Lakshmibai or Manikarnika (Manu Bai) was born in 1828 in the holy town of Varanasi. She was named Manikarnika and was nicknamed Manu. Her parents came from Maharashtra. Her mother died when she was of four years. Her father worked for a court Peshwa who brought up Manikarnika like his own daughter. The Peshwa called her “Chhabili”, which means “playful”.