Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi, Myths And Facts Regarding Her History
Rani Laxmi Bai, also known as ‘Jhansi ki Rani’, was one of the greatest freedom fighters of the country. Rani Laxmibai is considered an icon for women empowerment and her grit and determination were second to none. She has gone down in Indian history as a legendary figure, as India’s “Joan of Arc.” She was renowned as one of the most leading personalities of the India’s first war of Independence that started in 1857. Laxmibai fought valiantly against the British and left a path-breaking impact on Indian history. And she is known as the first woman martyr of India’s independence war.
However, there are many myths surrounding the history of Rani Laxmibai. Historians have raised questions over lots of facts related to the Queen of Jhansi. Here, we present you some real facts related to the queen.
MYTH 1: Laxmibai was born in 1835. She was 23 when she died.
According to a myth, it’s stated that Laxmibai gained martyrdom at the age of 23 years while fighting the British. However, some historians consider it to be a lie. According to them, in all probability, she was born in the year 1828 and hence attained martyrdom when she was 30.
Rani Laxmibai was born to a Maharashtrian family at Kashi (now Varanasi). During her childhood, she was called by the name Manikarnika. Affectionately, her family members called her Manu. While pursuing studies, she also took formal training in horse riding, shooting, and fencing.
MYTH 2: Rani Laxmibai’s husband, Gangadhar Rao, fought the British.
In the year 1842, Manikarnika got married to the Maharaja of Jhansi, Raja Gangadhar Rao Niwalkar. On getting married, she was given the name Lakshmi Bai. In the year 1851, she gave birth to a son, who unfortunately did not survive more than four months. Gangadhar Rao fell sick and died in November 1853, three and a half years before the Great Rebellion broke out.
Hence, it states that Gangadhar Rao didn’t fight the British. In fact, according to historians, he, and his predecessors had cooperated with the British.
MYTH 3: Rani escaped from Jhansi by jumping her horse from the wall of the Fort.
Another issue which deserves mention is her famed jump with her horse from a huge fortress while her son was tied on her back. However, many historians doubt this fact and have debated this matter for a long period.
A person named Vishnu Godse from Laxmibai’s era has written a book called ‘Manjha Prawas which has been translated by Amritlal Nagar. And this book discusses the details of Laxmibai’s martyrdom.
As per Godse, the place which is described as the spot of Laxmibai’s jump is situated near a slope of 135 degrees. The fort’s wall is nearly 5-6 feet high while being 3 feet wide.Hence, it’s really impossible for the horse to jump while the queen and her son were saddled on it. However, any horse making that jump would have been killed.
Hence, this also rubbishes another myth that the British dominated Rani only because her horse couldn’t jump over the drain.
Oliver Tudor, a British person wrote in his diary that the queen was brought down through the fort’s window in a cage. On the contrary, however, there is not a single window in the fort on the side of the Khanderao Gate. Historians think that maybe the theory of the queen’s jump emerged from this story only.
The truth behind Laxmibai’s famed jump.
According to Manjha Prawas, General Huge Rose was standing with British forces near the Khanderaw gate, adjacent to the concerned wall. If the queen had jumped she would have gone through that place only. However, due to the presence of the British, this theory doesn’t seem realistic.
The queen went through the back door of the fort which opened near the police station. Her bodyguards, family members, and courtiers also went with her. However, as soon as the queen passed Najhai Bazaar, the British chased her. A huge round of firing took place from both sides and the queen proceeded towards Bhandri Gate.
She didn’t have luck on her side as the British forces were guarding this gate too and thus, the fight between both sides continued.
MYTH 4: The Rani went into battle with her son tied to her back.
There is a kernel of truth in this one. When the Rani fled Jhansi she is said to have tied her son to her back for his safety. Now this makes sense.
MYTH 5: After killing Laxmibai, the British had put her adopted son ‘Damodar Rao’ in prison.
However, the truth is completely different. As per historians, in the middle of the war when the queen sensed danger for her adopted son, she sent him with some of her trusted followers. After the queen’s martyrdom, her trusted aides ran away with her adopted son and hid in the Bundelkhand forests.
However, Rani’s own servant, Ganpati Rao, betrayed the Rani and helped the British to capture her adopted son. Political agent Major Pleek sent Damodar to Indore on 5 May 1860 where he was brought up by Munshi Pandit DharamNarayan Kashmiri. The British did gross injustice to Damodar Rao who was the heir to a vast estate, valued at 25 lakh per annum. He was instead provided a meager pension of Rs. 150 per month.
MYTH 6: Rani Laxmibai’s Martyrdom day:
Rani Laxmibai’s martyrdom day has also always been a bone of contention among historians. As per the book, ‘Maharani Laxmibai and her Jhansi’, the queen was mortally wounded on 17th June and died on that evening itself. She died in the cottage of a Gwalior resident, Gangadas. Gul Mohammad and Ramchandra Rao Deshmukh gathered some grass and wood from the cottage itself and performed her last rites. Only 5-6 people were present on the spot and upon being informed, the British reached there. However, the British marked 18th June as the day of her death.