Bal Gangadhar Tilak was an Indian activist who worked for the independence of the country. He was a powerhouse of talents and played various roles during his lifetime. He was a scholar, mathematician, and philosopher who paved the way for India’s independence. He was born on 23rd July 1856 and was named Keshav Gangadhar Tilak.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak was born in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. His father was a Sanskrit scholar who taught school students in Ratnagiri. However, Tilak lost his father when he was sixteen years old.
He was a meritorious student who excelled in exams throughout his life. He obtained first class in Mathematics from Deccan College, Pune. Then, he joined an M.A. course to gain a deeper understanding of mathematics. However, he left this course and decided to pursue L.L.B. He received his law degree from Government Law College in 1879. After graduating, Bal Gangadhar Tilak started giving mathematics classes to students at a private school in Pune. However, his journey at that private school was short, as he had to leave the institute because of ideological differences with his colleagues.
After leaving that private school, Bal Gangadhar Tilak co-founded the New English School for secondary education in 1880. He was inspired by the good deeds of Vishnushastri Chiplunkar and established the school with the support of his college friends. The school was set up with an aim to improve the quality of education for the youths of the country. The school set up by Tilak and his friends gained immense popularity in a short time. This success led to the establishment of the Deccan Education Society in 1884 with the aim to create a new system of education for the youths of India. This educational society also established Fergusson College in Pune to support post-secondary education. During the initial days after the establishment of the college, Tilak taught mathematics to the students until 1890. After that, he left his job as a teacher to participate in the national movements.
Rise to National Prominence
Bal Gangadhar Tilak was an active member of the Indian independence movement. His activities aroused the Indian nationals, but soon he was into conflict with the British government. As a result, he was sent to jail in 1897. However, he was released after spending 18 months in prison.
India went through a partition in 1905 when Lord Curzon, viceroy of India, divided the territories of Bengal. At that time, Bal Gangadhar Tilak supported the Bengali demand for the annulment of the partition and suggested people to boycott British goods. This idea gained momentum and later it became a national movement. Next year, he launched another movement to uproot the British government from India. The program aimed at passive resistance and was known as the Tenets of the New Party. These forms of resistance were later adopted by Mahatma Gandhi and gave rise to the Satyagraha movement.
Facts about Bal Gangadhar Tilak
- He started publishing newspapers like ‘Kesari’ and ‘The Mahratta’ to awaken people and encourage them to participate in the independence movement. Through these papers, he criticized the working of the British government.
- Bal Gangadhar Tilak was a religious person. He organized two important festivals, namely Ganesh and Shivaji in 1893 and 1895 respectively.
- He joined the Indian National Congress and gave the slogan of Swaraj.
- He started the Swadeshi movement to promote the production and usage of goods produced within the Indian subcontinent. To promote the Swadeshi movement, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Jamshedji Tata established Bombay Swadeshi stores.
- He was a part of the trio- Lal, Bal, and Pal.
- He was against the Age of Consent Act of 1891.
- Tilak wanted to generate a mass movement that was different from the opinions of moderates. However, this plan backfired as there was a split between the ideologists of moderates and extremists. The British took advantage of this situation and sent Tilak to jail in Burma for six years.
- He was a remarkable orator who inspired the masses to participate actively in the Swadeshi movement.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak is an inspiration for everyone. His contribution to the independence of India and the promotion of education among Indian youth cannot be denied.
Suggested Read: Bhimrao Ambedkar: First Law Minister of India