When half of India was unaware of the fact that British was ruling over them, Tilak was the man who stood up for the country to give freedom. A lot many of us know about Tilak and his birth right “Swaraj” but never ever tried to understand it very well. We spoke a lot about him, including others, in speech or essays but never wished to know the real struggle these people did.

If I ask someone to “Name some Freedom Fighters”, the direct reply would be Mahatma Gandhi, S.Bose, Sardar patel, J. Nehru and so on.  No doubt they too fought for freedom struggle of India but Tilak remains as a very less remembered hero and more worse, his principles are one the way to die by the upcoming century itself. In order to spread his thoughts, let’s know about Tilak in brief.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak, byname Lokmanya(“Beloved Leader of the People”) Tilak was born in Ratnagiri on 23rd day of July to a cultured middle-class Brahmin family. He stood in Ratnagiri until he was 10 years old. Later he went to Pune (earlier Poona) for his Higher education and also pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics and Sanskrit from Deccan College in the year 1876. His interest in gaining knowledge was so high that after bachelorship he pursued a degree in Law from University of Mumbai in the year 1879. During that time a person educating like this was really a high scholar. Tilak was naturally born as a scholar for he always loved mathematics and things which seems impossible was easily done by Tilak with no mess right from his very small age.  On 2nd January 1880, Tilak with Agarkar, his childhood best friend started the New English School of Pune and Vaman Shivaram Apte, an eminent Sanskrit scholar, took the charge of Headmaster at the high school.

Founding of the school marked the first step in path of enlightenment and social service and thus initiating the new life of Tilak. The next step in the field of education was marked with foundation of Deccan Education Society on 24th October, 1884 which is just 2 months before they founded Fergusson College on 2nd January, 1885. When Tilak and Agarkar were students in the Deccan College, it had been their dream “to start a new college after finishing their studies”. This dream became a reality with the starting of the Fergusson College.

Apart from formation of education societies to lay the strong foundation of knowledge among youth force in India, Tilak with Agarkar decided to educate people by starting two journals, Kesari, in Marathi and Maratha, in English. When people became followers of British with their closed eyes, Tilak and Agarkar decided to publish articles to let people know harsh reality of India and also to know how these foreigners are treating the people of his motherland. Through those newspapers Tilak became widely known for his bitter criticisms of British rule and of those moderate nationalists who advocated social reforms along Western lines and political reforms along constitutional lines. He thought that social reform would only divert energy away from the political struggle for independence. He also went to Jail many times for writing such articles against British rule. The last time he went to Jail was for 6 years when he was sent to The Mandalay, Burma. In his presence, such an unhealthy and unfavorable climate was turned to a Temple of Learning. He decided to write many books like  History of Hindu Religion, Indian Nationality, The History of India of the Pre-Ramayana Period, Shankara Darshan,The Provincial Administration, The Hindu Law, Infinitesmal Calculus, Bhagawad GitaRahasya—Ethics, Life of Shivaji, Chaldea and Bharat but could finish only one book, Gita- Rahasya.

Before death came to Tilak on August 1, 1920, the forever known scholar, mathematician, philosopher, and so called militant nationalist (by the British India) who helped lay the foundation for India’s independence by building his own defiance of British rule into a national movement. He founded (1914) and served as president of the Indian Home Rule League. In 1916 he concluded the Lucknow Pact with Mohammed Ali Jinnah, which provided for Hindu-Muslim unity in the nationalist struggle.

He had different notions about Independence, which even Bhagat Singh and his group followed. They didn’t rely on non-violence or something like that. They were ready to die for India’s Independence. Such was the life of a real fighter.

However, the essence of freedomness or Swaraj has been lost and today’s generation will never know what actually “Swaraj” means. And sad thing is the generation after 100 years will never know who was “Lokmanya Tilak” and what did he do for freedom struggle.

Today, 23rd July  that marks 159 years from the day of his birth but still his life teachings are creating impact in our society. He also praised Swami Vivekananda and we people learnt about Tilak in as story of Lal- Bal- Pal that constitutes the trio of nation Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal.

Let’s all start to show the world our strength and let’s expand the values taught by Tilak to people of India during late 19th Century and early 20th Century to blossom the virtues and policies of country. Let’s all the burn the light of knowledge and bury our bad feelings and notions about our own people and start helping them.

To mark it an end, I’ll say this is not an end, this is just a beginning. Because Swaraj is obtained by winning the war and not simply getting it if the opposition weakens due to other factors, like we got freedom as British Empire weakened in World War 2.

To know more about our Forgotten Hero – Lokmanya Tilak please see:

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