Our woman hero of February is Sarojini Naidu! She was an Indian independence activist. She took part in the National Movement, became a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and fought for the attainment of Swaraj. She became the President of Indian National Congress and later she was appointed taao the Governor of the United Provinces, now Uttar Pradesh. Known as the ‘Nightingale of India’, she was also a noted poet. Her poetry includes children’s poems, nature poems, patriotic poems and poems of love and death.
Sarojini was born on 13 February 1879 in a Bengali Hindu family at Hyderabad and was later educated in Chennai, London, and Cambridge. She began writing at the age of twelve. Her Persian play, Maher Muneer, impressed the Nawab of Hyderabad. And In 1905, at the age of 26, her first collection of poems, named The Golden Threshold, was published. The volume bore an introduction by Arthur Symons, a British poet, critic and magazine editor. Her poems were admired by prominent Indian politicians like Gopal Krishna Gokhale.
Sarojini also joined the Indian national movements in the wake of partition of Bengal in 1905. The partition of Bengal was the separation of the largely Muslim eastern areas from the largely Hindu western areas. In 1915–18, Sarojini travelled to different regions in India delivering lectures on social welfare, women’s empowerment and nationalism. She also helped to establish the Women’s Indian Association (WIA) in 1917. She was sent to London along with Annie Besant, President of home rule league and Women’s Indian Association, to present the case for the women’s vote to the Joint Select Committee.
In 1925, Sarojini presided over the annual session of Indian National Congress at Cawnpore (now Kanpur). In 1929, she presided over East African Indian Congress in South Africa. She was awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind Medal by the British government for her work during the plague epidemic in India. In 1931, she participated in the second round-table conference with Gandhiji and Madan Mohan Malaviya. She was jailed, along with Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Madan Mohan Malaviya, and others for participating in the Salt March, when 1st Round Table Conference took place in London. Sarojini played a leading role in the Civil Disobedience Movement. In 1942, she was arrested during period of the “Quit India Movement”.a
In April 1947 Sarojini was present at the Asian Relations Conference in Delhi where she was named as one of Indian great leaders by the Tibetan Government Representative, Sampho Theiji. Upon her return from New Delhi on 15 February 1949, she was advised rest by her doctors, and all official engagements were cancelled. Her health deteriorated substantially afterwards, and Sarojini died of cardiac arrest on 2 March 1949.
The Feather of The Dawn which contained poems written in 1927 by Sarojini was edited and published posthumously in 1961 by her daughter Padmaja Naidu. Sarojini is also commemorated in the names of several institutions, including the Sarojini Naidu College for Women, Sarojini Naidu Medical College, Sarojini Devi Eye Hospital and Sarojini Naidu School of Arts and Communication, University of Hyderabad.
Sarojini Naidu inspired us that women can be both a great politician and a celebrated poet. Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World once wrote “It has been our good fortune, while in Bombay, to meet Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, the newly elected President of the All-India Congress and a woman who combines in the most remarkable way great intellectual power with charm, sweetness with courageous energy, a wide culture with originality, and earnestness with humour. If all Indian politicians are like Mrs. Naidu, then the country is fortunate indeed.”
Need other kinds of inspiration? Just check Adorageek’s other posts!