Happy birthday – Rani of Jhansi and Indira Priyadarshini

What amazing coincidences are coming to the fore … Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel’s birthday is the day Indira Gandhi died. Acharya Kripalani and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad share birthdays and today happens to be two other similar women celebrating their birthdays !!

Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi has been an idol for me ever since I read about her in the history classes at school. The story of how her horse jumped over a huge wall to take her to safety, the picture of Rani Jhansi tying her son to herself and fighting…. Is bound to lift your spirits and is an evergreen example of what a woman can do who doesn’t accept any limits. I love this poem about Rani Jhansi by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan – especially the lines “khoob ladi mardani, wah toh Jhansi wali Rani thi”. Read the entire poem at this link khoob ladi mardani wah toh Jhansi wali Rani thi. The last three paragraphs are copied here and it’s impossible not to have tears in your eyes as you read them.

तो भी रानी मार काट कर चलती बनी सैन्य के पार,
किन्तु सामने नाला आया, था वह संकट विषम अपार,
घोड़ा अड़ा, नया घोड़ा था, इतने में आ गये अवार,
रानी एक, शत्रु बहुतेरे, होने लगे वार-पर-वार।
घायल होकर गिरी सिंहनी उसे वीर गति पानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

रानी गई सिधार चिता अब उसकी दिव्य सवारी थी,
मिला तेज से तेज, तेज की वह सच्ची अधिकारी थी,
अभी उम्र कुल तेइस की थी, मनुज नहीं अवतारी थी,
हमको जीवित करने आयी बन स्वतंत्रता-नारी थी,
दिखा गई पथ, सिखा गई हमको जो सीख सिखानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

जाओ रानी याद रखेंगे ये कृतज्ञ भारतवासी,
यह तेरा बलिदान जगावेगा स्वतंत्रता अविनासी,
होवे चुप इतिहास, लगे सच्चाई को चाहे फाँसी,
हो मदमाती विजय, मिटा दे गोलों से चाहे झाँसी।
तेरा स्मारक तू ही होगी, तू खुद अमिट निशानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

By: सुभद्रा कुमारी चौहान

If women need an idol it’s Rani Laxmibai, who broke all limits and lived an incandescent short life … Either 23 years or at best 30 years depending on which historical account you refer to.

The other lady is no less, Indira Priyadarshini our late Prime Minister, daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru. She had amazing grace, some strange reserve of strength to face every adversity and oodles of charm. I don’t like the fact that she perpetuated a dynasty in a democracy and I can never forget the storming of the Golden Temple …. And certainly cannot forget the massacre of Sikhs in the aftermath of her death. In the same breath, we also need to remember her decisiveness when liberating Bangladesh and letting the inimitable Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw to lead that operation without interference … And yes his “sweetie” remark :):). She was born in the year of the Russian revolution and her life had its share of strife and many highs too. She atleast made it possible for women to dream of entering any field of their choice and do so while having children, and being in the public glare.

Interesting coincidences … And one lesson to all us women – set no limits !!

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