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Sarojini Naidu

Sarojini Naidu
Born Sarojini Chattopadhyay
(1879-02-13)13 February 1879
Hyderabad, Hyderabad State, British India
Died 2 March 1949(1949-03-02) (aged 70)
Lucknow, United Provinces, Indian Union
Alma mater King's College London (1895–1898); Girton College, Cambridge; University of Madras
Occupation Poet, politician
Title Governor of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh
Term 15 August 1947 – 2 March 1949
Predecessor Francis Verner Wylie
Successor Hormasji Peroshaw Mody
Political party Indian National Congress
Movement Indian independence movement
Spouse(s) Govindarajulu Naidu (1898–1949)
Children Padmaja and four others
Parent(s) Aghore Nath Chattopadhyay, Barada Sundari Devi
Relatives Harindranath Chattopadhyay, Virendranath Chattopadhyay, Suhasini Chattopadhyay

Sarojini Naidu (born as Sarojini Chattopadhyay) (Bengali: সরোজিনী চট্টোপাধ্যায়); also known by the sobriquet as The Nightingale of India,[1] was an Indian independence activist and poet. Naidu served as the first governor of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh from 1947 to 1949;[2] the first woman to become the governor of an Indian state.[3] She was the second woman to become the president of the Indian National Congress in 1925 and the first Indian woman to do so.[4][5]


  • Early life 1
  • Political career 2
    • Congress party president 2.1
  • Literary career 3
  • Death and legacy 4
    • Golden Threshold 4.1
  • Works 5
    • Poems 5.1
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Bibliography 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Sarojini Naidu was born in Hyderabad to Aghore Nath Chattopadhyay and Barada Sundari Devi on 13 February 1879. Her parental home was at Brahmangaon in Bikrampur (in present-day Bangladesh).[6] Her father, Aghornath Chattopadhyaya, with a doctorate of Science from Edinburgh University, settled in Hyderabad, where he founded and administered Hyderabad College, which later became the Nizam's College in Hyderabad. Her mother,Barada Sundari Devi was a poetess and used to write poetry in Bengali. She was the eldest among the eight siblings. Her brother Virendranath Chattopadhyaya was a revolutionary and her other brother, Harindranath was a poet, a dramatist, and an actor.[7]

Naidu passed her matriculation examination from the University of Madras then took a four year break from her studies. In 1895, the Nizam Scholarship Trust founded by the 6th Nizam, Mir Mahbub Ali Khan, gave her the chance to study in England first at King's College London and later at Girton College, Cambridge.

Naidu met Govindarajulu Naidu, a doctor by profession, and at the age of 19, after finishing her studies, she married him. At that time, inter-caste marriages were not allowed, but her father approved the marriage.[7]

The couple had five children. Her daughter Padmaja became the Governor of West Bengal. Padmaja was a part of the Quit India Movement.

Political career

Sarojini Naidu (extreme right) with Mahatma Gandhi during Salt Satyagraha, 1930

Naidu joined the Indian national movement in the wake of partition of Bengal in 1905. She came into contact with Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Rabindranath Tagore, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Annie Besant, C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.

During 1915–1918, she travelled to different regions in India delivering lectures on social welfare, women's empowerment and nationalism. She also helped to establish the Women's Indian Association (WIA) in 1917.[8] She was sent to London along with Annie Besant, President of WIA, to present the case for the women's vote to the Joint Select Committee.

Congress party president

In 1925, Naidu presided over the annual session of Indian National Congress at Cawnpore (now Kanpur).

In 1929, she presided over East African Indian Congress in South Africa. She was awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind Medal by the British government for her work during the plague epidemic in India.[9]

In 1930 during the salt satyagraha, she was one of the women protesters at the Dharsana salt works, Gujrat. Hundreds of satyagrahis were beaten by soldiers under British command at Dharasana. The ensuing publicity attracted world attention to the Indian independence movement and brought into question the legitimacy of British rule in India.

In 1931, she participated in the Round table conference with Gandhi and Madan Mohan Malaviya.[10]

She played a leading role during the Civil Disobedience Movement and was jailed along with Gandhi and other leaders. In 1942, she was arrested during the "Quit India" movement.

Literary career

Naidu began writing at the age of twelve. Her Persian play, Maher Muneer, impressed the Nawab of Hyderabad.

In 1905, her first collection of poems, named "The Golden Threshold" was published.[11] Her poems were admired by many prominent Indian politicians like Gopal Krishna Gokhale.

Her collection of poems entitled "The Feather of The Dawn" was edited and published posthumously in 1961 by her daughter Padmaja.

Death and legacy

Sarojini Naidu died of a heart attack while working in her office in Lucknow on 2 March (Wednesday), 1949.[12]

She is commemorated through the naming of several institutions including the Sarojini Naidu College for Women, Sarojini Naidu Medical College, Sarojini Devi Eye Hospital and Sarojini Naidu School of Arts and Communication, University of Hyderabad.

Aldous Huxley wrote "It has been our good fortune, while in Bombay, to meet Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, the newly elected President of the All-India Congress and a woman who combines in the most remarkable way great intellectual power with charm, sweetness with courageous energy, a wide culture with originality, and earnestness with humor. If all Indian politicians are like Mrs. Naidu, then the country is fortunate indeed."[13]

Her 135th birth anniversary (in 2014) was marked by a doodle on Google India's homepage.[14]

Golden Threshold

The Golden Threshold is an off-campus annexe of University of Hyderabad. The building was the residence of Naidu's father Aghornath Chattopadhyay, the first Principal of Hyderabad College. It was named after Naidu's collection of poetry. Golden Threshold now houses Sarojini Naidu School of Arts & Communication of University of Hyderabad.[15]

During the Chattopadhyay family's residence, it was the center of many reformist ideas in Hyderabad, in areas ranging from marriage, education, women's empowerment, literature and nationalism.[16]


Each year links to its corresponding "year in poetry" article:

  • 1905: The Golden Threshold, published in the United Kingdom[17] (text available online)
  • 1912: The Bird of Time: Songs of Life, Death & the Spring, published in London[18]
  • 1917: The Broken Wing: Songs of Love, Death and the Spring, including "The Gift of India" (first read in public in 1915)[18][19]
  • 1916: Muhammad Jinnah: An Ambassador of Unity[20]
  • 1943: The Sceptred Flute: Songs of India, Allahabad: Kitabistan, posthumously published[18]
  • 1961: The Feather of the Dawn, posthumously published, edited by her daughter, Padmaja Naidu[21]
  • 1971:The Indian Weavers[22]


  • Damayante to Nala in the Hour of Exile
  • Ecstasy
  • Indian Dancers
  • The Indian Gypsy
  • Indian Love-Song
  • Indian Weavers
  • In Salutation to the Eternal Peace
  • In the Forest
  • In the Bazaars of Hyderabad (Refer to English textbook of 8th, 9th and 10th [icse and 8th state board] and 6th andhra pradesh textbook)
  • Ramamuratham
  • Nightfall in the City of Hyderabad
  • Palanquin Bearers
  • The Pardah Nashin
  • Past and Future
  • The Queen's Rival
  • The Royal Tombs of Golconda
  • The Snake-Charmer
  • Song of a Dream
  • Song of Radha,the milkmaid
  • The Soul's Prayer
  • Suttee
  • To a Buddha Seated on a Lotus
  • To the God of Pain
  • Wandering Singers
  • Street Cries
  • Alabaster
  • Autumn Song
  • Bangle Sellers
  • The Coromandal Fishers
  • To youth
  • By the ruler

See also


  1. ^ "Colors of India". First Woman Governor of a State in India. Retrieved 25 March 2012. 
  2. ^ Jesudasen, Yasmine (2006). "Sarojini Naidu". Voices of Freedom Movement. Sura Books. pp. 53–54.  
  3. ^
  4. ^ Paranjape, Makarand R. (2010). "Chronology". Sarojini Naidu. Rupa & Company.  
  5. ^ President of the Indian National Congress
  6. ^ Lilyma Ahmed. "Naidu, Sarojini".  
  7. ^ a b "Biography of Naidu". 
  8. ^ Pasricha, Ashu (2009). The political thought of Annie Besant. New Delhi: Concept Pub. Co. p. 24.  
  9. ^ Jain, Reena. "Sarojini Naidu". Stree Shakti. Retrieved 25 March 2012. 
  10. ^ "The Biography of Sarojini Naidu". Poem Hunter. Retrieved 25 March 2012. 
  11. ^ Sarkar, [editors], Amar Nath Prasad, Bithika (2008). Critical response to Indian poetry in English. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons. p. 11.  
  12. ^ "'"Google doodles Sarojini Naidu's 135th birth anniversary.  
  13. ^ Huxley, Aldous (1926). Jesting Pilate: Travels Through India, Burma, Malaya, Japan, China, and America. Paragon House, New York. p. 22.
  14. ^ "Google Doodle celebrates Sarojini Naidu's 135th Birthday". Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  15. ^ "Sarojini Naidu School of Arts & Communication". Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  16. ^ Sharma, Kaushal Kishore (1 January 2003). "Sarojini Naidu: A Preface to Her Poetry". Feminism, Censorship and Other Essays. Sarup & Sons. pp. 56–57.  
  17. ^ Knippling, Alpana Sharma, "Chapter 3: Twentieth-Century Indian Literature in English", in Natarajan, Nalini, and Emanuel Sampath Nelson, editors, Handbook of Twentieth-century Literatures of India (Google books link), Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996, ISBN 978-0-313-28778-7, retrieved 10 December 2008
  18. ^ a b c Vinayak Krishna Gokak, , p 313, New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi (1970, first edition; 2006 reprint), ISBN 81-260-1196-3, retrieved August 6, 2010The Golden Treasury Of Indo-Anglian Poetry (1828–1965)
  19. ^ Sisir Kumar Das, "A History of Indian Literature 1911–1956: Struggle for Freedom: Triumph and Tragedy", p 523, New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi (1995), ISBN 81-7201-798-7; retrieved 10 August 2010
  20. ^ "Jinnah in India's history".  
  21. ^ Lal, P., Modern Indian Poetry in English: An Anthology & a Credo, p 362, Calcutta: Writers Workshop, second edition, 1971 (however, on page 597 an "editor's note" states contents "on the following pages are a supplement to the first edition" and is dated "1972")
  22. ^ "Indian Weavers". Poem Hunter. Retrieved 25 March 2012. 


  • Padmini Sengupta (1997). Sarojini Naidu. Sahitya Akademi. 

External links

  • The poetry of Sarojini Naidu: A fusion of English language and Indian culture
  • Works by Sarojini Naidu at Project Gutenberg
  • Works by or about Sarojini Naidu at Internet Archive
  • Works by Sarojini Naidu at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
  • Biography and Poems of Sarojini Naidu
  • Letter written by Sarojini Naidu
  • Sarojini Naidu: An introduction to her life, work and poetry By Vishwanath S. Naravane
  • Sarojini Naidu materials at the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA)
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