(Last Updated on : 04/09/2017)
Bal Gangadhar Tilak was a well known Indian Nationalist
. In the early part of the 20th century when the trend of Indian independence
was mostly guided by Extremism
, Bal Gangadhar Tilak became the uncrowned king. He was one of the first and strongest proponents of Swaraj and he was also considered as the Father of Hindu Nationalism
. His famous declaration "Swaraj is my birthright, and I shall have it"
served as an inspiration for future revolutionaries during Indias struggle for freedom
. Bal Gangadhar Tilak was credited to be the first nationalist leader who sought close contact with the masses. In this respect he was the precursor of Mahatma Gandhi
Early Life of Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Bal Gangadhar Tilak was born on 23rd July 1856 as Keshav Gangadhar Tilak in a Maratha Brahmin
family at Ratnagiri
. He was one of the first generation of India having college education
. After graduation in the year 1879, he started teaching in a private school in Pune
and went on to become a journalist. He was very vocal in criticising the Western education system
and set up the Deccan Education Society to educate Indias youth. He participated in radical politics. Bal Gangadhar Tilak along with Gopal Ganesh Agarkar planned to establish institutions in order to provide cheap education
to the people. In January 1890, the Poona New English School was founded. He was also associated with the formation of the Deccan Educational Society and the foundation of the Fergusson College
, Pune. He was a scholar in true sense of History of India
Political Career of Bal Gangadhar Tilak
After education, Bal Gangadhar Tilak decided to devote himself for the larger cause of national awakening. The first stage in 1879, to propagate his views Tilak started two weekly newspapers
, The Mahratta and The Kesari in English
accordingly. This stage ended in 1890 when, due to differences with his colleagues on questions of principle, Tilak withdrew from the Deccan Education Society which had inclined towards moderate liberalism. In this year Bal Gangadhar Tilak joined Indian National Congress
In the years, 1891-97, the differences between Tilak and the Maharashtra Moderate Nationalists grew more acute. These increasing controversies unfolded particularly in the Sarvajanik Sabha, an extremely influential society of Maharashtra
led by eminent Moderates of Western India like Mahadev Govind Ranade
and Gopal Krishna Gokhale
. In 1895 there occurred a sharp and sudden breaking asunder in the native political society of the Deccan
, which resulted in the organisational formation of the Maharashtra Nationalists radical wing and, subsequently, in 1897, with the aggravation of the political situation in Western India
, culminated in Tilaks imprisonment for 18 months.
This ushered in the third stage of Bal Gangadhar Tilaks career. In the period of the 1905-1908 revolutionary upsurges, Tilak became the real symbol of the new age. He was the chief leader of the democratic wing of the National Movement not only of Maharashtra but of the whole of India.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak in Indian National Congress
As a Congress leader, Bal Gangadhar Tilaks liberal attitude towards the fight of self government or Swaraj was strongly opposed by the moderate leaders. According to Mrs. Annie Besant
, it was Bal Gangadhar Tilak who brought a radical transformation in the trend of Indias struggle for independence. The British
authorities again arrested Tilak and he was imprisoned from 1908 to 1914 in Mandalay, Burma. He re-joined the Indian National Congress in 1916 and helped to found the "All India Home Rule League
" in 1916-18.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak as a Social Reformer
To awake a sense of unity Bal Gangadhar Tilak introduced the Shivaji festival
and the Ganapati festival
in order to inculcate the spirit of nationalism and service to the nation. In 1891, he opposed the Age of Consent bill introduced after the death of a child bride from sexual injuries. The act rose the marriageable age of a child bride from 10-12 which was already 16 in Britain since 1885. He was the first Congress leader to suggest that Hindi should be accepted as the National Language of India
According to Bal Gangadhar Tilak, education was the only way to bring a rapid reformation and transformation in the society. One of the stalwarts of Indias freedom struggle, Bal Gangadhar Tilak is still living in the hearts of every Indian.