Biography of Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Indian Freedom Fighters Bal Gangadhar Tilak  Biography

Bal Gangadhar Tilak was an Indian nationalist, social reformer and freedom fighter who was the first leader of radical politics.

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, Tilak became the uncrowned king.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak was one of the first and strongest proponents of Swaraj and he was also considered as the father of Hindu Nationalism. 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.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak also introduced the Shivaji festival and the Ganapati festival in order to inculcate the spirit of nationalism and service to the nation. To propagate his views among the common people he started two newspapers entitled “The Mahratta” and the “Kesari”.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak Early Life

Bal Gangadhar Tilak was born in a Maratha Brahmin family at Ratnagiri. After graduating in Law in the year 1879, Bal Gangadhar Tilak decided to participate in the radical politics. Tilak in association with 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 at Pune.

Three Stages of Bal Gangadhar Tilak Political career
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The first stage commenced about 1879-80. In this stage, extending over some ten years, were moulded Bal Gangadhar Tilak`s radical political views and his world outlook, in general.

It was in these years that Bal Gangadhar Tilak and like minded colleagues launched a number of educational undertakings in the historical and cultural centre of Maharashtra. At the same time Bal Gangadhar Tilak in collaboration with other Maratha patriots started two weekly newspapers, the Mahratta and the Kesari.

This stage ended in 1890 when, due to differences with his colleagues on questions of principle, Bal Gangadhar Tilak withdrew from the Deccan Education Society which had inclined towards moderate liberalism. Thus, the first stage is identified by Tilak as combining broad educational work with political propaganda.

In the second stage, 1891-97, the differences between Bal Gangadhar Tilak and the Maharashtra Moderate Nationalists grew deeper and more acute.

These increasing controversies unfolded particularly in the Sarvajanik Sabha, an extremely influential society of Maharashtra led by such eminent Moderates of Western India as Mahadev Govind Ranade and Gopal Krishna Gokhale.

In 1895, Bal Gangadhar Tilak succeeded in ousting the Moderates from the society and becoming its actual leader. Bal Gangadhar Tilak and his supporters then turned to active political struggle against the colonial regime, to widely applying means and methods designed to enlist the masses into the struggle.

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 Bal Gangadhar Tilak`s arrest and his being sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment.

This ushered in the third stage of  Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s career. In the period of the 1905-1908 revolutionary upsurge Tilak became, the real symbol of the new age.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the chief leader of the democratic wing of the national movement not only of Maharashtra but of the whole of India. Likewise covering ten years, 1898-1908, the third stage terminated in another trial of Tilak, his being sentenced to transportation, and a great revolutionary spurt of the masses of Bombay who elevated the struggle for India`s liberation to a new and higher plane.

Indian National Congress

Bal Gangadhar Tilak joined the Indian National Congress in the 1890s. As a Congress leader he suffered several imprisonments. His liberal attitude towards the fight of self government or Swaraj was opposed by the moderate leaders strongly.

In 1891 Bal Gangadhar Tilak opposed the Age of Consent bill introduced after the death of a child bride from sexual injuries. The act raised the marriageable age of a child bride from 10 to 12 which was already 16 in Britain since 1885.

This was one of the first significant reforms introduced by the British since Indian rebellion of 1857. The Congress and other liberals whole-heartedly supported it but Tilak raised a battle-cry terming it as `Interference in Hindu Religion`.

Since then he was considered as a hard-core Hindu nationalist. Bal Gangadhar Tilak  played a leading role in organising, the Nationalist Extremist Party in collaboration with Lala Lajpat Rai and B.C. Pal against the Moderate confederacy in the house of Indian National Congress.

According to Mrs. Annie Besant, it was Bal Gangadhar Tilak who brought a radical transformation in the trend of Indians struggle for independence.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the first leader who declared openly declared Swaraj as the birthright and demanded Swaraj. It was mostly due to his efforts and those of its associates that the Congress resolution at Calcutta in 1906 demanding self Government, Boycott and the National Education was passed.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak was however not satisfied with the type of responsible government prevalent in the self governing Dominions within the Empire. The Congress Session at Nagpur in 1920 demanded Swaraj and authorised the use of all peaceful and constitutional means for its attainment.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak believed in the service to the country. It was due to him that the Indian National Congress from being the admirer of the Government turned out to be a strong critic of the British Government. The Anglo Indian Bureaucracy considered Tilak as a seditionist and Sir Valentine Chiroll called him the “Father of Indian Unrest”.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak litigated Chiroll for defamation and went to England in this connection. In this way Tilak made the people of India aware about the real nature of the British government in India.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak participated in the Indian politics as a radical leader. Being a nationalist leader he strongly criticised the moderate policy of constitutional politics. Bal Gangadhar Tilak despised the British government bitterly.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak strongly criticized the government for its brutality in suppressing free expression, especially in face of protests against the division of Bengal in 1905, and for denigrating India`s culture, its people and heritage.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak demanded that the British immediately give Indians the right to self-government.  Bal Gangadhar Tilak favored a policy of responsive cooperation. During the First World War,  Bal Gangadhar Tilak urged the people to co-operate with the British Government. In return he expected the British government to come forward and announce the Home Rule in India. But the British Government disappointed Tilak.

Therefore Tilak founded the Home Rule League at Pune in 1916. Tilak was not satisfied with the Government of India Act, 1919.
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Bal Gangadhar Tilak as a Social Reformer

Bal Gangadhar Tilak has been described as an Extremist in politics but a moderate in matters of social reforms. Bal Gangadhar Tilak proposed various social reforms, such as a minimum age for marriage. Bal Gangadhar Tilak thoughts on education and Indian political life have remained highly influential.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the first Congress leader to suggest that Hindi written in the Devanagari script should be accepted as the sole national language of India. Mahatma Gandhi also supported his policy of considering Hindi as the national language.

According to Bal Gangadhar Tilak, education was the only way to bring a rapid reformation and transformation in the society.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak himself was a versatile scholar. The books like “Geeta Rahasya” and “The Arctic Home of the Vedas”, revealed his exceptional talent.

However, the selfless patriotism, indomitable courage and fierce determination of  Bal Gangadhar Tilak opened a new chapter in the history of the freedom movement in India.