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Early Life

Bal Gangadhar Tilak, popularly known as Lokamanya Tilak, was born on 23 July 1856 in Chikhalgaon in Dapoli Taluka of Ratnagiri District. The Tilak family belonged to the Chitpavan Brahmins or the Konkanastha Brahmins, a Hindu Brahmin community from the Konkan region. Gangadhar, Tilak’s father, was a Marathi teacher by profession. However, he later acquired proficiency in mathematics and Sanskrit as well. He married Parvatibai, and was blessed with a son, who was originally named as Keshav Tilak (after his great-grandfather, Keshavrao). Though he was called as ‘Balwant’ at home, he was commonly known as ‘Bal Gangadhar Tilak’. Tilak started his schooling in 1861. He was an excellent student who made rapid progress in his studies under the able guidance of his learned father. From an early age, he made himself well versed with Sanskrit, grammar, literature, and also arithmetic. By the age of 16, he had lost both his parents, and was later taken care of by his uncle Govindrao.

Professional Life

Bal Gangadhar Tilak, being good at heart, always wished for an ethical society. He, along with Vishnushastri Chiplunkar, Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, M.B. Namjoshi, Vamanrao Apte, and others, started the New English School in Poona, in January 1880. He realized that the education system brought on by the British was to capture the will, intellect, and imagination of the young mind to their benefit. He wanted to bring back all that was lost in the last 100 years. Started with a handful pupils, it gradually gained popularity resulting in a significant increase in the number of scholars within a short span of time. Tilak started his career with the hope of inducing the Government to transfer the whole of secondary education (and college education, if possible) to popular control. The President of the Education Commission, Dr. Hunter, was absoutely pleased with Tilak’s wonderful spirit and solid improvements.

Indian National Congress

Lokamanya Tilak joined Congress in 1889, after splitting-up from the Deccan Education Society. He played a major role in popularizing the Congress Party in Maharashtra. During the Bombay Session of the Congress in 1889, he moved an amendment to the resolution regarding the constitution of Legislative Councils for India. The amendment stated that the members of the Imperial Legislative Council should be elected by the Provincial Legislative Councils by undertaking the indirect election method. Tilak supported and appreciated the resolution passed by the second Bombay Provincial Conference, held in Poona under the Presidentship of Rao Bahadur G.H. Deshmukh, related to the Crawford case.

“The Father of Indian Unrest” Rests in Peace

By the end of his jail term in Mandalay in June 1914, Lokamanya Tilak’s health started showing signs of weariness and exhaustion due to diabetes. Also, the death of his wife, during his term at Mandalay, made him vulnerable. Despite the hard times, being the man he was, he gathered a mass following under the Home Rule League, incorporated in 1916, in collaboration with Dr. Annie Besant. Tilak was thoroughly disappointed by the brutal incident of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919, which further weakened him.

Long imprisonment, personal losses, and his deteriorating health did not let him get his share of freedom that he always dreamt of. In mid-July 1920, his condition worsened and finally on August 1, he left for his heavenly abode. With the outbreak of the sad news of his demise, a veritable ocean of people surged to his residence in Bombay, to have the last glimpse of their beloved leader.

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I regard India as my Motherland and my Goddess, the people in India are my kith and kin, and loyal and steadfast work for their political and social emancipation is my highest religion and duty.

Our nation is like a tree of which the original trunk is swarajya and the branches are swadeshi and boycott.

Progress is implied in independence. Without self-government neither industrial progress is possible, nor the educational scheme will be useful to the nation…To make efforts for India’s freedom is more important than social reforms.

Religion and practical life are not different. To take Sanyas (renunciation) is not to abandon life. The real spirit is to make the country your family work together instead of working only for your own. The step beyond is to serve humanity and the next step is to serve God.



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