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Bal Gangadhar Tilak Jayanti

Focus: GS I- Modern History

Why in News?

The Prime Minister has paid tribute to the great Lokmanya Tilak on his Jayanti.

About Bal Gangadhar Tilak:

  • Bal Gangadhar Tilak, commonly known as Lokamanya Tilak was a leader of the Indian independence movement and belonged to the extremist faction.
  • He was also called the ‘Father of Indian Unrest’.
  • Born as Keshav Gangadhar Tilak in 1856 in Ratnagiri, modern-day Maharashtra.
  • He was a devout Hindu and used Hindu scriptures to rouse people to fight oppression.
  • Stressed on the need for self-rule and believed that without self-rule or swarajya, no progress was possible.
  • Slogan: “Swaraj is my birth right and I shall have it!”
  • Emphasised the importance of a cultural and religious revival to go with the political movements.
  • Popularised the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in the Maharashtra region.
  • Propounded the celebration of Shiv Jayanti on the birth anniversary of the monarch Chhatrapati Shivaji.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s Political Life
  • Tilak joined the Congress in 1890.
  • He was opposed to moderate ways and views and had a more radical and aggressive stance against British rule.
  • He was part of the extremist faction of the INC and was a proponent of boycott and Swadeshi movements.
  • He was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment on charges of “incitement to murder”.
  • He had written that killers of oppressors could not be blamed, quoting the Bhagavad Gita. After this, two British officials were killed by two Indians in retaliation to the ‘tyrannical’ measures taken by the government during the bubonic plague episode in Bombay.
  • Along with Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai, he was called the ‘Lal-Bal-Pal’ trio of extremist leaders.
  • He was tried for sedition several times. He spent 6 years in Mandalay prison from 1908 to 1914 for writing articles defending Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose. They were revolutionaries who had killed two English women, throwing bomb into the carriage carrying the women. Chaki and Bose had mistakenly assumed that Magistrate Douglas Kingsford was in it.
  • Tilak re-joined the INC in 1916, after having split earlier.
  • He was one of the founders of the All India Home Rule League, along with Annie Besant and G S Khaparde.
  • He called for people to be proud of their heritage. He was against the blatant westernisation of society.
  • He transformed the simple Ganesh Puja performed at home into a social and public Ganesh festival.
  • He used the Ganesh Chaturthi and Shiv Jayanti (birth anniversary of Shivaji) festivals to create unity and a national spirit among the people. Unfortunately, this move alienated non-Hindus from him.

Newspapers: Weeklies Kesari (Marathi) and Mahratta (English)

Books: Gita Rhasya and Arctic Home of the Vedas.

Death: He died on 1st August 1920.

December 2023