A forgotten page of history: Mother still remembered, son forgottenAlmost everybody in our country remembers Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi. Everyone knows her heroic struggle to retain the kingdom of Jhansi in favour of her foster-son Damodar Rao. Her gallantry in 1857 has become folklore in Jhansi and adjacent areas. She fought against the infamous 'Doctrine of Lapse' propounded by Lord Dalhousie. She died fighting the British.
But what about her foster-son, Damodar Rao? What happened to him after the gallant queen's death? Almost nobody knows. During his later part of life, he wrote an incomplete memoir. From the memoir we come to know that he was born on 15th November, 1849. When he was only three years old, he was adopted by Maharaja Gangadhar Rao. But very soon Maharaja left for heavenly abode. Rani Lakshmibai fought against the British and was martyred in 1857. At that time Damodar was only 8 years old. After the battle, only sixty of the Rani's soldiers survived. They fled Jhansi with young Damodar. They suffered unspeakable pain and misery to protect the young child. After fleeing from one place to another, ultimately they were forced to surrender before the British administration at Indore in 1860.
Damodar Rao, the foster-son of Rani Lakshmibai, had to literally beg before the British. After many petitions, a measly annual amount of Rs. 10,000/- was sanctioned to him. Needless to say, the British impounded all money, gold and jewels of Damodar Rao. He was allowed to keep only eight of his followers.
Damodar Rao ultimately settled at Indore. He married a local girl and fathered a son, Lakshman Rao in 1904. Damodar Rao died in abject penury on 28th May, 1906. His descendants are still at Indore and use the title 'Jhansiwale'.
This was the fate of Damodar Rao, the last king of Jhansi. History has remembered his gallant foster-mother, but forgotten him.