Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Freedom Fighters of India

Name : Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Alternate name : Lokmanya Tilak
Date of Birth : July 23, 1856
Date of Death : August 1, 1920
Place of Birth : Ratnagiri, Maharashtra
Movement: Indian Independence Movement

Bal Gangadhar Tilak was born on 23 July 1856 in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. His father, Gangadhar Rao, was a scholar in Sanskrit and grammar. He was fearless and had great self-respect-the quantities inherited by his son. Even during his school years, he was respected by his companions. He was moved by the plight of the poor and was always ready to serve them. The people considered him worthy of respect and addressed him as ‘Tilak’.

Tilak tried to revive a sense of pride among Hindus for their ancient culture and traditions. Tilak’s statement “Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it” was considered anti-government. Fearless that he was, he worked undaunted for the independence of India.

Lokmanya Tilak married at the young age of 15, but after graduating, he joined the freedom struggle. For the dissemination of nationalist thoughts he first opened a school, then he began publishing two newspapers – ‘Mahratta’ in English and ‘Kesari’ in Marathi. To invoke a sense of national pride, he wrote provocative articles against the British Government. So he had to face several punishments and imprisonments. To instill a sense of unity, he organized ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ and Shivaji Jayanti’. He celebrated and popularized these occasions as great festivals.

He spent six months’ rigorous imprisonment in Mandalay Jail, Burma due to his alleged support for the murder of a British couple. The more the punishment imposed on him, the more his fame grew and the more people revered him. The British tried to stop the publication of his newspapers.

Lokmanya Tilak was a scholar of Sanskrit, Mathematics, Astrology, History and Philosophy. He was also a great writer. Among the significant books he wrote, were ‘The Secret of the Gita’, ‘Orion’, ‘The True Home of the Aryans and others. ‘The Secret of the Gita’ is an annotation of the Holy Gita which believes that work is worship.

Lokmanya Tilak was the symbol of Indianness. The youth respected him. The public had profound reverence for him. On his death, Gandhiji remarked, “The public considers Lokmanya Tilak as a god and his words as words form the Vedas”.

In 1920, he was chosen the president of the Congress, but he died in August 1, 1920 before the session. Lokmanya Tilak was one of the greatest nationalist leaders whom his countrymen can never forget.

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