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Sarojini Naidu Biography

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Sarojini Naidu Biography: Introduction

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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


About Sarojini Naidu

The Early Life of Sarojini Naidu:

Sarojini Naidu 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 concern 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 in (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 the year 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 Honours

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".

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1.  Describe the Writing Style of Sarojini Naidu.

Ans: Many of Naidu's poems are about the natural world or daily life. Many are saturated with her love for the independence of India from British rule and her patriotism. With the use of literary devices such as imagery and alliteration, Naidu's writing style is conventional and simple. Imagery is the definition of sight, sound, taste, touch, or smell using all of the five senses. The poems by Naidu are rich with imagery.

Q2. What Makes Sarojini Naidu ‘The Nightingale of India’?

Ans: Sarojini Naidu received this nickname for herself due to her contribution to poetry.

Her works, rich in imagery, covered several topics, including passion, death, separation. Most of her poems have repetitions of lines across stanzas. This is similar to the song of a Nightingale - repetitive and lovely, thus giving her the title.