Shishu Sansaar | Stories-Indian Reformers
|Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak|
Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Birth: 22 July 1856
Bal Gangadhar Tilak, born July 22, 1856, was universally recognized as the Father of Indian Unrest. He was one of the prime architects of modern India and heralded Asian nationalism. His philosophy could not survive after his death as India came under sway of Mahatma Gandhi. Tilak was a brilliant politician as well as a profound scholar who believed that independence is the foremost necessity for the well being of a nation and that to win it through extreme measures should not be dispensed with. He was the first intellectual leader to understand the importance of mass support and subsequently became the first mass leader of India.
He realized that the constitutional agitation in itself was futile against the British and that, moreover, India was ill prepared for an armed revolt. As a result, although he was helpful to revolutionaries such as Savarkar, Aurobindo Ghosh and Chaphekar, he did not venture into it himself. Instead, he inspired the most ‘activist wing’ of Indian National Congress. His movement was based on the principles of buying Swadeshi (Home grown or Indigenous), Boycott foreign rulers goods and spreading Education amongst the masses. It was he who, through his own example, gave prestige to imprisonment in freedom struggle as an act of defiance of foreign oppression. It is a tragedy that his work is not given the recognition due to it.
Bal Tilak is often misinterpreted, perhaps it is so because of his style of operation which raised bitter controversies and still more bitter opponents even outside the bureaucracy. Violent arguments characterized his relationship with social reformists such as Agarkar, Ranade and moderates like Feroz Shah Mehta. Many blame him for opposing the Age of Consent Bill which raised the age limit for marriage of girls to 12 (from 10). But is fact that at the same time he had signed a counter-proposal where in one of the clauses was that the girls (boys) should not be married until they are 16 (20).
He educated all of his daughters and did not marry them till they were over 16. There are instances when he privately paid for the education of women. Still it remains true that he at times acted as a reactionary and did not use his considerable influence to give a much-needed support to the social reformists. Probably, he did not want to offend the prevalent rigid system - he, himself, having been brought up in the culturally narrow surroundings of Pune.
It seems the circumstances and social fabric he inherited presented him no room for more active social reforms. However, he sowed the seeds that later inspired many others to follow the path of national rejuvenation. He is often quoted for his comment “What Bengal thinks today, the rest of India will think tomorrow” and this was because he himself was greatly influenced by his Bengali predecessors in the national arena.
The mass celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra was originally popularized by Bal Tilak, similar to the Sarbajanik (public) Durga Puja of Bengal. He inspired all rank and file Hindus to participate in the event together and that led to subsequent break down of many social barriers and prejudices separating the castes and that was in itself a great reform.
Created by Sushma Gupta on March 15, 2009
Modified on 05/05/13