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Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Bal Gangadhar Tilak, commonly known as Lokamanya Tilak was a leader of the Indian independence movement and belonged to the extremist faction. He was also called the ‘Father of Indian Unrest’.
- Born as Keshav Gangadhar Tilak in 1856 in Ratnagiri, modern-day Maharashtra.
- Born into a middle-class Hindu family; got a bachelor’s degree from Pune.
- Initially worked as a maths teacher. Later started working as a journalist and joined the freedom movement.
- He was one of the founders of the Fergusson College in Pune.
- He died in 1920 aged 64.
- Tilak joined the Congress in 1890.
- He was opposed to moderate ways and views and had a more radical and aggressive stance against British rule.
- He was one of the first advocates of Swaraj or self-rule. He gave the slogan, “Swaraj is my birth right and I shall have it.” He believed that no progress was possible without self-rule.
- He was part of the extremist faction of the INC and was a proponent of boycott and Swadeshi movements.
- He published two papers – Kesari in Marathi and Mahratta in English. He was fearless in his criticism of the government in these papers.
- He was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment on charges of “incitement to murder”. He had written that killers of oppressors could not be blamed, quoting the Bhagavad Gita. After this, two British officials were killed by two Indians in retaliation to the ‘tyrannical’ measures taken by the government during the bubonic plague episode in Bombay.
- Along with Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai, he was called the ‘Lal-Bal-Pal’ trio of extremist leaders.
- He was tried for sedition several times. He spent 6 years in Mandalay prison from 1908 to 1914 for writing articles defending Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose. They were revolutionaries who had killed two English women, throwing bomb into the carriage carrying the women. Chaki and Bose had mistakenly assumed that Magistrate Douglas Kingsford was in it.
- Tilak re-joined the INC in 1916, after having split earlier.
- He was one of the founders of the All India Home Rule League, along with Annie Besant and G S Khaparde.
- For his political ideals, Tilak drew heavily from the ancient Hindu scriptures.
- He called for people to be proud of their heritage. He was against blatant westernisation of society.
- He transformed the simple Ganesh Puja performed at home into a social and public Ganesh festival.
- He used the Ganesh Chaturthi and Shiv Jayanti (birth anniversary of Shivaji) festivals to create unity and a national spirit among the people. Unfortunately, this move alienated non-Hindus from him.
- The Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav as popularised by him since 1894 is still one of the biggest festivals of Maharashtra.
- Despite being a nationalist radical leader, Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s social views were conservative.
- He was against Hindu women getting modern education.
- He was opposed to the age of consent bill initially in which the age of marriage of girls was proposed to be raised from 10 to 12. Even though he was okay with this raising of age, he saw this act as interference in the social and religious life of Indians by the British.
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