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Wednesday’s Wise Woman … A poet patriot

October 31, 2012

I came across Sarojini Naidu when researching Annie Besant for a recent post.  

“Educate your women and the nation will take care of itself”

Sarojini Naidu (1879-1926) the Nightingale of India was born into a well placed Bengali family her father a Doctor of  Literature was was educated at Edinburgh University and her mother a poet.  She was a child prodigy.  At the age of 16, she traveled to England to study, first at King’s College London and later at Girton College, Cambridge.  Here she met the man who was to  become her husband.  As the couple were from different castes the marriage was disallowed. However her father; a liberal thinker and not perturbed by others; approved of the match.  They had a happy marriage and four children; her daughter followed her political career and went to become the governor of Bengal in 1961.
In 1905 during the partition  of Bengal, Sarojini joined the Indian National Movement where she meet amongst others Annie Besant.  Between 1915 and 1918 she travelled around India giving lectures on social welfare, women empowerment and nationalism. She hoped to educate women and ‘bring them out of the kitchen’  During this time she met Mahatma Gandhi, and she totally directed her energy to the fight for freedom.
She helped establish the Women’s Indian Association and went with Annie Besant to London to present the case for the women’s vote to the Joint Select Committee.
In 1925 Sarojini chaired the Indian National Congress and went to America with the message of non-violence from Gandhi.  When Gandhi was arrested during a protest in 1930 she took responsibility for the movement.  In 1925 when he returned Sarojini and Gandhi with Pundit Malaviya took part in the Round Table Summit.   In 1942, she was arrested during the “Quit India” protest and stayed in jail for 21 months with Gandhi.
After independence she became the Governor of Uttar Pradesh; she was the first woman governor in India

Sarojini Naidu began writing at the age of 12; her play, Maher Muneer, impressed the Nawab of Hyderabad. In 1905, her collection of poems, named “The Broken exs” was published. She went on to write many collections of poems; some edited posthumously by her daughter, that were admired by prominent Indian politicians, intellectual giants and social reformers s such as Mahashree Arvind, Rabindranath Tagore and Jawaharlal Nehru. 

However it seems that Sarojini remained humble about her work 

‘I am not a poet I have the vision  and the desire but not the voice.  If I could write just one poem full of beauty and the spirit of greatness I should be exultantly silent forever: but I sing just as the birds do, and my songs are equally ephemeral.’

Further reading Five eminent women by S.C. Datta

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 31, 2012 7:45 am

    Thank you for remembering a great woman and telling me her story. Being a writer allowed us to bring the good people back and show the world. There was kind and gentle people before us.

    • October 31, 2012 9:11 am

      Your comment and kind attention have helped me make a decision this morning Thank You …I am a writer xx

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