#Sepia Stories

142 Years of Sarojini Naidu : A Reminder from Bharatiya Kokila on the Idea of An Indian

142nd Birth Anniversary Sarojini Naidu: She has been the face of women freedom fighters in India. But history has documented her not just her poetry, her struggles but also her deep faith in democracy and the idea of an India. “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.”

Today marks the 142nd birth anniversary of Bharatiya Kokila. A poet and playwright of impeccable stature, the lady wielded power not only in her belief in Satyagraha, but also in her expertise in poetry.

A social worker and activist of civil and women’s rights as well as anti-imperialism, her contribution to Indian independence movement is as valuable as her contribution to Indian poetry on patriotism, culture, love and death. Her poems depicted the then contemporary lives of Indians and events in the country, articulated with subtle yet impactful feelings, emotions drawn from her own experiences in life. Hence, her poems and plays receive widespread acclaim till date.

Although she always distanced herself from the evolving Western feminism back then, she also dedicated her entire life to the emancipation and empowerment of Indian women; she vociferously advocated and worked for women’s education, ending of child marriage, and remarriage of widows. That is why February 13 every year is celebrated as National Women’s Day in India to honour Sarojini Naidu.

Furthermore, before her participation in the freedom struggle, she was an activist for women’s suffrage during her time in England, where she went for her higher studies. In fact, many scholars regarded her literary works as having anti-colonial sentiments from a feminist perspective.

As she was an ardent believer of Gandhi and his ideals, Sarojini supported Gandhiji in every endeavour from Civil Disobedience and Quit India movements to Satyagrahas and Round Table Conferences. During the ‘Quit India’ movement, she was also jailed for 20-21 months along with him.

Sarojini Naidu on a stamp/ Indian Women freedom fighters

Sarojini Naidu on 1964 stamp

Other than being one of the 15 women in the Constituent Assembly, Sarojini Naidu was the first Indian woman to become the President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to be appointed as an Indian state Governor (United Provinces).

On the occasion of her birthday, we turn back time and look at some of boldest writings.


Nay, do not grieve tho’ life be full of sadness,

Dawn will not veil her spleandor for your grief,

Nor spring deny their bright, appointed beauty

To lotus blossom and ashoka leaf.

Nay, do not pine, tho’ life be dark with trouble,

Time will not pause or tarry on his way;

To-day that seems so long, so strange, so bitter,

Will soon be some forgotten yesterday.

Nay, do not weep; new hopes, new dreams, new faces,

The unspent joy of all the unborn years,

Will prove your heart a traitor to its sorrow,

And make your eyes unfaithful to their tears.


Song Of A Dream

Once in the dream of a night I stood

Lone in the light of a magical wood,

Soul-deep in visions that poppy-like sprang;

And spirits of Truth were the birds that sang,

And spirits of Love were the stars that glowed,

And spirits of Peace were the streams that flowed

In that magical wood in the land of sleep.

At Twilight

Shall hope prevail where clamorous hate is rife,

Shall sweet love prosper or high dreams have place

Amid the tumult of reverberant strife

‘Twixt ancient creeds, ‘twixt race and ancient race,

That mars the grave, glad purposes of life,

Leaving no refuge save thy succoring face?

Palaquin Bearers

Softly, O softly we bear her along,

She hangs like a star in the dew of our song;

She springs like a beam on the brow of the tide,

She falls like a tear from the eyes of a bride.

Past And Future

The new hath come and now the old retires:

And so the past becomes a mountain-cell,

Where lone, apart, old hermit-memories dwell

In consecrated calm, forgotten yet

Of the keen heart that hastens to forget

Old longings in fulfilling new desires.

Harvest Hymn

Womens Voices:

Queen of the gourd-flower, queen of the har- vest,

Sweet and omnipotent mother, O Earth!

Thine is the plentiful bosom that feeds us,

Thine is the womb where our riches have birth.

We bring thee our love and our garlands for tribute,

With gifts of thy opulent giving we come;

O source of our manifold gladness, we hail thee,

We praise thee,

O Prithvi, with cymbal and drum.

Autumn Song

Like a joy on the heart of a sorrow,

The sunset hangs on a cloud;

A golden storm of glittering sheaves,

Of fair and frail and fluttering leaves,

The wild wind blows in a cloud.

Hark to a voice that is calling

To my heart in the voice of the wind:

My heart is weary and sad and alone,

For its dreams like the fluttering leaves have gone,

And why should I stay behind?


Inspiring Quotes by Sarojini Naidu on Oppression, Courage

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

“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.”

“Oh, we want a new breed of men before India can be cleansed of her disease.”

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

Sarojini Naidu Indian Female Freedom Fighters, 142 Years of Sarojini Naidu : A Reminder from Bharatiya Kokila on the Idea of An Indian, 142nd Birth Anniversary Sarojini Naidu

Sarojini Naidu / Indian Female Freedom Fighters

“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.”