Sarojini Naidu was a poet, freedom fighter, and political activist. She was a prominent figure in India’s struggle for independence from British rule. Let us remember the Nightingale of India on her birthday.
Sarojini Naidu, born Sarojini Chattopadhyay, was born on 13 February 1879, in Hyderabad to Aghorenath Chattopadhyay and Varada Sundari Devi. Her parental home was Dhaka, Bengal province (currently in Bangladesh). Her father was the principal of Hyderabad College. Sarojini was the eldest of the eight siblings.
Sarojini began to write poetry in English at the age of twelve. She passed her matriculation examination to qualify for university study, earning the highest rank, in 1891, when she was twelve. Then on she studied in England; at King’s College, London, and then Girton College, Cambridge. Sarojini returned to Hyderabad in 1898. That same year, she married Govindarajulu Naidu, a physician. This was an inter-caste marriage which was quite ground-breaking for that period.
From 1904, Sarojini Naidu became an increasingly popular orator. She promoted Indian independence and women’s rights, especially women’s education. Later she went on to work for India’s independence. In 1914 she met Mahatma Gandhi. Sarojini Naidu formed close ties with Gandhiji and after 1917, she joined Gandhiji’s satyagraha movement of nonviolent resistance against British rule. It was Gandhiji who gave her the title ‘The Nightingale of India’ or ‘Bharat Kokila’.
She was the second woman President of the Indian National Congress and the first Indian woman to preside at the INC conference. She became the inaugural woman to hold the position of Governor in both a Province and a State in independent India. She passed away on 2 March 1949.