Bal Gangadhar Tilak
“Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it” whenever we hear this slogan we feel an adrenaline rush in the body, the blood starts racing high and we experience the highest form enthusiasm within us. Yes, this is the feeling that every Indian goes through after listening to this slogan in this era. Now you can imagine the number of energy people would get by this saying these words during British Rule in India. This famous slogan was given by one of the most eminent personalities the mother India is proud of having. He is popularly known as Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak. He was a Brilliant Politician, excellent academician, brave Lawyer, a good teacher, and a very good scholar.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak or Lokmanya Tilak was born on 23 July 1856 in Ratnagiri. He was from a middle-class Chitpavan Brahmin family. His birthplace was a small coastal town in south-western Maharashtra. His father, Gangadhar Shastri was a famous Sanskrit scholar and school teacher at Ratnagiri. His mother’s name was Parvatibai Gangadhar, a simple housewife. His first name was Keshav Gangadhar Tilak. As a child Bal Gangadhar Tilak always stood against injustice and never stayed back to fight against it. From childhood, Tilak was truthful in his nature. He had independent opinions from an early age. He lost his mother at the age of 6 and father at the age of 12. He was married to Tapibai later renamed Satyabhama Bai.
He graduated from Deccan College, Pune, in 1877 in Sanskrit and Mathematics. Later he perceived L.L.B. degree from the Government Law College, Bombay in 1879. He started teaching English and Mathematics at a private school in Pune. Later he quit his job due to some disagreement with the authorities which helped him to start a school in 1880 which would lay emphasis on nationalism in the student’s mind. Tilak strongly criticized the educational system obeyed by the British in India. Through this act, Bal Gangadhar Tilak started his journey towards the contribution for freedom fight.
Contribution of Bal Gangadhar Tilak towards the freedom struggle is tremendous.
- His journey started with his disagreement towards the British Education system. Later he established the Deccan Educational Society along with his college friends Vishnushastri Chiplunkar and Gopal Ganesh Agarkar with main objective to arise the spirit of nationalism in the students of India. He wanted to inculcate the attachment towards the nation in young minds.
- Bal Gangadhar Tilak was a great freedom fighter before Gandhi and believed that “if we want the Swaraj then we should fight for it”. He also tried to convince Mahatma Gandhi to leave nonviolence.
- Simultaneously Tilak started two newspapers namely ‘Kesari’ in Marathi and ‘Mahratta’ in Hindi to reach the common people. Kesari became very popular among the people and was successful in sowing the seeds of patriotism among the people. He was known as the “Father of Indian Unrest” by the British government.
- He was imprisoned for 6 months for publishing articles against the British Government.
- Tilak openly supported the Swadeshi movement and Boycott of British goods.
- During 1896, Plague an extremely dangerous and deadly disease broke out in different parts of India. Pune and the adjacent regions were also affected heavily. Under directives of Commissioner W. C. Rand, the police and the army invaded private residences, violated personal sanctity of individuals, burned personal possessions and prevented individuals to move in and out of the city. The people were helpless by the situation. Tilak protested against this inhuman act of the British government and wrote provocative articles on it in his newspapers. This article inspired the Chapekar brothers and they carried out the assassination of Commissioner Rand and Lt. Ayerst on June 22, 1897. As a result of this incident, Tilak was held accused and was imprisoned for 18 months under the charges of sedition charges for inciting murder.
- He fought against the main evils of society like child labor, religious discrimination, and alcohol.
- Bal Gangadhar Tilak also started religious functions like Ganesh Jayanti and Shivaji Jayanti. These were started with the purpose of gathering the people at one place to carry out the meetings and addressing the people about the freedom fight.
- He apparently supported Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki (the revolutionaries) efforts to assassinate Chief Presidency Magistrate Douglas Kingsford in 1908. So in 1908-1914, Bal Gangadhar Tilak had to undergo six years of rigorous imprisonment in Mandalay Jail, Burma.
- In the prison, he wrote his one of the best book of his life. i.e. “Geeta Rahasya”. The book became very popular and was sold at a very good extent. He used the money of the books was used in the freedom fight.
- Mahatma Gandhi referred him as the true leader of modern India, Jawaharlal Nehru said that he is a “Bharatiya Kranti Janak” and Lala Lajpat Rai said that Bal Gangadhar Tilak is a Roaring Tiger of the country. He always believed in “Swadeshi, Swaraj, and Shiccha”.
- Tilak was very disappointed by the brutal act of Jallianwala Bagh massacre He suffered from diabetes and his health started declining rapidly in the prison. He never cared for his illness and continued to encourage the Indians towards the freedom fight. Slowly his body gave up and he passed away on the 1st of August 1920.
His contribution to the nation is enormous and unforgettable. Being a Lawyer he never thought of his personal carrier and family. He was given the title of “Lokmanya” because the words were followed by all the Indians. Thought his life he kept fighting for justice. As a result of his and other uncountable leaders, we got independence on 15th August 1947. He vanished from the world but he was successful in keeping his thoughts alive in crores of Indians.
Written By: Vaishnavi N Patil
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