Shishu Sansaar | Stories-Historical
3-Lakshmee Baaee - Raanee of Jhaansee
Raanee Lakshmee Baaee, popularly known as "Jhaansee Ki Raanee" (Queen of Jhaansee) was one of last sovereigns to wage war against the British to expel them. One year after the great war of Independence in 1857 AD and decisive defeat of Indians by British, she still held on to her kingdom and did not surrender it until a fierce battle. In 1858 she sent out a circular to all kings to join together to expel British because England had brought into India a number of Christian missionaries who were a serious danger to Hindu religion and culture. She fought very bravely defending her freedom and died.
She was born in a Mahaaraashtrian Braahman family in Kaashee in c 1828; and her original name was Manikarnikaa. People called her "Manu". As a young girl, she learned to read, write and debate, riding horse and use of weapons while playing with her adopted brothers. She accepted the name Lakshmee Baaee when she married to Gangaadhar Raav Nivalkar, the Mahaaraajaa of Jhaansee, in 1842. This was Gangaadhar's second marriage to get a son. She did give birth to a son in 1851, but he died when he was only 3 months old. So Gangaadhar's adopted son, Daamodar Raav, became the king of Jhaansee. Gangaadhar Raav also died in 1853.
So the Governor General of India, Lord Dalhousie, announced that "since Gangaadhar has left no heir to the kingdom, the state of Jhaansee should be taken over by British Government", because they did not regard Daamodar as the king of Jhaansee. But since Gangaadhar had adopted him, he was legally heir of Gangaadhar. A serious concern arose in Hindu society at the refusal of British to acknowledge of legitimacy of his being Gangaadhar's son. She took her case to London, but no vain.
She was not willing to surrender her kingdom, so she assembled an army of 14,000 rebels and ordered them to defend their kingdom. The British attacked Jhaansee in March 1858. Both, British and Raanee, were adamant in their own respect; British wanted to take the kingdom, and Raanee did not want to surrender it. Even women were helping their soldiers. However Jhaansee fell to British after a 2-week battle. A priest of Bombay, who witnessed the British victory said that "Up to four days, there was lots of looting, fire, and difficult to breathe in the smell of burning flesh". British historians said " there were 4000-5000 people died in the battle".
Raanee could manage to escape in darkness, on the horse in a man's guise taking her adopted son Daamodar Raav, and within 24 hours she rode over 100 miles to the fortress of Kalpee where she joined Taantyaa Topey. There, she again became successful to unite rebel kings and seized the fort of Gwaaliyar. But it was not long that British tried to take over Gwaaliyar also. A fierce fighting took place and Raanee who was in-charge of a section of the army, lost her life on the 2nd day of the battle (June 17, 1858). In fact she was able to escape on this also, but British surrounded her on a cliff and she could not think of any other way except to jump from there, so she jumped. A Braahman found her unconscious, took her to his hut; but after a while she opened her eyes, said "Jaya Hind" (victory to India) and died.
British again won the battle. Raanee was given a ceremonial cremation and burial by her faithful servants. Sir Hugh Rose, who was the Commander of British army at that time, wrote - "Raanee was remarkable in her bravery, cleverness and perseverance. Her generosity was unbounded to her subordinates. Thus she was the most dangerous among rebels."
Because of her bravery she is considered the national hero/heroine. When the Indian National Army created its first women unit, it was named after her. Her bronze statues were set both at Jhaansee and Gwaaliyar in a soldier's fashion.
Created by Sushma Gupta on January 15, 2002
Modified on 05/05/13