Indian Freedom Fighters - Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak
September 27, 2020, 10:15 PM IST
One of the firebrand freedom fighters and the strongest proponent of 'purna swaraj' or 'total self-rule',Lokmanya Tilak's slogan 'Swaraj is my birth right and I shall have it' caught the imagination of a country fighting to free itself from the colonial rule.Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak died on August 1, 1920 in Mumbai.Bal Gangadhar Tilak tirelessly contributed to help the country break free from the British rule. Part of the Lal-Bal-Pal (Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal) troika, Bal Gangadhar Tilak was called 'father of the Indian unrest" by British colonial rulers.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Freedom Fighter Who Said, 'Swaraj Is My Birth Right.One of the firebrand freedom fighters and the strongest proponent of 'purna swaraj' or 'total self-rule', Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak's 100th death anniversary is being observed today. Lokmanya Tilak's slogan 'Swaraj is my birth right and I shall have it' caught the imagination of a country fighting to free itself from the colonial rule. Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak died on August 1, 1920 in Mumbai.Bal Gangadhar Tilak tirelessly contributed to help the country break free from the British rule. Part of the Lal-Bal-Pal (Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal) troika, Bal Gangadhar Tilak was called 'father of the Indian unrest" by British colonial rulers.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak was a scholar, a writer, mathematician and a philosopher. He was given the title, 'Lokmanya', which means 'beloved leader' by his followers.Lokmanya Tilak received his education at the Deccan College in Pune and he earned his Bachelor's degree in 1876, in mathematics and Sanskrit. Later he also studied law at the University of Bombay. He founded the Deccan Education Society in 1884 with an aim to educate common people in English.
Lokmanya Tilak founded and edited two newspapers - Kesari in Marathi and The Mahratta in English. He used his pen as a weapon to criticise the colonial rulers.Tilak belonged to the rare category of philosopher-politician. His ideas of swaraj and swadeshi were anchored in making every Indian conscious of the insults and injustice meted out by the British. He prepared a fertile ground for swaraj through his home-rule movement. He was clear on the aim of the home rule movement. The tone and tenor of his demand were strategically conciliatory. He wrote: “India was like a son who had grown up and attained maturity. It was right now that the trustee or the father should give him what was his due. The people of India must get this effected. They have a right to do so.”
Notably, Tilak almost had a blueprint of a post-Independence India in mind. For him, swa-raj was also liked to swa-bhasha and swa-bhusha, i.e. mother tongue and indigenous attire. Perhaps, he was the first national leader who envisioned the formation of linguistic states. He spoke of how we should “form one separate state each for Marathi, Telugu and Kanarese provinces...” The principle that education should be given through the vernaculars is self-evident and clear..”
A master strategist, Tilak adroitly used the two things — constitutionalism and democracy — that the British rulers used to boast about, to his maximum advantage. To that end, he used both, his passion and professional acumen as editor and pleader dexterously. His editorials were not only hard hitting, but well-argued and still carefully-worded in order to avoid legal implications. Tilak was also known for not mincing his words. However, a scholar at heart, Tilak used both activism in the field as well as opinion to hasten slowly and attain the goal of swaraj, something his fellow Congressmen were wary of publicly speaking about at that time.
Of course, his idea of Swaraj was not confined to political freedom. He was conscious of the need for cultural and economic independence too. Tilak could be rightly described as the Father of the Indian Renaissance. Two other initiatives of his, the public celebration of the Ganesh festival and Shivaji Jayanti, were clearly aimed at cultural assimilation of all caste and community groups. Once, in an editorial of Kesari he wrote, “This (Ganesh) festival is both age old and universal; but this time the new thing about it was that all castes — and not just Brahmins — came together and made it a festival of all Hindus, a thing we must take pride in.”
Swadeshi was the other important cause espoused by Tilak. Both Lala Lajpat Rai and Bipin Chandra Pal joined him in popularising the call of swadeshi nationally, which saw the emergence of the famous triumvirate of those days, popularly known as Lal, Bal and Pal. However, his swadeshi was not just about boycotting British goods. Although he used the tools of boycott and bonfire of British goods to provide a window for popular participation, his larger objective was promoting indigenous entrepreneurship. Tilak wanted to promote manufacturing in India. To that end, Tilak started collecting funds for a corpus, known as Paisa Fund. Through this, Tilak supported Ishwar Das Varshney, an entrepreneur who was greatly inspired by Tilak’s speech in the Surat Congress. Varshney later started Paisa Fund Glass Works at Talegaon near Pune.
He was imprisoned a number of times including a long stint at Mandalay in Myanmar. During his years in prison, he spent his time reading and writing. He wrote the famous 'Gita Rahasya' - an analysis of the Karma Yoga which finds its source in The Bhagavad Gita.While Jawaharlal Nehru called him the 'father of Indian revolution', Mahatma Gandhi described Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak as 'the maker of modern India'.