About the Book:
Sarojini Naidu's biography is inextricably interwoven with the personalities and public events of her time. On the one hand are the complex currents of modern Indian history: Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah, Gokhale, the Congress, Satyagraha, Home Rule, Partition, and Independence. On the other is a fascinating world of letters: Gosse, Symons, Pound, Dutt. Coomaraswamy. Set amidst all these are the people and places in Sarojini Devi's personal life: her father Aghorenath, her mother Varadasundari, her three brothers and four sisters, Hyderabad, Madras, London, Cambridge, her husband Govindrajulu, their four children, Ceylon, Africa, America.
Sarojini Devi's interests and passions were many: books, poetry, people conversation, food, gardens, folklore, handicrafts and travel. As a poet, she had perhaps the finest ear among Indians for the English language. As a public speaker, she impressed the most sophisticated audiences. As a political worker, her courage and conviction embarrassed her detractors. As a proponent of women's rights, she won over numerous chauvinists.
Dr Naravane offers us here what is probably the most balanced, extensively researched and compact study of her life, work and poetry published so far.
About the Author:
Vishwanath S. Naravane (b. 1922)studied philosophy of Allahabad University and received the PhD. degree in 1945. He taught there at the Department of Philosophy for more than fifteen years. In 1965, he was appointed Professor and Chairman of the Department of Philosophy; Poona University, a post which he held until 1968. Since then, Dr Naravane has been successively associated with a number of American Universities, where he has given courses in Indian philosophy, religious studies, art and literature.
The birth centenary of Sarojini Naidu was commemorated last year, not only in India but also in many other countries where there is a deepening interest in the history and culture of modern India. This book is a modest tribute to one of the few Indian leaders of our age who achieved renown for creative literary work as well as for outstanding contribution to the social and political life of the country. A close friend and a trusted disciple of Mahatma Gandhi; a patriot who dedicated the major portion of her life to the service of her country; a warm, affectionate and interesting human being; a brilliant orator and conversationalist; an artist who has bequeathed to Indian literature some truly beautiful poems; a leader who, for nearly half a century, left the stamp of her personality on almost every facet of Indian life: that is how Sarojini Devi will be remembered by future generations.
Although this book was written specially on the occasion of her birth centenary, it is intended as a serious-though brief-study of Sarojini Devi's life, personality and poetry. I have explained the genesis and sources of this study in the introductory chapter. Here I would like to express my gratitude to my respected teachers. Professor Amaranatha Jha, Professor Satish Chandra Deb and Professor P. E. Dustoor, from who I received valuable guidance in my study of Sarojini Naidu's poetry in the wider context of modern Indian literature.
The publishers and I would also like to acknowledge the help extended by the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi, in locating the photograph of Sarojini Devi that has been reproduced as the frontispiece here.
Allahabad, May 1980
VISHWANATH S. NARAVANE
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