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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

First Woman Governor Of State In India

A poet, patriot, orator and wit all made into one was Mrs. Sarojini Naidu. Born on 13th February 1879, she is better remembered as the “Nightingale of India,” as Gurudev Tagore hailed her, than as the governor of a province which post she occupied at the time of her death in 1949.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. She was famously known as Bharatiya Kokila (The Nightingale of India).She was active in the Indian Independence Movement, joining Mahatma Gandhi in the Salt March to Dandi, and then leading the Dharasana Satyagraha after the arrests of Gandhi, Abbas Tyabji, and Kasturba Gandhi.

Her father, Dr. Aghornath Chattopadhyaya, was the founder of Nizam College of Hyderabad and a scientist. Her mother, Mrs. Varasundari, was a Bengali poetess. Sarojinidevi inherited qualities from both her father and mother.Brother, Virendranath Chattopadhyaya, was also a noted Indian activist. During World War I Virendranath was instrumental in finding the Berlin Committee and was one of the leading figures of the Hindu German Conspiracy. He later became committed to Communism, travelling to Soviet Russia where he is believed to have been executed on Stalin's orders in 1937.Another brother Harindranath Chattopadhyaya was a playwright, poet and actor.

Young Sarojini was a very bright and proud girl. Her father aspired for her to become a mathematician or scientist, but she loved poetry from a very early age. Once she was working on an algebra problem, and when she couldn't find the solution she decided to take a break, and in the same book she wrote her first inspired poetry. She got so enthused by this that she wrote "The Lady of the Lake", a poem 1300 lines long. When her father saw that she was more interested in poetry than mathematics or science, he decided to encourage her. With her father's support, she wrote the play "Maher Muneer" in the Persian language. Dr. Chattopadhyaya distributed some copies among his friends and sent one copy to the Nawab of Hyderabad. Reading a beautiful play written by a young girl, the Nizam was very impressed. The college gave her a scholarship to study abroad. At the age of 16 she got admitted to King's College of England. There she met famous laureates of the time. 

At the age of 17, she met Dr. Muthyala Govindarajulu Naidu and fell in love with him. After finishing her studies at the age of 19, she married him during the time when inter-caste marriages were not allowed. They were married by the Act (1872), in Madras in 1898.Her father was a progressive thinking person, and he did not care what others said. Her marriage was a very happy one. They had 4 children: Jayasurya, Padmaja, Randheer, and Leelamani. Her daughter Padmaja later became Governor of Bengal.

One day she met Shree Gopal Krishna Gokhale. He said to her to use her poetry and her beautiful words to rejuvenate the spirit of Independence in the hearts of villagers. He asked her to use her talent to free Mother India. Then in 1916, she met Mahatma Gandhi, and she totally directed her energy to the fight for freedom. She would roam around the country like a general of the army and pour enthusiasm among the hearts of Indians. The independence of India became the heart and soul of her work.

She was responsible for awakening the women of India. She brought them out of the kitchen. She traveled from state to state, city after city and asked for the rights of the women. She re-established self-esteem within the women of India.In her foreword to Women in Modern India, Sarojini Naidu observed that “the mission of womanhood remains indivisible all over the world, but the woman of every race must naturally seek to interpret and fulfil her share in accordance with her own vision and version of national life. The Indian woman of today, whatever her creed or community, is clearly imbibed and inspired by a profound renascent consciousness of her special and long-­forgotten place and purpose, privilege and responsibility in creating and sustaining auspicious and enduring conditions of national progress and international fellowship.” Thus Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, proved herself a unique link between the great heroines of the past and free and progressive womanhood of today.

She was the nightingale who sang of India’s freedom. As such, she would continue to be a source of inspiration to the coming generations.After independence she became the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. She was the first woman governor in India. She died on March 2, 1949. 

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