Summary (Dictionary of World Biography: The 20th Century)
Sarojini Naidu led a full and successful life. It was full because it was authentic in the Sartrean existential sense of choosing freely and accepting the consequences of one’s choice. Such behavior is unlike that of the multitude who let externals—social constraints for example—choose for them; consequently, they live the lives of others, which creates emptiness instead of adding fullness. One glorious example of an authentic choice in Naidu’s life is her choice of husband: Govindarajulu Naidu, a person of a non-Brahman caste. This act alienated her from family, friends, and society—especially the Indian society of her time—yet she wore her choice with pride all through her life. Her life was successful not only because she made it through these “outrageously” authentic choices but also because she produced spectacular, though “mundane,” results because of them. She won the Kaisar-i Hind award from the Nizam of Hyderābād in 1908, became a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1914, was elected president of the Indian National Congress—the first woman to hold that elective office—and finally became, in 1947, the governor of the most politically active state in India, another first for a woman. Today she is known as the “Nightingale of India.” February 13, her birthday, is celebrated as women’s day throughout the country.
(The entire section is 221 words.)
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