‘Freedom is my birth right and I shall have it’ That’s how Tilak reacted during the freedom struggle of India. He is the first Indian leader to give such a slogan. Bal Gangadhar Tilak was born on 23rd July 1856 in Maharashtra. His full name was Balwani Gangadhar Tilak. He was a born Patriot. Since his early childhood he opposed the British rule in India. He was bold enough to face the Britishers. He passed his law examination in 1879 and commenced practising. It was the time that the country needed an eminent leader to create an awareness mong Indians for political freedom. The Britishers had established their Government in India. Tilak, in 1881 started the publication of ‘Kesari’, a Marathi journal and ‘Maharatha’ an English news paper at this juncture for arousing the national awakening. He was an ‘extremist’ in both religious and patriotic field. He was reason for hurting the muslim by saying that Congress Pandal is only for Hindus. Due to the religious fanatic ideas Tilak did not encourage social reformation. Added to that he even went against social reformation. He believed that militant efforts were necessary to get rid of the foreign rule. For his anti imperialistic activities he was sent to prison many times. In 1908 he faced a trial on charge of sedition.
Tilak was given six years rigorous imprisonment. He was imprisoned in Mandalay Jail. Tilak didn’t waste his time in jail. He wrote his famous commentary on Gita- the divine song. He named the book as, ‘Gita Rahasya’. Earliar he had opposed the partition of Bengal in 1905 under the Vice-royalty of Lord Curzon. He made Lord Ganesha festival a national one and awakened the Indians to fight for freedom. Ganesha festival became very popular in Maharashtra. In 1916, Tilak together with Annie Besant, the theosophis launched the Home Rule League Movement and later he withdrew it as the British government gave favourable assurance. When he faced a trial on a charge of sedition he argued in the courtand the historic speech he made in his defence lasted for 117 hours. Tilak was an eminent scholar of Indian history and culture. He wrote a book on Vedas named ‘Orian and Arctic Home in the Vedas.’
Tilak was a congress leader also. He helped the Indian National Congress to become an effective organization to fight for India’s freedom. Tilak was helping people whenever they were in distress. When plague broke out in Poona he spent his full time in serving the victims. People called him affectionately Lokamanya. The Britishers had declared Tilak as the father of political unrest in India.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak died in the year 1920. Gandhiji said: “No man of our times had the hold on the masses that Lokamanya Tilak had. His patriotism was a passion with him. He was a born democrat. He knew no religion but love of his country.”