defending the city of Jhansi against the forces of the British East India Company. The siege lasted for nearly two months and ended with the fall of the city to the British.

On 24th of March bombardment started in Jhansi. They asked Tatya Tope for aid. Tatya Tope sent army of 20,000 to help Jhansi. But they could not defend it. Rani escaped with her son and joined other rebel groups. They possessed Kalpi. The British forces defeated her by attacking on Kalpi on 22nd May.




Lakshmi Bai with her other companions came to Gwalior. They joined other groups of Indian Army and wanted to occupy Gwalior fort. They succeeded to get the city without opposition. The rebels and Lakshmi Bai would fail to defend the city from the attack that would come soon.



Under the command of Lakshmi Bai, a large Indian force fought on 17 June in Kotah-ki-serai. Lakshmi Bai put on a uniform and attacked one of the hussars, who was slaughtering Indian people, including any citizen of 16 age. She was wounded and unhorsed. Shortly afterward, as she sat bleeding by the roadside, she recognized the soldier and fired at him with a pistol, after which he “dispatched the young lady with his Carbine. The British had been steadily encroaching on Indian Territory for some time, and the Rebellion of 1857 was the culmination of years of tension and frustration.

Sadly, the rebel forces were defeated, and Rani Lakshmi Bai was killed in battle. She told a hermit to burn her body without wishing the British government to capture her body. A few local people cremated her body. Her death was a blow to the rebellion. In a British report, Hugh Rose said that Rani Lakshmibai was “personable, clever and beautiful,” and she was “the most dangerous of all Indians. She was a legend. She is remembered as a courageous leader who fought for India’s freedom. Lakshmi Bai was killed in battle on 18 May 1857.



Photo Credit: Nick Wall
Courtesy of Roadside Attractions

Lakshmi Bai was a legend. She has been celebrated in many works of art, including books, novels, poems, and films. Jhansi ki Rani, an Indian Tamil film, a serial “Bharat Ek Khoj,” historical drama series “1857 Kranti”, “the warrior queen of Jhansi,” and many other films covers the life story of Lakshmi Bai.


Life summary:


Rani Lakshmi Bai was one of the most prominent Indian freedom fighters who fought against British rule in India. She was born in Uttar Pradesh in 1828 and named after the Hindu goddess Lakshmi. Her father was a chieftain of the Maratha community, and she was brought up in a household steeped in Hindu tradition and culture. Rani Lakshmi Bai married the Maharaja of Jhansi at the age of 14 and became the queen of Jhansi. She was a brave leader who inspired her people to fight for their freedom. She was one of the few women leaders of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and led her troops into battle against the British. Rani Lakshmi Bai was killed in battle in 1858, but her heroic deeds and sacrifice inspired many Indians to continue the fight for independence.

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