Bal Gangadhar Tilak

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Bal Gangadhar Tilak (Marathi: बाळ गंगाधर िटळक Born as Keshav Gangadhar Tilak) 23 July 1856(1856-07-23)–1 August 1920(1920-08-01) (aged 64), was an Indian nationalist, teacher, social reformer and independence fighter who was the first popular leader of the Indian Independence Movement. The British colonial authorities derogatorily called the great leader as "Father of the Indian unrest". He was also conferred with the honorary title of Lokmanya, which literally means "Accepted by the people (as their leader)". Tilak was one of the first and strongest advocates of "Swaraj" (self-rule) in Indian consciousness. His famous quote, "Swaraj is my birthright, and I shall have it!" is well-remembered in India even today.

Contents

Early life

Tilak was born in balaji Lane (Madhlee Aalee) in Chikhalgaon, Ratnagiri, Maharashtra to a Chitpavan Brahmin family. His father was a famous schoolteacher and a Sanskrit scholar. He died when Tilak was sixteen. His brilliance rubbed off on young Tilak, who graduated from Deccan College, Pune in 1877. Tilak was among one of the first generation of Indians to receive a college education.[1]

Tilak was expected, as was the tradition then, to actively participate in public affairs. 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.” This dedication to humanity would be a fundamental element in the Indian Nationalist movement.[2]

After graduating, Tilak began teaching mathematics in a private school in Pune. Later due to some ideological differences with the colleagues in the New School, he decided to withdraw from that activity. About that time he 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 organized the Deccan Education Society with a few of his college friends, including Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, Mahadev Ballal Namjoshi and Vishnu Krishna Chiplunkar whose goal was 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.[3] Tilak began a mass movement towards independence that was camouflaged by an emphasis on a religious and cultural revival.[4] He taught Mathematics at Fergusson College.

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