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Sarojini Naidu - The Nightingale of India

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Sarojini Naidu, The Nightingale of India, was a famous Indian poet and a famous freedom fighter. She was the first Indian woman to be appointed the President of the Indian National Congress and the Governor of Uttar Pradesh in India. Most of all, she was a noted child prodigy and a master of children's literature.

Sarojini Naidu was born on February 13, 1879 at Hyderabad in a Bengali Hindu family. She was the eldest daughter of scientist, philosopher, and educator Aghornath Chattopadhyaya, and Barada Sundari Devi, a poetess. Sarojini was a very bright girl. At a very young age of 12, she topped the entire Presidency in Matriculation examination from Madras University. Due to her passion for reading, she took a break from studies and involved herself in extensive reading on various subjects.  In 1895, at the age of sixteen, she traveled to England to study first at King's College London and subsequently at Girton College, Cambridge.

Whilst still in college, Sarojini met Dr. Muthyala Govindarajulu Naidu and both grew closer. Upon finishing her studies in 1898, they got married. This was a time when inter-caste were marriages were rare and considered a crime in the Indian society. Nonetheless, the successful marriage of the couple prevented people from intervening with their personal lives.

Sarojini Naidu will be always remembered for her notable contribution to the Indian Independence Movement. She joined the movement in 1905 and was totally committed to the cause ever since. While working for the Indian National Congress, she was introduced to many eminent personalities such as Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi with whom she shared a special bond and a very good rapport.

During 1915-1918, she traveled across India, lecturing on social welfare, women empowerment, emancipation and nationalism. Inspired by Jawaharlal Nehru, she embarked on providing help and support for the indigo workers in Champaran who were being subjected to violence and oppression.

She was responsible for awakening the women of India. She re-established their self-esteem and often said, "When there is oppression, the only self-respecting thing is to rise and say this shall cease today, because justice is my right”.

With the introduction of the Rowlatt Act in 1919, Sarojini joined the Non-Cooperation Movement organized and led by Mahatma Gandhi. In the same year, she was appointed the Home Rule League's ambassador to England. In 1924, she became a delegate to the East African Indian Congress. In 1925, Naidu was appointed the President of the National Congress thus making her the first Indian woman to hold the post. With the Indian Independence in 1947, Sarojini Naidu was made the Governor of the Uttar Pradesh in the wake of her contribution to the movement.

The Nightingale of India, Sarojini Naidu was a prolific writer and poet. She published many notable volumes of poetry such as The Golden Threshold, The Bird of Time, The Broken Wing. Some of her acclaimed poems are The Wizard Mask and A Treasury of Poems. Other selected works written by her include The Magic Tree and The Gift of India. Gopal Krishna Gokhale once advised her to use her poetry and her beautiful words to rejuvenate the spirit of independence in the hearts of villagers and also asked her to use her talent to free Mother India. She was given the name Bharat Kokila on account of the beautiful and rhythmic words of her poems that could be sung as well.

On March 2 1949, she took her last breath and India lost her beloved child, “Bulbul”. She died in her office at Lucknow at the age of seventy. Nevertheless, her name will be written in Gold in the history of India as an inspiring poet and a brave freedom fighter.

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Sarojini Naidu - The Nightingale of India