SAROJINI NAIDU

Sarojini Naidu was born to a remarkable Brahmin parents in Hyderabad. She was the daughter of Dr Aghornath Chattopadhyaya. Sarojini had a brilliant academic career at home, in London and in Cambridge and was widely acclaimed for the poetry she published between 1905 and 1917. She was popularly known as the ‘Nightingale of the East’ for her poetical compositions in English. Sarojini was elected President of the Indian National Congress in 1925 and faced imprisonment after the 1942 ‘Quit India Movement’. She became the first Woman Governor of a State in Independent India and died in office. Bird of Time, The Broken Wing, Golden Threshold, The Songs of India are some of her chief poetical works.

In the garden of Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, there stands an empty temple made of stone and one day, when I was giving the Kamala Lectures to the University, the last day it was, I walked with him in his garden. He said to me, ‘Have you found the text of today’s address?’ I said, ‘No.’ Then he said, ‘You will find the text of your address here.’ I walked with him and looked at the birds, trees, statues and at last I stood before that empty temple, when he said, ‘Poet, have you found your message?’ I said, ‘I have.’ Here is an empty temple in which there is no image because every worshipper must find in the empty temple the knowledge that he creates God in the image of his own soul. That is the message to the world of all great saints and prophets of the world and that was the message of Sri Ramakrishna. For him the temple was always empty, because it was always ready. It was always ready for him to place his deity, no matter whether for a moment he projected himself into the soul of the Mussulman or the Christian or the Confucian or the Zoroastrian or the Sikh or any other faith. He said, ‘Here is a temple of humanity and humanity must have a God. Where shall I find Him? Shall I produce Him in my limited individual consciousness? Or God shall be so infinite and so diverse that I shall seek Him in the image of the Infinite as He appears to his children in the deserts of Arabia, or on the mountaintops, in the caves and in the forests of many lands.’ And Sri Ramakrishna taught us that the temple remains empty because love alone can create an image of God and with that love, you are not limited, you become a part of the great humanity that worship God by many names.’’56