Sarojini Naidu - The Nightingale of India
Sarojini Naidu with a heart full of love for people of India and she was not afraid to show it openly like a loving mother who felt pain if her child was in trouble. Sarojini Naidu started her public career to work for Indian woman’s cause, to wake her up from her sleep and bring her into the mainstream of the nation. Sarojini Naidu talked about pride of nation, about culture and values of our country, she tried to bring about a sense of duty, the role our women could play to help develop this country. She was a role model for women as a mother, a woman of principles, whatever she did for nationalistic feelings in our women folks would always remain in the minds of generations to come. She had a strong feeling for the country and was full of self-confidence, a gem of a woman with full of qualities are in a single woman.
Life of Sarojini Naidu
Sarojini Naidu was born in Hyderabad on 13 February 1879 in the family of Doctor Aghornath Chatopadhyay, a renowned scientist who earned the highest degree in science from Edinburgh University, in United Kingdom. Incidentally, Doctor Aghornath was an eminent educationist who worked constantly in the field of education and established Nizam College in Hyderabad. He took best care for the education of Sarojini Naidu in his personal supervision. Her mother, Varad Sundri was a religious lady but had ample interest in literature and Sarojini inherited the best virtues of life from her both parents. She was brilliant, studious and willing to learn. She studied English language especially to prove her point after her father found her wanting in the language on one occasion. Later she had such a mastery over the English language that astounded each and everyone whoever had a conversation with her in this language.
Her father wanted to see her as a mathematician therefore he emphasized that she practiced math regularly but Sarojini did not have much interest in math. She wanted to write poems as her mother used to write poems in Bengali language and even her father was good at writing poems. Writing poems was another hobby that she inherited from her parents. As she admitted once that when she was 11 years old, she could not solve a problem of Algebra in her class despite her repeated efforts. The question was an ordinary one but due to lack of interest in the topic, Sarojini was unable to cope with it. She left it unsolved at that point of time and started to write a poem instead. She was astounded to see that she completed a poem within no time and showed it to her class teacher. Her class teacher was impressed to see her efforts and said that she will become a great poetess one day in the future. When her father was told about the incident, despite the circumstances those prevailed in that period, he provided her with all facilities to develop her interest in the field of poetry writing. He wanted to see her daughter grow naturally therefore even provided her a room especially for the purpose of development of her talent.
Sarojini completed her matriculation from Madras in the tender age of 12. In the meantime, her father had appointed tutors to teach her French and English at their home. By the age of 13, she had gained enough knowledge about literature by reading writers including Shelly Browning, John Keats and Tennyson. She was ready to become a poetess herself as she managed to write a poem containing 1300 lines in that tender age. However, being overworked affected her health adversely and doctors suggested her complete rest for sometime. But that was not Sarojini’s idea and to make her doctor believe that she was all right she wrote a long drama having 2000 lines. After this particular incident, she authored a drama in Persian language with the title ‘Mehar Muneer’. To encourage his daughter Aghornath had that drama published for private distribution among his friends and a copy to Nizam of Hyderabad. The Nizam was so overwhelmed reading that drama that prompted him to grant Sarojini with scholarship in foreign country for studying the literature.
Sarojini Naidu in King’s College
Sarojini went to England for further education but could not get admission in Cambridge University because she was under 18, considered under age for admission in Cambridge therefore she had to go to King’s College London. Sarojini was lucky in the sense that the house of her local guardian was like a meeting point for writers and literature lovers. She met people like Edmund William Gosse and William Arthur, the famous writers, which proved very useful in her future development. She never forgot what Gosse once said to her “Never try to follow European culture and style in your work even if you perfect the European style of writing in your poetry. We the western people would prefer to see the culture of your country through your work.” Sarojini accepted him as his mentor and never forgot his teachings. She began working in the direction where her work reflected not only the Indian culture but also the soul entire east was her target.
During her stay in England, Sarojini came in contact with a south Indian doctor Govind Rajulu Naidu and fell in love with him. After 3 years when she retuned to India, completing her education in 1998 she married Dr. Naidu but it stirred the orthodox society because the couple belonged to the different communities that was a big issue in that era. But her father, being a social reformer was with her on this issue so they faced it with courage and later the matter was not only subsided but she earned praise for her decision. Sarojini had a loving, peaceful and joyous family life throughout.
Despite the fact that she was busy with her family, she did not give up her writing. She was a poetess par excellence who was dedicated to Mother Nature and beauty. She portrayed Nature in her work through mountains, rivers, streams, love and joy through her poetry. Love was main subject of her poetry that reflected in her work along with happiness of life, love, nature, beauty etc. Her poetry spoke of love, the passion, desire and feeling of being in love. Her theme was if you can share your love and life with others, your world is entirely different, falling in love with nature, human and whatever that is associated with you could be one of the greatest feelings ever. When you are with most loved ones, there is no greater joy in the life.
Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore once wrote to her "I feel jealous reading your poetry because it has so much to offer. At the same time I enjoy reading your great love poems having so much on offer." Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru thought ‘Sarojini Naidu has provided a unique value to our National Freedom agitation with her artistic and culture literature.’ Sarojini Naidu influenced millions of Indians that prompted them to call her ‘Nightingale of India.’ She was among the top writers in the world and was loved by her readers for the though-provoking quality of her work. Every word she wrote would agitate the minds of people those read her.
All her work was much appreciated but the books which gave her recognition are listed below-
1- The Golden Threshold – Swarna Dehalij
2- The Sceptred Flute: Songs of India - Jeevan our mritu ki Kavitayen
3- The Bird of Time – Kaal Pakshi
4- The Broken Wing – Toota Hua Daina
There are hundreds of poems which come in popular category touching the hearts of millions of people all over the world, here are some of them
Nightfall in the City of Hyderabad
The Pardah Nashin
Sarojini Naidu - her Career
Sarojini Naidu was a poetess but she had adjusted herself well between the services toward Nation and her literary world. Sarojini Naidu was to become the first woman President of the I.N.C. and also the first woman to become the governor of an Indian state. This would be interesting to know that like her literary career, her political career too started by chance. Once the great freedom fighter Gopal Krishna Gokhale spoke in her presence, “Come, and stand with me to surrender yourself to the service of Mother India. Take the oath in front of the stars, Sun and the Moon that you will stand like a mountain in the service of your Nation. Make these mountains, rivers and Nature your witness that you will serve the thousands still not aware of their duty towards their motherland. The day you would be able to do this, your poetry will worth and know its real value.” That changed Sarojini Naidu’s life forever.
She worked with masses
She later met Mahatma Gandhi and dedicated her services for the welfare of this country. She had extra qualities of an expert orator because she practiced it right from her childhood. She made the listeners spellbound whenever stood to deliverer a speech in a large public gathering. Her speech had a strange combination of poetic and nationalism values that attracted the masses to keep them glued in total silence. People will listen to her godly voice laden with love for nation and humanity sitting for hours. Most of her speeches were held in Madras initially with women and girls s her listeners but later her popularity took her to different parts of South India. Later she delivered her speeches in Mumbai and soon became very popular there also.
She joined Indian National Congress
Meanwhile Sarojini Naidu joined Congress and traveled all over the country to deliver the message of love for nation and social awakening to the masses for a better life for all. In 1917, she did couple of important work first, she visited all over India and started the movement for right of voting for women. She was inspired by Mrs. Margaret Cajuns and led a delegation of 18 women to meet Lord Chelmsford and Mr. Montague in this connection. She demanded that women be granted the right to vote just like their male counterparts. Her demands were fulfilled in 1922 when women were given the right to vote.
There was not a single incident in the history of Congress right from 1917 to 1947 where Sarojini Naidu did not show her presence or participated actively. She began to show her importance right from the beginning when she delivered her speech under the then president of congress Mrs. Annie Besant. Here is some of the speech, she spoke and that would always be remembered by people of this country.
“I am a woman and as a woman, I wish to assure you that I will be with you whenever you will fell lost in the darkness of life or to keep the great aims you have set for yourselves. Whenever you will need someone to guide you, I shall be there right besides you. We, the women of this nation will not remain in background for the cause of the nation but fight with you rubbing our shoulders for the same.”
Sarojini Naidu was absolutely clear with his thoughts regarding her aims and would straight forwardly reply “People often ask me about my purpose to come into the rough political world leaving my dream world of poetry behind. I have nothing but to say that poets are also members of this very society. They are not from a different world but have the same issues as other citizens of this country and face the same problems what the other people of this nation have to face. A poet cannot look away to a different side when the nation needs him.” The words she spoke at that time are still as precious and have their own message for the masses of this country.
In 1918, Mrs. Naidu went to Europe and represented Indian women for the right of voting. The speech she delivered in the women’s right conference in Geneva won the hearts of everyone present and assured that women in India got what they deserved. She participated in many meetings against the Jaliannwala Bagh incident and the lecture she gave in London’ Kingsway hall as a member of Home Rule League shook the citizen of England the way she spoke against the atrocities of British in India. She spoke very fearlessly whenever she went abroad she delivered a speech describing about the ruthless tactics applied by British rulers in India. She did a very good job wherever she went by gaining sympathy of the people present for our country.
In 1925, the annual meeting of Congress at Kanpur saw the new president for the party. Sarojini Naidu as president of Congress made her longest, probably the best speech at that meeting. Here is the main theme her speech – “Feeling of disappointment is the biggest crime in a freedom movement for a country”, she was again elected president of Congress in 1926.
Prior to that in 1922, Sarojini Naidu went to South Africa to represent Congress, she was elected member for Bombay Corporation and president of Bombay State Congress. In the month of March that year, she had addressed a meeting at Calicut to describe in detail about atrocities committed on people in Mopla by Brits. The government of Madras that was on high alert accused Mrs. Naidu for false allegations which made her react too sharply against the government and did whatever she could to prove her points just and reasonable. Gandhi Ji was arrested by government almost the same period which affected Sarojini Naidu who was sick then but she visited the entire length of the nation to enlighten the people of the country about the principles of Gandhi Ji. She visited Colombo the following year and left an unforgettable memory on the hearts of people of Sri Lanka.
Sarojini visited the United States of America in the end of 1928 to convey the problems India was facing and also to let the Americans know about Gandhi’s thoughts followed by a visit to Africa where she was elected the president of the local wing of the Indian Congress party. She came back to India to participate in ‘Namak Andolan’ in support of the salt producers despite the fact that Gandhi Ji wanted to keep women away from violent agitations but Sarojini refused to stay behind male workers. Sarojini participated in different agitations alongside Gandhi Ji including ‘Dandi March’ that she led after Gandhi was arrested followed by Tayyab Ji and then she was sent to jail. She was released from jail after the pact in between Gandhi JI and Irwin for a round table conference participated by Madanmohan Malviya, Gandhi Ji and herself. She did a wonderful job alongside Gandhi Ji in London during the second round table conference held there. Sarojini Naidu kept the good work for the independence movement of India continuously until she was again sent to jail in 1942 for her participation in ‘Leave India’ movement. She was released in 1943 from the jail due to her sickness but she never looked back and kept doing her duties for the sake of people of the country and the nation without caring for her own illness.
15 August 1947
India was a free country on 15 August, 1947 that made everyone proud. Sarojini Naidu wanted to express and share her joy with fellow countrymen. She greeted the people of India through All India Radio, Delhi with a message to the nation and wished them. She expressed her desires for other slave nations to obtain their freedom. She was appointed first Governor of a state of independent India. Sarojini Naidu despite her inexperience in administrative matters showed extra ordinary talent and was able to manage the responsibilities very intelligently. She showed to the world that a poet having tender feelings could stand to occasion and perform her duties toward the betterment of the nation.
Multiple faces of her personality
She will always remain in the history of India as first woman President of Congress party and first Governor of a state of Independent India. Sarojini was a combination of a poetess, a lady with nationalistic feelings, a leader par excellence, an orator that could keep the listeners spellbound, an able administrator, qualities of an organizer and best of all ‘a never say die spirit’ that kept her apart from the crowd. Despite being too busy she loved humor and often showed her witty side cracking jokes even not sparing the big leaders like Gandhi Ji, Nehru Ji, Sardar Patel, Acharya Kriplani etc. She used to address Prince Charming to Nehru Ji, Mahatma Gandhi was Mickey Mouse for her, Sardar Patel was ‘Bardoji Bull’ and Acharya Kriplani was Skeleton for her.
Sarojini Naidu was concerned for women’ cause
Sarojini fought her whole life for the cause of Indian women. She wanted education for every woman, right for voting, right of equality in every field for women was her motto that she kept uppermost in her mind. She fought against dowry system, impractical religious beliefs and other similar bad traditions like covering of face were her prime concerns. She used to say that she represented the women like Sita, Savitri, Damyanti and Laxmibai those were her ideals for different reasons. Sarojini undoubtedly was gem of a woman with unique qualities and extra ordinarily talents. She had all the qualities of an ideal housewife and leader at the same time. She despite coming from a very rich family lived a simple life. She was closely associated with Indian Women’s Association started by Margaret Cajuns and Home Rule League of Annie Besant. She was president of Indian women’s Association in 1930.
Sarojini Naidu left for her heavenly abode on 2 March 1949 to an unknown world, to never come back again but she left behind a light of knowledge, deeds and good work that will speak for itself and keep permanently in the minds of millions who shall never forget her for different reasons for ages to come.
Like it on Facebook, +1 on Google, Tweet it or share this article on other bookmarking websites.