This page uses content from Wikipedia and is licensed under CC BY-SA.

Sarojini Naidu

Sarojini Naidu
Sarojini Naidu in Bombay 1946.jpg
1st Governor of United Provinces
In office
15 August 1947 – 2 March 1949
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byHormasji Peroshaw Mody
President of the Indian National Congress
In office
Preceded byMahatma Gandhi
Succeeded byS. Srinivasa Iyengar
Personal details
Sarojini Chatterjee

(1879-02-13)13 February 1879
Hyderabad, Hyderabad State, British India (now in Telangana, India)
Died2 March 1949(1949-03-02) (aged 70)
Lucknow, United Provinces, India
Political partyIndian National Congress
Spouse(s)Govindarajulu Naidu (1898–1949)
Children5; including Padmaja
RelativesHarindranath Chattopadhyay, Virendranath Chattopadhyay, Suhasini Chattopadhyay, Leela Naidu
Alma materUniversity of Madras
King's College London
Girton College, Cambridge
OccupationPolitical activist, poet-writer
Writing career
SubjectIndian nationalism
Notable worksIn the Bazaars of Hyderabad


Sarojini Naidu (13 February 1879 – 2 March 1949) was an Indian independence activist and poetess who earned the sobriquet of Nightingale of India[1]. She was born in a Bengali Hindu family in Hyderabad. She was educated in Chennai, London and Cambridge. She married Dr. Govindarajulu Naidu and settled down in Hyderabad. She took part in the Indian nationalist movement, became a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and fought for the attainment of Swaraj or independence. She became the President of Indian National Congress and was later appointed as Governor of the United Provinces, now Uttar Pradesh. She was the first woman Governor of India which at that time had a dominion status under the British crown. Known as the 'Nightingale of India',[2] she was also a noted poet. Her poetry includes children's poems, nature poems, patriotic poems and poems of love and death. The "The Song of Radha" is a fine poem by Sarojini Naidu. It consists of three stanzas. The three stanzas represents the Gopi of Mathura in three different situations.First she goes to sell curd in the morning.Second time she visits Jamunas bank in the Mathuras to celebrate the coming spring in the noon time.Lastly she visits the temple to worship and pray at night. The song has its pictorial quality because it paints the beautiful picture of nature. She also wrote poetry in praise of Muslim figures like Imam Hussain, in a time where Muslim-Hindu tensions ran high in pre-independence era.When issues regarding the split of India into a Muslim country and a Hindu country had already begun, and as she had got an inter-caste and inter-regional marriage in a time where this was uncommon, her goal was to bring all of India together regardless of any caste or religion.[3]The village song is beautiful lyrics from the Golden Threshold. The poem is written in a dialog form by daughter. The atmosphere of the poem is pastoral.

Early life and family

Sarojini Naidu was born in the house of Aghorenath Chattopadhyay, a Bengali Brahmin who was the principal of the Nizam's College in Hyderabad. Sarojini was born in a Bengali Hindu family in Hyderabad. Her parental home was at Brahmangaon in Bikrampur (in present-day Bangladesh).[4] Her father, Aghorenath Chattopadhyay, with a doctorate of Science from Edinburgh University, settled in Hyderabad, where he administered Hyderabad college, which later became Nizam College in Hyderabad. Her mother, Barada Sundari Devi Chattopadhyay, was a poet and used to write poetry in Bengali.

She was the eldest of the eight siblings. Her brother Virendranath Chattopadhyay was a revolutionary, and another brother Harindranath was a poet, a dramatist, and an actor. Their family was well-regarded in Hyderabad, not only for leading the Nizam College of Hyderabad, but also as Hyderabad's most famous artists in a time of British rule. Being an artist in the era of British rule in India was considered a risky career, yet with their progressive values, they pursued them anyway.[5]

Sarojini Naidu in 1912

Sarojini Naidu, having passed her matriculation examination from the University of Madras and took a four-year break from her studies. In 1895, H.E.H. the Nizam's Charitable Trust founded by the 6th Nizam, Mahbub Ali Khan who gave her the chance to study in England, first at King's College, London and later at Girton College, Cambridge.

Sarojini met Paidipati Govindarajulu Naidu, a physician, and at the age of 19, after finishing her studies, she married him. At that time, Inter-caste marriages were not as common as they are today, but both their families approved their marriage. In addition, at that time, inter-regional marriage was also uncommon and looked down upon. As Sarojini was from Bengal, while Paidipati Naidu was from Andhra Pradesh, this was an inter-regional marriage of North and South India, with two opposing cultures.[5] The couple had five children. Their daughter Paidipati Padmaja also joined the independence movement and was part of the Quit India Movement. She was appointed the Governor of the State of Uttar Pradesh soon after Indian independence.[6]

Political career

Sarojini Naidu (extreme right) with Mahatma Gandhi during Salt Satyagraha, 1930

Naidu joined the Indian national movements in the wake of partition of Bengal in 1905. She came in contact with Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Rabindranath Tagore, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Annie Besant, C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.[citation needed] Sarojini Naidu began writing at the age of twelve. Her Persian play, Maher Muneer, impressed the Nawab of Hyderabad

In 1905, her first collection of poems, named The Golden Threshold was published.[7] The volume bore an introduction by Arthur Symons. Her poems were admired by prominent Indian politicians like Gopal Krishna Gokhale.

The Feather of The Dawn which contained poems written in 1927 by Naidu was edited and published posthumously in 1961 by her daughter Padmaja Naidu.[8] In 1915–18, she 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.[9] 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 April 1947 she was present at the Asian Relations Conference in Delhi where the Tibetan Government Representative, Sampho Theiji, said, "In a similar way we are very glad to meet representatives from all the Asian countries in this Conference and we wish to express our sincere gratitude to the great Indian leaders, Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, and to all the distinguished representatives who have gathered in this Conference."[10] Naidu entitled Muhammad Ali Jinnah as the "Ambassador of Hindu Muslim Unity" after the Lucknow Pact in 1916.

Congress Party president

In 1925, Naidu presided over the annual session of Indian National Congress at Cawnpore (now Kanpur).[11]

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.[12]

Sarojini Naidu plants a tree in Mehrauli, Delhi.

In 1931, she participated in the second round-table conference with Gandhiji and Madan Mohan Malaviya.[5] She was jailed, along with Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Madan Mohan Malaviya, and others for participating in the Salt March, when the first Round Table Conference took place in London.

She played a leading role in the Civil Disobedience Movement and was jailed along with Gandhi and other leaders. In 1942, she was arrested during period of the "Quit India Movement"

Death and legacy

The ashes of Sarojini Naidu kept at Golden Threshold, Hyderabad before immersion

Naidu died of cardiac arrest at 3:30 p.m. (IST) on 2 March 1949 at the Government House in Lucknow. Upon her return from New Delhi on 15 February, she was advised rest by her doctors, and all official engagements were cancelled. Her health deteriorated substantially and bloodletting was performed on the night of 1 March after she complained of severe headache. She died after collapsing following a fit of cough. Naidu was said to have asked the nurse attending to her to sing to her at about 10:40 p.m. (IST) which put her to sleep.[13] The last rites were performed at the Gomati River.[14]

Naidu is 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.

Aldous Huxley 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."[15]

Her 135th birth anniversary (2014) was marked by a Google Doodle on Google India's homepage.[16]

In 2018, she was among 150 "Leading Women" featured by the University of London to mark the 150 years since women gained access to higher education in the UK in 1868. According to YourStory, Sarojini Naidu "inspired a whole generation of women to participate in the Freedom Movement." She has been recognized by the Indian government numerous years not only as a great diplomat, great Freedom fighter, but also a great poet and great woman leader. She had also refuted Katherine Mayo's book "Mother India" in the United States, making her not only a widely known figure in India, but also all around the world in the United States and the United Kingdom. In 2018, the National Geographic Society recognized Sarojini Naidu in an exhibit about history's significant female figures. At the end of her life, she still remained friends with Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of the Indian Muslim League. Muhammad Ali Jinnah was the founder of Pakistan, and despite the tense relations between India and Pakistan, they remained in close contact. She died just two years after India achieved independence. In 2014, for her 135th birthday, some Indian schools celebrated her legacy with a performance of the Indian national anthem.[17] Asteroid 5647 Sarojininaidu, discovered by Eleanor Helin at Palomar Observatory in 1990, was named in her memory.[18] The official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on 27 August 2019 (M.P.C. 115893).[19]

Golden Threshold

Golden Threshold in 2015

The Golden Threshold is an off-campus annexe of University of Hyderabad. The building was the residence of Naidu's father Aghornath Chattopadhyay, the first Principal of Hyderabad College. It was named after Naidu's very first collection of poetry. Golden Threshold now houses Sarojini Naidu School of Arts & Communication of University of Hyderabad.[20]

During the Chattopadhyay family's residence, it was the centre of many reformist ideas in Hyderabad, in areas ranging from marriage, education, women's. empowerment, literature and nationalism. Specifically, the reformist ideas included more power for women in a time where politics in India, especially regional politics, was dominated by men. It also included ideas for involvement for women in the arts field. There were also many restrictions on marriage during this time period that persist to this day, such as inter-regional and inter-caste marriages. These ideas were progressive for the era, but brought change in India in slow ways over time.[21]


  • 1905: The Golden Threshold, published in the United Kingdom[22] (text available online)
  • 1912: The Bird of Time: Songs of Life, Death & the Spring, published in London[23]
  • 1917: The Broken Wing: Songs of Love, Death and the Spring, including "The Gift of India" (first read in public in 1915)[23][24]
  • 1919: Muhammad Jinnah: An Ambassador of Unity[25]
  • 1943: The Sceptred Flute: Songs of India, Allahabad: Kitabistan, posthumously published[23]
  • 1961: The Feather of the Dawn, posthumously published, edited by her daughter, Padmaja Naidu[26]
  • 1971:The Indian Weavers[27]

See also


  1. ^ Seline Augestine. "NIGHTINGALE of India". The Hindu. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  2. ^ Seline Augestine. "NIGHTINGALE of India". The Hindu. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  3. ^ सलीम, साकिब. "सरोजिनी नायडू के इमाम हुसैन को राजनीति ने शिया मुसलमान बना दिया". Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  4. ^ Lilyma Ahmed. "Naidu, Sarojini". Banglapedia : National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  5. ^ a b c "Biography of Sarojini Naidu". PoemHunter.Com. Retrieved 25 March 2012.
  6. ^ "Padmaja Naidu Dies at 75; ExWest Bengal Governor". The New York Times. Associated Press. 3 May 1975. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  7. ^ Sarkar, Amar Nath; Prasad, Bithika, eds. (2008). Critical response to Indian poetry in English. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons. p. 11. ISBN 978-81-7625-825-8.
  8. ^ Nasta, Susheila (16 November 2012). India in Britain: South Asian Networks and Connections, 1858–1950. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-230-39271-7. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  9. ^ Pasricha, Ashu (2009). The political thought of Annie Besant. New Delhi: Concept Pub. Co. p. 24. ISBN 978-81-8069-585-8.
  10. ^ "Asian Relations Conference, 1947 – Legal Materials on Tibet". Retrieved 18 August 2017. In a similar way we are very glad to meet representatives from all the Asian countries in this Conference and we wish to express our sincere gratitude to the great Indian leaders, Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, and to all the distinguished representatives who have gathered in this Conference. As for the future, all the Asian countries will feel as brothers towards each other, a feeling based on spiritual relationship, so that in this way we might hope that there will be everlasting peace and unity in Asia.
  11. ^ Paranjape, Makarand (2013). Making India: Colonialism, National Culture, and the Afterlife of Indian English Authority. New Delhi: Springer Dordrecht Heidelberg New York japan and Amaryllis, an imprint of Manjul Publishing House Pvt., Ltd., New Delhi. p. 190. ISBN 978-94-007-4660-2.
  12. ^ Jain, Reena. "Sarojini Naidu". Stree Shakti. Retrieved 25 March 2012.
  13. ^ "Mrs. Sarojini Naidu Passes Away". The Indian Express. 3 March 1949. p. 1. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  14. ^ "Last Rites of Sarojini Naidu at Lucknow". The Indian Express. 4 March 1949. p. 1. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  15. ^ Huxley, Aldous (1926). Jesting Pilate: Travels Through India, Burma, Malaya, Japan, China, and America. Paragon House, New York. p. 22.
  16. ^ "Google Doodle celebrates Sarojini Naidu's 135th Birthday". Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  17. ^ "Leading Women 1868–2018", University of London.
  18. ^ "JPL Small-Body Database Browser: 5647 Sarojininaidu (1990 TZ)" (2019-05-11 last obs.). Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  19. ^ "MPC/MPO/MPS Archive". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  20. ^ "Sarojini Naidu School of Arts & Communication". Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  21. ^ Sharma, Kaushal Kishore (1 January 2003). "Sarojini Naidu: A Preface to Her Poetry". Feminism, Censorship and Other Essays. Sarup & Sons. pp. 56–57. ISBN 978-81-7625-373-4. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
  22. ^ Knippling, Alpana Sharma, "Chapter 3: Twentieth-Century Indian Literature in English", in Natarajan, Nalini, and Emanuel Sampath Nelson, editors, Handbook of Twentieth-century Literatures of India (Google books link), Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996, ISBN 978-0-313-28778-7, retrieved 10 December 2008
  23. ^ a b c Vinayak Krishna Gokak, The Golden Treasury Of Indo-Anglian Poetry (1828–1965), p 313, New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi (1970, first edition; 2006 reprint), ISBN 81-260-1196-3, retrieved 6 August 2010
  24. ^ Sisir Kumar Das, "A History of Indian Literature 1911–1956: Struggle for Freedom: Triumph and Tragedy", p 523, New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi (1995), ISBN 81-7201-798-7; retrieved 10 August 2010
  25. ^ "Jinnah in India's history". The Hindu. 12 August 2001. Retrieved 25 March 2012.
  26. ^ Lal, P., Modern Indian Poetry in English: An Anthology & a Credo, p 362, Calcutta: Writers Workshop, second edition, 1971 (however, on page 597 an "editor's note" states contents "on the following pages are a supplement to the first edition" and is dated "1972")
  27. ^ "Indian Weavers". Poem Hunter. Retrieved 25 March 2012.

Further reading

  • Gupta, Indra (2004). India's 50 most illustrious women (2nd ed.). New Delhi : Icon Publications.
  • Baig, Tara Ali (1985). Sarojini Naidu : portrait of a patriot. New Delhi: Congress Centenary (1985) Celebrations Committee, AICC (I).
  • Ramachandran Nair, K. R. (1987). Three Indo-Anglian poets : Henry Derozio, Toru Dutt, and Sarojini Naidu. New Delhi : Sterling Publishers.
  • Padmini Sengupta (1997). Sarojini nido.

External links