Bundele harbolon ke muh humne suni kahani thi,
Khoob ladi mardani woh toh Jhansi wali rani thi

Abhinav Khare deep dives and explores the brave face of Manikarnika who was born to Moropant Tambe and Bhagirathi Sapre in Varanasi.They had no idea that their beloved daughter “Manu” would go on to be “Rani of Jhansi” who went to battle for the rights of her son with swords in each hand and her infant son tied to her back.

Also read: Deep Dive with Abhinav Khare: How flood-prone Assam fails to garner national attention

Manikarnika lost her mother at the very young age of 4 and was raised by her father who worked in the court of Peshwa of Bithoo who raised her like his own daughter. While most girls were trained to be a good wife, Manu learnt horseback riding, fencing and shooting. In fact, she was also educated which was extremely rare for women of those times.

 

She married the Maharaja of Jhansi in 1842 following which she came to be known as Rani Lakshmibai. She gave birth to her son in 1851 but unfortunately he died just 4 months later. The couple then adopted the son of the Maharaja’s cousin whom they named Damodar Rao.

Also read: Deep Dive with Abhinav Khare: How Britain has drained trillions of dollars from India

The adoption took place before British officials, but after the death of the Maharaja, the British refused to acknowledge Damodar Rao as the legal heir to the throne of Jhansi citing the Doctrine of Lapse. They just offered Rani a meagre pension of Rs. 60000 and had asked her to even leave the fort. It is said that when she was informed of the annexation, she said, ‘Main meri Jhansi nahin dungi.’

In the year 1851, when the entire country was already fighting the first war for Independence, Rani joined the wagon after Sir Hugh Rose demanded the complete surrender of Jhansi. To strengthen her defence, Rani also had an army of women. She was further supported by great 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.

Also read: Deep Dive with Abhinav Khare: The secret of Establishment 22 which helped India win the 1971 war

She fought the British bravely with her infant son tied to her back - the mere image of which, gives us goosebumps. Even though they had lost, she showed the British that they won’t have Jhansi easily. On the unfortunate day of 17th June, 1988, this great warrior made the supreme sacrifice of her life fighting for her motherland. Her troops whisked away her body so that her last wish of not being captured by the British is fulfilled.