Google celebrated the 117th birthday of Indian activist and author Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, a trailblazing writer and freedom fighter, with a Doodle on Monday, August 16. Chauhan was a trailblazing writer and freedom fighter whose work rose to national prominence during a male-dominated era of literature. The Doodle is illustrated by New Zealand-based guest artist Prabha Mallya.
Chauhan’s evocative nationalist poem “Jhansi ki Rani” is widely regarded as one of the most recited poems in Hindi literature.
Subhadra Kumari Chauhan was born in 1904 in in the village of Nihalpur. She was known to write constantly, even in the horse cart on the way to school, and her first poem was published at just nine years old. The call for independence reached its height during her early adulthood. As a participant in the Indian Nationalist Movement, she used her poetry to call others to fight for their nation’s sovereignty.
Chauhan’s poetry and prose primarily centered around the hardships that Indian women overcame, such as gender and caste discrimination. Her poetry remained uniquely underscored by her resolute nationalism. In 1923, Chauhan’s unyielding activism led her to become the first woman satyagrahi, a member of the Indian collective of nonviolent anti-colonialists to be arrested in the struggle for national liberation. She continued to make revolutionary statements in the fight for freedom both on and off the page into the 1940s, publishing a total of 88 poems and 46 short stories.
Today, Chauhan’s poetry remains a staple in many Indian classrooms as a symbol of historical progress, encouraging future generations to stand up against social injustice and celebrate the words that shaped a nation’s history.