Sarojini Naidu

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Sarojini Naidu in 1912

Sarojini Naidu (13 February 18792 March 1949), full name Sarojini Chattopadhyaya (Bengali: সরোজিনী চট্টোপাধ্যায়), also known by the sobriquet as The Nightingale of India, was a child prodigy, Indian independence activist and poet. Naidu was one of the formers of the Indian Constitution. Naidu was the first Indian woman to become the President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to become the Governor of Uttar Pradesh state. Her birthday is celebrated as Women's Day all over India.

Quotes[edit]

  • A country's greatness lies in its undying ideals of love and sacrifice that inspire the mothers of the race.
  • As a theory of [satyagraha] which must of necessity grow and expand because it carries within itself the immortal function of life. The fire of satyagrha had been kindled in the temple or ashrama where Mahatma Gandhi is the high priest or guru.
    • In "Sarojini Naidu: An Introduction to Her Life, Work and Poetry", pp=62-63
  • Good Heavens! She said ‘grass and goats milk? Never!’
    • After meeting Gandhi quoted here. In "Sarojini Naidu: An Introduction to Her Life, Work and Poetry", p=62
  • Sense of justice is one of the most wonderful ideals of Islam, because as I read in the Quran I find those dynamic principles of life, not mystic but practical ethics for the daily conduct of life suited to the whole world.
  • It (Islam) was the first religion that preached and practiced democracy; for, in the mosque, when the call for prayer is sounded and worshippers are gathered together, the democracy of Islam is embodied five times a day when the peasant and king kneel side by side and proclaim: ‘God Alone is Great’… I have been struck over and over again by this indivisible unity of Islam that makes man instinctively a brother.
    • The Ideals of Islam. pp. Madras, 1918, p. 167. 
  • I am not ready to die because it requires infinitely higher courage to live.

Poetry[edit]

Sarojini Naidu
  • Caprice
    You held a wild flower in your finger -tips,
    Idly you pressed it to indifferent lips,
    Idly you tore its crimson leaves apart...
    Alas! It was my heart You held wine-cup in your finger-tips,
    Lightly you raised it to indifferent lips,
    Lightly you drank and flung away the bowl…,
    Alas! It was my soul. Page 153
  • Awake
    Hindus:
    Mother! The flowers of our worship have crowned thee! Parsees:
    Mother! The flame of our hope shall surround you Mussulmans:
    Mother! The sword of our love shall defend thee Christians:
    Mother! The song of thy faith shall attend thee All creeds:
    Shall not our dauntless devotion avail thee?
    Harken! O Queen O!goddess, we hail thee!
    • Her poem in "The Golden Treasury of Indo-Anglian Poetry, 1828-1965", p=161
  • Stand here with me with the stars and
    hills for witness and in their presence
    consecrate your life and your talent,
    your song and your speech,
    your thought and your dream to the Motherland.
    O Poet, see visions from the hill tops
    and spreads abroad the message of hope
    to the toilers in the valley.
  • Having traveled, having conceived, having hoped, having enlarged my love, having widened my sympathies, having come into contact with different races, different communities, different religions, different civilizations, friends, my vision is clear. I have no prejudice of race, creed, caste, or colour.... Until you students have acquired and mastered the spirit of brotherhood, do not believe it possible that you will ever cease to be sectarian... if I may use such word.... you will ever be national.
    • In a lecture she gave at age 24 to the young students, quoted in "Selected Letters, Gandhi -Sarojini Naidu Correspondence, Preface".
  • 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". "But this must transcend even national borders and extend to humanity because if ideas be only for the prosperity of your country, it would end where it began, by being a prophet to your own community and very probably to your own self.
    • In another lecture in Madras now (Chennai) quoted in "Selected Letters, Gandhi -Sarojini Naidu Correspondence, Preface".

About Sarojini Naidu[edit]

  • Her work has a real beauty. Some of her lyrical work is likely, I think, to survive among the lasting things in English literature and by these, even if they are fine rather than great, she may take her rank among the immortals.
    • Aurobindo said on her poetry quoted in Critical Response To Indian Poetry In English, p=12
  • Stand here with me...with the stars and hills as witness and in their presence consecrate your life and talent, your song and your speech, your thought and your dream, to the motherland. O poet see visions from hill –tops and spread abroad the message of hope to the toilers of the valleys.
With Gandhi as an activist of Independence movement
  • I am no believer in foreign propaganda as it is commonly understood, i.e., in the sense of establishing an agency or even sending peripatetic deputations. But the foreign propaganda that Sarojini Devi would carry on during her tour in the West would be the propaganda that would tell more than anything that could be done by an established agency whose very existence would be unknown to the indifferent and would be ignored by those whose opinion would matter to us. Not so India's Nightingale. She is known to the West. She would compel a hearing wherever she goes. She adds to her great eloquence and greater poetry a delicate sense of the true diplomacy that knows what to say and when to say it and that knows how to say the truth without hurting. We have every reason to expect much from her mission to the West. With the instinct of a gentlewoman she has gone with the resolution not to enter upon a direct refutation of Miss Mayo's insolent libel. Her presence and her exposition of what India is and means to her would be a complete answer to all the untruth that has been dinned into the ready ears of the American public by agencies whose aim is to belittle India and all that is Indian.
  • She intimately knows more Mussalmans than I do. She has access to their hearts, which I cannot pretend to. Add to these qualifications her sex, which is her strongest qualification in which no man can approach her. For peace-making is woman's special prerogative. Sarojini Devi has deliberately cultivated that special quality of her sex. She showed it to perfection at the time of the disgraceful rioting in Bombay in 1921. Her personal bravery and her tireless energy had become infectious. Wherever she went, the rioters laid down their arms. She has been a veritable angel of peace in East Africa and South Africa. The best welcome India can extend to her is to pray that God may give her the strength to continue her mission of peace and that she may become an indissoluble cement between the two communities. May the so-called weaker sex succeed where we, the so-called stronger sex, have failed.
  • God presses not pride but humility in His service. Man knows how to destroy, it is woman`s prerogative to construct. May Sarojini be the instrument in God`s hands for constructing real unity between Hindus and Mussalmans.
  • That woman is living solely for the cause of India. She is using all her extraordinary power of speech and pen in India's service. There is, of course, in her behaviour with men, a freedom which may appear to the strictly orthodox - Malaviyaji for instance - as going beyond the limits of modesty. She revels in fun and frolic - even mischievous pranks. But to me it seems she is just the sort of person whom all that befits. I know her husband well enough. He, too, is a brave soul. He has the largeness of heart to give her the fullest freedom. They simply hug and dote upon each other. I think she never hides from the public gaze her conduct with anybody. The fact itself is a proof of the purity of her soul.
  • But it is woven into her nature - to laud to the skies the person she admires. But apart from these defects, where would you find a woman like her who has given up her life and soul for India?
Her home called Golden threshold
  • The wandering singer has returned home after many conquests in the West....May she cast over us the same spell that she has cast over the Americans.
    • Gandhi after she returned from America quoted in "Sarojini Naidu: An Introduction to Her Life, Work and Poetry", p=64
  • She began life as a poet, in later years when the compulsion of events drew into the national struggle, she plunged into it with all the zest and fire she possessed.... whose whole life became a poem and a song and who infused artistry and grace in the national struggle, just as Mahatma Gandhi had infused moral grandeur to it.
    • Jawahar Lal Nehru quoted in "Selected Letters, Gandhi -Sarojini Naidu Correspondence, Preface".
  • Jester in Mahatma’s court
    • She was described thus as she brought laughter and humour to the grim business of satyagraha. uoted in "Sarojini Naidu: An Introduction to Her Life, Work and Poetry", p=61
  • She could be calm in the face of danger because her courage was the outcome of love, not of pride, ‘love ’said Mahatma Gandhi, is hard like a stone and soft like a blossom.
    • Quoted in Sarojini Naidu: An Introduction to Her Life, Work and Poetry, p. =133

External links[edit]