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Jhansi ki Rani (English translation)

Indian poetess Subhadra Kumari Chauhan (1904-1948) wrote a poem titled Jhansi ki Rani in the Veer Ras style in Hindi.  Here is my English translation of this poem.
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Thrones shook!  Monarchs revolted!  
A new youthfulness emerged from India aged

A heavy price was paid for freedom lost
The foreigners had to leave at any cost

The year was 1857, the enemy the British 
Swords old were sharpened to bring their rule to a finish

The Bundelas and Harbolas told this story of grit
Of how she fought like a man every bit
A woman fearless and defiant was she
This brave warrior
Our Jhansi ki Rani
-
Nana of Kanpur, her brother not by blood
Called her Chabeli, a name that she loved

Her real name though was Lakshmi Bai
The only offspring of her father this child

In her childhood with Nana she studied and played 
Spear, knife, dagger and axe her companions made

Songs of the great Maratha Shivaji, she did sing
His valor and heroism, courage to her did bring

The Bundelas and Harbolas told this story of grit
Of how she fought like a man every bit
A woman fearless and defiant was she
This brave warrior
Our Jhansi ki Rani
-
Lakshmi or was she of goddess Durga incarnate
She was braveness personified, of this her avatar made

The warrior Marathas were amazed at her skill
As warfare and hunting comprised her daily drill

Surrounding armies or capturing forts
Playing war games was what she did most

In her great skill did the Marathas see
Their very own and dear Goddess Bhavani 

The Bundelas and Harbolas told this story of grit
Of how she fought like a man every bit
A woman fearless and defiant was she
This brave warrior
Our Jhansi ki Rani
-
To the gallant king of Jhansi was she betrothed
Queen of Jhansi she became upon marriage it is told

Joy and celebration filled the palace so great
The Bundelas believed she brought them luck, their new fate

Their union was like that of Chitra with Arjun, to this flock
Like Shiva and his beloved Bhavani, tied in holy wedlock 

The Bundelas and Harbolas told this story of grit
Of how she fought like a man every bit
A woman fearless and defiant was she
This brave warrior
Our Jhansi ki Rani
-
The palace with lamps was aglow all the time
Alas! Fate had darkness to spread upon her life

Those hands that wore pretty bangles now bare
Her husband she lost to death and despair

Childless were they, no heir to the throne
Shocked and heartbroken she stood all alone

The Bundelas and Harbolas told this story of grit
Of how she fought like a man every bit
A woman fearless and defiant was she
This brave warrior
Our Jhansi ki Rani
-
The death of the King made Lord Dalhousie's day
The right time indeed to usurp and prey

In haste sent he his soldiers, the British flag to erect
Upon the fort of this now orphaned kingdom once great

Eyes welled with tears the Queen did see
The fate of the kingdom of her dear husband, the king of Jhansi

The Bundelas and Harbolas told this story of grit
Of how she fought like a man every bit
A woman fearless and defiant was she
This brave warrior
Our Jhansi ki Rani
-
In the guise of merchants did they first find respite
Kings and Nawaabs later crushed by Dalhousie's might

The queen turned he into a domestic maid
With their humility and pride
oh! how this ghastly man played

The Bundelas and Harbolas told this story of grit
Of how she fought like a man every bit
A woman fearless and defiant was she
This brave warrior
Our Jhansi ki Rani
-
Delhi, the great Indian capital, was the first to go
Followed by Lucknow, Nagpur, and then Tanjore

Udaipur, Satara, Sindh and Punjab  fell prey
Peshawa was imprisoned in Bithur, they say

Finally, Karnataka and Assam too fell
Bengal and Madras were devoured as well

The Bundelas and Harbolas told this story of grit
Of how she fought like a man every bit
A woman fearless and defiant was she
This brave warrior
Our Jhansi ki Rani
-
The Queen wept, sorrowful and distraught
Her clothes and jewels being sold by the lot

In the bazaars of Calcutta were they displayed
Her pride laid out in the market place

The British, most cruel, advertised her ware
In their newspapers without a care

The ornaments of Nagpur and Lucknow, up for sale
The Naulakha necklace too, what insult and disgrace!

The Bundelas and Harbolas told this story of grit
Of how she fought like a man every bit
A woman fearless and defiant was she
This brave warrior
Our Jhansi ki Rani
-
The common man felt the shame and pain
The royals too, their pride wounded and maimed

The honor of their ancestors had to be restored
Soldiers with Nana Dhundhupanth, marched onward

Chabeli called Nana to Ran-Chandee, to attend
The yagnya of freedom, to awaken and defend

The Bundelas and Harbolas told this story of grit
Of how she fought like a man every bit
A woman fearless and defiant was she
This brave warrior
Our Jhansi ki Rani
-
The torches of freedom were lit at the palaces
Flames of revolt then engulfed the masses

A single spark ignited within each soul
Royals and commoners, each played a role

The revolt began at Jhansi, then spread
To Delhi, Lucknow, Merat and Kanpur, with stead

Patna, Jabalpur and Kolhapur  too joined the force
To bring down the British Raj was their only course

The Bundelas and Harbolas told this story of grit
Of how she fought like a man every bit
A woman fearless and defiant was she
This brave warrior
Our Jhansi ki Rani
-
Many a life was martyred in this revolt
The names of these gallant bravehearts stand out

Nana Dhundhupanth, Thantia, Chatur Azimullah Sarnaam
Ahmed Shah Moulvi and Thakur Kunvar Singh Sainik Anhiraam

These great heroes go down in Indian history
To the British were they mere criminals, the enemy

The Bundelas and Harbolas told this story of grit
Of how she fought like a man every bit
A woman fearless and defiant was she
This brave warrior
Our Jhansi ki Rani
-
In the battlefields of Jhansi like a man among men
Rani Lakshmi Bai stood armored, ready to defend

Marched Lieutenant Walker with soldiers many
Toward Rani and her brave men of Jhansi

Heavenly drums rolled as she drew her sword
Wounded and shocked Walker retreated without a word

The Bundelas and Harbolas told this story of grit
Of how she fought like a man every bit
A woman fearless and defiant was she
This brave warrior
Our Jhansi ki Rani
-
Rode she a hundred miles at full speed
Exhausted and lifeless, fell to the ground, her steed

On the banks of the river Yamuna, she defeated the British once again
The Scindhias, their allies, fled Gwalier in haste

The Bundelas and Harbolas told this story of grit
Of how she fought like a man every bit
A woman fearless and defiant was she
This brave warrior
Our Jhansi ki Rani
-
The British too did not give up the fight
General Smith advanced with more might

The Queen's aides, Kana and Mandra, fiercely fought
They were by her side the battle throughout

Clever Hughrose attacked from the back
The Queen was completely surrounded, alas!

The Bundelas and Harbolas told this story of grit
Of how she fought like a man every bit
A woman fearless and defiant was she
This brave warrior
Our Jhansi ki Rani
-
Wounded and bruised she carried on
Until a wide canal she came upon

The new untrained horse that she rode
Tried to leap across but could not cope

Surrounded by the enemy she faced a noble warrior's end
Outnumbered this lioness fought, to become a legend

The Bundelas and Harbolas told this story of grit
Of how she fought like a man every bit
A woman fearless and defiant was she
This brave warrior
Our Jhansi ki Rani
-
Her body now limp, a mere vehicle for her soul
Transcending into divinity, her true goal

She fought tooth for tooth, was of age twenty three
She was not human,  nay she was truly a deity

She came from above to fight for our freedom
She taught us  well how to defend our kingdom

The Bundelas and Harbolas told this story of grit
Of how she fought like a man every bit
A woman fearless and defiant was she
This brave warrior
Our Jhansi ki Rani
-
Farewell dear Rani, well remembered will you be
As Indians we stand proudly together, yearning to be free

Indebted to you are we, for generations to come
Your sacrifice instilled in us, the true spirit of freedom

History may go silent, of revolts no report
The truth may be stifled, to keep the Raj in control

Jhansi may be razed,  by cannon balls and more
British Lords may usurp again, but we will not ignore

You shall stand as your own memorial, immortal and tall 
A legend indeed, dear Rani,
an inspiration to all

The Bundelas and Harbolas told this story of grit
Of how she fought like a man every bit
A woman fearless and defiant was she
This brave warrior
Our Jhansi ki Rani


-
                  END

Submitted: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Edited: Wednesday, October 10, 2012


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Poet's Notes about The Poem

I translated this fantastic Hindi poem into English as my nine year old could not appreciate the original. I have remained true to the content of the poem and have maintained a rhyme scheme. I wish that all readers share this poem with as many children as possible.

Comments about this poem (The Globe by Manjula Reddy )

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  • Manjula Reddy (10/10/2012 9:06:00 PM)

    The poem is written in rhyming couplets; also called heroic couplet. It has a rhythmic quality to it; almost like the gallop of a horse. Read it aloud to enjoy the poem.

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  • Manjula Reddy (10/10/2012 9:02:00 PM)

    The refrain comes at the end of each incident described. It adds to the heroic nature of the poem and instills a sense of patriotism in the reader. It glorifies and celebrates the bravery of Jhansi Ki Rani. In fact, it remains in the memory of the reader.

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