Sarojini Naidu: Champion of Indian Independence Through Poetry

OV Digital Desk

Sarojini Naidu (13 February 1879 – 2 March 1949) was an Indian political activist and poet. Mahatma Gandhi gave her the title of “Nightingale of India” or “Bharat Kokila.” On 13 Feb 2014, Google celebrated Sarojini Naidu’s 135th Birthday with a doodle.

Life and career

Sarojini Naidu was born on 13 February 1879, Hyderabad, India. Her father Aghorenath Chattopadhyay was a social reformer and an educationist. In 1891, she completed her matriculation examination and joined the University of Madras. Following that, she moved to England to study at King’s College, London, and Girton College, Cambridge. There, she met lots of intellectuals and artists.

After returning to India in 1898, Sarojini married Govindarajulu Naidu. Her involvement in India’s fight for independence from colonial rule started during this time. In a lot of her speeches, she promoted Indian independence. In 1906, she addressed the Indian National Congress and the Indian Social Conference in erstwhile Calcutta.

Her meeting with Mahatma Gandhi in 1914 inspired her to become a political activist. Besides that, she met with other social reformers like Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Sarala Devi Chaudhurani, and Rabindranath Tagore. Inspired by M. Gandhi, she joined his Satyagraha movement. In 1919, she traveled to London to advocate for India’s independence from colonialism as a member of the All-India Home Rule League. She also participated in the non-cooperation movement in India. In 1924, she traveled to Africa to represent the Indian National Congress at the East African Indian National Congress.

In 1925, she became the first female president of the Indian National Congress. She founded the All-India Women’s Conference. In the 1920s, she travelled a lot promoting Indian independence. In 1928, she moved to the U.S. to advocate nonviolent resistance. In 1930, Naidu and a few other women activists joined Gandhi’s Salt March even though he initially wouldn’t let women participate. Sarojini Naidu took over the campaign after Gandhi was arrested on 6 April 1930.

In 1931, Naidu and a few other Congress Party leaders took part in the Second Round Table Conference. Because of her nationalist activities, she was jailed multiple times by the British. In 1942, she was arrested for participating in the Quit India Movement and spent 21 months in jail.

In 1947, India gained independence from British rule. She became the governor of the United Provinces after India became independent. It was the first time a woman governed India. Until her death, she held this position. She died on 2 March 1949, in Lucknow, India.

Literary Works

In 1905, she published her first book of poems, The Golden Threshold.  She became famous as a poet after her second book, The Bird of Time, was published in 1912. In 1927, she published the last collection of poems of her life called “The Broken Wing.” As a poet, she was known as the Indian Yeats and the Indian Nightingale.