Lokmanya Tilak

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LOKAMANYA TILAK
G. P. PRADHAN
Foreword
1. Student and Teacher
2. Dedicated Journalist and Radical Nationalist
3. Four-Point Programme for Swarajya
4. An Ordeal

5. Broad-Based Political Movement
6. Scholar and Unique Leader Index
Foreword
The conquest of a nation by an alien power does not mean merely the loss of political freedom; it means the loss of one’s self-confidence too. Due to economic exploitation by the ruling power, the conquered nation is deprived of its natural resources and the people lose their sense of self-respect. Slavery leads to moral degradation and it thus becomes essential to restore self-confidence in the people so that they become fearless enough to participate in the struggle for freedom. In this respect Tilak played a pioneering role in India’s freedom struggle. For nearly four decades, he directed his energies to the task of creating the consciousness in the people that swarajya was their birthright. As editor of the Kesafy he opposed the tyrannical British rule and raised his voice against the injustices perpetrated on the Indians. With Chhatrapati Shivaji as his perennial source of inspiration, Tilak appealed to the people to emulate the great Maratha warrior and revive the glorious past.

During the famine of 1896, Tilak made a fervent plea that the government must provide relief to the peasants, as stipulated in the Famine Relief Code. When Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India, partitioned Bengal, the people of Bengal were enraged. Tilak, alongwith Lala Lajpat Rai and Bipin Chandra Pal, made the issue of partition a national cause and appealed to the people to assert their rights. In 1908, after the bomb blast in Muzaffarpore, Tilak, through the Kesari, warned the British government that the Indian youth would rise in revolt if the legitimate and just demands of the people were not acceded to. The government responded by arresting him and prosecuting him for sedition. He was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment and transported to the Mandalay prison in Burma. Tilak suffered the punishment stoically, carried on his pursuit of knowledge even in prison, and wrote the Gita-Rahasya —a monumental philosophical treatise containing the message of the Bhagazvad-Gita and his own interpretation of the text.

On his release from prison in 1914, Tilak resumed his struggle for the freedom of the country. His entire life of sacrifice and political integrity earned him a place in the hearts of his countrymen who came to refer to him as ‘Lokamanya Tilak’. He toured different parts of India, spoke to the people in his simple and direct style and aroused them to fight for swarajya. He succeeded in awakening them from their stupor and paved the way for reaching the goal of swarajya.

Though many books have been written on Lokamanya Tilak, here in this book, I have made an humble effort to present some of the lesser known aspects of his personality. Prof. A.K. Bhagwat and I had co-authored a biography on Tilak at the time of his birth centenary celebrations in 1956 for which, I am grateful to him. I started studying the life and works of Lokamanya Tilak in 1954; yet, even after four decades, I feel that my efforts to probe the depths of his personality are still incomplete. Pune

G. P. PRADHAN

1. STUDENT AND TEACHER
Youth is the springtime of life. During this happy period spirits soar high, eager to accept any challenge, face any danger.
Two young students, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, both studying at the Deccan College in Poona, sat engrossed with thoughts on the present and the future in an optimistic and self-confident frame of mind. Both had impressed their teachers with their intelligence and desire to acquire knowledge. While most students wove rosy dreams about their personal life, Tilak and Agarkar thought of their society and the future of their country. They were idealists prepared to dedicate their lives to a noble cause. Their favourite pastime was to go for walks on...
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