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Remembering Sarojini Naidu, the ‘Nightingale Of India’, who was a prolific writer, renowned poet as well as a prominent politician, especially active in the matter of women’s inclusion in public life.
Born in 1879, Sarojini Naidu was a child prodigy. She was always a topper in her studies and proficient in several languages. Still in her teens, she traveled to England to continue her studies, and it was there that she met her soon-to-be husband Dr. Muthyala Govindarajulu Naidu.
Young Sarojini Naidu got involved in the Indian independence movement around 1905, and was an active participant in India’s struggles. She traveled quite extensively around India offering her support to help the needy and oppressed, and has been especially vocal about the inclusion of women in public life, leading by example.
– For awakening a passion and vigour in people through her literary talent
– For following her heart, be it to marry the man she chose or to fight for the cause she chose
– For leaving a legacy of some of the most valuable literary treasures
– For working towards the emancipation of the weak and empowerment of women
“We want a new breed of men before India can be cleansed of her disease.”
This is especially relevant now, with the increasing violence against women, with toxic masculinity surging – rare are the men who truly consider women an equal!
“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.”
Note – that she does not include only the boys and men, and that she posits justice as a right we should all have.
Shall hope prevail where clamorous hate is rife,
Shall sweet love prosper or high dreams have place
Amid the tumult of reverberant strife
Need I say anything about this? Just that the lines are almost prophetic, and her vision aligns closely with that of Rabindranath Tagore in his poem Where The Mind Is Without Fear.
In 1925 Sarojini Naidu was elected as the President of the Indian National Congress, and following India’s independence she became the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. Many of her literary works such as The Golden Threshold, The Bird Of Time, The Broken Wing have been read widely and critically acclaimed.
Sarojini Naidu passed away in 1949.
*Photo credit: Old Indian Photos
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