As we celebrate 140th Birth Anniversary of the Nightingale of India, Sarojini Naidu, we remember the power of women. She was not only the First Indian woman president of Indian National Congress, She was also one of the members of Constitution Committee and first woman Governor of U.P, India, but also a poetess.
Sarojini Naidu was among the renowned freedom fighters of India and was the first Lady President of the Indian National Congress. She was born on February 13, 1879 in Hyderabad and was the daughter of Dr. Aghornath Chattopadhyaya, who founded the Nizam College of Hyderabad, was a scientist and Varada Sundari Devi, who was a Bengali poetess. Her father was a prominent member of the Indian National Congress in Hyderabad.
Sarojini Naidu being brought up in a family of the freedom fighters , she was inclined to the freedom movement of India. She was a very bright student, her father wanted her to become a scientist or a mathematician but she was more interested in poetry and at a very tender age she wrote her first poem named “The Lady of the Lake”, which was thirteen hundred lines long.
Her father encouraged her work and allowed her to help him with a play named “Maher Muneer” in Persian language, which she wrote. Her father distributed the copies of the play and the Nizam was impressed with her work and awarded her with a scholarship to study abroad. She joined the King’s College of England at the age of 16 years and there she came in contact with some of the prominent English authors namely Arthur Simon and Edmond Gausse and they admired her work and encouraged her to write about various topics related to India. After she came back to India, she got married to Muthyala Govindara Julu Naidu, who was a doctor. Although, inter-caste marriage was frowned upon in the society during that time, she was supported by her parents and was happily married with four children.
After the Bengal partition in 1905, Sarojini Naidu was stirred up and joined the Indian National Congress and actively participated in the freedom movement of India.
During this time she came in touch with several leaders of like Mahatma Gandhi, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who encouraged her to clutch on to the freedom movement.
She travelled to America and Europe as a flag-bearer of India’s freedom movement. In the year 1915, she traveled all over the nation delivering speeches to induce the youth to join the freedom movement and promote Nationalism. She also raised several social issues. In the year 1916, she took up the issue of the indigo workers of Champaran in the western district of Bihar.
In the year 1919, Mahatma Gandhi started the non-cooperation movement against the Rowlatt Act, which was passed in March 1919, which prohibited possession of seditious documents.
Sarojini Naidu was the first among all to participate in the movement and also actively participated in the other freedom movements which include Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms, the Sabarmati Pact, the Khilafat issue, the Satyagraha movement and the Civil Disobedience Movement. She went to London, representing the All India Home Rule Deputation in the year 1919, she went to East African Indian Congress as one of the delegates of the Indian National Congress Party on January 1924 and in the year 1925, she was elected as the President of the Indian National Congress Party.
Besides all her activities and sacrifice for India’s freedom, she pursued with her passion for poetry and in the year 1905, her collection of poetries was published with the title “Golden Threshold” and thereafter The Bird of Time”, and “The Broken Wings” were published. After India attained freedom on 15th August 1947, she was appointed as the first lady Governor of the State of Uttar Pradesh of free India. In the year 1949, Sarojini Naidu left for her heavenly abode, leaving behind her mark as a woman of dignity and integrity.
Sarojini Naidu became an inspiration for Indian Women and is the one who initiated women empowerment in India. She is remembered for her contribution towards the nation and is foremost amongst the list of Indian Women freedom fighters. She is not only an inspiration for Indian Women but also for women all over the planet.