A Tribute to Bal Gangadhar Tilak
(23 July 1856 – 1 August 1920)
Bal Gangadhar Tilak or Lokmanya Tilak (23 July 1856 – 1 August 1920), born as Keshav Gangadhar Tilak, was an Indian nationalist, teacher, and an independence activist. He was one third of the Lal Bal Pal triumvirate.Tilak was the first leader of the Indian Independence Movement. The British colonial authorities called him “The father of the Indian unrest.” He was also conferred with the title of “Lokmanya”, which means “accepted by the people (as their leader)”. Tilak was one of the first and strongest advocates of Swaraj (“self-rule”) and a strong radical in Indian consciousness.
He is known for his quote in Marathi: “Swarajya is my birthright and I shall have it!”. He formed a close alliance with many Indian National Congress leaders including Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai, Aurobindo Ghose, V. O. Chidambaram Pillai and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. His ancestral village was Chikhali. His father, Gangadhar Tilak was a school teacher and a Sanskrit scholar who died when Tilak was sixteen. In 1871 Tilak was married to Tapibai (Née Bal) when he was sixteen, a few months before his father’s death. After marriage, her name was changed to Satyabhamabai. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts in first class in Mathematics from Deccan College of Pune in 1877. He left his M.A. course of study midway to join the LL.B course instead, and in 1879 he obtained his LL.B degree from Government Law College . After graduating, Tilak started teaching mathematics at a private school in Pune.
Later, due to ideological differences with the colleagues in the new school, he withdrew and became a journalist. Tilak actively participated in public affairs. He stated: “Religion and practical life are not different. The real spirit is to make the country your family instead of working only for your own. The step beyond is to serve humanity and the next step is to serve God.” Tilak had a long political career agitating for Indian autonomy from the British rule. Before Gandhi, he was the most widely known Indian political leader. At one stage in his political life he was called “the father of Indian unrest” by British author Sir Valentine Chirol. Tilak and Swami Vivekananda had great mutual respect and esteem for each other. They met accidentally while travelling by train in 1892 and Tilak had Vivekananda as a guest in his house.
A person who was present there(Basukaka), heard that it was agreed between Vivekananda and Tilak that Tilak would work towards nationalism in the “political” arena, while Vivekananda would work for nationalism in the “religious” arena.