“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…”
She was an Indian political activist and poet. A proponent of civil rights, women’s emancipation, and anti-imperialistic ideas, she was an important figure in India’s struggle for independence from colonial rule. Naidu’s work as a poetess earned her the sobriquet ‘the Nightingale of India’, or ‘Bharat Kokila’ by Mahatma Gandhi because of colour, imagery and lyrical quality of her poetry.
Birth and death
Born in a Bengali family in Hyderabad, Naidu was educated in Madras, London and Cambridge. Following her time in England, where she worked as a suffragist, she was drawn to Indian National Congress’ movement for India’s independence from British rule. She became a part of the Indian nationalist movement and became a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and his idea of swaraj. She was appointed as the President of the Indian National Congress in 1925 and later became the Governor of the United Provinces in 1947, becoming the first woman to hold the office of Governor in the Dominion of India.
Naidu’s poetry includes both children’s poems and others written on more serious themes including patriotism, romance, and tragedy. Published in 1912, “In the Bazaars of Hyderabad” remains one of her most popular poems. She married Govindarajulu Naidu, a general physician, and had five children with him. She died of a cardiac arrest on 2 March 1949.
“Tell me no more of thy love, papeeha,– A Love Song From The North by Sarojini
Wouldst thou recall to my heart, papeeha,
Dreams of delight that are gone,
When swift to my side came the feet of my lover…”
1905: The Golden Threshold, published in the United Kingdom.
1912: The Bird of Time: Songs of Life, Death & the Spring, published in London.
1917: The Broken Wing: Songs of Love, Death and the Spring, including “The Gift of India” (first read in public in 1915) .
1919: Muhammad Jinnah: An Ambassador of Unity.
1943: The Sceptred Flute: Songs of India, Allahabad: Kitabistan, posthumously published.
1961: The Feather of the Dawn, posthumously published, edited by her daughter, Padmaja Naidu.
1971:The Indian Weavers.
After India attained independence, she became the first woman Governor of an Indian state, Uttar Pradesh. She served as governor till she passed away in March 1949, when she was working late in office.
As a Feminist
“Sarojini Naidu inspired the Indian Renaissance Movement and had a mission to improve the life of Indian woman.”Bappaditya Bandopadhyay
Sarojini Naidu played an important role in women’s rights struggle in India. She helped in shaping Women’s Indian Association in 1917 with Annie Besant and others. The Association sought equal rights including the right to vote and represent. She presented the need to include more women in the Congress and in the freedom struggle. During 1918, British and Indian feminists including Naidu set up a magazine called “Stri Dharma” to present international news from a feminist perspective.