Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak was among the renowned freedom fighters of India and was also known as the Father of Nationalism in India. He was born on July 22, 1856 in a middle class family in Ratnagiri in Maharashtra and his father, Gangadhar Shastri, was a noted Sanskrit scholar and school teacher. Being a bright student, he received modern education and graduated from Deccan College, Pune in 1877. He was intolerant by nature and this led him to fight for the freedom of India against the colonial rule. He also formed school that put importance on Nationalism.

He was also among the renowned social reformers of India and he dedicated his life for social reformation of India and he laid emphasis on women education and women empowerment. Owing to his social reformation ideas of women education, he educated each of his daughters and only when they were over 16 years, they were married. In order to being about the unity in the state of Maharashtra, he introduced the festivals like Shivaji Jayanti’ and ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’, which are today cerebrated as major festivals of the state. In order to work towards his goal, he launched two newspapers in Maharashtra namely, ‘Mahratta’ (English) and ‘Kesari’ (Marathi) and both proliferated the freedom movement in India.

In the year 1890, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak joined the Indian National Congress and there he came in contact with Lala Lajpat Rai and Bipin Chandra Pal, with whom he formed the extremist wing of the Congress. He resisted the restrained views of the party for the freedom fight against the British Rule and stood against leaders like Gopal Krishna Gokhle. He believed in Swaraj and boycotted the education under the Government and his movement created a lot of differences and bitterness among the party itself. Bal Gangadhar Tilak went through six years of painstaking imprisonment in Mandalay Jail, Burma during 1908-1914 and he was suspected of supporting the revolutionaries, who had killed some Britishers he was extradited. The British government also tried to bring to an end the publication of his newspapers owing to his growing popularity and during his imprisonment, his wife departed this life in Pune.

After he returned to India in 1915, he reunited with his friends and carried on with the revolutionary activities against the British rule. In the year 1916, he, along with Joseph Baptista, Annie Besant and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founded the All India Home Rule League and fought for the freedom movement of India till his last breath. In the year 1919, the tragic Jalianwala Bagh Massacre took place, which shook the whole nation and this also had an adverse effect on the health of this great leader. However, even with the health not permitting him to take part in India’s freedom struggle, he pleaded to al the Indians not to stop the ongoing movement. With his health condition worsening day-by-day, he breathed his last on 1st August, 1920. This was one of the saddest days for the whole nation, when it lost one of the greatest leaders and Nationalist of the nation.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak was a devoted and a Nationalist, who dedicated his life for the welfare of the society and the nation as a whole. His fearless and honest nature and selfless love for the motherland, made him one of the greatest leaders of India’s Freedom movement and without his selfless contribution towards the freedom struggle, India would not have attained Independence from the colonial rule. Thus, it is the duty of every Indian citizen to remember such a great leader, a nationalist and recognize his contribution towards the society and the nation.

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