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Books > History > Lakshmi Bai The Rani of Jhansi
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Lakshmi Bai The Rani of Jhansi
Lakshmi Bai The Rani of Jhansi
Description
From the Jacket

The Rani of Jhansi's war had been motivated by the highest ideals of swaraja-to bring liberty and freedom to the land by overthrowing the interloper; rather than a struggle born of thwarted ambitions and frustration. The Rani's extraordinary valour was not merely intended to realize her own narrow territorial aspirations, but was occasioned by an expanse of vision and foresight which few other rulers possessed or demonstrated, in the steaming cauldron of the country's political scene in that watershed year.

'Jhansi Ki Rani' was written by Dr. Vrindavanlal Varma in 1946, a period which fell within a century of the death of Rani Lakshmibai. This relative proximity to a historically significant period has given the book an immediacy and a certain subjectivity, which is absent in most historical works. Since the writer belonged to Bundelkhand and had spent much of his life in Jhashi, he has been able to bring in authenticity into this work. He was possibly aided in this because of his meetings with several people who had lived during the period of the Rani.

'The Rani of Jhansi' is a novel through which the writer makes a spiritual journey into a past which has so captured his imagination during his formative years.

About the Author

Renowned novelist Vrindavanlal Varma was born on 9th January 1889 in a noble Srivastava Kayasthya family at Mauranipur in Jhansi. Since childhood he had keen interest in History. Hence, even while doing higher studies in law, he deeply studied History, Politics, Philosophy, Psychology, Music Sculpture and Architecture as well.

Varmaji acclaimed fame mostly for his historical novels. In his novels he negated the fact that in historical novels either the history dies or the novel. Instead he gave a new lease of life to history as well as to novels.

He was honoured with 'Padam Bhushan' for his literary works; Agra University presented him with honorary D. Lit. He received Soviet Land Nehru Award' and Govt. of India also awarded him for his novel 'Jhansi Ki Rani'. Besides these he received many honours and prizes from various institutions for his literary writings.

Varmaji's most novels have been translated into various Indian as well as English, Russian and Czech languages. Films have been made on his novels 'Jhansi Ki Rani' and 'Mrignayani'.

Foreword

Diwan Ananda Rao, my great grandfather, was killed in the battle against the English while defending the jagir of Mhow in the First War of Independence. He was a loyal follower of Rani Lakshmibai and his complete identification with her ideals is brought out in his last address to his son as he lay dying after the battle, 'Tell the Rani that Mhow did not lag behind (Jhansi) in defending the honour of swaraja'

My great grandmother, who had known the Rani, left behind an invaluable legacy of stories and events from the Rani's life. When I was ten years old she passed away. My grandmother kept the flame of enthusiasm burning throughout my childhood and adulthood. Six years after I had begun practicing law, she too died. But the luminescence radiating from this remarkable period of history, on which I had been weaned, began to pale when examined in the light of accounts of the Rani's times by present day historians.

According to Parasnis' account of the life of Rani Lakshmibai, she took over the administration of Jhansi only during the Mutiny on behalf of the English and later organized an armed struggle against them solely to perpetuate her own reign. This view, however, was in complete contrast to my great grandmother's unswerving belief that the Rani's war had been motivated by the highest ideals of swaraja-to bring liberty and freedom to the land by overthrowing the interloper; rather than a struggle born of thwarted ambitions and frustration as Parasnis would have us believe. This anomaly continued to haunt me and I swore to resolve the issue.

By a stroke of good fortune in 1932, I was informed that some forty or fifty letters had been found in an almirah in the Judge's Court of Jhansi. These had been written in 1858 on a regular basis by an English officer to the then Lieutenant Governor of Jhansi, soon after the kingdom had been annexed by the English.

I went through the letters and though I could glean nothing particularly informative from them, the strengthened my belief that the Rani's extraordinary valour was not merely intended to realize her own narrow territorial aspirations, but was occasioned by an expanse of vision and foresight which few other rulers possessed or demonstrated, I the steaming cauldron of the country's political scene in that watershed year.

During this time, by a stroke of sheer good luck I was able to meet Nawab Banna who had worked a petitioner in the English court, and who was also the grandson of Nawab Ali Bahadur, the son of Raghunath Rao. I had many discussions with of Nawab Ali Bahadur and his servant Pir Ali, whose treachery had played such a covert but pivotal role in the writing of history of the period. He was also to relate anecdotes from the Rani's life which bring out her powerful personality and was able to shed some light on the social conditions and the lifestyle of contemporary society.

While I was engaged in collecting material on this period I came in contact with Taurab Ali Daroga, who had worked as a jail warden under the English, during the time of the 'Mutiny'. He filled me in with many stories of the Rani which lent credence to the viewpoint of my great grandmother, and which were particularly heartening to hear from a former employee of the English. During this time I had a chance to meet an octogenarian by the name of Ajimullah who was able to shed an even greater light on the Rani's life than Taurab Ali. He had been a young man then and had seen her often, as had Taurab Ai. At around the same time I met several other octogenarians who had seen the unfolding of this period of history and I was, therefore, able to add to my knowledge from their personal insights. Though they all had varying impressions of the period, an overwhelming feeling of love for their Rani was a common emotion stringing together their different viewpoints.

Yet my quest remained unfulfilled. The obfuscation and ambiguousness of fuzzy memories and lost records continued to draw a veil of mystery over the dusty pages of history even as I continued to search for an answer to end my tormenting uncertainty-did the Rani fight for swaraja or not? Was the battle with General Rose thrust upon a helpless and vulnerable Rani who had become an unwitting pawn in the hands of petty kings?

The Rani had sent a request for aid to the Raja of Banpur during the war. The word 'swaraja' is clearly mentioned there. The letter clearly indicates all that the Rani stood for and leaves little room for scepticism.

Vishnu Rao Godse's work in Marathi, Majha Prawas, provides an invaluable insight into the period. Godse was present in the fort when the Rani had fought against General Rose. I have made several references to Majha Prawas in my novel.

Motibai too is a historical figure. I learnt of her existence through a most unusual coincidence. In the course of my profession as a lawyer, I was representing a mosque, in a case over a piece of land near the Orchcha Gate. The deeds of the land had to be called from Gwalior. It transpired that the land had originally belonged to Motibai, a famous actress during the time of the Raja.

Raja Gangadhar Rao was a great patron of the theatre. Because of his appreciation of the fine nuances involved in staging a good play he encouraged women to play the roles of female characters. Motibai was one of the leading actresses. Later on, I learnt of the existence of other famous personalities such as Juhi, Durga and Mughal Khan. Their stories have been woven into the narrative based on a historical perspective. Subsequently, I came across some papers taken from the Collector's office which had been taken as testimony from the Collector's office which had been taken as testimony from the general populace of Jhansi in 1858. They convinced me beyond a shadow of doubt that Lakshmibai's struggle had been prompted by the dream to realize swaraja.

I resolved to give shape to my dream-the dream which had been with me since my childhood. I was going to write a novel which would do justice, and once which would breathe life into, that most memorable era of our history.

Lakshmi Bai The Rani of Jhansi

Item Code:
IDJ776
Cover:
Hardcover
Edition:
2001
ISBN:
8187100540
Size:
8.5" X 5.5"
Pages:
312
Price:
$22.50   Shipping Free
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From the Jacket

The Rani of Jhansi's war had been motivated by the highest ideals of swaraja-to bring liberty and freedom to the land by overthrowing the interloper; rather than a struggle born of thwarted ambitions and frustration. The Rani's extraordinary valour was not merely intended to realize her own narrow territorial aspirations, but was occasioned by an expanse of vision and foresight which few other rulers possessed or demonstrated, in the steaming cauldron of the country's political scene in that watershed year.

'Jhansi Ki Rani' was written by Dr. Vrindavanlal Varma in 1946, a period which fell within a century of the death of Rani Lakshmibai. This relative proximity to a historically significant period has given the book an immediacy and a certain subjectivity, which is absent in most historical works. Since the writer belonged to Bundelkhand and had spent much of his life in Jhashi, he has been able to bring in authenticity into this work. He was possibly aided in this because of his meetings with several people who had lived during the period of the Rani.

'The Rani of Jhansi' is a novel through which the writer makes a spiritual journey into a past which has so captured his imagination during his formative years.

About the Author

Renowned novelist Vrindavanlal Varma was born on 9th January 1889 in a noble Srivastava Kayasthya family at Mauranipur in Jhansi. Since childhood he had keen interest in History. Hence, even while doing higher studies in law, he deeply studied History, Politics, Philosophy, Psychology, Music Sculpture and Architecture as well.

Varmaji acclaimed fame mostly for his historical novels. In his novels he negated the fact that in historical novels either the history dies or the novel. Instead he gave a new lease of life to history as well as to novels.

He was honoured with 'Padam Bhushan' for his literary works; Agra University presented him with honorary D. Lit. He received Soviet Land Nehru Award' and Govt. of India also awarded him for his novel 'Jhansi Ki Rani'. Besides these he received many honours and prizes from various institutions for his literary writings.

Varmaji's most novels have been translated into various Indian as well as English, Russian and Czech languages. Films have been made on his novels 'Jhansi Ki Rani' and 'Mrignayani'.

Foreword

Diwan Ananda Rao, my great grandfather, was killed in the battle against the English while defending the jagir of Mhow in the First War of Independence. He was a loyal follower of Rani Lakshmibai and his complete identification with her ideals is brought out in his last address to his son as he lay dying after the battle, 'Tell the Rani that Mhow did not lag behind (Jhansi) in defending the honour of swaraja'

My great grandmother, who had known the Rani, left behind an invaluable legacy of stories and events from the Rani's life. When I was ten years old she passed away. My grandmother kept the flame of enthusiasm burning throughout my childhood and adulthood. Six years after I had begun practicing law, she too died. But the luminescence radiating from this remarkable period of history, on which I had been weaned, began to pale when examined in the light of accounts of the Rani's times by present day historians.

According to Parasnis' account of the life of Rani Lakshmibai, she took over the administration of Jhansi only during the Mutiny on behalf of the English and later organized an armed struggle against them solely to perpetuate her own reign. This view, however, was in complete contrast to my great grandmother's unswerving belief that the Rani's war had been motivated by the highest ideals of swaraja-to bring liberty and freedom to the land by overthrowing the interloper; rather than a struggle born of thwarted ambitions and frustration as Parasnis would have us believe. This anomaly continued to haunt me and I swore to resolve the issue.

By a stroke of good fortune in 1932, I was informed that some forty or fifty letters had been found in an almirah in the Judge's Court of Jhansi. These had been written in 1858 on a regular basis by an English officer to the then Lieutenant Governor of Jhansi, soon after the kingdom had been annexed by the English.

I went through the letters and though I could glean nothing particularly informative from them, the strengthened my belief that the Rani's extraordinary valour was not merely intended to realize her own narrow territorial aspirations, but was occasioned by an expanse of vision and foresight which few other rulers possessed or demonstrated, I the steaming cauldron of the country's political scene in that watershed year.

During this time, by a stroke of sheer good luck I was able to meet Nawab Banna who had worked a petitioner in the English court, and who was also the grandson of Nawab Ali Bahadur, the son of Raghunath Rao. I had many discussions with of Nawab Ali Bahadur and his servant Pir Ali, whose treachery had played such a covert but pivotal role in the writing of history of the period. He was also to relate anecdotes from the Rani's life which bring out her powerful personality and was able to shed some light on the social conditions and the lifestyle of contemporary society.

While I was engaged in collecting material on this period I came in contact with Taurab Ali Daroga, who had worked as a jail warden under the English, during the time of the 'Mutiny'. He filled me in with many stories of the Rani which lent credence to the viewpoint of my great grandmother, and which were particularly heartening to hear from a former employee of the English. During this time I had a chance to meet an octogenarian by the name of Ajimullah who was able to shed an even greater light on the Rani's life than Taurab Ali. He had been a young man then and had seen her often, as had Taurab Ai. At around the same time I met several other octogenarians who had seen the unfolding of this period of history and I was, therefore, able to add to my knowledge from their personal insights. Though they all had varying impressions of the period, an overwhelming feeling of love for their Rani was a common emotion stringing together their different viewpoints.

Yet my quest remained unfulfilled. The obfuscation and ambiguousness of fuzzy memories and lost records continued to draw a veil of mystery over the dusty pages of history even as I continued to search for an answer to end my tormenting uncertainty-did the Rani fight for swaraja or not? Was the battle with General Rose thrust upon a helpless and vulnerable Rani who had become an unwitting pawn in the hands of petty kings?

The Rani had sent a request for aid to the Raja of Banpur during the war. The word 'swaraja' is clearly mentioned there. The letter clearly indicates all that the Rani stood for and leaves little room for scepticism.

Vishnu Rao Godse's work in Marathi, Majha Prawas, provides an invaluable insight into the period. Godse was present in the fort when the Rani had fought against General Rose. I have made several references to Majha Prawas in my novel.

Motibai too is a historical figure. I learnt of her existence through a most unusual coincidence. In the course of my profession as a lawyer, I was representing a mosque, in a case over a piece of land near the Orchcha Gate. The deeds of the land had to be called from Gwalior. It transpired that the land had originally belonged to Motibai, a famous actress during the time of the Raja.

Raja Gangadhar Rao was a great patron of the theatre. Because of his appreciation of the fine nuances involved in staging a good play he encouraged women to play the roles of female characters. Motibai was one of the leading actresses. Later on, I learnt of the existence of other famous personalities such as Juhi, Durga and Mughal Khan. Their stories have been woven into the narrative based on a historical perspective. Subsequently, I came across some papers taken from the Collector's office which had been taken as testimony from the Collector's office which had been taken as testimony from the general populace of Jhansi in 1858. They convinced me beyond a shadow of doubt that Lakshmibai's struggle had been prompted by the dream to realize swaraja.

I resolved to give shape to my dream-the dream which had been with me since my childhood. I was going to write a novel which would do justice, and once which would breathe life into, that most memorable era of our history.

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