Sarojini Naidu (13 February 1879 – 2 March 1949)
Saroji Naidu also known by the sobriquet The Nightingale of India, was a child prodigy, Indian independence activist and poet. Naidu was the first Indian woman to become the President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to become the Governor of Uttar Pradesh state. was a great patriot, politician, orator and administrator. of all the famous women of India, Mrs. Sarojinidevi Naidu’s name is at the top. Not only that, but she was truly one of the jewels of the world. Being one of the most famous heroines of the 20th century, her birthday is celebrated as “Women’s Day”
She was born in Hyderabad. Sarojini Chattopadhyay, later Naidu belonged to a Bengali family of Kulin Brahmins. But her father, Agorenath
Chattopadhyay, after receiving a doctor of science degree from Edinburgh University, settled in Hyderabad State, where he founded and administered the Hyderabad College, which later became the Nizam’s College in Hyderabad. Sarojini Naidu’s mother Barada Sundari Devi was a poetess baji and used to write poetry in Bengali. Sarojini Naidu was the eldest among the eight siblings. One of her brothers Birendranath was a revolutionary and her other brother Harindranath was a poet, dramatist, and actor.
Sarojini Naidu was a brilliant student. She was proficient in Urdu, Telugu, English, Bengali, and Persian. At the age of twelve, Sarojini Naidu attained national fame when she topped the matriculation examination at Madras University. Her father wanted her to become a mathematician or scientist but Sarojini Naidu was interested in poetry. Once she was working on an algebra problem, and when she couldn’t find the solution she decided to take a break, and in the same book she wrote her first inspired poetry. She got so enthused by this that she wrote “The Lady of the Lake”, a poem 1300 lines long. When her father saw that she was more interested in poetry than mathematics or science, he decided to encourage her. With her father’s support, she wrote the play “Maher Muneer” in the Persian language. Dr. Chattopadhyaya distributed some copies among his friends and sent one copy to the Nawab of Hyderabad. Reading a beautiful play written by a young girl, the Nizam was very impressed. The college gave her a scholarship to study abroad. At the age of 16 she got admitted to King’s
College of England.
At the age of 16, she traveled to England to study first at King’s College London and later at Girton College, Cambridge. There she met famous laureates of her time such as Arthur Symons and Edmond Gosse. It was Gosse who convinced Sarojini to stick to Indian themes-India’s great mountains, rivers, temples, social milieu, to express her poetry. She depicted contemporary Indian life and events. Her collections “The golden threshold (1905)”, “The bird of time (1912)”, and “The broken wing (1912)” attracted
huge Indian and English readership.
Love and Marry
During her stay in England, Sarojini met Dr. Govindarajulu Naidu, a non-Brahmin and a doctor by profession, and fell in love with him. After finishing her studies at the age of 19, she got married to him during the time when inter-caste marriages were not allowed. Her father was a progressive thinking person, and he did not care what others said. Her marriage was a very happy one.
Her major contribution was also in the field of poetry. Her poetry had beautiful words that could also be sung. Soon she got recognition as the “Bul Bule Hind” when her collection of poems was published in 1905 under the title Golden Threshold. After that, she published two other collections of poems–The Bird of Time and The Broken Wings. In 1918, Feast of Youth was published. Later, The Magic Tree, The Wizard Mask and A Treasury of Poems were published. Mahashree Arvind, Rabindranath Tagore and Jawaharlal Nehru were among the thousands of admirers of her work. Her poems had English words, but an Indian soul.
One day she met Shree Gopal Krishna Gokhale. He said to her to use her poetry and her beautiful words to rejuvenate the spirit of Independence in the hearts of villagers. He asked her to use her talent to free Mother India.
Then in 1916, she met Mahatma Gandhi, and she totally directed her energy to the fight for freedom. She would roam around the country like a general of the army and pour enthusiasm among the hearts of Indians. The independence of India became the heart and soul of her work.
She was responsible for awakening the women of India. She brought them out of the kitchen. She traveled from state to state, city after city and asked for the rights of the women. She re-established self-esteem within the women of India.
In 1925, she chaired the summit of Congress in Kanpur. In 1928, she came to the USA with the message of the non-violence movement from Gandhiji.
When in 1930, Gandhiji was arrested for a protest, she took the helms of his movement. In 1931, she participated in the Round Table Summit, along with Gandhiji and Pundit Malaviyaji. In 1942, she was arrested during the “Quit India” protest and stayed in jail for 21 months with Gandhiji.
After independence she became the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. She was the first woman governor in India.
The Golden Threshold, published in the United Kingdom,1905
The Bird of Time: Songs of Life, Death & the Spring, published in London, 1912
The Broken Wing: Songs of Love, Death and the Spring, including “The Gift of India” (first read in public in 1915), 1917
Muhammad Jinnah: An Ambassador of Unity, 1916
The Sceptred Flute: Songs of India, Allahabad: Kitabistan, posthumously published, 1943
The Feather of the Dawn, posthumously published, edited by her daughter, Padmaja Naidu, 1961