Bal Gangadhar Tilak

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Lokmanya Tilak was born at Chummakachu Lane (Ranjani Aaleea) in Chikhalgaon, Ratnagiri, Maharashtra to a Chitpavan Brahmin family. His father, Mr.Gangadhar Tilak was a famous schoolteacher and a Sanskrit scholar. Bal Gangadhar Tilak was a bright child and very good at mathematics. The problems the teacher gave to work our on paper, Bal would do them mentally and give the answer. He also had a sense of fairness and justice from very early age. He was very independent minded and did not falter at expressing his opinions. One day the teacher came to class and found peanut shells on the ground. “Who ate peanuts in the class and create this mess?” asked the teacher. No one came forward. “Well, if no one wants to come forward, the whole class gets the punishment.” The teacher began to give two cuts with cane to each child on the hand. This was a common form punishment at schools. “I did not eat those peanuts, I will not take the punishment” said Bal. “Well, if you do not want the punishment, tell me the name of the boy who did eat” said the angry teacher. “I am taught not to tell tales and I cannot tell you the name of the boy. However, I did not make that mess and I will not be punished for it.” Bal was not afraid to stand up against injustice from a very young age. He loved to hear the stories from his grandfather. His grandfather lived in Kashi during the 1857 Revolution and told him the stories of Nana Saheb, Tatya Tope and Rani Lakshmi Bai. When Bal was ten years of age, the family moved from Ratnagiri to Poona (modern day Pune). The move was very good for Bal’s education. He joined the Anglo-Vernacular School which had renowned teachers. Within a few months, his mother passed away. When Bal was 16 years old, his father passed away. Bal was married to a girl named Satyabhama who was 10 years old. He graduated with B.A and LLB degrees. When he joined college, he was weak in health. The desire to serve his country was instilled in him by the stories his grandfather told him. A weak man cannot make any sacrifices, so he exercised regularly and by the end of his first year in college, he developed a well muscled body. He believed that “Religion and practical life are not different. To take to Sanyasa (renunciation) is not to abandon life. The real spirit is to make the country your family instead of working only for your own. The step beyond is to serve humanity and the next step is to serve God.” The concept of “swaraj” was unfamiliar and Tilak thought a good education could promote patriotism. After graduation, Tilak began teaching mathematics in a private school in Pune and later became a journalist. He became a strong critic of the Western education system, feeling it demeaning to Indian students and disrespectful to India's heritage. With his classmate Gopal Ganesh Agarkar and Vishnushastry Chiplunkar, Tilak founded the New English School. It soon blossomed and transformed into the “Deccan Education Society”. This society founded the Fergusson College in Pune and today runs Fergusson College and the Greater Maharashtra Commerce and Economics College in Pune, the Willington College in Sangli and the Bombay College in Bombay as well as a number of high schools. The trio also started two newspapers “Kesari” in Marathi and “Mahratta” in English. He was a firebrand revolutionary and his principle was militancy, not political mendicancy. In fact, Tilak was universally recognized by the British as “the Father of Indian Unrest.” He was the first Indian leader who moved the Indian independence cause from the closed rooms of the intellectuals to the ordinary people of India. In 1890, due to differences with the board of Deccan Education Society, Tilak was forced to resign. With a heavy heart, he bid farewell to the very institutes he founded and worked for ten years. He then became active politically. From 1890 to 1897, he waged his war against the British rulers through his columns in his newspapers. He also used his newspaper...
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