Born: February 13, 1879
Died: March 2, 1949
Achievements: She was the first Indian woman to become the
President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to become
the governor of a state in India.
Sarojini Naidu was a distinguished poet, renowned freedom fighter and
one of the great orators of her time. She was famously known as
Bharatiya Kokila (The Nightingale of India). Sarojini Naidu was the
first Indian woman to become the President of the Indian National
Congress and the first woman to become the governor of a state in India.
Sarojini Naidu was born on February
13, 1879. Her father Aghoranath Chattopadhyaya was a scientist and
philosopher. He was the founder of the Nizam College, Hyderabad.
Sarojini Naidu's mother Barada Sundari Devi was a poetess and used to
write poetry in Bengali. Sarojini Naidu was the eldest among the eight
siblings. One of her brothers Birendranath was a revolutionary and her
other brother Harindranath was a poet, dramatist, and actor.
Sarojini Naidu was a brilliant student. She was proficient in Urdu,
Telugu, English, Bengali, and Persian. At the age of twelve, Sarojini
Naidu attained national fame when she topped the matriculation
examination at Madras University. Her father wanted her to become a
mathematician or scientist but Sarojini Naidu was interested in poetry.
She started writing poems in English. Impressed by her poetry, Nizam of
Hyderabad, gave her scholarship to study abroad. At the age of 16, she
traveled to England to study first at King's College London and later at
Girton College, Cambridge. There she met famous laureates of her time
such as Arthur Simon and Edmond Gausse. It was Gausse who convinced
Sarojini to stick to Indian themes-India's great mountains, rivers,
temples, social milieu, to express her poetry. She depicted contemporary
Indian life and events. Her collections "The golden threshold
(1905)", "The bird of time (1912)", and "The broken
wing (1912)" attracted huge Indian and English readership.
At the age of 15, she met Dr. Govindarajulu Naidu and fell in love with
him. a non-brahmin, and a doctor by profession. After finishing her
studies at the age of 19, she married him during the time when
inter-caste marriages were not allowed. It was a revolutionary step but
Sarojini's father fully supported her in her endeavour. Sarojini Naidu
had a happy married life and had four children: Jayasurya, Padmaj,
Randheer, and Leilamani.
Sarojini Naidu joined the Indian national movement in the wake of partition
of Bengal in 1905. She came into contact with Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Rabindranath
Tagore, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Annie Besant, C.P.Rama Swami Iyer, Gandhiji
and Jawaharlal Nehru. She awakened the women of India. She brought them
out of the kitchen.
She traveled from state to state, city after city and asked for the rights
of the women. She re-established self-esteem within the women of India.
In 1925, Sarojini Naidu presided over the annual session of Indian National
Congress at Kanpur. Sarojini Naidu played a leading role during the Civil
Disobedience Movement and was jailed along with Gandhiji and other leaders.
In 1942, Sarojini Naidu was arrested during the "Quit India"
movement and was jailed for 21 months with Gandhiji. She shared a very
warm relationship with Gandhiji and used to call him "Mickey Mouse".
After Independence, Sarojini Naidu became the Governor of Uttar
Pradesh. She was India's first woman governor. Sarojini Naidu died in
office on March 2 ,1949.