Equestrian statue of Jhalkaribai in Gwalior
November 22, 1830|
Bhojla Village, near Jhansi
|Movement||Indian Rebellion of 1857|
Jhalkaribai (November 22, 1830 – 1858) (Hindi: झलकारीबाई [dʒʱəlkaːriːˈbaːi]) was an Indian woman soldier who played an important role in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 during the battle of Jhansi. She was a soldier in the women's army of Queen Laxmibai of Jhansi. Born into a poor Koli/Kori family, she started her career as an ordinary soldier in Laxmibai's female army, but rose to a position of advising the queen and participating in vital decisions. During the rebellion, at the height of the battle of fort of Jhansi, she disguised herself as the queen and fought on the front to let the queen escape safely out of the fort.
The legend of Jhalkaribai remains in the popular memory of Bundelkhand over centuries. Her life and especially the incident of her fighting with the East India Company army on the front in disguise, continues to be sung in various Bundeli folklores. Her bravery along with her identity as a Dalit has helped to create a sense of pride and cultural unity in Dalits in North India. She was afterwards hanged to death by the British.
Recently the name of Jhalkaribai, along with others, has played a crucial role in the political landscape of North India, especially of Uttar Pradesh. Taking advantage of her popular image, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the leading Dalit-based party in India, projected Jhalkaribai as one of the symbols of Dalit pride and honour. Efforts were taken in research and find facts about her life and propagating them to the masses. Emphasis was given to portraying her as a historical heroine of the bahujans (i.e. masses).
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Jhalkaribai was a daughter of a Koli/Kori farmer, Sadoba Singh, and his wife Jamuna Devi. She was born on November 22, 1830 in Bhojla village near Jhansi. After the death of her mother when she was very young, her father raised her like a boy. She was trained in horse-riding and using weapons. Consistent with the social conditions of those days, she could not have a formal education, but soon became well-trained as a warrior. She gained notoriety in her region when she killed a leopard in the forest with a stick she used to herd cattle.
Jhalkaribai bore an uncanny resemblance to Rani (queen) Laxmibai. She married an artilleryman, Puran Singh, from the artillery unit of Rani Laxmibai. Jhalkaribai was introduced to the queen by Puran Singh. She joined women's army, headed by Rani Laxmibai. After joining the army, she gained further expertise in all aspects of warfare.
During the Rebellion of 1857, General Hugh Rose besieged Jhansi with a large army on 23 March 1858 The queen valiantly faced the army with 4000 of her troops locked in her fort. It was fight with guns which went on from 23 March to 4 April for 10 days which is tribute to planning and valour of Rani and her men no where the war was fought with such intensity, she was waiting relief from peshwa's army camping at Kalpi but it was not to be because Tatya Tope came and went defeated at hands of Rose meanwhile one Dulha ju a muskateer and incharge of Orcha Gate made Pact with English and surrendered his gate and opened doors of Jhansi for English Army. The English Army rushed through and amidst this mayhem Rani on advice of her Courtier escaped through Bhanderi Gate with heavy fighting and casualties which is tribute to her soldiers Rani herself was fighting sword in her hand and Damodar on her Back. Here as a subplot Jhalkari Bai chivalrous deed appeared She was in Unab Gate with her husband Puran, On hearing escape oF Rani she thought on a plan to Confuse Gen Rose . Jhalkaribai set out for General Rose's camp in disguise as the queen and declared herself to be the queen Laxmibai. This led to a confusion that continued for a day and she was released only after it was revealed that she was not the queen but a common soldier.
The above facts are as per BL Verma who wrote his Novel in 1946 and who talked to grandson of Jhulkari Bai and aslso to Damodar Rao adopted son of Luxmi Bai . Verma born in 1890 was grand son of a courtier of Rani and used to live in Jhansi as an advocate . His novel is not Novel but well researched history giving all names who contributed significantly on side of RANI. Jhulkari is only one of them and he should be believed .As per him she was released by General Rose and thereafter lived until 1890.
Very few references are found about Jhalkaribai in the contemporary records. The diary of General Hugh Rose, who was the general of the company army, and commissioner's gazetteer has no mention of Jhalkaribai. However, Vishnubhat Godse, a contemporary Marathi traveller who travelled in North India during the rebellion and was the court priest of Jhansi during this period mentioned her in his travelogue, though he mentioned her as a maid.
One could find no references of Jhalkaribai or her bravery in early historiography. In pre-independence India, British historiographers like Kaye and Malleson or Thompson and Garratt made no mention of Jhalkaribai. Even the Indian authors ignored her feat. Savarkar neglected her in his The Indian War of Independence and Nehru did not mention her in his Discovery of India. Majumdar, Raychaudhuri, and Datta did not specify the deed of Jhalkaribai though they noted that the queen Laxmibai escaped out of the Jhansi fort on the night of April 4, 1858 and left for Kalpi as Sir Hugh Rose "stormed" in Jhansi on April 3.
The name of Jhalkaribai appeared in the printed history after the Independence of India in 1947. First reference of her story in this period is found in a novel Jhansi ki Rani written in 1951 by B.L. Varma, who created a subplot in his novel about Jhalkaribai for which he interviewed Jhalkaribai's grandson. He addressed Jhalkaribai as Korin and an ordinary soldier in Laxmibai's army. Another novel where we can find mention of Jhalkaribai was written in the same year by Ram Chandra Heran in his Bundeli novel Maati. Heran depicted her as "chivalrous and a valiant martyr". The first biography of Jhalkaribai was written in 1964 by Bhawani Shankar Visharad, a Dalit intellectual, with the help of Varma's novel and his research from the oral narratives of the lower caste people living in the vicinity of Jhansi.
As a result of Bahujan Samaj Party's policy of social mobilization, several booklets, dramas, and songs have been composed by Dalit activists, politicians, and writers narrating the story of Jhalkaribai. Efforts have been made to rewrite the history and place Jhalkaribai at an equal footing of Laxmibai. Since the 1990s, the story of Jhalkaribai has acquired a political dimension and her image is being reconstructed with the demands of social situation.
The image of Jhalkaribai has risen to a significant place in North India in the recent years. The socio-political importance of the story of Jhalkaribai to create social awareness and a sense of pride in the Dalits has been successfully recognized and used by political parties like Bahujan Samaj Party. The death anniversary of Jhalkaribai is celebrated as Shahid Diwas (Martyr Day) by various Dalit organizations every year.
The story of Jhalkaribai is utilized not only by the Dalits. The movement to create a separate Bundelkhand state has also use the legend of Jhalkaribai to create the Bundeli identity. The Government of India's Post and Telegraph department has also issued a postal stamp depicting Jhalkaribai.
The Archaeological Survey of India is setting up a grand museum at Panch Mahal, a five storey building located inside the Jhansi Fort in remembrance of Jhalkaribai. The ASI, which comes under the Union Culture Ministry, proposes to display sculptures and architectural heritage at the museum to highlight the history, archaeology of the area and life history of Jhalkari Bai and her queen Rani Lakshmibai.
- Sarala 1999, p. 111
- "When Jhalkari Bai fought as Lakshmi Bai". Tribune India. Retrieved March 26, 2010. There are different views about the exact date of death of Jhalkaribai. This article states "Jhalkaribai, it is said, lived till 1890 and became a legend in her time." Though there are others such as "Virangana Jhalkaribai" (in hindi). Retrieved March 26, 2010., which quotes Mr. Nareshchandra Koli stating her date of death as April 4, 1857. Sarala (1999, pp. 113–114) notes that she died in the battle following her disguise incident suggesting the date April 4, 1858. Varma & Sahaya (2001, p. 305) notes that she died as a very old woman without giving any exact date of death.
- Sarala 1999, pp. 112–113
- Varma, B. L. (1951), Jhansi Ki Rani, p. 255, as quoted in Badri Narayan 2006, pp. 119–120
- Badri Narayan (2006, p. 119) mentions "Today, the Koris, like other Dalit castes, use the myth of Jhalkaribai for the glorification of their community. They also celebrate Jhalkaribai Jayanti each year to enhance their self respect and elevate the status of their caste. It is a matter of great pride that she was a Dalit Virangana (brave woman warrior) born in the Kori caste and they highlight this dimension while recounting her brave deeds.
- Sarala 1999, p. 112
- "Commemorative Postage Stamp on Jhalkari Bai – Latest Releases". Retrieved March 9, 2010.
- Badri Narayan 2006, p. 119
- Nehru who himself wrote, "A great deal of false and perverted history has been written about the Revolt and its suppression. What the Indians think about it seldom finds its way to the printed page", failed to mention Jhalkaribai. However, he mentions Laxmibai as "one name stands above the others and is revered still in popular memory, the name of Laxmi Bai." -Nehru 1989, pp. 324–325
- Majumdar, Raychaudhuri & Datta 1990, p. 772
- Badri Narayan 2006, p. 129
- Badri Narayan 2006, p. 125
Dalchand Anuragi Book Bhojala Ki beti in Jhalkari bai's bundeli mahakavya
- Sarala, Srikrishna (1999). Indian revolutionaries: a comprehensive study, 1757–1961 I. Prabhat Prakashan. ISBN 978-81-87100-16-4.
- Badri Narayan (2006). Women heroes and Dalit assertion in north India: culture, identity and politics. SAGE. ISBN 978-0-7619-3537-7.
- Varma, Vrindavanlala; Sahaya, Amita (2001). Lakshmi Bai, the rani of Jhansi. Prabhat Prakashan. ISBN 978-81-87100-54-6.
- Sauquet, Michel (2004). L'idiot du village mondial: Les citoyens de la planète face à l'explosion des outils de communication : subir ou maîtriser (in French). ECLM. ISBN 978-2-84377-094-4.
- Nehru, Jawaharlal (1989). The Discovery of India. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-561322-8.
- Majumdar, RC; Raychaudhuri, HC; Datta, Kalikinkar (1990). An Advanced History of India. MacMillan India Limited. ISBN 0-333-90298-X.
- Thakur, Harinarayan (2009). Dalit Sahitya Ka Samajshastra (in Hindi). Bhartiya Jnanpith. ISBN 978-81-263-1734-9.
- "Bhojla ki beti" Bundeli mahakavya(DALCHAND ANURAGI, Rajendra Nagar, ORAI) (2010)