We know about Gandhi, Nehru, Bhagat Singh in our study of the Indian Freedom struggle movement.
When it comes to women, we only speak about Rani Laxmibai’s contribution to the revolution of 1857. However, other women freedom fighters contributed heavily to the Indian Independence Movement.
Amongst the women who contributed to the independence of India, Sarojini Naidu is an underrated name.
Sarojini Naidu was not only a freedom fighter but also one of the eminent women poets of India.
She is also given the title of ‘Nightingale of India’.
Early Life and Education
Naidu was born in Hyderabad on the 13th of February 1879 to eminent linguist Aghornath Chattopadhyay and his wife Barada Sundari Devi, a Bengali poetess. Her father was also one of the first members of the Indian National Congress in Hyderabad.
Sarojini Naidu was an intelligent student who showed fluency in Urdu, Telugu, English, Bengali, and Persian.
At the age of 12, she received fame by topping the matriculation exams of Madras University. This leads her to receive a scholarship from the Nizam of Hyderabad to study abroad.
Naidu was interested in writing poetry, while her father wanted her to be a mathematician.
Sarojini went to study in England where she met famous literary laureates such as Edmond Goose and Arthur Symons. Goose suggested that Naidu should use Indian themes in her poetry work.
Naidu expressed the life and events of modern India through her poetry. Her works- 'The Golden Threshold’ (1905), ‘The Bird of Time’ (1912), and ‘The Broken Wing’ (1917) found readership in both India and England.
Sarojini Naidu had an intercaste marriage with Dr. Muthyala Govindarajulu Naidu, a South Indian doctor under the Brahmo Marriage Act (1872)
Contribution in the Indian Independence Struggle
Naidu became part of the independence movement by showcasing her oratory skills. She advocated for women’s rights and their empowerment.
As the partition of Bengal began in 1905, she connected with eminent leaders of the Indian National Congress.
Between 1915-1918, she excelled in delivering her oratory skills about the social welfare of women. She encouraged women to step out of their homes and fight for the independence of the country.
In 1917, Naidu accompanied Annie Beasant, the president of the Home Rule to advocate for women’s suffrage in front of the Joint Select Committee in London. She also showed support for the Lucknow Pact, a joint Hindu-Muslim demand for British better political reform.
The same year, Naidu joined Gandhi’s satyagraha and non-violent movement.
In 1919, Naidu also joined the non-cooperation movement as a part of her advocacy against British rule.
Naidu also became the first Indian female president of the Indian National Congress in 1925.
She was also responsible for persuading Gandhi to let women join the Salt March in 1930.
In 1931, Sarojini Naidu joined the Round Table Conference in London under the Gandhi-Irwin Pact. She was, however, jailed in 1932.
For her involvement in the Quit India Movement, Naidu faced imprisonment in 1941.
After India’s independence in 1947, Naidu became the first governor of Uttar Pradesh. She retained office till her death in 1949.
Sarojini Naidu has been memorialized at the University of Hyderabad’s Golden Threshold.
In 1990, the Asteroid 5647 Sarojini Naidu, discovered by Eleanor Helin at Palomar Observatory and was named in her memory.
Sarojini Naidu has been one of the most prominent female literary laureates and freedom fighters who encouraged women to participate in politics in India.
More About Sarojini Naidu
Sarojini Naidu was a child prodigy, freedom fighter, and poet, who is known as the Nightingale of India (Bharatiya Kokila). She was the first Indian woman to become the President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman Governor of Uttar Pradesh, India’s fourth-largest state.
As such, although her name is not as well recognised as that of the female Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, she led the way for women in Indian politics. After the arrests of Gandhi, Abbas Tyabji, and Kasturba Gandhi, she was instrumental in the Indian Independence Movement, joining Mahatma Gandhi in the Salt March to Dandi and then leading the Dharasana Satyagraha. She was a wife and a mother as well. In India, Women's Day is celebrated on her birthday.
Sarojini Naidu Information
Sarojini Naidu Birthday - February 13th, 1879
Sarojini Naidu Birthplace - Hyderabad, India
Sarojini Naidu Husband Name - Govindarajulu Naidu
Sarojini Naidu Death Date - March 2nd, 1949
Sarojini Naidu Death Cause - Cardiac arrest
The Early Life of Sarojini Naidu
Sarojini Naidu’s birthplace was Hyderabad, India. She was the eldest daughter of Aghornath Chattopadhyaya, a scientist, philosopher, and educator, and Varada Sundari Devi, a Bengali poet. Her father was the founder of Nizam College, Hyderabad and, with his friend Mulla Abdul Qayyum, was also the first member of the Indian National Congress in Hyderabad.
The family heritage of Chattopadhyaya was that of the Brahman class, originally from Bengal. In retribution for his political actions, he was later removed from his position as principal and even exiled. Urdu, Telugu, English, Persian, and Bengali were studied by Sarojini Naidu. P.B. Shelley was her favourite author.
At the age of twelve, she gained national renown for joining Madras University. She moved to England at sixteen, first to study at King's College London and then at Girton College, Cambridge. She was associated with the Suffragette movement while in England. In England, too, the poets Arthur Simon and Edmond Gausse urged her to explore Indian themes in her prose, such as the landscape of India, her temples, and her people. In 1905, her first poetry book, The Golden Threshold, appeared.
Her poems featured daily scenes of Indian life, often taken from the streets and markets, so her poetry was inhabited by snake charmers and beggars and bangle sellers. It was in 1905, in protest over the partition of Bengal, that she joined the Indian National Congress. She was a strong advocate of the rights of women, a proponent of education for all, and of the unity of Hindu-Muslims.
About Sarojini Naidu Family
She met Dr. Muthyala Govindarajulu Naidu at the age of 17, while still in England, and fell in love with him. He belonged to Andhra Pradesh. A very happy one was her marriage. They were married in 1898 in Madras. Jayasurya, Padmaja, Randheer, and Leelamani had four children. Even though Govindarajulu was a non-Brahman, the marriage was blessed by her kin (rare at this time).
A noted Indian activist, Virendranath Chattopadhyaya, was Naidu's brother. Virendranath was instrumental in forming the Berlin Committee during World War I and was one of the leading figures of the Hindu German Scheme, a conspiracy to spur an anti-British, pro-German rebellion in India. He later became committed to Communism, moving to Soviet Russia where, on Joseph Stalin's orders in 1937, he is believed to have been executed. Harindranath, another brother, was an actor.
Sarojini Naidu Freedom Fighter
In the aftermath of the 1905 partition of Bengal, she joined the Indian independence movement. Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Rabindranath Tagore, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Annie Besant, C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, Mohandas Gandhi, and Jawaharlal Nehru were in touch with Sarojini between 1903-17. She lectured on youth welfare, labour dignity, women's emancipation, and nationalism in India from 1915 to 1918.
To advocate for the female franchise, she helped create the Women's Indian Association (WIA) (1917). On December 15, that year, she led a women's delegation to meet with the British Secretary of State for India, who was visiting India, asking for women's rights and a vote. Women were waking up to their civic obligations, the delegation told the Minister.
At the special session of the Indian National Congress that met in Bombay in August 1918, she spoke about women's rights. She accompanied Annie Besant, President of the WIA, in May 1918 to present the case for the women's vote to the Joint Select Committee in London debating Indian constitutional reforms, where they told the MPs that "powerful, unified and ready to change society" were Indian women.
After meeting Jawaharlal Nehru in 1916, she took up the cause of the Chappel Head Indigo workers as well. The British government passed the Rowlatt Act in March 1919, in which the possession of seditious papers was considered illegal. To protest, Mohandas Gandhi initiated the Non-Cooperation Movement and Naidu was the first to join the movement the government was trying to suppress.
In July 1919, Naidu became the ambassador of the Home Rule League to England, where the Government of India Act (1919) was passed, which constituted a legislative assembly, but with a limited number of 93 elected delegates (with 42 appointed and an upper house of 34 elected and 26 appointed members). It did not give a vote to women. She returned to India in July 1920, and Mahatma Gandhi announced the Non-Cooperation Movement on August 1. In January 1924, at the East African Indian Congress, she was one of the two delegates to the Indian National Congress. As a supporter of the needs of the dispersed Indian populations, she travelled across East and South Africa.
Sarojini Naidu as President of Congress
In 1925, eight years after Anie Bessant was elected, Sarojini Naidu was elected as the first Indian woman to serve as the President of the Indian National Congress. This place was a strong one. It is unlikely that at this point, apart from Regnant Queens, any other woman has achieved such a significant political role.
To support the cause of India's independence, Naidu visited New York in October 1928. She also shared concerns about the unequal treatment of African-Americans and Amerindians while there. She became a member of the Congress Working Committee upon her return to India. The National Congress declared its independence from the British Empire on January 26, 1930.
Mohandas Gandhi was apprehended on May 5. Shortly thereafter, Naidu was arrested and was in custody for several months. She was released on January 31, 1931, along with Gandhi. They were arrested again later that year. Owing to her ill health, Naidu was finally released and Gandhi was released in 1933. In 1931, along with Gandhi and Pandit Malaviyaji, she participated in the Round Table Summit in London. In 1942, she was arrested and remained with Gandhiji in jail for 21 months during the "Quit India'' movement.
Sarojini Naidu Works
In 1905, The Golden Threshold was published as the first volume of her book of poems. There were two additional volumes published: The Bird of Time (1912) and The Broken Wing (1917), which also included ‘The Gift of India’.
In 1919, she published the autobiography of Muhammad Jinnah, and in 1943, The Sceptred Flute: Songs of India along with Allahabad: Kitabistan was posthumously published.
In 1961, she published ‘The Feather of the Dawn’ which was edited by her daughter Padmaja Naidu. ‘The Indian Weavers’ was published in 1971. Her poetry had beautiful words which could be sung as well which led to her being called the nightingale of India.
Sarojini Naidu Awards and Honors
The British government awarded Naidu the Kaisar-i-Hind Medal for her work during the plague epidemic in India, which she later returned to protest over the massacre of Jallianwala Bagh in April 1919.
The Birthday of Naidu, i.e. 13 February, is celebrated as Women's Day to remember the strong voices of women in the history of India.
Directed by Bhagwan Das Garga and produced by the Films Division of the Government of India, Sarojini Naidu (1960) is a documentary film about her life.
Sarojini Naidu was granted the title of "Nightingale of India" for her work in the field of poetry writing.
With a Google Doodle, Google India commemorated Naidu's 135th birth anniversary in 2014. Sarojini Naidu was among the "150 Leading Figures".
This is all about the biography of Sarojini Naidu, the nightingale of India. Her spectacular life and courage make her the role model of Indian women. We study her contributions to India’s struggle for independence and worship her as one of the founders of the true India.