21 September 1921|
|Died||17 October 2013
|Occupation||Social worker, Indian independence movement / Indian independence activist|
Sarojini was born in Madras on September 21, 1921 to Bhaktavatsalam and Gnanasundarambal. Her father Bhaktavatsalam was a student at the Madras Law college when she was born. She studied till ninth standard at Lady Sivaswami Girls School when her education was discontinued. She studied Hindi through private home tuitions and completed her Visharadh. As her family objected to her travelling to an exam center to write her exams, her Prathmic exams were conducted at home. In her later years, she explained that her education was curtailed due to the conservativeness of her family. She was associated with the Indian National Congress and the Congress Seva Dal during her early days.
At an early age, she was married to her cousin Varadappan. Sarojini was 21 years old when her father was arrested at the height of the Quit India Movement. After two years of imprisonment, he was released in 1944.
Sarojini resumed her studies after marriage and completed her Master's in political science from Mysore University through correspondence. She also did her M. A. in Vaishnavism from Madras University. Sarojini got her PhD at the age of 80 for her thesis on "Social Service and the Swami Narayan Movement". Sarojini is also an ardent devotee of the Paramacharya of Kanchi, Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi. Her niece Mrs. Jayanthi Natarajan is a minister in the central cabinet. She died on 17 October 2013, at the age of 92.
Sarojini learnt music from Parur Sundaram Iyer and sung prayer songs at Congress meetings. She also learnt Kshetragna padams and Tamil padams from Mylapore Gowri Amma, Bharatiyar songs from E. Krishna Iyer and Hindi bhajans from Veena Visalakshi.
Sarojini was involved in social activities ever since her early days. Her mother Gnanasundarambal was associated with the Women's India Association (WIA) and Sarojini joined the organisation at an early age. Sarojini also served as the President of the WIA. Under her leadership, the number of branches of the organisation increased from four to 76. Sarojini is also the president of the Mylapore Academy.
Sarojini has been a member of the Indian Red Cross Society for over 35 years. When Marri Chenna Reddy was the Governor of Tamil Nadu, she was appointed President of the society. This was contrary to the usual practice of requesting the Governor's wife to preside over the society. When contacted, Channa Reddy's wife had declined the request due to her lack of proficiency in Tamil and instead asked Sarojini to preside over the organisation.
Sarojini was awarded India's fourth highest civilian award, the Padma Shri in 1973. She was awarded the Jankidevi Bajaj award for 2004 at a function in Chennai held on February 23, 2005. In 2009, Sarojini was awarded India's third highest civilian award, the Padma Bhushan for social service. On March 5, 2009, she was honoured at a function in Chennai.
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