Early Life and Childhood
Sarojini Naidu was born on February 13, 1879 in Hyderabad, India. She was a civil activist, feminist, poet, and the first Indian woman to be president of the Indian National Congress and to be appointed an Indian state governor. She was also identified as “Nightingale of India”
Sarojini was the first daughter of Aghorenath Chattopadhyay, a Bengali Brahman. He was principal of the Nizam’s College, Hyderabad. She took admission in the University of Madras at the age of 12 and studied at King’s College, London, and later at Girton College, Cambridge.
After gaining some knowledge in the suffragist campaign in England, she was pulled towards India’s Congress movement and to Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-cooperation Movement. In 1924 she moved to Eastern Africa and South Africa in the attention of Indians there She became the first Indian woman president of the National Congress in 1925 —having been headed eight years earlier by the English feminist Annie Besant. She visited North America to give lecture on the Congress movement, in 1928–29. Back in India her anti-British activity caused a number of prison sentences in her name (1930, 1932, and 1942–43). She escorted Gandhi to London for the indecisive second session of the Round Table Conference for Indian–British cooperation (1931). Upon the outburst of World War II she supported the Congress Party’s policies, first of coldness, then of affirmed interference to the Allied cause. In 1947 she became governor of the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh), a post she preserved until her death. Sarojini Naidu was the first women Governor of Uttar Pradesh.
Sarojini Naidu also led a functioning literary life and attracted prominent Indian intellectuals to her famous salon in Bombay. Her first volume of poetry, The Golden Threshold (1905), was admired by The Bird of Time (1912), and in 1914 she was elected a member of the Royal Society of Literature. Her collected poems, all of which she wrote in English, have been published under the titles The Sceptred Flute (1928) and The Feather of the Dawn (1961).
On 2nd March 1949, Sarojini Naidu passed away at Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. She lived her wonderful life by her own words, “As long as I have life, as long as blood flows through this arm of mine, I shall not leave the cause of freedom…I am only a woman, only a poet. But as a woman, I give to you the weapons of faith and courage and the shield of fortitude. And as a poet, I fling out the banner of song and sound, the bugle call to battle. How shall I kindle the flame which shall waken you men from slavery…” Her childhood residence at Nampally was given to the University of Hyderabad by her family and it was named as ‘The Golden Threshold’ after her 1905 publication. The University retitled its School of Fine Arts and Communication as ‘Sarojini Naidu School of Arts and Communication’ to honour the Nightingale of India.