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Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Prologue

India's struggle for freedom from British rule was a dynamic process. The nation was roused from slumber. It became aware of new aspirations. The late Lokmanya Tilak was foremost among those who initiated and accelerated this process. He does not, however, belong to the past. His works and deeds are a part of the personality of India to this day.

Birth, Education and Post Education

Bal Gangadhar Tilak was born on 23rd July 1856 at Ratnagiri, in Maharashtra state, on the west coast of India, into a family of Hindu Brahmins. His father was a learned Sanskrit scholar. Tilak obtained a good education in the orthodox Hindu cultural tradition and this influence remained throughout his life. While studying for his LL. B. degree he came in contact with Gopal Ganesh Agarkar. Both became very close friends and shared many "a bout of thought". They formed an opinion that the salvation of India was to be found in education alone. On 1st January 1880, Chiplunkar, Agarkar and Tilak founded the New English School. Working in the field of education Chiplunkar, Tilak, Agarkar and Namjoshi started Kesari as a daily and Mahratta as weekly.

The work of moulding public opinion under the alien British rule was not easy. Tilak and Agarkar realised by early 1882 that editorship was a thorny crest, when both leaders suffered their first imprisonment.

23rd July 18561st August 1920

Ganesh Festival and Shiv Jayanti

In order to inspire the common man he started these two festivals which were celebrated across cast and creed. There are many festive days and different festivals in the Hindu religion, but they are celebrated individually and privately. For national awakening Tilak initiated Ganeshotsav and Shivaji Utsav in 1894. Shivaji Utsav started on Fort Raigad in 1894 and reached as far as Japan by 1905. In 1896 Ganeshotsav attained national importance.

Start of Political Movement

The birth of Kesari-Mahratta in 1881 proved to be a jolt to the British empire. In 1896 a severe famine broke out in India. The British had formed the Forman Code which was not followed properly. Tilak, then started a political movement against British rule. In response, the alien government instituted a treason trial against Tilak.

The First Treason Trial

The famine of 1896 was closely followed by the epidemic of plague. Rand, an official of the British, and his military men, resorted to untold atrocities on the civil population at Pune. Chapekar brothers killed Rand on 22nd June 1897. Using this as an excuse, Tilak was imprisoned for a year and half.

The Second Treason Trial

The second treason trial started on 24th June 1908, for writing two editorials Nation's Misfortune and No Permanent Solution, as a sequel to a bomb blast at Muzafferpur. He was sentenced to 6 years of rigorous imprisonment. He was kept at Sabarmati Jail and later at Mandalay Jail. Here he wrote his famous book Geeta Rahasya. He lost his wife on 7th July 1912, while he was in prison.

Epilogue

Tialk's entire life was devoted to a mass movement in India. He was a prime mover for India's struggle for freedom. His main contribution to India and the Congress Party is his four fold programme, which consisted of:

Swaraj - With built in democracy
Swadeshi - With a view to develop Indian industry and wealth
Boycott - That is an agitation within the framework the constitution
National Education - To create inspiration, to develop technical and scientific knowledge.

The great warrior of India's freedom struggle departed for his heavenly abode on 1st August 1920. That marked an end of Tilak Yug and beginning of Gandhi Yug.

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