Rani by Jaishree MisraAs a review for a book, this might contain spoilers but since Rani Lakshmibai is a historic figure, the time line and major events in her life are well known.
As an Indian I know that Rani Lakshmibai is known as one of the greatest warriors in India and the fact that she was a woman gives her an entirely different status altogether. It is sad to know that not many people outside India know who she was.
Rani Lakshmibai was born in 1828 with the name Manikarnika and grew up under her fathers love and care. He taught her different languages and horsemanship and everything that was accessible only to a man in those days. She married at the tender age of 14 to the Raja Gangadhar Rao Nevalkar of Jhansi who was almost her fathers age. Manikarna became the Rani of Jhansi and her name was changed to Lakshmibai.
She gave birth to a son 8 years into the marriage but unfortunately he died when he was 4 months old. Her husband died soon after because of poor health. Barely in her 20′s, Rani Lakshmibai had to take over the reign’s of Jhansi. She adopted a boy whom she named Damodar as she had no son of her own. But the British, who had taken control over many provinces in India in the same pretext, refused to acknowledge Damodar as an heir.
As Rani Lakshmibai was trying to find a way out of her predicament, discontent was brewing among the natives in the British army. The discontent reached its peak when British wanted the sepoys to open the new Enfield rifles that were coated with beef and pork fat by biting them. As cows are sacred to the Hindu’s and pork not eaten by Muslims, it was the last straw along with the other problems the native army was facing. This led to the famous mutiny also known as India’s first war of Independence which started in May 1857 in Meerut after which it spread to various parts of India. Many English men and their families were slaughtered and a few of the territories taken back from the British.
Rani Lakshmibai was one of the leaders of the revolt and marched along with an army with her childhood friends Nanasahib and Tantia Tope to Gwalior. Rani Lakshmibai died in battle on June 17th 1958.
The author Jaishree Misra has not only managed to capture the warrior spirit that the Rani was reknown for but has also effectively managed to capture the woman in her. Ms. Misra shows us the child that Manikarnika would have been, the apprehension of a young girl that was married and made a Queen and the fear and helplessness that the woman and ruler of Jhansi felt. Along with this she also captured the loneliness caused by her husband’s and son’s early death and the kind of mother she would have been to her adopted son Damodar.
Rani is not just about Rani Lakshmibai’s life and rule as a Queen. It is, as every good historical novel should be, a story that is intermingled with the circumstances of that time-the British occupation of India and neighboring countries and the 1857 uprising. So the reader does get to know a lot about that time period. I was enraged by the British who conveniently changed policies to suit themselves. Although we were taught all this in school, the details in the book made me feel like I was learning everything all over again.
The only thing I didn’t like about the book is that Rani Lakshmi and Robert Ellis (the British political agent of Jhansi) were shown to have romantic inclinations towards each other, which not only seems absurd but could also hurt the sentiments of a few people (considering Ellis was British and hence enemy). I get what the author was trying to project but she should have taken into account how sensitive some Indians can be about their heroes. But I really do wish that the real Rani found some love with Robert Ellis in reality too. Other than that this book could be a little tedious for someone not interested in the Indian Freedom struggle or someone who is not aware of India and it’s freedom struggle at all.
This book deserves to be read just because it is one of the very few novels on Rani Lakshmibai. The fact that it is beautifully and sensitively written is a major plus point. Highly Recommended.
She has gone down in Indian history as a legendary figure and her grit and determination were second to none. Laxmibai fought valiantly against the British and left a path-breaking impact on Indian history. Here is a compilation of some facts about the first woman martyr of India that every patriot must know. Growing up with Nana Sahib and Tatya Tope, she got training in martial arts, sword fighting and horse riding and became proficient in them. She was more independent than other girls of her age, due to her unconventional upbringing.
Her actual name was Manikarnika. Her father Moropant Tabme was a court advisor, and mother Bhagirathi was a scholarly woman. At a very early age she lost her mother. Her father raised her in an unconventional way and supported her to learn to ride elephants and horses and also to use weapons effectively. She grew up with Nana Sahib and Tatya Tope, who were active participants in the first revolt of independence. After her marriage, she came to be known as Lakshmi Bai. In , she gave birth to a son but unfortunately he died in his fourth month.
1. Not Lakshmi Bai by birth, but Manikarnika
She was one of the leaders of the Indian Rebellion of and became for Indian nationalists a symbol of resistance to the rule of the British East India Company in India. Manikarnika was born into a Maratha family at Varanasi. After her marriage Manikarnika became Lakshmibai, so named in honour of the goddess Lakshmi. Before her marriage, she was known as Chabeeli because of her jolly ways. In , Rani Lakshmibai had a son, Damodar Rao.
This will not post anything on Facebook or anywhere else. With little or no training to handle the circumstances she was drawn into, she protected her soil and people religiously, and fought valiantly, shunning all the social stigmas attached to women and war during those times. A rebel-head and someone who wore courage on her nerves, Rani Lakshmi Bai inspired generations of women to walk a path of fearlessness. Shocked, right? It is true, though.
Lakshmi Bai , also spelled Laxmi Bai , born c. During a siege of the fort of Jhansi , Bai offered stiff resistance to the invading forces and did not surrender even after her troops were overwhelmed. She was later killed in combat after having successfully assaulted Gwalior. She married the maharaja of Jhansi, Gangadhar Rao, but was widowed without bearing a surviving heir to the throne. Following established Hindu tradition, just before his death the maharaja adopted a boy as his heir. Lord Dalhousie , the British governor-general of India, refused to recognize the adopted heir and annexed Jhansi in accordance with the doctrine of lapse. An agent of the East India Company was posted in the small kingdom to look after administrative matters.