May 16, 2021

Aone Punjabi

Nidar, Nipakh, Nawi Soch

02 March 2021: 72th Death Anniversary of Bharatiya Kokila

3 min read

Sarojini Naidu was an Indian political activist and poet. A supporter of civil rights, womens’ vote, and internationl relationship ideas, she was an important personality in India’s struggle for independence from colonial rule. Naidu’s work as a poet earned her tag of  ‘the Nightingale of India’, or ‘Bharatiya Kokila’ by Mahatma Gandhi because of colour, imagery and lyrical quality of her poetry.

Naidu’s birthday on 13 February is celebrated as Women’s Day to recognise powerful voices of Women in India’s history.

Sarojini Naidu, passed her examination from the University of Madras when she was twelve, took four-year break from her studies. In 1895, H.E.H. the Nizam’s Charitable Trust founded by the 6th Nizam, Mahbub Ali Khan gave her a chance to study in England, first at King’s College, London and later at Girton College, Cambridge. Then she joined the Indian independence movement in the wake of partition of Bengal in 1905. Then she met other such leaders as Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi and inspired to the work towards attaining freedom from the colonial regime and social reform.

Between 1915 and 1918, Naidu travelled to different regions in India delivering lectures on social welfare, vote for women and nationalism. She also helped to establish the Women’s Indian Association (WIA) in 1917.

Later in 1917, Naidu also accompanied her colleague Annie Besant, who was the president of Home Rule League and Women’s Indian Association, to present the advocate universal suffrage in front of the Joint Select Committee in London, United Kingdom. Then  Naidu was awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind Medal by the British government for her work during the plague epidemic in India, which she later returned in protest over the April 1919 Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. 

After that Naidu again went to London in 1919 as a part of the All India Home Rule League as a part of her continued efforts to advocate for freedom from the British rule. Upon return to India in 1920, she joined Gandhi’s Satyagraha Movement. Naidu said in her address, “In the battle for liberty, fear is one unforgivable treachery and despair, the one unforgivable sin.

Later Naidu was arrested, along with other Congress leaders including Mahatma  Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Madan Mohan Malaviya for participating in 1930 Salt March. The Indian National Congress decided to stay away from the First Round Table Conference that took place in London owing to the arrests.

In 1931, however, Sarojini and other leaders of the Congress Party participated in the Second Round Table Conference. 

Sarojini was one of the major figures to have led the Civil Disobedience Movement and the Quit India Movement led by Mohandas Karmachanda Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi) She faced repeated arrestings by the British authorities during the time and even spent over 21 months in jail.

In writing career Naidu’s poem “In the Bazaars of Hyderabad” was published as

a part of The Bird of Time with her other poems in 1912. “In the Bazaars of Hyderabad” was well received by critics, who variously noted Naidu’s visceral use of rich sensory images in her writing.         

The Feather of the Dawn which contained poems written in 1927 by Naidu was edited and published posthumously in 1961 by her daughter Padmaja Naidu. Moreover her poem The Gift of India is also noteworthy for its patriotism and the actual environment of the 1915 India.

She was honored bya documentary film about her life named Sarojini Naidu (1960), directed by Bhagwan Das Garga and produced by the Government of India’s Films Division.

Naidu died because of cardiac arrest on 2 March 1949 at the Government House in Lucknow . Upon her return from New Delhi on 15 February, she was advised to rest by her doctors, and all official engagements were canceled.

In 2014, Google India commemorated Naidu’s 135th birth anniversary with a Google Doodle. Naidu was listed among “150 Leading Women” list by the University of London in the United Kingdom in 2018.

Asteroid 5647 Sarojini Naidu, discovered by Eleanor Helin at Palomar Observatory in 1990, was named in her memory. The official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on 27 August 2019.

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