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Why is reading about Sarojini Naidu essential?

Sarojini Naidu kept the beacon fire of national life aflame. Naidu played an important role in the independence movement by showcasing her oratory skills. With her revolutionary ideas and constant efforts to speak for the rights of women, she made her place in everyone’s hearts. To date, Sarojini Naidu remains to be an inspiration for men and women all around the world.


Find out why is reading about Sarojini Naidu essential with this extract from her speech given in Essential Reader: Sarojini Naidu.

cover of Essential Reader: Sarojini Naidu
Essential Reader: Sarojini Naidu || Sarojini Naidu

We often hear, not without a taunt, that the education of girls during the last three generations has been a failure. It could not but be so, it would have been strange if it had not been so. It could not be fruitful because it went away from our traditions and ideals. Our educationists are now awake to the fact that education should and can only be on national lines. We have produced exceptional women and brilliant women, too, not because of the present system of education but in spite of it.

If we want to reconstruct our educational system, it must be along a course which would continue to preserve the best traditions of the East and West. Our standard of education of Indian women should be a normal average. Not that one of our women should be pointed out with admiration as a wonderful and brilliant woman for her culture and attainments, but rather people should point out with horror at an illiterate woman in India.

Only this morning I was reading in one of your daily papers of what Lord Haldane recently said in connection with the granting of voting rights to the women of England. He said that the day is not very distant when people in England would wonder at their refusal to grant the parliamentary rights to women just as they now wonder as to how people kept slaves in the past. I think that time would also soon come to India when we too would wonder how we could keep out women in ignorance.

Remember that woman does not merely keep the hearth-fire of your homes burning, but she keeps also the beacon fire of national life aflame. It is she who keeps the soldier-heart in time of battle and the priest-heart at the time of peace (cheers). The power of self-surrender and self-realization had been the typical characteristics of Indian womanhood. This dual capacity of the personal and impersonal in her relation to man had always marked the Indian women. In this institution, too, I find manifest that spirit of self-surrender, joyous self-surrender, and self-realization. These are the qualities that make Indian women great and these are the qualities that l am glad to find in this Vidyalaya.

Today, we who dream dreams of the coming women of India have our hopes centered round institutions like this (cheers), institutions like that of Professor Karve at Poona, nor the institutions that only slavishly imitate men’s college but the institutions that would send forth to the world women not merely brought up and fed in the dry pages of lifeless books but rather women trained in the beauties and necessities of life. These women would go forth not bearing the burden of dead knowledge but culture transmuted in the services of humanity.

The historic significance of this crowd gathered here today lies not in its number for I have addressed crowds five times larger than this; but its significance lies in the presence of the very large number of women that are gathered here. Their presence here is the indication of the coming comradeship between men and women in India. The old partition between Mardana and Zenana is broken down forever. It is in the comradeship of sexes that future India shall come out man and woman working hand in hand and supplementing each other.

Friends, tomorrow again, I shall fare forth as a singing wanderer with my two bundles of hopes and dreams but never, never shall I forget this institution of yours which is destined to take its legitimate place in the history of the regeneration of India with the promise, the guarantee, almost the realization of the high ideal that it stands for.

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