In the words of Thomas Carlyle, “The history of mankind is the story of great ment who have led it. Men, who by their infinite genious have shaped the destinies of nations and in doing so have achieved undying fame. Lokmanya Tilak belonged to the minority of men who are ageless and who bear deep reverence”.
Birth and parentage
Lokmanya was born on July 23. 1856 His mother who was very religious, performed severe penance to propitiate the Sun God, so that she might be blessed with a son and believed that one day he would become a famous man and as lustrous as the sun. He was named Keshay after his grandfather but was popularly called Bal. His father was a scholar of Sanskrit and Mathematics who had written a book on Trigonometry. He taught these subjects to his son. The child Tilak was specially brilliant. in Mathematics and Sanskrit. He had the habit of solving the difficult questions of the Mathematics on paper but leaving the easy ones, as it was below his dignity to solve them.
Tilakji’s education and patriotic activities
Tilakji’s mother passed away when he was only ten years old and his father died when he was sixteen. After this, he was looked after by his uncle who brought him up as his own dear son. He received education at the Deccan College. Here he decided that he would dedicate his life to the motherland after passing the LL. B. Examination. After completing his education, Tilak, with help of some of his sincere followers, started a new college for the purpose of the feelings ins tilling patriotism and selfless service in the young Indians. After this venture in public life, Tilakji took over two newspapers, ‘Kesari’ and ‘Maratha’ under his editorship and began to criticise the British Government as editor. To give Indians a rallying point he revived ‘Ganpati’ festival and also started the Shivaji festival. In the guise of discussing history, he could easily make the common masses understand the disgraceful atrocities they were being subjected to.
Two great events
Two great thunderbolts befell India, while Tilak was immersed in the work of national regeneration. One was terrible famime and the other, the outbreak of plague in the form of an epidemic Thousands of lives were lost. Tilak organised relief measures and strongly criticized the British rulers for their inaction and for the ruthless ways with which they dealt with the victims of plague. This treatment had resulted in the murder of the officer-in charge for this work on the very, day, the Government was celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria’s rule. The Government desire suspected that Tilakji was behind the murder even though the murderer, when caught, said that his action was due to his own for revenge. His articles in the Kesari were looked upon as seditious and on this charge, he was imprisoned of eighteen months. Though condemned as guilty by the court, it caused Tilak’s influence to rise even more. It ended the chapter of object surrender by India to the proud foreign ruler. The meek and mild Indian of Rudyard Kipling was gone and his place was taken by a new Indian who breathed in defiance and challenged the foreign rule.
Tilakji’s Gita Rahasya
After his release from the jail, Tilakji saw that it was necessary to use new weapons for attaining his goal of Swarajya. It was then that he put forth the idea of Swadeshi and passive resistance. He took advantage of the attempt to divide Bengal to galvanise the whole country into action. It was during this period that the first country bomb arrieved at the scence and put Indian politics in the melting pot. Waves of repression followed this act and the native press was severely attacked for fomenting the troubles. Tilak’s articles in the Kesari were turned seditious by the Government and he was sentenced to six years’ transportation. He suffered tremendously in prison; yet he was able to produce ‘The Gita Rahasya’, a miraculous interpretation of Gita.
Tilakji’s role during the First World War
Tilakji war released from fail in 1914. Meanwhile the First World War broke out. He urged the Indians to join the army on mass scale to help the British Government but demanded Home-role or Swarajia in return. He also rejoined the Congress at the session held at Lucknow. He also formed a pact with the Muslims to ensure unity in the country. He then decided to go to England after the war to fight a case against Valentine Chirol who had written all sorts of lies about him and to influence British opinion about India in Britain. This legal action, however, proved of no avail.
Tilakji’s passing away-Tilakji returned to India and continued galvanising India opinion in favour of the Home Rule Movement. In the meantime, he fell ill in July with malaria, yet he continued to work. In consequence, he cought pheumonia. He spite of the best medical care, he passed away on August 1, 1920. The fabulous bird Phoenix, burns itself, it is said and believed, on a funeral pyre and rises again form its own ashes with renewed youth and beauty. Lokmanyaji surpassed the phoenix. He had begun his renovated life in the hearts of the people of India even before he was placed on funeral pyre.