Guest Author - Sheena Esther Janakie
Sarojini Naidu, also known as the Nightingale of India, was an Indian poet and an Indian independence activist. She was born in Hyderabad on February 13, 1879 into an illustrious family. Her father was a Doctor of Science from the Edinburgh University. He founded the Ahmadabad College, now called Nizam’s College. Her mother was a poetess who wrote poems in Bengali. Sarojini was the first of eight children to her parents. One of her brothers was a revolutionary and another brother was a poet, actor and dramatist.
Being from such a well-educated and illustrious family, Sarojini herself was a person of high intellect and was a leading woman in many ways. She was extremely active during India’s fight for freedom from the British rule, or British Raj, and was the first woman to become the governor of Uttar Pradesh, a state in India. She also helped in the framing of the Indian Constitution. She joined the Indian National Movement when she was 26 years old. She had even been to jail a few times in the course of fighting for Indian independence. Because of her intense involvement in the Indian freedom-fighting movement, she rubbed shoulders with some of the most prominent people in Indian history including Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Rabindranath Tagore, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Annie Besant, Jawaharlal Nehru and even the father of the Indian nation – Mahatma Gandhi. In 1925, she was president of the Indian National Congress. Apart from being a political genius, she was also a humanitarian. She did great work during the plague epidemic in India and was awarded the Hind Kesari Medal by the British government for it.
Sarojini Naidu began writing at the age of 12. Her collection of poems, “The Broken Exes” was published in 1905. She has written many poems, mostly in English. Her ability to adapt to a language not her own and write so well in it is proof of her intellectual prowess.
Although written in English, almost all of her poems have an Indian flavor to them and deal with topics related to India and Indian life. Some of her famous poems are:
1. Indian Dancers
2. In The Bazaars of Hyderabad
3. Palanquin Bearers
4. The Royal Tombs of Golconda
5. Bangle Sellers
Sarojini Naidu is an iconic figure both in Indian politics and in Indian Literature. She is so important that her birthday, 12 February, is celebrated as the National Woman’s Day in India.