ICPR: Stories of Illumined Seers, Poets and Heroes 20 July 2004 - Part 2: Joan of Arc and Rani Laxmibai

We know how much research has gone into it to bring these pictures, and particularly, I would like to underline the comparison that is made between Joan of Arc and Rani Laxmibai. I think this comparison is well deserved. In both the cases the heroines die very young. Their main work is done only during the last two years of their life, in both cases. In the case of Joan of Arc, one of the most surprising things was that she was an ordinary peasant, having no background of army life, of war, sword fighting, horse riding, a mere peasant girl, but capable of receiving the voice of God, which Is a remarkable gift. In fact, Joan of Arc is one living example, which proves the existence of God. If, in one life, a woman can be inspired and something that is impossible is made possible and realised, you must have seen Mark Twain saying that whatever she predicted happened, that she rose from a peasant girl to be a chief of an army and rode on the horseback wielding the sword, a conqueror and fearless without parallel, such a great bravery that she manifested is absolutely marvellous and miraculous.

Now see in the case of Rani Laxmibai, a woman daunted by the British rulers, you might say one alone in the midst of all the enemies around, including some of the soldiers in her own army and in that condition she rises up and she asserts her right to her own kingdom and she is required to fight and as Saritaji pointed out, the general of the British army rose and he makes a proclamation, she was the only person on the site of the mutiny, so you can see what a tremendous impression must have made upon the British army so as to receive this kind of tribute from her enemy.

We may not measure a personality by the consequences of their actions as Saritaji pointed out, Joan of Arc did not live long to see the ultimate consequence when France really became liberated, even the king, whom she helped betrayed her. She was allowed to be taken by the Britishers where she was persecuted, put on stake and burnt. In a certain sense, you might say she failed, but she won in the true analysis of the events of the world. Lakshibai also, ultimately Jhansi was overruled by the British, captured by the British, and you might say she was defeated, but it is her inspiration that went into the sinews of freedom struggle of India, to how many heroic souls she was the force of inspiration and if ultimately, India became free if you analyse properly, you’ll find tremendous force of inspiration that was injected into the Indian nationalism, same thing about Rana Pratap. In fact, Rana Pratap is known fully by my friend Dr. Vyas, because he comes from the same place from where Rana Pratap ruled his small kingdom, and he will tell you some stories about later on.

But in his case also one can say he failed ultimately, but so what? Nationalism that he wanted, if today, we are free how much of it is due to Rana Pratap, it is that what you're seeing and examining. One may be one solitary voice at a given time. If that voice is allowed to be spoken, even in wilderness, in fact, that is all that karma yoga is about. You do your action, irrespective of whether you succeed or not; you do an action, because it is an action to be done, kartavyam karma. It is this lesson that you have to learn from all the three characters that you have seen just now—Rani Laxmibai, Joan of Arc, Rana Pratap.