Everyone knows about the famous bravery of the warrior Queen-Rani Lakshmi Bai, of Jhansi. Many pictures of her show as fighting with sword in both hands while her son Damodar Rao is tied up on her back. While everyone remembers Rani Lakshmi Bai, no one knows what happened to her She loved so dearly and fought the battle against British oppression. Damodar Rao of Jhansi was not merely a character of story. He was the part of famous revolt of 1857. He lived his life in enslaved India where people took the oath in his Mother’s name while forgetting him.
Heart wrenching Struggle of Rani Lakshmi Bai’s Son
Damodar Rao was the adopted son of Rani Lakshmibai and her Late Husband Maharaj Gangadhar Rao. He was supposed to ascend the throne of Jhansi but the greed of Britishers not only took his kingdom but also duped him of his ancestral wealth at the very young age when he could barely understand their politics and cunningness. Damodar Rao ultimately had to leave Jhansi and his descendants had to settle down in Indore. But he is still known as Damodar Rao of Jhansi.
Damodar Rao’s Real name and Mentions in History
The real name of Damodar Rao was ‘Anand Rao Nevalkar’. The British did not consider Damodar Rao as the legitimate heir of Jhansi, so they did not get any place in government documents. Most of the Indians have just accepted a few half-described details of Subhadra Kumari Chauhan as history. The Only complete description of Damodar Rao is found in the Marathi book ‘Itihasyachi Sahali’ (Walk with History) written by Y.N. Kelkar, published in 1959.
After the death of the Queen Rani Lakshmi Bai, Damodar Rao lived a cursed life. Not only Britishers but the people of India were also equally responsible for his condition.
Maharaja Gangadhar Rao-Husband of Rani Lakshmi Bai
Damodar’s heart wrenching story in in his own words
Damodar Rao has narrated his heart touching story in his own words. Let’s hear directly from him without even changing a single word. We have just added headings just in order to make it easy to understand the whole story better.
Birth and adoption of Damodar Rao by Rani Lakshmi Bai
“I was born on 15 November 1849 in a branch of royal Nevalkar family. Astrologer told that the combination of planets in my horoscope indicate that I would become a King. This happened but in most unfortunate manner in my life. At the age of three, the Maharaj adopted me. But unfortunately, my Dad was no more by the time of formal acceptance of adoption. Maa Saheb (Maha Rani Lakshmi Bai) sent a message to Lord Dalhousie in Calcutta that I should be considered heir. But it didn’t happen.
Annexation Orders of Jhansi by Greedy Dalhousie
Dalhousie ordered that Jhansi will be merged in the British Empire (As per notorious Doctrine of Lapse Policy) and Maa Saheb (Rani Lakshmi Bai) will be given 5,000 annual pension. Alongwith this, all the wealth of Maharaj will also be with Maa Saheb only. After the Maa Saheb, my whole right will be on her treasures, but I will not get the throne of Jhansi. Apart from this, seven lakh rupees were saved in the treasure of the British by my father. The Britishers said that the money will be given to me when I attain adulthood age.
Rani Lakshmi Bai’s Martyrdom Left Damodar with only a Few Soldiers
Maa Saheb (Rani Lakshmi Bai) got martyrdom in the battle of Gwalior. My servants (Ramchandra Rao Deshmukh and Kashi bai) and the rest of the people later told me that the mother kept me on her back in the whole battle. I don’t remember this by myself. After this battle, we were left with only 60 faithful soldiers.
Nanhe Khan Risaledar, Ganpat Rao, Raghunath Singh and Ramchandra Rao Deshmukh took my responsibility. With 22 horses and 60 camels we walked towards the Chanderi of Bundelkhand (Learn about undefeated Bundela warrior Veer Chhatrasal). We had nothing to eat, cook and no place to stay. We did not get shelter in any village. We spent the days under trees under the open sky in the scorching Sun of summer of May-June. Thankfully, the fruits of the jungle, we never had to go hungry.
Young Damodar Rao Had to Face Aftermath of the Battle
The real problem started with the start of rainy season. It became impossible to live in a sharp monsoon in the dense forest. Somehow the head of one village agreed to give us food. On the advice of Raghunath Rao, we started living in group of 10-10 pieces. The Chief has fixed a monthly fee of 500 rupees, 9 horses and 4 camels for providing food and not to report about our whereabouts to British Army for. The place where we lived was near a waterfall and was beautiful.
Two Years Long Refuge in Jungle Took Toll on Damodar’s health
Soon two years passed. We had 60,000 rupees when we left Gwalior, which were now completely finished. My health has become so bad that everyone felt that I will not be able to survive. My people begged the chief to arrange for some physician. I have been treated but we were not allowed to live there without paying further money. My people gave 200 rupees to the head and asked for the animals to be returned back. He gave us just 3 horses back. We were only 24 people together when we left from there.
Little Damodar and His Entourage Were Arrested Finally
In the Shipri village of Gwalior, the villagers recognized us as rebels. They kept us in confinement for three days, then sent us with the soldiers to the political agent of Jhalrapatan. My people didn’t let me walk. They kept on carrying me on their back. Most of our people were put into mental hospital. Mother Saheb’s (Rani Lakshmi Bai’) Risaledar Nanhe Khan spoke to political agent.
He said to Mr. Flink that Damodar Rao is just a 9-10 year old child now. After Rani Sahiba he is living a life like animal in the woods. There is no danger to the government from the child. If you free him whole country will give you blessings.
Last Belonging of Rani Lakshmi Bai was Sold as No Money was Left
Flink was a kind man, he followed up with the government for us. From there we went to meet the Colonel Sir Richard Shakespeare of Indore with our trusted people. We didn’t have any money left by then. We have to sell two ‘Todes’ of Maa Saheb to provide for the expenses of travel and food. That was the last thing related to Maa Saheb (Rani Lakshmi Bai) with us.
Britishers Duped Damodar of His Father’s Savings and Fixed Pension
Then on 5th May 1860, Damodar Rao was fixed an annual pension of Rs. 10,000 Rs in Indore by the British. They gave us permission to keep only seven people with us. The British government refused to return my father saving of Seven Lakh Rupees.”
Confined in Indore, Raised by Stepmother Damodar Grew up
The second wife of Damodar Rao’s biological Father raised him up. Damodar Rao was blessed with a son in 1879. He was named Laxman Rao. Damodar Rao spent his days in poverty and away from public life. Even after the English used to take keep strong surveillance on them. Damodar Rao and his son Lakshman Rao were not allowed to go out of Indore.
Descendants of Damodar Rao of Jhansi still live in Indore-Jhansiwale
His family members still live with the ‘Jhansiwale’ surname in Indore (Learn about Patal Vijay Hanuman Temple of Indore). The Queen Laxmibai had a half-brother Chintaman Rao Tambe too. The Tambe family lives in Pune as of now.
The descendants of Jhansi’s Rani Lakshmi Bai now live in some other parts of the country too apart from Indore. They write ‘Jhansiwale’ with their names. When Damodar Rao Nevalkar reached Indore on 5th May 1860, then his biological mother took over his caretaking. She got Damodar Rao married when he grew up. However, after some time, Damodar Rao’s first wife died. Laxman Rao was born from the second marriage of Damodar Rao.
Death of Damodar Rao and His Legacy
The lackluster and difficult life of Damodar Rao ended in Indore on 28th May 1906. In the next generation, Laxman Rao (1904–1959) had two sons Krishna Rao and Chandrakant Rao. Krishna Rao’s had two sons Manohar Rao, Arun Rao and Chandrakant had three sons Akshay Chandrakant Rao, Atul Chandrakant Rao and Shanti Pramod Chandrakant Rao.
Damodar Rao was a painter. He has made many pictures in the memory of his mother Rani Lakshmi Bai, which is the priceless heritage of the Jhansi family.
His descendant Shri Laxman Rao and Krishna Rao used to work in the Indore court. Arun Rao is retired from Madhya Pradesh Electricity Division as Junior Engineer in 2002. His Son Yogesh Rao is a software engineer. Among his great-grandsons, Arun Rao Jhansiwala, his wife Vaishali, son Yogesh and daughter-in-law Preeti’s live in Dhanwantarinagar areas of Indore, like other middle-class citizens of India.
Note: This Post has been published in Hindi on FB page of Expose Intellectual Terrorism. Please visit.
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