sarojini naidu

Sarojini Naidu was one of the most prominent leaders of India’s freedom struggle. Born on February 13, 1879 in Hyderabad, Sarojini was the eldest daughter of Varasundari and Dr. Aghornath Chattopadhyaya, who was a scientist and founder-principal of Nizam College of Hyderabad. Her mother Varasundari was a Bengali poetess. Sarojini’s father aspired for her to become a mathematician or scientist, but young Sarojini was drawn towards poetry from a very early age. Seeing her flair for poetry, her father decided to encourage her. With her father’s support, she wrote the play “Maher Muneer” in the Persian language. Dr. Chattopadhyaya sent a copy to the Nawab of Hyderabad who was very impressed by the beautiful play written by her. Sarojini got a scholarship to study abroad and got admitted to King’s College, London and then later at Girton College, Cambridge. Sarojini met Dr. Govind Naidu, during her stay in England and later married him at a time when inter-caste marriages were not allowed. The poetess in Sarojini had now blossomed fully. Her poems were beautiful and lyrical and could be sung. Her collection of poems “Golden Threshold” was published in 1905 and she was soon given the nickname – “Bul Bule Hind” or the “Nightingale of India”. After that, she published two other collections of poems–“The Bird of Time” and “The Broken Wings”. “Feast of Youth” followed in 1918. Her poetry was admired by the likes of Rabindranath Tagore and Jawaharlal Nehru. Soon after, she met Shree Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Gandhi and was influenced by them. Sarojini was now whole-heartedly working for India’s freedom movement. Her poems poured enthusiasm and hope in the hearts of the masses as they became united in the struggle for freedom. Naidu also travelled across India and campaigned for the rights of women. She was responsible for establishing self-esteem in Indian women. In 1925, Sarojini became the first Indian woman president of the National Congress–having been preceded eight years earlier by the English feminist Annie Besant. She travelled far and wide, to places like South Africa and North America, lecturing on the Congress movement. She accompanied Gandhi to London for the inconclusive second session of the Round Table Conference for Indian-British cooperation (1931). Back in India her anti-British activities brought her a number of prison sentences (1930, 1932, and 1942-43). When India finally became free in 1947, she was appointed Governor of the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh), to become the first Indian woman governor, a post she retained till her death. Naidu’s was also elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in recognition of her literary contributions. The Nightingale passed away on March 2, 1949. However the legacy that she has left behind will continue to inspire future generations of India. Her birthday is proudly celebrated as Women’s day.

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