Sarojini Naidu Biography: Early Life, Marriage, Education, Political & Writing Career, Death, Legacy, Quotes, and More

Sarojini Naidu Biography: She was a political activist, feminist, and poet. She was the first Indian woman to be president of the Indian National Congress. Her work as a poet earned her the sobriquet 'the Nightingale of India'. Take a look at Sarojini Naidu's early life, family, education, marriage, political and writing career, legacy, and more.
Sarojini Naidu Biography
Sarojini Naidu Biography

Sarojini Naidu Biography: She was an Indian political activist, poet, and an important figure in India's struggle for independence from colonial rule. She was the first Indian woman to be president of the Indian National Congress and to be appointed an Indian state governor. Popularly she was known as  'the Nightingale of India'. She was also the first woman governor of an Indian state. Scroll down for more information about her.

Sarojini Naidu: Key Facts

Born as
Sarojini Chattopadhyay
Famously called  The Nightingale of India or Bharat Kokila
Born 13 February 1879
Place of Birth Hyderabad, Hyderabad State, British India
Died 2 March 1949 (aged 70)
Place of Death Lucknow, United Provinces, Dominion of India

Father: Aghorenath Chattopadhyay 

Mother: Varada Sundari Devi

Spouse(s) Govindarajulu Naidu 
Alma mater King's College LondonGirton College, Cambridge
Political Affiliation Indian National Congress
Memorial or Institutions Sarojini Naidu Medical College, Sarojini Naidu College for Women, Sarojini Naidu School of Arts and Communication

Sarojini Naidu Biography: Early Life, Family, Education, Marriage

She was born on 13 February 1879 in Hyderabad, India. She was the eldest daughter of Aghorenath Chattopadhyay, a Bengali Brahman who was principal of the Nizam’s College, Hyderabad.Her mother was Varada Sundari Devi. At the age of twelve, she entered the University of Madras and studied (1895–98) at King's College, London. Later, she studied at Girton College, Cambridge.

In 1898, she came to Hyderabad and the same year married Govindarajulu Naidu. He was a physician. Padmaja, their daughter also joined the Quit India Movement. 

Sarojini Naidu: Political Career

At the start of 1904, she became a popular orator, promoted Indian independence, and women's rights mainly women's education. In 1906, she addressed the Indian National Congress and the Indian Social Conference in Calcutta. 

She earned the Kaisar-i-Hind Medal in 1911 for her social work for flood relief. Later, she returned it back in protest of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre (April 1919). In 1909, she met Muthulakshmi Reddy and Mahatma Gandhi in 1914. 

In 1917, she with Reddy helped to establish the Women's Indian Association. Later, she accompanied her colleague Annie Besant to advocate universal suffrage in front of the Joint Select Committee in London, United Kingdom. At that time, Annie Besant was the president of the Home Rule League and Women's Indian Association. She also supported the Lucknow Pact. As an orator, she was famous for her personality and the incorporation of her poetry.

She had close ties with Mahatma Gandhi, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Rabindranath Tagore, and Sarala Devi Chaudhurani. She joined Mahatma Gandhi's Satyagraha movement of nonviolent resistance against British rule after 1917. In 1919, she went to London as a part of the All India Home Rule League. Next year, she participated in the non-cooperation movement in India.

She traveled in eastern Africa and South Africa for Indians in 1924. She was one of the major figures to have led the Civil Disobedience Movement and the Quit Indian Movement. In 1925, she was appointed the President of the Indian National Congress. In 1928-29, she toured North America providing lectures on the Congress movement. 

She was a founding member of the All Indian Women's Conference in 1927. She also presided over the East African and Indian Congress 1929 session in South Africa. 

When she came back to India, her anti-British activity brought her a number of prison sentences in 1930, 1932, and 1942–43. The Indian National Congress did not attend the first Round Table Conference (London). However, in 1921, Sarojini Naidu and other leaders attended the second Round Table Conference (London) which was headed by Viceroy Lord Irwin. Upon the outbreak of World War II, she supported the Congress Party's policies. She became the governor of the United Province (now Uttar Pradesh) and remained in the post until her death.

Sarojini Naidu's Literary Life (Writing Career)

She led an active literary life and attracted notable Indian intellectuals. At the age of 12, she started writing. Maher Muneer, her play which was written in Persian impressed the Nizam of the Kingdom of Hyderabad. Her English poetry took the form of lyric poetry in the tradition of British Romanticism. She was also famous for her vivid use of rich sensory images in her writing, and for her depictions of India. Her first volume of poetry was published in 1905 named The Golden Threshold. She was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1914. 

In 1912, her second and most strongly nationalist book of poems, The Bird of Time, was published. Her collected poems that were written in English have been published under the titles The Sceptred Flute (1928) and The Feather of the Dawn (1961).

Sarojini Naidu's work as a poet earned her the sobriquet 'the Nightingale of India' or Bharat Kokila' by Mahatma Gandhi due to colour, imagery, and lyrical quality of her poetry. Her poetry consists of both children's poems and various other themes including patriotism, romance, and tragedy. 

Sarojini Naidu: Death

On 2 March 1949, she died of a cardiac arrest at the Government House in Lucknow. 

Sarojini Naidu Biography: Legacy

She was known as "one of India's feminist luminaries'. 13 February is observed as National Women's Day to commemorate the birth anniversary of Sarojini Naidu. 

Popularly she was known as the "Nightingale of India'. Also, Edmund Gosse called her "the most accomplished living poet in India" in 1919.  She was also memorialized in the Golden Threshold which was an off-campus annex of the University of Hyderabad named for her first collection of poetry. Now, Golden Threshold houses the Sarojini Naidu School of Arts & Communication at the University of Hyderabad.

In 1990, Asteroid 5647 Sarojininaidu was discovered by Eleanor Helin at Palomar Observatory. It was named in her memory. On 27 August 2019, the official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center. Also, Google India commemorated Sarojini Naidu's 135th birth anniversary with a Google Doodle in 2014.

Sarojini Naidu Biography: Some works on her

In 1966, the first biography of Sarojini Naidu named Sarojini Naidu: a Biography was published and written by Padmini Sengupta. 

In 2014, a biography for children, Sarojini Naidu: The Nightingale and The Freedom Fighter, was published by Hachette.

A twenty-minute documentary about Naidu's life, "Sarojini Naidu – The Nightingale of India was produced by the Government of India Films Division in 1975. It was directed by Bhagwan Das Garga. 

Sarojini Naidu: Quotes

1. "We want deeper sincerity of motive, a greater courage in speech, and earnestness in action."

2. "A country’s greatness lies in its undying ideals of love and sacrifice that inspire the mothers of the race."

3. "I say it is not your pride that you are a Madrasi, it is not your pride that you a brahmin, it is not your pride that you belong to south India, it is not your pride that you are a Hindu, that it is your pride that you are an Indian."

4. "When there is oppression, the only self-respecting thing is to rise and say this shall cease today because my right is justice. If you are stronger, you have to help the weaker boy or girl both in play and in the work."

5. “I am not ready to die because it requires infinitely greater courage to live.”

READ| Mahatma Gandhi Biography: Family, Education, History, Movements, and Facts


When did Sarojini Naidu die?

On 2 March 1949, Sarojini Naidu died of a cardiac arrest at the Government House in Lucknow.

Who gave the title "the Nightingale of India" to Sarojini Naidu?

Sarojini Naidu's work as a poet earned her the sobriquet 'the Nightingale of India' by Mahatma Gandhi.

What was the original name of Sarojini Naidu?

Sarojini Chattopadhyay was the original name of Sarojini Naidu. She was born on 13 February 1879.
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