Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak was one of the first and strongest advocates of Swaraj (self-rule) and a strong radical in Indian consciousness. His famous quote, “Swaraj is my birt right, and I shall have it!” is well remembered in India even today.
Coming from a father who was a schoolteacher and a Sanskrit scholar, young Tilak was a brilliant student who graduated from Deccan College in Pune in 1877. Tilak was among one of the first generation of Indians to receive a college education.
He took an active part in public affairs. “Religion and practical life are not different. To take sanyas (renunciation) is not to abandon life. The real spirit is to make the country, your family, work together instead of working only for your own. The step beyond is to serve humanity and the next step is to serve God,” he said.
This dedication to humanity was a fundamental element of the Indian Nationalist Movement.
After graduating, Tilak initially began teaching mathematics in a private school in Pune but gave it up due to ideological differences with colleagues and became a journalist.
He was a strong critic of the Western education system, feeling it demeaned the Indian students and disrespected India’s heritage.
He formed ‘Deccan Education Society’ with a few college friends, including Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, Mahadev Ballal Namjoshi and Vishnushastri Krushnashastri Chiplunkar, with a goal to improve the quality of education for India’s youth. The Deccan Education Society was set up to create a new system that taught young Indians nationalist ideas through an emphasis on Indian culture. Tilak began a mass movement towards independence that was camouflaged by an emphasis on a religious and cultural revival.
(Right): Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak [Photo: Wikimedia Commons]
Tilak joined the Indian National Congress in 1890. He opposed its moderate attitude, especially towards the fight for self-government. He was one of the most-eminent radicals at the time....
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