|Rani Tapaswini,niece of Rani Jhansi Bai. /www.hindujagruti.org|
Rani Tapaswini (Sunanda), Rani Laxmibai’s niece and the daughter of Sardar Narayanra was a pious woman with a spiritualistic bend of mind, Widowed in her childhood she had spent her time in prayer and reading books on spiritual aspects of life. She neither found happiness nor peace of mind in materialistic life, Her favorite deity is Goddess Chandi. Her sterling qualities were fine temperament, guts and tolerance and no doubt, she earned the love and affection of the people. She never liked the British who were synonymous with brutality, dishonesty and diabolism. Coming from a Royal family, it was quite obvious, she underwent training in fields related to the administration of a kingdom. She learned the intricacy of warfare, horse-riding, besides management, etc. This training in complicated aspect of running the administration of a big state stood her in good stead when she took up the reigns of her father's kingdom upon his demise. Safeguarding the kingdom and its people is the foremost priority so, she had her father’s fort repaired to withstand raids and siege. She selected able-bodied people and trained them as soldiers for the upkeep of the kingdom.
The East India Company's quest for seizing more lands in the subcontinent continued unabated, resulting in Rani Tapaswini's imprisonment without any inquiry. However, on second thoughts, the British felt that being spiritualistic and non-materialistic in nature, she would not pose any threats to their expansionism. As a result of this she was released from prison. Once released from the confinement she moved over to Naimisharanya and had begun to focus on worshiping Goddess Chandi. The British categorically assumed that Rani Tapaswini's renunciation to a sort of ascetic life was undertaken with certain religious fervor. Her intense prayer and commitments to spiritual life made her more popular than ever before and lots of people made a beeline to her Ashram to seek Rani Tapaswini’s guidance. Her guidance and preaching were of great help to the people who came her and naturally, this led them to call her ‘Mata (mother) Tapaswini’.
At Rani Tapaswini’s Ashram in Naimisharanya visited countless devotees and Indian soldiers who told her about their mental agony and pain on account of poor treatment by the English company officials who openly practiced racial discrimination, besides squandering our natural resources. The more stories about Britisher's atrocities she heard from the devotees, the more Rani Tapaswini became angry. Insults and insinuation people suffered on their own land by the foreigners changed her mental make-up and attitude and she felt compelled to do something about it. Through her fiery speeches and preaching she induced patriotism in countless devotees and soldiers from British regime to protest against them. Since the beginning of 1857 the atrocities of EIC officials, in particular, military reached the level of intolerance natives working for the company were in rage. At this juncture, the saints and fakirs understood the predicament of these people and sympathized with them. In order to enhance their patriotic zeal and understand the value of Freedom, they whipped up the sentiments by emotionally appealing to them. They brought to light the following points: 01. The British look down upon you as inferior creatures, 02. They insult and intimidate you based on your race and skin color, 03. Since their arrival in India, they have looted our resources, taken away our lands and reduced our economy to shambles. 04. You are paid less salary than your counter parts; as for soldiers, the less said, the better and 05. Now, they want us to get converted to Christianity. So fight against this injustice and misrule. ....... You soldiers from many regiments must unit and revolt against the British to save our motherland. Rani Tapaswini voiced her concern and asked the people to free India from the oppressive British regime.
Unfortunately, after a long battle, the revolt was put down by the British with latest firearms and man power. Having understood the futility of revolting against the mighty British with civilians and soldiers, Rani Tapaswini followed a naval method of directly approaching the Maharajahs and rulers who had close contact with the British for their survival and to run their kingdom without any trouble and at the same time not losing all the trappings that would go with their covetous post. Rani Tapaswini made sincere efforts to change the attitude of the rulers who were selfish. She along with Nanasaheb personally visited the king of Nepal, Jungbahadur, ruler of Darbhanga and others and told them about the importance of getting freedom from the British and the people's aversion to living in the kingdom with a powerless king.
While in Kolkata, Tapaswini was in touch with such stalwart as Lokmanya Tilaka accompanied by Khadilkar, the subeditor of ‘Kesari’ with whom she secretly started a weapons factory in Nepal, using tiles making unit as a front. Illegally arms were imported from Nepal to be supplied among the revolutionaries and freedom fighters. This clandestine arms and ammunition operation did not last for along time as a traitor blew the whistle on him and the man behind the operation Khadilkar escaped to Maharashtra and was at large. The ageing Rani realized that there are countless people who do not want India freed from the British and she was grief-stricken. She protested against the partition of Bengal on the basis of religion. It was initiated by Lord Curzon on grounds of administrative efficiency.
S.D. Zambare, Mahan Bhartiya Krantikarak (Great India Freedom Fighters), 1st part 1770 to 1990 (Maharashtra Rajya Sahitya Ani Sanskruti Mandal, Mumbai) (Daily Sanatan Prabhat, New Moon day, Kaliyug Year 5112 (11.07.2010)