Rani Laxmi Bai, the warrior queen of India, was a unique and exemplary woman, born as Manikarnika in the present Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. At the ripe age of 14, she was married off to the 40-year-old king of Jhansi. She was given the name “Laxmi Bai,” derived from the Hindu Goddess “Laxmi” who is the goddess of wealth and prosperity. The Rani had great athletic prowess and practiced wrestling and sword fighting every morning. She has been described as intelligent, diplomatic, and extremely patriotic.
In 1851 she gave birth to a son, Damodar Rao who passed away after four months. Soon, the king fell ill as well and a day before the king’s death, the couple adopted a son named Anand Rao and renamed him as Damodar Rao. The adoption was registered in the presence of a British official and the king demanded equal respect and opportunities for his adopted son.
The king had passed over the kingdom to Rani Laxmi Bai for the entirety of her lifetime. Under the legislation of Governor-General Lord Dalhousie, the adopted heir was denied the right to be the successor of the throne.
When the rebellion against the British started in India in 1857 due to their oppression against their soldiers (then known as sepoys), Rani Laxmi Bai stayed out of the battle for the most part, but she made sure to conduct small rituals and festivities to keep up the morale of the citizens while they were surrounded by war in their neighboring states. The British threatened to send troops in January of 1858 but did not arrive till March, where they found a well-defended fort, equipped with guns that had the range to fire to the next town. The British demanded the Rani (queen) to surrender and Laxmi Bai proclaimed: "We fight for independence. In the words of Lord Krishna, we will if we are victorious, enjoy the fruits of victory, if defeated and killed on the field of battle, we shall surely earn eternal glory and salvation."
Due to a relentless attack by the British, the Rani seemed for assistance from Tatya Tope. The forces sent by Tatya Tope failed to prevent the seize and by April 2 they breached the walls.
The brave Rani fought valiantly against the intruders with her son strapped onto her back and rode her horse (Badal). The horse perished during the fight but managed to escape fort and went to Kalpi where her forces were once again defeated.
On June 17, the Rani fought against a squadron of Irish Hussars with a large Indian force. She dressed as one of the sowars and attacked the soldiers. She was wounded by his dagger and escaped. She had a premonition that she was about to pass, therefore she asked a priest to burn her body. After her death, the local people cremated her.
Her contribution towards the freedom of India is unforgettable and was an inspiration to all the radicals who came after her period.