118 years of Trust Fact File THE TRIBUNE
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Saturday, August 1, 1998




Sarojini Naidu

By Illa Vij

SAROJINI Naidu was world-famous poetess, an impressive orator and a brave freedom fighter. Sarojini was born in Hyderabad on February 13, 1879. Her father was Dr Aghorenath Chatto-padhya and mother Varada Sundari. Sarojini had four brothers and three sisters.

As a child, Sarojini was a brilliant student and usually stood first in class. Her father was a highly educated man. He went abroad and on returning set up a school on the model of an English public school. The school progressed very well and later became the well-known Nizam College. Aghorenath was also an enthusiastic nationalist and a follower of Bal Gangadhar Tilak. He helped to spread the Congress movement and advocated the swadeshi line of thought. Interestingly, Sarojini’s parents spoke to each other in Bengali, they spoke to the children in Hindi and with the servants they spoke in Telugu.

Thus Sarojini learnt Bengali, Urdu and Telugu, besides Hindi and English.

At the age of 11, while solving an algebra problem, Sarojini penned a poem. That was her first poetic piece and the beginning of her poetic career. Her father was one of the few men of his time, who believed that girls must be educated well and given equal opportunities as boys.

Sarojini passed her matriculation at the age of 12. At the age of 16 she went to England and joined Girton College, Cambridge. She enjoyed reading the poetic works of Shelly, Byron and Keats. She was inspired by them as well as by Elizabeth Barret Browning. She fell in love with Govindrajulu Naidu. Since he was not a Brahmin and she a Bengali Brahmin, there were hurdles in their marriage. The difficulties faced, brought out beautiful creations from her heart.

Her poetry in English made her popular. Her gentle mannerism and soft voice further added to her personality. She first wrote about England and its beautiful countryside. Then, she began writing about India and her people. She returned to India as a famous poetess. She continued to have great regard and love for Govindrajulu, who also returned to Hyderabad as a well qualified doctor. On December, 12, 1898, the two were married.

They enjoyed a happy and contented married life. Sarojini’s poetic works gained world-wide popularity and alongside she became a well-known orator. She could talk on literature, social customs and her country. She met Gopal Krishna Gokhle, who told her to use her talent and thought towards her motherland.

Sarojini decided to serve her country. Her husband supported her decision. Sarojini started spending much time in the movement for education and rights of women. She met Mahatma Gandhi in London in 1914, and from 1916 onwards, she began attending the meetings of the Congress.

In 1925, Sarojini was elected president of the Congress. She always gave extempore speeches.

The next 20 years, Sarojini spent fighting for her country. Often she was jailed. She followed Gandhi in the march to Dandi, participated in the Civil Disobedience Move-ment and joined the "Quit India" Movement. After the British left, she became the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. She died a few days after her 70th birthday.

On the bank of the Gomti river, in Lucknow, a memorial was erected in her honour. She is fondly remembered as the golden-voiced Nightingale of India. Her inspiring poetry, wonderful speeches and dedication to the country has given her a special place in our hearts.

These lines are from Ode to India —
Rise Mother, rise, regenerated from thy gloom
And like a bride high-mated from spheres,

Beget new glories from thine ageless womb
Thy future calls thee with a manifold sound
The crescent honours, splendours, Victories vast
Waken, O slumbering mother, and be crowned
Who once wert empress of the soverign past".

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