Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi is known as a great patriot and one of the most important freedom fighters during the First War of Independence which is sometimes simply called "Mutiny" or the "Great Upheaval". Though she fought primarily for her own kingdom, the fact is that she refused to bow her head before the mighty, cruel and crafty British Empire.
She was born on 13th November, 1835. Her father's name was Morapant and her mother's name was Bhagirathi. In her childhood, Lakshmi Bai was called Manu. As a child she grew up in the company of Nana Sahib who was the son of the Peshwa Bajirao and who too, like her, later became renowned for his bravery and his refusal to bow before cruelty and high- handiness.
It was in the company of Nana that Manu got the training to become a brave and skilled soldier. It was at an early age that she was married to Gangadhar Rai who was then the ruler of Jhansi. As Gangadhar became seriously ill, the couple adopted a son Damodar, as they had no son of their own.
Soon, Gangadhar died. After his death, Lord Dalhousie, the then Governor General, who was following the Doctrine of Lapse, refused to accept Damodar as heir to Gangadhar's throne.
Lakshmi Bai was, however; too brave a woman to be cajoled or browbeaten. She collected weapons and ammunition, and when the British invaded the fort of Jhansi, they were surprised to find the brave daughter of India, with sword in her hand, answer forcefully the cruel strokes of a mighty enemy.
Lakshmi Bai was certainly no match for the British power. After losing Jhansi, she fought from the fort of Gwalior. Certainly, she could not overpower the British forces. But she fought till her last breath and laid down her life for the sake of freedom.