Naidu joined the Indian independence movement in the wake of partition of Bengal in She soon met other such leaders as Gopal Krishna Gokhale , Rabindranath Tagore , Mahatma Gandhi and was inspired to work towards attaining freedom from the colonial regime and social reform. She was the first Indian woman and second woman overall after Annie Besant to do so. She faced repeated arrests by the British authorities during the time and even spent over 21 months in jail. She remained in office until her death in March In , her first collection of poems, named The Golden Threshold was published.
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Hyderabad , and has since laboured incessantly, and at great personal sacrifice, in the cause of education. Sarojini was the eldest of a large family, all of whom were taught English at an early age.
So one day when I was nine years old my father punished me--the only time I was ever punished--by shutting me in a room alone for a whole day. I came out of it a full-blown linguist. I have never spoken any other language to him, or to my mother, who always speaks to me in Hindustani.
He was determined that I should be a great mathematician or a scientist, but the poetic instinct, which I inherited from him and also from my mother who wrote some lovely Bengali lyrics in her youth proved stronger. I wrote it down. At thirteen I wrote a drama of lines, a full-fledged passionate thing that I began on the spur of the moment without forethought, just to spite my doctor who said I was very ill and must not touch a book. My health broke down permanently about this time, and my regular studies being stopped I read voraciously.
I suppose the greater part of my reading was done between fourteen and sixteen. I wrote a novel, I wrote fat volumes of journals; I took myself very seriously in those days.
Govindurajulu Naidu, now her husband, is, though of an old and honourable family, not a Brahmin. The difference of caste roused an equal opposition, not only on the side of her family, but of his; and in she was sent to England , against her will, with a special scholarship from the Nizam. She returned to Hyderabad in September , and in the December of that year, to the scandal of all India , broke through the bonds of caste, and married Dr.
If the gods are kind--and grant me a little measure of health. My father is a dreamer himself, a great dreamer, a great man whose life has been a magnificent failure. He has a great white beard and the profile of Homer, and a laugh that brings the roof down. He has wasted all his money on two great objects: to help others, and on alchemy. He holds huge courts every day in his garden of all the learned men of all religions--Rajahs and beggars and saints and downright villains all delightfully mixed up, and all treated as one.
And then his alchemy! Oh dear, night and day the experiments are going on, and every man who brings a new prescription is welcome as a brother. To those who knew her in England , all the life of the tiny figure seemed to concentrate itself in the eyes; they turned towards beauty as the sunflower turns towards the sun, opening wider and wider until one saw nothing but the eyes.
She was dressed always in clinging dresses of Eastern silk, and as she was so small, and her long black hair hung straight down her back, you might have taken her for a child.
She spoke little, and in a low voice, like gentle music; and she seemed, wherever she was, to be alone. Through that soul I seemed to touch and take hold upon the East. And first there was the wisdom of the East. But there was something else, something hardly personal, something which belonged to a consciousness older than the Christian, which I realised, wondered at, and admired, in her passionate tranquillity of mind, before which everything mean and trivial and temporary caught fire and burnt away in smoke.
And along with this wisdom, as of age or of the age of a race, there was what I can hardly call less than an agony of sensation. It was never found in those things which to others seemed things of importance. At the age of twelve she passed the Matriculation of the Madras , and awoke to find herself famous throughout India. All is hot and fierce and passionate, ardent and unashamed in its exulting and importunate desire for life and love.
And partly the humour, like the delicate reserve of her manner, was a mask or a shelter. Any to-morrow I might die. Of all things that life or perhaps my temperament has given me I prize the gift of laughter as beyond price.
But in Italy she found what she could not find in England , and from Italy her letters are radiant. Would it not be wonderful? One black night I stood in a garden with fireflies in my hair like darting restless stars caught in a mesh of darkness. It gave me a strange sensation, as if I were not human at all, but an elfin spirit. I wonder why these little things move me so deeply? Did I say dead? No, for the gods are immortal, and one might still find them loitering in some solitary dell on the grey hillsides of Fiesole.
Have I seen them? Yes, looking with dreaming eyes, I have found them sitting under the olives, in their grave, strong, antique beauty--Etruscan gods! No, no, no, a thousand times no! Her eyes were like deep pools, and you seemed to fall through them into depths below depths.
Books by Sarojini Naidu
The Golden Threshold