Prime Minister Narendra Modi paying tribute to Shri Bal Gangadhara Tilak on 23 July 2014
Birth 23 July 1856
Keshav Gangadhar Tilak was born in a Chitpavan Brahmin family in Ratnagiri, in Maharashtra (then Bombay Province in British India). His father, Gangadhar Tilak was a school teacher and a Sanskrit scholar who died when Tilak was sixteen. Young Keshav graduated from Deccan College, Pune in 1877.
After graduating, Tilak started teaching mathematics at a private school in Pune. Later due to ideological differences with the colleagues in the new school, he withdrew and became a journalist later.
Brief on Tilak Video from Ministry of Information and Broadcasting 2014
He organized the Deccan Education Society with a few of his college friends, including Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, Mahadev Ballal Namjoshi and Vishnushastri Chiplunkar. The Deccan Education Society was set up to create a new system that taught young Indians nationalist ideas through an emphasis on Indian culture.
The Society established the New English School for secondary education and Fergusson College in 1885 for post-secondary studies. Tilak taught mathematics at Fergusson College. He began a mass movement towards independence and also promoted religious and cultural revival.
Tilak joined the Indian National Congress in 1890. He was more demanding in the fight for self-government. He was one of the most-eminent radicals at the time.
Despite being personally opposed to early marriage, Tilak opposed the 1891 Age of Consent bill, seeing it as interference with Hinduism by British Government and as a dangerous precedent. The act raised the age at which a girl could get married from 10 to 12 years.
Tilak, in his paper Kesari (Kesari was written in Marathi, and Maratha was written in English), quoting the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, wrote that no blame could be attached to anyone who killed an oppressor without any thought of reward. Following this, on 22 June 1897, Rand and another British officer, Lt. Ayerst were shot and killed by the Chapekar brothers and their other associates.
Tilak was charged with incitement to murder and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment. When he emerged from prison in present-day Mumbai, he was revered as a martyr and a national hero. He adopted a new slogan, "Swaraj (self-rule) is my birthright and I shall have it."
Following the Partition of Bengal (1905), which was a strategy set out by Lord Curzon to weaken the nationalist movement, Tilak encouraged the Swadeshi movement and the Boycott movement. The Boycott movement consisted of the boycott of foreign goods and also the social boycott of any Indian who used foreign goods. The Swadeshi movement consisted of the usage of goods produced by oneself or in India.
Tilak opposed the moderate views of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, and was supported by Bipin Chandra Pal in Bengal and Lala Lajpat Rai in Punjab. They were referred to as the Lal-Bal-Pal triumvirate. In 1907, the annual session of the Congress Party was held at Surat, Gujarat. Trouble broke out over the selection of the new president of the Congress between the moderate and the radical sections of the party . The party split into the "Jahal matavadi" ("Hot Faction" or radicals), led by Tilak, Pal and Lajpat Rai, and the "Maval matavadi" ("Soft Faction" or moderates). Aurobindo Ghose and V. O. Chidambaram Pillai were Tilak supporters.
On 30 April 1908, two Bengali youths, Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose, threw a bomb on a carriage at Muzzafarpur, in order to kill the Chief Presidency Magistrate Douglas Kingsford of Calcutta fame, but erroneously killed two women travelling in it. While Chaki committed suicide when caught, Bose was hanged. Tilak, in his paper Kesari, defended the revolutionaries and called for immediate Swaraj or self-rule. The Government swiftly arrested him for sedition. A special jury convicted him, and the Parsi judge Dinshaw D. Davar gave him the sentence of six years' transportation and a fine of Rs 1,000. Tilak was sent to Mandalay, Burma from 1908 to 1914.In the prison, he continued to read and write, further developing his ideas on the Indian nationalist movement. While in the prison he wrote the most-famous Gita Rahasya. Many copies of which were sold, and the money was donated for the freedom fighting.
Tilak after his release in June 1914, once took part in active politics. When World War I started in August, Tilak cabled the King-Emperor in Britain of his support and turned his oratory to find new recruits for war efforts. He welcomed The Indian Councils Act, popularly known as Minto-Morley Reforms, which had been passed by British Parliament in May 1909, terming it as "a marked increase of confidence between the Rulers and the Ruled". He was eager for reconciliation with Congress and had abandoned his demand for direct action and settled for agitations "strictly by constitutional means" - a line advocated by his rival Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Tilak saw the spark in Mohandas Gandhi.
Tilak re-joined the Indian National Congress in 1916. He also helped found the All India Home Rule League in 1916–18, with G. S. Khaparde and Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Annie Besant. Tu support Home Rule League, Tilak travelled from village to village trying to conjure up support from farmers and locals to join the movement towards self-rule.
Tilak wanted a genuine federal system for Free India where every religion and race was an equal partner. He added that only such a form of government would be able to safeguard India's freedom. He was the first Congress leader to suggest that Hindi written in the Devanagari script be accepted as the sole national language of India.
In 1894, Tilak transformed the household worshipping of Ganesha into a public event(Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav).
In 1895, Tilak founded the Shri Shivaji Fund Committee for celebration of "Shiv Jayanti" or the birth anniversary of Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of 17th century Maratha Empire. The project also had the objective of funding the reconstruction of the tomb (Samadhi) of Shivaji Maharaj at Raigad Fort. For this second objective, Tilak established the Shri Shivaji Raigad Smarak Mandal along with Senapati Khanderao Dabhade II of Talegaon Dabhade, who became the Founder President of the Mandal.
Tilak started the Marathi weekly,Kesari in 1880-81 with Gopal Ganesh Agarkar as the first editor. Kesari later became a daily and continues publication to this day.
Tilak categorically opposed all brands of social change under the pretext of confronting colonial intervention in the sacred and internal domains of the religious order.
In 1903, he wrote the book The Arctic Home in the Vedas. In it, he argued that the Vedas could only have been composed in the Arctics, and the Aryan bards brought them south after the onset of the last ice age. He proposed the radically new way to determine the exact time of the Vedas. He tried to calculate the time of Vedas by using the position of different Nakshatras. Positions of Nakshtras were described in different Vedas.
Tilak authored " Shrimadh Bhagvad Gita Rahasya" in prison at Mandalay, Burma
Memorials of Tilak
The Kesari is still published as a daily newspaper in Marathi.
The Deccan Education Society that Tilak founded with others in the 1880s still runs much respected Institutions in Pune like the Fergusson College.
The Public Ganesh festival (Ganeshotsav) has become a central part of the culture of Marathi Hindu communities throughout the world. Increasingly, other Hindu communities are also adopting the practice.
Because of Tilak's efforts, Shivaji, the founder of Maratha Empire is revered by contemporary Marathi masses and Hindu nationalist parties like the Shivsena.
The Swadeshi movement started by Tilak at the beginning of the 20th century became part of the Independence movement until that goal was achieved in 1947. One can even say Swadeshi remained part of Indian Government policy until the 1990s when the Congress Government liberalized the economy.
Tilak Smarak Ranga Mandir, a theatre auditorium in Pune was dedicated to him.
In 2007, the Government of India released a coin to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
Bharat Ek Khoj Serial Video - Tilak versus Gokhale
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