Today, 17th June, is the death anniversary of the brave Rani of Jhansi
I remember when I was young we youngsters used to recite the lines :
" Singhasan hil uthe rajvansho ne bhriguti taani thi
Boodhe bharat mein aayi phir se nayi jawani thi
khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhaansi wali rani thi "
British newspapers proclaimed Lakshmi Bai as the ‘Jezebel of India,’ but Sir Hugh Rose, British commander of the Central India Force which defeated her, compared his fallen adversary to Joan of Arc.
Reporting her death to William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, he said: ‘The Rani is remarkable for her bravery, cleverness, and perseverance; her generosity to her subordinates was unbounded. These qualities, combined with her rank, rendered her the most dangerous of all the rebel leaders.’
In modern India, Lakshmi Bai is regarded as a national heroine. Statues of her stand guard over Jhansi and Gwalior. Her story has been told in ballads, novels, movies and the Indian equivalent of Classics Illustrated comics.
‘Although she was a lady,’ Rose wrote,’she was the bravest and best military leader of the rebels. A man among the mutineers.’ His praise is echoed in the most popular of the folk songs about her: ‘How well like a man fought the Rani of Jhansi! How valiantly and well!’