Biography of “Bal Gangadhar Tilak”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak, born as Keshav Gangadhar Tilak (23 July 1856-1 August 1920), was an Indian nationalist, journalist, teacher, social reformer, lawyer, and independence activist who was the first popular leader of the Indian Independence Movement. The British colonial authorities called him the “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) and a strong radical in Indian consciousness. His famous quote, “Swaraj is my birthright, and I shall have it!” is well-remembered in India even today. He also formed a close alliance with Muhammad Ali Jinnah, later the founder of Pakistan, during the Indian Home rule movement.
Tilak was born in Ratnagiri district of present-day Maharashtra (then British India). His father, Gangadhar Tilak was a school teacher and a Sanskrit scholar who died when Tilak was sixteen. Young Keshav graduated from Deccan College, Pune in 1877. Tilak was amongst one of the first generations of Indians to receive a college education. Tilak joined the Indian National Congress in 1890. He opposed its moderate attitude, especially toward the fight for self-government. He was one of the most-eminent radicals at the time.
Despite being personally opposed to early marriage, Tilak opposed the 1891 Age of Consent bill, seeing it as interference with Hinduism and a dangerous precedent. The act raised the age at which a girl could get married from 10 to 12 years.
Later, Tilak re-united with his fellow nationalists and rejoined the Indian National Congress in 1916. He also helped found the All India Home Rule League in 1916-18, with G. S. Khaparde and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and Annie Besant. After years of trying to reunite the moderate and radical factions, he gave up and focused on the Home Rule League, which sought self-rule. Tilak travelled from village to village trying to conjure up support from farmers and locals to join the movement towards self-rule.
Tilak was impressed by the Russian Revolution and expressed his admiration for Vladimir Lenin.