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Manikarnika: The Freedom Apotheosis for Indians, Glimpses of Jhansi Ki Rani

Manikarnika: Jhansi Ki Rani

सिंहासन हिल उठे राजवंषों ने भृकुटी तनी थी,
बूढ़े भारत में आई फिर से नयी जवानी थी,
गुमी हुई आज़ादी की कीमत सबने पहचानी थी,
दूर फिरंगी को करने की सब ने मन में ठनी थी.
चमक उठी सन सत्तावन में, यह तलवार पुरानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वो तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी

Manikarnika was a Queen of Jhansi popularly known as "Jhansi Ki Rani", iconised for fighting against the devilish British Raj and became a leading figure in the Indian Independence Movement, 1857. Manikarnika was a remarkable Warrior and a true stateswoman, even known as the symbol of resistance against the British Raj for Indian Patriots.

Manikarnika was very much attached to wrestling, steeplechasing and playing adventures sports since her childhood days. She was also always remaining eager to know about the state's politics and making strategic plans. Manikarnika was well-nourished with reading and writing ability though considered more advanced or independent than others of the same age.


Birth and Early Life:

Manikarnika was born on 19th November 1828 in a Marathi Karhade family of Varanasi town. She was born to Moropant Tambe (Father) and Bhagirathi Sapre (Mother) and was even called Manu (Nickname) by her parents. She lost her mother when she was only four years of age and later raised with her father's love.


The Tambe family was originated from Maharashtra, where Manu's father uses to work for the 11th Peshwa Baji Rao II of the Maratha Empire. She was dearest to Peshwa though he nicknamed her as "Chabili", which means playful. She was trained in Sword and shooting by Tatya Tope (Freedom Fighter of Indian Independence Movement, 1857) and Nana Sahib.


Manikarnika was very fond of horsemanship though she had many horses since her lifetime, including Pavan, Sarangi and Baadal. 

Marriage and Life in Jhansi: 

In May 1942, when Manikarnika was only 14 years of age, she married Maharaja of Jhansi, Gangadhar Rao Newalkar. According to Marathi culture, a married woman is renamed by her new family; she was renamed Lakshmi Bai (derived from Goddess Lakshmi) and further became popular as Jhansi Ki Rani Lakshmi Bai.   

In 1851, Gangadhar Rao and Lakshmi Bai gave birth to Damodar Rao, the Newalkar family got delighted with the baby boy, and the whole Jhansi was celebrating that moment. Unfortunately, after four months of birth, Damodar Rao died. This incident left a deep wound in Gangadhar Rao and Lakshmi Bai's life.


Gangadhar Rao adopted a child known as Anand Rao, son of his brother (Cousin) and renamed him Damodar Rao; the whole instance happens a day before he died. The process of adoption took place in front of a British officer from East India Company. Maharaja of Jhansi Gangadhar Rao Newalkar ordered the British Officer to consider his adopted son with respect and give the throne to his widow Lakshmi Bai for her life. After that, Damodar will succeed.

Struggle with British East India Company:

The British East India Company rejected the instructions given by Gangadhar Rao and dismissed the claims of adopted son Damodar Rao aka Anand Rao, and Manikarnika over the throne. The British East India Company assumes the territory into their reign under Governor-General Lord Dalhousie through the Doctrine of Lapse. When Manikarnika get to know about it, she cried the famous phrase given by her only "Mai apni Jhansi Nahi doongi" (I will not surrender my Jhansi).

In March 1854, through the Doctrine of Lapse, the British army plans the annexation of the throne of Jhansi, whereas Manikarnika was given an annual pension of Rs. 60,000 and ordered to leave the fort by British Rule. 


Indian Independence Movement of 1857 and Death of Rani:

The revolt of 1857 was triggered when the Indian sepoys were asked to bite greased cartridges (Made up of beef and pork) by the East India Company. The cow is believed as holy among Hindus sentiments, whereas Muslims doesn't prefer pork. 

The agitations were held all over the country, and the biggest part in organizing agitation was the Indian Independence Movement Revolutionary Mangal Panday. Mughal Emporer Bahadur Shah Zafar, Begum Hazrat Mahal, Kunwar Singh, Nahar Singh and various other leaders also participated in the Indian Independence Movement of 1857 and the movement taking place at mass provinces which triggered the feeling of Nationalism and patriotism among Indians.

On the other hand, Manikarnika was arranging the forces from the different kingdom and her allies to fight against the British Raj. She also included women in her camp and started training them in self-defence. In the movement to achieve freedom and assembling rebellions against British Raj, she was supported by Tatya Tope and Nana Sahib

In March 1958, Sir Hugh Rose of Central India Field Force laid the siege to Jhansi Fort, where Manikarnika received a big blow from the British army. The British army attacked the fort through someone's betrayal inside Jhansi but, Manikarnika fought bravely on Horse Baadal, carrying her son on her back, withholding swords in both hands. 

She escaped from the greatest wall of the fort on horse Baadal with some of her followers. Making escape successful for Manikarnika Horse Baadal sacrificed its life while jumping from the wall of the fort.

Manikarnika led the campaign further active and captured Gwalior fort where Nana Sahib swore as the Peshwa of the Gwalior fort and Rao Sahib as Subedar. 

Sir Hugh Rose again attacked the Gwalior fort where the war begins, and as a result of this Massacre made by the British army, Manikarni got severely injured with half forehead was cut down. She went to a nearby Priest and asked him to burn her body and take Damodar away from British Raj.

Sir Hugh Rose stated after the war that:-

"Rani was cleaver, personable and beautiful. The most dangerous among all Indian leaders of Independence Movement."

Therefore, Manikarnika the Rani of Jhansi fought bravely against the British and symbolized her as the greatest freedom fighter and a country lover. In a real sense, she was a true epitome of Women Empowerment.

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